The Seventh Commandment: Adultery
December 28, 2008
Exodus 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.”
Introduction: Allan Petersen, in The Myth of the Greener Grass, tells the story of a group of a dozen married women having lunch together. One woman asked, ‘How many of you have been faithful to your husbands throughout your marriage?’ Only one woman out of the twelve raised her hand. At home that evening, one of the women who didn't raise her hand told her husband about the lunch, the question, her reaction. ‘But,’ she quickly added, ‘I have been faithful.’
‘Then why didn't you raise your hand?’
‘I was ashamed.’
Mark Buchanan, "We're All Syncretists Now," Books & Culture (Jan./Feb. 2000), p.9
Just when you thought the greeting card racks had all the bases covered, someone found a remaining untapped market: mistresses. The Secret Lover Collection is ‘committed to providing a greeting card collection with empathy and understanding, without judgment, to lovers involved in a secret relationship.’
The woman behind the collection, Cathy Gallagher, says she launched it to help the unfaithful ‘express their emotions’—and to cash in, since ‘there's a huge, untapped market.’
How do you market greeting cards for the unfaithful? Very subtly. ‘There won't be a big banner that says Infidelity,’ she says. Cards will be displayed under labels like, Love Expressions, and Intimacy. Card messages include slogans for those committing adultery at work. They say things like, ‘I used to look forward to the weekends, but since we met they seem like an eternity.’ And (for those special holiday occasions) ‘As we each celebrate with our families, I will be thinking of you.’
Alex Johnson, "When You Care Enough to Risk Everything," msnbc.com (8-17-05); submitted by Larry Trotter, Wake Forest, North Carolina
This is a form of morality turned upside down. One long-ago Bible translation accidently left the word ‘not’ out of the 7th commandment; thereby, commanding adultery. It was deemed the ‘Wicked Bible’ for the mistake. But it seems that our culture encourages shame for not being involved with adulterous relationships. It even provides warm, fuzzy sentiments on flowery, glittery cards for those that do.
Transition: As with all of the commands that we’ve examined, the 7th is no exception. We are no longer under this Mosaic directive. At the same time, there is a universal, moral application of the command that is filled out in the progress of God’s revelation. Thus we will seek to discreetly establish several principles regarding adultery in our study this evening…
1. Intimacy in marriage is a gift from God. “God blessed [Adam and Eve], and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion…” (Genesis 1.28).
2. Intimacy in marriage is designed by God for three purposes:
a. So that the human population would multiply (Gen 1.22, 28)
b. So that the bonds of intimacy would reflect the intensity of Christ’s closeness with the church (Ephesians 5.22-33)
c. So that married couples would know the great joy and pleasure that such intimacy affords (Song of Solomon; Prov 5.15-19)
3. Intimacy is destroyed when adultery takes place. This is why both the adulterer and the adulteress were put to death under OT Law (see Lev 20.10).
4. If adultery destroys intimacy in marriage, then everything that causes adultery is forbidden by God as well. So, the command against adultery is in fact a prohibition against all sexual immorality.
a. Singles should be more concerned with protecting their purity than they are with how far they can go on a date.
b. Obviously, prostitution is included under the banner of this command.
c. Homosexual activity is immoral as well. God created male and female for physical intimacy. Homosexual behavior is a logical absurdity and an abomination. There cannot be two husbands or two wives.
d. Sexual violence is immoral. Rape, pedophilia, incest, and sexual abuse within marriage are all forms of such violence.
i. By the way, the Scripture states that “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb 13.4). While the bed in marriage is undefiled, this does not mean anything goes. Violence and denigration are not tolerable because two people happen to be married.
ii. The Scripture states that the husband should “render to his wife the affection due her, likewise also the wife her husband” (1 Cor 7.3). Verse 5 in the same passage admonishes couples to “not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that [they] may give [themselves] to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt [them] because of [their] lack of self-control.”
5. Intimacy outside the marriage bond very often leads to adultery. How is this expressed today?
a. Flirting or getting close to another person’s spouse; we should keep our distance (hugging, touching, invasion of one’s space - I’m always wary of someone who bucks against this in the name of ‘harmless show of affection’)
b. Married people seeking emotional support from someone other than their spouse (usually happening at work, churches, or even chat rooms); Aside - a healthy pastoral relationship with ladies in the church demands that the pastor hand over all counseling situations with ladies in the church to other godly women who can help; i.e., the pastor’s wife; husbands need to nourish their wives emotionally, spiritually, and physically
6. Intimacy in marriage becomes the glue that bonds two people together. Adultery joins together those who should not be joined together. When you try to pull apart the situation, it tears everyone up.
7. Intimacy in marriage and spiritual fidelity to God are closely paralleled in Scripture. This is the great mystery of Ephesians 5.31-32. Spiritual adultery is akin to believers have affections for other gods.
1 Corinthians 6:13b-20
13bNow the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.14And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” 17But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Our Bodies Belong to God the Father (13-14)
· Our bodies are designed by God for His use and glory. Our bodies are not our possessions but God’s.
· Do you realize that the body you are in right now will be resurrected one day? It will become a glorious body and endure throughout eternity. It will contain an absolutely pure and undefiled spirit.
Our Bodies are Members of Christ (15-18)
· We are members of Christ’s body; He is the Head.
· Immorality makes the members of Christ members of a harlot. Paul is saying that this is using part of Christ’s body in an act of sexual immorality. He can’t imagine such a thing; therefore, he states, “Certainly Not!” Don’t let that ever be!
· Sexual sin breaks spiritual relationships with God and man.
· How does one sin against his own body when involved in sexual immorality? Sexual sin is unique because it rises from within the body bent on personal gratification. It drives people like nothing else. When people take part in this sin, it affects them like no other sin. Intimacy outside marriage corrupts people at a very deep level.
Our Bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit (19-20)
· Think of it this way: Every act of sexual immorality by Christians is committed in the sanctuary of God.
· The body belongs to God for His glory. It does not belong to us for the purpose of perversion.
Jesus Filled Out the Seventh Commandment (Matthew 5.27-30)
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
· The problem of sexual immorality and adultery begins in the heart just like all sin.
· What is prohibited by Jesus? Is it not the lusting after a woman? Lusting does not mean looking per se. That is unavoidable in our culture today. It is looking in a way that anticipates and fantasizes. It has an immoral purpose. It usually leads to sin with the object of our lust or down the road to an act of self-worship or gratification.
Ephesians 5:3-4 “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”
· The idea of reading sexually explicit literature (most romance fiction).
· Fantasizing about scenarios that include sexual intimacy
· Telling dirty jokes or using double meanings to suggest something unseemly
· There shouldn’t be a hint of this among us.
Proverbs 6:27 “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?”
God’s Grace in Temptation
· God provides grace through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
· God also provides marriage as a gift for believers. Some Christians (not to many through my experience) are given the gift of celibacy. They have a capacity to refrain from sexual sin. However, most do not have this gift. For those, they should marry.
· Single Christians are called to sexual purity just as married Christians are. Many wonder how this is possible. It is possible through the 3 R’s of purity…
Responsibility, Restraint, and Relationship
1. Responsibility - understanding our roles and applying them to our lives; this takes discernment from God’s Word. Men have a unique role to be self-sacrificing in their love for others. It is a Christ-love. Women have a unique role in modeling submission to Christ by serving others.
2. Restraint - All believers are supposed to have their bodies under subjection by casting down vain thoughts and evil imaginations. This is accomplished by the grace of God.
3. Relationship - This is big - loving your neighbor as you love yourself. You cannot build a relationship if you’re self-centered. You cannot sacrifice for others or serve them if you’re into yourself.
a. The reason people utilize pornography is that they don’t want to actually put time into a relationship with others.
b. Both married and unmarried people choose self-fulfillment over sacrifice and submission. We may say that’s perfectly natural, but there is nothing perfect about behaving naturally!
c. The best way a single person prepares for marriage is by learning how to sacrifice and serve.
d. Married people who find their intimate life unfulfilling may need to examine the root cause - spiritual infidelity. Husbands must love their wives sacrificially. Wives must serve their husbands - something Christ called the greater choice. See 1 Thes 4.3-8.
343 - I Want a Principle Within