I was listening to Radio Five this morning and they were doing a phone in on adultery. People were ringing in sharing their own experiences of what had happened to them and the effect it had been on their lives.
I heard people share how much pain they were experiencing because they had recently found out their partner had been cheating on them.
I heard adults share of how when they were children they had discovered one of their parents was having an affair and how it had destroyed their family.
People were clearly sharing pain and emotions that were hard to deal with.
Trust had been destroyed.
I was reading Jesus' words on adultery when he says, 'You have heard that it was said 'Do not commit adultery.' But I say to you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.'
First thing that strikes me is that he is talking to men. The society in which Jesus lived was male dominated and woman had no voice. Men took advantage of their dominance and woman were treated unjustly and unfairly. Here Jesus is challenging men in their attitude and behaviour towards woman. He is challenging them in their belief that woman are objects that can be used and abused. He is calling men to take seriously the fact woman and men are equals created equally in God's image.
I believe also that Jesus' teaching on adultery applies to both men and woman and that today it is hugely relevant.
I have heard the phrase many many times 'It's ok to window shop.' In other words, you can look at someone lustfully and it does not matter.
I have heard people say that if both partners are happy to have an open relationship then it doesn't matter if you sleep around whilst still having a relationship.
Society is not very keen when someone makes a statement about how people should live in relationship, sex, lust etc, but I do think society has lost the plot with how people can flourish as human beings in healthy relationships with healthy attitudes to others.
I think Jesus speaks so strongly about lust because he understands how one thing leads to another. A lustful desire can escalate into a lustful action. But I also think he is concerned about how one human is viewing another human.
Lust makes someone an object. They are dehumanised. They are no longer viewed as an equal created in Gods image. And this is wrong and damaging to all involved.
Adultery makes the one being cheated on an object. It dehumanises them. They are no longer an equal, an image bearer of God, but a person who is lied to, deceived and cast off.
We live in a time when relationships are confused and notions of what love is has been distorted. The model Jesus gives us is that others come first, that laying down your life for another is the best, that love is not selfish, that putting the needs of someone ahead of your own is truly love.
True love for another is a desire to honour them in every single way. To honour them in our words, to honour them in our actions, and to honour them in our heart and mind so that they come first and are treated in our thinking as a beautiful, stunning bearer of the image of God.