Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
"If you so much as *look* at someone with lust in your heart you have committed adultery with them,” Jesus said. Is there anyone among us who has not looked at someone with lust in their heart? I seriously doubt it. Which means that all of us have committed adultery and we know the consequences of that.
But the point of this is not to tell us that we are all going to hell unless we quit looking at people lustfully; it is to strip the Pharisees of their sense of self-righteousness. Please do keep that in mind when you read these things that Jesus says because they are often taken out of context.
So, you may ask, is it ok to look at people lustfully? No, of course not. But how do we stop? Well, first we need to want to stop, and that desire comes from understanding that people are not objects. They are persons just like we are and as we wouldn’t want others to objectify us, we shouldn’t objectify others.
The next thing to do is change the way we look at them. Several years ago God taught me a beautiful way of doing this. He said, “Look at them as I look at them, as beautiful beings that I have created in my own image and likeness with the potential to do amazing things if you could help them.” And, for the most part, it works. When it doesn’t, I revert to another method that God taught me. To turn my gaze towards him and long for him instead. It’s better to drink the living water, which will fill us, unlike the other water that only leaves us thirsty again (see John 4:1-26).
And, then, of course, there is the advice Jesus gives us to cut off all sources of temptation from our lives. If your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out. If your hand causes you to fall, cut it off. Translated, this means: Do not watch, listen, or read anything that could nourish impure thoughts, feelings, or fantasies because it is one short step to a very slippery slope.
Let me know which one works for you. I gave a talk a few weeks ago on the subject of lust that might give you a few added insights into the subject. You might want to check that out. You will find it on my website.
May the Spirit be with you.