Question:

I am a Christian and worship in a congregation of the Church of Christ. I would like to ask you something, that has been vexing me for some time, and I know the general and most common answers but I would truly applicate your reply.

We as a rule tend to take the most accurate meaning of the original text as being the most correct when dealing with Scripture, that being the case I have the following questions. In part this comes for your answer in Am I no longer a virgin if my boyfriend touched certain areas?

"But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28)

Many see this as any woman, and is what you seem to be saying in your answer, would not the term adultery make the requirement that at least either the man or the woman being spoken of be married ? The citation of "So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent" (Proverbs 6:26). is quite explicit that it is a married woman.

The quotation from Paul " "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband" is the most common replay to most sexual questions, As I have studied the most accurate translations and original text (or at least tried to). Sexual immorality is translated form the word porneiawhich every lexicon I can find says as follows (or very very similar).

Porneia

illicit sexual intercourse
adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,
metaph. the worship of idols
of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols

* The addition of fornication is odd of course as it is also defined as Sexual Intercourse.

"1. voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other." Websters

I note that sexual intercourse is the primary meaning which is defined as:

sexual intercourse, also called Coitus, or Copulation, reproductive act in which the male reproductive organ (in humans and other higher animals) enters the female reproductive tract (Britannica )

I guess ultimately my question devolves to this: why do we as the congregations of the Church of Christ follow so strictly to the original meanings of words most of the time and not this one?


Answer:

The statement, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28), is defining lust: "whoever looks at a woman to lust for her." Lust is playing out a sexual sin in your mind -- in this case committing adultery with her in his heart. It isn't actual adultery, but thoughts of committing adultery. Most people ignore the statement and focus solely on "committed adultery" and think that Jesus is saying that looking at a woman is committing adultery.

Jesus' comment follows the same pattern he used in the other five condemnations of Jewish tradition. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery'" (Matthew 5:27). At first you wonder what is wrong because the statement is a quote of one of the ten commandments, but then you realize from Jesus' answer that people had taken the commandment too narrowly. They basically condemned the act of adultery, but accepted what leads up to adultery (lust). It is the same type of answer given in response to not committing murder (Matthew 5:21), but ignoring the problem of hatred that leads to murder (Matthew 5:22). John's statement, "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (I John 3:15), is not saying that hatred and murder are the same thing, but that hatred leads to murder so they are both equally wrong. Lust leads to adultery, so while they are not the same thing, they are both equivalently wrong.

I have heard some modern Jews argue that "You shall not commit adultery" only condemns acts of sex with a married or engaged person. Thus they reason that sex between unmarried people is not a sin. What this ignores is that if adultery is wrong because the two people are not married to each other, then other equivalent sins are also wrong. Sex with someone engaged, but not yet married was an application of "You shall not commit adultery" (Deuteronomy 22:22-24). But sex with an unmarried person is also covered because it can be considered a sin against the person's future spouse (Deuteronomy 22:13-14, 20-21).

You are doing a similar thing with Jesus' statement. You want to condemn lusting after a married woman, but saying that lusting after an unmarried woman is not covered. Such false precision would allow a woman to lust for a married man. (Or lusting after a member of the same gender.) But just as God showed the Israelites that the command "You shall not commit adultery" covered a wide range of sexual sins, the same goes for Jesus' statement. He used adultery as his example because he was commenting on the application of "You shall not commit adultery." However, this doesn't mean a person cannot commit the sin of lust through other immoral sexual desires.

"Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles -- when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries" (I Peter 4:1-3).