Watch / Visual Commentaries / Matthew 5:27-28: Adultery and Lust

Matthew 5:27-28: Adultery and Lust

Watch a short animated video commentary explaining the wisdom Jesus reveals within the command "Do not commit adultery" in Matthew 5:27-28.

Visual Commentaries Apr 29, 2024


Jon: We’re looking at one of the largest collections of the teachings of Jesus, called the Sermon on the Mount. In the main body of the sermon, Jesus invites his followers to live in right relationship with God and each other.1

Tim: And the main way to do this, Jesus says, is to live by the wisdom of God’s commands in the Torah.

Jon: Yet how do we find God’s wisdom in the laws of the Torah?

Tim: Well, Jesus gives six examples. Let’s look at the second case study. It’s about adultery.

Jon: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You will not commit adultery.’”2

Tim: Jesus is quoting from one of the Ten Commandments3, an ancient law that protects the marriage covenant, which, ideally, is a partnership that’s built on mutual love and respect. And it creates a safe community for children, for the elderly, and for the outsider and those in need. Adultery strikes at the heart of this communal vision of marriage, and so it’s prohibited. But Jesus wants us to see a deeper wisdom within this command.

Jon: “And I say to you that anyone who goes on looking at a woman in order to cultivate lust for her, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”4 So “goes on looking”?

Tim: He’s naming the act of intentionally focusing on another person in order to create a prolonged sexual fantasy. And he calls out men here. This habit trains men to see women as objects of desire to be taken at will instead of honorable images of God. And those personal fantasies rarely stay private. They shape how men view and treat women in general.

Jon: He calls it “adultery in the heart.” and he equates it with physical adultery?

Tim: Yes because even if you don’t act on it, viewing women as objects for your own pleasure is an attack on their God-given dignity.

Jon: So Jesus wants the communities of his followers to be places where women are safe and honored.

Tim: Yes! The deeper wisdom within this command, “Do not commit adultery,”5 is this: Resist the destructive habits of mind and heart that tell us that other people are there for me to take. Instead, live as if every human is an image of God worthy of honor in our actions and in our imaginations.6

1. Matthew 5:17-48
2. Matthew 5:27
3. Exodus 20:14
4. Matthew 5:28
5. Exodus 20:14
6. See Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 25:35-40; 1 John 3:16-18
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