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Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Ten Words (7)

As we come to the seventh of the Ten Words/Commandments, we come to the second of those to which the Lord Jesus made specific mention in the Sermon on the Mount.  The commandment reads: "You shall not commit adultery." (Ex 20:14).

This, of course, is always the difficult one when teaching children!  Sadly, there are - in my opinion - far too many children who are the product of broken homes because one, or other, of their parents didn't abide by this commandment. 

Putting at its simplest, this commandment is saying that husbands and wives must be faithful to one another - and to the vows they took at their wedding (certainly if it was a Christian wedding service).  And, in spite of what I have stated in the previous paragraph, there are many who can claim, with absolute honesty, to have honoured those vows.  Men and women were designed, by our Creator, to be together, and to need each other. Marriage is a natural union of a man and a woman - and only of a man and a woman - and was divinely ordained and established by God from the very beginning of mankind. His laws, and in particular this Seventh Commandment, authorise the marriage relationship and establish it as the foundation of the family, which in turn stands as both the foundation, and also the most important building block, of human society.

Adultery is the violation of the marriage covenant by wilful participation in sexual activity with someone other than one's spouse.  But, of course, the Lord Jesus took it much further!  His words are "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'  But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matt 5:27-29).  That is a whole different story!   Just as I may be able to say that I have never murdered anyone, but cannot say that I have never been angry, and felt like murdering a lot of people; so, although I may be able to claim that I have never committed the act of adultery, there is no way that I can claim never to have looked at another woman with a physical desire in my heart.  Indeed, I have often confessed, from platform and pulpit that, according to Jesus' stricter interpretation, I am a serial murderer and a serial adulterer!

Now, let me make clear that this is not a prohibition on appreciating the physical beauty of a member of the opposite gender.  If that were the case, I wouldn't even be married!  It is the allowing that natural attraction to develop into a desire that is prohibited, that is the problem.

So why would the Creator give this commandment?   Far be it from me to suggest that I 'know the mind of the Lord' (see Rom.11:34).  However, I would suggest that one reason is the sanctity of the family.  I have already referred to the number of broken homes that are the result of an adulterous relationship involving one, or other, of two spouses.  Not only do they suffer, but any children of the marriage suffer also - torn between two people, both of whom they love!

The adulterer him/herself may suffer psychologically.  "He who commits adultery has no sense;
he who does it destroys himself." (Prov 6:32) are words worth pondering (and, of course, they apply to both genders!).

However, I suspect that the main reason why Almighty God gave this commandment is because, as Paul writes: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Saviour.  As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present the church to Himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body.  'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'  This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Eph. 5:21-33).  The marriage covenant is a picture of the relationship that the Lord Jesus has with His own people.  We tamper with it at our peril!

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