The Sermon on the Mount and Going Beyond the Law

The Sermon on the Mount is very much a Jewish style collection and there are some parallels between Jesus’ teaching and discussions of the Law found in the Mishnah.  For example, exchanging coins for tithes (Mt. 21:12, Maaser Sheni 2:7, Sheqalim), rules for healing on the Sabbath (in Shabbat, cf. Luke 6:6-11), fasting (in Taanit, cf Mt. 6:16-18), Marriage and divorce, (Ketubot, cf Mt. 5:31-32, 1 Cor. 7), Vows (Nedarim, cf Mt. 5:33-37), etc.  Several of the “you have hear it said” topics in the Sermon seem very much based on the same sorts of rabbinic interests in the Mishnah.

Church of the BeatitudesThis tells us something important about Jesus’ style of teaching:  it was not unlike contemporary Jewish teachers.  But more than this, it tells us something about Matthew’s collection of Jesus’ sayings into the Sermon on the Mount.  Perhaps we can think of the discourses in the book of Matthew as a sort of proto-Mishnah, with a focus on only one teacher, Jesus.

In Matthew 5:21-48, Jesus discusses elements of the Law.  Did Jesus come to abolish the Law?  Rather than abolishing the Law, Jesus seems to be re-interpreting it in a somewhat radical manner.   The first three of these examples seem to re-interpret and intensify the law, while the second three seem to interpret the Law which may make the command “lighter.”  Jesus “goes beyond the Law” by returning to the heart of the Law.

In the first two cases, murder and adultery, Jesus takes the command of scripture and emphasizes the emotion underlying the sin.  For murder, the real problem is anger and hatred.  For adultery, the real problem is lust.  Jesus says that one cannot claim to keep the commandments if they have been angry with their brother or lusted in their hearts.  Other Jewish literature recognizes this as well.  Sirach 9:1-9, for example, encourages the one who Fears the Lord to be careful what they look at in order to avoid adultery.  Similar to Jesus, the wise person in Sirach 9 avoids the mental process which leads to lust in order to avoid lust.

Here is an example of this quasi-rabbinical application of the Law, through Jesus, to a contemporary issue.  (Another though experiment, since people like those so much!) I think most Christians are going agree with Jesus that lusting in one’s heart is sinful, and this is usually used to point out that pornography is wrong.  But what about the command to be careful about “murdering in your heart”? If a Christian says using a computer for pornography is wrong, why do we not also say using a computer for violence is wrong?  Playing a violent video game is in fact “murdering in your heart” and ought to be seen as just as great a danger as viewing porn on a computer. Again, Christians agree watching a pornographic movie is sin, but then watch extremely violent movies.  That Jesus chose to pair violence and sex in his teaching should be a powerful warning to modern Christians who filter one, but not the other.

Is this a fair application of the principles of the Sermon on the Mount?  Why do Christians (rightly) condemn sexual content in entertainment, but not violence?

39 thoughts on “The Sermon on the Mount and Going Beyond the Law

  1. Yes, indeed Jesus was saying, that HE was Himself that “radical” manner, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” (Matt. 5: 11)

    “For I say to you…” (Matt. 5: 20) ; “But I say to you..” (verse 22) … etc. (34, 39, 44).

  2. What do you think of Glen Stassen’s “transforming initiatives” of the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings of Jesus? A main goal in Kingdom Ethics (IVP, 2009) at least is to get Christians beyond the dualistic “high ideals” interpretation of the Sermon.

    There is also the Dallas Willard version of the Sermon in the Divine Conspiracy, kind of a “this is how the world is meant to be” interpretation. This one sort of gels with Hauerwas’ Gifford Lectures, the idea that Christians live ‘with the grain of the universe’.

    Just interested in what you think of these contemporary interpretations, as they influence how I teach Ethics.

    • I think that all of these writers (and William Webb, I. H. Marshall) are all talking about the same issue, which sometimes gets grouped under the heading “beyond the Bible.” I like what Stassen and Gushee do, although it seems to me that they did not end up very far from a classic Virtue Ethics position, just using the Beatitudes instead of Aristotle. (Correct me if I am wrong there, but it has been a long time since I read that book!)

      What everyone wants is a way to apply the clear ethical teaching of the Bible to the new modern world in which we live. So someone living in A.D. 1250 wants to know how to apply the ethics of the Bible to living a s a medieval serf or Feudal lord; someone living int he 19th century might wonder about applying the Bible to the industrial revolution (child labor laws, slavery, etc.) We have other questions which are not directly answered by specific verses in the Bible, simply because the period of time in which the Bible was written knew nothing of stem-cell research or pre-natal testing for potential genetic disease. Because we have this technology now, we need to bring the ethical interests of the Bible to bear on a new issue.

      What Jesus is doing in the Sermon on the Mount might very well be a model, Paul certainly does the same sorts of things in his letters. Drawing on the previous revelation from God (Law), principles are established which can be re-applied to a new situation (in history, culture, time). Is there a trajectory between the OT and the NT? How are things developing over salvation history as we know it? Webb’s famous example is slavery – the trend is toward emancipation of slaves.

      The trouble is taking a modern ethical stand and sort of back-filling the story in order to get to that result. We want to approve of a certain behavior, so we look backwards in salvation history to try and prove our behavior is permitted. The proper method (IMHO) is to work forward from the older revelation through the newest and observe trends, trajectories, etc.

  3. Jesus says that the root of the problem with adultery is lust and the root of the problem with murder is hatred/anger. Of course it is wrong to watch tv/movies with porn in them or play video games with porn in them (or even just sexual content) because that act leads to lust. On the other hand, in most cases, playing a violent video game or watching a violent movie or show does not have the root cause of being angry or having hatred. I don’t believe that in most cases someone that is watching a violent movie, say about a war, is thinking to themselves how much they hate people and are overwhelmingly angry that they could kill someone themselves. That being said, I do believe that it depends on the maturity of the person watching, obviously it has been proven that violence can affect young kids in very negative ways. Although violence in media can be taken too far, I do not believe that Jesus’ teaching that murder is wrong because of the hatred it involves can be the sole reason why some say that playing a violent video game or watching a movie about a war is wrong.

  4. There are two interesting concepts to note when discussing this topic. The first, is to recognize that Jesus did deliver truth in a contemporary manner. “This tells us something important about Jesus’ style of teaching: it was not unlike contemporary Jewish teachers.” This gives some understanding, I believe to the statement christians make, “Be in the world, not of the world.” Recognizing that it is acceptable to appeal to culture and to keep relevancy in the forefront of your ministry. The second, is to realize that Jesus was trying to get back to the “heart of the law.” He answers the “why?” questions. He does this extremely well, I believe, in the Sermon on the Mount. Now, how do we reconcile Jesus’ link to adultery and lust and His links to murder and hatred? I believe that anything pornographic or inappropriate will immediately lead to lust in one’s heart whereas watching violence, for most, does not lead to hatred or even violent behavior. Though it is somewhat of a grey area.

    • As a combat veteran (RMC, Brit) of several wars and engagements, I can tell you that indeed some violence in movies, does go over the top! I simply don’t enjoy these kinds of movies now! And one never knows what is gonna touch PTSD these days!

  5. I believe that this post brings to the forefront of the mind something very controversial in our culture today, even when dealing with Christians. I would hope that most Christians would agree that pornography is wrong, although many still struggle with this sin. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus relates sin through physical actions to sin within the mind and heart. He brings to the surface the real issue of where the heart is rather than what exactly the action itself is. If I have hatred for another person, I am not loving them or thinking of them in the way that God does. Even if I do not commit murder or think about committing murder, I am still sinning in the way I am choosing to think about them, and my thoughts about them are ultimately going to surface in the way that I treat them. Thus, God detests that sin just as much as he would if I were to commit murder. Similarly, if someone is having lustful thoughts about another, they have committed adultery with them in their heart. Obviously their heart and mind are not in the right place. If they feel the need to have lustful thoughts, as a married or unmarried person, that is a result of not being satisfied. A married individual should be content and satisfied with his own spouse and a single individual should be content with the place in which God has him and should not disrespect another individual by thinking lustfully about them. When it comes to violence, why do we as Christians and as a culture in general dismiss the playing of violent video games or watching of violent movies for entertainment? I am not condemning this train of thought as I tend to think this way myself. I agree with the individuals above who mentioned that the watching of violent movies or playing of violent games does not necessarily lead to violent acts. I am not a violent person by any means, yet am a huge fan of bloody movies. When I think about where my heart is, I do not see anything sinful about watching these types of movies. I am still curious though as to why we as a culture are so entertained by watching violence. I think back in Roman history when crowds would watch people fight to the death in the Colosseum for entertainment or would put people in the arena to fight wild beasts. It disgusts us that people would get entertainment out of these types of things, yet we were similarly entertained by these types of movies and video games (ie: The Hunger Games or Call of Duty). I believe that a big factor playing a part in this is that the video games and movies are not reality but are merely created stories for entertainment whereas the fights in the Colosseum were real life murders that were viewed solely for the purpose of entertainment. While the heart does not have to be in a wrong place necessarily when viewing violent movies or playing bloody video games, the producers of the movies and games know that they will be a hit since our culture is attracted to those types of things. Why are we attracted to those types of movies and what is it about those movies that entertains us or makes us want more? Are we using those movies or video games as some type of release of emotions or anger? Are we letting those consume our minds and take the place of things that should be more valuable such as spending time in the Word? I believe that the root of this issue is much deeper and there are many factors to be considered before attempting to answer this difficult question. Heart and motives are key in my mind. If a Christian has no conviction about watching violent movies, then I believe he can continue to do so while still being sensitive to those who think otherwise. I believe that our prayer and desire should be like that of David when he writes Psalm 51 saying, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” If we as Christians prayerfully seek that the Lord would create a pure heart within us, then we can make our decisions in light of that.

  6. I agree with Maggie. I would hope that all Christians would believe that pornography is wrong, as well as violence. But when it comes to playing video games that has a lot of violence in them, I think it all depends on where the heart is. I would assume that if someone was struggling with pornography, it would be a daily struggle that they carry on their hearts. They would hopefully know that something like that, they would need to work on preventing that kind of feeling or that they know that their knowledge of that, and addiction, has been taking their focus off of the Lord. In video games, the violence could be an issue, unless your heart is in the right place. If you are playing a violent video game or watching a violent movie, or even seeing what is happening on the news about different events that goes on in our world, like the war, I think it all depends on where your hear is at. If you are so focused on pornography or violent video games and that is all you focus on and all you do every day, then where are you growing with your relationship with the Lord? Pornography is more of an addiction for most people then violent video games would be.

  7. We live in an evil and sinful world and age, and even the Christian man or person still battles, ‘the world, the flesh and the devil’. Thankfully ‘in Christ’ we are victors, but only as in the New Nature, and we still have our old man or nature, see Romans 7:13-25. But, violence can also also be an addiction! Also sexual desire simply must be expressed in marriage and with love, St. Paul takes some very hard ground on these issues in 1 Cor. 6 & 7!

  8. I think a big problem is our culture, and it’s values. We should allow the Bible to define our beliefs and the way we fit into culture, view culture and form our own culture in our church. Rather we allow our Culture to define our values and those values define the way we view the Bible, our world view and our church community. Reading what I do in the Gospels, I read about a Jesus who is peaceful, who speaks of not hating our enemies, but loving them. I read Jesus saying to his disciples to turn the other cheek, and telling them to be like the Good Samaritan. I read of a Jesus that stands up and stops a convicted woman of being stoned. I read of a Jesus who tells us to give to those who ask when they ask. And yet our American Christianity seems to be very pro-war. If you don’t support war, you run the risk of being accused of not supporting our troops. We preach about loving our enemies, but I can remember reading very very disturbing facebook statuses from fellow Christians on the night that Osama Bin Laden’s death was announced. I remember reading a status where the writer stated they wish they were the lucky son of a “gun” who got to pull the trigger. Jesus tries to stop a stoning, but most Christians in America strongly support the death penalty. We weep for the soldiers who die on our side, but care nothing about those who fall for the other. Jesus tells us to help the poor and to give to those who ask, but we have a million excuses why we should pass the homeless by as we work to work. “They are only going to use it for drugs and booze.”

    It seems apparent in Jesus’ teachings that he is very concerned with the heart behind the actions we commit. He goes to the heart of that with his talk on lust and anger being a sin in itself rather that just the acting out on it. Protecting your heart from lust or anger is hard enough. But we cannot begin to follow the words and teachings of Jesus when we simply shape and distort them to fit into our own cozy belief system.

  9. I really enjoy what Mitch has to say about it being our world view that gets in the way of our morals and how we view the whole “lust vs. violence” issue (which in all honesty is not an issue in our American culture). I personally have never viewed video games (Call Of Duty, Halo, Fallout ect…) as committing murder in our hearts, such as how viewing pornography is lusting in our hearts. My excuse is, we have it put into our Christian minds that viewing any sort of pornography is bad and terrible and we can back it with scripture. However, we have nothing that specifies something about video games and such. however, yes, I could agree with the fact that it could be considered committing murder in our hearts. But our society does not view video games as such.

  10. I think people get caught up in having a “christian worldview” and ignore the Biblical worldview. This is a passage that is taught very often, and just about every Christian knows what the Sermon on the Mount is, and they will try to live by the guidelines and rules of this. Passage in Matthew, P Long asked the question about pornography and getting rid of the computer if it makes you stumble; and I think this is where I agree with Mitch and really like what he had to say about our worldview getting in the way. I think as a Christian we should eliminate such temptations and live according the bible. According to this passage and not be afraid to get rid of worldly things that get in our way of a relationship with God.

  11. Funny thing, I just had a conversation about Jesus not coming to abolish the law tonight at a party with some folks that go to Phoenix Seminary. I asked Matt McFadden how he would respond to this post in defense of violent video games, not that he can be categorized in a group of people that play violent video games, but he said “I think when people are watching pornography they are in the mindset of wishing to be that person whereas while playing video games you aren’t wishing to be that person or be killing in real life”. I think he has a good point. However, I would say that it doesn’t matter if you want to be that person or not, I think that in pretending to kill someone, whether you want to be that person killing or not, you are in that same state of mind of killing someone. Which is the anger in your heart that Jesus is probably talking about. I did take the pairing of sex and violence in the sermon as a serious warning, as all should. Christians should not condemn sexual content if they play video games as long as they are trying to comply to the teachings of Jesus in the sermon on the mount.

    • I just realized you quoted Matt McFadden here. It is entirely possible that someone playing a violent video game does in fact identify with the game character, but there less of a chance that he will get to act on those violent feelings in real life. Sexual activity is more socially acceptable than extreme violence!

  12. I agree with Mitch that there is a big problem with our culture is our values. Luke 12:24 says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I agree with a lot of other Christians that pornography is wrong. I like that P. Long mentioned above that Jesus says that anger and hatred lead to murder and lust leads to adultery. I think that playing a violent video game should be condemned just the same way people do for sexual content in entertainment. I babysit a boy who loves to play video games. He can get consumed in killing and hurting people just to win a game. It is hard to try and get him to do something other than playing violent video games. I think that what we watch and what games we play affect us. It might not seem like it at first but we get used to seeing violence on tv and video games and I think that it can be a big problem. Even though people might know that video games and movies are not reality the truth is that for some people they do not know the difference. When it comes to this issue Christians need to look at their own hearts and need to evaluate what kind of example they want to set. Do you value a video game with violence in it rather than spending time in God’s word or doing something more effective for your family? I think that people condemn sexual content more because people see the immediate effect that it has on other but violence can have an effect on people as well.

  13. I’m 100% in agreement that Christians need to do a better job with violence in general not just in video games. Lets look at media as a whole: Tv, movies, music, there is high amounts of violence in all of it and we don’t have a problem with it most of the time. I read a statistic the other day that said by the time an American child has reached kindergarten they have witnessed 8,000 deaths through visual media. I find that disgusting. I truly believe that we ought to stop tolerating violence in the way we do and stop exposing ourselves to it. We’ve grown so dull to the way I think we ought to feel when seeing so much death and murder. Especially in video games when we are the ones doing the killing, “Murder in our hearts.”

  14. Violence is something that is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world. It seems like every time the news comes on, it states something violent that has occurred recently. As Christians, it is becoming more normal to see the violence of the world and to just sit back and watch. This shouldn’t be the case. When pornography is brought up, Christians condemn this right away, but when violence is brought up, nothing seems to happen. I don’t think that people understand that violent video games can be a part of this. Since it is a virtual world and nothing is real, I think that this is their justification for playing the violent games, when in reality, it shouldn’t be the case. Murder (hatred/anger) and adultery (lust) are both sins of the mind, sins that are harder for the bystanders to actually see. Jesus puts an emphasis on both of them and they are placed side by side to show that.

  15. I may be against the majority when I say that I believe this is a fair application of the sermon of the mount. I am basing this off of the fact that just as the root of adultery is lust, the root of murder is anger. If Christians have a problem with anger, they may watch a movie full of violence, whether it’s based off of a true story or fictional, that brings up an emotion of hate within them. To hate, or even to be angry, is the same as murder according to Jesus’ teachings. I believe that pornography is seen as being a much more private sin, bringing on embarrassment to the people outside of the situation who know. Violence is something that has been celebrated and has been a means to reach victory. Murder may be a sin, but it is much more public. Another thought, is that in Mark 11 Jesus was angered, but it was a righteous anger. There is no record of Jesus lusting, or showing the people that there is a righteous way to lust. I come to my conclusion that if a violent movie causes a person to stumble in their faith, they should avoid it, just as they would avoid a movie with pornography. As James 2:10 states, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all”.

    • Mary, I agree with your point of view being that the underlying sin regarding murder and adultery is anger and lust. A lot of people miss the fact that the cause of an action such as murder had a motivation which would be anger. It is difficult to keep ourselves in check because when we were given the Ten Commandments, they seemed little but in this case murder and adultery stem from anger and lust and because of sin everyone struggles with this very often. It really puts what we do into perspective because our main goal in life is to obey and honor God with our actions and these two specifically are very hard to obey. Because we are fallen our instinct is to sin and fulfill the desires of the flesh. In conclusion, I appreciated the reference and Bible verse you used to conclude your view point because it hits the nail on the head. Jesus was angry for the right reasons because people were using His sacred house of worship; the house of the Lord as a market. rightly so He was angered and put a stop to it. However, He didn’t continue to promote murder or any other type of sin. That specifically is very important. Having the right motivations and a “righteous anger” about you is reflecting God in this case because you are seeking to obey Him and His laws which go way beyond the service.

  16. Jesus came to abolish the Law. He came to show a new law, a new life style, and a new meaning of life. Jesus came to display the importance of understanding the truth about sin and what a life looks like and means when you turn away from a lifestyle of sin. A sin that us humans seem to put above other sins and claim they are the “worse sins” are murder and adultery. But as humans we tend to judge sin, we in reality that not our place to do. In God’s eyes all sin, is exactly the same and not one sin is worse or more severe than another. In the article, it talked about the difference between porn and murdering in your heart and how Christians seem to view one higher than the other. Evil is in the world and all humans are going to face evil sometime in their life and have to figure out how to overcome the evil that they face, and determine whether they will overcome the evil with Jesus or without Him. Video games contains violence and many people do not think video games are a big deal and have no affect on an individual, whereas some people see the evil that video games can bring upon on an individual. Jesus tougher violence and sex together, so that we would not compare one another to each other. They both create such division in our hearts and minds, but they bring their different outcomes to the individuals. As believers we should keep each other in line and also understand that we are there for each other and no matter what, we are there to uplift each other and seek God together.

  17. This article brings up two main problems that occur in today’s society. Jesus came to this world to show us how we are to be living and create guidelines for us to follow that will help us to be on the path created for us. Pornography and violent video games are two things that many people become addicted too. I believe that what we put into our minds causes us to change the way we look at things. For example if someone is consumed in playing violent video game they may feel the need to be violent towards others and act out in a violent way. If someone is consuming their minds with porn and sex than that is what they will want to be surrounded by. I think that these two problems are associated with each other because no sin is greater than the other.

  18. The Sermon on the Mount is an amazing teaching and it gives us a greater picture of what Jesus expects Christians to live like. While the Law may have been very strict and confusing, Jesus broadens our way of thinking of ethics. “The sermon still makes many Christians nervous” (McKnight, 7). This is because of the way that people will argue and try to change Jesus’s words. The issue of adultery is widely viewed as by Christians as a sin, because of the fact that viewing sexual content causes a man to look lustfully at a woman (or vice versa). Violent content in movies and video games is not viewed in the same light as sexual content because they are very different. Violent content in movies and video games does not cause anger and hatred, while sexual content does cause lust. If you feel anger and hatred while watching or playing violent content, I would argue that you should stay away from violent content. However, if you do not feel anger or hatred, then you are able to view or play violent content without sinning. It becomes an issue of your heart and it is a decision that each individual Christian must make for themselves.

    • What would you say to those who say pornography does not cause them to look lustfully at a women? Is the issue with pornography solely that the viewer is sinning? What about the actors/actresses/producers/etc that are involved? My point is there seems to be a difference in simulating violence and simulating sex. When violence is simulated, are the people involved sinning or is it just the viewer? and vice versa. When a viewer sees violence and feels hatred or anger does the simulation become wrong? or like you say is it an issue of each individuals heart?

  19. Just as I talked about a bit in the previous post that draws parallels between Moses and Jesus, I think that Jesus does take a very radical approach in getting the law to sink in with people. Jesus addresses that we can outwardly follow the law but if we are not following it in our hearts, then it is pointless. In regards to the idea that Christians condemn watching porn on a computer screen but are perfectly okay with watching violent movies is a bit of a double standard. The original issue with the Israelites after they received the law from Moses is that they were still bending the law and doing what they wanted to but felt like they were still following it close enough or good enough. I mean, if we get down to the point, we are essentially doing that as well. Speaking on our culture, I think that we are extremely quick to condemn something like pornography because culturally people are more in an uproar about it. When it comes to violent movies, it does not seem that people are all that upset about violent movies. I think the difference here is that something like viewing sexual content is something that is specifically marketed for people to feel a certain way. A violent movie however is not necessarily telling someone that they need to go buy a weapon and hurt someone. Pornography on the other hand does create many false and unhealthy ideas that will cause people to stumble. I think it comes down to your heart and what you struggle with. It does not seem often that violent movies insight anger or are not marketed for that purpose. regardless, whether society condemns viewing sexual content but its okay with viewing violent content, I’m sure that Jesus intended us to stay away from both. Why we condemn one sin but bend the rules of the other is hard to understand and will never be justified. In Romans 14 it addresses this with the week and the strong argument. It also comes down to your intent with the violent movie. There are movies like Hacksaw ridge that are edifying to God because it is a war movie about a real Christian man who keeps his faith and saves other men who are in danger. Pornography however has no intent what so ever on edifying God.

  20. Similar to the blog post Sermon on the Mount and Christian Ethics this post speaks about how Jesus put the laws into simple terms meant for the future. Although Jesus referred to violence and sexual content together they are still different sins and should be treated differently. Violence comes with the emotion of anger. But violent video games are often played without this intent. These video games are played often with guns and the name of the game is who has the better shot (I understand their are other video games out there, this is just one example). When the name of the game is skill the emotion behind it is not anger. But viewing sexual content brings forward multiple emotions. Viewing this cannot be for another reason other than ones own pleasure and is therefore always a serious sin.

  21. In all reality, most Christians today seem to care way more about sexual content in movies that are on screen than violence. If we look at the past two years with two blockbuster movies, 50 Shades of Grey, and the other movie being Deadpool more Christians seemed to be more upset with the fact that 50 shades was a movie that basically depicted an “adult movie” while Deadpool was full of violence and mature content. I would say that more and more of people today are craving violence in movies and entertainment, because violence is one of those things that are in our everyday lives for entertainment. However, when we throw in sexual content, we immediately turn our heads. Violence doesn’t ultimately bring us to turn violent, while sexual content will cause us to lust. Just like in this article “For Murder the real problem is anger and hatred. For adultery, the real problem is lust” For many of us these two things are what we struggle with the most. I like to think that if Jesus were sitting in front of all of us today, and sat us all down and preached the Sermon on The Mount, we would all feel very pressured in that fact that we are all struggling with these “sins”. However, this “issue” all boils down to a heart issue. I agree that many Christians can be around “violence” and not be “violent” and I believe that in some cases Christians can be around sexual content and not be consumed by that either. However, that can be a slippery slope I am not saying that we are able to be around “pornographic” videos or anything. Some Christians are just stronger in these areas than others. Like I had stated above, it’s a heart Issue. Violence is more of a person to person action, sexual content is something that God has made for Man and Woman to enjoy after marriage. It is meant to be “special” and serves a purpose

  22. I found it very thought provoking to realize that the underlying sin of anger is what Jesus was ultimately focusing on in Matthew 5. That truly brings the message of His sermon home. It is so easy to read “Murder” as the heading of Matt 5:21-26 and feel that clearly does not apply to myself. But to realize that anger, as the underlying issue, is an emotion that does affect everyone is humbling. McKnight says that “Jesus shows that reconciliation with a ‘brother or sister’ trumps even the sacredness of offering a sacrificial gift in the temple” (79). As you stated in the blog, we cannot keep the commandments if we have anger in our hearts. McKnight also states that “the prohibition of murder is the surface expression of a deeper divine intent: God’s people aren’t to be angry at one another” (76). It can be so easy to let anger just sit and stew. To understand that this emotion has the power to be so destructive that Jesus attributes it to the cause of murder is a call to believers to reconcile and forgive quickly.
    When it comes to the question of violence in the media today, I absolutely agree it should be a warning to Christians. Unfortunately, all of society has become so desensitized to both aspects that it can be easy to excuse. It could be argued that it is just not practical or realistic to avoid violence in entertainment anymore. I think one could also argue that it does not cause feelings to be acted upon in the same way pornography may. Yet, I would say that anger can grow if you are constantly feeding yourself images that are not only violent but detrimental to your emotional state. I even think of our current news cycle. While not always related to violence, the idea of anger sure seems to fit in this same context. I find that the more yelling or accusing I hear, the more cynical I can become. What goes into your mind eventually is going to come out. If we are looking at Jesus’s command to not be angry, perhaps we need to acknowledge that anger can come from things that we may view as innocent. While it is true that it can be extremely hard, as McKnight reminds us “Jesus wants his followers to be different when it comes to anger and murder” (82).

  23. I believe society today has normalized seeing violence on a daily basis. Whether it is in a movie, on the news, or in shooting games. We live in a sinful world and at times it is impossible to escape seeing violence. Sexual Content can be, at times, easier to avoid. Like mentioned in the article most pornography is watched on computer or electronics which requires the person to look it up. It is easy to condemn if a person is going out of their way to watch that. The same thing applies to movies, most movies and TV shows are clear about what the show is about. It is the responsibility of the Christian to make the right decision and not watch it. If it is watched, then the emotion of lust is experienced and the person is sinning. With all of that being said, I believe that Christians condemn sexual content more being at times it is easier to avoid. Violence, on the other hand, is everywhere. That does not meant that it is any more acceptable because in the end they are both a sin, but it may be more difficult to avoid violence.

  24. I think that the main reason why Christians have a hard time convicting violent like sin versus sexual sin is the standard we put on certain sins. The Christian community today has, in a way, implemented a hierarchy of sins, there are some sins that we think are the worst and then some sins we think are not so bad. This idea dictates how hard we convict some sins verses others, we also asses risk, watching porn may likely lead directly to other sins of lust, where watching a violent movie may not lead someone to go out and immediately be violent, however in some cases it may. In our human eyes some sins are just messier and more vile than others which makes it easy for us to sweep some other less “disturbing” sins under the rug. This is a mistake made way too often and can create broken relationships and anger. Focusing too much on certain sins versus others can cause a lot of shame and guilt, when that is not our goal as Christians, viewing all sin equally helps level the playing field. It admits that we are ALL sinners and we can ALL be saved no matter how vile the sin. We need to recognize that ALL sin is bad, but more so focus on the fact that, because of Jesus’s sacrifice, we are washed clean!

  25. The command of “murdering in your heart” is an interesting one to take a look at because it can be perceived in many different ways. The main way that I would look at it is if we are attacking or going after anyone in our heads. We could not commit a crime because we know that it is wrong, but still think about it. The comparison to pornographic material and violent video games is a complicated one. The reason that I saw it is so complicated is because there are many types of violent video games. Does it count as violent if every player is an animal and we are killing each other, or what if we are transformers? This brings up the idea of is it bad only if it is humans killing humans within a game. I myself have played star wars games that are violent, but I only ever kill creatures that are not real. My parents never allowed me to play violent games as a kid for this exact reason, but I can see the argument that there is not actually anyone getting hurt.

  26. We as a society have become so normalized with violence in so many ways such as movies, video games, or the news. This can lead us as people into sin and it is basically impossible to escape the sin of violence that is always around us. We as Christians however have created a tiered system of different sins that all have a different level to them. Such as a murder would be a terrible sin but watching pornography could be a slap on the wrist. Some people may say that watching pornography could be a top tiered sin because it can lead to more sin such as lust, whereas someone that is just thinking of violence or murder but will not actually commit that crime it might not be as bad. There are many different ways to look at sins such as violence or pornography and it all comes down to how we interpret them, although all sin is bad. But that is the beauty of have Jesus as our Savior, He has died on the cross to take our sins for us but that should not allow us to sin more. He committed that sacrifice for us and we should do everything to live like Him.

  27. I think that often Christian’s neglect to act against violence in the culture due to a slow desensitization to violence over the course of the last one hundred years. As the entertainment industry has grown rapidly, often themes of violence take center stage. I think that this results in modern Americans, Christians included, feeling that portrayals of violence are a part of the status Quo and are to be expected in the society we inhabit. There is also the reality of a necessity of violence at times in a fallen world. Most Christians would not think it to be sinful to defend their lives or the lives of those they loved, if threatened. The bible also acknowledges the realities of a righteous fight, if the cause is right, Christian must take up arms and ultimately be violent. Psalm 144: 1 is evidence that the lord will be behind a warrior in a necessary conflict, in the words “…he trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.” This is why I believe that modern Christians stand against sexual content within the entertainment sphere but seem to accept violent content. Had the role of entertainment not been so vital to the progression of society, perhaps we would stand equally opposed to both of these portrayals in media but given the culture surrounding media and the factors at hand, I think that the ideas of Christian people were progressed by the development of modern media.

  28. I think that there could be a couple of reasons as to why the two different things are thought of in two different ways. Obviously, the Bible says if you look with lust, you have committed adultery in your heart. And we most associate that with pornographic imagery. When we look at porn and such, it typically is in the lens that you are wanting that. People don’t watch it for other reasons, other than for that type of sexual “enjoyment”. When it comes to violence in movies, I would argue that people don’t watch it for the type of reason. Personally, I don’t go and watch a movie with violence to watch people get killed, or beat up, but rather for the story, and the plot. That is where the difference seems to lay, at least for me. So much of it is based on intent. If I were to watch one of those with intent to cause violence, then it would be different. It is a heart issue, and intent issue more than anything.

  29. This was one of the best blog posts to be talked about within this subject or topic of the Sermon on the Mount. We have seen so many different things going on dealing with society and the law. In the blog, Long tells us that in Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus is discussing the different elements of the Law. We then ask ourselves what is Jesus doing with the law!? Well he ends up re-interpreting it. “Jesus goes beyond the Law by returning to the heart of the law” (Long). To relate this back to the 10 commandments, it clearly states “Thou shalt not kill.” What did people do anyway? They killed. Today in society we shy away from the word of God and his goodness. There have been so many shootings and fatal deaths in Grand Rapids alone. When we refer back to our resources we notice that murder comes from somewhere. A person never wants to just go out and kill. That is the devil’s work, and there is some sort of evil spirit taking over. “Jesus takes the command of scripture and emphasizes the emotion underlying the sin” (Long). I believe that people in general are so curious with the idea of sex. They try to justify why they want it and crave it. We live in a generation where it is totally okay for people to go out and have different sexual relations with multiple people. I often hear people saying “well it’s just sex.” God has never intended for us to be with more than one partner. We not only see people in general wanting these things, but it is almost forced upon most. When we turn on television shows and movies, most of them contain some type of sexual scene. Why? Because sex sells (I learned that from a movie). Overall, Christians put more into one sin than the other. We learn that there is no sin greater than the other.

Leave a Reply