Matthew 5:29-30 states the following:
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members 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 of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.” (NRSV translation)
Leave the problem with the translation at the end of verse 30 – ie hell verses Gehenna. That’s a whole separate conversation.
The point here is that if something is causing you to sin, Jesus is saying to cut it out of your life. The context is in relation to adultery, but it goes beyond that.
I’ve often thought about what this passage would sound like if it were said in a modern American context. I think we could substitute in several things and the concept would still be the same. The main concept would be this – if something gets in the way of your relationship with God, then cut it out. When I say “getting in the way” I’m not talking about something like a nuisance or clutter. I’m talking about something acting like a barrier preventing you from encountering, listening, or following God. That’s the significance here.
So here’s a few modern day American translations of this verse given the underlying meaning:
If your keeping up with the Jones causes you to sin, purposefully find a way to not keep up.
If your membership in the Republican or Democrat party causes you to sin, leave the party.
If your social media apps cause you to sin, delete them.
If your top desire is to be right in arguments, then make sure you lose the argument.
If your ideology has more of a say over how you treat others than you faith does, then get rid of it.
If your consumerism causes you to value property, possessions, and status more than people, then cut out consuming.
If your money has more say over what you do than your faith, then give it away.
If your belief is that the ends justify the means, then purposefully focus on the means.
If your belief is that might makes right, then be wrong on purpose.
If your belief is that only the strong survive, then be weak.
If your economic status causes you to look down on others because of their economic status, then spend time at an emergency homeless shelter.
If your patriotism causes you to sin, visit another country.
If your religious faith causes you to judge and tear down other churches for their beliefs, then attend one of their services.