We are looking at the Ten Commandments (this summer) with special attention to the New Testament interpretation of them.
"You shall not commit adultery." (Deuteronomy 5:18)
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30)
For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander (Matthew 15:19)
If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’
Thoughts: Just as the root of murder is anger, the root of adultery is lust. Jesus explains that God is not concerned with the exterior action, but also where the sin starts- the inside. The Old Testament seems to emphasize adultery as a sin for the female (Lev. 20), but the New Testament emphasizes it as a sin for the male. Jesus says if you "look at a woman." Thus women and men are equally liable to break this commandment. It is not the institution of marriage that Jesus guards here as much as the heart of people. In American culture the word "lust" is rarely used secularly. If it is used, then it is used not as something bad today- like lusting after chocolate or lusting after a Hardees burger or a VW car. Madison Avenue has elevated sexuality, lust, and coveting as the most exciting, exalted phenomenons in life (one wonders why life is worth living when a child is too young for sex or when even the viagra doesn't work). Some excuse lust by saying it is natural, and if it did not happen then the race would not continue (one wonders how those Muslims with Burkas have so many children). In the West we have lost our sense of modesty and shame about sexual things. If an American woman travels to a church in parts of the Middle East (and even in some parts of Europe) they are often shocked to be told to cover their bare shoulders and their miniskirts. Pornography is an epidemic in America (the industry estimates are up to $14 billion a year) because few are saying lust is wrong today, and the tools of lust (certain TV channels, internet sites- now numbering over 4.2 million porn sites-12% of all sites) are readily available. 70% of American men aged 18-34 have visited a pornographic web site in a typical month. (http://www.safefamilies.org/sfStats.php)
God is not just the God of spiritual things, but also of the physical. God cares about our bodies. Thus Jesus healed the sick. Our bodies and our souls are interwoven and affect one another. Thus depression can make one physically ill, and anger raises the blood pressure, while prayer may lower it. On the opposite end, sin affects us physically (think of STDs). Monogamy with its twin associates chastity and fidelity are proven preventions for sexually transmitted diseases. In AIDS plagued Africa today, there is only one country that has turned the tide on the growth of AIDS- Uganda. It has done so (ironically with much American aid) by emphasizing monogamy- chastity and fidelity (http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0074.html; http://www.avert.org/aids-uganda.htm#contentTable0).
Christians are not called to not let adultery and its root cause of lust to consume them. Tomorrow we will look at Jesus' view of grace and adultery.
Prayer: Lord, keep me pure in my heart. Remove the desire for sexual promiscuity from me. Keep me from giving into lust and adultery. Though a thousand fall to lust at my side, and ten thousand give into it at my right hand, keep it far away from me.
John Calvin Abridged: God is not an earthly lawgiver who only forbids the external act while permitting us to indulge evil affections. People are satisfied when they cannot perceive their faults, but God sees the heart. (Sermons on the Ten Commandments 171).
The purpose of this (7th commandment) is that because God loves modesty and purity, all uncleanness must be far from us. We should not become defiled by any filth or lustful intemperance of the flesh. The companionship of marriage has been ordained as a necessary remedy to keep us from plunging into unbridled lust. Outside of marriage people cannot cohabit with another without God's curse. (Inst. II.8.41)