God the Son teaches about adultery (HINT: He disapproves)

Today in the Ordinary Form, the 6th Ordinary Sunday, the Gospel is from Matthew 5.

First, the Lord says that he did not come to abolish the law and prophets but to fulfill them.

He has stern words for those who break the commandments, indicating also that Hell exists.

His words about adultery are harrowing.  Let’s hear the last part, as read in the Ordinary Form:

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife –  unless the marriage is unlawful –
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Christ’s words.  God’s words.

He doesn’t seem very approving of adultery, does He?   It seems as if, for God mind you, adultery is officially a bad thing, perhaps even something be avoided!

The Second Person of the Trinity Made Man even mentions a Very Bad Place™ in his explication of adultery: Gehenna.    Gehenna was originally a place where children were sacrificed.  It was, hence, a cursed place.  Gehenna is, for Christ, a nickname for Hell.

The reading ends with v.32.

It’s too bad the pericope (a fancy word for a scripture reading) didn’t also include v. 37.

Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.

“From the evil one”.  Very Bad™.  “ek tou ponerou”.  “From the Devil, the Evil One, the Enemy of the Soul”.

Be truthful and don’t waffle, obfuscate, equivocate, temporize.  Be clear.

Adultery is bad.  There is a Hell.  The Evil one is out there.

It is hard for me to start our from these points and arrive – by a straight path – at Communion for impenitent adulterers. It seems to me that people who do things which Christ warns again, invoking even the ultimate destination of Hell, are unlikely candidates for the eternal life He connects to eating His Body as described in John 6.

So, for me, it’s gotta be: No. No.

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  1. Blaine says:

    You know how there is a long form and a short form for this reading? Monsignor today made a hybrid version and skipped the whole adultery section completely. He started with a longer form which I found shocking but should have known better …
    Is changing the Gospel reading, using the older form of the consecration of the Precious Blood (for all…), and various other impromptu changes to the mass texts enough to affect the validity of the mass?

  2. Pigeon says:

    This time, the A doesn’t mean adultery ;-)

  3. dbonneville says:

    The priest’s homily on this passage this morning, in a coastal town parish not far north of Portland, ME: nothing. He skipped it entirely and talked about a different passage. I wonder why? This is the same parish where we were taught the miracle of the loaves was simply sharing. Connection much?

  4. VexillaRegis says:

    That must be the longest link name I’ve ever come across ;-)!

  5. Evan C says:

    One thing I particularly noticed was the bracket locations in the missal. “Bracketed text may be omitted”. Methinks prelates of a particular bent will choose that option..


  6. acardnal says:

    And the first reading in the NO Mass tied-in accordingly with the Gospel reading per design. It is one of the Church’s main defenses regarding free will and the choices we make. Sometimes we make bad choices and they have consequences, e.g. matrimony:

    Sir 15:15-20
    If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;
    if you trust in God, you too shall live;
    he has set before you fire and water
    to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
    Before man are life and death, good and evil,
    whichever he chooses shall be given him.
    Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
    he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
    The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
    he understands man’s every deed.
    No one does he command to act unjustly,
    to none does he give license to sin.

    (NB: Unfortunately, Sirach was removed from the Protestant version of the bible.)

    It’s important to note the Christ opposed adultery – which includes divorce and remarriage. He didn’t prohibit divorce per se! There are legitimate reasons to divorce but no where in Christ’s teaching did He permit divorce and remarriage. Wherein the New American Bible (NAB) used the phrase “…unless the marriage is unlawful…” , the Revised Standard Version used “…unless the marriage is unchaste” which is a more accurate interpretation of the Greek word “pornea” used in the original Gospel text according to most scholars. What does “unchaste” mean? Basically that one’s spouse has committed adultery with another. What choices are there for the spouses then? Reconcile, separate or divorce. But if one divorces, one cannot remarry.

    Marriage is a lifetime commitment according to God’s law. “What God has joined let no man put asunder.” “Until death do us part.”

    I just listened/viewed Dr. Brant Pitre’s weekly scripture teaching on this Sunday’s readings, and it was outstanding! Orthodox and enlightening. Kudos to him for his exegetical teachings on Matthew throughout this year.

  7. acardnal says:

    Correction to my above: Mt 5:32 RSVCE says “. . .except on the ground of unchastity. . . .”

  8. Persistant says:

    But father, the reading does end with v.37! Not sure I understood you completely.

    [It does?!? Oh dear. My mistake!]

  9. Pingback: God the Son teaches about adultery (HINT: He disapproves) | Fr. Z’s Blog | Trump:The American Years

  10. CatholicMD says:

    I believe the Gospel reading did include vs 37. I heard it this morning and it’s on the iBreviary readings. It actually struck me as I heard it and brought to mind the dubia.

    [Oh my! Just imagine!]

  11. joekstl says:

    Interesting comments. In my Bible Study sessions this year we are using the Gospel according to John. In contrast to the reading from Matthew, the encounter of Jesus with the woman at the well has an interesting twist: after Jesus reminds the woman she has had five husbands and the one she is living with is not your husband, he makes no further judgment. No further mention of adultery – and no expected admonition “go sin no more.” This has always intrigued me.

  12. LarryW2LJ says:

    Can’t BE any clearer, can it? Then why are so many people having trouble with it? Am I that simpleminded?

  13. mburn16 says:

    Perhaps, instead, we should say “God the Son teaches about Divorce and Remarriage (HINT: Its adultery). Our liberal-bent pastor actually read the whole version, including the passages in question, but elected to skip over it in his homily and instead focus on the broader sermon on the mount. Sigh.

    “There are legitimate reasons to divorce but no where in Christ’s teaching did He permit divorce and remarriage”

    Now this is an interesting point. The full text says that whoever divorces his wife unless the marriage is [unlawful/unchaste] causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery himself. It sounds like the man (in this case, the innocent party) could remarry. I have no idea whether that is supported by a more informed reading, but it is what the text seems to suggest.

  14. Gerhard says:

    One can get from Adultery to Holy Communion for impenitent adulterers by a straight path. The problem is, it goes straight down to Hell, not up to Heaven. The coordinates of this path are as follows. Mortal sin blocks sanctifying grace. But then something very scary happens. Satan has a free-run to take you over and play you like a piano. God will continue to try to give you grace to bring you back but you block it. Your soul is asphyxiated to death. There is nothing between you and satan now. He prompts you actively to work against everything that is beautiful, good and true. If you have ever wondered why the unbaptized, and those living in sin, and those who do not make frequent good confessions are so hard to evangelize and catechize, you need look no further. But, and here is a chilling thought, it is not only adultery which is a mortal sin. Heresy is too. We must pray for the salvation of Pope Francis and the entire flock he is leading not into luminous verdant pastures but into the dank and fetid morass of ambiguity.

  15. Lucas Whittaker says:

    @joekstl: It has been said that Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well sums up the whole of the New Testament. If you consider that scripture does not contradict itself, then we can assume that she came to understand His invitation to drink living water and never thirst again. We can also take St. John the Evangelist at his word when he writes: “Sunt autem et alia multa quae fecit Jesus : quae si scribantur per singula, nec ipsum arbitror mundum capere posse eos, qui scribendi sunt, libros [But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written (ch. 21, v. 25)] . . . scimus quia verum est testimonium ejus

  16. yatzer says:

    Priest neither read nor spoke about the bracketed part. He did mention how suicide and euthanasia are not acceptable ways to confront suffering

  17. iamlucky13 says:

    “Is changing the Gospel reading, using the older form of the consecration of the Precious Blood (for all…), and various other impromptu changes to the mass texts enough to affect the validity of the mass?”

    Well, keep in mind that “pro omnibus” was substituted for “pro multis” for decades in the ordinary form. As that would suggest, the question of validity was discussed. It was actually surprisingly hard for me to find a decent summary of the responses to this question, but here is one:

    Of course, the form specified in the current English translation of the Missal is “for many,” so he shouldn’t be changing the words.

  18. jaykay says:

    Evan C. “One thing I particularly noticed was the bracket locations in the missal. “Bracketed text may be omitted”.”

    Yeah, in our rather rushed (and of course it was always rushed through back pre-New Springtime, wasn’t it – sarcasm)Mass today the full opportunity to use the telescoped version was availed of. Which, of course, included the part: “But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife –  unless the marriage is unlawful – causes her to commit adultery,
    and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” The actual Lectionary permits that, of course, and given that it’s had that permission to do so for over 40 years now I’m not reading anything into that. Much.

  19. GypsyMom says:

    Our entire diocese had to hear a recording for Catholic Charities today. No sermons. Coincidence, anyone?

  20. arga says:

    In the pope’s Angelus commentary on the Gospel on 12 February he evidently chose the short form: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2017/02/12/170212a.html

  21. Lisieux says:

    Our priest also read the short form, which is interesting, as it’s the first time I’ve heard him do so, even for longer passages. I can’t tell you what his homily was on, as I’ve invariably forgotten it within thirty seconds of the start of the Credo: he’s a sweet guy, and (unlike the previous incumbent) doesn’t preach heresy or disobedience, but his homilies are utterly bland. I think this one might have been about choosing to follow Jesus and love one another, because most of them are. It certainly didn’t mention adultery or anything else that might have been in any way…dangerous.

  22. Fr AJ says:

    I see the Pope commented on all the key points of the Gospel yesterday in his Angelus address except Jesus’s teaching on divorce which he passed over.

  23. majuscule says:

    Our priests always read the long form when there is an optional short form. They even want the lectors to do the same for their readings.

    Our priest this Sunday has only been with our parish a few months. He is from a country where English is the official but not native tongue. He has an engaging way about him–holy and bursting with joy. As he read the words of Jesus I was struck by the gentle firmness of his voice and I imagined that Jesus may have spoken just like that! It’s hard to explain! Instead of making the sayings hard and threatening I felt that he was getting across the joy that one will find in doing what is right. Like a parent lovingly cautioning their child with gentle firmness. As I said, it’s hard to explain, what with talk of cutting off offending hands!

  24. JKnott says:

    We have a wonderful Deacon who chose to read the entire passage at the NO Sunday. He has a wonderful strong and bellowing voice; is a holy man who used to give excellent homilies until he was reassigned and told to keep it at 3 minutes and cut the “fire and brimstone”. He did but now is never allowed to give any homilies. Well he read the long form yesterday. And wow, did the passage on adultery ever stand out as the words of Jesus. It had such a beautiful effect,…. all of the Lord’s admonishments came out so clearly. Then came the young priest, who got up to the podium and made a joke about the Deacon reading the full version so we would all know for sure that he never would have made that choice. (lullaby liturgies for snowflakes I guess) Following that he said that “what Jesus SEEMS TO BE SAYING” is let your yes be yes. .He then suggested we all try to do extra little kindnesses and ended his homily as if he didn’t know what to say at all. I felt sorry for him. Our young priests need prayers.
    God bless that Deacon!!

  25. Rod Halvorsen says:


    Possibly the answer to your question can be found in two verses written by the apostle John; St John 20:31 and 1 John 5:13. St John’s stated goal was to present material to encourage BELIEF.

    Jesus’ confrontation of the woman at the well involves a virtual miracle in His knowledge of her situation. It may be that such an encounter and His prescience were the objects of St John’s intentions. THAT is what engenders belief. The “legal” and further moral issues do not relate specifically to his goal here. Remember, each Gospel served different purposes. Indeed, we are told, after all, that St John specifically limited himself to a stripped down selection of teachings by Jesus {St John 21:25}.

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