We previously looked at the subject of murder and Jesus saying that even if you are angry with someone it is as if you’ve murdered them in your heart. Last week we looked at the sin of adultery and now Jesus clarifies this even more by saying just a lustful look is the same as committing adultery.
I’m sure His audience and especially the religious leaders thought they were fairly safe up until these verses. Jesus has clarified the law and swept the safe and secure carpet out from under their feet. They would have felt very comfortable having their man-made rules and feeling smug about not murdering anyone or committing adultery, but Jesus exposes their hypocrisy and reveals it is what is in their hearts that counts. Not just their actions, but their attitudes and motives as well.
I would say that today’s topic is probably one of the main struggles of Christian men today. I would also go so far as to say that it is becoming an increasing problem for women as well. We live in a sex crazed society and the availability of lustful images is everywhere. We all have very clever mobile phones these days, even young children, phones which can access, in a second, images that are readily available to titillate and entice. It is a huge problem and it has even been shown that our brains can be wired differently by the constant bombardment of these images.
Forgetting about the sordid and inappropriate nature of these images for a moment, they actually paint a very false picture of reality. Many images that are available are altered to try and give an unreal view of perfection. Every tiny flaw is airbrushed away using all sorts of clever techniques and we are left with an image that is impossible for regular people to obtain. A false reality is created where women are viewed as objects and are expected to please their men in every way possible without complaint. Watch enough of this and young men will never be able to cope with a real woman. They will become incapable of maintaining a ‘normal’ relationship. Young girls as well might feel that they never match up to the ‘perfect’ woman these guys are fantasizing over.
I don’t think the answer is necessarily stopping these images being so readily available, although I would love it to happen.
In countries where you might think this issue wouldn’t be a problem, because women are completely covered up, the lust problem is just as strong. I’m not having a dig at Islam, but statistics show that the most staunchly religious Muslim countries have a major obsession with porn. In fact Pakistan is statistically the country that downloads porn the most, followed closely by Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. http://postober.com/general/top-10-countries-that-watch-the-most-porn/
This proves that religion is not the issue, but the heart. This is exactly what Jesus was saying. He was not focussing on outward appearance and observances but at what was going on within. That is the place that God examines and takes note of.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
If you have a problem with porn and lustful images, the answer is to re-focus your desire onto something much better and satisfying. When our focus is on God and His goodness and being satisfied in Him, the pull of these lesser desires diminishes. Ask God to help you, He is only too willing to help you escape from the prison of this addiction. He wants you to live free.
If you don’t know where to start, just type in “Christian porn addiction” into an internet search and you will find many useful sites to help you, with some practical answers and steps to take.