Jump to content

What To Make Of "lusting In Your Heart" A Sin?


des
 Share

Recommended Posts

Someone else mentioned it, and I got to thinking of it last night. You know the quote attributed to Jesus, something on the order that if you lust after a woman (or presumably man) in your heart you have already committed adultery. (Of course maybe since it doesn't specifically say women-- heeheehee. :-)

 

1. Do you think that that was one of Jesus' famous exaggerations. Like the one about if you want to follow me you have to hate your family (I am not a line and verser). Did he really mean that? Do you think he said it?

 

2. Does it only apply to adultery. He did not say if you think murder, you have committed it already. Is there something particular or different about adultery?

 

3. If you think it applies to other kinds of things what does this say for magical thinking. As a Christian Science kid I was always worried that my *thoughts* might cause something bad. I have found since that this is a common thing with CS children.

 

 

Here are my own comments fwiw. (3¢?)

1. Maybe an exaggeration. I don't know which book it is in, so that might make a difference as to whether I thought it was reasonably attributed to Jesus, or what the context was. If anyone knows?

 

2. It could perhaps only apply to adultery. Adultery is a different sin than say murder. Unless you were to say stalk someone or somehow show the person that you had evil intensions on them, they wouldn't know. (I'm not sure here as I am not a real murderer.) But if you say frequently contemplate other women (or men), your spouse is bound to pick this up somehow. It certainly is true for guys (and gals) having net sex, etc. (OTOH, our society has some possibilities that weren't available in Jesus' time. For example, you could watch a movie and say "wow that Brad Pitt sure is a hunk". Now unless your husband is sitting right there he isn't going to know about it. And Brad Pitt doesn't know you exist -- sorry gals.:-)) So it is a kind of impersonal lust that doesn't really go anywhere. And might not be even lust at all in the true sense. ??

 

OTOH, you can think about a lie and be half way there to one. But are all lies bad, certainly white lies to spare another person's feelings can't be bad?

 

3. Well I do have particular issues with any religious idea that leads to magical thinking, as I was very scared by it. And I tend to go against any doctrine that says that mere thinking is a sin in and of itself, unless it is followed with some type of intention. OTOH, I don't think the intention always has to be action. Perhaps it might be giving someone an idea of what you are thinking??

 

Hope I made myself clear.

Any comments?

 

--des

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read it as the equalization of "sin". People tend to see themselves as better than or not as bad as others. Like much of that section (ex. beautitudes), it flies in the face of the way people tend to think. I think it's in Matthew 6 - Sermon on the Mount -

 

Jimmy Carter is pretty funny about that issue in one of his books - when he confessed to "lusting in his heart" all the conservative preachers contacted by the press denied that they EVER did that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. Do you think that that was one of Jesus' famous exaggerations. Like the one about if you want to follow me you have to hate your family (I am not a line and verser). Did he really mean that? Do you think he said it?

The "hating your father and mother" in order to be a disciple was meant to show that "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." It could not literally be hatred because that would violate the 5th commandment. By equating lust with adultery, he was showing it was a grave sin.

 

2. Does it only apply to adultery. He did not say if you think murder, you have committed it already. Is there something particular or different about adultery?

Actually he did, also in the Sermon on the Mount:

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."

 

3. If you think it applies to other kinds of things what does this say for magical thinking. As a Christian Science kid I was always worried that my *thoughts* might cause something bad. I have found since that this is a common thing with CS children.

This is also an erroneous doctine taught in the Word of Faith movement.

 

2. It could perhaps only apply to adultery. Adultery is a different sin than say murder. Unless you were to say stalk someone or somehow show the person that you had evil intensions on them, they wouldn't know.

The offense is against God, not the person. Since God can see our thoughts, an outward display of righteousness won't conceal our depraved thoughts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recall the bruhaha about Jimmy Carter saying he had lusted in his heart. I can't imagine G.W. owning up to something like this (nor would I htink it was wise in this particularly political climate).

 

So just why is "lust" a "grave sin"? And why is anger bad. Anger can actually be useful, providing you use it appropriately. (Say to fight injustice.) I think Jesus is going into a bit of exageration re: saying that someone who says "you fool" goes to hell in a hand basket?!

 

Funny thing, Jesus got angry. Maybe you could say he was angry at the sin and not the sinners, as the fundies are wont to say re: homosexuals-- but the effect would have been pretty dramatic when Jesus flipped over the tables of the money changers. At other times he calls the Pharisees, etc. snakes and so on. Pretty strong language!! A LOT stronger than "fool". Some Bible scholars say that more reflects St. Matthews own anger and frustration... but if someone was takign the Bible literally.

 

The offense is against God, not the person.  Since God can see our thoughts, an outward display of righteousness won't conceal our depraved thoughts.

 

How exactly are such things offences against God? Isn't that equating thoughts with actions, and saying it's all the same. I can see the point Cynthia made on the comments about self-righteousness. That just because we can not do some extreme stuff doesn't mean we are sinless.

 

But, I don't think all sins are equal-- how can you equate, say genocide, with swearing at someone? Are these things truly equal in the eyes of God? I have heard this said before, all sins are equal (not sure you meant to say this Cynthia). If genocide and swearing at someone are the same in God's eyes, then well I'm not sure about God. I wouldn't think much of that sort of idea of justice. OTOH, if such statements are to remind us that we all sin, and all have distance between ourselves and God, then that much makes sense to me.

 

 

Btw, would be interested in what other Progressives have to say on this.

 

--des

Edited by des
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matt 5:17-48 is Jesus discussing the Law, the Torah, and how the people understood it.

 

Jesus says: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. ... For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

 

He then goes on to discuss various commandments.

 

He takes a commandment and says: "Here is what the letter of the law says."

He then takes the same commandment and says: "Here is what the SPIRIT of the law is."

 

Don't just "Not commit murder" but don't even hate or curse your fellowman.

Don't just "Not commit adultery" but do't even lust in your heart.

Don't just "Not swear falsely" but don't swear at all. Just let your yes be yes and your no be no.

Don't just "Love your neighbor" but love and pray for your enemies as well.

 

The scribes and the Pharasees had made the Torah a burden to the people. Jesus was saying basically "The Law isn't a burden at all. It can be 'summed up" in principles. Those principles are ..."

 

Aletheia

 

PS: As far as lust goes, I doubt Jesus meant the passing "Oh, she's cute." or "Oh, nice butt." Humans appreciate beauty in all forms.

 

But LUSTING implies thinking about for a period of time, longing for, desiring after.

 

Basically, it's the premeditative portion that comes before the action of adultery.

 

Even if it doesn't lead to adultery it should show the person doing the lusting that something isn't quite right and that perhaps they should address what is going on in their marriage.

Edited by AletheiaRivers
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting topic.

 

I've heard this same principle outside of Christianity applied to non-violence. Consider the following excerpt from "Autobiography of a Yogi"

 

It was the gentle hour of dusk. My guru was matchlessly interpreting the ancient texts. At his feet, I was in perfect peace. A rude mosquito entered the idyl and competed for my attention. As it dug a poisonous hypodermic needle into my thigh, I automatically raised an avenging hand. Reprieve from impending execution! An opportune memory came to me of one of Patanjali's yoga aphorisms—that on ahimsa (harmlessness).

 

"Why didn't you finish the job?"

 

"Master! Do you advocate taking life?"

 

"No; but the deathblow already had been struck in your mind."

 

"I don't understand."

 

"Patanjali's meaning was the removal of desire to kill." Sri Yukteswar had found my mental processes an open book. "This world is inconveniently arranged for a literal practice of ahimsa. Man may be compelled to exterminate harmful creatures. He is not under similar compulsion to feel anger or animosity. All forms of life have equal right to the air of maya. The saint who uncovers the secret of creation will be in harmony with its countless bewildering expressions. All men may approach that understanding who curb the inner passion for destruction."

 

I think Jesus was pointing out that true faithfulness is a matter of the heart and mind, not just a matter of behavior. The only difference between cheating in the mind and cheating with another person is whether or not the other person is directly involved. Certainly adultery begins in the mind. The affair is simply the physical manifestation of what has already happened in the mind.

 

This also makes me think of that poem by Mother Theresa that ends,

 

You see, in the final analysis.

it is between you and God;

It is never between you and them anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fatherman:

 

I think Jesus was pointing out that true faithfulness is a matter of the heart and mind, not just a matter of behavior.

 

Yup. This is what I think, too. Jesus is pointing to the need for us to make these changes internally, as a matter of changing our personality at a core level.

 

Or, as I like to think of it, to open ourselves up to the personality God gave us-- the place within us that already knows the correct course of action and isn't driven by ego.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Des - I would think of it in terms of the last part of your post - distance between ourselves and God and, perhaps, encouragement to focus on our planks rather than - as seems to be human nature - on what other people are doing that is worse. A reminder that you can't just say, "ok, check off spirituality - I haven't murdered anyone. On to the next thing on the list". I currently think (sometimes subject to change! :>) that mindfulness of thoughts, actions - especially small ones, being consistent is what is important.

 

I would agree with the others, it's about the internal state. I read an interesting idea that the laws and rules associated with religion are the way people attempt to make an internal change visible - proof if you will.

 

BTW - did you enjoy the news media's startle when Bush left church after a "much shorter than usual" service. I heard someone on Today say "Well, this President always does things fast". A good laugh and example of inconsistency.

Edited by Cynthia
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I lived as a monk for awhile. Here is a story that I enjoyed very much.

I hope it helps.

 

 

Two monks are walking and talking down by the river, when they come across a pretty woman who is having difficulty crossing the river. One monk picks up the woman without saying a word and carries her to the other side. The two monks walk for another two hours without saying a word, when the second monk says, "You picked that pretty woman up and carried her across the river." The first monk replies," I picked her up and carried her to the other side and put her down, but I see you have been carrying her for two hours."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also think Jesus was talking about being in the wrong mindset. Lusting after other people means you aren't happy with what you have. That you aren't thankful or satisfied. It's about not having your head right, about not having your soul right. It's about chasing after transitory things that could hurt you and screw up the good life God gave you with some stupid whim, when all you need is right in front of you. I recently got some sheep so I appreciate all those metaphors about people being like sheep. I as the shepherd give the sheep all they need, good grass, grain, minerals, clean water, warm shelter. Yet, the sheep sometimes still try to get out of the fence, or they climb on things and fall off. Theydo stupid things.

Lusting after people is stupid. You are ignoring what God gives you, and what's best for you, just like the sheep.This is a sin in the same way coveting is a sin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Jesus is helping us be alert to our habitual thought patterns, which will make us aware to what causes us to think in negative patterns and what causes positive thoughts. The truth will help us to change our negative thoughts into positive ones so we can observe the presence and power of God everywhere and become aware that we are a part of the great unity expressed in God's pure consciousness.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

When I was in high school I took a semester of Spanish. (I'm terrible at it, but that is for a different forum!) My teacher said we had to put the "emphasis on the right syllable" for it to sound right. If you take that phrase and switch the emphasis on "emphasis" and "syllable" you'll better understand what it means. I think that people, when interepreting scripture often put the emphasis in the wrong place.

 

In this case what would amaze people is not that Jesus talked about lusting in their heart but that he was creating a more egalitarian society that prohibited men from objectifying women. If you are a woman and have had a guy look at you "like that." You know what I mean. Jesus' statements on divorce are also similar. We see them as commandments against divorce when in fact they were protections for women who's husbands could easily divorce them and leave them destitute (and apparently often had to turn to prostitution for a means of survival).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service