"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." - Matthew 5:27-28
In a 1976 interview with Playboy magazine, a former U.S. president admitted that he had "looked on a lot of women with lust" and had "committed adultery in my heart." A more recent president was an adulterer (and not just with his heart) while the current president is not only a renowned philanderer, he has been caught on tape admitting to sexual assault.
The verse above has led some Christians to suggest that all three presidents are equal adulterers in the eyes of Jesus. Sin is sin, they say, and all have fallen short of the glory of God. Others see that as a repugnant, acrobatic act of moral relativism designed to excuse the inexcusable.
Of course, both views are correct. And neither goes far enough. We commit adultery against God every time we lust after more for ourselves at the expense of others, living as though "my will be done." The result of our adultery show up in everything from surging income inequality to environmental depredation.
The good news is God is the Commander in Chief of forgiveness. God's grace isn't dependent on admission of guilt, but regular confession just might keep us from becoming repeat offenders.
God, our lust problem is way bigger than we might have guessed. Fortunately, you are too. Amen.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first book, The Spinner Prince, will be available March 9, 2018.