Yesterday I attended the wedding of Brian and Jessica Hoch. It was not only beautiful, but also holy. Based on the sixth day of creation, Pastor Kent Hughes (grandfather of Brian) emphasized how our marriages must reflect the gracious, tender, sacrificial character of God himself. It got me thinking about what this kind of relationship looks like in practical terms. Numerous examples spring to mind, some mundane like washing dishes; others are more spiritual like Bible study and prayer. I’d like to highlight one that is occasionally mentioned, but is always crucial. It is the need to look carefully.
John Chrysostom (c. 349 – 407), Archbishop of Constantinople and renowned preacher, counseled those who struggle with the mental sin of lust. In his Homilies on Matthew’s Gospel, he encourages the right use of the eyes and warns the wayward. He writes:
“Rather, if you desire to look and find pleasure, look at your own wife, and love her continually; no law forbids that. But if you are to be curious about the beauties that belong to another, you are injuring both your wife by letting your eyes wander elsewhere, and her on whom you have looked, by touching her unlawfully. Since, although you have not touched her with the hand, yet thou hast caressed her with your eyes; for which cause this also is accounted adultery . . .1”
Isn’t it incredible how some things never change? In a world teaming with erotic images, Chrysostom’s advice is for us today. For we who earnestly desire to glorify God there is good news: we need not necessarily compose great theological tomes, or preach in packed halls, we can simply resolve to serve God with our eyes and in doing so we will not only honor our spouses, we will also bring much glory to our Father in heaven.
1 John Chrysostom, Chrysostom’s Homilies on St. Matthew Part One (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1843), 256. In other translations see Homily 17 on Matthew 5:27.
Wow! I read on in Chrysostom’s homily. What great insight into the human psyche he has. “. . . all within him is filled with confusion and trouble, and great is the tempest, and the distress is severe, and there is no man afflicted with this state of mind that is better off than prisoners or captives.” How could he have written such insights over a millenia before Freud?
He goes on to say: “And she who shoots the dart often flies away, while the wound even so remains. Or rather, it is not she who shot the dart, but you gave yourself the fatal wound, by a licentious look.” I hear echoes of 1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against is own body.”
Thank you for the powerful exhortation to radical faithfulness to our vows.
Thanks Patrick! I suppose it was for a good reason that that the early church called him “golden mouth.” By the way, if my recollection of you on the golf course serves me correct, I move that we call you “golden putt.” No doubt the boys at St. Andrews have already thought of this. Cheers!
Comments are closed.