How counter-cultural was Jesus’ view of sex and of women!
In Jesus day, women were second class citizens, often used and abused.
Women flocked to Christianity for good reason!
Today, in countries where the light of Christ is dim,
a woman’s life continues to be so hard.
In biblical days, D. A. Carson explains, “Rabbinic traditions also expected women to wear head coverings to prevent men from lusting after them, whereas Jesus places the responsibility squarely on the men doing the lusting.”
You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
When President Jimmy Carter confessed he had to guard against looking at a woman lustfully, the press had a heyday with him. The demands of Jesus seemed impossible to them! How could a man stop from doing this?
But with Christ, all things are possible. We can indeed experience the power to turn from lust.
The Pharisees were content with not committing adultery, but Jesus went to the heart.
The view of sex from the mount is that it is sacred, and must be protected by marriage.
The view of women from the mount is that they are made in the image of God,
and therefore must not to be leered at as objects,
or thrown out when they displeased a husband,
as Josephus explains was often the case in biblical days.
Jesus knew that the reason both sex and women were abused was due to the heart.
That’s why Jimmy Carter was concerned about his heart, and repented of lust.
He knew that lust led to the abuse of women and girls in our world. He said:
God created the sexual union for one man and one woman
within the protection of marriage.
But our world no longer sees sex as sacred
and when sex is used outside of the bonds of marriage,
everyone is hurt, but particularly women and children.
How far we have fallen, losing the beauty the God intended.
But for we who are in Him, there is hope.
We who are married can reclaim the beauty of the sexual union.
And all of us, married or not, can learn from the metaphor Jesus uses that marriage points to a much deeper mystery — that of our relationship with Christ.
I go into this in great detail in my book on The Song of Songs (He Calls You Beautiful) which you can listen to on a free library ap called hoopla. https://www.hoopladigital.com
There is so much in the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:27-32, but this week we will look at it from the perspective of how Jesus was protecting women both from lust and divorce.
The view from the mount is beautiful.
I pray it will encourage your heart.
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. If you have a testimony of God helping you to remain pure or recover sexual purity, please share here.
Monday: Protecting Women from Lust
3. For those of you who have been with us in this study, explain how the Pharisees actually didn’t go far enough in their view of the moral law.
4. Read Matthew 5:27-28
A. What does Jesus say?
B. How does this go deeper than the Pharisees view?
C. On whom does Jesus put the responsibility for lust?
(This does mean that women can dress immodestly, for Scripture tells us to be modest.
But it also does not mean we have to cover ourselves completely.)
5. What would you say is the difference between love and lust? Why?
6. Challenge question: What heart idol do you think lust springs from?
7. If you have had success battling lust, what has helped you?
Tuesday: Mortification not Mutilation
8. What does Jesus say in Matthew 5:29-30?
I used to struggle with the above, though I didn’t think Jesus meant it literally, yet how was I to interpret it? John Stott was helpful here:
The command to get rid of troublesome eyes, hands and feet is an example of our Lord’s use of dramatic figures of speech. What he was advocating was not a literal physical self-maiming, but a ruthless moral self-denial. Not mutilation but mortification…Christ means to reject sinful practices so resolutely that we die to them or put them to death…
Because a heart idol is always at work with sin, it is helpful to me to ask “What need am I trying to meet sinfully that God could truly meet?” Repentance and faith are two sides of a coin. It is one thing to die to self in repentance, it is another to trust that God will meet you.
9. If God has met you recently when you turned from sin and trusted Him, share something about it here to encourage the rest of us.
Wednesday: Protecting Women from Divorce
Josephus explains that in biblical days, men would throw their wives out, without a certificate of divorce, for any reason, even burning a meal. Because women could not hold a job, they were often reduced to beg or become prostitutes. I found it so interesting to hear John Stonestreet, who speaks often on Christianity and culture, say that the downward slope that we see happening in our culture today that is so hurtful to women, children, and the family began with no-fault divorce. Before women were protected from men walking away from their families on a whim, but now they are not. I realize that today women walk away too, and the same principle applies: marriage is sacred and vows are to be kept. Are there exceptions? Yes. If the covenant has been broken through unfaithfulness (as is stated here and in Matthew 19) or by abandonment (as is stated in 1 Corin. 7:15) divorce is permitted though not commanded. This is out of mercy for the victim. It is so clear that Jesus was an advocate for women. D. A. Carson recommends Craig Keener’s book And Marries Another for a more extensive explanation of scriptural divorce.
In Matthew 19, the Pharisees were preoccupied with when they could divorce their wives, for they took marriage lightly. Jesus response shows he was preoccupied with keeping marriage sacred.
10. Read Matthew 5:31-32.
A. Why do you think Moses required a certificate of divorce?
B. How does Jesus go deeper in protecting women?
11. If you are married, how do you live in a way that shows you believe your marriage is sacred?
I realize there is so much more that could be plumbed in these passages, but I don’t want to overtax you in these daily studies. But I have given resources for those who are interested.
Thursday-Friday: Love, Lust, and Liberation
This is such an excellent free sermon by Tim Keller. I encourage you, if you like it, to share it on social media — you will be salt and light!
12. What comments or thoughts do you have concerning the above?
13. What is your take-a-way and why?