The recent Jack Neo scandal has provided fodder for much ‘discussion’ (just an euphemism for gossip). My male colleague typically sympathised with the protagonist, explaining that all men lust; it’s just that Mr Neo went into adultery and was caught. My colleague reckoned in a not-so-serious manner that castration is probably the only solution to lust. I couldn’t help but think of Matthew 5:27-30:
[Jesus speaking] You have heard that it was said, ‘Do 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 sin, 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 sin, 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.
When Jesus spoke these words, I don’t think he wants us to mutilate or maim ourselves. Rather, He was illustrating the severity of sin, that sin leads to hell and we need to act drastically and definitely to sin. I mean, will castration remove lust from our hearts? Will chopping off our hands rid us of our covetousness? Unfortunately, no. Our hearts are evil; the real operation that we need is on our hearts. We need new hearts.
[God speaking] I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
On my way home riding the MRT train, I noticed a young lady in the priority seat, reading the Bible in her hand. An exhortation was stuck above the priority seat, which was to give the seats to those who need them most. Standing and leaning against the glass panel beside her was an elderly lady, perhaps in her 50s. ‘Perhaps there should be a law in the Bible to command us to give up our seats to the elderly, maybe that would get her to do so,’ I thought. But really? Would that specific law compel the young lady to do the right thing? How many laws and regulations do we need to cover the spectrum of life?
We have laws to protect our rights to live in safety (no murder/manslaughter), to safeguard our possessions and properties (no thief/robbery/shoplifting), to have honest commercial transactions (no fraud), etc. But laws don’t stop us from committing adultery (not in Singapore, at least) or lying to our loved ones. In Singapore, we have a Maintenance of Parents Act legislating children to take care of their elderly parents, but it cannot command respect and honour for our parents.
We don’t need laws; we don’t need rights. We need love.
Rights are a thing of men. God is a God of love. You do not love your neighbour by giving your neighbour a right. You give the poor man or the black man a right and you feel you have done your duty to him. You may even feel that he now owes you a debt of gratitude. But if you had loved him to begin with, the question of right would never have arisen… When you give a man a right, it is too easy to forget to love him… Compassion is more important than rights.
Stephen L. Carter, The Emperor of Ocean Park, pp. 348-349.
Laws can only make us do so much for our neighbour. That’s why we need God to pour out His love into our hearts by His Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5).