“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. 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 for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 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 for your whole body to go into hell.“
It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Jesus does not mince words today regarding the importance of avoiding sin. He says plainly in this familiar Gospel passage that we should avoid sin at all costs. Considering that sin is a turning away from God, his insistence seems appropriate. Sin fundamentally goes against a life oriented toward God.
St. Ignatius, in his First Principle and Foundation, also asserts that we ought to direct our lives to God in every way. This might include “cutting off” something that causes us to sin (a bad habit, a harmful attitude, etc.). However, I think the same urgency could be associated with “putting on” something that brings us closer to God (spending more time in prayer, giving of ourselves to others, etc.). I could imagine Jesus saying in the same breath that if there is something in your life that causes you to be closer to God, then by all means do it!
Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads
to God’s deepening his life in me.
—First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius Loyola as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, SJ