Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Forgotten Commandment -- Exodus 20:14


“You shall not commit adultery.”
 
As the dictionaries have been such a useful help to us recently, we best check out the various meanings of the word “adultery” since it is something God says we should have no part of.
Both the Cambridge and the Merriam-Webster dictionaries define it as sex between “a married man or woman” and someone he or she is not married to.  (Notice this is a politically correct definition because it says nothing about two single or unmarried people having sex and by implication condones that possibility.)
The Oxford dictionary acknowledges that adultery can be between two unmarried individuals when it defines the word as “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse”.  One would suppose that if it were not ‘voluntary’ it would fall under the definition of rape, but in my books, still a form of adultery.
The more North American Merriam-Webster gives us some more help with this word when it provides for us some synonyms, antonyms, related words, and near antonyms.
Synonyms
Antonyms
Related Words
Near Antonyms

When you look at the synonyms and the related words, one can easily see that adultery need not be physical alone – it may be emotional or strictly in one’s mind.  This fits in well with what Jesus said about it several thousands of years after His Father made His declaration on the topic when God delivered the Ten Commandments to the Israelites in the desert.  In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, verse 28, Jesus says, “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Looking at the suggested antonyms and near antonyms, one gets an idea of how we are to treat our spouses and avoid the snares of adultery – something that by Christ’s definition many of us are guilty of.  And this is where grace comes in – both God’s and that of our spouse.  As mere natural men and women we talk about “the first look is unavoidable” but it is the “second prolonged look” that starts the sin.  Whereas God can forgive the sin of adultery by a truly contrite heart – David in the Old Testament is a perfect example – He does not condone repeated adulterous behavior.   The American beloved pastor and author Charles Swindoll has a great take on this.  You can see it at Swindoll on Divorce.  I personally believe there are three grounds for separation and divorce of married couples.  These are repeated adultery, repeated physical abuse, and on-going mental debasement.
Adultery is rampant in our society today.  The dating firm Ashley Madison encourages it openly and says it’s good for you and your marriage.  God says, “No it is not”.  The church today seems to accept it taking on new members who have or are committing it.  Presidents and other public officials get away with it and then go on to score the highest public ratings of their life as the most-beloved incumbent in their position.  And too much familiarity among friends leads to adultery with one’s friends or the friends of their spouse.  And then there’s Internet sex that so many men and women have fallen victim to. But God says, “Don’t do it”.
For the long term effects of adultery, I would refer you to the very helpful Carelinks Ministries article on the topic at David's Repentance .  Well worth the read. 
God had a reason for making this commandment one of His ten.  Following it keeps the marriage together which in turn keeps the family together.  And that keeps society together.  If you have had the chance to go with your adulterous heart but chose against it, you have chosen wisely for the long run and for the sake of your children.
If you have chosen to remain on the adulterous path, you can still take your situation to God and see what He would have you do based on your current and complex circumstances that have resulted.  Get in touch with a counselor at your church or a nearby Bible believing church.  God will not abandon you as He did not abandon David, but used Him mightily for His purposes.  That is my prayer for you.
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