I was speaking to a friend of mine about a sermon I was watching online and after sharing parts of the teaching that I thought with resonate with her, I went on to say that she should watch the pastor's videos and also that he is really handsome so they're even more fun to watch. Of course, I meant that last part as a joke, but she seemed to be offended. Is the statement that I made considered to be lustful or sinful in any other way? And if so, is it bad to call others handsome if I were actually attracted to them? Or is the attraction itself bad?
ESV - 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
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Not to sound puritanical, but... While God created men and women to be visually appealing and sexually attractive to each other, He also created a framework (heterosexual marriage) in which those attributes were to be fully expressed. If (as Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-30) merely looking at a member of the opposite sex with lustful intent is equivalent in God's view to the commission of adultery, then it surely seems to me that making open comments expressing a similar orientation or attitude would be equally inappropriate, no matter how humorously or "innocently" they might be intended. In considering such remarks, I find it personally helpful to ask myself whether I can picture Jesus Himself making the same comment. If I cannot, then it is best to resist the urge to speak it. It also seems to me that there is always a way to express such opinions in words or tones that do not convey even a hint of such a context. And, with time and practice, the individual's thought life will also begin to exhibit a similar restraint.
This is the type of non-doctrinal question that many who are concerned about God's assessment of our mental activities, need a clear answer to. Our thoughts are among the most free members of our composition. There's no shutoff valve or switch; our mental process doesn't depend on us being acutely aware of the content of our character. Plainly put, we often think without thinking. The question, 'Is it considered lustful to comment about the attractiveness of a person that you're not married to' (if I got it right) is subjective, at best. If you ask five different believers you could get five different answers, with five different scriptures to support the explanations. The scripture here that accompanies the question is a pretty good match. "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:28). The word "but" that begins this sentence tells us that something slightly different from this has been said about adultery. Jesus is setting the record straight on what constitutes adultery in the government of heaven. Lust in the heart, not physical sexual contact, breaks the adultery law in God's courtroom. He also upgraded the crime of murder. Anger is looked at with the same conservative view. "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court" (of murder); (Mt 5:22) God has one tough courtroom. Can anyone go into a courtroom like that and defend himself and come away not-guilty? One of the heroes of scripture, Job, thought he could. When his friends accused him of suffering because of his hidden sins, Job said this: "My witness is in heaven, and He who testifies for me is on high" (Job 16:19). Job said he would call God to the witness stand and prove his innocence to his fellow man. I don't know about all of that, but it sure sounded good. Bildad, one of his friends responded to Job by saying, in effect, 'You must think we're stupid' (Job 18:3). Is it lustful for a man to look at a woman and notice her gorgeous appearance, or is a comment necessary for conviction? My opinion is that it could be a harmless acknowledgement of a person's good quality, if it's said in private to someone about that good looking person, the way the event is described by Luna Daniel, the person asking this question. The dynamic is different if a woman tells a preacher 'You're a handsome man' to his face. Even if he's a single man, it could be judged inappropriate. It doesn't portend "lust" per se, but it could be awkward, so it should be avoided. But to comment about his appearance to a friend is as natural as saying 'It's a beautiful day.' Is Mt 5:28 rule # 25,264 of the uniform code of biblical justice? "Thou shalt not look at each other and think of procreating. As a matter of fact, it's best not to look at each other at all. Because when you look, looking can lead to lust, and lust is adultery whether there is contact or not." That's not why Jesus gave them, and us by extension, that gem of counsel. I've caused a stir with that word, "counsel." Am I saying Jesus is offering us advice? "Counsel" might suggest that it is only His opinion, what amounts to a word of caution, a good and sound recommendation for holy living. You can pick that up waiting in line at Jack-In-The Box if you engage the right person. So I probably don't mean it like that. One of my pet peeves is the way scriptures are characterized as commands. It's actually said that we are "commanded" to love each other (2Jn 1:5) That's a view of the bible as a book of rules, which distorts our spiritual perception. We are taught to (1Jn 3:11). He used the word "commandment" for motivational emphasis. Jn 13:34,35. Mt 5:28 is not a rule but an "instruction." That's what the scriptures offer, instructions. Instructions give us the right information for training and guidance. God is a coach's Coach. You have to make the play on your own, however.
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