God made women beautiful. They are the crown of His creation – the one final thing that God made in Genesis. She is a work of art. She is the crescendo. Creation was brought to completion with Eve. God gave Eve a beautiful form and a beautiful spirit. There’s something about her that is mesmerizing. Of course, the Fall has impacted how we see women and how women go about being beautiful, but for the record, women are the climax of a creative Genesis week. They should be adored; but not worshipped.
Jesus makes sure that we should take great care to appreciate, cherish, and value this special climax of creation that belongs to God. Jesus uses extreme and graphic figures of speech to convey this truth.
Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully [Lustfully is the keyword. Jesus is OK with acknowledging the beauty of a woman; it’s the lusting that He has an issue with.] has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin [or stumble, coming from a word that describes part of a trapping mechanism. If you’re in a trap…], gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.
Jesus uses hyperbole – extreme exaggeration for effect – that is, more is said figuratively than is literally meant.
In a dramatic way, so that you wouldn’t forget it (many men can still quote this part of the Bible, even though they haven’t read it in years), He says “Don’t look lustfully, don’t act, and don’t go there. It’s a trap. Enjoy love and intimacy and appreciate beauty, but do whatever it takes to stay morally clean. Amputate the sources. Cancel subscriptions. Take another route. Put the computer in a public place in the home. Be as drastic as you have to be.”
When you mess with your sexuality, you open Pandora’s Box. I don’t believe Jesus endorsed self-mutilation, but He did believe in self-control. It is better for you to lose one part of your body, and forgo some experiences if that is what it takes, than for your whole body to go into hell (NIV).
Why does Jesus use such extreme and graphic figures of speech in this passage?” He understands what incredible harm can be done in this particular area of life. We hunger and thirst for love and relationship and we go about fulfilling this in all the wrong ways. We live in a world in which people are dying to be loved and don’t know where on earth to find love and intimacy. So what we do is that we confuse sexual fascination and desire with true love and intimacy.
Jesus gets extreme here because we have gotten extreme in what we do with, for and to others and how we view each other, especially how men view women. Jesus gets graphic because we have gotten graphic in our consumption of people. Jesus is not telling us to deny the beauty that God bestowed on a woman at Creation. He’s telling us to cherish the beauty, not consume it.
Randy Rowland argues: Lust is the under functioning of love and sexuality as God intended it to be. “We fear rejection, abandonment, alienation, failure to be lovable and adequate in relationships. The insecurities drive us to what we feel are safer places to explore our sensual and erotic urges. In doing so, we under function. We become less than what God created us for. You see, love and sexuality are meshed together in the context of a committed relationship… Sexual intimacy is a bonding agent (Sins We Love, 173).”
When we are in lust instead of in true love, we consume objects rather than love persons. The focus is entirely on yourself. We fixate and build scenarios in our mind that emerge as fantasy. We look in all the wrong places to feed this displaced sexual urge. In all our attempts, we dehumanize, degrade, and consume what should be loved, cherished and respected. Love gives; lust takes. Love values; lust uses. Love endures; lust subsides. Love is a process; lust is an act. Love is learned; lust is instinctive. Love requires constant attention; lust takes very little effort. Love takes time to develop and mature; lust needs no time to develop. Love requires emotional and spiritual interaction; lust requires only physical interaction. Love deepens a relationship; lust (operating alone) dulls a relationship–and will often end up killing it. It drives you into secrecy and hidden activities and self-absorption and self-hatred. The longer lust takes charge, the greater the loneliness and more extensive the shame.
True love and intimacy is a covenantal promise to understand the depths of another and stand with them for the long haul. Love is about a deep relationship over time. Love seeks the highest good of another. Love always pays a price. Love always costs something. Love is expensive. When you love, benefits accrue to another’s account. Love is for someone else, not for me. Love gives; it doesn’t grab. Love honors; it doesn’t devalue. Love leads to greater openness, enjoys creativity and leads to a bond of closeness. It all results in a very satisfying, guilt-free relationship with a spouse.
So, men, let’s do the honorable thing. Let’s affirm the beauty that God placed in a woman. And, if we are married, let’s focus our attention on the beauty in the One woman that He has allowed us to be with. Your woman doesn’t have to be on the cover of a magazine to make her truly happy. She just wants to know that she would be on “your magazine” and that she is a beautiful person to you.
Give her this gift this holiday season. What a climax!