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Switch to Forum Live View What Constitutes Adultery?
3 years ago  ::  Feb 29, 2012 - 12:26PM #1
Webers_Home
Posts: 922

.
Webster's defines adultery as: voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife; or between a married woman and someone other than her husband


So then, according to Webster's; adultery requires the participation of at least one married person.


†. Mtt 5:28 . . I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.


I'm a traditional Christian; but this is definitely one place where I strongly disagree with the traditional interpretation of Mtt 5:28; which is an interpretation that makes men guilty of adultery for nothing more than having a healthy libido. Here's what I think Mtt 5:28 is really saying:


The Lord's statement is nothing new. It elaborates upon a very old commandment that states:


You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's. (Ex 20:17)


Covetousness isn't merely liking something and wishing you could have it; no, covetousness sets about to obtain the thing it likes and wishes to have; for example:


†. 1Cor 12:31 . . Covet earnestly the best gifts


†. 1Cor 14:39 . . Brethren, covet to prophesy


So then; does Ex 20:17 forbid me to look across the street at my neighbor's new BMW and wish I had one? No, it forbids me to look for a way to take my neighbor's BMW away from him instead of getting one of my own.


Does Ex 20:17 forbid me to look across the street at my neighbor's buxom young wife and have erotic fantasies about her? No, it forbids me to begin looking for a way to taste the goods— and I believe that is precisely what the Lord was saying at Mtt 5:28 especially since the principle shows up again later in the epistles.


†. Rom 13:14 . . Do not scheme to gratify the desires of the flesh.


Incidentally, the koiné Greek word for "woman" in Mtt 5:28 is gune (goo-nay') which indicates not only a woman but also a wife; for example:


†. Mtt 1:20 . .The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying: Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife


†. Mtt 1:24 . .Then Joseph being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife.


†. Mtt 5:32 . .Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery


†. Mtt 14:3 . . Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.


Those are but a smattering of the many places in the New Testament where gune is translated wife. So then, if you ask me, Mtt 5:28 should be translated to read: Whoever looks upon a wife to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.


This principle is very old. When Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son, the Lord stopped him in the nick of time. However, though he didn't consummate the slaying, God credited Abraham with consummating it all the same because it was in his heart to do so.


†. Gen 22:12b . . For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son— your only son —from me.


The above interpretation of Mtt 5:28 may not be traditional; but it sure is better because I notice women; and don't particularly care to stop thinking about them.


Cliff
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3 years ago  ::  Feb 29, 2012 - 12:55PM #2
smcisaac
Posts: 7,990

I reach a similar conclusion through different reasoning.


I understand that in ancient Jewish society "adultery" was only the specific situation where a man had intercourse with another man's wife.


It was prohibited under Jewish law, not indirectly through the commandment against covetousness, but directly, in a separate commandment specifically against adultery per se.


However, men were allowed to have multiple wives as well as unmarried concubines.  (The exalted King Solomon, of course, was the unsurpassed example in that regard.)


Therefore, the γυναικα Jesus mentions in Matthew 5:28 must have originally meant a married woman; otherwise, his accusation of adultery in the Jewish legal context would make no sense.


I think it would be drawing too much of an inference, however, to conclude that lustful feelings toward unmarried women are necessarily benign in all instances today.  They still might be sinful or harmful, but for reasons other than the ancient adultery laws.  Especially if they are the feelings of a married man that weaken or endanger his own sacred matrimonial vows of exclusivity ("forsaking all others"), or the feelings of any man (married or unmarried) that impair his ability to see clearly and honor in women the same imago Dei that he sees and honors in men.

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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3 years ago  ::  Feb 29, 2012 - 8:52PM #3
Eliascomes
Posts: 994

 Spiritually an Adulterer is someone that's straddling the fence between good and evil. That person doesn't know how to stay on one side, they love to be on both sides.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2012 - 4:26PM #4
TemplarS
Posts: 6,877

I don't dismiss what Jesus said all that easily.


He often used hyperbole to make a point.   I think we can disregard the hyperbole, but we disregard his point at our peril.


In this case, there are a couple of points to reflect upon.  Physical adultery often starts with people looking at each other with lust; maybe better to not start down that path in the first place.  Look at women as sex objects, maybe you begin to treat them as a sex objects.   Start looking at other women too hard, maybe its not good for your relationship with the woman you do have.   Or, sometimes, maybe the only difference between looking at a woman and acting on the impulse is, you don't have the nerve to act on it; so why should you be given credit for simply lacking nerve?


All or any of these don't apply every time a man looks at a woman.  But enough of them do, often enough, to cause problems.


 

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2012 - 5:24PM #5
Eliascomes
Posts: 994

Matthew 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.


 Jesus is warning us about judging others. He saying in this verse that adultery is wrong but also even thinking about it is wrong also. The heart is the trigger that direct the actions. If the heart desire to do wicked which mean the soul is wicked also. Lusting come from the heart and God listen to the heart of the person.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2012 - 11:08AM #6
Webers_Home
Posts: 922

.

Mar 1, 2012 -- 5:24PM, Eliascomes wrote:

Lusting come from the heart


The koiné Greek word for "lust" in Mtt 5:28 is epithumeo (ep-ee-thoo-meh'-o) which means: to set the heart upon; viz: long for (rightfully or otherwise).


Not all lusting is bad. Lusting's object is what makes the difference; for example: Paul cautioned about craving evil things (1Cor 10:6) which implies that it's okay to crave non-evil things.


The way I see it: there's nothing wrong in noticing a man's wife and admiring the goods; but not okay to set one's heart upon an affair with her. There's a huge difference between the two behaviors: the one is a reaction; the other is a response. I can't control my reactions; but I can sure as hell control my responses and respect the boundaries. Some guys just don't know the meaning of the word honor.


But hey; let's reverse the roles. Mtt 5:28 regulates the affairs of men with married women. Does it therefore grant women permission to set their hearts upon an affair with a married man?


Cliff
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2012 - 12:19PM #7
TemplarS
Posts: 6,877

Mar 2, 2012 -- 11:08AM, Webers_Home wrote:


The way I see it: there's nothing wrong in noticing a man's wife and admiring the goods; but not okay to set one's heart upon an affair with her. There's a huge difference between the two behaviors: the one is a reaction; the other is a response. I can't control my reactions; but I can sure as hell control my responses and respect the boundaries.





I'm not sure about that.  I think part of the process of spiritual growth is to learn to control our reactions.  The Lord's prayer says "lead us not into temptation", not "resist temptation."  This is an imperfect process, but I believe we can, with the Lord's help, progress.


There are a lot of gradations along the way from noticing a woman to actually doing something overt; and most of these are in one's mind and heart.  You notice the woman; you are attracted to the woman; you imagine what her body looks like; you fantasize about her body; you fantasize about having sex with her; you become obsessed with her; you decide you need to have her.  Only then, maybe, do you decide to actually act. 


I agree, noticing the woman is harmless. But the farther down the path you go... this is not so harmless.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2012 - 12:49PM #8
smcisaac
Posts: 7,990

Mar 2, 2012 -- 11:08AM, Webers_Home wrote:


The way I see it: there's nothing wrong in noticing a man's wife and admiring the goods;



Not necessarily.  It depends on whether "admiring the goods" has a dangerous or harmful effect on other dimensions of that relationship or other relationships. Does it affect the way you and your friends's wife would otherwise interact with each other?  Does it affect your relationship with your own wife or partner, or the relationship between your friend and his wife?  Does it affect your attitude toward women in general, and in particular, does it encourage you to more easily see them as inferior objects rather than worthy equals deserving of the same courtesy and respect that you would show to a man?


I think I already detect in the way you have discussed the question a hint that you may respect your (male) friend as a peer and a worthy individual deserving of your courtesy and honor more than you do his wife, whom you see more as an object and less as an equal. That may merely be a result of speaking in terms of the gender roles that appear in the original Biblical situation, though.  If, however, that is indeed your own attitude today toward women in general, is it influenced at least in part by your lustful feelings toward them?


Despite these quibbles, I agree with you if what you are really saying is that in general men can and do notice women's physical beauty, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but they should have enough self-awareness and control over their emotions and actions, and respect for the dignity and privacy of the women they notice, to be able to prevent it from affecting their personal relationships.


But hey; let's reverse the roles. Mtt 5:28 regulates the affairs of men with married women. Does it therefore grant women permission to set their hearts upon an affair with a married man?



I would say no, it doesn't. 


It's always tricky trying to apply ancient Biblical principles of social and sexual morality in our society today that does not share all the same social conventions.  In particular, social conventions surrounding gender roles and matrimonial obligations are very different today than they were in Jesus's time.  Therefore some degree of abstraction and extrapolation is necessary.  I think the Golden Rule (as variously expressed, for example, in Lev 19:34, Tobit 4:15, Sirach 31:15, Matt 7:12, and Luke 6:31) provides a reliable guide for this exercise of extrapolation.  In our more strictly monogamous society, what's sauce for the gander should be sauce for the goose.

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2012 - 3:45PM #9
Webers_Home
Posts: 922

.

Mar 2, 2012 -- 12:49PM, smcisaac wrote:

I think I already detect in the way you have discussed the question a hint that you may respect your (male) friend as a peer and a worthy individual deserving of your courtesy and honor more than you do his wife, whom you see more as an object and less as an equal.


It doesn't matter to me whether any husband is a "worthy individual deserving of my courtesy and honor" as I would still respect the boundaries because for me it's not about gender but rather; about boundaries. There are just some lines I simply cannot cross without compromising my integrity.


For example: some years ago, when I was younger and looking for a spouse, I ran across a really wonderful girl at the church I was attending in San Diego and fell in love with her practically on the spot. Well, not too long afterwards, she and her boyfriend got up in front of my single's group and announced their engagement. It took the wind out of me for two good reasons. Number one: I hadn't known till then she was involved with someone; and number two: I was familiar with that man and convinced he was totally wrong for her. To make matters only worse; she began watching me in a way you could only interpret as feeling the same way I did. The girl I eventually married was attending that same single's group and told me later that she could see happiness and adoration in that girl's eyes whenever she looked at me. But as much as I really treasured that girl— and she apparently treasured me —I treasured my self-respect even more. She was engaged, and to me that's a line only a pig dares to cross.


Now; if you're done raking me over the gender-bias coals, maybe we can get back to the topic and continue discussing that issue instead of usurping the thread to find fault with Webers_Home.


Cliff
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 03, 2012 - 9:05AM #10
hamerhas
Posts: 1,084

Feb 29, 2012 -- 12:26PM, Webers_Home wrote:


.
Webster's defines adultery as: voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife; or between a married woman and someone other than her husband


So then, according to Webster's; adultery requires the participation of at least one married person.


†. Mtt 5:28 . . I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.


I'm a traditional Christian; but this is definitely one place where I strongly disagree with the traditional interpretation of Mtt 5:28; which is an interpretation that makes men guilty of adultery for nothing more than having a healthy libido. Here's what I think Mtt 5:28 is really saying:


The Lord's statement is nothing new. It elaborates upon a very old commandment that states:


You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's. (Ex 20:17)


Covetousness isn't merely liking something and wishing you could have it; no, covetousness sets about to obtain the thing it likes and wishes to have; for example:


†. 1Cor 12:31 . . Covet earnestly the best gifts


†. 1Cor 14:39 . . Brethren, covet to prophesy


So then; does Ex 20:17 forbid me to look across the street at my neighbor's new BMW and wish I had one? No, it forbids me to look for a way to take my neighbor's BMW away from him instead of getting one of my own.


Does Ex 20:17 forbid me to look across the street at my neighbor's buxom young wife and have erotic fantasies about her? No, it forbids me to begin looking for a way to taste the goods— and I believe that is precisely what the Lord was saying at Mtt 5:28 especially since the principle shows up again later in the epistles.


†. Rom 13:14 . . Do not scheme to gratify the desires of the flesh.


Incidentally, the koiné Greek word for "woman" in Mtt 5:28 is gune (goo-nay') which indicates not only a woman but also a wife; for example:


†. Mtt 1:20 . .The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying: Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife


†. Mtt 1:24 . .Then Joseph being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife.


†. Mtt 5:32 . .Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery


†. Mtt 14:3 . . Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.


Those are but a smattering of the many places in the New Testament where gune is translated wife. So then, if you ask me, Mtt 5:28 should be translated to read: Whoever looks upon a wife to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.


This principle is very old. When Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son, the Lord stopped him in the nick of time. However, though he didn't consummate the slaying, God credited Abraham with consummating it all the same because it was in his heart to do so.


†. Gen 22:12b . . For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son— your only son —from me.


The above interpretation of Mtt 5:28 may not be traditional; but it sure is better because I notice women; and don't particularly care to stop thinking about them.


Cliff
/




Jesus proclaimed this to a crowd of legalists who thought they were impressing God.


It was absolutely " New " in every way compared with the commandment.


He is the fulfillment of the law.


He exposed them as getting away with murder.


The weights and measurements of the matter of fact world of the legalists , so proudly


on display, and so personally promoted,  being exposed as wholly not adequate by this Jesus


who is the Christ.


Forcing them to look at things unseen & eternal.


This  absolutely " new" law being divinely different in every way.


I see it entirely different from my "christian" perspective.


What redemtive inspiration, what sustaining comfort , what persuasive vision , these words


of Christ carry to the heart of the christian.


 


                " But so shall it not be among you."


                ( Mark 10:43 )

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