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There are many verses in the Bible that exhort us to discipline our eyes: “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” (Matt 6:22-23) “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matt 5:29) “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt 5:28)
In the old times keeping the eye pure was not very difficult. The commandment “Do not look upon a woman in lust” was not difficult to follow, for women in those days were properly dressed and mostly covered up. Today however it is very difficult to keep the eye from encountering offenses. Not only has the dress code become so offensive, but there are so many ways that the devil, the salesman of sin, can introduce impurity into the eyes.
Magazines and books are now filled with pornography, and it seems that society is gradually increasing its tolerance and indeed its desire for more and more explicit porn.
You go shopping and while standing in line at the cashier, your eyes are bombarded with offensive pictures from every direction. Grocery stores now have candy free lanes, I wish they would introduce porn free lanes.
Department stores are not any better. The varieties of intimate apparel that is on display and the way it is displayed makes it very difficult for the eyes to remain in their sockets. Even if you are just walking in a mall, the windows of many shops are filled with displays of intimate ware. As if this is not enough, some stores would exhibit those items worn by manikins. Billboards on public roads and public transportation are now showing a lot of material that offends the eye (or delights it, depending on whether your eye is single or evil.)
TV offers us a more animated version of the same. There is hardly a movie without some kind of porn in it, even cartoons.
The Internet has now equalled or even surpassed TV in the amount and variety of sinful sights it offers, and they are only a mouse click away.
In trying to wean the eyes from the depraved scenes it became accustomed to, it is good to reflect on what the Bible tells us. The book of Genesis tells us that “ the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” (Gen 6:2). The results were disastrous, for we are then told, in Genesis 6: 7, “And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.” Looking and lusting after women led to the destruction of mankind.
The story of David should be a reminder to us of how dangerous it is for the eye to wander about without control. How carelessness about controlling the eyes has turned the author of the Psalms into an adulterer and a murderer.
One should struggle unto the blood against all of the above. It is very difficult, but absolutely necessary for our salvation. It is one thing to encounter these things while walking or shopping and another thing to seek them, by looking for them on TV or the internet, or even worse by renting pornographic videos or buying pornographic magazines. The punishment is much more for the latter than the former.
Watching violence is also another sin. There is hardly any movie now without violence. Even cartoons are filled with very violent scenes. Many sports are violent. There is hardly a hockey game without a delicious bit of banging and stumping. An even more dangerous is the so called- “sport” wrestling. I know a few kids who are addicted to watching wrestling.
Parents should watch over their children and make sure that they are seeing only appropriate things for their ages. There are ways and means for preventing your children from watching porn on TV and the internet. You should investigate and install these things before getting the internet or cable into your house.
Looking with lust at foods and pictures of food is also to be avoided especially during fasting. Remember that this is what Eve did, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, ... she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.” (Gen 3:6) The rest is history. Today we are bombarded by so many bigger than life pictures of hamburgers, Ice cream, and even Kit Kats that make any mouth water.
Looking with lust at other worldly things, cars, houses, furniture, clothes, computers, toys, etc.. , is another sin that we commit with the eyes. The Lord Jesus was tempted in this way when the salesman of sin showed Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matt 4:8-9) The devil is still using the same trick trying to tempt us to covet earthly things. Jesus resisted the temptation by using verses of the Bible to answer Satan. We can do the same when he tries to tempt us, by remembering that “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 Jn 2:15) And that “friendship of the world is enmity with God, whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (Jas 4:4)
The evil eye or the envious eye is another way the eye can offend us. To look with envy at what others have is a sin that we are warned against both in the Old and the New Testaments. The book of Job tells us that “Envy slayeth the silly one.” Job 5:2
The parable of the householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard is an example of how envy is hated by God. Matthew 20:1-15 tells us that the man hired labourers and agreed on their wages. Then he went out and hired others who worked less but he gave them the same wages. Now those who worked for a full day complained that the householder gave those who worked less the same wages. It’s not fair!But the householder told them, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”
A question that is often put forward to me by many is, “How come those who are far away from God always get good things in their life?” The same thought came into the mind of the writer of Psalm 73, “I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. ... They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. ... Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than the heart could wish. ... Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” God, responding to these nagging questions showed the Psalmist the end of the wicked, as we are told later in the Psalm, “I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.”
There is no unfairness with God. Those who choose not to work for eternal life get their portion in this life. We are told in Psalm 17:14-15, “Men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes. As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is another example of this, when the rich man asked Abraham to “send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” Abraham answered him, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” Luke 16:24-25


One should not only train his eyes not to look with lust at anyone or anything but also should train the eyes to see God in everyone and in everything. We have many examples from the Fathers of the desert that show us how to do that. A monk was sent by his superior to Alexandria on an errand and when he came back the other monks asked him, “What is Alexandria like?” He simply answered them, “I did not purpose to look at anything in Alexandria.” He went there to do some business and he had no wish to do any sight seeing!In another incident, some monks went into the town to purchase things they needed, and a woman of ill repute started to walk naked in the square, they all turned their eyes away except for an old monk. When the others asked him what was his feeling when he saw the naked woman, he told them “I praised God Who created such beauty.”
We can train ourselves in the same manner, to look at things in simplicity. To see God in all creatures animate and inanimate. If I see a beautiful person of the other sex, instead of making him or her an object of lust, I should think of God the Creator Who made such a beautiful person. This is what Christ meant when He told us if Thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
Similarly, if you see a beautiful home, remember your real home in the Heavenly Jerusalem. Tell yourself, if this house is so beautiful, how much more beautiful is the house “not built with hands” that the Lord is preparing for me? Repeat in your mind the word of the beautiful hymn, “Jerusalem my happy home, when shall I come to thee, When shall my woes come to an end, thy joys that I may see!”
In a similar way, when you look at a car and say Wow!Meditate on how much more beautiful was the fiery chariot that took Elijah to heaven.
Another exercise the Fathers use, is using seen objects to meditate on the Passion of our Lord. For example, if you see a rope, meditate on how the Lord was bound for your sake. If you see a nail think of the nails that were put in his hands because of your sins.
Finally, what should I do if I inadvertently see something offensive? Delete it from your mind in the same way you delete objects from your computer!With an intense act of the will, blank the picture and delete it!This is perhaps what the Lord means by saying if your eye offends you pluck it out and throw it out. Take the offence out of your mind and dash it against the rock.



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