You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.


This is another challenging one, because -- If God is going to getcha for this, then I, and every other straight man I know will be going straight to Hell. I really don't believe that's on the program, but then what is this doing in here?

Neither Mark nor Luke mention this saying. The story called 'The Woman Taken In Adultery' could be a later interpretation of it, because -- aside from being thoroughly in character, that story doesn't seem to have been part of any of the known Gospels; while it provides the only place in the tradition where Jesus is said to write anything whatsoever.

The absence of a saying in other Gospels could mean anything or nothing. This particular saying looks like it could be 'Matthew's' elaboration of Jesus' emphasis on inner righteousness above mere observance of external rules.

All the Gospel authors would have participated in groups where what people remembered of the tradition would have frequently been recited; and the material in those recitations would have been 'the same' in general while also being 'different': depending on local conditions and on who wanted to emphasize what on any particular occasion. No particular rendition was the original, 'real' gospel. There would have been overall agreement on what belonged to that but -- until it was eventually written in some form -- room for elaboration within that agreement.

Whether or not this saying goes back to The Guy --  What should it mean?

Everyone likes to see other people, to look at other people, whether or not those people appeal to us sexually: young women, young men, old people, children. God didn't make people good-looking just so we could turn that pleasure into something dumb & ugly.

People whose presence pleasantly twangs our sexual feelings, well -- That's even better! -- except. Except that, (for any of a long list of reasons) following through physically on those feelings would in most cases be a really bad idea.

I think (and prefer to think!) that Jesus is saying, as in the 'Woman Taken' story, that we've got no business condemning anyone for responding to such feelings foolishly, because any of us might have done that (and are lucky if we didn't!)

At the risk of potential inconsistency with the following passage, I'm going to say that we aren't being told to go around with opaque bags over our heads, not being told to suppress sexual feelings for anyone but our spice... It doesn't do to cling to such feelings, to seek them out or dwell on them, but that is another matter.

Given that God can give us anything we ask for... Isn't it a bad idea to nurse desires that would really screw things up if they materialized?


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about this partner shows me that the heart matters...    

and then i start to realize that Jesus feels the same way.   right?

that's what these scriptures tell us.  i really like finding this out. 

it's a very peaceful and centered message to be on the other side of having learned.  though a royal pain in the arse on the front end.  i didn't have this particular hangup you mention, that many men do, but i had my own hangups -- and i didn't want her calling me on  where i was really coming from in my heart.  i thought that should be off limits. (shrug)   the whole "if she loved me she wouldn't require that" business.

i remember at some point  having the insight that "everything matters...and there is FREEDOM in that."  my insight was the feeling of freedom.  that was unexpected when the topic is that everything matters.

i don't know what prompted that feeling but i know it came up in prayer.  it was a calm and wonderfully anchored feeling but it doesn't sound like it:  it sounds like "oh no!  we can get busted for everything we do! or judged!!"   but no, i don't think God's about that...      

it was just that it was a good feeling to get right with things in my life that were out of sync with my own....i don't know... (shrugging again) need of integrity?  need of love?   who knows.   um   i think it feels like i had a need of chivalry and God and my partner showed me how to have that. maybe not theirs but my own.  ha

if this doesn't make any sense, please ignore.

It isn't that you 'don't make any sense' here but that we look at these matters so differently that there are places where I really haven't a clue what you mean; clearly trying to respond to those would muddle us utterly!

I don't think I was talking about a 'hangup that men have.'  I said that people like to look at other people> That shouldn't always imply windowshopping. Sometimes there are sexual feelings stirred, & once again that doesn't have to imply either dwelling on those or trying to turn them into anything they aren't; it seems to me analogous to the previous passage about anger.

Feelings happen; people deal with them skillfully or they imagine that anger demands that they hurt someone, that a sexual feeling means they'd enjoy the actuality.

I agree with what you're saying re God isn't looking for reasons to bust us. We are getting a warning about something that could disrupt people's relations with each other and with God. I don't think that's the fact that we get angry or sexually stimulated...

I could talk about the extreme cultural differences involved in that saying -- the fact, for example, that Jesus' enemies say he's hanging out with whores because some women are following him around unaccompanied by any male relative... or that everyone will assume that one healthy man and one healthy woman left unwatched must have done the nasty, & the resulting fuss can easily turn ugly... Flirting is potentially serious trouble in that kind of mileau.

The real issue that remains in our time -- is that God needs to be the priority. That doesn't necessarily preclude getting angry or getting horny; it does imply a more detached perspective when one does.


I wouldn't know the intention of the scribes of the New Testament, to bring it into a current application, it may be the passage implies an injustice to viewing women as sexual objects. I believe that this is a feminist saying that infers that women are not without honor and must be treated with respect in regards to all measures of humanity.


Jesus sets a remarkable example of treating women well beyond their traditional roles in his own 1st Century culture; but he does not explicitly teach 20th Century Feminism; and his followers increasingly back off from his example as the church expands into the Empire.

There is nothing intrinsically demeaning about seeing a woman (or a man) as sexually attractive, based on their physical and/or personality attributes; some people will object to being seen in that light and others will simply like it. There's nothing in there about 'loving a woman as your brother' or even remotely close.

As a modern teacher said, 'When a thief looks at a saint, all he sees are pockets'; and a similar effect is very likely with a guy in rut... and not intrinsically 'sinful'.

What would separate a man from God and his fellow humans would be nursing that feeling, without regard for its potential effect on the existing relationships God has already established between people.

There's a principle of US Constitutional law which I think justly applies here: You may make laws forbidding intentional acts; you may not make laws that punish someone for his condition.

"what 'sin' means in this topic we're having" is 'anything that prevents us welcoming and cooperating in God increasingly manifesting rule over this creation.'

The story, as understood in that time, was that God had made a deal with the ancestors of the Hebrew People: 'Do these things, and you'll enjoy freedom and all other blessings in the land I've promised you!' Having not satisfactorily performed their end of that deal, their leaders lost control of that land and their people were left wretched, once again oppressed and plundered by pagan foreigners. The return of the old elite to local power within large pagan empires had simply reinforced that wretchedness; and the temporary national monarchy under the Maccabees simply changed oppressors.

Jesus was out there announcing that God was renewing the deal on a new basis. The 'Kingdom of God' meant God manifesting active rule of the nation; and this Sermon was about how people should live to best participate in that. Evidently we goyim were subsequently invited in -- not necessarily to the physical real estate involved, but that relation of living as God's children under divine rule.

The commands of the Torah were about behavior (including intention, of course). Even 'don't covet' was about actual attempts to acquire a neighbor's goodies. Jesus was not imposing new rules against 'Thoughtcrime' or 'Unauthorized Feelings', but did insist that nursing or acting-on feelings that could disrupt communities was a habit to give up.

An urge to 'hold people accountable' for whatever one thinks their shortcomings might be... sounds to me like one of those iffy attitudes. The metaphor doesn't appeal to me, in that I really don't think anyone owes me anything, except the respect due a fellow human, and the benefit of the doubt in disagreements -- and I certainly would not expect to receive that from anyone not inclined to give it.

To be specific: I told you that 'I'm a hussy in my heart' and that I wasn't sure my wife would be altogether comfortable with having an unfamiliar young woman friend decide to call me up and then talk for a long time.

You then decided that I must be lusting after you; then you went into a kind of emotional fit in which nothing I said otherwise registered at all; then declared that unless I repented of what you'd imagined you couldn't continue corresponding with me.

Then you decided you should make a veiled public issue of the matter.

I don't deny you the right to have whatever emotional reflexes you might have picked up over the years.

I do suggest considering that people do have a right to feel what they feels, and that what a friend says he feels might be what he in fact feels, rather than whatever you think that might be.

In case you suspect that I resented the loss of what I'd taken for friendship, and am currently annoyed with you, that is true. A certain crazy fondness also persists!

From Query 4, New York Yearly Meeting: Do we avoid talebearing, and are we careful of the reputation of others?

You're right, Adria.  I'm removing my last post which seems to not really be mine to set the record straight.  I wish I could communicate better with Forrest but I can't and will stop trying to articulate things...  I apologize to him and to anyone reading this for the fact that he and I couldn't work out matters ourselves.

Reasons for posting this topic here:

I was starting to get some new insight re what Jesus was meaning by 'Kingdom of God', and how that related to NT Wright's idea that he'd been meaning something like 'our return from Exile' to Jesus' Jewish contemporaries.

It then occured to me that if this were true, the sayings and parables of Jesus should make sense in that light, which would be a good reason to start reading the Bible again. So I returned to to take up where I'd left off.

That was early in the beginning of Matthew's Sermon on the Mount. Though nothing I post here seems to bring anybody to regular participation in that site, announcing that I had resumed (and that what was coming up was relevant to discussions here) had brought in a few comments.

Matthew 5:27-28 seems to be a tricky one for a great many people, so I thought it would lead to some interesting discussion, perhaps a bit more interest in reading the gospels and how they should best be understood.

Instead it seems to have pushed a lot of emotional buttons and led to Olivia deciding I must want her to get on my case some more.

I grew up with a horror of being misunderstood, until I eventually came to realize that it was simply going to happen sometimes, regardless of how clearly I might think I'd put something.

Anyway, there seem to be at least a couple different ways this passage could be taken, including the idea that at least 1/2 the human race is simply wired wrong [ ]; that we need to hie ourselves to the vet and get fixed. Since I can't buy into that reading, there is the question of what meaning God does intend.

The point might be that we are all sinners by virtue of our carnal nature.  That is what the Apostle John says.  My first bumper sticker is still my favorite for reminding me that I'm not perfect, just forgiven.

I'd been looking for your comment in the wrong discussion! -- no wonder I couldn't find it there. Okay, in the right place this time:

People keep reading 'sinners' and 'carnal' through a moralistic mind-set. But if 'sin' means 'what keeps us from welcoming God's Kingdom' and 'carnal' means 'limited', then of course!

(But we are intentionally created in a 'limited' form, which turns out to be as functional as the fact that a two-year-old [unless he's armed, arrgh!] can't really kill everyone he gets mad at.)

As Fox kept telling the Protestants of his day, we don't need to go on doing anything that actually is sinful.

The issue in this particular case: whether anything that's a built-in feature can be intrinsically sinful, intrinsically leading to 'sin' -- or simply needs to be kept in one's pants rather than allowed to get underfoot.

If some guy were to think I was good-looking, that would definitely make for mixed feelings. But it would not be a reason for panic, outside of a jail-cell situation.

What makes straight men a source of panic for some women seems to be a combination of 1) Men tend to be more visually-oriented overall (which makes for potential misunderstanding, ie 'Why are men so weird?') and 2) Male humans are usually stronger, and have been known to misuse that power, and 3) People are often prone to react first from unconscious triggering of very old emotional responses, then think up reasons to justify their response. (A good reason for not leaving eyeballs where they aren't wanted!)


When I use the word "carnal" I refer to the nature that reacts to the stimuli received through our body's five senses.  These stimuli are part of what enables us to survive as animals in a material world populated by animals occupying various points in the food chain.  As a spiritual being living in an material body I spend most of my life not understanding my spiritual nature while trying to make sense out of which of these stimuli I can follow without getting my head bitten off and which I can enjoy.  Being dropped into a spiritual journey with a new or renewed spiritual nature I find the rules I thought I understood are not necessarily the same for prosperomg spiritually as they were when I was only concerned about my material well being.

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