By Josh Johnson
Women are amazing! Beautiful. Feminine. Intelligent. Sexy. Alluring. I love women! I love the female body too. There isn’t a woman out there who can’t be sexy when she wants to be. Their eyes....their lips...... I could go on and on. And there is nothing better than a sexy woman with a beautiful mind too. A woman you can talk to on many levels is a beautiful woman indeed. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am no longer 16. I am past the age where I need to give every woman I see a second look.....and a third look.....and on and on. But I do notice. Unlike most followers of Christ, I do not feel ashamed to notice. That’s because I know something that a whole lot of other people of faith do not know, and this knowledge has set me free.
Matthew 5:28 is the most famously condemning Scripture I know of. And nearly everyone I know has heard it. Its the part of the sermon on the mount where Jesus says this.......
“You have heard it said do not commit adultery, but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Man, I always hated this verse. I couldn’t understand why God would put a billion hormones inside us specifically designed to react to the opposite sex......and then call us adulterers for doing just that. This verse is the reason for soooo much of the baloney that goes on in Christian circles. Sexual attraction is viewed as a sinful and dangerous thing, especially the desires of the male. So Christians set up all kinds of rules and regulations for themselves to protect themselves from developing attractions and desires for someone of the opposite sex in their church. It’s the reason there are separate Bible studies for men and women in most churches; It’s the reason guys and girls are separated in nearly every activity of the church; and, its the reason that church leaders and Christians themselves are very paranoid of spending any time alone with a member of the opposite sex. Because the absolute worst thing that can happen.....the absolute end of the world thing a Christian can do to disgrace God........ is to end up having sex with someone. So let’s avoid male/female contact altogether. I mean, according to Matthew 5:28, you are not even supposed to look at a woman who is fully dressed, much less have sex with a naked one.
I’m not addressing the issue of sex itself in this post. But rather, I’m addressing our natural desires and inclinations toward women, sexual, emotional, and otherwise. Either way, this is what Matthew 5:28 says, right?..... Or does it............?
How is this possible? God, you gave us all these hormones and yet we can’t even look at beauty when it’s before our eyes? What’s up with that? I got stuck on this Scripture for a long time. I was actually kind of upset at God for saying it too. I was starting to view God as a jerk. To me, God was becoming a tyrant..... like someone who forces an alcoholic to sit at a table full of beer all day and then tells him he better not even think about drinking. What are you trying to do to us, Lord? And then.....then it started to hit me.......maybe there was nothing wrong with God. Maybe Jesus didn’t really say what we all think he said. Maybe there’s something more to what Christ was saying.
Eventually, common sense took over. Before I had a chance to study the issue, I started to realize that there is no way in hell that looking at some single woman with “lust” for her is adultery. I know this because it’s not even adultery if you end up actually HAVING sex with her. Adultery can only happen when a married person is involved in a sexual act with someone other than his spouse. And that’s the Biblical definition of the word. So I was on to something, but it would be a long time before I got internet and finally had the chance to study the issue for myself. I eventually discovered the proper meaning of the Greek words behind Matthew 5:28, and I came to find out that our English translations of the Bible simply do not translate this verse properly. Dang it! .... I KNEW something was up!
So let’s look at the verse in question again. Matthew 5:28:
“You have heard it said you should not commit adultery, but I tell you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Here’s the truth about this verse. The Greek word for “lust” in this verse is epithumeo, which means to long for; to covet. The word has no sexual connotation and the same Greek term is used to describe coveting of all kinds in other parts of Scripture. I would provide proof, but I don’t want to turn this post into a 30 page essay. You are more than welcome to study the word meaning out for yourself. Either way, the Greek term here should not have been translated to lust, but to covet. To covet is to desire with intent or longing to steal. Moving on, the Greek term for the word “woman” in this verse is “gunh,” which can mean woman or wife, but usually means wife. The word “gunh” is generally not used in Scripture to describe a single woman. It means wife in Greek, and in the context of this passage, the verse would make no sense if the word simply meant woman. So..... in light of this new knowledge let’s examine this verse again. The Greek word behind “lust” here actually means to covet, moreover, desire with intent to steal. The Greek word for woman here is “gunh,” which usually refers to a woman who is a wife. Knowing this, we now have a better idea of what Jesus really said. And here’s what he really said, as best as I can translate it in English:
“You have heard it said do not commit adultery. But I tell you that every man who looks at another man’s wife to desire to take her for his own (covet).... this man has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Because he would do it if he thought he could get away with it.”
That.....my friends....is what Jesus really said. Or at least its a lot closer to what he said than what you’ve been taught to believe. The verse in question has nothing to do with your desire to look at women in bikinis on the beach. It has more to do with what’s in a mans heart. The Jewish leaders of the Jesus day were legalists. They had pride in the fact that they followed all kinds of rules. And what Jesus was saying in this verse is that they were missing the mark. The only reason most of his listeners were not adulterers is because they had too much pride in following the rules. They were obeying the commandment against adultery to feed their own arrogance, not to honor God. And Jesus knew it. He also knew that these men would love to have any opportunity to get their hands on other men’s wives.
But back to the point. Jesus was not saying that your natural desires for the opposite sex are sinful and adulterous. God made your hormones, not Satan. God made women beautiful, not Satan. And it was God, not Satan, who gave you your other natural desires toward women. Not just the sexual ones, but the emotional and spiritual ones as well. As I said earlier, there is nothing better than a sexy woman that can hold a deep spiritual conversation. And that female perspective brings something very valuable to the spiritual table that we as men simply can’t bring. Yes.....God made women beautiful......and not just on the outside. Most definitely he made them beautiful on the inside too. And that’s not sinful talk. That’s just truth.
Its just such a shame that this verse has been taught the way it has for so many years. Christian men drive themselves crazy over this passage. They try very hard not to notice and not to look at beautiful women. Young Christian guys try sooooo hard not to look at women. They think they are sinning against God by allowing themselves to look at or desire them. So every day, they put themselves thru a torturous cycle of trying to get through their daily classes or their job while also focusing very hard on trying not to notice the hot women around them. It’s a brutal mental and emotional situation and a useless cause. Christians have been almost driven to the point of suicide over this very issue, thinking that their minds are constantly sinning when thinking of women, and therefore convincing themselves they are evil and not good enough for God. And do you know what you can end up with when you put yourself through this every day? You can end up with a porn addiction!
You cannot overcome your desire for the opposite sex. It’s not possible no matter what the conservatives who run our churches tell you. Sexual desire, and your other desires toward women, are a natural function. Trying to force yourself not to look at or desire women is about like trying to stop your own heartbeat just by thinking about it. It can’t be done. So the more you try to suppress these inclinations, the more these same inclinations are going to end up exploding all over you. Hence the porn addiction I just mentioned. Trying to stop your brain from reacting to something it was designed specifically to react to is utterly useless and will lead to despair. A man is better off to enjoy thinking about the hot waitress he saw earlier in the day than try to convince himself that his desire for her is sinful. And I will tell you a little secret. Once you realize that sexual desire is not a sin and it’s normal, you end up doing far less actual lusting! I know from experience that this is true. I look at women wayyyyy less nowadays than I ever did when I thought looking at them was a sin. As a matter of fact, I am often in a roomful of beautiful women and never give a second thought to how sexually appealing they are. I’m not sure why that is. I think it could be that once the stigma of sin is taken away, lusting, if that’s what you want to call it, just ain’t as much fun. In either case, Christians have to stop teaching these things.
What the church teaches on this issue is false. All this doesn’t even take into account the immense pressure put on women in the church to avoid male contact because men’s desires are supposedly so evil and they can’t control themselves. It really upsets me when I think about the rules that have been imposed on women over the years because men felt they could not control themselves without strict guidelines. So women were....and still are.....punished because of men’s desires. The point is that desire is no sin. There is a saying in Christian circles that the first look is not a sin, but the second look leads to darkness. I have shown here that looking isn’t a sin be it first or second or whatever. Of course, common sense must be used. If you are looking at a woman in a way that makes her uncomfortable, that’s invasive. Stop doing that.
There are going to be times when you notice women and their beauty. There are going to be times you want get together with a couple guys, hit the beach, and “girl watch” for the day. There are going be days when you’re out and about and you think about how many hot women you see. And THAT is totally OK. Allow yourself to enjoy those days. God made women beautiful for a reason, and it was not so you could cower your head in shame every time a hottie walks by. So for those of you who are struggling with this burden, please read the link I attached. It’s a much more in depth exegesis of Matthew 5:28 and it will set you free from this chain if you are ready to receive it.
About TCL Blog
We’re not about Dogma here. We’re just Christians who think the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong.
Charles Toy is the founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit. Guest bloggers featured often.