Matt. 5:27-30 (Part 2)

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: [Addressed to pagans:] And of what kind, on the other hand, are your other images? Diminutive Pans, and naked girls, and drunken Satyrs, and phallic tokens, painted naked in pictures disgraceful for filthiness. And more than this: you are not ashamed in the eyes of all to look at representations of all forms of licentiousness which are portrayed in public places, but set them up and guard them with scrupulous care, consecrating these pillars of shamelessness at home, as if, indeed, they were the images of your gods. . . . Not only the use of these, but the sight of them, and the very hearing of them, we denounce as deserving the doom of oblivion. Your ears are debauched, your eyes commit fornication, your looks commit adultery before you embrace. Exhortation to the Heathen, 2.189.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “Do not lust, for by lust alone you have committed adultery.” How much better, therefore, is it for men from the beginning not to wish to desire things forbidden, than to obtain their desires! Exhortation to the Heathen, 2.202.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Much more must we keep pure from shameful deeds: on the one hand, from exhibiting and exposing parts of the body which we ought not; and on the other, from beholding what is forbidden. The Instructor, 2.251.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Men, therefore, affording to women a noble example of truth, ought to be ashamed at their stripping before them, and guard against these dangerous sights; “for he who has looked curiously,” it is said, “has sinned already.” At home, therefore, they ought to regard with modesty parents and domestics. The Instructor, 2.279.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Above all, it seems right that we turn away from the sight of women. For it is sin not only to touch, but to look; and he who is rightly trained must especially avoid them. “Let your eyes look straight, and your eyelids wink right.” For while it is possible for one who looks to remain stedfast; yet care must be taken against falling. For it is possible for one who looks to slip; but it is impossible for one who does not look to lust. For it is not enough for the chaste to be pure; but they must give all diligence, to be beyond the range of criticism, shutting out all ground of suspicion, in order to the consummation of chastity; so that we may not only be faithful, but appear worthy of trust. For this is also consequently to be guarded against, as the apostle says, “that no man should blame us; providing things honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” “But turn away your eyes from a graceful woman, and contemplate not another’s beauty,” says the Scripture. And if you require the reason, it will further tell you, “For by the beauty of woman many have gone astray, and at it affection blazes up like fire;” the affection which arises from the fire which we call love, leading to the fire which will never cease in consequence of sin. The Instructor, 2.291.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The Christian, therefore, will abstain from errors in speech, and thought, and sensation, and action, having heard “that he that looks so as to lust has committed adultery.” The Stromata, 2.359.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “And he that looks so as to lust” is judged. Therefore it is said, “You shall not lust.” The Stromata, 2.361.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: He who wishes to commit adultery is an adulterer, although he does not succeed in committing adultery. The Stromata, 2.424.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The Lord has said: “But I say unto you, you shall not lust.” How then can he live according to God's will who surrenders himself to every desire? On Marriage.

TERTULLIAN: The Christian husband has nothing to do with any but his own wife. Democritus, in putting out his eyes, because he could not look on women without lusting after them, and was pained if his passion was not satisfied, owns plainly, by the punishment he inflicts, his lack of self-restraint. But a Christian with grace-healed eyes is sightless in this matter; he is mentally blind against the assaults of passion. The Apology, 3.51.

TERTULLIAN: He defines adultery to consist even in lust, “if one shall have cast an eye lustfully on,” and stirred his soul with immodest commotion. On Idolatry, 3.62

TERTULLIAN: We were not given eyes to lust, and the tongue for speaking evil, and ears to be the receptacle of evil speech, and the throat to serve the vice of gluttony, and the belly to be gluttony’s ally, and the genitals for unchaste excesses, and hands for deeds of violence, and the feet for an erring life. The Shows, 3.80.

TERTULLIAN: How does the Lord demonstrate Himself as adding a superstructure to the law, except by prohibiting sins of the will as well as other sins; while He defines not only the man who had actually invaded another’s wedlock to be an adulterer, but likewise him who had contaminated a woman by the lust of his gaze? Accordingly it is dangerous enough for the mind to set before itself what it is forbidden to perform, and rashly through the will to perfect its execution. And since the power of this will is such that, even without fully satisfying its self- gratification, it stands for a deed; as a deed, therefore, it shall be punished. It is utterly vain to say, “I willed, but yet I did not do.” Rather you ought to carry the thing through, because you will; or else not to will, because you do not carry it through. But, by the confession of your consciousness, you pronounce your own condemnation. For if you eagerly desired a good thing, you would have been anxious to carry it through; in like manner, as you do not carry an evil thing through, you ought not to have eagerly desired it. Wherever you take your stand, you are fast bound by guilt; because you have either willed evil, or else have not fulfilled good. On Repentance, 3.659.

HIPPOLYTUS: For he who looks upon a woman, even though he escape the temptation, does not come away pure of all lust. And why should one have trouble, if he can be chaste and free of trouble? See what Job says: “I made a covenant with my eyes, that I should not think of another’s wife.” Thus well does he know the power of abuse. And Paul for this reason kept “under his body, and brought it into subjection.” And, figuratively speaking, he keeps a fire in his breast who permits an impure thought to dwell in his heart. And he walks upon coals who, by sinning in act, destroys his own soul. Exegetical Fragments, 5.173.

ORIGEN: The Savior said, “Whosoever shall look upon a woman to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart;” and in issuing certain other commands, conveys no other meaning than this, that it is in our own power to observe what is commanded. And therefore we are rightly rendered liable to condemnation if we transgress those commandments which we are able to keep. De Principiis, 4.305.

ORIGEN: And with respect to the precepts enjoined in the Gospels, no doubt can be entertained that very many of these are to be literally observed, as, for example, when our Lord says, . . . “Whosoever looks upon a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” De Principiis, 4.368.

ORIGEN: Suppose chastity should begin with the inner man. It will undoubtedly extend to the outer, for it is impossible for someone who does not previously commit adultery in his heart to be able to commit adultery with his body. But if chastity begins in the outer man, it does not immediately pass as well into inner self control, as if the one who avoids committing adultery in the body will be free from adultery in his heart.
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

ORIGEN: Judaic boasting is excluded, not through the law of works but through the law of faith, which is in Christ Jesus, in whose cross the Apostle boasts. For who will legitimately boast about his own chastity when he reads what is written, “anyone who has looked at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”? Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

LACTANTIUS: This also is added for the completion of chastity, that there should be an absence not only of the offense, but even of the thought. For it is evident that the mind is polluted by the desire, though unaccomplished; and so that a just man ought neither to do, nor to wish to do, that which is unjust. Therefore the conscience must be cleansed; for God, who cannot be deceived, inspects it. The breast must be cleared from every stain, that it may be a temple of God, which is enlightened not by the gleam of gold or ivory, but by the brightness of faith and purity.
The Epitome of the Divine Institutes, 7.251

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