I was going to write on this a bit later, but Ballista started this thought so let me take it to it’s full conclusion. Ballista has been examining the improper conflation of emotion and lust as sinful in terms of Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
I’m not going to go into that in detail, but the comment he makes after the post is extremely important:
To clarify something, which I’ll edit into the main post if it gets republished in any form:
While the linkage between lusting and coveting is obvious in Scripture (Exodus 20:17; Romans 7:7), the concept of sexual possession gets lost in Harris’ text when bounced against emotional intimacy.
The linkage of lusting to coveting (Romans 7:7) involves possession.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. (Exodus 20:17)
Coveting is desiring and wishing for something that belongs to someone else. Harris using David as an example of lusting is correct. What he did wrong was coveting a woman who was someone else’s wife (i.e. not his), not looking at her and being attracted to her. (the consequence of poorly stated doctrine with the goal of furthering this “emotional purity” falsity) This is the confusion created by Harris and other advocates of this doctrine, as was quoted in that original paragraph. They do not recognize that a single person belongs to nobody. Had Uriah not existed to Bathsheba, David could have rode right in and claimed her without sin. The fact that she was Uriah’s wife is what made David qualify as “lusting” her, not that he desired her.
In other words, you can desire a unmarried member of the attached sex just fine without sinning against the Lord. The only thing you need to do to be pure in His sight becomes avoiding fornication or physical intimacy as Harris puts it.
The important connection to make is the lusting is typically used in the Scriptures as coveting something that is not yours. In other words, adultery is lusting and coveting after a wife that is not yours.
The lusts of the flesh such as the 7 deadly sins aside from lust are pride, envy, sloth, wrath, greed, and gluttony are all based through a desire that overwhelms what is reasonable. Pride in the self covers over the the rightful position of God in your life. Wrath takes judgment into your own hands and out of God’s. Envy, like covetousness, is desiring something that is not yours. Greed is the overwhelming desire for material possessions at the expense of others and relationships.
To truly understand the nature of the what Jesus actually says we need to reference the Greek.
Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery (moicheuo)’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman (gune) with lust (epithumeo) for her has already committed adultery (moicheuo) with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye makes you [w]stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you [x]to lose one of the parts of your body, [y]than for your whole body to be thrown into [z]hell. 30 If your right hand makes you [aa]stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you [ab]to lose one of the parts of your body, [ac]than for your whole body to go into [ad]hell.
G3431 — μοιχεύω — moicheuō — moy-khyoo’-o
From G3432; to commit adultery: – commit adultery. Total KJV occurrences: 14
G1135 — γυνή — gunē — goo-nay’
Probably from the base of G1096; a woman; specifically a wife: – wife, woman. Total KJV occurrences: 221
G1937 — ἐπιθυμέω — epithumeō — ep-ee-thoo-meh’-o
From G1909 and G2372; to set the heart upon, that is, long for (rightfully or otherwise): – covet, desire, would fain, lust (after). Total KJV occurrences: 16
If you are familiar with Koine Greek, you should also be familiar with the fact that the Greek word “gune” is the ubiquitous term that is used for woman AND wife in the Scriptures. When Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3 all discuss about the roles and responsibilities for the “wife” it uses “gune” there as well.
If we note what Jesus says, it would be more accurate to say that the KJV and other translators got the translation wrong. It is more accurate to say:
Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery (moicheuo)’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a WIFE (gune) with lust (epithumeo) for her has already committed adultery (moicheuo) with her in his heart.
How can someone commit adultery unless they are lusting after a “wife” and not a “woman.” This is an extremely important distinction because this mistranslation is often used to demonize male sexuality in terms of men who want to be married.
We can be assured of this because of the next following passage about divorce in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:31 “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away (apoluō hautou gune), let him give her a certificate of divorce’ (apostasion); 32 but I say to you that everyone who [ae]divorces (apoluō) his wife, except for the reason of unchastity/fornication (porneia), makes her commit adultery (moichaō); and whoever marries a divorces (apoluō) woman commits adultery (moichaō).
G4202 — πορνεία — porneia — por-ni’-ah
From G4203; harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively idolatry: – fornication.
Total KJV occurrences: 26
I already looked at divorce and the misconceptions about divorce in depth.
As I noted before in that article, sex and other sexual misconduct before marriage — fornication — is referred to the Scriptures by Porneia/Pornueo. Therefore, if Jesus was discussing sexual sin in regard to lusting after women he would have referred to it as “porneia” not “moicheuo.” The very fact that Jesus is referring to “moicheuo” means that he is referring to married women when he uses the word “gune.” In other words, if you covet a WIFE that is not yours you are committing adultery with in your heart.
Things Jesus did not say: Matthew 5:28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed fornication (pornueo) with her in his heart.
Things Jesus did say: Matthew 5:28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a “gune” (likely WIFE) with lust for her has already committed adultery (moichueo) with her in his heart.
Looking at the Greek wording is extremely important here. If it was talking about “women” then it would have used fornication. However, the text is clearly about “adultery” and thus the word gune is probably mistranslated in context as “woman” when it should be “wife.”
Not withstanding, the translators also translate apoluo as “divorce” when it solely means to “put away.” The background behind that is that Jesus is discussing common wisdom: “You have heard it said” which is the wisdom of the day of the other cultures specifically the Greeks and Romans. When He discusses it more in depth with the Pharisees in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 16 He specifically uses the same Greek wording as in Matthew 5. The culture at the time was such that the Romans and Greeks could “divorce” their women by “sending/putting them away” whereas Mosaic law in Deuteronomy 24 declared that husbands need to give them a bill of divorcement before “sending/putting her away.” Hence, the Pharisees wanted to entrap Jesus between Roman and Jewish law just like their questions about ‘paying taxes to Caesar’ and what to do with the ‘woman caught in adultery.’
Thus, Jesus hearkens specifically to say that you cannot put away a woman (implied: without a writing of divorcement) except if she committed fornication [prior to the marriage] otherwise she commits adultery if she remarries. This is supported by Deuteronomy 22 where the cloth from the marriage bed is presented as proof of a woman’s virginity. We know the importance of blood covenants in the Scripture; if there is no blood there is no covenant. After all, the New Testament is founded on the Power of Jesus’ blood for the remission of sins.
Hence, Jesus’ logical conclusion that you can “put away” a “wife” without a bill of divorcement if she fornicated prior to marriage. If she has lost her hymen because of prior fornication, there is no contract formed because there is no shedding of blood when the husband first has sex with his [presumably virgin] bride. Hence, “putting away” IS NOT A “divorce” as there was no marriage in the first place.
Thus, the mistranslation of apoluo as divorce. Indeed, this seals off the “adultery” loophole clause get-out-of-marriage if your spouse cheats. Even if your spouse commits adultery you should not divorce them. Thus, what Paul declares about separation in 1 Corinthians 7 applies to all marriages. Divorcing is sinful period. If you are separated from your wife you should reconcile not remarry.
Specifically, what does the Scriptures say to those who are unmarried who lust after [single] women?
1 Corinthians 7:8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
This is the logical conclusion: Those who lust/burn after single women are not in sin. However, because they have this lust/burning within them then it is better to marry rather than to burn.
These two specific mistranslations from Greek to English in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount are extremely important to understand because they have given rise to some of the strongest legalistic heresies in the Church today. Here is the logical dispelling of them:
- Sexual desire is good. Sexual desire only turns to illicit temptation when it covets something that is not yours such as someone else’s wife (Matt 5). In fact, if you have strong passion for the opposite sex then it is a strong reason on you should marry to avoid sexual sin (1 Cor 7).
- Divorce is always wrong and sinful. There is no adultery clause to get out of marriage free given the correct understanding of Scripture (Deut 22, 24, Matt 5, 19, Mark 10, Luke 16, Rom 7, 1 Cor 7).
- If a woman fornicated prior to marriage and you didn’t know (or she lied) you can “put her away” and it’s not divorce per Jesus since it is not a covenant marriage. Although the Father’s “what God has put together let man not separate” trumps this if you can deal with it.
These correct understandings seal all of the “loopholes” cleanly and show God’s Scriptures to be good, consistent, and logically sound.