January 14 I Monday
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” —Matthew 5:27-28
The second commandment Jesus addresses in the Sermon on the Mount deals with adultery. In context, it refers specifically to when a husband or wife sleeps with someone outside their marriage, though it can include all kinds of illegitimate sexual behaviour. The attitude behind adultery is lust, the selfish intention to use someone else to satisfy our own desires. Lust is more than innocent attraction; it is thinking that if we could get away with it, we would sleep with a person, regardless of their or our marital status. This is a form of coveting, the opposite end of the spectrum from love.
Lust cannot lead to satisfaction. Instead, lust disillusions, craving and pursuing sexual desire outside of where it was intended to be fulfilled. Where lust is self-centred, love and marriage are other-centric. God created man and woman different but complementary and interdependent, and He designed marriage as the most intimate relationship between man and woman. Sexual relations are God’s gift to marriage, the consummation of the spiritual, social and physical union that occurs between husband and wife.
We see the consequences of lust in 2 Samuel 13 when Amnon, one of David’s sons, deceived himself into thinking he loved his half-sister, Tamar. Scripture says, “Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her” (2 Samuel 13:2). Utterly frustrated, Amnon pretended to be sick so that Tamar would take care of him, but when she refused Amnon his true desire to sleep with her, he raped her. How cruel and crude! What Amnon convinced himself was love was really just a lustful attempt to satisfy his own desires. No wonder Scripture tells us that when the deed was done, “Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her” (2 Samuel 13:15). Of course he did, for such is the destructiveness of lust.
More than the act, the wrongness of adultery comes from the attitude behind it. Lust is entirely selfish in its motivation and self-centred in its gratification. In our longing for intimacy, we must not settle for immediacy. No one commits adultery out of love, for love respects existing marriage bonds and God’s intent for sex. Where lust has only the criterion of what satisfies me, true satisfaction in marriage is found when both husband and wife express sexual love in its proper context—to bring the other pleasure.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the intimacy of marriage and sex. May I not take these for granted but respect Your intent for relationships between husband and wife.