…everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 5: 28
Many years ago, Jimmy Carter, when he was a candidate for the presidency, was asked by a Playboy interviewer if he had committed adultery. Carter, a faith-filled Baptist, said that he had committed adultery in his heart.
We should cultivate in our hearts such candor that is hard to find in politicians and in ourselves.
But there is a story that comes from Buddhism that perhaps will cast a different light on Jesus’ statement. I’ll tell it in my own words, since I don’t have the original with me.
Two Buddhist monks were walking and came across a river they had to cross. A beautiful woman was there, fearful of crossing. One monk took her on his shoulders and carried her across.
The two monks proceeded on their way. The second monk was sulking and the other monk asked him why. “You violated your monastic vows by carrying that woman,” he said.
“Yes,” said the monk. “I did carry her, but I left her at the edge of the river. You have been carrying her since then.”
We are called to respect each other and provide support for marriages, but there are ways of doing that are like the second monk. We hold on to our grudges against someone who seems to violate the law when we do not.
Hypocrisy and judgmentalism are temptations that we should avoid.
The first step might be nurturing the detachment that the first monk showed, helping the woman and respecting her. She was not a sex object to him – but a fellow human being in need.