You say the word “sex” and everyone’s ears perk up. That word, that three letter word with four letter word implications (I’m speaking of “love” not the other four letter word) creates, either much joy, or much difficulty. Jesus beautifully “levels the playing field” in his teaching about sex and divorce. Jesus is most definitely calling us ALL to a higher moral ground.
When EITHER the husband or the wife look at another person with lust, the sin of adultery occurs. Jesus makes it clear we don’t HAVE a body, we ARE a body. In the former expression, “having” a body means it is something we possess and can do with whatever we wish. After all, at death, we “shed” our bodies and are pure spirit.
This way of thinking, at times, is fortified by the practice of cremation, when we say things like, “What difference does it make after we die, our bodies decay.” Or, “We are finally freed from our bodies and our spirits can live in freedom from the prison of our bodies.” This just isn’t the teaching of Jesus who made it clear our “bodies united with souls” will rise from the dead. That’s what happened to him that first Easter Sunday. And it’s truly our own destiny.
In our strange culture, we either idolize our bodies at the expense of our souls (excessive exercise or plastic surgery to look young) or we care little for our bodies and focus solely on our spirits (constantly overeating or under eating, eating unhealthy foods in abundance, not exercising) The painful reality of numerous eating disorders visibly shows how the suffering of the heart or spirit directly affects the health of our bodies.
We ARE embodied souls in which the material and spiritual are deeply connected. Death separates but for a moment in time. We are destined to live forever, souls and transformed bodies, united in such a way that we respect each other, cherish each other, and would never think of objectifying the other for our own gratification. God created BOTH our souls and our bodies and our identities are rooted in body/soul integration. Segregating the body from the soul is at the root of so many of our problems, including our horrible disrespect for Creation/Earth...the material world, from which our bodies come.
Jesus makes it abundantly clear the woman’s body can never be discarded in lust, nor is it unequal to the man’s body. Furthermore, this equality finds expression in his teaching on divorce, in which NEITHER husband nor wife can divorce. BOTH are called to the same ideal. At the time of Jesus, men had the upper hand in marital discord and could just eliminate her, with the woman having no recourse. Jesus decimates this blatant sexism. And so should we.