“Whoever Looks at a Woman With Lust”: Misinterpreted Bible Passages #1

bust of Plato

“Whoever Looks at a Woman With Lust”: Misinterpreted Bible Passages #1

*If new to this series, please see the introduction.*

Matthew 5:27–28: Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· οὐ μοιχεύσεις. ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν ἤδη ἐμοίχευσεν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ.

“You heard it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman/wife in order to covet her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Standard Interpretation(s)

The ordinary interpretation of this passage is that lust is equivalent to adultery; that is, if a man sexually desires a woman, he has already committed adultery with her in God’s eyes. This interpretation is reflected in the following translations:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NIV)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NASB)

“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NLT)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NRSV)

Many churches (especially within Evangelical circles), emphasize this verse to men and (especially) adolescent boys, warning that if they so much as think of a woman in a sexual manner, they’ve already sinned, that they’ve already effectively done the deed with her. Such an interpretation often works hand-in-glove with the common idea that Jesus “intensified” the Law in the Sermon on the Mount, setting a higher standard in order to show that no person could actually live up to God’s standards, showing that a person could only be saved by recognizing the impossibility of righteousness and then receiving forgiveness (a complete misinterpretation of the Sermon on the Mount I will address at another time). So the common teaching is: lust (that is, sexual lust) is absolutely evil—equivalent, even, to the physical act of sexual sin.

Another key aspect of nearly all the common misinterpretations of this verse is a specific (mistaken) definition of the word “lust.” Specifically, many readers understand “lust” as specifically denoting misplaced or overly robust libido. For example, as one recent conversation partner explained to me, “I take lust to mean wanting something more than you should in an unhealthy way.”

Despite its popularity, this interpretation is imprecise, even flat wrong, and leads to surprisingly harmful consequences, making this verse a great candidate to start this series.

Lust or Covet?

The first thing to understand in this passage (and in the Sermon on the Mount in general) is that Jesus is in no way intensifying the Law here, nor is he really saying anything new. What’s that, you say? The Law doesn’t forbid lusting after a woman, so Jesus has obviously turned things up to eleven by doing so?

Well, as it turns out, the Greek word usually translated “lust” in this passage (ἐπιθυμέω; epithumeô) is precisely the word for “covet” (Hebrew חמד) in the Tenth Command in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), which says:

οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ πλησίον σου. οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ πλησίον σου οὔτε τὸν ἀγρὸν αὐτοῦ οὔτε τὸν παῖδα αὐτοῦ οὔτε τὴν παιδίσκην αὐτοῦ οὔτε τοῦ βοὸς αὐτοῦ οὔτε τοῦ ὑποζυγίου αὐτοῦ οὔτε παντὸς κτήνους αὐτοῦ οὔτε ὅσα τῷ πλησίον σού ἐστιν. (Ex 20:17 LXX)

You will not covet your neighbor’s wife. You will not covet your neighbors house or his field or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or any animal which is your neighbor’s.”

Looks pretty familiar, doesn’t it? In fact, it’s basically identical; the word translated “wife” here is the same that is translated “woman” in Matthew (there’s no distinction between the words “wife” and “woman” in Greek; both English words translate the same Greek word γύνη; gynē).

Jesus isn’t saying anything new at all in Matthew 5:27–28; instead, he directly cites one of the Ten Commands to remind his audience that the Law not only prohibits adultery, it prohibits coveting with the same severity. This is not an intensification of the Law; it’s a reminder of what the Law already says. In addition, Jesus gives no indication that he regards the Law as too difficult to keep—he not only assumes that his followers can follow his interpretation of the Torah but commands them to do so.

Now that it’s clear that Jesus isn’t saying something specifically new here but is instead calling attention to the Tenth Command, the next order of business is to understand the tenth command and the concept of “coveting.” The first thing to understand is that when the Hebrew חמד or Greek ἐπιθυμέω are used as verbs in the OT, it denotes desire directed at obtaining the specific object in question and not merely the existence of the desire itself.

Strikingly, the nominal (noun-form) concept of “lust” or “desire” (even the sexual variety) is nowhere forbidden in Scripture, nor is it equated with sin—only the potential to sin: “Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then, when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And when sin is completed, it brings forth death” (James 1:14–15). Note that James clearly distinguishes between “lust” (that is, desire) at the stage of temptation and “sin,” which is the actual commission of an act.

In keeping with this distinction, Tenth Command specifically forbids the action of coveting (hence the verbal form), perhaps best understood as forbidding fixing one’s desire upon obtaining something that is not rightfully one’s own. (A fuller way to understand “coveting” is analogous to the modern legal concept of “attempted” lawbreaking, but that’s a subject for for another post.)

To understand these distinctions more fully, it is helpful to understand the background for how the term typically translated “lust” (Gk. ἐπιθυμία; epithumia) was understood in the New Testament and the culture of that period.

Drives and Desires

One misconception that should immediately be eliminated is that “lust” (ἐπιθυμία) is a specifically sexual term. In fact, the word simply refers to a strong, passionate desire, used either of sexual desire or of a strong desire for something non-sexual. Stepping back further, in Platonic thought, ἐπιθυμία (epithumia) is the lowest part of the human soul—representing the connection of the soul with the fleshy, bodily part of the person.

Background: The Tripartite Soul

In the world of Greek philosophy, human thought and action were often explained by metaphorically dividing the “soul” (or life-force) into three bust of Platoparts, each of which is personified as a separate agent in itself.

The highest part is the “mind,” “intellect,” or “reason” (νοῦς, nous; sometimes λόγος, logos), which is the part associated with thinking, theorizing, believing, meditating, contemplating, etc. This part is concerned with things like truth and knowledge and the highest aspects of human life. This part is represented in the human body by the head, which is the highest part of the body, stretching towards the heavens. In Plato’s Republic, this part is identified with the philosopher/rulers who are the natural and proper leaders of the ideal city-state, while it is identified with the world creator “demiurge” in the Timaeus.

As mentioned above, the lowest part (ἐπιθυμία, epithumia; note that this is the same root as the word for “lust”) is the irrational seat of appetite, the source of human drives for pleasure, including desires for food, drink, sex, and pleasure. Socrates calls this part of the soul “money loving,” since money is typically required to satisfy all its primary appetites. This seat of the appetites was also referred to as the “flesh” in the ancient world (σάρξ; sarx). Because this part of the soul is non-rational, it is unlimited in terms of what it desires—necessary, frivolous, or even unlawful/illegal/sinful. Take food, for example. When a person is hungry, it makes no difference if the barbecue smell is coming from the neighbor’s house—it still stimulates the desire for that food. The desire for food is necessary inasmuch as the body will die without food, but the appetite does not simply restrict itself to what is necessary.Greek charioteer Parmenides

Instead, a person may desire extremely expensive food (unnecessary) or, in extreme cases, may desire to eat something improper (i.e. a child may consume his feces or an adult may suddenly desire to eat a child). Since it is prone to run amok, the appetite part of the soul must be governed by the higher parts of the soul to keep it in check. This part is represented by the lower parts of the abdomen (including the genitals) on the human body, while it is identified with the merchant/craftsman (money-making) class in the Republic. In Parmenides’ charioteer analogy, this part is likened to a wild stallion, powerful but undisciplined.

The middle part of the soul is the “spirited” or “emotional” part of the soul (θύμος, thumos; a word often denoting “heart” in Greek), the mediator between the higher and lower parts of the soul. This part is the seat of the will and courage and can be shaped through education and training. It is represented by the chest/heart area on the body and the warrior/soldier class in the Republic.

If a person is well-ordered, these parts work together in a manner likened to a harmony of three musical notes, each necessary to the song. In Parmenides’ charioteer analogy, the mind governs the other two as a charioteer, with the “spirited” will as the lead horse and the appetites as the second horse, steered by the union of the higher two natures.

On the other hand, the danger is that the appetites will gain the “spirited” part as an accomplice and overpower the will, leading to reckless action. Plato thus sees it as critical that the mind retains the allegiance of the will, giving it direction and controlling the appetites.

So to summarize: the presence of “lust” or “desire” is an assumed part of each human person—deriving from God-given bodily desires that are amoral in themselves, neither inherently sinful nor entirely depraved. As such the presence of such “lusts” is in no way sinful; it is simply a part of being an embodied person. But directing these desires towards taking, obtaining, or enjoying what is not lawful is forbidden—that action (itself an act of the will) is forbidden by the Tenth Command and is sin.

Back to Matthew 5:27–28

Now that we’ve established a bit of the history of the key term in question, we can return to Jesus’ saying in Matthew with a little better context. By now we should understand that, in contrast to the English term “lust,” which has come to be a pretty much entirely negative term—which is why it’s so amusing to say, “I’ve been lusting for this pastry all morning”—the Greek term (though having a somewhat negative tint) is not always negative in the same way, instead being indicative of strong urges or drives, which the New Testament does not condemn in themselves.

Jesus is even able to use the word of himself:

“And He said to them, ‘I have lusted [ἐπιθυμέω] to eat this Passover with you before I suffer!'” (Luke 22:15)

Similarly, other non-negative uses of the word:

“For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men lusted [ἐπιθυμέω] to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matt 13:17)

“And [the prodigal] lusted [ἐπιθυμέω] to fill his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.” (Luke 15:16)

“… and lusting [ἐπιθυμέω] to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.” (Luke 16:21)

Again, I am not to saying that there was never a negative connotation to ἐπιθυμέω/ἐπιθυμία. But it is critical that we make the distinction between a condemnation of desire and a prohibition against coveting forbidden things, including one’s neighbor’s wife. Now we’re finally ready to look at the verse itself.

The Grammar of Matthew 5:27–28

The other major mistake in the interpretation of this verse (and many translations, as shown above) involves misconstruing the grammar. The Greek does not say, “look at a woman with lust” or “look at a woman lustfully,” as though it were describing the manner of looking. On the contrary, Matthew uses a grammatical construction here that combines the preposition πρὸς (pros, pronounced “pross”) with an articular infinitive in the accusative. Matthew uses this construction four other times, and each time it denotes the purpose of the action:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men in order to be noticed by them.” (Matt 6:1)

“… First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles in order to burn them up ….” (Matt 13:30)

“But they do all their deeds in order to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.” (Matt 23:5)

“For when she poured this perfume on my body, she did it in order to prepare me for burial.” (Matt 26:12)

So it is clear that the grammar is reflecting purpose: “anyone who looks at a woman in order to covet her.” (“Covet” is preferable here in part because “covet” better reflects the intentionality reflected in the passage.) This is a critically important point; Jesus is not suggesting that any sexual thought or inclination towards a woman is sinful. Nor is he suggesting that such thoughts or attractions being triggered by a look are sinful. The look is not the problem (nor is the presence of a beautiful woman, which some of that day tended to blame as the real problem); no, these are assumed. What is remarkable (given the popular misinterpretation) is that Jesus likewise assumes the presence of sexual desire in the man as a given, and that sexual desire isn’t seen as the problem. Instead, Jesus addresses the matter of intent, of volition, the purpose of the look. The issue is not the appetite itself but how a man directs this natural appetite and inclination. (I’m reminded here of the old saying: If you’re a young man on a beach and a beautiful woman in a bikini walks past and you don’t notice, it’s not because you’re spiritual, it’s because you’re dead.)

This fits well within the immediate context; throughout this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is pointing out the root causes of the sins enumerated in the Law. Yes, adultery is a sin, but the sin has entered the heart the moment one determines to seek it out. The moment a man even looks at a woman for that purpose, adultery has already polluted the heart. This is the line between natural sexual attraction and the “coveting” prohibited by the Law: the Law forbids directing one’s desire towards that which is not lawful. Jesus does not condemn the desire but the action taken on the desire.

In modern terms, it’s the difference between seeing a woman and being attracted to her—a natural part of the God-created appetite and a good indicator that one is alive—and actually considering or seeking an illicit activity. In modern terms, Matt 5:27–28 could be paraphrased as follows: “Obviously, having extramarital sex is wrong, but the moment you decide to start down that path, adultery is already in your heart.”

Finally, Jesus does not say that the thought and the action are equivalent, as is often taught. The passage does not say, “Once you’ve thought it, it’s the same as actually having done it.” That very notion is absurd! Rather, Jesus says that adultery has been committed in the heart, that the will has already bent itself towards adultery. Again, the emphasis is on intent—that is, without the decision to move towards adultery, the act would never be committed. Therefore, Jesus says, deal with the primary problem of intention and adultery becomes a non-issue. As will be shown below, the suggestion that the thought and action are equivalent can cause much harm.

Why It Matters

The biggest problem with the way these verses are usually explained is that it misplaces the focus away from the will, from the commitment of the heart, towards a condemnation of the natural desires human beings are created having. Young men in many churches are effectively told that there is something inherently sinful in their sexual impulses. There are several results that typically follow from this:

  1. A great deal of self-defeat and guilt about sexual desire is a problem in much of the church. Young men are often entirely consumed with their efforts “not to lust,” as though focusing even more attention on the matter of sexual desire would actually help things!
  2. In the same vein, I have even had married men talk to me about how they try not to “lust” for their wives! This stems from the misguided idea that if their desire for sex is simply because they’re “horny,” there’s something inherently wrong with that, something to feel guilty about. (In contrast, look at the way Paul approaches marital sex in 1 Cor 7; he seems to present it as the necessary and acceptable cure for “being horny.”) Talk about a way to take some of the joy out of marriage and substitute defeat and guilt!
  3. Many young men simply give up the fight, reasoning that if they’re already guilty of sexual sin because of their thoughts, they might as well go ahead and enjoy the real thing. You’d probably be surprised how often this is the case. (Again, this result is quite related to the poor theology that suggests the Sermon on the Mount presents some impossible to achieve standard. The obvious conclusion is to ask why anyone should try to live up to it, since one’s salvation isn’t determined by doing this stuff anyway, only how one believes.)
  4. Some who understand this passage to be a condemnation of lust actually reason that they can have extramarital (or at least premarital) sex as long as they “don’t lust.” Following is an actual quote from a message board discussion on this subject:

    “The only reason to wait [for marriage for sex] is if you believe you have a soul mate out there. I don’t. I know the bible [sic] fairly well … and have yet to find where the bible [sic] says it is wrong to have sex with more than one person or have sex before marriage. Adultery is having sex with someone elses [sic] partner which is wrong and you can have sex without looking at someone lustfully. I don’t know anywhere in the bible [sic] where it says it is wrong for two people who care about each other to have sex.”

    As amazing as this interpretation is, this is certainly not the first time I have heard or seen that interpretation—that it’s okay to have extramarital sex as long as one doesn’t “lust.” As we’ve seen, this entirely misconstrues what “lust” is (having sex without the desire for it is generally called rape), but it is an excellent representative of how harmful the common teaching on this passage can be. (See this post for a discussion of the fallacy of searching for the soul mate in much of American Christian culture.)

Summary

So to sum it up, Matthew 5:27–28 is not a condemnation of lust or sexual desire, nor does it mean that every red-blooded male necessarily sins every time a beautiful woman walks into a room (or onto a movie screen or anywhere else she may appear). On the contrary, “lust” itself is not a sin but leads to sin if it is not properly governed and put under the authority of the Spirit (again, note James 1:14–15).

If this passage is to be correctly taught, the emphasis should not be upon “sexual thoughts” or “lust”; instead, the emphasis should be placed squarely on the will: that is, “What is the proper response to sexual desire?” Sexual desires are not inherently sinful; the exercise of the sexual appetite outside appropriate boundaries is the problem. The point in this passage is that once the will has turned toward illicit behavior, sin has already entered the heart and, once fully conceived, will bring forth death. The emphasis should therefore be upon willfully bending natural desires away from illicit objects (or persons) and toward what is right.

Part of the payoff for properly understanding these two verses is the understanding that the requirement they set forth is neither impossible nor unreasonable. There is no requirement to somehow lose the drives and appetites that we were born with, nor should there be any guilt for having them. On the contrary, it is a matter of the commitment of the will, the orientation of the heart, that Jesus is discussing. It is the covetous look that is forbidden, not lust or desire itself. That is, Jesus forbids fixing one’s desire upon a woman (or man) that is not rightfully one’s own.

Even more importantly: this requirement was not set forth to show how impossible it is to live up to God’s standard. Jesus intended the standards set forth here to be lived.

249 Comments
  • Kyle Leaman
    Posted at 21:06h, 20 August Reply

    Great breakdown Jason. An important verse to get right, as it not only helps struggling Christian men but also doesn't set up unnecessary hurdles for non-Christians contemplating Christianity. Of course it has the advantage of also being accurate and truthful…and you know what they say about truth…

    • Douglas
      Posted at 06:38h, 17 September Reply

      Hi all! I am a child of God. And you know what? I knew a fair amount of the things that was said here on this post. But not all of it. Do thank you! But here is the thing? I find over and over again that there are many pastors and teachers and ministers in leadership positions and preach/teach to people who are off with various things they say and teach? And that’s simply because they don’t study the Greek and Hebrew in relation to the scriptures they talk about in front of people? And in turn they are not teaching correctly what the scriptures are actually saying? Now with me? I look at Greek and Hebrew quite often in relation to what pastors say? And even when I read the Bible myself. And you know? That is really sad! Because these people who stand in front of people every Sunday should know for certain what they are talking about? They are supposed to not be ignorant when it comes to scripture? But many are ignorant concerning certain aspects of what they are saying? Because of their lack of applying understanding of Greek and Hebrew into their teaching and preaching? When today in the digital age it’s so easy to go on a site like for example (blue letter Bible) and look at the Greek and hevrew with the click of a button! Its simple to do! And then when they teach or preach? They would be accurate in what they are saying. So all of you as you read the Bible? Or listen to preachers and teachers? Please take what I said into consideration? OK. Do may the Lord richly bless all of you!

  • Stephen C. Carlson
    Posted at 09:29h, 21 August Reply

    I've found it helpful to compare Matt 5:28 πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν to the Tenth Commandment (Exod 20:17 LXX): οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ πλησίον σου. I don't really see Jesus going beyond what was already taught.

    So I would endorse your view: In this case, it would probably be appropriate even to translate this verse "in order to covet her," rather than "to lust after her," in part because "covet" reflects intentionality reflected in the passage.

  • Jason A. Staples
    Posted at 09:36h, 21 August Reply

    Good point, Stephen. The more I've looked at this passage over the years, the more I've connected it with that also. And the nice thing is that "covet" carries closer to the proper connotation in English than "lust," which is associated more with the drive than an intentional action.

  • The “Sinful Nature” Translation Dilemma and the Upcoming NIV Revision | Zealot Outside the Building
    Posted at 13:02h, 01 May Reply

    […] seem to be borrowing from the Platonic notion of the soul as well, which I covered in some detail here (scroll down until you see the bust of Plato). This shouldn’t be surprising, as that’s […]

  • Alex Murray
    Posted at 15:01h, 22 May Reply

    It’s a real shame that Megan was dropped from Transformers 3. But I wish her the best with her next movie.

  • Bible Study
    Posted at 22:04h, 23 September Reply

    As long as Satan can have one to trust in their own works of righteousness in the flesh, he can defeat them. The only way to overcome the defeat Satan offers is to trust in Jesus alone for salvation. Romans 8: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

  • Yofi
    Posted at 08:04h, 25 July Reply

    Thank you soo much for this critical analysis and explanation of the Scripture. So many lies and untruths have been taught because of a failure to understand correctly. Thanks again and Shalom

  • Austin
    Posted at 11:48h, 10 November Reply

    Great and thorough article

  • Assegai
    Posted at 23:34h, 21 March Reply

    I came across Matthew 5:27-30, asked Google ‘how does one live up to it?’, and found this page and your site. I can’t tell you how much better I feel after about myself and my faith in God after reading your explanation. It is so well reasoned and clearly written too! I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you so much, Jason and God bless you.

  • John
    Posted at 11:29h, 22 May Reply

    Hi Jason,

    I thought that article was fantastic. Would you say that masturbation was one of the proper outlets for sexual desire you mentioned, or would the accompanying fantasies with this act render it as adultery that Jesus speaks of above?
    Would be great to hear back from you on this.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 13:20h, 22 May Reply

      Good question, John. While I don’t think the Bible condemns masturbation (the usual interpretation of the Onan story doesn’t get it right), it also doesn’t seem that masturbation is “one of the proper outlets,” either. Actually, Matthew putting “and if your right hand causes you to stumble” immediately after this statement about coveting a woman may be seen as an indirect reference to masturbation. It’s not entirely clear, but it’s the closest thing in Scripture you’ll find to a statement about masturbation. Given the general outlook on sex in Scripture, though, I’d say masturbation would not be included among the “proper outlets,” which are limited to heterosexual marital relations whenever discussed.

      • John
        Posted at 23:08h, 22 May Reply

        That’s really interesting, I’d never thought of it that way before. In fact I don’t even think it struck me at all why Matthew said “and if your right hand causes you to stumble”..it’s like I’ve never read that bit! Thanks.

        I guess it was in another article that you wrote about your personal experience as a formerly single guy; would you say from your experience that nocturnal emissions were sufficient during that time to ‘satisfy’ the sex drive, and that maybe the sex drive is just a drive that pushes us towards intimacy with others & doesn’t really ‘need’ to be satisfied in a sexual way? I apologise for coming back with another question & maybe going off on a bit of a tangent!

        I really appreciate you taking the time to reply back by the way, that was much appreciated.

        • Jason A. Staples
          Posted at 20:26h, 23 May Reply

          On the one hand, no, nocturnal emissions are insufficient to “satisfy” the sex drive in the same way that getting nutrients through a tube “satisfies” the desire to eat. But on the other hand, yes, nocturnal emissions can be (and were for me) sufficient as a single person, although I think it’s much more difficult to stop masturbating once one starts than it is never to start. I do think we as a society place significantly too much emphasis on the need to be “sexually satisfied.” It’s good to have sexual satisfaction, but it’s not a necessary condition for a quality human life.

          • John
            Posted at 23:04h, 23 May

            Thanks again for your reply, and your honesty.
            Definitely food for thought.
            Take care.

          • george
            Posted at 04:15h, 08 May

            jason really mature answer.balanced ….

      • Randy Mitchell
        Posted at 19:25h, 17 December Reply

        Actually, the Bible says alot about masturbation, see Lev. 15:16, 32 and Dt. 23:10. I was told the same thing at a youth conference when I was a youth and it didn’t seem right when I heard it then. Do a search on thr Laws of Family Purity and then review what Paul says about not touching a woman and how Christ will come back for us when we have no “spot or wrinkle”.

        • Jason A. Staples
          Posted at 14:00h, 02 January Reply

          None of these passages pertain specifically to masturbation. But thanks for your comment.

      • Edward Perkins
        Posted at 00:02h, 05 January Reply

        I’ve thought about the idea that the scripture was referencing that, but I think that’s probably looking at it through 21st century eyes just the way the word lust is now seen as an exclusively sexual word when it wasn’t when the verse was translated. The right hand, or eye are meant to mean the strongest and best (left being second best), of the most necessary parts of your body that you rely on, but you could still lose without actually dying.

  • Zac
    Posted at 23:45h, 29 May Reply

    Finally, something about this passage that actually makes sense!

    I’d like to thank you for laying out what the original Greek says about this particular passage. Because I don’t know ancient Greek (and haven’t had much time to learn it) I could never look up much for myself. This interpretation actually makes sense though. I was beginning to wonder why God would condemn me for a feeling He created me with… This actually makes sense though. Thanks for clearing this headache up.

  • Men, would like advice on controlling lust, for a particular situation - Page 6 - Christian Forums
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    […] “Whoever Looks at a Woman With Lust”: Misinterpreted Bible Passages #1 | Professor Obvio… __________________ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – PHILIPPIANS 4:13 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. – Proverbs 16:3 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – JOHN 3:16 […]

  • Rafael Moreno
    Posted at 21:16h, 19 January Reply

    Since you proved that it means “in order to covet her”, and The Ten Commandments are Commands(not intentions or desires, etc), and since as this guy suggested command 10 covet could mean ‘Take’ – http://Goddidntsaythat.com/2011/03/02/the-ten-commandments-dont-forbid-coveting/

    and since the 10 Commandment which says, Thou Shall Not Steal in Hebrew can mean Kidnap.

    And since deuteromony has avah as desire and chamad again in other places has suggestions of take(steal) I have come to the logical conclusion that these are The True 10 Commandments:

    1, You shall have no other gods before Yahweh(The True God, The Trinity of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit)

    2, You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

    3, Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy

    4, You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

    5, Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

    6, You shall not murder.

    7, You shall not commit adultery.

    8, You shall not Kidnap

    9, You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

    10, “You shall not take(steal) your neighbor’s house. You shall not take(steal) your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

  • Rafael Moreno
    Posted at 22:16h, 19 January Reply

    Wrote a post on my blog, check it out, Courtesy to you for helping me – http://savedbychrist94.blogspot.com/2013/01/true-ten-commandments-and-matthew-527-28.html

    This is my first day starting Koine Greek(Bought Basics of Biblical Greek ‘Grammar’ by Dr. William D. Mounce and I already know most of the alphabet, studying it you are correct, it means in order to.(because of πρὸς(pros) and THEN comes τὸ(to)

    Now I know what the True Ten Commandments are and an sure that looking at a woman isn’t a sin.

    God(The Father, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) Bless you Jason Staples, you helped well.

  • Wade
    Posted at 11:34h, 25 January Reply

    Great article…I wish Christians like yourself who understand that English words often times horribly translates the Hebrew and Greek would look more into the passages that condemns “homosexuality” I’m a gay christian and I have found through my research that the bible does not condemn 2 men or 2 women in loving committed relations but rather was condemning the sex rituals done by pagans.

    • Tyler
      Posted at 23:03h, 31 January Reply

      But the Bible does clearly condemn homosexuality in this verse:

      Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, (I Corinthians 6:9 NKJV)

      The meaning is quiet clear. People who lead lives like those mentioned in a continuos fashion are people who have not experienced a transformation by the saving power of Christ. (Aka, they aren’t saved, and therefore are not headed to heaven) I am not here to condemn you, but to tell you the truth. Please search this following link and read the article carefully. I’m praying for you man.

      http://carm.org/bible-homosexuality

      • Michael Eric Hund
        Posted at 15:29h, 22 December Reply

        Tyler, the text you quote is a dreadful English mistranslation of what the Bible actually says here in the original Greek. Just as a start, the word “homosexual” is a constructed word that didn’t even enter the English language until the late 1800’s. The word’s very existence in a biblical “translation” is not biblical. It is an error-filled addition to the Bible.

        • Jason A. Staples
          Posted at 14:04h, 02 January Reply

          While the term “homosexual” is indeed a later addition to the English word, that doesn’t mean it’s a mistranslation here. Translation must convey the ideas in the text into modern language, especially when those terms have fluctuated and are different today than they were in the past.

          The bigger difficulty here is what “homosexual” means, as in modern parlance it can refer to a person with certain sexual inclinations (i.e., an “orientation”) or to specific behaviors. If referring to the behaviors, the word can work as a translation of Paul’s concepts. If referring to the orientation, it doesn’t work to render Paul’s ideas in these passages.

    • Laura Turner
      Posted at 12:03h, 09 March Reply

      Hi Wade,
      Many Christian scholars and pastors have studied those “clobber” verses that condemn homosexuality. My husband and I were conservative evangelicals who left the church after many years as we were disillusioned with so much hypocrisy (the short story). Our son had gone through many years of depression and pain issues with no apparent cause. Once we left the church and acknowledged that some people, even evangelical Christians, are naturally gay, and began to deconstruct our brainwashing, our son came out to us. He is so healthy and whole and living successfully as a gay man now. I would encourage you to look for Pastor Danny Cortez online (former Southern Baptist), and here is a link to a discussion of those clobber verses: https://serendipitydodah.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/the-clobber-verses/

      Jason, I so appreciate your explanation of lust. Thank you.

  • Aja
    Posted at 03:32h, 31 January Reply

    Thanks for your thoughtful article! It really helps me understand this passage better, and relieve me from the guilt of feeling attracted to beautiful women. However, I have a question: the common belief is that porn is bad because it will cause lust, and lust will lead to sin. After reading this article, it seems like if one does not act on the lust (like masturbate, or go have sex with prostitute etc), it will not lead to sin. If this thinking is true, then does that mean it’s OK to watch porn? That doesn’t sound right to me. Am I misunderstand something? Thanks!

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 09:14h, 31 January Reply

      I don’t think this verse could be rightly interpreted as a license for pornography, as the important aspect here is the intention behind the look. Once a person has decided to look in order to gain some sexual gratification from that source, it would seem to me that coveting has begun.

      • Aja
        Posted at 02:49h, 02 February Reply

        Thanks for you reply Jason! I wouldn’t think watching porn is justified either – it’s debasing anyway. Could you share your thoughts about “lust of the eyes”, i.e. what is this lust referring to, and if I enjoy nude art (the intent is to appreciate the beauty of female, not to get sexual arousal), and I find the model to be beautiful/attractive, does it fall under lust of the eyes?

        • Melvin
          Posted at 08:21h, 31 October Reply

          Jesus was pretty clear why He used lust instead of covet. He was addressing our sinful nature. Lusting after someone is not the same as wanting to possess someone. It is merely for the sake of temporary pleasure. Paul said he beats his body into submission. We can only do this with the help of the Holy Spirit.

          Yet I believe that Jesus teaching was of a higher moral standard.

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 09:02h, 31 October

            Actually, Jesus uses the word for covet, so that makes your case a bit difficult here.

      • John korondi
        Posted at 03:54h, 12 March Reply

        Hi Jason. I want to say this is a great article! I have always known this my whole life. It’s nice that I finally found people who noticed this too.

        I would just say that I do not think pornography Is sinful. After all, I think the verse in matthew and the commandment about coveting your neighbors wife is about INTENT. Meaning if you have the intent to commit fornication or adultery then it is like you have already committed the sin. I always use this example I thought of. If you shoot and kill your friend, but by accident. Then you committed no sin. However if you fire a gun and the bullet misses your friend, but you INTENDED to kill him, then you have already committed murder in your heart. So I believe this verse is not about pornography or masturbation. I think it is more about intent. I think fornication and adultery begin with physical contact. Skin to skin. Or through clothing even. But merely watching each other naked or masturbating in front of each other cannot be a sin. After all, it just does not appeal to reason. If this were the case then even combing your hair or dressing nice would be a sin since you do it to be appealing to the opposite sex.
        So what do you think about my conclusions? I realize they are not in line with mainstream christianity, but I feel like it is truly the only way to interpret this verse. Anyway. I’d really like your input on what I said. The mainstream Christian teaching that even sexual fantasies are a sin has pushed me away from christianity ever since I was a kid. I really don’t believe that sexual fantasies or even Porn is sinful. I like to be sexually attractive to women. I like for them to fantasize about me. Although I would not commit fornication or adultery. Am I still sinning?

        • Joy Martin
          Posted at 09:28h, 04 August Reply

          Hi John,

          I am just browsing through comments regarding Jason’s article above; I happen to stop at yours. Your response above clearly defines your need for relational connection. I need and enjoy relational connection as well. God designed us to be intimately connected with each other as sexual beings; however, God also defined perimeters and specific contexts for varying degrees of intimate connection as sexual beings. Our sexuality is to be freely expressed, so long as it does not ‘take from’ and/or defile or injure another human being. Our sexuality is to be expressed in the context of ‘love for one another’.

          In regard to pornography… John, do you have a daughter?

          Would it be OK with you, as a father, if other men sexually responded (masturbated) to your daughter’s body while viewing her from a distance, or in a magazine, or online? It would appear to me that you are not only defiling another man’s daughter, but you are also using that man’s daughter in a way that is unlawful. If this were to happen to you, John, I bet it would feel like someone took something precious from you, like the innocence of your daughter. I would hope that act would not be OK with you, as fathers are called to protect their daughters. I am guessing that most fathers would feel rage toward a man who used their daughters as a ‘tool’ for sexual pleasure and fulfillment.

          John, just remember that when you are viewing pornography, or masturbating with another woman (without touching her), you are doing so with another man’s daughter. I can guarantee you, John, that you will not like such illicit activity to take place with your own daughter.

          • uu
            Posted at 19:14h, 19 November

            I don’t agree at all with Joy. Every woman is a man’s daughter so does that mean I cannot take pleasure from looking at a woman? You are adding on to The Bible -John is correct.

      • Chris
        Posted at 00:01h, 22 November Reply

        Jason, I agree totally with your interpretation of Matthew 5:27-28 and understanding of lust. But in regards to porn, I think there is a lot to be considered. First of all, the church commonly gets the sin of porn wrong. The church says the sin is lust but as you stated, lust is not a sin until it conceives. I suppose you believe that masturbating to porn would mean the lust had conceived in the heart. Well, that may be the case but maybe not. Often times, people don’t watch porn because they actually desire to do something sexual with the porn star. Rather, the visuals and audio stimulates them sexually. You argue that it would be considered coveting once we decide to experience some sexual gratification from our desires. Thus, if we see an attractive women, that would not be a sin but if we undress her in our mind, it would be sinful because we are getting some sexual gratification out of it. But aren’t we getting gratification simply by looking at her fully clothed? What about romance novels? Watching romantic films that depict couples making out? Are those all sinful because they may arouse us? Also, the Bible does not forbid masturbation. In Leviticus 15:16-18 the LORD says, “If a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until the evening. And every garment and every skin on which the semen comes shall be washed with water and be unclean until the evening. If a man lies with a woman and has an emission of semen, both of them shall bathe themselves in water and be unclean until the evening.” It seems to me that this passage suggests two manners a man may have an emission of semen. Either by himself or with a women. Neither are considered sinful. Yes, they do make a person unclean but any bodily discharge does according to Leviticus 15:1-4 which says, “The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any man has a discharge from his body his discharge is unclean. And this is the law of his uncleanness for a discharge: whether his body runs with his discharge, or his body is blocked up by his discharge, it is his uncleanness.” Now the LORD gave laws for the cleansing of ones body who has become unclean and never suggests its sinful. It certainly can’t be since God created us to for example, release our bladder and have bowel movements. Its important to note that the uncleanness laws in Exodus were ceremonial laws, which we aren’t under anymore. Yet, the concept of one having an emission of semen by himself, was assumed and not prohibited by God. In Leviticus 18, when the LORD gives Moses the sexual laws, masturbation and visual stimulation (ex: sexual fantasy) were not on the list. I understand masturbation and sexual fantasy as being imagination but when you decide in your heart to go out and do the act (like David did with Bathsheba) then you have sinned even before committing the act. Basically, in Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus was not saying lust is equal to adultery rather adultery stems from the heart. The Pharisees believed that the solution to sin is cleaning up the external but Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount corrects them by saying “No, its from out of the heart where evil thoughts arise.” The whole point, is that if you allow God to cleanse your heart, the external behaviour will follow and be a non-issue. That is, adultery will not be committed by someone with a pure heart but someone with a dirty heart, may very well end up committing adultery, even if he tries his hardest not too. The heart is what leads us to sin.

        Now, does this prove that watching porn is okay? Well, I’d say most porn is sinful not because of lust but because of the sin in the film itself. We find all sorts of sexual immorality in porn such as cheating, depictions of prostitution, rape, violence, incest, child exploitation etc. Its all in porn and those things are evil and anyone viewing them is in sin. But what about a film depicting a man and a women having bedroom sex? Well, you may argue its a form of prostitution because the actors are paid to have sex. Well, not according to law. The law states that porn is not prostitution because the actors are paid to “act” not “have sex” even though their role as an actor involves sex. But romantic films also feature sex scenes, many would be more along the lines of soft core porn, that is, making out fully clothed but still, its a sexual activity. There’s a popular tv series entitled “Secret life of the American Teenager.” In that series, there are a lot of short scenes of making out. The actors were later interviewed and one said that it was awkward having to make love to somebody you’re really not in love with, but because the purpose of the scene was to depict making out, they had to do it. So even actors simply kissing each other can feel in a sense that are filming a soft core porn scene. They may not call it soft core porn but thats what it is. Any kind of sexual contact appearing in a film or tv show is a type of porn. Its considered soft core if all the actors are fully clothed and hard core if they are naked. Its also noteworthy that all actors are paid, whether its soft core porn or hard core. Whether the film is all about sex or has a couples sex scenes in it. Now most Christians don’t prohibit watching films with kissing/making out but as soon as you remove the clothes, its somehow prostitution and evil, which makes no sense unless you say that any film depicting any kind of sexual activity, including kissing/making out, is wrong. Maybe you do but I don’t.

        It should also be mentioned that porn is not required for masturbation. One could simply read a romance novel and get aroused or fantasize in their mind while they masturbate. Thus, if your convicted porn is prostitution, you don’t have to use it. Now maybe your convicted masturbation is a sin. if so, you have no scripture to support it, but you must follow your convictions. But just don’t condemn others who disagree. Now, I’m not accusing you, Jason, but many Christians get very judgemental on this subject, which is totally wrong in my opinion.

        God Bless.

  • Will Pratney
    Posted at 01:27h, 12 February Reply

    This is the best article I’ve read on this subject. I would recommend it to others who, like myself, have had a difficult time gaining a realistic, working biblical perspective on distinguishing between sinful lust (the choice to sin by looking at someone IN ORDER to lust after or covet them) and mere amoral (intrinsically neither morally right nor morally wrong) sexual attraction.

    Thanks for taking the time to share this research with the rest of us!

  • Christopher
    Posted at 15:49h, 22 February Reply

    Thanks for posting on this issue. Currently, I’m REALLY wrestling with this verse. My unfortunate logic through growing up in the church in the South has pushed me towards the “even looking at a girl lustfully is adultery” POV, even though I know it’s not the right interpretation. I have such a hard time reconciling myself on the matter still. Years of shame and guilt and beating myself up have done a number on me. Even after reading this, I am still having a hard time reconciling this. My mind works inasmuch if i can think myself into something, i can think out of it.

    Jason, I’m going to read this again in hopes of garnishing more, but could you give me something that might help me have that “click” or “ah HA” connection with what I feel & what Jesus says? I almost feel spiritually paralyzed by the whole thought process 🙁

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 10:35h, 04 March Reply

      As far as the “ah-ha” kind of thing, I’d suggest the following: It is all about the intention, the purpose behind the look. Jesus does not forbid a look, nor the desire. But he declares that looking as the first step towards satisfying that desire to be sin.

      • Cesie Goode
        Posted at 12:21h, 26 November Reply

        Amen!!!

  • Niix
    Posted at 01:33h, 10 March Reply

    Hi Jason, thanks for the article, I found it to be quite informative and should help greatly in eliminating the guilt/shame I feel when I notice someone and am immediately sexually attracted to them. I do have a couple of questions though. To provide some background info so you know where I am coming from, I am a 21 year old Christian male, single, unable to get married anytime soon due to various reasons, and I have been addicted to pornography and masturbation since age 10, and am struggling to overcome it and to determine what exactly is acceptable and unacceptable for a Christian single.

    What I understand you to have been saying is that seeing an attractive woman and experiencing feelings of sexual attraction and having thoughts pop up like “wow, she is attractive” is not itself a sin (please correct me if I am wrong).

    Do intentional thoughts constitute an illicit behavior? For example, ruminating on how attractive someone is for the sexual gratification such thoughts provide without having any intention to have sex with them or to pursue them in any way?

    What about if the someone in question is merely a fabrication of ones imagination and does not/has never actually existed in the real world?

    You stated in an earlier response to someone else that masturbation is not a proper outlet, but it isn’t directly condemned either, though it does appear to be warned against. Is it reasonable to then conclude that while masturbation can be dangerous and can possibly lead to one sinning, the action itself is morally “neutral”, so to speak?

    In another earlier response you stated that “Once a person has decided to look in order to gain some sexual gratification from that source, it would seem to me that coveting has begun”. What if the source in question is not another human being? For example, sexually explicit literature instead of visual pornography?

    I’m sure you are very busy and probably won’t have time to answer my questions but I thought it worth asking anyway.

    Thanks again for the article,

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 22:17h, 20 April Reply

      Niix, I’m sorry it has taken me so long to reply to this. I’ve been mulling over the best way to respond since you posted this, as your question obviously involves more than just simple historical interpretation and I want to give as good a reply as possible.

      I think it’s fairly clear that Jesus wasn’t forbidding the experience of sexual attraction or suggesting that it is sinful.

      The other questions are a bit more difficult. First of all, I think sexual addiction is an example of sexual brokenness rather than wholeness. I also don’t think there’s much question that Jesus would have been very opposed to pornography, as it is the very embodiment of covetous sexual outlet. Pornography is fundamentally opposed to the self-restrained sexual ideal Jesus advocates. There are numerous other problems associated with the pornography industry on the social justice side; helping provide a market for it through consumption of it is indirectly to increase sexual immorality and injustice.

      As for imagination on the basis of literature, etc., such a thing is empty at best and again does not exemplify the sexual ethic Jesus advocates.

      With respect to far-reaching conclusions, I think the better approach is to pursue the ideal rather than aim for the low boundary. I understand that you have no immediate opportunity to get married, but I can say with some confidence that your addictions in this area will not be ideal baggage to bring into a marriage, nor are they examples of the free and whole life of which Jesus promised. As such, your best bet is to do everything you can to break these addictions, seeking whatever help you can in order to do so.

      I hope this answer helps somewhat; I’d be happy to respond more thoroughly (and more quickly) if anything is less than clear.

      • Niix
        Posted at 01:44h, 20 May Reply

        Thanks for the response Jason, I appreciate you taking the time to think about my questions. I have to agree with everything that you said. I’d come to similar conclusions myself, I suppose I was hoping that I was wrong, that there was some “wiggle room”, so to speak. No such luck. Anyway, thanks again for the response.

  • melanie
    Posted at 19:27h, 20 April Reply

    Jesus said not to lust after a woman- think sexual thoughts about. This is not complicated, and people like you try to twist it. your way of thinking is wordly and carnal, and very male. lust may be a part of human nature, but human nature is fallen. why must people try to find excuses? you seem to suggets that lust is ok as long as you dont intend to act on it. so a man could fantasize about a woman, another man or a child, and its fine if he does not act on it. jesus is just as concerned with the heart as well as our actions. by the way there happen to be Asexual people, who do not have such desires. they are no more abnormal than anyone else. you are not a christian.

    • Stefany
      Posted at 15:35h, 24 May Reply

      Melanie i agree 100% with your comment and couldn’t have said It any better myself. People should stop trying to make excuses for the behaviors that go against God’s teachings and start trying to actually change and follow the right path, against temptations.

      • Jason A. Staples
        Posted at 16:09h, 24 May Reply

        Do you think it is important to properly understand what Jesus says in this verse in order to know “the behaviors that go against God’s teachings”? If so, how might one go about properly understanding the verse?

        • Alfred Sturges
          Posted at 03:04h, 09 June Reply

          What this is saying is that if you look upon a woman with a desire to perform a sexual act with her then you have committed adultery in your heart. Does that fit your use of the word covet? In english we call looking at a woman with a desire to perform a sexual act lust. So the translators are right to use the word lust. In the context of adultery we should not assume that someone is looking to covet another man’s wife because of her domestic skills.

          The question your article raises is can we look but not touch. Well, if you are looking and thinking you would like to have sex with her then you are looking with a desire to commit adultery. Jesus calls that committing adultery in your heart. Just because you place a line between looking and touching doesn’t mean you don’t have a desire to touch, it just means you have restraint. And unfortunately just because you only play the fantasy out in your mind that doesn’t excuse you from having committed adultery in your heart.

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 23:47h, 09 June

            That’s a very interesting interpretation, but it doesn’t seem to be what the Greek actually says, which is a bit of a problem, don’t you think?

          • Alfred Sturges
            Posted at 05:26h, 07 July

            There is someone who might be able to settle this for us: St. Chrysostom. As an early doctor of the church and lover of the greek language we should expect him to know the meaning of this verse.

            From his commentary (http://www.one-fold.com/Resources/Chrysostom/npnf110.pdf page 213):
            For beginning from those passions, which most belong to our whole race, anger, I mean, and desire (for it is these chiefly that bear absolute sway within us, and are more natural than the rest); He with great authority, even such as became a legislator, both corrected them, and reduced them to order with all strictness. For He said not that the adulterer merely is punished; but what He had done with respect to the murderer, this He doth here also, punishing even the unchaste look: to teach thee wherein lies what He had more than the scribes. Accordingly, He saith, “He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her:” that is, he who makes it his business to be curious about bright forms, and to hunt for elegant features, and to feast his soul with the sight, and to fasten his eyes on fair countenances. For He came to set free from all evil deeds not the body only, but the soul too before the body. Thus, because in the heart we receive the grace of the Spirit, He cleanses it out first.

            In comparison with his interpretation I find my interpretation to be too weak. Those who “hunt for elegant features” are the ones who stand accused of committing adultery in their heart, not only those who look with sexual desire.

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 14:02h, 06 September

            Apologies for taking so long to respond to this comment; I somehow missed it. Chrysostom was an excellent Greek scholar (trained by the great Libanius), but let’s also recall that you’re reading a translation of Chrysostom—he again references “coveting” here and uses his usual flowery language to illustrate what covetousness looks like. His larger point is basically the same as what we’re saying here. It’s not the desire for sex that is condemned but the seeking after (hunting for) ways to “feast” upon an inappropriate outlet for that desire.

    • Lucy
      Posted at 02:13h, 13 August Reply

      I cannot believe how many guys are agreeing with this article…. Lusting after another woman is adultery. Period. Do not look with sexually impure thoughts on any woman (besides your wife which in this case is not impure…) How can you misread this? It’s so clear…. Thank you Melanie and Stefany for replying…. You should look at all women like sisters and mothers not as sexual bait…. Please look closely at Jesus teaching…. You are to be one with your wife and only your wife. In what world would Jesus accept a man cheating on his wife either with his imagination or in real life? What a joke. You boys need to stop looking for loopholes to sin…. Stay out of the grey if there is any question. Don’t swim in it. Can you honestly pray about it and feel at peace that God allows you to look at women this way? Especially if you are married or the lady is? And what woman would want a husband who ogled at anything and everything with breasts? I honestly don’t think God would want women to put up with that. It’s disgusting. Grow boys and be the men God has called you to be and you will have a sexually fullfilling marriage.

      • David
        Posted at 18:12h, 13 August Reply

        Hi Lucy. Your response bothered me and, to be honest, I felt it was a little foolish. May I ask what you were hoping to accomplish? If the tides were turned, would you have found your response helpful or constructive?

        Think about this…What was Adam’s reaction when he saw Eve? God made men to notice when women are beautiful. I am married now, and before I was married, I often noticed how beautiful and attractive my future wife was. I also looked forward to having relations with her….it’s not like something magical happened when we got married and all of a sudden she became beautiful to me. She was beautiful all along. This is why I honestly believe it’s okay for single men and single women to find one another attractive.

        Additionally, I don’t judge my wife when she struggles during certain hormonal changes every month or when her emotions were changing throughout her pregnancy. Some of her thoughts and actions were very difficult to deal with. I am patient with her and pray for her. The men reading and responding to this article need that same consideration. At least they are speaking up about this topic and walking in the light.

        Your response is judgmental and not encouraging at all. It’s surely not spoken out of love. I don’t think men are looking for a loophole. I think we are openly discussing the difference between noticing a woman is beautiful and coveting that beauty for ourselves. Many men, including myself, live in shame for thoughts we can’t control because of how the church typically presents this topic. I would agree that it’s a fine line, but I would ask you to think about how you addressed these men. Are the “boys” you refer to in more sin than you being judgmental towards them? God called men to be leaders, so i’ll take the high ground on this one and pray for you along with everyone else included in this post. I pray that God helps you grow in your love for His people. We are all sinners and are on a road to healing and sanctification.

      • qinhan
        Posted at 18:48h, 28 March Reply

        Lucy, would I be too far off base if I assumed, based on your comment, that you’re an extremely jealous person who gets really angry, really quickly, when you even think your husband notices another woman?

        I ask that because my wife is not that way, and she doesn’t care if I notice another woman is beautiful (because I’m married, not dead.) She knows I’m not plotting on how to sleep with her or going to go out and try to.

        I believe the word I’m looking for here is “insecurity.”

        • Matt
          Posted at 09:42h, 17 September Reply

          Thank you David for your reply, it put it in the right way, and non-judgementally, which is what is needed. Lucy, I may have misinterpreted what this article is saying, but I think the difference between coveting and noticing is important. When you see a good looking male actor on TV and appreciate, notice, that he is good looking, without going any further than that, without having some sexual fantasy about him, is that a sin? Is that wrong? In the same way, when a woman walks past a man and he notices and appreciates that she is beautiful, to frame it in the words of the author, he is attracted to her (I don’t think he was intending any more than that, please correct me if I’m wrong). He notices that she has a beautiful face, or even a beautiful body, without any further coveting. Without taking a second look. Just an appreciation of beauty. Is that any worse than you appreciating a man’s looks? Noticing that he is good looking? No man would condemn you for saying (for instance) “Brad Pitt’s a good looking guy”. Please don’t read into our actions or words any more than that. And please don’t judge people, even when they are wrong.

      • Chris
        Posted at 00:08h, 22 November Reply

        I find it interesting that Jason Staples provides a ton of educated research to base his beliefs off of, and you provide none. You just ramble on about your own convictions and judge others accordingly. What a shame 🙁

  • Lust and the Problem of Thought-Policing | unchained faith
    Posted at 09:11h, 09 May Reply

    […] more on this topic, I suggest reading “Whoever Looks at a Woman With Lust”: Misinterpreted Bible Passages #1.  It’s pretty straight cis male-centric, though, so keep that in mind as you read–not […]

  • David
    Posted at 17:53h, 24 July Reply

    What a great article. I understand some people might not agree with it, but I actually do. It’s of utmost importance that we understand scripture correctly. It looks like a couple of women posted about how a man’s natural desire to look at a woman should be considered sinful. Well, I would have to ask them this….are you married? If not, wouldn’t you like your future husband to (in some way) desire you, or be attracted to you? If you are married, was it sinful for your husband to desire to marry you so he could eventually enjoy the benefits of being married? Telling a man that his natural reaction to a beautiful woman is sinful is like telling a woman her feelings during that time of the month are sinful even if she never acts out in anger. It’s all hormones.

    I’m glad in the comments Jason rightly called out the sinful behaviors that tend to follow wrongly desiring women, but desiring in itself is not a sin….especially for single men to desire single women….it’s one thing to walk up to a house for sale and think ” I would really desire to live here”. It’s a totally different thing to look at your neighbor’s house that isn’t for sale and be pissed off that you can’t live in there house.

    I believe the ultimate point of this passage is that many people thought they were righteous because they did not participate in certain sins. Jesus was simply trying to communicate that even the moral cream of the crop still need a Savior (and even more so because they are blind to their own pride).

    Be careful not to judge, or you’ll bring judgement on yourself. Instead pray that we may all strive for holiness and trust that our only hope, despite how “good” we live, is in Jesus. We all need Him every day so that we may live our lives and finish well.

    The God tells us through his word to be free from concern, not to worry, and that nothing can separate us from His love.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 14:41h, 27 July Reply

      Thanks for the response.

      One thing I think is worth pointing out, however, is that the verse you’re referencing when you say “nothing can separate us from his love” does not actually say that. It actually says, “No creature (or created thing) can separate us from his love.” That is not quite the same thing as “nothing,” and the distinction is worth noting, as it is very clear throughout scripture that sin both can and does separate a person from God’s love. Sin is neither a creature nor a created thing—it’s more of a non-thing—so Paul’s language there is careful for a reason.

      • John Buta
        Posted at 18:37h, 05 October Reply

        Hi Jason,

        Id have to disagree there. While you’re reading of that verse is correct, you’re belief that sin can separate us from Gods love is way off point. God is love, and he loved us even while we were his enemies. Now he lives in us, how much more should we rejoice that sin cannot separate us from his love (Hebrews 9:28) To say that sin can separate a person (i believe we are referring here to a christian), from Gods love, is like saying we can sin the Holy Spirit out of us.

        • Jason A. Staples
          Posted at 17:03h, 11 October Reply

          Don’t forget the rest of Hebrews (most notably Heb 6 and 10:26–31), which addresses that very question with quite strong warnings. Likewise, Paul warns Gentile believers that they can be cut out of the tree if they are disobedient/unfaithful (Rom 11), while Ephesians warns against grieving the holy spirit for this very reason. There’s no question that the New Testament regularly warns that disobedience or unfaithfulness can separate even the elect from God.

          • John Buta
            Posted at 18:15h, 13 October

            Thank you for the reply Jason. Sorry to go off topic on your blog!

            Id have to say that Romans 11 is more a warning to the Gentiles about becoming too proud (11:18-20), than a warning to be obedient & faithful or else. They were becoming arrogant toward the Jews (11:18), because now they were saved by God, and the Jews weren’t (11:20). They were being self righteous, and Jesus has never condoned self-righteousness (Luke 18: 9-14), not now, and not then.
            That’s why Paul likewise has such strong words for the Gentiles (Romans 11:22). Its easy to read into that verse a strong, personal, warning for ourselves though, that we need to do something to continue in Gods kindness or we’re getting the cut. But we shouldn’t. We should be reminded that the only requirement to stay a branch in Jesus’s tree, is that we believe (11:20). Nothing more, nothing less.
            And that’s the problem with self-righteousness, its unbelief; its self focused, not Jesus focused, and its leaves room for boasting, and no room for a Savior. Hopefully those gentiles got the message in Paul’s 3rd Chapter (v.27) where he writes, “Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith.”
            If we go around swallowing every pill Jesus or Paul intended for the self-righteous, we’ll end up feeling insecure in our Father’s love, and working out of fear that we might get pruned next time the Gardener comes round to check on our performance.
            Perfect love casts out fear though (1John 4:18), and in the words of Paul to the Corinthians:

            “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Cor 1:8-9)

            I would really really love to discuss this further, and get back to you on the passages from Hebrews.
            If its better though, i can email you personally & we can continue to talk that way instead of going into it via the post you have written? I’m happy to have this reply not shown in the comments section & continued via email.

            Warm regards

            John

            p.s. hopefully my email address should be given to you through this comment, if not its: john.buta@yahoo.co.uk

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 14:09h, 06 September

            My apologies for missing this comment, John. It was just after our house fire, so I missed a lot in that timeframe.

            With respect to Rom 11, there’s no doubt that it serves as a warning against becoming proud, but the exact danger of such pride would be disobedience/unfaithfulness that would wind up getting them cut off in the same way as the cut-off Jews they were glorying over.

            The warning is not against self-righteousness but unrighteousness and disobedience. The message is that the branches who had been cut off had been removed for unfaithfulness, so if those presently grafted in would be unfaithful, they would have the same result.

            Rom 11:20 doesn’t say the only requirement is to “believe,” but to be faithful. (Paul uses the nominal form, “You stand by your faithfulness.”) There’s a fairly significant difference between the two concepts.

            I may not have much time to email about this at present, but I’ll drop you a line and we can go through some of this down the line.

          • uu
            Posted at 19:28h, 19 November

            totally false… Paul would have disagreed. Losing your salvation means you do something to keep it. You are now under the curse sadly when you try and earn your salvation or keep it. Free gift. The Scriptures you are talking about do not refer to salvation…sorry. Read Galations.

  • Jake
    Posted at 01:35h, 25 July Reply

    Maybe I’m thinking about this too much, but in Isaiah 53 it says that their will be nothing in Jesus that we should “desire” him. If we use your definition, that would mean that (if he wasn’t ugly) we would “desire to possess” him (whatever that means). Am I getting something wrong here?

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 14:38h, 27 July Reply

      Good question. This is a good example of the fuzzy nature of language, where individual words can have different nuances depending on their context. In that context, the Hebrew word is best understood as “desire” or “take delight in.”

      • SammyD
        Posted at 00:52h, 29 July Reply

        Imteresrting article. so why do you think Jesus uses the word adultery? the word implies one or both people are married.. If it was all encompassing, I wonder why Jesus didnt say commits fornication or sexual immorality? Anyone?

        • Jason A. Staples
          Posted at 01:09h, 29 July Reply

          Technically, the word “woman” here (Greek γυναῖκα) implies a married woman; it’s also the standard Greek word for “wife.” So “adultery” makes sense in that context.

          In addition, fornication and other sexual immorality is not mentioned in the Decalogue, which Jesus seems to be operating within here. Other forms of sexual immorality are addressed elsewhere in the Torah (and in early Christian ethics) but those don’t really seem to be addressed here.

          • Lee Weaver
            Posted at 17:54h, 09 January

            The reason for the use of adultery and not fornication is because fornication infers all acts of sexual improprieties, i.e., homosexuality, bestiality, polygamy… Adultery is the only act of fornication that can occur between a male and female. Therefore, to use the word fornication itself would not, in its rightful definition, ever be applicable.

  • april mccullohs
    Posted at 21:17h, 06 August Reply

    Jason, your article is really interesting and enlightening for many reasons, but I’m just going to throw in a woman’s perspective here, one who grew up in the same Christian culture that seemed to teach young men that there sexual drives were entirely sinful.

    And, it’s this: we, the girls growing up in that culture, were strongly encouraged in the ways of modesty because we were taught that we had *so much* responsibility when it came to our brothers’ struggles with lust. It’s like the burden of their visual, highly sexual, drives were placed right on top of our closets and wardrobes. And, for girls who are still getting used to their transitioning bodies, surrounded by oppressive messages from the world about body image, having to own the burden of our struggling Christian brothers was just… a lot, too much. Whether from the world (because no fourteen year old measures up to the standards in the magazines), or from the church, the message we received, albeit in different packaging, was that we had much to be ashamed of.

    While I still believe, and practice, the principles of modesty, I’m so much more aware of the burden that was placed on us, and I refuse to carry it any longer. Yes, I don’t want to “make my brother stumble,” but I also now know that he’ll “stumble” if I’m wearing a parka and is intent on “stumbling” (to use the language that was tossed around so much). His struggle is his, and I don’t have to own that burden. My reasons for modesty, now, are motivated by what makes me feel good about myself, and how I carry myself with dignity– and the end results (the clothes I choose) are pretty much the same. But the shame and the fear of inciting someone to lust? I’ve let that go.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 23:00h, 06 August Reply

      April, thanks so much for this comment, as it brings in a whole other side to this discussion. It’s really unfortunate the way well-meaning teaching can really paralyze both sexes with shame and guilt. I really appreciate the perspective you’ve added here.

    • ericfree_free
      Posted at 06:03h, 14 August Reply

      dressing modest produces a greater chance to not be proud and arrogant with looks…after all we all have poop lingering in our bodies throughout the day…modesty isn’t just helpful for lusting men…but also for yourself so u wont be proud…either way none of us are god and we cant get around our conscience…god know your desires…we cant outsmart him…please don’t try to bend the topic of how dangerous sin is…lusting greatly is still horrible…it says renew your minds…that way u wont lust as much and commit fornication as much hopefully not at all.marriage is the cure for lust as paul says if im not mistaken

    • Friend
      Posted at 23:32h, 18 June Reply

      Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

      I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

      Just as a man should not look to gaze lustfully at a woman (which I struggle with oftentimes), a woman should dress modestly in order to help limit others from such actions. We should not seek to justify the desires of our flesh and if we have any doubt that our actions or thoughts glorify God, we should refrain from them. Thankfully we have Jesus and he provides us with power over sin and the ability to put the flesh under subjection. If we look upon a woman and become aware that she is fair to look upon, no that itself is not sin. However when we start to look with the intent of lusting on her features this I believe would constitute “covet”. Basically if you are married you should be avoiding those little glances because they encourage one to act out on flesh desires. If you continually look though that is showing a heart desire to commit adultery which is obviously not appropriate and I think that is the message Jesus was trying to convey. The desire itself can exist but choosing to think about it and ENCOURAGING it with the look is the beginning of the manifestation of the desire and therefore becomes sin.

  • thrifty jim
    Posted at 19:42h, 21 November Reply

    Why would jesus condemn man for doing what GOD wired him to do?man was created to desire woman for the sake of breeding.otherwise a man would not give a woman the time of day.something has to bring him back home.modern day”Christian women”have taken on a worldly feminist view wich is rebelious.

    • qinhan
      Posted at 18:52h, 28 March Reply

      “Otherwise a man would not give a woman the time of day…”

      Wow…

      Filing this one in “the kind of men to warn my daughter against” file.

      • theasdgamer
        Posted at 15:43h, 27 April Reply

        “…and the two shall become one flesh….” Reproduction is implied. Hence, breeding is implied. Marriage has sex as a primary mission. You are delusional if you think that your daughter won’t want sex.

        You are passive-aggressive. Very unmanly

  • Tom H
    Posted at 14:03h, 27 November Reply

    It’s also important to note that single women often (though not always) dress and wear makeup in order to attract men’s attention, so if that causes men to lust, then single women must bear a greater share of guilt for attracting men’s attention. I think that the author has clearly shown that sexual attraction is not sin, at least from the Sermon on the Mount. Attraction by women towards men is generally sexual and is really part of God’s plan. Wives are supposed to attract their husbands sexually and vice-versa. It isn’t something that happens suddenly once the preacher says, “I do,” but begins from some earlier time. Even during arranged marriages, the prospective spouses saw one another and were allowed to determine if there was sufficient sexual attraction for a marriage or else the whole thing would be called off.

    Wives generally want to be seen as attractive while in the bedroom and it is quite appropriate for husbands to desire their wives and for wives to attract/arouse their husbands by being seen naked. That is God’s plan for the bedroom.

  • Lightning Round – 2013/12/04 | Free Northerner
    Posted at 01:05h, 04 December Reply

    […] The misinterpretation of Matthew 5:27-28. […]

  • John DelHousaye
    Posted at 10:17h, 12 December Reply

    Jason, thanks for your insight. Have you considered this reading: “But I say to you: anyone who looks at a wife so that she lusts already committed adultery with her in his heart”?

    πᾶς ὁ βλέπων may be the understood subject, but the explicit subject of an infinitive clause is in the accusative case—αὐτὴν. Wallace calls this the Accusative Subject of the Infinitive (1996, 192). This reading presumes it takes two to tango: another man’s wife responds to the lustful gaze with a similar desire.

    I was curious if you had an opinion. Preparing to teach a course on this.

    Blessings,

    John

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 11:57h, 18 December Reply

      It’s an interesting thought, but I don’t think the reading can work. Accusative-Infinitive construction is used for paraphrase or indirect quotation, which is not the case here. Instead, we have an articular infinitive followed by the object in accusative. The translation is thus a fairly straightforward, “Everyone who looks at a wife/woman in order to covet her…”

      Thanks for the comment, and I hope your course goes well.

  • Edwin
    Posted at 07:55h, 26 January Reply

    Hey Jason, thank you for the very clear explanation of this passage. I will have to think very often of it, because me myself have been haunted many many times by the wrong interpretation of it in my daily life.
    Am I allowed to print a copy for my self?
    Again, thank you very much !

    Blessings,

    Edwin

  • The Top 22 Bible Verses that I Hate (And I’m a Christian!) | David M Schell
    Posted at 13:14h, 06 February Reply

    […] of natural, God-given automatic reactions.  Jason Staples has a wonderful (if a bit technical) article explaining how this has been […]

  • Mary Ann Bullard
    Posted at 16:14h, 14 March Reply

    I’ve read some garbage before. And as it may, I am continuing to read more garbage.
    The way humans twist the word of God to benefit them, is quite disgusting and very unfortunate.
    To the males who agree with this untruth, please pray to the Lord about it and see His guidance in this area. Men will write articles like this to mislead you and cause you to fall further away from God. I find this “interpretation” if that is what you call it, so hard to believe. Especially when a prominent character in the bible, Job, stated: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman” Job 31: 1
    We’re talking about a man so well promoted by God. A man who was considered righteous. I just can’t imagine the Lord agreeing with this article.

    If you have a hard time keeping your eyes off of women, here’s a good solution.
    The answer is Jesus.
    He preached so much about sex and money. Because He knew people would twist His words to make their sin seem less apparent. He knew someone would disagree with Him and try to use his ministry to promote their immoral behavior. But I want to warn you all….don’t make excuses and agree with people are misunderstood to continue in your sinful behavior.
    God does not reward the ungodly.
    Adultery is a matter of the heart. You can “reinvent” the meaning all you want, but Jesus knows your heart. And each of you should honor him with your heart, as well as your eyes.
    FLEE from the devil and his schemes. Flee from the idea that it is okay to “lust” after another woman (outside of your marriage of course! LOL)

    My prayers are with all of you.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 21:30h, 14 March Reply

      Hi Mary Ann, thanks for the comments. How would you define ἐπιθυμέω then, and on what grounds? The post does its best to explain what Jesus said and what it means in context. If you are to disagree, you may want to explain what Jesus said and what it would mean in context. Simply stating something does not make it so; do you have a basis for your comments?

      Also, for what it’s worth, you didn’t cite Job 31:1 precisely. A more precise translation of that verse says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes. How then could I gaze upon a virgin?”

      You also seem to have badly misunderstood the post. Nowhere does it say what you suggest it says.

      • Tom Hogan
        Posted at 22:54h, 14 March Reply

        Jason, thanks for such an elegant reply to Mary Ann. It’s amazing the lengths that people will go to to defend an inaccurate translation/understanding of a passage. They think that they are defending the Word of God when really they are undermining it. The originals were inspired; the translations, not necessarily.

        “I have made a covenant with my eyes. How then could I gaze upon a virgin?” The implicit understanding is that a virgin has been betrothed to another man already. Were women who went in public veiled in Job’s time? Is there an implication that gazing on a virgin would mean that he has somehow sinned, maybe by removing her veil? From a quick glace at the context, I don’t see any clues.

        I’ve seen similar gyrations to defend the traditional translation of “eikn” in 1 Cor. 15:2 as “in vain” when it clearly should be translated “carelessly” or “recklessly” or “without due diligence.”

        Isn’t it interesting that a woman arrogates to teach men when Paul clearly says that women are not to do that? Isn’t it also interesting that a woman, who has no _empathetic_ understanding of how men find women attractive, deigns to lecture us about sinning with our eyes?

      • mel
        Posted at 14:42h, 22 March Reply

        Hi Jason! Man, thank you so much for this! All this has got me to want to learn Hebrew and Greek – because people don’t have a clue how languages work. If you look at the context – it seems to me that christ was referring more to people that are married – if you look at the context. I am a single man. So if I see a beautiful woman – and I have a desire or want for her, then I have committed adultery in my heart? If that is the case, and everyone followed that law – then no one would be on this earth after those times because you must have some type of “desire” or “want” even before getting married and having children.

        Adultery (definition) – voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse.

        Key word “ADULTERY”. How can I commit adultery if I am not married? Some of these people need to go look up the meaning of ADULTERY – then comeback and put it into context of what Jesus was saying. If a man is with his wife and then desires and take steps to see another woman – he is already guilty within his heart.

        Just like the show on MSNBC when undercover cops were catching older men going to 15 year old girls homes. Even if the men just walked by the house and never went in – they still got arrested because the INTENT to be with her was there.

        What are your thoughts on this Jason?

        • Jason A. Staples
          Posted at 14:19h, 27 April Reply

          Mel, good questions. You’re right that Jesus is primarily addressing married people in this statement. Even the words for “man” and “woman” are the same words used for “husband” and “wife” in Greek. That said, it does seem to apply by extension to coveting in general, which involves the attempt to commit an illicit act. In that sense, even a single man could conceivably covet, though this would inherently involve acting upon that desire in some way.

          • Heather
            Posted at 01:35h, 02 May

            I have explained the word “covet” to my little boy as “wanting to take something that does not belong to you”. If applied here, this would translate to those who are single as well as to those who are married. A single woman does not yet belong to a single man who finds her attractive and vice versa. Seeing something/someone and appreciating their beauty is not the problem. Continuing to look to the point where imagination grows and thoughts of, “What would I do if that thing/person were mine?” is how temptation to commit sin enters the picture. I think most people, if they are honest with themselves, know the difference between sincerely pure appreciation and “lust” (as Americans know the term to imply). Once promises have been made where the two DO belong to one another, as long as harm is not intended, they are safe in thinking about one another in this way – it is no longer covetous.

          • P. Scott
            Posted at 21:36h, 07 May

            Jay I agree with most of what you’re saying, I think a lot guys took these scriptures out of context over the years, men automatically are drawn to actually look at women, its built in, its so automatic for some that you can see how difficult it would be for many going through life thinking they’re committing adultery all the time just by looking, or even being attracted.
            At the same time it makes perfect sense that this is referring to real women in your real life in person, at work, in your town or neighborhood, looking at married women like this, this wrong way possibly could lead to something bad for some men eventually which could lead to an actual affair, a strict scripture is needed, otherwise society couldn’t function.

            But what I don’t get, is when Jesus talks about cutting out eyes and hands and body parts, is this actually symbolic talk more in reference to old testament scripture and law, where they stoned you for adultery? Because we know Jesus didn’t really mean cut the eye out it was symbolic. These passages are also used by some to infer you can lose your salvation which is also a lot of times taken out of context and misinterpreted substantially. Do you think the reference to Hell here is also symbolic as the cutting off of the members is. Obviously the eye and the hands would be needed to conduct the actual affair after the looking, which would be the actual adultery, so I wonder if Jesus was referring to actual Christians who get to a level of committing real adultery could end up losing their salvation or going to hell? Or perhaps he was speaking like this before the cross and not after the cross, not sure.

            I also have wondered and had seen some studies on this I believe that often its important when researching passages to research who Jesus is addressing, because he can talk completely different to His own sheep compared to the pharoses. Some of the harshest scriptures in context was Jesus talking to the pharoses not referring to actual Christians. Not sure but I thought in this passage Jesus was addressing pharoses and calling them out on trying to appear righteous but in actual they were lusting after women to have adultery with them secretly in their minds.

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 22:03h, 07 May

            Jesus was not speaking symbolically when he said “if you hand/eye causes you to sin, cut it off/out.” For one thing, no one’s hand or eye actually causes him/her to sin. Jesus explains elsewhere that sin comes from the heart, not from external limbs or parts of the body. But if it were that easy, it would be better to cut off one’s hand or cut out one’s eye to remove the cause of sin—that’s the basic point, and there’s no need to read it symbolically.

            Secondly, it is nonsense to speak of “losing salvation” when salvation in that sense (salvation from hell) has not yet been obtained by anyone living. That salvation is a future hope, and the New Testament is very clear that a person can disqualify himself/herself from that salvation through disobedience/sin.

            Jesus is addressing his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount.

      • Zach
        Posted at 16:47h, 06 August Reply

        James 1:14-15: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Jason, doesn’t this Bible verse refer to lust as sin?

        ~~ZG

        • Jason A. Staples
          Posted at 14:29h, 08 August Reply

          No more than it refers to sin as death. Lust/desire is the step preceding and leading up to sin, which by definition means it is not the same thing as sin. Likewise, sin is not death, but it leads to it.

          • Zach
            Posted at 14:34h, 08 August

            Would that mean that we would have to avoid lust so we don’t sin?

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 14:58h, 08 August

            No, that human beings have desires is presumed. The point of the passage is that the origin of sin is not outside a person but in a person’s own desires. The answer in James is not to eliminate desire but to have it be transformed and directed toward good purpose.

          • Zach
            Posted at 18:27h, 08 August

            And also, how do we know that sexual desire is not in itself sinful?
            (Sorry if this is a obvious question…)

            ~~ZG

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 19:45h, 08 August

            “Sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). There is no law against sexual desire.

            Secondly, all human beings are born with the biological drive for sex in the same way they’re born with the desire for food. One is no different from the other, and each can lead to sin if misdirected. But it is the misdirection that is sinful, not the desire. Again, desire leads to sin (sin results from desire) but is not to be equated with sin.

          • Zach
            Posted at 20:34h, 08 August

            Ok…

            ~~ZG

          • Scott
            Posted at 02:43h, 10 May

            Jason, anyone who believes is saved now not just later but from the time they believed and the Holy Spirit comes to live in them, that is the seal of salvation till the day of redemption, that’s before heaven, Yes there is a present and future tense that the scriptures make reference to, we are now saved, but we have yet to physically pass into heaven itself, so yes in that sense we haven’t obtained that., But this does not mean while on the earth we aren’t saved by the blood of Jesus present tense now, our current sins cleansed, we will have no sin in heaven, yet while we were still sinners on earth Christ died for us and saved us. So the salvation is happening now on the earth, not in heaven, so the question does exist can someone fall away or lose their salvation, which I think possibly could be true in the sense that at some point they make a deliberate choice to deny Him, their only hope for salvation. But all of this may not be comprehendable to the human mind, as predestination is involved with our choice to believe and to follow and obey to show and prove the fruit of faith in salvation.

            As for Jesus speaking literally about cutting off your hand or eye, I find that odd that you think that, I wonder what denomination you’re affiliated with, not everything Jesus says is literal as we know, and must be taken into consideration, monks actually castrated themselves in the old days because they took those passages literally. And yes the sin comes from the heart, but people can also have a good heart ultimately and slip up, yet someone could be doing everything right in a works basis not sinning but they could be religious or legalistic and not actually be of God or have the true work of the Spirit in them, because its their own righteousness

            . If you think its possible that Jesus meant to cut off the hand or eye literally, then what if you still sin with your other hand, and sin with your other eye, would it then be right to cut out the other eye and then cut off the other hand? At that point you’d be totally blind, and completely helpless with no hands. And when you cut off the hand, you’d have to have a doctor near by to stop the bleeding and patch up the wound so you don’t pass out or die from blood loss. I’m doubting the doctor would let you go through with it, and he’d probably call 911 and have you admitted into a mental institution.

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 10:45h, 10 May

            1) You need to read my post more carefully. Jesus was very serious about cutting off the hand or cutting out the eye if they caused one to sin. But neither causes sin—sin comes from the heart. That’s the point. You could cut off your hand, cut out your eye, cut off your foreskin, or remove any other part of the body, and you would still not have addressed the source of sin. This is the undercurrent throughout that passage.

            2) Your statements about salvation are not supported by the New Testament. For one, the New Testament is very clear that only past sins are forgiven (see 2 Pet 1:9). It is also clear that although the firstfruits of salvation can be enjoyed in the present, the fullness of salvation is a future hope, not something that has already been attained in the present. Thus Paul exhorts the Philippians to “achieve your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you” (Phil 2:12–13a). The basic idea is that God’s grace makes a person just (justification), which then enables the person to gain salvation from the penalty of injustice and sin when the judgment comes. Unfortunately, many modern Christians conflate justification and salvation or even invert the order of the two.

    • Matheus Moraes
      Posted at 04:42h, 07 December Reply

      Mary, your argument does not make sense. You said that people twist God’s word to diverge people from their faith, right? If the “Scripture twisters” are demons that make the faithful stumble on their faith, Jason Staples is an angel! He brought the original, greek and inspired-by-the-Holy-Spirit Matthew 5:27-28 and brought the ACTUAL MEANING of it. He is “untwisting” it. Stop talking what you are not talking (It sounds funny!).

  • qinhan
    Posted at 18:55h, 28 March Reply

    Jason, I think it’s safe to say that if our fathers hadn’t lusted after our mothers, none of us would be here today!! I agree with what you’ve written here, and I remain amazed that so may evangelicals want to constantly make things harder than they ought to be. (That last phrase might be more than a little Freudian.) God bless.

  • Earl
    Posted at 23:30h, 15 April Reply

    Thank you brother for your insight.I am actually

  • James Williamson
    Posted at 06:37h, 24 April Reply

    There are so many translations of the Bible now of days and so many opinions but just a thought, have you ever shared this blog of yours that I have just read with Benny Hinn for, he is one who knows the Bible inside and out and studys the Bible diligently and is very knowledgeable. what is his reply to the views you shared in this? Please be humble enough to get his view and options and let us know.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 14:25h, 27 April Reply

      Hi James, I am not personally acquainted with and thus have not shared my blog with Mr. Hinn, though I would certainly not object to his reading it.

      • Scott
        Posted at 18:25h, 10 May Reply

        Not sure how to respond to your previous comment as there’s no reply option next to it. But you seem to be contradicting yourself. You said sin comes from the heart not the hands or eyes, ok but we all know that, that’s not what were debating, were debating do you think Jesus was literally saying cut off your members, which you wouldn’t answer it. Do you think that everything Jesus is saying is literal, would you sell all your belongings today and give away all your money, you probably wouldn’t, right? You know that you have to also take things in context, Jesus also said different things to different people because he read their hearts and knew what their faults already were. But again I’ll ask you, do think that Jesus literally meant cut off your hand and eye? If you were a pastor not just a college teacher but had real responsibility over real people, and there was quite a few guys having affairs which we know there are, some maybe couldn’t stop, some were hiding them, would you advise them to gouge out their eyes or cut off their hands because you could spare them from hell in doing so right? I suppose you’d have to tell their wives as well and their children that Daddy’s going to have to go through this process of losing his eyes and hands or at least one of them because he’ll be better off for it. You must know how many times Jesus spoke figuratively and told stories and used images and symbols and parables to teach.

        The law perspective is also the other point that if Jesus was literal it was literal in a law sense, people were stoned for adultery in the old testament, this was because of the law, after the cross of course this doesn’t happen anymore, so a human being to avoid sin by the law might have to dismember himself literally if he was to truly live up to God’s perfect standards, to which we know is not possible and why Jesus was the only one who could do it, hence the the extreme statement made showing us how much we need Jesus so we don’t have to be dismembered ourselves to make it into the Kingdom. In other words its an impossibility under the law, but with Jesus its not.

        The disobedience in the New Testament is disobedience to not believe, the works go together with believing and faith because they show the fruit of real faith its still faith that gets us saved not works, works by themselves or good deeds can not save you or earn your salvation. You mentioned 2 peter 1:9 says only past sins are forgiven. Where in that passage does it say “only” past sins, it just states to remember that you’ve been cleansed from your past iniquities in other words don’t go back into them again remember they are now not a part of you or shouldn’t be. There are clear references to confessing sins today present date, not just the past. If you sin today do you ever ask God for forgiveness or Jesus?

        Then you mentioned (Phil 2:12–13a) saying it is us that achieve our salvation, I suppose you like the word achieve, other translations of the Greek mean similar things like bring to fruition continually. But as you know it goes onto say that it is God in you that works and gives you the will to fulfill that purpose. So how is God in us, He’s in us because were saved, that’s now present date, and we can’t even will properly to work out the salvation or attain it to fruition without God inside of us giving us that ability. So you can’t do this on your own or teach that we go around getting half saved and then fully saved later if we do it. I do think its possible that a Christian can fall away through the sin of unbelief, and possible other sins that help that unbelief form, but even that is still debatable. And I think true Christians should show fruit or works, not just saying they believe without any sign they really do, but its still clear in so many scriptures were saved now and promised eternal life if we believe now and receive Jesus. If were really of Him were going to continue in the faith and show some of the things that the scriptures are saying we should, and possibly some will not which could mean they fell away or maybe they never were saved.

        John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

        John 10:28: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

        John 11:26: “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

        John 6:37: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

        1 John 5:10-11: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

        • Jason A. Staples
          Posted at 09:27h, 16 May Reply

          1) I am not contradicting myself. Jesus’ statement is a conditional: “if this … then that.” He says, “If you hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” He means that literally. But he further states elsewhere in the Gospel that sin does not come from the outside or from a specific member of the body (limbs, eyes, etc.) but rather from the heart. Thus cutting off one’s hand or foreskin or cutting out one’s eye won’t actually fix the problem of sin. This is very straightforward and does not require a figurative reading.

          2) If Jesus made a general command to sell all one has and give away all one’s money, that would need to be done—trying to explain it away as figurative would do a disservice to the command. Had the rich young man in the Gospels, for example, said to Jesus, “I get what you’re saying, you’re speaking figuratively, so I don’t need to sell everything I have,” that response would have been ludicrously wrong. Jesus meant what he said, and he was not speaking figuratively in that episode either.

          3) As to your question of what I would do about men committing adultery in a church community and whether I would advise them to gouge out their eyes or cut off their hands, you again are displaying a stubborn unwillingness to read what I have already said. The problem is that cutting off their hands or cutting out their eyes wouldn’t fix the problem. (Again, you need to read Jesus’ “if…then” properly.) The problem with those men is not their eyes or hands but their hearts. But if they continued in their affairs, the proper action in a church context is to cut them off from the body. (In this sense, Jesus’ statement applies not only to individuals but also to communities.)

          4) Your division between “the law perspective” and otherwise is entirely mistaken, especially when you say “we know [it] is not possible” to live up to God’s perfect standards. That statement violates pretty much everything Jesus says throughout the Gospels, most notably Jesus’ own command “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” That command would be foolish, cruel, and absurd if it were a command to do the impossible. After all, Jesus himself explains, “with God all things are possible”—including keeping God’s law, which is what Jesus himself says must be done. There is zero indication in the Gospels or anywhere else that keeping the law is impossible or should not be attempted.

          5) Your definition of disobedience in the New Testament as “disobedience to not believe” is likewise mistaken. Nowhere does the New Testament say that “faith gets us saved not works.” On the contrary, essentially every New Testament author makes it clear that everyone will be judged based on works and that only those who are judged to have conducted themselves righteously will be saved (see Romans 2, for example). You are mistakenly conflating “justification” (being made righteous) and “salvation” from the penalty of sin, which comes once one is judged as righteous (having previously been made righteous or “justified” by God’s grace). This is why Paul says to the Philippians “accomplish your salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12); they must achieve their salvation through the grace that was given them. They have not yet attained it but must press forward to attain what God’s grace has enabled them to attain.

          6) As a result of those misunderstandings, your notion of people already having gained their final salvation contradicts the message of the New Testament. It is worth noting that none of the verses you cite mention salvation; instead, they reference eternal life, which John 17:3 defines this way: “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Similarly, John 12:50 says, “I know that his commandment is eternal life.” Throughout the New Testament we find that a person may come to possess this life through grace, but should that person not hold to the command or continue in obedience to the commands of God, that person will not be saved.

          • Kenny Jones
            Posted at 07:58h, 17 May

            You may have already used this, but I have not read it. Noah’s ark is a perfect example of what you are saying, Jason. God was going to wipe out the earth in a flood along with everything in it, but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and was spared. God’s grace is undeserved favor and ultimately one can say Noah was saved by God’s grace, but God’s grace wasn’t just God reaching down, saving Noah from the flood, but was an escape plan from the flood. God gave Noah a plan so that he could build an Ark. He gave him specific dimensions and directions to follow to build the ark. If Noah hadn’t obeyed God exactly in faith by building the ark, God’s grace wouldn’t have did Noah any good and Noah, his family, and all the animals would have perished in the flood. God works the same way today. People deserve the fires of hell and separation from God because of their sin, but through Jesus Christ, God made another plan to save us that we have to follow through faith. We have to believe the gospel enough to obey the gospel. If we choose to accept God’s plan we will ultimately be saved, Just like Noah. But if we veer from that plan, we are forfeit from his salvation. That is not something separating you from God’s grace, that is you deciding not to follow the plan he gave you because of his grace. If Noah had only half built the Ark, would he have still been saved? Absolutely not. He had to endure to the end to be saved. Salvation isn’t saying a sinners prayer and boom you’re saved. Salvation is a work that is being accomplished each day until the end, Salvation is God, through his grace, making a way for you to escape judgement and telling you how to do it. What must we do? Acts chapter 2.

          • Scott
            Posted at 03:00h, 20 May

            Jay first off it would help if you had some of your background on here, what denomination you’re affiliated with or at least what preacher or denomination you might most identify with or share beliefs. Because a lot of your statements could easily be debunked in a debate vs other scholars and ministers. I would advise you to do some televised debates on youtube with some noted guys. You need to make statements such as well it is my belief of such and such or my opinion, you can’t just state everything as fact all the time. Ive watched top guys with your view points, attain your own salvation, works based stuff, similar knowledge education, eventually through repeated debates get whittled down to the point where they no longer held up anymore. If you’re going to state all these things as fact all the time you need to publicly show that these stances can hold up against a different view then your own.

            1) You say again the cutting off of the body parts is literal yet you keep specifying the sin comes from inside not outside body parts, I know that, could you please stop mentioning sin comes from the heart, I already understand that, please don’t answer the question with that statement again when I said I already know that, that’s not what I asked. I’m basically agreeing with you it comes from the heart.

            But what I said is, if its literal, do you think another minister or Christian should follow in Jesus’s literal teaching or statement of cutting out the eye or body parts if they cause us to sin? You wont answer that? You then say again, cutting off the body part wont fix the sin, ok then why is Jesus telling you to cut off the body part, just for the heck of it?

            If you want to take it literally, then you have to say He is telling you to cut off the body part to fix the sin too, because that’s what he’s literally saying, that’s why I said you’re contradicting yourself, which you just did again. You can’t have it both ways if you want to go literal.

            I don’t know if you’re influenced by other professors that are extreme, or the read the bible raw book, which is written by an unbeliever right? You have to have correct interpretation you can’t just take everything literal because you think its raw or something. I mean this is pretty self evident. Jesus can literally say something but still mean it as examples in a figurative sense to make strong points, that’s also very evident throughout many of His teachings, using examples to really show the extremeness of the problem or sin.

            2) Jesus is God, He can say an do anything He wants. When God walked through the garden and questioned Adam and Eve did He not know the answer to the question He asked? If He did, then was He literally asking it, no, not in the literal sense that He didn’t know the answer to His question as in how we would ask a question. When God questioned Cain why did he kill Able, where is your brother, did God not know what happened to Able, of course. I could go on and on, when Jesus told the rich man to sell everything did He not know what his response would be? Of course He did. He was testing him, just as God was testing man, questioning him, and so on.

            Jesus told the rich man to sell everything because he knew he was holding on to his riches more so than following Jesus, but that is not how you get to heaven, it was just used as an example of a person who’s riches were loved more than Jesus, that’s why it can’t be taken as literal in that sense nor even the sense as told to the man, because Jesus said it to test him and expose his heart, not to necessarily literally do it, If the man did sell everything, Jesus may have told him to do something else he was hiding, which again would of exposed him.

            But an additional point that you’re leaving out and could easily be debated, is Jesus saw that the rich man was trying to get to heaven on his own goodness his own works, by following all the commandments himself, he said what else must I do, key phrase I do. Jesus hadn’t died yet on the cross. To fulfill the old law, the old covenant that is what man can’t strive to do, only Jesus can. Which is also possible why he answered the man the way He did, now sell all your belongings everything, it showed the frailness of a man who was obeying all the commandments but still came up short. The understanding of the impossibility to please a perfect God under the old law must be understood otherwise we’d have no need for Jesus. I believe Jesus is teaching both these things, the old law and the coming new grace and covenant as well together. Many top ministers and scholars would agree.

            3) I already know the church should cut the people off from the body if there is repeated affairs, That wasn’t what I asked. I also again as I said earlier know that the sin is coming from the heart largely or inside for the most part. That isn’t an answer to my question, that’s a diversion. Again, if its literal, would you then follow Jesus literal teaching which is cutting out body parts if they cause that person to sin? If such a person sinned with their eyes, and many do, would you then literally advise them to cut out the eye to save their soul from hell? My guess is you wont answer this, you’ll probably continue to just say its the heart not the body parts, again I know that but that’s not answering the question. Maybe I can simplify it, how about yes or no, can you say one or the other? Because you couldn’t hold this stance is a public televised debate forum.

            4) I meant the old law, no one is perfect like Jesus to fulfill the old law, that’s why He came to die for us, because man was completely and totally imperfect to fulfill the old law, I mean you know that right? When Jesus is teaching His statements are hitting many different things many things are context. Do you think there is a difference between the old law and the new one? We also can’t full fill the new law without His help either, we can’t actually do anything on our own really. You could try to pile up all the greatest works you could muster, but if its you, its all rags, it means nothing, you could get to heaven and find out you never really believed in Him, it was you that you were really trusting in, your works your accomplishments. To Him they mean nothing on their own. Unless your righteousness surpasses the scribes and pharisees you can’t enter the kingdom of heaven. What’s that mean, its a different kind of righteousness its through him by God not of man. The pharisees had no need for Jesus they thought they could do it on their own through the old law.

            Everything is through Him, when you said with God all things are possible, that was referring to humans getting saved,, not fulfilling the law, and again specify what law here. That was after the rich man eye of the needle comment, did Jesus literally mean a camel going through a needle? The disciples then said then how can anyone be saved? That’s anyone any human not just rich, Jesus said with man its impossible but with God all things are possible. We don’t save ourselves, its impossible, only God does. You should read David Wilkerson’s book The New Covenant Unveiled if you haven’t, he would not agree with you.

            5) Your comments here are the most puzzling again, please try to debate these statements publicly, you say nowhere in the new testament does it say that faith gets us saved not works. It says by faith you are saved not by works I mean that’s easy, you’re leaving out the full passage as well, then it says were created to do good works in advance prepared for us, those aren’t the works getting us saved, were saved first while we are yet sinners dead in transgressions. I’m shocked you’re not understanding this, its odd, again maybe because this is on your site and not out in the open.

            You’re also taking things out of context and not reading through the whole passages scripture interprets scripture, right, the accomplish your salvation scripture or bring to fruition, its saying that because again in context, Paul was telling them he wasn’t going to be there he was absent, so they would have to work this out on their own without him, without his in person teachings and labor, it doesn’t mean they’re saving themselves their continuing, bringing to completion the good work that he started, this implies you might be able to fall away, doesn’t mean you’re not saved. You can’t take that one sentence apart from the whole passage in its context. It goes on to say that it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. That’s still God in you doing it. You’re putting too much reliance on ones self and salvation.

            It even talks about works being burned up but still being saved by fire, losing the rewards. The works are burnt up if they are not built on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ as it says earlier, works are all based around Jesus not our own strength, in context there was a lot of sin and evil in the Corinthian church and with those cultures, the potential to not believe properly was there and to be deceived in not making Jesus the foundation in which you build on.

            6) None of the scriptures I mentioned say salvation you’re saying. So what, you’re mincing words, what do you think eternal life is, do you think receiving eternal life is living in hell forever, that’s heaven with God, that’s saved, we receive that now. It says we will not come into condemnation, it promises were sealed by the Holy spirit till the day of redemption were new creatures in Christ, we can’t enter the kingdom of heaven unless were born again, born again is not just grace its a new life, it was predestined, prepared before the beginning of time, that’s all saved and is salvation.

            1 John 5:10-11: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

            He that believeth, believe is faith, eternal life is given, not getting, its in his son, his son is salvation, that’s saved.

            If you want to say in a physical sense that were not yet bodily in heaven or our spirits aren’t there, ok in that sense we have the future hope to look forward to. And we need to stand strong to hold onto that faith in Jesus, as that’s are only way to inherit eternal life and maybe our only way to fall away from it.

            You should really try to debate these beliefs with noted scholars televised, a few I can think of that would be game to do this with you would be Michael Brown and James White, neither is perfect both have flaws, some large, but both debate all the time and are educated, I’m sure if you requested to debate them let them know of your stances they’d invite you on their radio shows. Let us know if this happens. Brown would be more works oriented, but even he would not take things as far as you have. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEU2IuC1d24

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 10:36h, 20 May

            A person’s denominational affiliation is irrelevant to whether that person’s interpretation of a given passage is correct unless of course that person gets his/her interpretation from denominational tradition. Otherwise, looking for a person’s affiliation, credentials, or identity as a way to assess an argument is little more than Bulverism. That said, I’d be happy to debate anyone who wishes to set it up, though such debates aren’t really the way things work in scholarship or biblical interpretation. Written discourse and publication of ideas is the usual forum, and that’s where my work is primarily disseminated, though I’ve been happy to speak when invited.

            1) As for the cut off/out statement, you’re still clearly struggling with the conditional clause aspect of the saying. I suggest doing some reading on how conditional clauses work grammatically. It will help with the interpretation of that passage. Jesus in no way advises anyone to cut off his/her hand or cut out his/her eye. He only says to do so IF such members of the body should cause that person to sin. But in light of his statement that sin does not originate from such body parts, the statement serves as a hypothetical to demonstrate the severity of sin. It’s akin to someone saying, “If everyone in the world who had a right hand is about to contract the Ebola virus, cut off your hand. Better to lose your hand than to get Ebola.” Of course, we know Ebola has nothing to do with whether a person has a right hand or not, but the hypothetical condition serves to show the severity of Ebola.

            2) Jesus was not omniscient in his earthly life. The New Testament is very clear of this. Not only that, the New Testament is clear that everything Jesus did, he did as a human being empowered by the spirit rather than in the capacity of divinity. This is why in the Gospel of John Jesus explains that his followers will do greater things than he himself did—because of his death and resurrection, they have access to the same empowerment by the spirit that he had.

            There is no indication in the rich young man passage that Jesus was showing that the rich man was mistaken for “trying to get to heaven on his own goodness his own works,” as you suggest. If what you are saying is correct, the exchange would have to work the opposite way from what happens in the passage—Jesus would ask the young man how he expects to get to heaven, to which the young man would reply “by following the commandments,” at which point Jesus would explain how that was insufficient. But instead, the opposite happens in this passage: when the man asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life, it is Jesus himself who answers, “Follow the commandments,” to which the young man asks “which ones?” Jesus responds with the commands from one tablet of the decalogue—the commands having to do with love of neighbor, to which the man responds that he has always done these things. It is important to note that the passage then says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him” (Mark 10:21). There’s no indication that Jesus thinks this young man is self-deluded or any such thing. Instead, Jesus says, “You only lack one thing,” telling him to sell everything and give to the poor in order to gain treasure in heaven, after which he must follow Jesus.

            Three things are especially noteworthy here: 1) Rather than telling the young man that salvation is not attained by works, Jesus tells him to earn treasure in heaven by doing a very difficult work, selling everything he has and giving the proceeds to the poor. 2) That treasure-gaining work is followed by another imperative to “come, follow” Jesus. 3) These two imperatives relate to the other tablet of the decalogue, the commands pertaining to the love of God. The answer Jesus gives to the man has therefore not changed: to inherit eternal life, he must do the commandments, specifically the commands to love God and love neighbor.

            Anyone who interprets this passage as a means to suggest that Jesus would discourage the idea that works have nothing to do with salvation is both a poor interpreter and is deceiving his/her hearers.

            3) As I said before, I would not (nor does Jesus) advise anyone to cut off a hand or eye because doing so would not get to the cause of the sin. The only occasion on which a person should cut off a hand or cut out an eye is if these members of the body caused that person to sin, but since that does not happen, your question is moot.

            4) Your statements here are not supported by the New Testament. First of all, there is no place in the Gospels in which Jesus ever gives any indication that the Law is impossible to keep or that people should not attempt to keep it. Likewise, Paul explains that he had kept the Law blamelessly before Christ revealed himself to him. Neither says keeping the Law is impossible; instead, it is eminently possible. The problem that both highlight is that simply keeping the letter of the Law is insufficient to truly make a person righteous, and it is righteousness that is necessary to attain eternal life. As Jesus says, “Unless your righteousness is greater than that of the scribes or Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven”; this means the opposite of what you have said. He does not suggest abandoning the requirements of the Law or the idea that a person must actually be righteous and do righteous acts to attain eternal life. He says that a person must truly be righteous (that is, doing what is right) even beyond the letter of the Law in order to attain eternal life. He’s not lowering the standard of required behavior, he’s raising it.

            I read The New Covenant Unveiled shortly after it came out and talked to David a couple years after it was published. David would agree with me more than you seem to realize. Moreover, I have in no way suggested that God does not provide salvation. That’s not the question. The question is the means of that salvation. Both the Gospels and Paul indicate that salvation comes through God’s grace, which empowers a person do do what pleases God and thereby attain salvation. This is of course what it means to be “justified”—to be made righteous and thereby be in position to receive salvation at the judgment. (It is of course important to remember that “grace” (χάρις) is always a term of reciprocity and therefore always implies a required return, so it is impossible to regard “grace” as a unilateral action with no requirements on those receiving it.

            5) No, it does not say “by faith you are saved not by works.” It says “by grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:8). There is a gigantic difference between the two statements. As Paul explains elsewhere, God’s grace is the provision of the spirit to make a person righteous, thus providing the means of salvation. (It’s also very strange for you to say “maybe because this is on your site and not out in the open,” as my site is fully in the open, as are my scholarly publications.) As explained in Phil 2:12–13, people are to “accomplish your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work according to his good pleasure.” As I’ve explained previously, this makes it very clear that salvation is ultimately accomplished by works and that God himself provides for the will and the works to be done by his grace through the spirit. That is the means of salvation Paul explains throughout his letters, though it is often misread by those who do not heed his warning, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked, whatever a person sows, that he will also reap” (Gal 6:7) and God “will render to each person according to his works: eternal life to those who seek for glory and honor and immortality by persevering in doing good but tribulation and distress to those who are selfish and do not obey the truth but obey injustice—that is, to every person who does evil (to the Jew first and also the Greek). But glory and honor and peace will come to everyone who does good (to the Jew first and also the Greek) because God is impartial” (Rom 2:6–10). It’s hard to get more unambiguous than this. Those who do what is right will be judged righteous and receive salvation. Those who do evil will receive the just recompense for that—and there will be no exceptions because God is impartial.

            The question is of course how one becomes righteous to ensure that one is judged as such and receives salvation, and again, the answer to that is that God provides the means of righteousness (justification) by grace (through the spirit), through which humans can please God and attain salvation.

            6) I’m not mincing words. I’m being precise. You say eternal life is “heaven with God” and that “we receive that now.” But that is empirically false. We are not in heaven right now and have not received that now. Those who walk by the spirit have been saved from sin, but salvation from the penalty of sin does not come until later—we have not received that nor have we participated in the resurrection.

            Secondly, there is nothing in the New Testament that says people will live forever with God in heaven. Instead, the New Testament looks forward to the resurrection of the body and life with God on a new earth. Those are different things. Again, I suggest you carefully read the Bible itself rather than relying upon what lots of people tell you it says.

            When you say “hold firm to that faith in Jesus,” you need to define what “faith in Jesus” looks like. First of all, in Greek it tends to say “faith of Jesus” rather than “faith in Jesus.” Moreover, “faith” is the word πίστις, which is better rendered “faithfulness” or “fidelity.” Jesus explains that those who follow him will obey his commands, which gives the definition of “faithfulness” by which the remainder of references to “faith” should be governed. Once again, the New Testament is unambiguous: in order to receive salvation in the end, a person must obey Christ’s commands and do what is right.

            I’d be happy to talk with Michael (who would also essentially agree with what I have said here) or James on their shows, but I’m not going out of my way to do that. They’ll invite me on when they feel it’s the right time.

          • Scott
            Posted at 01:00h, 21 May

            Ok let me try this again, IF your hand or eye causes you to sin, do you agree that Jesus is literally saying to cut off that hand or eye from the body? You said Jesus meant this literally, so then do you think he literally means taking the action not words but the actual physical action of cutting off the hand or gouging out the eye, If they cause you to sin? Because remember, yes its the heart but the eyes and hands can help to carry out that sin, cleanse your hands you sinners, does that mean wash the hands physically, get some dirt off with soap? If the eye is bad and dark the whole body is darkness in side, that’s the eye, is that literal, the eye is black should that eye be gouged out?

            If you claim the question is moot, because sin never comes from the hand or eye, than why would Jesus literally be telling you not figuratively, but literally to cut out the eye and the hand if they cause you to sin?

            I wont address all the points, as it should be done publically before witnesses, any witness would see reading over this thread that you contradicted yourself but you seem unable to realize this. You never answered correctly either about the scripture where it says by grace you are saved not through works that no man should boast. You never answered the scripture where it says you are sealed with the Holy Spirit till the day of redemption. You never answered about reading the Bible Raw book, is that what you’re trying to do, throwing out all interoperation as if its all wrong? You didn’t answer nor address correctly about the words receiving eternal life versus salvation. Eternal life is salvation, you don’t get eternal life and then spend it in hell with Jesus, its the same thing as salvation.

            There’s just so many points where you’re wrong, its only works that save you, faith is faithfulness, what about believe on him and be saved, is that now believefulness? Do you know how many people were made well healed delivered because of their faith in Jesus? When Jesus turned to the thief on the cross and told him assuredly I say to you this day you’ll be with me in paradise, was it the thief’s great works that got him to paradise? No it was simply that Jesus knew that the thief believed in Him and wanted to be with Him. Jesus in no way will cast someone out that wants to be with Him or come to Him.

            Written discourse is not the only way biblically that people debated doctrines, Paul debated publically in front of people in the open with his mouth not in writing. As far as Michael Brown or James White having you on, you have to call them, or email them, how are you going to be able to come on if you don’t ask, they have to know, they’re not going to come looking for you.

            I agree that Michael Brown would be more in step with your views, have you read his book Hyper Grace? Are you familiar with his late friend Steve Hill and the Brownsville revival? Would you be able to make the case to Michael Brown that the Christian is not saved right now present date only later, would you be able to make this case to James White or would you shy away from these view points in public on radio? Is it possible that you could show me where David Wilkerson ever said that you are saved by works not by faith? Can you find one place he says this in all his letters and recorded sermons, I never heard that? Can you find one quote where Wilkerson or Steve Hill ever says that you aren’t saved right now, but you must achieve that salvation on you’re own later?

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 02:09h, 21 May

            I have in no way contradicted myself. The biggest problem is that you do not adequately understand the concept of grace. By definition, grace (χάρις) is a term of reciprocity in which a favor is granted with strings attached. If there is no return by the recipient of the gift granted, then the relationship established by the initial gift is terminated (see more here, though if you want a fuller explanation of the concept of grace, I suggest reading John Barclay’s recent scholarly book on the subject; alternately, you can get a rudimentary introduction through his short popular-level booklet). Throughout his letters, Paul uses the term χάρις to refer to the gift of the spirit that makes a person righteous, through which a person is empowered to please God and thereby attain a good judgment. Thus salvation comes through grace, which enables obedience and brings about salvation.

            I’ve already fully explained the hand/eye passage. Jesus is very clear that neither hands nor eyes cause anyone to sin, so the passage must be read in light of that fact. I have answered your questions about that passage fully, but it seems you are unwilling to hear. I therefore have nothing left to say to you about that passage.

            The thief on the cross showed his faithfulness with his works when he rebuked the other thief and proclaimed Jesus’ innocence. “So you see that faith was working with his works and as a result of the works, faith was perfected” (Jas 2:22).

            Read Matt 7:21–23. Jesus makes it very clear that many who go so far as to call him Lord and have enough belief in him to perform miracles in his name will not be saved in the end because the ultimate judgment will be according to works and they will fail that test, not having obeyed his words and instead “working iniquity.”

            As for what you’re calling “the Bible Raw” book, I suspect you’re referring to Roncace’s Raw Revelation book, which I have indeed read and reviewed on this site. But as my review makes very clear, I’m not pulling anything from that book and have significant disagreements both with Roncace’s methodology and much of the content of that book. I am, however, a biblical scholar, and my job is to help people understand what the Bible actually says. That’s what I’m doing here, and it’s what I have done in the classroom for years.

            I don’t need to call Michael or James; my work hasn’t been done in a corner. When they want to discuss it, I’ll be happy to go on their shows. Usually those sorts of appearances happen immediately after a major book is published; I’ll deal with those sorts of requests and appearances in a year or so once my monograph comes out and then periodically once the others are published in turn.

            I haven’t read Michael’s book Hyper Grace; it’s a fairly recent publication, and it’s rarely worth me reading popular level books like that at this point as I have to focus more on research and more in-depth scholarly work.

            Yes, I’m familiar with Steve Hill and the Brownsville so-called “revival.” And yes, I’d be comfortable explaining everything I’ve said here to Michael or James or anyone else. That’s my job; I’m happy to teach wherever I’m invited.

            As far as Wilkerson goes, his preferred phrasing was that he believed in “the eternal security of the eternal believer” and he built his ministry on the teaching that the Gospel is about transformation that produces obedience, not about simple belief. As he said in The Cross and the Switchblade, “The heart of the Gospel is change. It is transformation. It is being born again to a new life. … The heart of Christ’s message is extremely simple: an encounter with God—a real one—means change.” Wilkerson also repeatedly stated that if people do not persist in obedience they would not be saved in the end despite believing that Jesus died for their sins, etc. (He of course has strong support here given Matt 7:21–23 and Luke 6:46.) In one sermon he preached in 1986 in Tifton, GA (a sermon called “Strange Incense”), he stated (on the basis of Prov 28:9) that even the prayer of those who disobey God is an abomination before God and goes as far as asking those in the audience who aren’t living righteously not to pray for him.

            Of course, Wilkerson never said “you must achieve that salvation on your own later,” but I haven’t said that either (nor do I think that’s a good interpretation of the New Testament), so that’s irrelevant.

            As I have already said, the New Testament makes it very clear that salvation comes by God’s grace, which enables the person to do what pleases God. No one can do anything on his/her own; the very essence of Paul’s message is that God has provided the spirit so people can accomplish what pleases God and be saved. He is adamant that it is not accomplished by anyone on his/her own, nor is it unilaterally accomplished by God without any need for obedience from the recipient of the spirit.

            Obviously many in the Protestant tradition have followed Luther’s error and have taught “salvation by faith alone,” but that is a later Protestant teaching, not a New Testament teaching. The only place “by faith alone” appears in the New Testament is James 2:24, which says, “not by faith alone.” For more on that, see here.

          • Scott
            Posted at 00:21h, 24 May

            I posted a comment a few days ago, I guess it didn’t go through. But I’m glad you showed some of your influence by posting Barclay’s book this is pretty revealing now. I could easily take apart most everything you’re saying but its not much use now that I understand where you’re coming from, why not let someone else do it publically on tape.

            James White or Michael Brown can’t call you if they don’t know you, you have to be willing to call them, in order to make the case for your view points on these topics, I’m pretty sure they’d be up to debate you or someone else like Phil Johnson. But I’m not so sure you’d be willing to do this from the tone you’re showing. I would love to see Barclay in a debate with Phil Johnson, seriously I can’t see Barclay ever doing this.

            You do realize much of these perspectives were in the Catholic church yet their calling them New Perspectives, much of it has already been debated, but its far more extreme almost to a social gospel level in Barclay’s book. I suggest you get in touch with some evangelicals who are informed with the other side and have an open debate with them, this will help you. If you feel that strongly that these so called New Perspectives will hold up than prove that they will, and post the link to the debates for the public to see. ” Tom Wright has erred by lending more credence to secular scholarship than to the actual testimony of scripture itself.” Quote: Phil Johnson You guys are too intrigued by certain interpretations of context and history which then lead to a bias hermetical approach to the text.

            Also Wilkerson had his roots in the Pentecostal church, which is badly flawed in many ways from its origins, this can result in later false supernatural practices and doctrines and views, so not everything he did through his life was perfect by any stretch, nor was Steve Hill and the Brownsville move.

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 09:10h, 26 May

            I’m afraid you’re again mistaken. For one, I’m not “showing some of my influence” by telling you to read Barclay’s book. I’ve been teaching the proper way to understand χάρις for years (my own scholarly article that was presented several years ago about how to teach the concept should be published relatively soon); Barclay’s book only came out last year. But it’s now one of the best resources on the subject and I therefore recommend it.

            Secondly, as I’ve already explained, White or Brown can and will call whenever they please. It’ll be more appropriate to have such discussions once my books start coming out; it does little good to make such appearances without the book to discuss. (As for Barclay debating Phil Johnson, I doubt he’d be interested in debating someone he’s never heard of and who is not a world-class scholar. What’s the point of doing so?)

            Thirdly, I have no desire or need to “get in touch with some evangelicals who are informed with the other side and have an open debate with them.” I’m already fully aware of the range of Evangelical interpretations on these matters, and I couldn’t care less about who a person is when considering the accuracy of his/her biblical interpretation. What matters is whether the interpretation is right, not whether the person is an Evangelical, Catholic, or whatever else. My job as a biblical scholar is to assess what these texts mean; in contrast, the Evangelical interpreters you’ve mentioned are more beholden to later tradition as the primary source of interpretation. My job is to get past Evangelical, Protestant, Roman Catholic, or whatever other modern traditions say. As such, what various Evangelicals say about a subject doesn’t matter much to me—I’m more interested in what the New Testament itself meant in the context in which it was written. You are unfortunately making interpretive judgments based on tradition and a person’s fame within a given tradition rather than basing your judgment on the merits of the interpretation itself, which is going about things backwards.

          • Scott
            Posted at 23:05h, 25 June

            You mean world class scholar as in secular world class scholar. Never heard of Phil Johnson, huh, that’s weird have you heard of Grace to you? Phil Johnson is the president of that ministry. They couldn’t debate him, and whether they want to or not, he’s already debated much of these positions already. Its New perspectives, but its not really new. You do get much of what you’re saying from these stances and from Barclay’s writings because I read enough of the book you recommended to see some things taken word for word plus he teaches at your school now. Not very difficult to connect the dots. Anyways any common evangelical reading his stuff is not going to be calling it a great book on the subject or recommending it. Its the opposite its actually pretty sad, it borders on a social gospel.

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 11:09h, 28 June

            Nope. Never heard of “Grace to You.”

            You’re entirely mistaken about pretty much everything else you say. First, Barclay does not teach at “my school now.” Barclay teaches at Durham University in the UK. I teach at NC State University in Raleigh, NC, in the USA.

            Secondly, you’re mistaken about Barclay being solely a “secular” scholar, as he is himself a Christian.

            Thirdly, your use of “social gospel” as a slur (and referring to the NPP or Barclay’s work as having any relation to “a social gospel”) shows little understanding of any of these subjects.

            Fourthly, what I have said about grace and the gospel is well established and not really in question. There’s nothing to debate. I have simply stated facts about the word χάρις, its meaning, and how it functions in the context of Paul’s message. The meaning of χάρις isn’t really disputable. It is a term of reciprocity referring to strings-attached favors and exchanges in the context of relationship. That’s simply a fact.

            As for the rest of it, as I said, I’ve never heard of Phil Johnson, and I pity those who base their views on denominational or other labels rather than on what the biblical texts actually say. I’d prefer to do the latter.

  • Malachi
    Posted at 13:53h, 27 April Reply

    It’s funny how all the nasty criticism of this article is being spouted by WOMEN – who have no idea what it feels like to be a man, and deal with the thoughts and feelings that a man has to handle.

    This article confirms other teachings I’ve heard in churches, and it makes sense. I have a hunch that those flying off the handle here haven’t bothered to read the article properly, but rather are just looking for an excuse to vent their pent-up hate and frustrations. Nowhere does Jason encourage lusting after women. Instead, the message I get is that – contrary to what some self-righteous legalists try to impose on kids – that God doesn’t break your legs then expect you to run a marathon.

    “My yolk is easy and My burden is light.” — Lord Jesus

    • Heather
      Posted at 01:51h, 02 May Reply

      Unfortunately, some women struggle with sexual lust just as much as any man. I have known quite a few.
      I can’t speak for the other women who have posted here, but my concern would be that some men might take away from this the idea that sexual lust is okay as long as it is not acted upon.
      Certainly everyone (yes, even women!) has preferences when it comes to attraction and notices when they see someone who fits the bill. And, of course, men sometimes lack control of their physical response to such a sight. But noticing is one thing. Continuing thoughts, giving way to fantasy, is another – one which I am certain the Lord does not condone.
      As sexual and “instant gratification”-minded as our Western culture has become, it seems like taking that extra mental step doesn’t take long. I wonder how many Christian men struggle to train their minds to be like Jesus and the Apostle Paul, who looked on “older women as mothers and younger women as sisters”?

      • Anonymous
        Posted at 19:02h, 19 October Reply

        I agree with Heather, it’s annoying how men and women take things and say that because the other is the opposite sex they wouldn’t understand. Since when is the sexual desire of a man different from a woman? Women look at men and say he’s looks good just as a man would. So I really think men need to stop saying that we don’t know what it feels like to be a man when it comes to sex, when the same pressure of desires men feel, women are under the pressure as well. Just as TV is showing beautiful women they show beautiful men( lets not forget that for years women have had a thing for Danzel Washington, for most of them it was sexual). Let’s not ignore the fact that a lot of women go to strip clubs as well as men. As a woman I struggled with porn addiction(specifically homosexual due to the fact that I desired the men and their bodies) from a young age. While we might approach our desires a bit different. A women doesn’t need to be a man to understand how hard it is to control the desires we feel in our world today because I struggle with it being single myself. It’s hard, and the mind wanders fast. So when I see guys who fit my preference, you can bet that I start feeling sexual desire for him but due to my past I have to redirect my thoughts or it can be triggering. I just don’t see a mans sexual desire different from a womans in terms of society or the fact of having it. We are not as different as we may think we are. And I feel that verse is good for women too. We both are under the pressure of having to practice discipline in a world where sex is becoming harder to escape on Television, music, books, and other things. And as far as I am concerned I don’t see myself less of a woman or or more like a man for struggling with my desire when I see an attractive man. I see it as human.

        • P. Scott
          Posted at 23:31h, 07 May Reply

          The problem is, is women being attracted to men has been hidden in the church for years. Its is true and is now more evident that women in their own way can actually be crazier with lust then guys. People think men are the visual ones but again were finding out now the women are super visual, and they are more one tract mind fixed on dating men and going after them.

          A guy in college can have the natural drive going, but its a physical drive and build up, his mind can actually be very preoccupied with competing and advancing and creating and accomplishing whatever goal he has whether technology creating films building a business not just women. Yet the women while in school, are yes dong the work, but their minds are not thinking always about the future or what they’re going to accomplish or produce, their minds are actually stuck and focused often solely on what guy they like and who they will want to marry. So from the time the girl reaches some maturity she is more guy focused then career focused. Which causes the girl to actually be on a level that is crazed at times different then the guy,

          The other problem women don’t understand and don’t understand in the church, is that their bodies are designed entirely different then males, so yes they can understand some things about them, but they certainly can’t understand what its like for a male when he’s faced with the build up of desire and what to do about it. Because yes one can refrain as best as he can, but after weeks go by, and further how the male is supposed to handle himself at this point can be physically dangerous to his actual male parts. What I’m saying, is when one doesn’t plan for something, the desire at some point will cause that to happen, and a guy without a women, or without visual stimuli of a women yet has weeks of build up of desire, is a potential life changing position physically for your private parts to be put in. Things can happen, that can permanently damage the sexual organs. Not saying it has to be catastrophic or admitted to the hospital, but I am saying things can be weakened on the male sexual organ which can have negative lasting effects, this all can take place simply by unprepared mistakes. I’m not sure women have this same problem, but this is perhaps the most perplexing scenario to the whole debate, and why perhaps stimulation isn’t mentioned really in the bible when it is so common for nearly every male or at least the urge to release the build up of drive and to be drawn to the female form,

      • Rebecca Martin
        Posted at 16:33h, 01 November Reply

        When I first read this article I thought I had understood well what Jason was saying without going to the extremes of either end of the topic but as I continued to read the comments I became confused and didn’t find any real solution until I reached Heathers comment. First comment I can say I actually felt the Holy Spirit speaking. Acknowledging beauty is one thing lingering thoughts turn into fantasy which lead to sin and are both in the same. Desires lead to fornication as well as adultery. That is why the verse says that looking lustfully is already adultery not because you acknowledge beauty but because you keep thinking about it (lusting). Lust is sin and sin is death. Only the Lord can take that lusting desire away until He sets your wife or husband before you. 1 Corinthians 10:13
        There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
        Let us not go on justifying sin or trying to reason with it but allowing God who has much power to remove it. Sex is not needed to live, Food and water are. Let us not lose sight of the things of God. One flesh does not mean only to bear children it meant we wouldn’t be alone anymore. Some women can’t even have children. Sex is something to be enjoyed with your husband or wife and that is the positive outlet you must wait for while focusing on Advancing Gods Kindgom. In God all things are possible even for men. Love you all brothers and sisters and God bless.

  • sd
    Posted at 15:06h, 09 May Reply

    As a female, and a wife of someone who has tried to hide and overcome his secret Internet addictions for years, it was difficult at first to read this article. Very emotional subject that hits home and very recently at that. I too thought you were possibly trying to justify pornography or a man’s mental infidelity, but in reading the article, post replies and also looking up the Greek myself, I do understand the distinction that you’re making. My husband has used the same argument/scriptural analysis to tell me that pornography is not a sin and he’s not crossing the line into coveting or lusting for sexual relations, I believe he has finally realized that is a lie and wants to be free of it. Your article coincides with what I believe the Lord has revealed to me for personal purity too, one example that comes to mind is driving by a male jogger (we seem to have an abundance of shirtless ones in our community). If I look at/notice him and have immediate notice things like: great abs, tan, handsome… and look away, no problem, but if I have those thoughts and purposefully look again to view those things, to me that is crossing a line. He said “No second looks” because that leads to temptation for me, and I appreciate having a boundary. We are all going to be exposed to initial reactions, I know my husband is going to notice beautiful women and that’s ok, we all notice the opposite sex and can’t help that. It’s always a battle but I also think we can live without guilt/shame and live victoriously and govern our thoughts. I regularly think of the men in my church as brothers like the word says to and that helps me see them in a different light and keep my heart right. To the men who got offended at my sisters who posted comments please have grace, we are hurting, deeply at times, and need men to be proactive in their purity, as many of you are. Thank you Jason, I do believe you have rightly divided he word and are sincerely trying to bring freedom in this complicated issue.

  • Hollie Smith
    Posted at 12:01h, 16 May Reply

    Hi Jason, I read your article and I am going to show it to my husband because we have been in churches like this much of our marriage. We are finally free of that nonsense but for me the scars are huge. Thus far it has ruined a part of me. It not only hurts men but also women. I battle fear of losing my husband in some way to some other woman. It isn’t that I am afraid he will have an affair but that he isn’t happy with me. I am afraid of what his thoughts are and if I am enough to keep him satusfied. I am an attractive woman. I am told often by others and him and I am not overweight. I take care of myself and stay in good shape. So, I shouldn’t fear. But I have heard sooo many times that women should love their brother enough to dress “modestly” and not CAUSE a man to stumble or sin. Those words made me feel dirty and made my husband feel defeated. Our marriage has suffered greatly. For years I only wore skirts or dresses and would not look another man in the eyes (at the store or anywhere) since I was told that my eyes are too pretty and could cause a man to lust for me. I took all of this very seriously and tried my hardest to be a good woman. All of this occurred in my 20’s and 30’s. I am now 41. I feel like I lost my youth and am angry about that. I don’t choose these feelings of fear and anger but they just happen. I feel like I suffer from PTSD like what soldiers suffer from after war. Well I just wanted to point out that yes, my husband suffers from being raised like this and it is a shame but he claims to be living in freedom now. It is me that is hurt more and struggling. So, women suffer from this as much as men. I wasn’t raised like him. I didn’t even go to church growing up. We spent the early part of our marriage in those churches. It really hurts!! I used to think if a woman is so dangerous then we must be bad and why do we exist? After being married for a few years I began to feel worthless. It was only the other woman that had any “value”. She was the one so powerful that she could destroy a man with one glance. I saw myself and still do sometimes as worthless. I know I am a daughter of the king and loved by God but I have to constantly remind myself of my value in Gods eyes and my husbands. My husband has always been faithful and I am thankful for that. Thanks for the article we are going to read and study this together and continue to claim the freedom God has given us. I don’t mean freedom to sin.

    • Crystal Marie
      Posted at 12:03h, 03 June Reply

      Hollie, firstly, stay encouraged and KNOW that you are NOT worthless! I’m sure you’re beautiful, smart, kind, loving..all the things your husband deeply appreciates about you.

      Secondly, I wanna challenge you to do something new, liberating, and adventurous…

      Go to Victoria Secrets or Fredericks Hollywood, and purchase a beautiful & sexy lingerie set. Add some perfume, and do your hair differently. Add some nice makeup. Plan a lovely evening with your husband to his surprise, however you like, and HAVE FUN!!! I have faith that this will revitalize your confidence, bring some spice into your marriage, and drive your husband wild! He’s yours so you don’t have to feel dirty or worthless about anything! Sometimes we have to venture out into simple yet rejuvenating experiences. If this all sounds like too much for you or even comical, alright. But it’s time you get your confidence and esteem back. Doesn’t hurt to try. Even if you don’t, pray for God to restore your confidence and peace through the Lord Jesus Christ. You will heal. Live your life and enjoy it!! 🙂

  • Gary
    Posted at 00:56h, 22 May Reply

    So if it is not a sin to lust, then the sexual attraction I feel when I look at women is okay with God even though I am married? So what should I tell my wife when she feels upset that I am attracted to other women? I can’t help it, can I? God made me to be attracted to women who are attractive, right?

    When I look at an attractive woman, I pretty much immediately feel sexually attracted to her. But as long as I don’t allow that natural sexual attraction to go anywhere then I’m good, right?

  • PART IV: The Modest Christian Woman | The Pink Flamingo
    Posted at 06:35h, 22 May Reply

    […] “…So it is clear that the grammar is reflecting purpose: “anyone who looks at a woman in order to covet her.” (“Covet” is preferable here in part because “covet” better reflects the intentionality reflected in the passage.) This is a critically important point; Jesus is not suggesting that any sexual thought or inclination towards a woman is sinful. Nor is he suggesting that such thoughts or attractions being triggered by a look are sinful. The look is not the problem (nor is the presence of a beautiful woman, which some of that day tended to blame as the real problem); no, these are assumed. What is remarkable (given the popular misinterpretation) is that Jesus likewise assumes the presence of sexual desire in the man as a given, and that sexual desire isn’t seen as the problem. Instead, Jesus addresses the matter of intent, of volition, the purpose of the look. The issue is not the appetite itself but how a man directs this natural appetite and inclination. (I’m reminded here of the old saying: If you’re a young man on a beach and a beautiful woman in a bikini walks past and you don’t feel any sort of excitement or attraction, it’s not because you’re spiritual, it’s because you’re dead.)…” […]

  • Mark
    Posted at 23:06h, 21 July Reply

    As a new believer back in the day, I asked an older man in his eighties, ” How old we’re you when you stopped wrestling with sexual desires?” He said, “I don”t know. I’m not that old yet.” lol. Jason, thank you for dealing with the misunderstanding and guilt many have with healthy sexual desire. The sin is, as I believe was your main point, is when it becomes inordinate desire that says, ‘I would if I could and/or I will no matter what anyone else says.’ James 4:1-6 gives a good picture of desire that has run amuck. To close, as I get older I see the sexual relationship between a man and his wife not as an end in and of itself. I believe it is the strongest echo we have of something that is deeper than sex. The intimacy we can have with our spouse and the intimacy that beckons to us from our Savior. When asked whether the relationship between the man and woman in the Song of Solomon is literal or figurative my answer is yes. I don’t think it is either/or. I believe it is both and God is right in the middle of our sexual relations whether we use them rightly or wrongly. I really appreciate what the young women say to the bride and bride groom in the last part of chapter 5 verse 1. “Oh, lover and beloved, eat and drink! Yes, drink deeply of your love!”. Oh, the beauty of one of the most powerful gifts we have been given and yet the destruction this power can work when we lose sight of and taste for the One Who has so freely given to us.

  • Zach
    Posted at 19:18h, 03 August Reply

    Hi Jason, i see that the word translated here in Matt. 5:28 is “ἐπιθυμῆσαι”, or “epithymēsai”. This means “to lust after”. I know that the whole word epithumeo means; long for, covet, lust after, and set the heart upon. However my question is, since epithymēsai means “to lust after” do we then have to use the modern definition for “lust” in this passage, as in sexual desire? Or do we refer back to the word in greek for epithumeo?
    I also noticed that the term for covet in greek is epithymēseis, so how did you connect that “lust”, (epithymēsai), is synonymous with”covet” “, (epithymēseis), in Matthew 5:28?
    One more question, and this is the easiest one of them; what does “covet” mean in greek?

    Please reply back to my questions..
    Thanks
    ~~ ZG

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 14:28h, 08 August Reply

      Always go back to the Greek word to understand what is happening in a Greek text. English translations are always only approximations of what the Greek says.

      As for Matthew 5:28’s relationship to the concept of “coveting,” it uses the same term that the Greek Old Testament uses for “covet” in the tenth command. That’s the connection.

      As far as the definition of covet, that’s a bit more complicated, but I understand it as a step beyond innate desire to the point of attempting/intending to fulfill a legitimate desire through illegitimate means. I typically teach it by analogy of “attempted sin,” (e.g. “attempted murder,” or “attempted adultery”), which every legal code has provision for.

      • Zach
        Posted at 23:16h, 08 August Reply

        But shouldn’t we not change the words that Jesus said?

        • Jason A. Staples
          Posted at 00:24h, 09 August Reply

          Of course not, but Jesus didn’t speak English, so that makes it all the more important to go back to the Greek.

          • Zach
            Posted at 10:47h, 01 September

            I’m confused it seems like we are changing the Bible to say what we want it to say, am i missing something here?

            -However, could sexual desire be called not sinful on the bases that it desires sex, (which is by definition good since Lord God created it)?

            -However would this also mean that sexual desire would be wrong if I am not married?

            -Col. 3:2 “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (KJV)
            Does this refer to sexual thoughts as sinful?

            – Phill. 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

            Deuter. 23:10 “If one of your men is unclean because of a nocturnal emission,
            he is to go outside the camp and stay there.”

            Leviticus. 15:18 “When a man has sexual relations with a woman and there is an emission of semen,both of them must bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.

            Leviticus 15:16 “When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening.”

            Jason, these three versus refer to any emission of semen as unclean or impure, however Phill. 4:8 tells us to think about pure things, wouldn’t that mean that sexual thoughts are sinful to think about?
            I’m sorry if this is a big comment.

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 13:43h, 06 September

            Yes, you’re missing something here. Nobody is changing the Bible here; we’re discussing the best way to understand what the Bible says. Perhaps you are mistaken in thinking that “the Bible” is a particular English translation; we’re starting from the Greek here, and any discussion of how best to understand it also involves discussing the best way to translate it into English.

            Col 3:2 does not refer to sexual thoughts as sinful any more than it forbids hunger for food.

            Likewise Phil 4:8. Sex and the desire for it is not impure or unlovely or of bad repute; rather, the marriage bed is pure and undefiled (Heb 13:4).

            Deut 23:10, Lev 15:18, Lev 15:16 all refer to ritual impurity, which has to do with whether or not an Israelite could approach the sanctuary. Nothing having to do with mortality, reproduction, or the impermanence of human life was permitted to enter the sanctuary; specific instructions to purify oneself had to be followed before entering the sanctuary. But this had nothing to do with sin, which is a different kind of impurity in the Torah. Phil 4:8 refers to the latter kind of purity/impurity.

          • Zach
            Posted at 22:35h, 03 September

            I still do not understand how lust can be converted to covet in this passage.
            Also what about all the other verses about lust being sin?

            3. Job 31:11-12
            4. Romans 6:19
            5. Romans 12:1-2
            6. 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30
            7. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
            8. Ephesians 1:4
            9. Ephesians 4:24
            10. Colossians 3:12
            11. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
            12. 1Thessalonians 5:23
            13. 2 Timothy 1:9
            14. Hebrews 12:14
            15. 1 Peter 1:15-16
            16. Thessalonians 4:7-8
            17. Matthew 5:28

            I am getting really frustrated with this subject and almost had a mental breakdown over it to determine which side is the right one.

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 13:35h, 06 September

            Zach, there are numerous problems here. Not one of these passages says lust is sin.

            Job 31:11–12 doesn’t mention “lust.” It says זמה, which means something like “wickedness” and certainly does not mean “lust.”

            1 Thess 4:3–8 doesn’t say lust is sin; it says following “covetous passions” or “lustful passions” is sin. Again, we’re talking behavior here. The passage is clear on that.

            The rest have nothing to do with this discussion, as they assume what we’ve already been talking about: following fleshly desires in an improper manner is sin:

            Rom 6:19
            Rom 12:1–2
            1 Cor 1:2, 30
            1 Cor 6:19-20
            Eph 1:4
            Eph 4:24
            Col 3:12
            1 Thess 5:23
            2 Tim 1:9
            Heb 12:14
            1 Pet 1:15–16
            1 Thess 4:8

            Many of these verses reference “impurity” and similar concepts; it appears you’re conflating these things with lust, which is again mistaken.

          • Zach
            Posted at 12:46h, 06 September

            I’m sorry Jason, however i think the major problem i have with the “lust” and “covet” thing is that you didn’t provide a reason for why we should change it to that.

          • Zach
            Posted at 16:29h, 06 September

            I’m sorry Jason, but i am still not convinced, i am going to ask a bunch of loaded questions about this soon, however i would like to know if there is any easier and faster way to contact you about this?

          • Zach
            Posted at 17:12h, 09 September

            Hi Jason, i had a kind of “eureka” moment earlier when i woke up today.
            The word is epithumeo, and it has four definitions, I long for, covet, lust after, set the heart upon. The word here for epithumeo is a verb, however lust by itself is a noun, “lust” is a strong desire used either sexually or non-sexually, lust is a thing, it is not a verb. “Ran” is a verb. So we cannot use lust (noun) by itself as a translation (verb) of the passage, that would be grammatically incorrect.

            Covet on the other hand is a verb, “covet” is described as taking action towards a certain act. This fits well within the word, epithumeo (verb) should be translated as covet (verb), not lust (noun).

            Thank you for helping me like this.
            However like other new things i find out there are new objections to this.
            -“Lust” by itself is a noun, however, lust after is a verb, so can this be used for the verse?
            – Isn’t the original greek word in this verse “epithumia”, which means lust after, and therefore we can’t use the root word to change it to covet?

            http://biblehub.com/greek/1939.htm

            – What determines that the greek word is a verb?
            – English and Greek are two different languages, however how do we know that English grammar is relevant to, or the same, as the Greek gramar in the Bible?
            ——
            Now here are three objections that sound very extreme, but however has been in my mind for a while now.
            – How do we know that sexual desire is not part of the sin nature we inherited from Adam?
            – How do we know that sexual pleasure was not the result of sin? (this is very extreme i know)
            – How do we know that it is not sinful for us to have sex for pleasure?
            – Is fiction condemned by the Bible, (1 Timothy 1:3)? (this is also very extreme)
            – What are the versus that refer to the emissions mentioned in Leviticus as ritually impure?
            – Isn’t having sexual thoughts selfish and self-centered since you are only doing it for yourself?
            – How can sexual thoughts glorify God?
            ————————————————————————————-
            I am probably the only one on this comment form that has this many (and possibly more) questions, however, the reason why is because i want to make sure that sexual fantasies are not a sin.
            Please refute all of these in point-by-point form.

            Thank you.

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 14:02h, 12 September

            First of all, I’m not sure how you are making the leap from what is discussed in this passage to “sexual fantasies,” which is not what is being discussed above.

            Secondly, in English, “lust” can be ether a noun or a verb. That isn’t really relevant to the question of translation here, however.

            Thirdly, the Greek word in this passage is an inflected form of epithumeo. The form of the word determines that it is a verb; it’s simple grammar, just like any other language.

            Fourthly, English and Greek grammar are not the same. No one would suggest that they are. The process of translation involves doing one’s best to convey the idea expressed in one language, which has its own grammar, to another.

            In terms of your “objections”:

            1) Your question assumes a framework of Augustinian concupiscence, a conception of “original sin” foreign to the Bible. With respect to sexual desire, Adam’s blessing of the sexual union between man and woman (Gen 2:23–25) comes before the fall narrative. Similarly, God instructs human beings to “be fruitful and multiply” in Gen 1 (pre-fall), which presumes and blesses sexual desire and behavior.
            2) See above. Sexual reproduction is one of the things called “very good” in Gen 1.
            3) Is there any reason to think it would be?
            4) Seriously? Jesus tells fictional stories as teaching devices. Teaching false doctrine is not the same as writing or telling fiction.
            5) You already cited those verses yourself in a previous comment; a good portion of Leviticus addresses ritual purity and impurity.
            6) Isn’t hunger for food then also selfish and self-centered?
            7) Marriage.

            I have so far gone against my better judgment in addressing such questions, many of which are fairly far afield from the question addressed in this post, which simply concerns how best to understand Matt 5:28 and is not a treatise on proper sexual behavior. I don’t think it will be fruitful (or in keeping with the purpose of this blog, which addresses things more from an scholarly/academic perspective) to continue along these lines.

            I’m afraid most of your questions have reflected the sort of biblicism that will make sound interpretation very difficult, since you seem to be asking for specific proof-texts for any question that might be asked. That approach, however, is quite different from the approach taken throughout the Bible itself, and can easily lead to problems due to not understanding or accounting for context. I would suggest reading something like Fee and Stewart’s How to Read the Bible For All It’s Worth, which should help you better understand how to approach and interpret the Bible.

          • Zach
            Posted at 21:15h, 09 September

            Is having sex for pleasure sinful,ie. (horny)? (please provide Scriptural support and justification for this).
            Is any form of birth control (BEFORE IT IS CONCEIVED), sinful, ie. using “condoms” (Again, please provide support for your answer)
            Also, what is a good site for the full definition of “epithumeo”?

          • Jason A. Staples
            Posted at 14:07h, 12 September

            In 1 Cor 7, Paul says essentially that men/women who are horny ought to marry to prevent against sexual sin. So Paul either believes that marriage will ultimately eliminate sexual desire or that it provides the proper outlet for the desire for sexual pleasure.

            The second question has long been debated among Christians, and I am not in a position to declare a definitive ruling on such a matter.

            As for the third question, I’ve already given that definition here. If you want more detail, you should consult the standard reference work in the field, BDAG.

  • Eugene
    Posted at 04:30h, 12 August Reply

    Hi Jason,

    Thank you for your helpful article. If you have the time, could you please help me understand 1 Col 3:5 in light of what you are saying about lust here. I don’t know any Greek, but Biblegateway tells me that Paul uses the word “επιθυμιαν” here, and I’m not sure how it’s different from the words for lust you use above.

    My question is, how do we know what form of lust Paul is condemning here?

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 09:13h, 12 August Reply

      Col 3:5 uses the term in its sense of “desire,” and modifies it with the word for “evil,” so it says to regard the members of one’s body as dead to “evil desires,” meaning don’t act on said desires and thereby sin.

  • Costa Fotopoulos
    Posted at 09:56h, 13 August Reply

    Hi Jason,
    I really like your explanation of Matthew 5:27-28 about coveting and lust. Therefore, if one has no intention to act on the desire but experiences pleasurable desire upon seeing a naked woman is not committing adultery. My question is: if one sees a naked woman and experiences physical pleasure upon touching her (but not experiencing orgasm) and has no intention of committing a sex act with her– is this coveting her to commit adultery or not? Thanks.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 10:51h, 16 August Reply

      Hi Costa, I think it’s fairly evident that Jesus would have considered such activity far out of bounds. It’s one thing to have the desire, which Jesus doesn’t condemn, but he condemns taking even the first step toward adultery (coveting), which certainly would include such activity. His entire point in this passage is that stopping short of sex doesn’t mean it’s okay.

  • TastyWallet
    Posted at 10:37h, 29 August Reply

    I think before we even enter the discussion about weather or not the use of the word “lust” is correctly or incorrectly misinterpreted, we need to define what lust actually is. I believe that the author adequately pointed out that the word “lust” is a ” strong, passionate desire, used either of sexual desire or of a strong desire for something non-sexual.” This is a good definition because, as the author pointed out, lust is not necessarily sexual in nature!

    I have always looked at the word “lust” in this passage as a deliberate, conscious, strong sexual desire for another person. This seems obvious when Jesus makes the connection between lust and adultery by stating that lust is adultery of the heart. In my talks with other people, I state that lust, in this context, is basically sexual coveting. What I did not know is that the Greek suggested this also! That is good to know for the future when discussing this passage with others.

    As a minor comment, I would have liked to see the definition of “lust” before the author uses it. This, however, is just me being nit-picky.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 13:56h, 06 September Reply

      The problem is that any discussion of the word “lust” must include both the denotative meaning and the word’s connotation, which at this point tends to associate fairly strongly with sinful sexual desire. That’s part of why it is a less suitable term for many translations these days.

  • Zach
    Posted at 21:03h, 05 September Reply

    Jason, you didn’t seem to refute Alfred Sturges point below.

  • Zach
    Posted at 21:41h, 10 September Reply

    I think this is a reasonable question: Is there any Bible verse that says that God wants us to enjoy his creation?

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 14:09h, 12 September Reply

      This is precisely the wrong kind of question to ask. There is no Bible verse that says chocolate cake is tasty, but that should not preclude coming to that conclusion. Again, this sort of question reflects the wrong kind of approach to the Bible.

  • Chris Dagostino
    Posted at 10:13h, 12 September Reply

    I C&P this from another site to offer what I feel is the true purpose of Christ’s words here:

    Jesus was, in this passage, describing the futility of trying to live a perfect life according to the law, and thus the universal need for forgiveness and grace. Love your enemies, don’t call people fools, divorce is bad, etc.. No one but no one has ever lived perfectly according to the law — WHICH WAS THE POINT!

    So, He said to a bunch of guys that the law says don’t commit adultery, but that if you really want to be perfectly pure, then you can’t even look lustfully. Unsaid, but understood by any guy, was “and you know you do that pretty much constantly, don’t you? In fact, Mark, would you please stop looking at Martha’s chest long enough for me to finish my point?”

    This was an illustration of a point, not the creation of a new law. It’s weird how people don’t get that Jesus didn’t rebuke the Pharisees for legalism just to come in and make stricter, more-impossible laws.

    The Bible is clear on sexual boundaries – simply put, ‘thou shall not have nookie with anyone than your spouse.’ And even secular psychologists are agreeing that pornography has detrimental effects on its users. But when you interpret, or teach, Jesus’s words on lust or anything else in such a way that it makes people associate guilt and shame with every sexual tingle, sensation, urge, dream, etc. it can have an extremely damaging effect on a person’s mind and walk with God. I speak from experience.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 14:20h, 12 September Reply

      Hi Chris, thanks for your comment.

      I’m afraid, however, that the interpretation that Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount only to describe the futility of trying to live according to his instructions is not only wrong but outrageously, catastrophically wrong. There is nothing in the passage or in the Gospel of Matthew that would suggest such a thing.

      Secondly, please find me one place where Jesus nowhere rebukes the Pharisees for legalism. You’ll be looking for awhile, because it doesn’t happen. Jesus doesn’t rebuke the Pharisees for legalism. Ever. He rebukes them for hypocrisy but not for legalism. Jesus’ criticism is not that they’re too legalistic but that they have inadequately kept the Law. He then gives instructions for how to actually fulfill the Law.

      You are correct that the Sermon on the Mount highlights the universal need for grace, but it appears your definition of grace may differ from that of the New Testament. I suggest reading “Getting Grace Backwards” as a preliminary primer on the problem in that regard. The bottom line is that Jesus and the earliest Christians did not believe grace was a free pass not to have to keep the Law but the only way through which one could be empowered to keep the Law. That’s a pretty big difference, and it matters a great deal for understanding the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus in fact expects people to live according to everything he is saying.

  • Zach
    Posted at 16:25h, 12 September Reply

    “This is a critically important point; Jesus is not suggesting that any sexual thought or inclination towards a woman is sinful. Nor is he suggesting that such thoughts or attractions being triggered by a look are sinful.” That is how i drew this connection, sexual thoughts about a woman is essentially the same as sexual fantasies.

  • Zach
    Posted at 19:52h, 12 September Reply

    Ok, so why should we translate it as “covet”?

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 12:21h, 07 October Reply

      Because that’s the best translation of the Greek word in this passage, which is made evident because of the connection to the Greek translation of the tenth command.

  • Daniel Cartwright
    Posted at 15:45h, 17 September Reply

    Jason, I like the way you break this down, but it still leaves me with some questions. When some other users asked you about pornography, you said that if the intent of the look was sexual gratification, it is wrong. I mostly agree, except I can’t help but ask the question: isn’t there a hint of sexual gratification any time we look? If I see a beautiful woman out of the corner of my eye, and I turn my head to look, it’s because I know (whether consciously or subconsciously) that when I look, there will be a certain amount of excitement/arousal/attraction gained from the look. We don’t tend to think it through that way, but isn’t that what we’re doing?

    Secondly, when it comes to sexual thoughts, obviously you condemn sexual fantasies, but again, how do we draw the line between a fantasy, and a naturally occurring sexual thought, due to the fact that we have a sex drive?

    I’m not asking these questions because I want to get as close to sinning as possible without sinning. I’m asking because it would just be nice to have a baseline/reference point rather than just some grey area.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 12:27h, 07 October Reply

      These are good questions and perhaps above my pay grade. I do think the dividing line for Jesus in this passage seems to be the intent of the person. That’s different from a person’s desire, which is not condemned. The question is how one responds to the natural desire at the point of decision. I don’t know that there is a hard baseline in such circumstances, but intent appears to be the real driver here.

  • Zach
    Posted at 19:50h, 17 September Reply

    Ok, now i know what our problem is, we have conflicting view points Jason

    You condemn sexual fantasy
    You also condemn looking at a women for sexual gratification.

    Please reply if i am right or wrong on this.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 12:20h, 07 October Reply

      Hi, Zach. I’m more addressing the way this passage should be interpreted than I am condemning anything. As I understand this passage, it prohibits coveting, which probably captures what you’re referring to as ‘sexual fantasy’ and almost certainly includes looking at women specifically for ‘sexual gratification.’

      • Zach
        Posted at 17:10h, 17 October Reply

        So you do then…

      • Zach
        Posted at 17:15h, 17 October Reply

        How is looking at a women for sexual gratification coveting?
        I am referring to sexual fantasy as sexual thoughts, which you addressed in your article as this verse does not condemn, it.
        So you say that sexual thoughts are okay but sexual fantasies are not? They are the same by definition.

  • Jay
    Posted at 01:56h, 22 September Reply

    If the lust for sex is like hunger for food, then what does a man do to sustain himself outside of marriage, or is marriage the only choice? Also homosexuals clearly have a desire for the same sex, is this also a lust made in their biology, or is this constructed from their choices? If it is a choice then wouldn’t our heterosexual desires also be choices outside of our biology?

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 12:12h, 07 October Reply

      Christian theology has always limited sex to marriage as the only choice. Unlike food, a person can live without sex. That does not mean the desire or drive for it disappears, but rather that if licit options are not available, abstinence is the only sanctioned option.

      In terms of your question about homosexuality, the traditional Christian understanding would be to treat such desires as equivalent to desires for any sort of illicit heterosexual sex. The urges are biological (fleshly), but the choice of how to respond to those desires rests with the individual. Again, traditional Christian theology has long forbidden sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage, but it has never denied the reality of sexual desires that may be directed toward such ends.

      • Jim
        Posted at 18:04h, 20 December Reply

        Stop focusing on the flesh giving glory to Satan and follow the greatest commandment given by the Lord our God, which is to Love the Lord our God with all your heart, soul, strength, and the mind, and stop belittling the ways of God. You’re giving more glory to the flesh then you are to the Lord our God, He is Holy, Righteous and True, so stop focusing on the flesh and start focusing on Christ. Your personal mission for the righteousness of your own freshly desires is unholy before the Lord our God and you should focus on winning others to Christ instead of making excuses for gratifying the lust of the flesh, you should be ashamed! Get right with the Lord your God, and earnestly do so because, you will give an account on the day of judgment for provoking ideas you put into the hearts and minds of those who are weak, who are looking to you for answers instead of looking to the Lord our God and being guided by the Holy Spirit for the answers, for this is the main focus of what should be, to focus on the Lord our God for guidance and for the Holy Spirit to lead guide and convict within us so, stop focusing on your fleshly desires and focus on winning souls to Christ.

  • emery
    Posted at 11:17h, 23 September Reply

    I think of God like a candy store lol. Know really I read some of these posts I think I need a drink and some of you need meds. I was raised in a Christian home. It ruined my live all the fear and negative self talk. I believe most Christians have no business talking about sex or giving advice. So much damage has been done. The attraction a man has for a woman is a natural part of being human and this same desire is the same with Gay people they just prefer being with there same sex. It`s so sad how some people make then feel it`s sick. I say if God wanted a perfect world he should have made one because he`s God. makes no sense to think a God that maid all this would stop and set his little humans up to fail and knowing most would. Expecting them to ace a test or ask them to believe in him or burn forever because you don`t know if he`s even real. Makes no sense at all. I see lots of human logic in the bible it`s inherent for humans to control.

    • Anonymous
      Posted at 17:23h, 25 November Reply

      Actually, I find that just as you feel there are faults in Christians on Sex the world isn’t any different. Non Christians do things sexually without having been raised in a Christian homes in regards to Sex that is damaging. So not even non Christians are reliable. I went a while living according to societies belief on Sex and was damamged in that. I now struggle to trust people from it. I don’t blame the church nor the bible for that. Since it wasn’t those things that caused it. So I don’t see society to be any better according to your conclusion. I feel you are in no better position to tell anyone about sex either if you are going according to what the media and other things outside of the Bible teach.

      As I see it, you are going according to non Christian beliefs and are practicing freedom of speech. Well teaching about Sex is a freedom that Christians have just as much as unreliable non Christians do. I wasn’t raised by a church that taught negative ideals on Sex. So your environment sounds like more of the issue than the Bible itself. But let’s not forget that even without the Bible, man desires to exact control even to the point of self destruction. It’s not a religious thing but a humanity issue. You are free to believe as you wish, just as religious people are free tonight as well. You feel you can teach, well religious people can too. Just as it’s my freedom to teach Sex from a spiritual perspective because I am a spiritual person. Not religious but in respect others because no group or culture is perfect or better when it comes to knowing everything.

  • Jennifer Schmidt
    Posted at 00:26h, 28 October Reply

    Just a few observations…first of all, regarding “Jesus didn’t speak English”…Gentile Jesus did not speak Greek, either. He is the Lion of the Tribe of Yehudah, and He spoke Hebrew/Aramaic. Secondly, I’m so happy that someone actually made the point that sex is a biological urge, but it is not a biological need. We need air, water and food and sleep to survive, but we will not die if we don’t have sex. If we are truly to “bring every thought into captivity to the mind of Messiah”, then how can we justify lust or coveting. True, the sexual urge, as someone stated, may be part of the fallen nature. Our Messiah Savior was celibate, as was Sha’ul, aka St Paul, Jeremiah, and probably many others. We weren’t born “married”, so St Paul’s admonition for those who are single to “remain in the state where the Master found us”, which for many people, would be single, so that they could be single minded in their devotion to the Savior. It makes sense. And last, but not least, we have been delivered, through the power of the risen Messiah Savior, and His indwelling Holy Spirit, from the “law of sin and death”, not from the Law of YHVH. If we understand that, then we can walk in newness of life. We have been set free FROM the world, the flesh, the devil and false “religion”, and free TO love, honor, obey, worship and serve the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, the God of redeemed, believing remnant Israe, through Messiah Yeshual. We are, in fact Saints, who mayfail, on occasion, but who do not cultivate and/or practice sin. As a matter of fact, we GET to obey, we don’t HAVE to obey. . We obey the commandments, NOT for justification, we are justified by faith in the finished work of Messiah’s death and resurrection, but for sanctification. (for being set apart, holy) Part of the New Covenant is that God intended to, Jeremiah 31:31-34, and in fact did, Hebrews 8:8-10, write His Law on our hearts and put it in our minds. That is what He did for us, to enable, empower us to do His Will. How He did/does that is when we meditate upon His Law as the Psalmist did. It becomes our new nature. “Two natures beat within my breast. One is foul, the other blessed. One I love, one I hate, the one I feed, will dominate”. There is a God and He is not silent. We don’t have to let our minds dwell on the flesh, we get to let our minds dwell on the things of the Spirit. Sex is part of the fleshly nature. That business about “continuing the species” is a stretch…because God destroyed the multitude of mankind before with a flood, and He will again, but with fire. His will and desire is having new creations, spiritual beings, not just numbers of humans. So, for those males, making these “male centric” comments, excusing themselves, and condemning some women for giving a woman’s perspective…women are also sexual beings in the flesh, which has to be overcome…in Him we are victorious over comers, and no longer victims of our fallen natures…I am praying for all of you. When men excuse themselves saying “I may be married, but I’m not dead”…that’s just a cop out. You are supposed to have crucified the flesh with it’s lusts. St Paul also said, “if you marry, you will have trouble in the flesh”…so it is better not to marry, he said. No, none of us have perfect knowledge, and none of us are perfect in obedience. But if we are in Him, we are “more than conquerors”, as we trust Him to bring us to Himself, and when He appears, we shall be like Him. And I don’t need to know all of the various multilingual language “laws” and nuances. Blessing and Peace, Jen

    • theasdgamer
      Posted at 10:06h, 15 November Reply

      True, the sexual urge, as someone stated, may be part of the fallen nature.

      God gave sex and marriage before the Fall. Hence, your statement is in error.

      …we have been delivered, through the power of the risen Messiah Savior, and His indwelling Holy Spirit, from the “law of sin and death”, not from the Law of YHVH.

      I assume that you are not referring to the Law of Moses. That Law was only for Jews under a theocracy, which state obtains nowhere today.

      So, for those males, making these “male centric” comments, excusing themselves, and condemning some women for giving a woman’s perspective…

      Ok, now you’re into passive-aggressive feminist shaming tactics. Shame on you. Very unattractive. You’ll get no pussy pass from me.

      And I don’t need to know all of the various multilingual language “laws” and nuances.

      Yeah, because the truth is so inconvenient for you.

    • P. Scott
      Posted at 00:27h, 08 May Reply

      Jennifer, I hate to say this, yes food is a need, and sex is an urge, but the urge is created in such away to force the opposite gender to come into contact with the other. So the drive can be shut down for a time, but its created to really not be shut down, the interest is still there and there is a natural build up of desire that is increasing even if the male isn’t aware of it. So in a sense it creates its own need, food keeps us alive, yet the drive to be attracted also keeps us alive because it keeps the species procreating, without the attraction and strong drive the species would die off. So both are actually needs for human life.

      When Paul stated it was also better for him not to be married many people take that out of context, Paul has some of the most supernatural events taking place in his life including being taken to heaven, that is not the norm for most modern day Christians, and most of the creation does not have the gift of not marrying, if it did again the creation would cease to exist, or only the ungodly would produce offspring all the decent Christians would die off single not having any children to pass on.

      The other problem with women getting upset here is they again are not men, they do not have the same parts, if single guys truly lived the way Jennifer expects the them to live without any women, or ever looing at any women, abstaining from all possible stimulating scenarios, I’m not so sure Jennifer would be happy to marry that particular guy on wedding day. My point is, things can happen, things Jennifer doesn’t understand, and its not natural or healthy to the males body. Its something you wont ever hear about in church or ever hear talked about, but its real. Men are not designed to go for long periods without the body functioning and the desires being conducted, if this is attempted to be squelched other unforeseen things can happen that are negatively altering.

      They’re are also health benefits as well to sexual stimulation and the release of the hormones, whether manually or with a spouse, chemicals are released that help the brain to feel good which fights bad moods, anxiety, lack of concentration, better more decisive thinking, reduces stress, causes the male to go to sleep and creates a much more solid peaceful sleep. There’s quite a lot of benefits on the human brain and body. And at the same time I’m not saying or determining what a male should do if he is single, because quite frankly I feel its up for debate and its something that could only be debated in an undisclosed forum not by public pastors, unless they were really willing to get into the embarrassing weeds of this topic which most would not, and I wouldn’t either. But what is so difficult, and so common, as much as breathing the air, it is so strange that it is not really addressed in the scriptures, why this might be could either be the allow for it or the opposite, which I can’ tell.

  • Anna
    Posted at 23:55h, 14 November Reply

    I am amazed at so many women leaving condemning comments about men who are clearly trying to follow the Scriptures and define sin and see if they need to address it. Of course, that is not an excuse to try and indulge in inappropriate behaviors, but considering the world we live in in America it is hardly surprising men struggle with this. And I hardly think if a man is going to the trouble of analyzing the Greek in the Bible he is not, at least, striving for Godly behavior even if he stumbles some along the way.

    I truly appreciate the author’s efforts in analyzing this passage. In particular, the reminder to emphasize Scripture’s focus on the intent of the heart and choosing to act on impulses as this can be applied in so many areas.

    • Michael Kitchens
      Posted at 23:11h, 03 May Reply

      Well said, Anna.

      I think I can speak for all (genuine) Christian men when I say that when we look at women and have sexual thoughts about them, it doesn’t mean that we see them as property to be used and thrown away. We are just admiring their beauty without making plans in our hearts to take them for ourselves (unless we’re looking for a future wife).

      Another thing to consider, and a lot of people miss this, is the tense(s) which Jesus used to describe adultery of the heart. He didn’t say “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her COMMITS adultery with her in his heart”, but rather, “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has ALREADY COMMITTED adultery with her in his heart”. Jesus is saying that, in the context in which His listeners would understand, is that once a man looks at a woman in that manner, he has already decided in his heart to take her for himself, even if the opportunity never presents itself. Many people make the (apparent) mistake that the adultery part lies in the act of looking itself, but Jesus shows that the heart of the person doing the looking has already determined to go down that road.

      In the case of David and Bathsheba, David didn’t commit adultery when he saw her bathing. The adultery occurred when he decided that he wanted to take her. Of course, an argument can be made that David never should have put himself in the position to see Bathsheba bathing, and that would be valid. However, the point that Jesus was driving home is the reason behind the looking, not the looking in and of itself.

  • justin
    Posted at 22:06h, 19 December Reply

    Pornography and even looking at naked women who are not having sex is condemned clearly in Galatians 5:19.

    Galatians 5:19New King James Version (NKJV)

    19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery,[a] fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,

    Focus is on lewdness here is the greek translation.

    Lewdness or ἀσέλγεια
    Transliteration
    aselgeia
    Pronunciation
    ä-se’l-gā-ä (Key)
    Part of Speech
    feminine noun
    Root Word (Etymology)
    From a compound of ἄλφα (G1) (as a negative particle) and a presumed selges (of uncertain derivation, but apparently meaning continent)
    Dictionary Aids
    Vine’s Expository Dictionary: View Entry

    TDNT Reference: 1:490,83

    Trench’s Synonyms: xvi. ἀσωτία, ἀσέλγεια.

    Outline of Biblical Usage
    unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence

    KJV Translation Count — Total: 9x
    The KJV translates Strongs G766 in the following manner: lasciviousness (6x), wantonness (2x), filthy (1x).

    So the outline uses lasciviousness well What is ‘lasciviousness,’ as mentioned in Galatians 5:19?”

    The Greek word behind the English term “lascivious” is aselgeia. It occurs nine times in the New Testament. Twice it is rendered as “wantonness” (Romans 13:13; 2 Peter 2:18), and once it appears as “filthy” (2 Peter 2:7). The other six times it is translated as “lascivious” (cf. Mark 7:22; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19; 1 Peter 4:3; Jude 4).

    Lasciviousness is a gross form of wickedness that has sexual overtones in many cases. It starts in a sinful heart (Mark 7:21-22), and manifests itself in fleshly (carnal) actions (Galatians 5:19), and can lead to a state of being “past feeling” (Ephesians 4:19).

    The word can connote several attitudes or actions. With reference to sexual matters it embraces the concepts of excess, unbridled lust, debauchery, and sensuality. It suggests a disregard for public decency.

    William Barclay says the word conveys the idea of a person “who is so far gone in lust and desire” that he or she ceases “to care what people say or think” (p. 52). Josephus, the Jewish historian, once used the word to describe a man who indecently exposed himself to a crowd (Antiquities 20.5.3).

    Right here is what we’re looking for VVV

    J.H. Thayer connected the term with such things as “wanton (acts or) manners, filthy words, indecent bodily movements,” and “unchaste handling of males and females” (pp. 79-80). It is a comprehensive term for evil and perversion (Balz, p. 169). For example, it describes the moral environment of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Peter 2:7), and one hardly needs to be reminded of the shameless practices characteristic of those communities.

    The definition of wanton is (especially of a woman) sexually immodest or promiscuous.

    The term aselgeia, however, can go beyond sexual sins and connote any form of excess,i.e., one who “knows no boundaries” in whatever form of evil he indulges (Trench, pp. 56-58).

    In this discussion, however, we will limit ourselves to some applications in issues of sexuality — which seems to be a rather pressing matter in this age of sensuality and apparent insensitivity.

    (1) The use of sexually explicit media materials is a form of lasciviousness. This would include pornographic visuals, such as live productions, books or magazines, movies or videos, audio tapes, etc. This is a growing problem in American society — even among some who profess Christianity. Counselors affirm that porn material is highly addictive, and numerous marriages have been ruined by people who have indulged in sexually explicit filth.

    Too, statistical evidence indicates that sexual predators, child molesters, and even some murderers (e.g., Ted Bundy) have begun their careers of crime by ingesting a diet of salacious materials.

    (2) Lasciviousness occurs frequently in work places where men and women are constantly thrown together in close contact. Flirting, suggestive touching, language containing sexual innuendo, sex humor, provocative dress (skin tight apparel, the display of cleavage, thigh-revealing skirts, etc.) are forms of lascivious conduct that very often lead to fornication and adultery.

    (3) Lascivious communications are common on some web sites. One of the more prominent used by youngsters is known as “My Space.” It is prolifically punctuated with the vilest forms of language and salacious photographs. Amazingly, these frequently are employed by those who identify themselves as “Christians,” though they obviously have no understanding of the significance of that term. Some teens use the site innocently, but they are in a “mine field” of danger and evil influence. Christian parents should supervise carefully what their youngsters are viewing, as they spend hours of their leisure time on the “net.”

    It is incomprehensible that many parents allow their sons and daughters to engage in various forms of lascivious conduct (be it dress, visual entertainment, language, etc.); such actions are sweeping their youngsters down a road to destruction.

    Those who take the Scriptures seriously will personally abstain from such practices, and train their children in morally pure, respectable behavior.

    The lascivious person will not be able to enter the kingdom of heaven (Galatians 5:19-21). To ignore the biblical warnings is the epitome of folly.

  • justin
    Posted at 00:10h, 20 December Reply

    Is looking at girls in bikinis wrong? Here are the verses that made me think this is so.

    Genesis 3:21New International Version (NIV)

    21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

    What God made was tunics. The Hebrew word kathoneth refers to a long shirt, one that reaches from the shoulders to the knees.

    1 Timothy 2:9New International Version (NIV)

    9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,

    1 Corinthians 12:23-25New International Version (NIV)

    23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,

    Exodus 28:42-43, “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him.

    Isaiah 20:4 4so the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, young and old, naked and barefoot with buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.

    Ezekiel 23:18 18 When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her naked body, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister.

    Isaiah 47:1-3, “Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.”

    Micah 1:11, “Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, having thy shame naked: the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Bethezel; he shall receive of you his standing.”

    2 Corinthians 5:2-4, “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.”

    Habakkuk 2:15-16, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD’S right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.”

    Revelation 3:18, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”

  • justin
    Posted at 16:59h, 23 December Reply

    Jason I have a question. Why do the Bible translators translate it wrongly then? Why do they translate it as lust?

  • January 6, 2014 – Genesis Chapter 15 – 17, Matthew Chapter 5: 27-48 | Reading the Bible in a Year (Really)
    Posted at 14:02h, 06 January Reply

    […] Chapters 27 – 48 explain the ethics of the Kingdom of God. The first section is about adultry and it explicity says that if a man sexually desires a woman, he has already committed adultry with her in God’s eyes. I did a lot of reading on this and found the following interpretation: […]

  • bruno
    Posted at 22:18h, 26 January Reply

    This is more important than one would think. You see, if being attracted to the opposite sex is the same as having physical sex, then most everyone is already over the sin fence and might as well have sex with everyone they see. Why not? They have already been having sex with them and sinning just “the same” in their hearts. So having real sex would not be anymore sinful then what they are already doing.

    But, in fact, we are not hopping over the sin fence when our mind says WOW to a hot babe walking by. We stand there and are amazed, not wanting or planning to find out where she lives, or wanting a date. We don’t ask for her number. We don’t care what her name is because we really don’t want to pursue such a thing in our lives. We are only EXCITED by the sight of a women — not by the thought of chasing her or obtaining her. We don’t even want to talk to her. But, if it is no more sinful to have sex with her, then what is the difference? Just have at it! This is the perverse conclusion we arrive at by saying “sin is sin.” But the bible says there are different sins.

    And I guess it is perfectly fine for women and young teens to read “trashy novels” full of highly detailed sex. This turns women on in ways that women experience life – “verbally”. But, Christian cultures don’t seem to think this is an issue because it is not pictures (not porn). WHAT? Circular logic here. It is very much pornographic with graphic detail explained more precisely than any still picture. What bigotry when we have no problem with 13 year-old girls reading this stuff, while Christian women protest Playboy being purchased by grown discerning men. It is an attack on men more than an attack on sin. By the way, porno is also viewed by women and girls in very large numbers. And women have more of a tendency to act out what they read and see in film—because they want to live out “the stories.” Whereas typical men just enjoy the temporary unattached visual thrill and are astute enough to know the difference between simple pictures or sights and don’t carry them forward into real life fantasies (this would be the coveting).

    Okay, this is where the men bashing begins. Men are rapists and abusers and should be castrated. Women don’t commit these crimes. Oh really. They are usually just as responsible, if not more responsible, for luring men into adultery – but, adultery is not really a crime any more is it? Wonder why. Could it be that women are involved in this crime? As Christians, “the intention of acting in a way to promote sinful acts” is a sin. Dressing seductively to seduce a man, is this good? No, it is a sin. But, women can do no wrong in our feminized society. So they can dress as they want, and if a man looks, then he is the bad guy, a CREEPER. What political baloney.

    • Anonymous
      Posted at 19:48h, 19 October Reply

      I think your comment is more of an issue of feminism than than some of the women on here. You point out that it’s fair that when a woman looks it’s OK, but when a man looks he’s a creeper. You fail to look at the fact that the reason feminism exists in the first place is because unfair treat rules made by men.

      My older brother recently told me that a woman can’t do what a man can do. Since woman has a womb therefore has to care for a baby, she can’t sleep because if she contracts something it will contaminate the womb, and what shut him up was when I countered that statemtn by saying and a man shouldn’t sleep around and contract anything either since it’s takes a mans seed to contaminate the womb of a woman(excluding the exceptions of other sexual activities), there are sexist rules that exist for both sides, and you have completely came at one side without considering the years of sexism many woman are still facing today.

      Women are sexual pressured just as men are, but according to a lot of men, the rule is “People like a key that can open many boxes, but not a box that can be opened by many keys.” So the women are pressured to control our urges, while we hear and watch men chase after potential sex partners so that they can have sex without much judgement and also receive validation from their friends for it. But let a women have just as many sex partners as a man, she is slut. Men don’t think about the fact that women have needs as well and it takes a women with needs to give these men what they want. A wise woman who I believe is from India said, “If a woman is dirty after you’ve touched her, you should look at your hands.”

      Women and Men are too caught up in the battle of sexes that neither are seeing how similar we are to their other(I’m sure you’ve heard Men are from Mars and women are from Venus). What needs to happen is that people need to abolish the rules that hold men and women to different standards on things that are equally human for both to do. In this case, sex is one of the biggest things that needs to be equalized. Men and women need to be understood as both having needs and desires and both struggling with said needs and desires. In fact it’s said to have been found that it’s more likely for women to cheat, and that most women cheat when their hormones are all over the place. So we are not all that different. We all have similar weaknesses(This is why I disagree with women who say men are bigger cheaters).

      I feel that we need to get a point of No more men being excused for having a high amount of sexual partners and no more women being considered having superiority over a man when it comes to Children. Let us hold each other equal as Christ does and be understanding that sometimes women freak out about things like this because apart of a lot of women, with the society we live in, there is a fear we are never enough for men. This is why many women are threatened by the idea of a man looking at another woman. It scares us because many women have been in or related to women who have tried to do their best to keep a man pleased but it wasn’t enough. So we become terrified at the idea of a man looking at another woman and many women will question over time as our bodies change if the man will continue to want us(after all the media never fails to show real life stories of older men leaving their families for younger womenn or older women going by the name cougars). These things affect the way men and women see each other and it causes these sexist rules and mentalities. But here’s the question, am I right to say that there is apart of many that is terrified his beautiful wife or woman will no longer want him. If I am right than how are we different in terms or societal pressures on sex desires and how we view the idea of a man or woman looking at someone of the opposite sex.

      Because I will tell you, according to the same study that says woman are more likely to cheat, it also says women are more likely to get caught because men struggle with insecurity, and it this insecurity that causes a man to question what the woman is doing and this is how many men catch their girlfriends or wives cheating. While some may say this study is worldly and does not apply to God, there is truth to it, and by knowing this study it shows, when it comes to men and women we are not so different from the other and that need God more than many of us may think we do. For our humanity tends to get the run of us a lot.

    • Scott
      Posted at 18:25h, 08 May Reply

      Bruno I have to tell you in many ways you are dead on. Women in the church and young women have really slipped under the radar, I mean almost entirely, the only thing you hear is Romance novels, I mean that’s like so 1980s. There is so much more going on than that, I know because Ive seen it right in my family growing up. Young girls can be attracted to all the male shows that are on, your favorite action star may not be just your boyhood hero, he may be your sisters big crush and more.. Younger girls are extremely guy crazy from early ages, look at how crazed the girls got for the Beatles and Elvis back in the day, look at all the boy bands, look at what happens when you enter into a super market to buy something, you’re bombarded with constant ridiculous romance songs all sung by men in these seductive singing voices that sound really stupid, no guys sing like this, and its all to get the women excited.

      Then you have the TV which is pretty much ruled by programing catering to women. Look at the Voice the singing show, American Idol back in its hey day, most of the time a young guy would win because the women voted for him. You have all the Bachelor shows, all catered to a women’s audience. You have Dancing with the Stars, men taring their shirts off and creating dancing that provokes an almost simulated physical affair. You have the sports world, men innocently watching their favorite football games not realizing the women are watching because they are going crazy for the quarter back like Tom Brady. You have nearly all the murder dramas, the hospital drams, all with male starts that are designed for the women to like. The plots are unrealistic and cause odd curiosity and sensational extreme events and violence all designed for the women’s mind.

      Many other night dramas all designed for women and are filled with filth and affairs similar to Sex and The city. I could go on and on, even TV pastors preach sermons that are actually directed more toward women and attract their audience causing them to give. So yes, Romance Novels are sort of a thing of the past, but take the series Twilight with the vampires, again all designed to attract young women toward the male leads that are cast to be appealing to them and evoke desire. This desire includes having affairs.

      Even newscasters, if you look at many men on the news, they are picked to attract the female audience, everyone is talking about the females, but they forget about the male anchors, so many are chosen for this reason and many women all over the country are desiring the male lead news anchors finding the extremely attractive and handsome. So while a male find a women visually attractive and think no further, women are being bombarded with dramas and programing about having actual affairs, another case in point is 50 shades of grey. Men can be drawn just visually women seem to be going much further on an actual emotional affair level that imitates real life.

  • “Whoever Looks at a Woman With Lust”: Misinterpreted Bible Passages
    Posted at 00:05h, 24 June Reply

    […] Read More […]

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 16:37h, 19 October Reply

    I have a question, I was never taught that sexyal desire was a sin according to this verse, however I was taught that a man should be careful not to gaze too long on a woman for it may cause him to fall.

    Yes, he will see a woman whom he’s attracted to however if he stands there’s staring at her body for a long time thinking about what he would do if she was his or simply just thinking what he likes about those parts. These actions can lead to him caving in even though he may not have intended to in the beginning. So I wasn’t taught that sexual desire itself is bad but was taught that men and women should redirect our thoughts as to not let ourselves go too far in thoughts. Once you see it, and acknowledge you like it, look away don’t dwell on it. I was also taught that the word of God says that man is allowed to be sexual attracted to his wife and therefore desire her.

    But my question is, is it appropriate for men to sit around staring and having conversations about a woman’s body part? A lot of men I see do that(and some women). They sit, stare, and talk about how big or nice that part is and start comparing them to other women. Some men even live that rule “I can look but cannot touch” so they look withview the intent of enjoying the view and to dwell on it.

    I personally will not pretend that I don’t have sexual desires. I see attractive men and will look at their bodies but I don’t sit and dwell on the parts because I have found the imagination kicks in when you look too long. I will see a guy and say he has a nice body maybe nice abs or something but then I will redirect my thoughts to something else after that instead of continuing to stare at him. But I notice guys don’t just see it and say she has nice body or she’s beautiful and then move on they stare and really get into the details of a woman’s body, they may not intend to pursue her in anyway, but they do stare and get into studying a woman’s body.

    To me I see it as it’s fine if a man see’s woman and notices she beautiful, that’s natural but I do feel a man should not allow himself to stare and study her. Look but don’t study, and don’t touch. It’s the same with woman, some will talk about a mans body and discuss the every detail of it. They sit and study him, not thinking if he’s married or not. To me this is starting to progress into the coveting stages at that point.

    But then what about magazines with men and/or women wearing certain types of outfits. Does this mean that it is OK for men and women to look at these magazines and stare at their bodies as long as there’s no imagination involved but just admiring the body itself(like musculature, chest, hips)? Because this also brings nude art into question as well. I know some people get into admiring the human figure as art form which I don’t really see a problem, but it does incorporate a lot of studying the body and not really be for everyone.

  • Tunde Abiola
    Posted at 14:27h, 25 October Reply

    I think john buta is right Jason, for saying ” nothing can separate us from God’s love “but he would have complete the statement if he says Sin thus separate us from God not from His love because while we are yet a sinner Christ died for us. If sin had separate us from God’s love John 3:16 would not have been relevant.

  • Jennifer
    Posted at 21:24h, 07 November Reply

    To those of you who are name calling and accusing and saying how “unattractive” and/or “passive aggressive” others are because they don’t agree with your excuses and your assessment of things….remember, when you are pointing your finger at another, you have 3 pointing back at yourself. So, you are what you say, in spades. Especially those of you who had to use filthy, abusive comments.. Pre-fall humankind’s eyes were not open, so they did not see each others nakedness. If you read the Genesis account, after the fall, “their eyes were opened, and they saw that they were naked and were afraid”, and took fig leaves to cover themselves. And God said, “who told you that you were naked?” The pure sex drive was pre-fall. Just think about it.

    • P. Scott
      Posted at 00:49h, 08 May Reply

      So Jennifer, you’re saying that the sex drive that people are born with is evil, really? Is our desire to eat food evil, is our desire to eat some watermelon on a hot day naturally evil? There’s nothing in the bible that states that the desire that the opposite sex has for the other is inherently evil.

  • Adam
    Posted at 22:53h, 07 November Reply

    I’m sorry but I find this to be confusing (correct me if I misinterpreted your motives Jason, but….) How can we know for sure when a woman we think of sexually is married or not? For example, me looking in a magazine of one in a bikini… what if she’s married? You never know. How could God say it’s okay to look at a woman sexually, just make sure she’s married first? That seems even worse, so I think this is a better idea: 1. it is already acknowledged that the word “lust” can still mean “lust” and NOT covet. 2. It’s OBVIOUSLY natural for guys to find women attractive, but to oogle them is wrong. When I first meet an un-married woman, I may think “she has a well-proportioned face.” but if I start checking her out her out and have sexual thoughts, well It’s OBVIOUS that if my future spouse knew about that, then she would feel kind of betrayed, as I should have waited to save those sacred thoughts for her. Christ said stuff I believe about a husband and wife becoming one, in a sacred union, with love and sexual pleasures a part of that one-ness, and I believe other things too like that. Look those verses up I recommend. You’ll find how sacred sexual desires are in a marriage. No no, you didn’t convince me to go watch porn and read a pornographic magazine. I choose to wait for marriage, and that waiting for marriage seems to be the basis more many love stories and songs that the religious and non-religious admire.

  • Bill
    Posted at 23:05h, 07 November Reply

    I’m sorry but I find this to be confusing (correct me if I misinterpreted your motives Jason, but….) How can we know for sure when a woman we think of sexually is married or not? For example, me looking in a magazine of one in a bikini… what if she’s married? You never know. How could God say it’s okay to look at a woman sexually, just make sure she’s married first? That seems even worse, so I think this is a better idea: 1. it is already acknowledged that the word “lust” can still mean “lust” and NOT covet. 2. It’s OBVIOUSLY natural for guys to find women attractive, but to oogle them is wrong. When I first meet an un-married woman, I may think “she has a well-proportioned face.” but if I start checking her out her out and have sexual thoughts, well It’s OBVIOUS that if my future spouse knew about that, then she would feel kind of betrayed, as I should have waited to save those sacred thoughts for her. Christ said stuff I believe about a husband and wife becoming one, in a sacred union, with love and sexual pleasures a part of that one-ness, and I believe other things too like that. Look those verses up I recommend. You’ll find how sacred sexual desires are in a marriage. No no, you didn’t convince me to go watch porn and read a pornographic magazine. I choose to wait for marriage, and that waiting for marriage seems to be the basis more many love stories and songs that the religious and non-religious admire. Also, then what’s your opinions of modesty? So single girls wearing world’y clothes is not a sin? There’s already enough evidence to suggest that it is.

  • Mrs. Rosalyn Hickman
    Posted at 07:43h, 06 March Reply

    Its very interesting to me that where sin starts is the very place we have to return to for healing and deliverance!

    What do I mean? A lustful look upon a woman whether covetous or not plays a very active role in leading men (mankind) into all kinds of ungodly and unacceptable sexual behavior. As soon as they become comfortable with gratifying the flesh with a look, the flesh seeks more because it is never satisfied. To look upon a woman or to be sexually attracted to a woman creates or stirs up sexual feelings that does not necessarily mean you want that woman or that man, but you want what that person suggest to your flesh would be good to experience. The look is just one pathway that leads to sexual immorality and addictions. (There are many but since the conversation is about looking and not being a sin or an act of covetousness, I only address that,

    Let me encourage all you men to think in terms of the whole of scripture before we settle in on it not being a sin to look..

    Sex is a gift from God and is an extremely powerful urge that can not be contained or controlled without the powerful working of the Holy Spirit in us. Even when we are not looking, its powerful. Just the thoughts without a person is powerful. But images do come to mind when sexual thoughts show up. So you can image how our looking intensifies our battle over sexual desires. Don’t tempt God by exercising your liberties.. Temptations pull on our heart, soul, mind, and strength!. And that is what God commands that we love him with. Don’t give the devil a foothold. The three enemies of God: the flesh, the world, and the devil just loves those believers and unbelievers who are are rejoicing over the fact that being sexually attracted to women or men and “looking” is not guilty of adultery.

    How much would you give for that look young man? A lifestyle of pornography? masturbation? etc. (“from 10 years old until now at age 21)”? Really?

    As a Biblical Marriage,and Pre-marital counselor, and a women’s mentor for over 40 years now, I can tell you that the first step after those who are addicted or struggling with immoral behavior express their desire to be delivered is to examine what influences fed their sinful nature and led to those struggles. So we go back most of the time to the desire that was created or stirred up through looking because you were sexually attracted to a woman or man. How the looking led to more and more.. So we are back to the beginning.

    If you are a believer the Holy Spirit is always screaming at you and you know it. He’s telling you that all things are lawful for me but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me but all things edify not.. I Cor 10:23. God is calling for men who want to be true worshipers of him, That will not be brought under the power of anything or anybody that would cause another to stumble, even ourselves to stumble.

    The pathway to a godly lifestyle is to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God which is our reasonable service. Deny ourselves! stop taking advantage of liberties just because you can. Examine ourselves, judge all things, deny ourselves. Believe that He is and that he is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek him!.

    The greater question is not whether it is a sin to look but rather is it expedient?, is it beneficial? is it profitable? does it offend the attractive woman, or will it cause me or my brother to stumble if I look? What about believers who see you looking? God cares about using your liberty will cause others to think of you and of His Word which is really of Him. Paul admonished us that our love for our brother or sister is far more important than gratifying our flesh. That includes all of our Christian walk.

    Try looking at women like this:
    .” . . The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters with all purity.” I Tim 5:2
    I believe this is the greater call upon our lives.

    If your mother, sister, or daughter is attractive would you have a sexually attraction towards them or would you want other men or boys to have a sexual attraction towards them? I pray not although I know incest is alive and well too.

    TRY RUNNING FROM, AND FLEEING, AND AVOIDING THE VERY APPEARANCE OF SIN.
    Trust me you won’t be ashamed at his coming!

    Mrs. “H”

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 17:49h, 31 March Reply

    Kudos Mrs. “H”! I agree that we should strive to edify, and not cause others to stumble. This is good to think upon when considering the act of observing members of the opposite sex you find attractive. If your wife or husband is uncomfortable with or insecure with your “innocent, strictly human nature admiration” of the opposite sex, then allow for some behavior changes to bring them comfort. The Golden Rule also applies well here, “Do unto others as you would have done to yourself.” We are to put our self-serving ways behind us. While I can’t affirm this study is accurate and I disagree with a lot of the visitor comments, I do believe it’s good that the author Jason has presented this scriptural exegesis of this verse. It is very important to know and understand the teachings of Jesus as accurately as we can strive to be.

  • jim
    Posted at 18:10h, 11 April Reply

    Aja
    Posted at 02:49h, 02 February REPLY
    Thanks for you reply Jason! I wouldn’t think watching porn is justified either – it’s debasing anyway. Could you share your thoughts about “lust of the eyes”, i.e. what is this lust referring to, and if I enjoy nude art (the intent is to appreciate the beauty of female, not to get sexual arousal), and I find the model to be beautiful/attractive, does it fall under lust of the eyes?

    Please answer this, I want to know too…
    Sorry Aja i wanted to repost you comment

  • Max Kennedy
    Posted at 17:35h, 24 April Reply

    A better translation is probably: Whosoever looketh at a married woman to take her has committed adultery in his heart.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 00:10h, 04 May Reply

      No, that’s not a better translation. I’m guessing you’re parroting what you’ve been told about the Hebrew underlying the tenth command, but “take” is not a viable translation of the Greek ἐπιθυμέω.

  • Nick@MarriedHeat
    Posted at 03:53h, 13 June Reply

    Knowing the correct context of the language in the Bible is so important. As a 55+ male married for nearly 32 years, I always knew in my heart that I was being taught wrong principles with regard to sexual thoughts and actions. God made men as sexual beings, to look upon and admire the beauty of the female body. Unlike the animals, which mate by instinct, He gave men the power of reason. He did so to create the strong bond of love between a husband and wife.

    I met Heather, my wife-to-be, in 1978. I immediately lusted her fantastic body. It was that lust, coupled with respect for a lady and my willingness to control it, that led me to get to know her, go out with her, date her, court her, and, after 6 and half years, marry her. It was that lust and my willingness to control it that has kept us married and in love with each other. I wrote about meeting Heather here: http://www.marriedheat.com/met-mother-best-day-life/

    I have lusted after many women over the years. Is that wrong? NO! It’s the nature of man. My lust always leads me back to Heather for its release.

    Thanks for a very insightful and educational post.

  • P Cottle
    Posted at 01:44h, 16 June Reply

    Jason, Are you a born again, God-fearing follower of Jesus Christ as the incarnate God, the crucified and risen Savior of the world? I do not see that as one of your credentials.

  • Chris Waugh
    Posted at 22:41h, 21 June Reply

    Thank you Jason for your article and sharing your biblical knowledge. I was wandering if the following type of example would be sinful: someone watches womens gymnastics stretching videos and swimsuit modeling videos and magazines, because these sexually arouse the person watching. However, the person doesn’t imagine having sexual acts with the women and doesn’t masterbait. Instead, they appreaciate and thank God for creating them and their beauty. They also don’t pursue relationships with gymnastists or models, they just like watching them. Would a similar example be considered sinful, except the person imagines having sexual acts with them? Basically, since the person becomes sexually satisified after doing these things, would that be considered disobeying Matthew 5:27-28?

  • leana h
    Posted at 11:09h, 10 July Reply

    ‘Do not commit adultery,’ but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman in order to covet her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    This is very obvious to understand but men always try to avoid it. To commit this crime you must first be with someone either dating or married, which is why it is so important to wait till you find the right person because it is easily broken.

    When you are with your lover, say in a store getting groceries, and when you get inside you immediately forget you are already someone’s and being looking at other women or men with sexual intent, your partner can always tell and is offended and hurt. It is easy to tell when you have broken a law because you know inside it is wrong and there is always a victim or (victims) that feels violated. The person that you are looking at with lust in front of your lover can see that you are betraying your lover through the eye and is also offended that you looked at them purely for lustful reason because you are clearly taken.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 20:44h, 12 July Reply

      Jesus does not limit his statement to men who are dating or married. If anything, the Greek word γυνή limits the coveted individual in question to married women (as opposed to all women in general), but there is no such limitation on the person doing the coveting in this verse.

      This passage has nothing to do with a partner feeling jealous at her partner’s wandering eye or another’s recognition of being “checked out.”

  • tom tully
    Posted at 20:08h, 21 July Reply

    Seems to me that “not coveting” is about as hard as “not lusting”. And though “not coveting” is one of the Ten Commandments, it’s as hard to follow as any of Jesus radical commands.

  • E E
    Posted at 07:08h, 23 July Reply

    I do think that Matthew 5:27-28 is basically if anyone looking at a wife (married woman) with the desire to take her for himself ( ) has committed adultery (sinned) in his heart already. But in terms of single men looking at single women there is still the issue with possible obsession (blatant googling, stalking, creeping) to the point of it being idolatry.

    Proverbs 6:20-7:27, Matthew 5:27-28 & James 1:14-15, Colossians 3:5,6, 1 Corinthians 10:7-22

    Read all these passages. There is a connection between desires, and the connection to relating to bread, the body, lust, and all that. Even to the point of it being demonic. Anything that you allow to oppress you to the point of focusing your time and your heart for God being distracted in the amount that puts Him NOT as #1 is bad. It just breeds a world of hurt. God gets jealous, and for good reason. Some guys just look intently with no plans to form relationships with women. Realistically there is no point to it, it just makes some guys not appreciate who they are with one day, being so used to constantly viewing every woman in site just for “fun.” Many men of the Bible have put their focus more on finding one or more women, even ahead of everything else in their life. It is really your motives that are the issue that tell you if things are sinful really, or that can at some point potentially lead to sin. If women rule your mind then you should wonder if they have become your god. Don’t copy the antics of David. I know guys want to think they are ok looking at a woman and feel overly attracted to them, but it is another thing to let it rule their lives and distract them from living a godly life. Especially when lots of these women put themselves together in the intent to only use themselves as objects of attention with no intent on forming meaningful loving relationships. Sometimes it is strictly for carnal actions or motives and nothing more. Be smart guys. Be discerning. May God bless you and strengthen your heart/mind.

  • Nick
    Posted at 09:22h, 05 August Reply

    Here’s how I see it. I think we cross the line when the first look goes from accidental/unintentional to intentional. As a man I will notice an attractive woman, and the same is true for women. When our first look becomes prolonged or we keep looking back, we have crossed the line. If we deliberately seek out attractive women (whether from the internet, catalogs, magazines, real life, etc.) just to look at them, I believe we have crossed the line. We should all be in prayer asking God for the strength to control our eyes. And women are called to dress modestly, women should be prayer asking what it means for them to dress modestly. We all need to be seeking the Holy Spirit and his guidance, not just trust our own logic and reasoning. “Create in me a pure heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

  • Perry Pierce
    Posted at 17:53h, 20 August Reply

    Jason, good job. I’ve been waiting for this truth to make it out of the gate. I see the usual group jumping in to preserve that thousand year old error.
    In essence, Whosoever looks at a married woman to covet her had already committed adultery in his heart.

  • Andrew
    Posted at 09:52h, 07 September Reply

    Thank You ! you will also notice Jesus say her in his heart.”— While still a sin, there is a huge difference even by Jesus’ standard between that and actual adultery ! – How many of us have turned away last minute from continuing in a sinful thought just before we acted on it – adultery, hate, murder, theft- even though we wanted to do it in our hearts.– By the false belief that has been perpetuated for years –why not go ahead and commit the sin anyway if they are both the same– absolute stupidity! — A desire to look at a sexy woman is a built in desire for a man, controlling it is the key- Is Jesus trying to tell us every time someone has a momentary hateful thought that their sin is exactly the same as stabbing their neighbor to death? Of course not! acting on a sinful thought or rejecting it is the key.- Or else, why not commit the deed and at least get the reward if your just as guilty of the crime– see the stupidity?

  • Andrew
    Posted at 10:01h, 07 September Reply

    and… those that divorce their spouse because they struggle with pornography or similar but never actually committed physical adultery are actually committing real physical adultery—-Just an additional thought have you ever heard of a church asking an obese gluttonous eater pastor to step down? but one who struggles with pornography happens all the time- I have heard of churches condone a woman divorcing her husband for pornography but NEVER for refusing to have sex on regular basis with her husband- or reading a sexual novel (i.e. Danielle Steele) – quite a contradiction

  • john
    Posted at 14:20h, 20 September Reply

    Dear brothers from another mother….you spend so much study on interpretations and ignore the teaching….will you not listen to that teacher the Lord you serve has left you?….or will you continue to teach yourselves and lead each other to all end….do not push away..contradict or confuse the only teacher you will ever need that is within you….false teachings are common in this day but your conscience will bear witness to your study and struggle….to think that you will enter the kingdom of Heaven filled with carnal desires for those Holiest of sisters is absurd…come back to the struggle of all life…which wars against all members of your body….I know the agony and turmoil…the impure thoughts that assail you daily…especially you…those thoughts have been exposed and brought to light by the Holy Spirit…its alright to feel evil..that which we are….suffer awhile…deny these demons and they will leave you ..maybe not soon but they will….this is not you…never accept that lie…if you do not want something or think these things but continue to do so…. it is not you who do it!……do not be deceived….me myself since a child I have been afflicted with “lust”…after much study…trail and error …. i can honestly describe this lust as an “evil spirit”…..same as the ego…same as greed…same as envy…same as pride…it separates you from that holy Spirit of God…if the eye is polluted then how long till the whole body becomes engulfed and lead to destruction….die daily…deny yourself…be born again ….and one day you will be able to look at ANY woman and will never notice that which you desire but will look upon her soul …with a great compassion and concern …like your FATHER.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 18:32h, 27 October Reply

      So you’re suggesting we should ignore what Jesus said and how he said it?

  • T D Carter
    Posted at 13:19h, 14 November Reply

    Hello Jason,Thank you for opening my understanding on this topic. I hope God will continue to bless you with interpeting his word.

    I read some comments asking you how can the use of the word adultery apply to singles since they are not married. My understanding of these comments are that they do not think lust/covet includes them. The word PORNEIA may help along with the fact singles can and do illicit sex from a married person in our culture today.

    GOD BLESS YOU

  • Jimmy Chitwood
    Posted at 07:42h, 19 November Reply

    Question: Why is it wrong for one desirously to view pictures of a naked person, to view videos of a couple having sex, or to masturbate while doing so? Let’s assume that the one doing the viewing is experiencing simple mental-physical stimulation or is fantasizing, but is not wanting or planning physically to possess the source of the stimulation. To simplify things, let’s further assume the couple being viewed is heterosexual and married to each other and has provided the video voluntarily,

  • Cesie Goode
    Posted at 12:23h, 26 November Reply

    Thank you Jason for your labor of love to share your knowledge of the Word of God with others.

  • Edward Perkins
    Posted at 02:46h, 04 January Reply

    If wife and woman are the same word in the Greek (it looks like they are from some cross checking on biblehub.com) does that mean woman could be translated wife here? Could this verse be talking only about coveting/desiring another man’s wife being adultery of the heart; not at all about single women? The connection from thought to action would much clearer then. Is this the case as you see it?

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 20:26h, 07 January Reply

      Yes, I mentioned in the post that the term is probably best translated wife here.

  • Robert
    Posted at 16:41h, 04 January Reply

    Jason,

    Great article…a few thoughts….the passage goes from “Adultery in the Heart” to dealing drastically with sin (if your right eye causes you to sin…) to divorce is permissible only in the case of adultery. My question is that if if a spouse commits blatant “Adultery of the Heart” (i.e. pornography, sexual fantasy, masturbation) does this give the betrayed spouse a Biblical right to divorce according to this passage? If lust involves masturbation does this cross over to a physical act that now becomes adultery in the flesh so to speak because the act of masturbation is a physical act. Does the Greek make a distinction between adultery of the heart and adultery as a Biblical reason for divorce?

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 20:37h, 07 January Reply

      This is a complicated question, as Jesus is quite opposed to divorce, asserting that the other partner having broken the marriage contract is the only acceptable reason for divorce. Given the qualifier “in his heart” here, the look does not qualify as grounds for divorce, as the contract would not have been violated. However, there are conceivable cases in which addiction to pornography and/or masturbation might compromise a person’s fulfillment of the marriage contract, at which point divorce could potentially be defensible. So the short answer seems to be “no,” but there are conceivable exceptions to that answer.

  • SR SANKU
    Posted at 02:59h, 15 January Reply

    An amorous thought instinctively made to covet a woman, is Perse not impermissible and in such situations the moral warning ” conscience is a watchdog that barks at sin” must awaken you from your depredations, otherwise a reasonable inference may be drawn that you are suffering from the vice of indiscretion SR. SANKU

  • Rodney
    Posted at 17:19h, 17 January Reply

    Is watching porn a sin

  • Dave B
    Posted at 00:04h, 21 January Reply

    If I may add a few thoughts on Matt 5:28. It is badly translated from a dualist perspective with other historical influences including courtly love, Mariolatry and mysticism. It would more accurately reflect Jesus’ words and harmonize with the Old Testament translated as: “But I say to you that whoever looks at another man’s wife to covet her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    My reasoning:

    – “Gune” can only be another man’s wife to correspond to the use of “moicheuo”. It should not be a reference to all women, only those who are married. Jesus uses “pornao” in v 32 which would extend to all women, so he knows the difference and chooses His words carefully. Adultery in the OT and the NT (“moicheuo”) always refers to a married woman having sex with someone other than her husband. Porneo is used for fornication and related sexual sins.

    -epithumeo wich is translated “lust” is used elsewhere by Christ to mean “longed” Matt 13:7, Lk 15:16, desired Lk 16:21, Lk 17:22, and Lk 22:15. None of these uses have a sexual connotation – in fact, they are used as a positive desire. Thus the insertion of a word with a highly charged sexual connotation is the result of prejudice on the part of the translators.

    The amplification of the law that Jesus is highlighting is not expanding the object of desire from married woman to all women but to expand the understanding of coveting another man’s wife.

    Some examples: One way this coveting commonly happens is when a pastor desires the honor from the wives in the congregation that belong to their husbands. Some will belittle men, much to the pleasure of the women, or defend the sins of women and in the end, they receive not sex, but what belongs to another man none the less. This is coveting another man’s wife and is adultery of the heart. Same for counselors who assume headship of the family and authority over the husband and the wife. They have also taken authority (that belongs to the husband) over another man’s wife and coveted her submission which belongs to her husband; this is nothing short of treachery for God gave the command that she is to submit to her own husband and that the husband is the head of the home and he answers to God. But men covet the admiration of women, even another man’s woman.

    For too long Matt 5:28 has been used as a club to bludgeon male sexuality, it is time to fight against the mistranslation and not add to the law. In Matt 5:28, Jesus was protecting husbands and marriage, by condemning the non-sexual coveters with the same law that condemns the sexual- adulterer. it is time to stop using it to cut men off at the knees and enabling the destruction of marriage. Many shamefully use this verse as a basis for divorce – “my husband looked at a sexy woman, he committed heart adultery and adultery is justification to break my vows”, others to condemn the male sex drive. Both abuses weaken marriage and eviscerate the leadership role of the husband.

    • Michael Kitchens
      Posted at 14:51h, 06 February Reply

      Very well said!

  • Joe Pipkorn
    Posted at 00:19h, 17 February Reply

    Hi Jason,

    If sinful lust has to do with the will or with intent, does that mean that sexual fantasies are not examples of sinful lust if not accompanied by a willful intent to act on them?

  • Jerry Roland
    Posted at 11:40h, 20 February Reply

    OK, I have a little more complexity to add to my marriage and wife. My wife has implants which cause them to lose their natural motion. This in turn is a turn off and makes it difficult to stay aroused during sex. Is fantasizing about more natural breasts the same as lusting? I can see a yes and no. I desire more nature but do not want another woman.

  • Ross Thompson
    Posted at 09:38h, 29 March Reply

    Good to see a leader with concern for a major issue with young men and all men. I think the New Testament gives us a better answer. Acts 15:7-9 has Peter saying when the Holy Spirit was given in the upper room and too the gentiles he is talking about, they received a pure heart. Jesus said adultery was the product of an unclean heart in Mark 7:21. Receipt of a pure heart from Christs’ atonement does away with the need to be concerned about will or intent etc. Paul called it circumcision of the heart in Romans 2:29. It is a theme running through the New Testament. Experiencing a pure heart releases a man to accept his sexuality with no added issues.

  • Ross Thompson
    Posted at 09:47h, 29 March Reply

    A few lines from my book….I suspect many Christian men read the few lines in Mathew five, where Jesus talks about men looking at women, with a sense of guilt and burden. I have seen it interpreted as, ‘if a man looks at a woman he commits adultery’. What the Lord said was, ‘but now I tell you: anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her, or to lust after her, is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart’. (Math 5:28) The real issue Christ is talking about here is the heart. He is applying some pressure, you might say, with the intent of making his listeners feel the need of a change of heart that only he can supply. The Lord himself said adultery is a product of an unclean heart. (Mark 7:21) Blessed are the men who look at a woman from a pure heart, adultery is no longer an issue.

  • Don Pohlman
    Posted at 09:08h, 06 April Reply

    Sorry, I not much of a writer so here is some Points to note.

    The real translation in our modern language should be

    Mat 5:28 But I say to you, that whoever looks at a wife in order to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    First, the Greek word for lust, which I think is best translated a just “desire”, can be a good desire.
    Luk 17:22 And He said to the disciples, The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you shall not see it.
    Luk 22:15 And He said to them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.

    It is important to note in their society and our older society, marriage was everything and women were seen as either marriageable or married, available for marriage or taken, Ms or Mrs. This is not a “virgin” or “young woman” (G2877) but a married woman/wife (G1135) which is consider mature and complete.

    Some of the older English versions use “wife” not “woman” for Mat 5:28, Coverdale Bible, Great Bible, Tyndale Bible.

    This verse is not about looking on a woman’s beauty but desiring another man’s wife. Put it this way, David would have been better off obeying Mat 5:29-30 and “cut out his eyes” then taking Bathsheba and God was going to killing him!

    Because Mat 5:28 is mistranslated and misunderstood, Mat 5:29&30 is never used correctly AND Mat 5:32 (real adultery and breaking marriage) is committed by most of our churches and pastors.

    I want my sons to desire a “young woman/virgin”, just not another man’s wife!

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 12:02h, 26 April Reply

      The word for “desire” is the same word used to translate “covet” in the ten commands. That’s not accidental. Best to translate “covet” as a result.

  • Bob Artemenko
    Posted at 11:24h, 19 April Reply

    Jason, you still dialoguing on topic? I have some thoughts considering the Kantian atomistic model of thought as seen in the early parts of the Critique of Pure Reason, Proverbs exhortations (4:14-15, 5:8) to stay off the path to sin and it’s wisdom on the hard-to-control inertia of desire, and the calculus which a quarterback uses to inevitably have the pigskin hit the receiver’s nums on a square-out pattern … the point … you have defined a none-sinful station on the continuum toward sin that is only microns away from sinning, that the subject is literally sitting on, teetering on sword tips to continue to NOT sin. A misinterpretation of this verse may well be more helpful than a right deconstruction of all the Newtonian/Leibnetzian waypoints on the way to crossing the sin line. I like what Ortberg says, you got about .3 seconds from keeping good nature from becoming bad nature. We need to be ready to run like Joseph. Thanks man, It’s like the mechanics (physics) of how you need to use the brake and the accelerator pedals, I could give you totally accurate timings for movement of the controls per the engineers designs, but if I repeatedly crash for whatever reasons, I need operational wisdom more than right standard, measurements,

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 12:07h, 26 April Reply

      That’s all well and good, but the verse is not about operational wisdom, it is about where the boundaries are situated. The rules of the game are what need to be established first, and that’s what this passage is addressing.

  • Viktoriya Kim
    Posted at 16:56h, 23 May Reply

    But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
    Matthew 5:28 KJV
    http://bible.com/1/mat.5.28.KJV

    First, King James Version is a work of forty seven scholars, each more knowledgeable about Old and New Testaments, Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek than you or I.

    Second, “Tenth Command, which is perhaps best understood as forbidding fixing one’s desire upon obtaining something that is not rightfully one’s own.” – yes, and Matthew 5:28 reflects it. A woman belongs to a man if she is that man’s wife. Therefore looking at someone other than own spouse with sexual desire is adultery as obviously they are not married and don’t belong to each other but yet one or both covet/want/lust after each other. Intimacy is allowed by God within marriage only.
    Natural desires that you speak of is of our corrupted human nature, the outcome of the fall (Genesis 3). They are evil. Example: it’s not bad to consume food when hungry but it is evil to eat when are not or gorge oneself. It is not evil to lust after own spouse but it is after someone other than own spouse.
    Yes, those evil feelings and thoughts are pretty common and hard to get rid of, heard of saying “slave to sin”? There is only One who can break those chains and that is God: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. That is how we get rid of evil thoughts and desires. Jesus is our link to the Father. That is how we know God and His commandments, through Holy Spirit we don’t forget and be reminded as He convicts us of our evil thoughts. Once we acknowledge our wrongs we pray to God to change us. God cares about our heart: For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
    Matthew 15:19 KJV

    With all respect, your interpretation is misleading people and giving them excuse to sin.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 08:52h, 26 May Reply

      1) I’m sure the scholars behind the KJV were more knowledgeable about those things than you. But you cannot speak for me on this.

      2) You are not properly understanding the passage as it is communicated in Greek. My post should help with that, but you unfortunately weren’t interested in what the New Testament says but instead would prefer to hold to traditional interpretation based on the KJV, which was limited by the relatively limited knowledge of the scholars that worked on it (and the very limited text base upon which it’s built, which thankfully isn’t a factor here).

      3) You are mistaken about the “fallen nature” thing, and your example demonstrates that. Hunger is not a bad desire in any circumstance. What makes gluttony a bad thing is not the desire for food but the decision made to eat an inappropriate amount or at an inappropriate time. That’s not a problem with the natural desire; it’s a problem with the will.

  • Dave Willmore
    Posted at 14:00h, 24 May Reply

    Jason,
    I just ran across this article and while I have not fully digested it, I do want you to know that I appreciate the work and new avenue of thought for me to explore. In the end, the Spirit does help us recognize sin in our own lives. The problem is when we legalistically bare sin or accuse others of sin, and the reverse is true when we justify what is sinful through legalistic gymnastics.

    Lust and covet can be the same thing. Is it sinful for a 16 year old male to see a pretty young lady only to have his hormonal reaction turn him into a lusting hound? I personally doubt it, but it is what he does with those thoughts after the impulse erupts within his body. Where does biology become an excuse to overrule one’s morality regardless of faith?

    Anyway, these are now the thoughts I am running through my simply gray matter and my muddled spiritual matter.

  • nicholas kirsch
    Posted at 18:03h, 27 May Reply

    But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

    “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

    It is clear that God judges the heart of man

    Now reread the scripture…

    But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 08:23h, 30 May Reply

      Indeed. If anything, this only supports the point of the article.

  • Michael Chan
    Posted at 18:23h, 07 June Reply

    What about in regards to non married couples. When you covet someones boy friend or girl friend, is that sin. Or because two people have technically not been married and aren’t technically joined as one, so in fact they still single (and dating) in the eyes of God’s. So thus you are not committing sin when you covet another mans girlfriend, or a womans covets another womens boyfriend or someone does to your boyfriend or girlfriend. Someone once suggested to me to pursue a woman that i had chemistry with, and got along with well, even though she was dating someone already, that because she wasn’t married yet that it wasn’t sin if i pursued her. I told this person that it was sin to covets another woman even though it was just dating. Am i interpreting this commandment correctly to include people that are only dating?

  • Ronnie D.
    Posted at 21:34h, 20 June Reply

    I disagree with your conclusion. Your resolution is no different than the interpretation of man, of this world and of mainstream. You are only reiterating what is already widely believed, however, though your arguments has everything, it does not mean everything is in sync. The instantaneous moment of lust is sin. You use bad examples to justify against the case. You are relaying this argument as religious dogma, taboo, when in reality, although it is the same thing being referred to, there are times when this dogma goes out of hand, and some people are too overreactive on anything resembling lust. However, this does not disprove that lust is not cheating/adultery or a sin. The original impression is the truth. Do not deny it because of convenience and desires.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 11:30h, 28 June Reply

      “The original impression” of what? In the case of interpretation, you first have to establish what a text says. Only then can you have an impression of anything. So the question remains: what is the “original impression” you refer to here?

      Secondly, you say “the instantaneous moment of lust is sin.” But this is directly contradicted by James 1:15, which says, “When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is full-grown, it brings forth death.” James makes it clear that lust is not the same as sin, which is not the same as death. Lust (that is, desire) is a precursor of sin, but it is not itself sin. To say otherwise is to directly state that James 1:15 is wrong.

  • Jeff
    Posted at 14:45h, 22 June Reply

    Great article, and I also might add that women in our modern day culture make it much more easy for themselves to be lusted after because of what they wear as compared to women back in Jesus’s day. They have much more skin showing, cleavage showing, and tight fitting clothes all over their body, as compared to the modest apparel they had back then.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 11:16h, 28 June Reply

      This comment is problematic for a number of reasons. First, not all women in antiquity wore what you’re calling “modest apparel,” and the idea that there was less skin showing and sexualization in many of the cities of the ancient Mediterranean isn’t entirely accurate. Secondly, it seems that you are blaming women for their capacity to arouse male attraction, which is something that is not done anywhere in the New Testament, least of all in this passage. The fact is that a woman could wear a snowsuit and still arouse male attraction; in this passage, Jesus puts the responsibility for how to address such attraction on the gazer, not the one being looked at.

  • Niclas Thom
    Posted at 07:03h, 26 June Reply

    Dear Mr. Staples,
    thank you very much for this extremly interesting and insightful article.
    I have one question regarding the implication of your article (and the distinction between lust and covet):
    When discussion masturbation (for unmarried men) it is often argued (for example at gotquestion.org) that masturbation in itself is not bad but that it is only sinful because it opens the door to desires for the other sex so that one would involuntarily end up picturing the other sex and likewise desiring it. So would it be sin to mastrubate without any porn, sexual literature or intend to picture sexual content in the mind, but just as an enjoyment of the own body and its sensations? Of course it can happen that desire or mental pictures come up, like they can come up in many other activites as going to the swimming pool. But if one doesn’t indulge in these images but ignores them, would it be ok to enjoy the own body through stimulation and without intent to fantasize sexual activity with another person (as one would enjoy a massage without anything negative in mind)?

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 11:34h, 28 June Reply

      This question goes far beyond anything addressed in this passage and as such this isn’t really the place to address it. There have been a number of differing views on the answer to this question in Christian history.

  • Anatoliy Orgunov
    Posted at 09:43h, 12 July Reply

    That was a very interesting take on epithumeô, some really good food for thoughts. Thank you, Jason. However, there is a significant flaw in your textual treatment that actually defeats it (at least for me). In Matthew 5:21, Jesus said, “You have heard that the ancients were told…” and in v.27 He continues “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.'” In both cases, He refers to 2 of the 10 Commandments as to something that “the ancients were told” contrasting what was told to what He says now. If He merely quoted the 10th Commandment, this contrast would make no sense what so ever. He had to use a different construct, such as “but the ancients were also told not to covet….” Again, I do think there is something valuable to think about in connecting “lust” to the 10th Commandment, but I do not think the idea of Jesus simply quoting another of the 10 Commandments does any justice to the text. I think you need to rethink it and come up with a better interpretation.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 10:34h, 12 July Reply

      This misunderstands what Jesus is saying in the first half of each antithesis. He is not contradicting what was said in the Ten Commands; he’s pointing out that although his audience had heard plenty on one command, the other (which is of equal weight) should not be ignored. He’s not contradicting or adding to the Torah; he’s interpreting it and emphasizing aspects/parts that are too easily ignored.

      He doesn’t need to say, “but the ancients were also told not to covet” because using the exact same words is enough to make that point explicit.

  • Steve Craig
    Posted at 11:49h, 17 July Reply

    I had read somewhere that this was a statement rejecting what the pharrasies taught that looking, even gazing at a woman was sinful/adultery. In an essence what jesus is saying is that it is only sinful in the context of coveting. Desiring something so much that without intervention would lead to sin.

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 16:10h, 03 August Reply

      I’m not sure where you read this, but it doesn’t sound like your source was a good one. We don’t have much evidence about what the Pharisees taught with respect to this subject, and if anything Jesus’ statements here are more stringent than those he is preaching against, not less. That’s part of the point of the antithesis format.

  • Ty Towriss
    Posted at 16:16h, 01 August Reply

    Well reasoned/stated argument. No disagreements here. And there are so many more examples of misinterpretation, or better put, interpretations that snowball out of control away from the practical, common sense into an avalanche of cascading religious bondage and guilt, largely due to the compounded effect of adding errant definitions onto simple words with simple meanings. This is a very liberating, no nonsense paper from Jason Staples. This is someone from whom I will read more for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  • Steve Stewart
    Posted at 13:11h, 08 August Reply

    Hi Jason,

    Thank you for your well thought out reasoning on this subject. From the way the dates are formatted on people’s replies, I can’t tell if you’re still responding to comments or if this is a very old thread. Although I’ve read quite a few of the comments I can’t take time to read them all so I hope this isn’t redundant.

    My question is: since looking at a woman and having a bit of sexually fantasy or thoughts about her, without intent to posses her, is normal and not sinful, then at what point can sexual thoughts become sinful? I am married but my wife and I don’t have as much time to be with each other sexually as we’d like because of our work schedules. Sometimes we cant be intimate for a couple of weeks at a time. Also, I don’t believe that masturbation in and of itself is wrong.

    If I have to masturbate to relieve sexual tension and is it OK to look at a picture of a woman for the purposes of sexual stimulation? I will never meet this woman and I wouldn’t want to possess her even if I could. I really only want to posses my wife. I’m just looking for a source of sexual stimulation and sinse I’m a man, I’m visual so that is the best.

    I’m confused because if looking at a woman in real life and thinking sexual thoughts, without wanting to posses her, just enjoying the thoughts, is OK, then some where between there and pornography there has to be a cut off point, right? Is looking at a woman in lingerie for the purpose of stimulation wrong? If not, then is looking at her naked wrong? If the criterion is “just as you don’t want to actually meet her in person and INTEND to commit adultery with her then it’s not sin”, then possibly even looking at porn isn’t a sin, but SURELY that isn’t right! Also, is being stimulated by erotic fiction without pictures right or wrong? I hope this makes sense.

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

    Steve

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 08:33h, 13 September Reply

      The way Jesus frames it here is about the extension of the will. Based on Jesus’ statements about sex and sexuality recorded in the Gospels, I doubt he would have approved of the use of pornography for sexual satisfaction. That would seem to be the kind of willful extension toward another that he’s talking about here.

  • Rob P
    Posted at 03:14h, 14 August Reply

    Very good paper. I’d argue that there is still such a thing as sinful intent with sex in marriage. This being more related to priorities, and seeking your own satisfaction above your spouses, than the simple act of being physically attracted/aroused by your spouse.

    I also think that this is a fantastic way of getting at the true crux of the sermon on the mount. Coincidentally the ESV uses “who looks at a woman with lustful intent” which, imo effectively eliminates the need for this entire treatise (assuming you use that translation) You touched on it, but the Sermon on the Mount isn’t about re-upping the Law, but eliminating the Law. Viewed in the context of all of Jesus’ other teachings I’ve always thought it odd when people use these passages to continue this rhetoric of a list of actions that are “sins.” Instead, I believe this to be a source passage in arguing that sin is no longer defined as actions, but as intent, and heart condition. Even helping someone else with our sights set on personal gratification would be sinful. because our heart and our intent don’t align with Him.

    I’d caution you that, just like people have misinterpreted the word lust here, I fear people will misinterpret your “covet” language. All too easy to say, “well she’s not married so it’s not coveting, because she’s no one’s wife” I believe you do a decent job of trying to nip that in the bud in your argument, but just as people have taken these verses out of the context of Jesus’ entire life message, Others could cling to just a few pieces of this paper and get the exact opposite message.

  • Samuel V
    Posted at 00:01h, 06 September Reply

    Hello Mr Staples
    I have a question about galatians 5:19
    This passage condemns Sensuality( lasciviousness, lewdness, etc) does that mean that watching photos or drawings(animations, art, anime, etc) of sensual or attractive single women, and enjoying that is a sin?

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 08:44h, 13 September Reply

      The best evidence from the New Testament and early Christian tradition is that such behavior would have been frowned upon as an improper way of satisfying one’s fleshly desires.

  • niyi smith
    Posted at 04:10h, 18 September Reply

    the chapter is really talking about the mindset of godliness rather than just obeying the law and Christ prescribed how to fulfill the law. this is by obeying the law of the spirit. conscience and heart reasoning of the letter of the law.

  • Daniel Sebold
    Posted at 01:47h, 25 September Reply

    So it’s okay for a woman to look lustfully upon or to covet a man’s or boy’s body? Perhaps so given the slap on the wrist we give to women teachers who rape lucky boys. Oh that’s right. Women don’t think that way. Why don’t Christians be honest with themselves that this passage is a sexist sexual guilt trip dumped on men and boys from yet another pseudo profound prophet? By the way, when are pro gay, pro transgender Target and Wallmart stores going to start selling Speedo bikinis for men and boys so that we don’t have to go to the beach feeling all guilty that we have penises, yet another effect of a country brainwashed by another guilt-ridden religion. Ironically, it is Muslim immigrant males who are raising this issue in the health clubs of Dearborn, Michigan where they get banned for wearing short shorts to the gym, but Christian women can wear them. All the times I was swatted around by my Christian mother for masturbation–something males never talk about. I guess it never happened to any other boys. Christians aren’t going to end sexism or sexual repression.

  • Bill
    Posted at 16:15h, 26 September Reply

    Simply put: If you obsess over someone, you will most likely get physical if given the proper setting. This is why lust in the heart is already considered a sin. I feel the big reason why God focuses on sexual sins is because sexuality drives people’s lives in general. Sexual identity is the whole person, in effect, especially if one does not identify themselves through Christ. And to remove self from self is an impossibility. Hence, we will always be compelled with that drive. But a reprobate mind is a reprobate mind. The Bible, from what I have read, focuses on restraint of evil thoughts. So again, I feel that if a person is looking at women with lustful eyes, he/she will eventually turn that desire into physical–Just how far is another story.
    All sin is created equal. But there are a variety of areas of weakness in each person that seems to be easier to transgress…which brings me back to sex. Obsession with sex drove many governments/nations to ruin. Great example is Babylonia and the hedonistic Roman Empire- at their height, sex and lavish living was the primary motivator. In fact, watch “The Four Horsemen”. This is an award winning documentary on the phases of the life of a nation/government. A focus on sex and lavish living is the final stage before the fall of a nation. So in a nutshell, try to restrain your lustful thoughts in areas of any weakness (but mostly sex); it may be only in the heart, but being in the heart is treated like a transgression because of its inevitability.

  • Jeff R.
    Posted at 01:04h, 01 October Reply

    And I’m also interested in what your take is on Jesus saying to the man in Luke that he had to give away all his possessions. From my understanding this doesn’t necessarily apply to us, as Jesus also mentioned to His disciples that they were to take nothing with them when they spread the Gospel, but after He was resurrected He told them to take some possessions (a sword, a coat, and a money bag I believe).

    So we may not have to give away all, but how much do we have to give away?

    • Jason A. Staples
      Posted at 15:07h, 04 October Reply

      The basic takeaway from that passage is that everyone must fulfill the commands of the Torah to love God and love neighbor. In the case of that man, Jesus determined that he needed to give away his riches in order to love God as he ought.

      The presumption throughout the rest of the New Testament is that everything anyone has is God’s, and if a person doesn’t treat things that way, it’s best to get rid of those things.

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