Monday, December 29, 2008

Is Looking at Porn the Same as Adultery?

Is looking at pornography the same thing as adultery, and therefore, a justifiable cause for divorce? We'll look at this question over two posts. The question itself comes from an inference drawn from Matthew 5:28. "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Couple that verse with what Jesus says in Matthew 19:9 - "And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife except for sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery" - and you get a supposed justification for divorce. While I wholeheartedly agree that we must let the Bible say what it says, I think we need to be very careful to let it say what it says, and not what it doesn't say.

In the Old Testament, God commanded the death of whole nations by the people of Israel. From several texts, we can rightly gather that Jesus is himself God. The apostles tell the church to follow in the footsteps of Christ, and live our lives after his example. Put all that together and here's what we come up with: Christians should kill whole nations of people because Jesus, being the God of the Old Testament, killed whole nations, and we're to follow in his footsteps. We can see that this kind of mental gymnastics is not only irresponsible, but dangerous. However, I'm afraid we may have to do some in order to understand this question.

I think to rightly come to terms with these texts, we have to consider what the real issue is. Is the real issue God's concern over an offended person's feelings? In other words, does Jesus feel sorry for a man with an unfaithful wife, so he says, "God ahead man, I wouldn't want to live with her either. I feel your pain." When Jesus gave adultery as an exception for his prohibition of divorce, what was he seeking to protect? He doesn't come right out and tell us. So we're stuck trying to play gymnastics. Tread lightly.

I think the most important thing we can do when thinking about this is keep a very high view of marriage. Any attempt to belittle marriage or treat divorce frivolously by using a so-called exception clause is wrong. God has joined a husband and wife together with a little of his Spirit in the union. It is not something that should be broken lightly. It is also important to understand what marriage is. Marriage is a covenant, or a pledge of faithfulness to another person. In marriage, two people pledge to be a companion to one another. Part of this companionship is sexual fidelity and exclusivity.

When that exclusive sexual claim has been compromised, then it does appear that Jesus grants a permission to divorce. However, before doing so, the offended party should understand that Jesus also says that divorce is granted because of hardness of heart. So an unfaithful spouse shows a hardness of heart in committing adultery, and an offended spouse shows a hardness of heart in breaking off the union. The offended party should also consider that God is a husband to every member of his church, and never divorces his bride for any reason, including spiritual adultery. He absorbs the debt, including all the emotional pain of betrayal upon his own body on the cross. He is a true husband who lays down his life for his unfaithful bride. We're just stretching out in this post. The real gymnastics will begin next time. :)

6 comments:

JanAl said...

Can not wait until the next one. I liked your comparison in the last paragraph, never thought about it like that!
Yes, porn is the same as adultery, especially when a man gives his fantasy more attention than the flesh beside him (the wife), that God gave him. Divorce? From a woman's point of view, I wish it was an easy answer.

Anonymous said...

porn and adultery = same heart issue, but porn is adultery lite. I want that, but will not fully give into it.

JanAl said...

For some, not all, they do give into it by turning those thoughts into actions. I agree with you anonymous that it is the same heart issue, but there is different degrees of porn, and to call it lite, is devaluing what God's word calls it. Mth. 5:28

JanAl said...

I feel the need to clarify my last sentence, in my first comment. I am trying to say that from a woman's (my)point, it is not easy to make the right choice (which is to not divorce), when you feel betrayed.
Ultimately, it does not matter what I say, but what God says.

danny2 said...

i don't typically link to my own blog, but i think there is a significant issue that this "exception" is only found in Matthew.

if you get a chance, take a look at these and tell me what you think. (i'd like to get the "marriage guy's" take) ;-)

Darby Livingston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.