Mandate from Shamayim
Sometimes, I find the nisyanos and challenge of watching my eyes so difficult. At times, it can feel so unnatural - having to look away from so many things on the street, constantly on guard. And then I start asking myself why? Why would Hashem ask this of us? And what's the big deal anyway? It's just looking! I'm not doing anything... why would Hashem make this into an Aveira? It's so difficult!
I came across the following simple, beautiful and powerful idea that I found transformative, and it changed my outlook. In Chumash, Hashem says to us, the Bnei Yisroel: "Anshei Kodesh Tehuyin Li, Ki Kadosh Ani (Shemos 22,30)." Be my holy people, because I am holy- and as My nation, I need you to be as well.
And even more directly- "Ki Hashem Elokecha Mis-halech B'kerev Machanecha- L'hatzilcha V'laseis Oyvecha Lifanecha. V'Haya Machanecha Kadosh! V'lo Yirah Becha Ervas Davar V'Shav M'acharecha (Ki Setzai 23, 15)." When you go to battle, make sure your camps (and your selves) are holy - because Hashem your G-d is amongst you to destroy your enemies, and lest He sees something in you that's not holy and His presence will need to depart from among you!" (Sometimes I find it helpful to hum the Miami Boys Choir tune on this Pasuk...)
Wow. We, the Jewish people, have a Mandate from Shamayim - be holy! You are G-d's people! He is holy, and He has given you a mandate to be holy like Him. He is working alongside you with great power but requires that you be holy like Him.
In other words, for the gentiles looking is just a small pleasure. No great sin. Yes, it's an unrefined, dirty pleasure, sensed by those sensitive enough to realize it. But it's not so horrible - just smelly. But for us, it's a breach of our mandate! We are an elite unit in His army. We carry a great responsibility- G-d Himself is amongst us! And He's given His elite marines - us - a mandate and mission, be a holy people!
So when we walk down the street, the great efforts of controlling our eyes is a great and powerful Avodah of fulfilling our Mandate from Shamayim - Kedoshim Tehiyu. It's hard, but it's an honor and a privilege! It's hard, but it so meaningful - it's remaining above the shmutz, it's remaining His holy people!