“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” -Mt 5:28
“Jesus is obsessed with the heart because whoever wins the heart (love or lust, God or the devil) wins the mind, the eyes, the body, and the soul . . . for eternity. Actions flow from the heart and one’s destiny is forged through one’s actions. Jesus is obsessed with the heart because that is where we know and live the spousal meaning of the body. What’s at stake is the meaning of life: living in God’s image and likeness. 108
The human heart has become “a battlefield between love and concupiscence.” 109 The more concupiscence dominates the heart, the less we experience the spousal meaning of the body and the less sensitive we become to the other as a gift. 110 We begin to see others as objects to be used instead of persons to be loved, and we lose sight of the fact that others are created for their own sake, not for ours. 111
The way one person looks upon another matters, because the look expresses what is in the heart. We reveal by our looks who we are. 112 In his letter on the dignity and vocation of women, John Paul stated: “Each man must look within himself to see whether she who was entrusted to him as a sister in humanity, as a spouse, has not become in his heart an object of adultery.” 113
The Pope acknowledged that Christ’s words on adultery in the heart are severe, and they require us to assess our interior acts, motives, and impulses. 114 He explained, “The inner man is called by Christ to reach a more mature and complete evaluation that allows him to distinguish and judge the various movements of his own heart. One should add that this task can be carried out and that it is truly worthy of man.” 115
Although Christ’s words about adultery in the heart are demanding, they are not a condemnation but a calling. His words are not only a task but a gift. By restating Christ’s words, the Pope was reminding the Church in the midst of our brokenness, addictions, and weakened wills, that our call to love runs deeper than our urge to use. No matter how weighed down our hearts might be under the burden of sin, an echo of Eden remains within them.
John Paul pointed out that the awareness of our sinfulness is a necessary point of departure in historical man, and a condition for aspiring to virtue, purity of heart, and perfection. 116 A general sense of our shortcomings will not suffice. As John Paul noted, Christ “shows how deep down it is necessary to go, how the innermost recesses of the human heart must be thoroughly revealed, so that this heart might become a place in which the law is ‘fulfilled.’” 117
By fulfilled, the Pope did not mean obeyed flawlessly for the sake of conforming to external religious rules. Rather, love is the fulfillment of the law. When one rediscovers the spousal meaning of the body, one can express this through the “interior freedom of the gift.” 118
If the deepest motives of our heart are ruled by the lack of love, which is sin, we are not free to love or to make a gift of ourselves. Moral laws will seem to be nothing more than external constraints that limit our freedom. But when we become aware that the internal constraints of sin are what limit our freedom to love, we will desire to battle against them and experience true liberation. Although this will require us to be demanding toward our heart and our body, true love is not afraid of sacrifice. 119
-Evert, Jason. Theology of the Body In One Hour (Kindle Locations 624-665). Totus Tuus Press. Kindle Edition.
108 Cf. TOB 49: 5.
109 TOB 32: 3.
110 Cf. TOB 32: 3.
111 Cf. TOB 32: 5.
112 Cf. TOB 39: 4
113 Mulieris Dignitatem, 14.
114 Cf. TOB 48: 3.
115 TOB 48: 4.
116 Cf. TOB 49: 7.
117 TOB 43: 5.
118 TOB 43: 6.
119 Cf. TOB 43: 5.