The Deadly Sin of Adultery

Matthew 5: 27- 32
1Kgs 19:9a,11-16 / Ps 27

He who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
(Matthew 5:28)

As metal is no match to rust,
The most corrosive sin is lust;
On your own conviction put no trust,
Avoid temptation, run if you must.

Jesus said, “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. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5: 27-32)


After discussing the fifth commandment, Jesus expounded on the sixth commandment. Both of these commandments concern the grievous sin of murder. While the former is about killing the body, adultery is about killing the soul. While the former commits the sin against another, the latter inflicts the crime upon himself. That is why it is better to lose a sinful part of one’s body than to have his entire existence consigned to hell because of it. Note that even in the Old Testament scriptures, the commandment to avoid the sin of adultery is repeated in the ninth commandment (“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife”). The book of Proverbs, verses 25 to 29 clearly states the dire consequences of this sin. Which probably is the reason our Lord made His point very dramatic in impressing the gravity of the carnal sin. And I doubt if He was merely exaggerating. He really meant what He said. One who degrades the body of another by leering looks and lascivious thoughts just as surely harms his own body far more than actually gouging out his eye or cutting off his hand.

It is the sanctity of marriage that Jesus is protecting here. This love relationship is what Satan wants to destroy ever since Christ instituted it. He employs the twin scourges of adultery and divorce to achieve this end. Jesus knows how vulnerable we are to the devil’s schemes, and how desirable to the human eye the forbidden fruit of fornication is. That is why he wants us to nip the temptation in the bud when the occasion arises, and if need be, sacrifice an eye and a hand to preserve our eternal inheritance. St. Paul echoes this in his letter to the Corinthians: “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10).

The sacrament of Matrimony is always fortified during the celebration of the Holy Mass. Husbands and wives strengthen their marital bond every time they welcome the Author of their union into their hearts in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. They are purifying their marriage in the Holy Mass, thus providing Him with a clean chamber, worthy of His pure nature. Every time they receive Him, they are assured that nothing impure can ever take up residence in their hearts and home. This is an important lesson that we can all teach our children about the sanctity of marriage and counter the evil of adultery.

Thank You, Jesus, for Your lessons in fidelity and chastity, and for Your grace that helps preserve our marriage. Keep us strong against the temptation of adultery, as we pray for all marriages to prevail against the evil of divorce. Amen.

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