Steven Arterburn wrote a book entitled “Every Man’s Battle.” It was all about men’s struggle in looking at attractive women followed by lustful thoughts. I think every man might agree that it’s a battle for sure. The Bible testifies to this problem. We see it in Samson in the book of Judges. Who saw the Philistine woman and cried, “I want her!” And he eventually got her, which led to the crippling of his purpose and ultimately caused his death. David looked down from his balcony and saw a woman bathing, and what he “saw” led to adultery and eventually murder. Solomon catered to his many concubines, which ended up causing the disassembling of the entire Nation. Read the Song of Solomon to see how he praised the female body. Where men have been heroic in ways, they have often failed to control the lust of the flesh. We still see it today with politicians, celebrities, and preachers. Many men have “fallen” because of this sin. In Genesis 6:2, we see that even “angels” have fallen because of this sin. It says, “The sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.”

If I were to summarize my understanding of “Everyman’s Battle,” I would say that Arterburn and company suggest that the way to solve this problem for men is to “bounce the eye.” That idea is repeated frequently in the book. They write, “Your eyes have always bounced toward the sexual, and you’ve made no attempt to end this habit. To combat it, you need to build a reflex action by training your eyes to immediately bounce away from the sexual, like the jerk of your hand away from a hot stove.” Jesus gave a much more radical solution to this problem. He said in Matthew 5:27-29, “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 lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.”

I could not find a commentary that took this exhortation of Jesus literally. Most suggest that it’s hyperbole. That’s a figure of speech that exaggerates to make a point. I might say, “These groceries weigh a ton.” They don’t! Most commentators suggest we need to take whatever means to eliminate temptation from our lives. I don’t think Jesus is suggesting we will have victory over temptation in this life if we take drastic enough action. Even if I were to pluck out my right eye, I would still have a left eye! I think he wanted us to “repent.” He wanted us to realize that we are sinners by nature and to admit it. Jesus wants to turn Pharisees into Publicans. O’Donnell explains this well. “The Law guides us to a true understanding of ourselves so that we might recognize the depth of our sin and the love that God offers to sinners in the person of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The holy heaviness of the Law ought to make us wholly humble before God.”[1]

[1] O’Donnell, Douglas Sean. 2013. Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and on Earth. Edited by R. Kent Hughes. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.