27 “You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ 28 But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices – they also corrupt. 29 “Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. 30 And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump. 31 “Remember the Scripture that says, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights’? 32 Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are ‘legal.’ Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.
Christians are so scared of passages like this. I, for one, declared before writing this outlandish post that I was not worthy to speak on the divorce part since I’m in the middle of one myself. Hogwash! What is at the heart of what Jesus is saying here with these examples? I hear that he’s not the least bit impressed by our outward adherence to legalism.
How many Christians do you know who are righteous on a technicality? “Technical virgins”, “technical non-adulterers”, “technical non-liars”? Since this is an outlandish devotional, I will be forthcoming enough to admit that I was a “technical virgin” for years and years. My mantra was, “If it doesn’t go in, it’s not a sin!” In this passage Jesus calls us to the heart of the matter. Unfaithfulness and sexual immorality begins long before the first physical act. We set limits on ourselves, not to punish or self-mutilate ourselves into righteousness, but to give ourselves the space to consider our true motives which are, more often than not, selfish and not justified–unlike the case with divorcing an unfaithful spouse.
My heart breaks over what Christians do to each other with passages like this. I see it as Christ calling us to his feet to talk over the matter of why it is that we make the choices we make, not as a list of don’ts. That’s the way I see it… (oops, wrong blog).