Jesus' Footprints

Mental Adultery

Posted on: 20 Jan 2011

Last night my soulmate and I watched “Why Did I Get Married Too?”.   It’s about four couples struggling to save their marriages once again on their annual marriage retreat, while each of them battle through financial, physical, mental, and emotional issues (imdb.com). 

While each story was moving, the one that held my interest was of the couple who did not seem to have any problems.  They seemed happy and stable while things were falling apart for their friends.  Then, we discover along with the husband that things are not what they seem.  A first there were subtle changes.  The wife was taking more care of her appearance.  She seemed upbeat.  Then, her wardrobe changed.  She was wearing sexy lingerie–to work.  These clues plus the name slip she made one night when they were in bed led the husband to suspect that she was cheating on him.  The flowers with the missing card only added to his suspicions.  When he asked her about it, she awkwardly made up some excuse about the florist.

One night when she was romantic and taking the initiative, he confronted her.  This was another change.  Before this moment, he was the one who initiated their lovemaking.  And another time when he kissed her it seemed as if she was responding automatically.  There was no feeling on her part and he seemed to sense that because he looked at her.

It turns out that she was attracted to a fellow lawyer and he had invited her to dinner.  He was the one who sent her the flowers.  She said he made her laugh.  The husband asked if she thought about this man while they made love and she admitted that she did.  She insisted that nothing physical happened between them.

Her husband was upset because as far as he was concerned she had committed mental adultery.  She had a mental connection with this man.

This made me think about what Jesus said.  “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).  This could also apply to a woman.  If she looks at a man who is not her husband in a certain way or thinks about him when she is with her husband, she has already committed adultery.  She has committed it in her heart and in her mind.  This, Jesus said, is a sin and a violation of God’s moral law.  What Jesus says shows a progression.  First the man or woman looks at the person and then he or she lusts after that person.  To lust after something is to long for or covet that thing.  And we know that covetousness is another sin.  We should not want what does not belong to us.  It is sending the message that we are not satisfied with what we have.

What if the woman’s husband hadn’t confronted her, how long would it have been before she committed the act itself?  When David saw Bathsheba, he committed adultery with her in his heart.  He didn’t know that she was married but he himself was.  And even after he learned that she was Uriah’s wife, he was still determined to sleep with her.  Thus, his mental adultery gave way to the physical act. 

Adultery is a terrible thing.  It can hurt so many people and affect so many lives.  It’s no wonder that God made it one of His commandments.  Jesus taught how one is to deal with mental adultery or any other sin.  “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29, 30).

If what we see would cause us to sin, then we need to close our eyes to that thing or person or remove ourselves completely.  David should have left the balcony pronto and not look back.   Charles Spurgeon puts it this way:  “If adultery be forbidden, so also is that glance with which the sin usually begins. We are to turn away our eyes from beholding that which leads towards sin, and we are not to touch or taste that which would readily lead us into iniquity.”

Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman? (Job 31:1).  In other words, he made a a bargain with his eyes not to look at a young woman with lust.  He made a conscious effort not to do what he knew was wrong.

Jesus wants us to root out wrong desires before they develop and lead us into sin.  “Neither the eye nor the hand is responsible for an individual’s “stumbling” or being induced to sin, but wrong desires lead to misusing the eye or the hand. These wrong desires must be forcefully and decisively rendered inoperative, comparable to surgically removing a diseased body part to save the rest of the body” (Werner Bible Commentary).

What should the woman in the movie have done?  Make sure that she was never alone with the man in question.  Tell someone else.  She had at least one friend she could have confided in.  Think of the consequences.  Initially her husband was so upset with her that he was considering divorcing her.  Fortunately, they managed to work things out and their marriage remained intact.  She came really close to losing so much, though.

Adultery–whether mental or physical is not worth it.  As a Christian, if you are wrestling with this, go to God in prayer, speak to your pastor, confide in a friend you can trust, meditate on God’s Word.  And think of the consequences.

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