“I have made a covenant with my eyes;
how then could I look upon a virgin?”
— Job 31:1 (NRSV)
I’ve been a man long enough to understand most men think alike, especially about women. To have a look is to give way to a powerful temptation and we can therefore understand the source of Job’s covenant. He understood that this sort of falsehood took him in a direction farther from God, whilst at the same time it was a blasphemy of God because such sin occurred right before God’s eyes.
We, as men, struggle very much in this area. It seems we cannot help notice attractive women (acknowledging women have the same problem with attractive men) and our eyes can linger, which envelops our hearts toward shaming or guilty thoughts or, worse, no shame or guilt at all.
On a recent date with my teenage daughter I noticed as we walked past one particular man, that he had no issue with looking her up and down, knowing very well I knew what he was up to. There was no thought in him to avert his eyes. This is the sort of depravity we are capable of.
If we are to become men of godly standing before God’s sight – and let’s be honest, everything we do will be shown for what it is – then we must strive to attain a wholesome respect for women.
One of the ideas in Job 31, which Jesus also touches upon in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:27-30), is that the eyes, once corrupted, soon lead the heart to be corrupted. This is why Jesus suggested we gouge out the eye or cut off the hand if that body part will be the cause of our overall ruination.
When, as men, we make a covenant with our eyes we stop ourselves in the midst of being caught by that glance. We find ourselves noticing the pretty woman walking past and we are reminded of the agreement we have with God; to respect women because these are our wives, our sisters, our daughters, our mothers. There are not many men who would gladly give their kin over to an untrustworthy man.
Having made a covenant, and having executed that covenant several times, we quickly fall into the habit of not dwelling on those things that would otherwise get us into trouble and which disrespect women.
Every man has responsibility over his eyes, yet if we don’t avert our eyes our heart may quickly be corrupted. As Job did, we are wise to make a covenant with our eyes – to not look upon women lustfully.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.