We Christians seem to be obessed with concern that our brothers and sisters not cause anyone to lust. For example we are afraid that if our wife wears no bra, someone might see her nipples and lust after her. What do we mean by "lust"?
We really need to look at that one and only verse in the Bible, Matthew 5 verse 28 on "lust". But to understand verse 28 we need to also study verse 27, since verse 28 is a continuation of the sentence started in 27.
Matthew 5 verse 27 and 28 say, "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
The word "lustfully" in Matthew verse 28 is the English translation of the Greek word epithumeo. The English translation of the word "epithumeo" is almost identical to the English translation of the Hebrew word "chamad" found in the 10th commandment in Exodus 20:17, which is the only verse in the Bible that has any resemblance to the meaning of Matthew 5:28.
Both the Greek word "epithumeo" and the Hebrew word "chamad" have an English translation of, to covet things forbidden, to desire earnestly; to have a longing desire for.
More and more Bible scholars are believing that Jesus spoke in Hebrew during his life here on earth. Most likely Jesus used the Hebrew word "chamad" when he most likely spoke to the people in Hebrew.
Two good books that make a very convincing case that the original Matthew was written in Hebrew and that our Matthew, Mark and Luke were written from a Greek translation of Matthew's writing are: "New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus Insights from His Jewish Context" by David Bivin, and "Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights from a Hebraic Perspective" by David Bivin and Roy B Blizzard.
The early church founding fathers recorded that Matthew wrote an account of the Gospel in Hebrew. That original writing in Hebrew has never been found.
No one knows who wrote the Matthew in our Bible. Bible scholars believe that Matthews book was translated into Greek and then Mark and Luke and the unknown author of our current Matthew used a Greek translation of the original Hebrew Matthew to write the synoptic gospels - Matthew, Mark and Luke.
So most likely Jesus did use the Hebrew word "chamad" which means to covet and most likely Jesus was referring to the 10th commandment which says we should not covet anything that is not ours.
It is interesting to note that major portions of Matthew, Mark and Luke are almost identical, which is expected since all three came from the same Greek translation of Matthews Hebrew account of the life of Jesus.
It is also interesting to note that this verse on "lust", and in fact the entire "Sermon On The Mount", is not in Mark and Luke. Luke says he investigated carefully and wrote "an orderly account". If the "Sermon On The Mount" was in Matthew's Hebrew book, and was translated into the Greek book from which our current Matthew, Mark and Luke came from, then why did Luke and Mark not include it in their books?
I pray that some day we will find a copy of the Matthew's Hebrew book. It will help us better interpret Matthew's original meaning of what he wrote. And it might show that the unknown author of our current Matthew did or did not add, on his own, some controversial verses in the "Sermon On The Mount".
When we interpret the Bible we have to take things in light of other teachings in the Bible. For example the following verse in Luke 14:26, Jesus says, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sistersyes, even his own lifehe cannot be my disciple."
Does Jesus really want us to hate our wife and father and mother and even ourself? No, not really. So how do we interpret the verse? We look to the context of the verse and then to other places in the Bible to see how to interpret the verse.
Likewise when interpreting Matthew 5:28 - the famous verse on "lust" we need to interpret it in light of the rest of the Bible also. Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament in Matthew 5 verse 27 when Jesus said, "27`Ye heard that it was said to the ancients: Thou shalt not commit adultery; 28 but I -- I say to you, that every one who is looking on a woman to desire her, did already commit adultery with her in his heart." (Youngs Literal Translation)
Jesus starts out in Matthew 5:27 by quoting the 7th commandment on adultery. Then in verse 28 Jesus says that if you look at a woman to desire her it is also adultery.
Is Jesus introducing a new law, prohibiting a man from looking at all woman? Or is Jesus referring to the 10th commandment and saying that it is adultery to "covet" to have sex with a woman?
What does "desire her" mean? Does it mean think she is pretty? Does it mean "desire to have sex with her"?
And Jesus says the result of "desire her" is "adultery". "Adultery" means sex with a married woman. Why did Jesus not use the word "sexual immorality" or "immoral" instead of "adultery" if Jesus was saying that looking at all women (married and unmarried) is sinful?
Was Jesus only talking to married men who might look at any woman and desire to have sex with them?
Or was Jesus only referring to married and unmarried men who look at a married woman and desire to have sex with her?
If Jesus was saying it was immoral for all men to desire to have sex with all women, then wouldn't Jesus have used the word "immorality" instead of "adultery"?
Verse 27 and 28 are actually the same sentence separated by a semicolon. It is clear from verse 27 that Jesus is talking about a married woman when he quotes the 7th commandment and then Jesus continues His sentence in verse 28 and so the logical assumption is that Jesus is still talking about married women and then Jesus ends verse 28 using the word "adultery" which again indicates Jesus is talking about married women.
So why does our Christian culture stretch this verse which says that it is wrong for any man to covet to have sex with a married woman - stretch it to say that it is sin to look at a naked picture and everything that is sexy or erotic is sinful because it might cause "lust" - when the true definition of "lust" is "to covet to have sex with a married woman"?
And this is the only verse in the entire Bible that could even possibly say what they want it to say. There is some rule of interpretation of the Bible I've heard of that a doctrine can not be built on one verse alone. Well folks this is the only verse that could even be misinterpreted to mean what the "lust" doctrine teaches. And the only verse in the Bible that does help interpret this verse on "lust" is the 10Th commandment on coveting which we discussed above.
I don't understand how we can build such a huge doctrine of anti-everything erotic based on a verse that was only intended to point out to men that it is adultery when they covet to have sex with a married women.
There is no reason to think Jesus was condemning thinking a woman is beautiful or admiring the beauty of a woman.
Paul said he was all things to all people. The Old Testament law had people act differently inside the temple compared to outside the temple. Many people, like those born out of wedlock could not enter the temple for 10 generations (their descendants). They couldn't wear dresses you could see up at the temple steps.
Paul told the women to not wear their hair fancy and their jewlery and fancy dresses to church. The implication is they normally did wear them during their daily life. Some of the Christian women were wives of the noble Romans and so they did what their non-Christian husbands told them to do - except when attending church. Paul was not telling those women to disobey their non-Christian husbands and never wear a sexy dress or always dress down - no it is clear Paul was referring to gatherings of the saints - all the verses around that verse indicate a church gathering. Paul also gave other instructions on how to act at a gathering of Christians.
Coveting is when we want something so much that it interferes with our relationship with God and with others.
We should consider each others weaknesses. However we really do not need to be worrying about causing others to lust by what we wear, any more than we need to worry that they will covet our car or our home.
Comment by: Old Site
Date: 2/9/2013 7:49:36 PM
A reader says ... "Proverbs 5" talks about a young man being lured into adultery.
Proverbs 5 verse 3 is an example which says, "For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil;"
The author of Proverbs, King Solomon had 1500 wives and concubines (live-in prostitutes). Solomon must have had his wives dance erotic dances for him as was common in ancient cultures.
Proverbs 5 verses 18 to 20, reads, "May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. 20 Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?"
Solomon is clearly condemning cheating on your spouse - "adultery". Solomon is not condemning men looking at women or even men looking at nude women, as Solomon looked at hundreds of nude women after his first wife.
In our culture Solomon had a first wife and that should have been his only wife. Once Solomon married his first wife, in our culture, if he looked at another woman and wanted to take another woman as his wife or concubine, he would be considered evil and sinful and coveting. But in Solomon's and Jesus culture it was not sinful to look at another wife and take her as a live in prostitute (concubine) or as a second wife.
Any wife or concubine after his first wife, in our culuture, would be considered looking at other women - would it not? Clearly Solomon and even Jesus were not condemning men for looking at women in general, otherwise they would have been condemning married men who were considering taking an additional wife or live in prostitute (concubine).
No Solomon in Proverbs 5 and Jesus in Matthew 5 27 and 28 are clearly referring to "adultery" - cheating on your spouse.
A reader says ... It is fine to have personal convictions but it is sin to condemn people for things God does not condemn them for. But Jesus actually wants us to keep His laws and then instead of having our own set of rules, Jesus wants us to have a policy of showing mercy and love to others. If we will do this, we won't condemn others when they don't keep our set of rules.
That is what Jesus was saying when they were accusing him of being a drunkard and a glutton and Jesus said in Matthew 12:7 "If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent."
A reader says ... What I was trying to say is that if you have a personal conviction to not read or look at anything erotic, that is fine. But Christian divorce rates are higher than non-Christians because we misinterpret this verse on "lust". I have counseled many Christian women who think they are justified in divorcing their husband when they discover he looked at porn. Many preachers have told me that 80 percent of Christian men struggle with looking at porn.
So when the Christian wives of those 80 percent of men dicover their husband looked at porn, it is no wonder they divorce them since they are taught that looking at porn is adultery.
I believe God is very sad that Christians have misinterpreted the one and only verse on "lust" and in so doing are causing millions of Christian divorces.
My goal is to teach the truth about the one verse in the Bible on "lust" in hopes of saving marriages from divorce.
Condemning people who do not wear bras is simply an extension of this misinterpretation of this verse on "lust".
A reader says ... Man. I really had a hard time following this piece. Perhaps I need it in some simpler terms. But from what I understand you are justifying looking at porn. Am I right? Please let me know. Thanks.