“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.” (Matthew 5:17)
In this series, we are looking at how Jesus redefined different laws, ideas, and notions by expanding their meanings and, thus, our understanding of the Scriptures. After redefining and elevating anger, Jesus elevated and redefined adultery.
“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.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
Even if you look at a woman with lust you have committed adultery with her in your heart. Anyone guilty? Have you ever looked at someone who isn’t your spouse with lust? Jesus redefined adultery and elevated the standard. Adultery is no longer just a physical act. Jesus got to the heart of things: the problem is inside us. People imagine things and lust after others long before anything physical happens. This is the most common problem of man—lusting after women, taking that intentional look, creating images in the mind. Jesus elevated this behavior to the level of adultery. Here are some bullet points from studies done by the Barna Group and Covenant Eyes:
Over 40 million Americans are regular visitors to porn sites. The average visit lasts 6 minutes and 29 seconds.
There are around 42 million porn websites.
The porn industry’s annual revenue is more than the NFL, NBA, and MLB combined. It’s also more than the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC.
47% of families in the United States reported that pornography is a problem in their home.
Pornography increases the infidelity rate by more than 300%.
Eleven is the average age that a child is first exposed to porn and 94% of children will see porn by age 14.
56% of American divorces involve one party having an “obsessive interest” in pornographic websites.
33% of women aged 25 and under search for porn at least once per month.
68% of church-going men and over 50% of pastors view porn regularly.
Of young Christian adults 18-24 years old, 76% actively search for porn.
Do you think we have an adultery problem? We are not living up to Jesus’ standard in this area. And these statistics don’t even take into account things like Sports Illustrated and movies and television shows that promote lustful images and sexualize women. Jesus raised the standard and the statistics show we are falling short.
The fact of the matter is that this will continue to be a pervasive problem if the church doesn’t stand up and address it. It’s not a comfortable subject and that’s why the problem has been allowed to grow. Sixty-eight percent of church-going men and over 50% of pastors view porn regularly? If anything, those numbers are low because these are just the men who would admit to it. It’s unacceptable, especially for those who are supposed to be leading the church.
“Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1)
“Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.” (Hebrews 13:4)
“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
God isn’t going to hold us to the world’s standards and definitions—He’s going to hold us to His. Are you going to continue to commit adultery by lusting after other people? Taking a second glance? Letting your imagination run wild? Looking at the swimsuit issue, Victoria’s Secret ad, sexualized television shows or movies? The Bible doesn’t shy away from these topics; it’s high time the church stopped shying away from them. Jesus elevated what it means to commit adultery, and it’s time we step up to His standard.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.