Obeying in Spirit
What comes next in his sermon is Jesus' interpretations of the spirit in which the commandments should be kept, and his teachings on adultery and divorce. In Matthew 5:30, Jesus states that it is better to cut off a hand that offends you rather than allow the whole body to be cast into Hell because of the sins of the hand. He continues, “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5:31–32).
The church has tried to apply Jesus' teachings on adultery and divorce to concrete rules or disciplines. But Jesus' teachings on these subjects can also be interpreted as metaphors or symbols of the relationship between God and his church. The church is God's bride, and when it fails to love him, it commits adultery. When it enters apostasy, as Jesus prophesies later in Matthew, it divorces him.
“Cutting off the hand and casting it away” is a metaphor for eliminating the source of temptation by excising it from one's life. And on marriage Jesus is advocating taking the extra step to make covenant relationships (marriages) work, just as earlier he emphasized that Kingdom-of-Heaven lifestyle requires going the extra mile to make peace with those who have grievances and to bear others' burdens.