If my heart has been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbor's door;
All Commentaries on Job 31:9 Go To Job 31
Gregory The Dialogist
18. Though it sometimes happens that the sin of fornication is not at all different from the guilt of adultery, seeing that Truth saith; Whoso looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. [Matt. 5, 28] (For whereas an adulterer is called by the Greek word, ‘moechus,’ whilst not another man’s wife but a woman is forbidden to be looked at, ‘Truth’ openly shews that by the mere look alone, when only one that is unmarried is vilely lusted after, adultery is perpetrated.) Yet generally speaking the thing is differenced according to the situation or order of the person lusting, that is to say in this way, that purposed concupiscence in like sort defiles one in sacred orders, as the sin of adultery defiles that other. Nevertheless in persons not dissimilar, the same guilt of lust is made different, in whose case that the sin of fornication is distinguished from the guilt of adultery, the tongue of the great Preacher bears witness, who asserts amongst the rest, saying, Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers—shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. [1 Cor. 6, 9] For whereas he subjoins sentence to severally distinguished guilt, he shews how very greatly it differs from itself. By this then that is spoken, If my heart hath been deceived by a woman, the holy man is proved not even to have entertained a thought connected with the defilement of fornication. But by this that he adds; Or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door, he openly makes known that he was clear of the guilt of adultery. But perchance a person may say to this, ‘What does the holy man assert extraordinary about himself, if he did preserve himself clear not only from the guilt of adultery, but likewise from the defilement of fornication?’ But we rate these things at little, if we fail to consider the times of his virtuous achievements. For there had not as yet gone forth for the restraining of the flesh the stricter monitorship of revealed grace, which not only blames wantonness of the body, but also of the heart. There had not as yet gone forth the excellencies of chastity of numbers living in continence as patterns for our imitation, yet did blessed Job afford examples of purity, which he had not received. But by numbers even now after the prohibition of God there is impurity of the flesh committed. Accordingly it ought to be inferred from hence, seeing that so great an offence now even after the commandment is perpetrated in heavy matters, with what great praiseworthiness was abstinence kept before in heavy matters. And if he ever had done this thing, he prays for that sin to be turned into punishment to him.