Read Matthew 5
Jesus talked about adultery. People probably hissed and booed when he said the word and then probably got really quiet.
He said that adultery begins not when flesh meets flesh but when lust enters and rules the heart. We are sort of numb to physical modesty these days. People were up in arms over Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction several years ago at a Superbowl halftime show.
I don’t know what the big deal was. I saw more flesh exposed in the hours of commercials weeks before and after. That’s the age we live in. Lust enters our lives so easily.
You might notice I didn’t say lust enters our lives so easily these days. It’s always been there and Jesus said adultery is bad and this is just about the same thing.
Jesus had an answer. It’s one that we think is hyperbole but it was his answer nonetheless. If your right eye offends you, pluck it out. That seems extreme.
If your right hand offends you, cut it off. Yeah, that’s extreme.
Hyperbole is extreme exaggeration, and that’s what we think Jesus was using. A world full of one-eyed and one-handed people hardly makes for the righteous life that God desires.
Regardless of whether this was figurative language or not, the underlying truth was straight-forward. It’s better to get into heaven with just one eye that to miss out altogether.
It’s better to get into heaven with just one hand than not at all.
Lust, adultery, dark desires, coveting and the like—nip it in the bud before it takes control over your heart and minds.
Remember this. God sees the heart.
Let’s talk divorce. Marriage was to have been a life-long commitment. That was and is the design. There were a lot of people who got married who were not seeking God’s kingdom and his righteousness first.
There were a lot of people who got married out of romantic love without true consideration of unconditional love and respect and commitment.
There were and are a lot of broken marriages. The Marine Corps more than seminary prepared me for marriage counseling. I have heard many a young Marine talking with his friends about marriage.
I’m not sure if I am going to Sea World this weekend or getting married. Probably one or the other.
I thought that was crazy. Then I became a pastor in Burns Flat, America.
I have had people approach me in restaurants who know I am a pastor and want to know if I will do marriage counseling with them. They don’t worship here. Maybe they have come for a food basket.
They are shocked when I tell them to stop by my office and we will see if Christian counseling is appropriate for them. If they are just looking for $50 off their shack up license, it’s probably a waste of time for all involved.
Sometimes, these folks go into shock and disbelief when I say stop by the office. I think some of them wanted me to work in the counseling between the appetizer and main course.
Courtship is a lost art. Marriages that last are the exception, but Jesus warned against divorce. It was not in God’s plan.
So we should just kick all divorced people to the curb. No, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but we should note the sternness of our Master’s words.
If you divorce your wife, then you make her a victim of adultery.
If you marry a divorced woman, you have committed adultery.
This is some tough stuff!
Realize that in this time, divorce was pretty much all in the hands of men. It’s a different deal these days, but the warnings on the back end should translate into sound dating and courtship practices on the front end.
Does your prospective partner know God, love God, and seek to live by God’s ways? If that’s a no, then it should be a no for a continued relationship.
Will your prospective partner commit to loving God and loving one another? If the answer is no, then you are dating a Christian tourist.
Will your prospective partner commit to staying with you because God commands it even when your behavior does not deserve it? If the answer is no, then you are really just looking for an extended warranty on a friends with benefits deal.
How much heartache could people have saved with more time spent on the courtship end and less time in family or divorce court?
How much joy was lost by not getting to know your prospective partner before you said, “I do?”
The world says watch all the porn that you want, have a side chick or two, and there are 50 ways to leave your lover.
Jesus said, pick one. Make sure he or she is the right one. Don’t rush into this. Make sure it’s right and even if there are bumps in the road, stay together because it is what he commands.
That’s some tough guidance but it has the best chance of keeping you from throwing in the towel when things get tough or someone else catches your eye.
Most of the churches in America probably skip over these words. They are tough words.
In the age in which this counsel was given, mom and dad had a big say in who your spouse would be. If mom and dad did their best to live by God’s word, they wanted someone for you who did the same for you.
More time seeking God and his will on the front end of our relationships results in fewer and fewer disasters and dissolutions along the way.
Over half of the relationship problems that I deal with are between men and women who have lived together for a few years, had children along the way, but never committed to God or to each other in Christian marriage.
So mostly, right now, I am talking to some young people who might be thinking seriously about a long-term relationship.
Take your time.
Seek God’s will.
Undergo serious Christian marriage counseling.
Know that marriage is a lifetime commitment before God.
Take a breath.
Seek the counsel of your parents if they are Christians or other Christian couples who have been married for many years. You are blessed to be in a community—a family of faith—that has many.
Take your time.
More time invested on the front end of our relationships, results in less trouble and fewer heartbreaks in the course of our God-centered marriages.