Notes: August 15, 2009

Hate Crimes, Lust and Divorce

Following His requirement for righteousness exceeding that of the very strict Pharisees, Jesus gives 6 examples. In all of them we will hear what the traditional, Pharisaical interpretation was; and then we will hear Jesus tell us what the right interpretation is. Do not think that Jesus is destroying the scriptures; He is destroying all tradition that, itself, destroys the scriptures. Today we look at the first 3 of those examples.

Matthew 5:21-32


  • What the Pharisees taught about murder was not wrong; but it was sorely incomplete. Often what we say about God and salvation is not wrong, but dangerously incomplete. Have you ever tried to plot a journey using an online destination planner? Sometimes you’ll get the absolutely shortest route, but if you don’t know that route is along a narrow, winding, mountain road you may think you’re taking the right path.
  • Yes, you shouldn’t murder. And murderers go to hell. That’s always been true.
  • But, Jesus explains, one can murder another with thoughts and words. It’s the thought that counts.
  • His counsel? If you’re going to worship and you remember that your brother (by birth, by blood, by community, by nationality, by faith) has something against you, then don’t continue to the place of worship. Instead, go and be reconciled to your brother. Then, you will be able to worship God.
  • “Keep short accounts,” the old preachers used to say. Don’t let your debts, financial or otherwise, get too big.


  • Just as murder was a plain commandment among the 10 of Exodus 20:1-17, so also was adultery. This much the Pharisees preached. But like many a Jesuit and law school graduate after them, they were good at casuistry, the art of twisting the law to suit their own purposes and to hide their own evil deeds.
  • Jesus explains that merely gawking at a woman with a lustful eye is having committed adultery in one’s heart already.  Again, it’s the thought that counts.
  • And if you have trouble controlling your body parts, it would be better to pluck out your own eye or cut off your own hand rather than have the weakness of the flesh cause your soul to live in deadly sin.


  • Adultery is a sin. Jesus had already spoken about it.
  • Some have thought, with their church’s approval, that they could have a mistress as long as they divorced their wife first. In practice, at least one pretending Christian church allows a man 3 divorces in his lifetime-but no more.
  • Jesus explains that the man who puts away his wife for any cause other than fornication causes her to commit adultery.
  • And, any man who marries the divorced woman commits adultery, too.
  • Make sure you read that passage again. The woman who is divorced for the wrong reason commits adultery if she remarries; and any man who marries her commits adultery, too. The sin of divorce leads to adultery in this case.