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.