“You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14
Again, another commandment that is simple and to the point. However, Christians don’t seem to struggle with the meaning of this commandment quite like we do with “You shall not murder.” But do we really understand the meaning of the 6th commandment? Does it simply mean not to have sex with someone other than your spouse? Or not to have sex outside of marriage? Does this commandment only apply to our physical relationships with other people? What about emotional adultery? Spiritual adultery? Can we commit adultery against God?
God refers to Israel as an unfaithful wife in the harshest of terms in the Old Testament. Here are just a few examples:
“Do not make treaties of any kind with the people living in the land. They are spiritual prostitutes, committing adultery against me by sacrificing to their gods. If you make peace with them, they will invite you to go with them to worship their gods, and you are likely to do it. (Exodus 34:15)
During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel does? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. (Jeremiah 3:6)
When the LORD first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute,* so some of her children will be born to you from other men. This will illustrate the way my people have been untrue to me, openly committing adultery against the LORD by worshiping other gods.” (Hosea 1:2)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes the concept of adultery and makes it very personal — from the eye, to the hand, to the very inner places of the heart. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)
Obviously, based on the words of Jesus, both single and married people can break this commandment. The women of Grace Chapel were asked the following question: “How can you be guilty of breaking this commandment without being married?” Here are some of their thoughts:
- Through lust or impure dating relationships
- Lust is adultery so anyone can break this commandment
- You can commit spiritual adultery towards God when devoted to someone or something else
- Through fantasizing or giving yourself to other things/idols instead of to God
- By viewing pornography
- Lusting after someone who is married
- Anything that compromises purity of heart, mind, or body is committing adultery
For Week 8, please read Chapter 7 on the Seventh Commandment. Following are discussion questions to prepare you for our next meeting:
- What motivates people to steal?
- How is a thief injured by stealing?
- How are theft and lying alike?
- How are theft and murder related?
- What is the good news of this commandment?