Blessed are the Pure of Heart—Having Eyes Only for God
In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord links together the sixth beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:18), with the sixth and ninth commandments—Thou shalt not commit adultery nor covet thy neighbor’s wife. As Christ says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Here our Lord equates lustful looks to adultery, making both mortal sins that keep one from being able to see God in heaven or in other people here on earth.
Is this exaggerated? Is looking at pornography really a sin? Does it really hurt anybody?
To answer this, consider a young couple, boyfriend-girlfriend, walking down the street together, holding hands and enjoying each other, when an immodestly dressed woman comes walking by. The young man, being weak in this area, takes some glances at her… then, turning his head, his eyes latch on to her… as he does he runs into a telephone pole! Now how would his girlfriend react? Hurt? Angry? You bet! But why? Because he was unfaithful to her with his eyes. His actions said to his girlfriend: “Guess what, Honey, you’ve got competition and you happen to be losing that competition right now.” Such a response would kill their relationship.
What does the act of looking at pornography say to God or to our Blessed Mother? “Guess what, God, you’ve got competition and you happen to be losing that competition right now.” It can kill our relationship with him, which is why it is a mortal sin. That is why our Lord goes on to say:
“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).
So, if your smart-phone causes you to sin, replace it with a dumb-phone; it is better for you to go to heaven without a smart-phone than to be thrown into hell with a smart-phone. The same could be said of FaceBook or Internet access at home or cable television—whatever is an occasion of sin for us—it would be better to go to heaven without.
Some may think: “This approach is so negative. Do we have to go through life with blinders on?” No, of course not. Our struggle can and should be very positive.
Let’s revisit our example. We see the young couple, boyfriend-girlfriend, walking down the street together, holding hands and enjoying each other, when again an immodestly dressed woman comes walking by. This time the young man doesn’t look. He pretends that he doesn’t notice this voluptuous woman… rather he turns his head to look into his girlfriend’s eyes. Now how would his girlfriend react? Happy… proud! His actions said: “I only have eyes for you.” The action said more than “I love you dear” hundreds of times over. We say the same thing to our Lord and Our Lady when we turn away from pornographic images or thoughts—it is a positive act of love for them.
Purity of heart is absolutely necessary to be able to love, to be able to see God in heaven.
Fr. John R. Waiss