We want God and the things God doesn’t want us to have. Tricky task, that. But that is why we have religious experts; lawyers. Having lived where there is no objective law it is important to say that lawyers can be a true blessing. Having also lived where lawyers can take money from a Good Samaritan leads me to the type we have in mind in Matthew 5. These are the lawyers who, for the right fee, can find a way to make the law work for you, not justice. YOU HAVE HEARD IT SAID (from your best religious lawyers) how the Law can take prohibitions against sexual sin, covenant breaking and false advertising and find a way for you to cheerfully do all three and still hold a prominent religious status. Jesus did not like that. That is partly why we either like or dislike Jesus.
Jesus challenged the idea that as long as you did not actually follow through with adultery, you have done nothing wrong. So, people have learned how to use their imagination to target a person and have their way with them without having to deal with consequences (including rejection). But that makes for a creepy community. Eye contact should be an issue of mutually recognizing another soul. When one’s eye is filled with dwelt upon lust, there is anything but real connection, soul to soul. There is abuse. God gave us a will, a mind, and a body. The will/heart makes choices. The mind/eye considers choices. The body actually carries out the choices. Treating someone like a ‘sister’ with polite body control is not the main issue. The heart is the main issue. If the heart has used the body to be around someone, the eye/mind to consider someone/imagine what could be with someone, and the heart/will has decided to indulge the thoughts (just cutting the body out of the enjoyment), they are not noble; they are just not caught.
Jesus says to purify the system. There should be consistency from heart-eye-body, not duplicity (hypocricy). If your heart does not want to have adulterous lust with someone, then don’t allow your mind to ponder it, and if your mind can’t help it because your body keeps bringing it to your mind, then restrict (mortify) your body. It is called discipline. Soldiers, athletes, musicians, and any other skilled person finds value in discipline. It is a good thing, though to hear some religious people recoil from the idea one would wonder. Is there room for GRACE if we have discipline? Discipline, rightly done, is the intentional application of God’s grace in our actual physical, mental and spiritual lives. It is good!
I remember being invited to a kid’s birthday party and saying yes. I regretted it. Shortly afterward another kid invited me to go to a professional football game with him and his dad. I tried to find a way to get out of my commitment to the birthday party. The problem was that I had been really clear; I had made a commitment. Though my dad was a lawyer he did not share any of those really sneaky lawyer tricks with me. He told me that I had made a deal and I needed to keep it. It was the right thing to do. I am glad I did, but not because it was more fun than watching football. It was better to be a boy with integrity at a fairly average party instead of a boy without integrity at a really cool outing. We don’t always believe that. We think that if there is more short term pleasure we should get out of our contract and get on with our pleasure. We don’t get it. That kind of living is foreign to God and why we can’t find Him even though we actually live in Him and have our being in Him. If our hearts were more pure our ability to see and live in Him would improve immensely. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Yes=yes, no=no. Should be simple enough. So what is Jesus referring to? The issue is ‘swearing’ on something with more credibility. To swear on the temple, altar, moon etc. is to somehow give extra weight to one’s otherwise weekened ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The problem is that none of those are under the control of the one making the promise. God’s reliability is not transferred to someone who appeals to God’s name, and ultimately, there is nothing that is not in one form or another traceable back to God. He is self-existent (I AM) we are contingent (I am because He Is). All we can say is yes or no with no other reference point than our own credibility. So if we are muddle hearted (adulterous eyes, clever contract wrangling, exagerated promises) we are not blessed; we are up the murky creek. However, if we are pure of heart, unmixed, clear… we are blessed. We can even see God for who he is. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.