I was reading the Bible in Matthew chapter 5 verse 27 where it talks about marriage. Verse 28 says that if someone (presumably a guy) looks at another woman and wants her or desires her, that that guy, since it mentions wanting a woman, has already been unfaithful in his thoughts. The first question I have is if this verse applies only to a person who is in marriage or to a guy who is single or in a relationship other than marriage as well? My second question is can this verse also apply to a woman who may desire a man and does she need to be in marriage for her to be guilty of this sin? My third question is if this verse is just talking about adultery, which consist of having sex, or simply just wanting to be with another person?
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
I am told by some who are supposed to know the original Greek that the word “lust” in verse 28 is more than just looking at a woman and saying, “It might be nice to have sex with her.” What I am told is that it means such a strong desire that it is followed through with action. Thus Jesus is saying that if anyone so strongly desires a woman that he acts on that desire, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
When put that way, I read the passage as saying that the thought is parent to the action. That is, Jesus is saying that if the person did not have the thoughts about adultery first, he could not have acted on the thoughts. What he is advocating is not so much control of one’s actions, but of one’s thoughts. In a society that put a lot of emphasis on doing the right thing regardless of motivation, this was a new concept. (It shouldn’t have been. It was the idea behind the Law of Moses all along, but they had corrupted it.)
That should answer your third question. Your first two questions (does this apply only to married people, and does this apply only to men) can be answered by looking at the whole context. Just before this he talks about murder having been preceded by hate. He goes on to talk about breaking promises, revenge, and love. The entire context of what he is saying is that any sin (including adultery, and including any sex outside of marriage) can be avoided by right thinking. Therefore, the principle he is teaching applies to men and women, married and unmarried. Anyone who commits a sin must look first at their thinking in order to avoid sinning.