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“Marriage & Sexuality, part 3: The Problem With Adultery”Categories: discipleship, marriage & family, Midweek FR articles
In the last two midweek articles, we started an exploration of the entire framework of Biblical teachings on marriage and sexuality. First, we talked about the Bible’s teachings on righteous sexual behavior, and then we addressed the importance of permanent and exclusive marriages. The plan is to continue to explore these topics in the next several writings, making a straightforward—and hopefully concise—case for what the Bible has to say on the following topics: adultery, lust, polygamy, divorce, and remarriage.
Adultery is what’s commonly called “cheating” on a spouse or “having an affair.” It’s when a married person has sex with anyone who is not his or her spouse. And there’s no wondering whether it’s a behavior that the Bible considers right or wrong—the Bible is clear that it’s wrong, and speaks in volumes on that subject.
The Ten Commandments forbid adultery (Ex. 20:14, Dt. 5:18). The Law of Moses exacted punishments on both adulterers and adulteresses (Lv. 20:10ff, Nm. 5:11ff). The wisdom of Solomon warned in strong terms about the damage that adultery can do to the one who commits it (Pr. 5). The prophets used the obvious wrongness of adultery as metaphor for Israel’s long-term unfaithfulness to their covenant with God and their worshiping other gods (Jr. 3:9, Ez. 16:38ff, 23:37ff, etc). And Jesus spoke clearly on the subject, noting that adultery (“sexual immorality,” Mt. 5:32) dissolves a marriage and releases the righteous spouse from it if they so choose to be released (19:9ff). He also added greater depth of heart to the Law of Moses’s command that, “You shall not commit adultery” by warning that, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt. 5:28) And even though Jesus once released a woman who was caught in adultery from the hypocrisy of those who wanted to put her to death, he still admitted that she had sinned by committing adultery, saying, “Go your way and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11). And the apostles also spoke with a firm understanding that the act of adultery is sinful in the eyes of God, no matter which of God’s covenants a person may live under (Rm. 2:22, Rm. 13:9, 2 Pt. 2:14, Rv. 2:22).
So it’s clear that adultery is a sin. And that knowledge might bring about different reactions from different people, depending on what point in life we’re at.
- For a person who has committed adultery, it may seem that such a thing is too damaging and too bad to ever be forgiven. But there is forgiveness available for those who have committed adultery and then have repented and confessed that to God, just like with all other sins.
- For those who are currently married and trying to serve God, all of this reminds us of the same truth from last week’s article: That it’s crucial for married people who want to serve God faithfully to protect our marriages and to be faithful to our spouses.
Whether the world around us thinks that such a thing is right or wrong, God says that it’s wrong, and we must fight any temptation to commit adultery. Our families depend on it, society at large depends on it, and each of our souls depend on us being faithful to God by resisting the temptation to commit this sin.
- Dan Lankford, minister