The Seventh Commandment is found in Exodus 20:14: “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.”
This commandment was given to protect the honor and sanctity of marriage and, like the Fifth Commandment, it also protects the entire family unit.
Before we can understand all that God teaches about the true purposes of sex and marriage—and why the seventh command—we must examine what is occurring today.
The world is now drenched—actually drowning—in a deluge of sex, with much or most of it having no connection to any real meaning or right purpose. More than ever in history, all mankind is awash in every conceivable kind of sexual pleasure, fantasy, perversion and pursuit—in or out of marriage, and with fewer and fewer people any longer making a distinction between the two. There has come to be no end to—and virtually no limits on—advertisements, television programs, movies, books, magazines, articles, photographs and websites for every kind of pornography and sex-related activity that the misguided creative genius of human beings could devise.
The sexual revolution of the latter twentieth century changed the entire world—and not for the better. During this period, the idea of “sex without boundaries” did, in fact, escalate beyond all bounds. The advent of cable television, the Internet and the vast expanse of every conceivable kind of pornographic website that it offers, and the ease with which adult videos can be obtained, have helped spread the mindset that all sex is good—in or out of marriage.
Barriers everywhere have dropped—and are still dropping as they near a complete collapse on all fronts. Seemingly, every day establishes new lows in immorality, perversion, debauchery and “anything goes” when it comes to sexual habits and appetites. Experimentation and indulgence have become the norm. Most today have come to believe that free sex of every conceivable kind, with the same or opposite sex—or both—is a simple matter of personal preference. It is as though there is no longer the slightest concern about whether sexual activity is right or wrong. Vast millions have come to believe that achieving sexual pleasure in any setting, for any purpose, and involving any kind of experimentation or activity (and this includes any number of men and women participating in a single sexual episode) is perfectly acceptable—and is now, at least unconsciously, even seen to be a kind of human “right” of sorts.
By every older human standard and definition of morality—not to mention what God teaches!—sexual values in the early twenty-first century are infinitely worse than a mere fifty years ago. Words like “disgusting,” “sickening,” “shocking” and “revolting” come to mind when one looks across the world at what is now seen to be almost normal conduct, at least in the eyes of young people. Even the bestiality more common in ancient times is quietly reappearing. It is not too early to ask: how soon before this perverse evil becomes at least tacitly accepted by society?
This Time Foretold
God foretold that in the “last days…men shall be…lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” and “without natural affection” (II Tim. 3:1-4). In the age of gross materialism, mixed with rank hedonism, the three “L’s” of leisure, luxury and license have come to dominate the thinking of whole societies and nations.
Of course, God is certainly not against enjoyment, which includes many kinds of pleasure, and obviously sex is perhaps chief among them. But He declares of our wanton, lascivious age, through the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, that “Every one neighed after his neighbor’s wife” (5:8). And it is in this context that the now almost completely forgotten Seventh Commandment prohibiting adultery is being routinely ignored by great numbers who then, as professing Christians, turn right around each week and go to church as though their conduct is of little or no consequence in God’s sight. As one preacher so aptly put it: “Most people sow wild oats all week, and then go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure.”
The Bible is filled with scriptures—literally scores of passages—describing the sexual saturation of wrong conduct and wrong thinking in the modern age. God pulls no punches in labeling many different kinds of sexual behavior as sin. A few of these will be examined more closely at the end of this chapter.
Adultery is now rampant in all Western nations, with 83 percent of American households experiencing—and afflicted by—adultery, being committed by either one or both mates. The suffering of all kinds connected just to illicit sex by married people is staggering to consider. At what point will we find 90 percent—95 percent—or even 100 percent—of couples no longer faithful in marriage?
The widespread practice of adulterous “pleasure marriages” has grown stronger in the Middle East and is also quickly regaining popularity in the new, democratic Iraq. This is the custom of men marrying several so-called “widows” for the sole purpose of sex outside marriage, but done under the guise of taking care of women in need. In addition, because of China’s explosion of economic prosperity, adultery in that country has grown so widespread that there are now tens of thousands of private investigators whose sole task is to track and report the marital infidelity of wealthy executives whose wives doubt their faithfulness. Incredibly, only one in 100 is found to be faithful! Then there are the various cultures of Europe, where having a mistress has long been considered a badge of honor—and wives willingly accept the status quo.
But conditions have gone far beyond simple adultery, which is wrong enough and terribly damaging. Recognize that the very worst kinds of perversion and sick, degenerate practices in modern society cannot even be discussed. The Bible actually prohibits such discussion: “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Eph. 5:12). It is important to bear in mind that the very worst things that are happening in the sexual arena throughout society are necessarily excluded here.
Many modern societies have been forced by militant social radicals to embrace the concept of political correctness. This mindset permits all people to live whatever lifestyle—including “alternative” ones—that they choose, as long as they can rationalize that “it doesn’t hurt anyone else.” Such tolerance was rarely, or possibly never, known before this age. Virtually everyone and everything that people do is now tolerated with little question. Of course, the arrival of the personal computer and the Internet has spawned and helped perpetuate this era of tolerance.
Pleasure and betterment for the self are the main goals and hopes of most people. In this vein, great numbers would argue that, if they are only hurting themselves, they should have the right to experiment and enjoy whatever they please. But is all this self-pleasure leading toward real betterment of lives? Absolutely not.
God Ordains Marriage
The most important human relationship—marriage—was first introduced in Genesis 2:18, when Eve was created: “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
Eve was created after Adam, not with him. God wanted to illustrate to Adam how incomplete and futile his life would be without a “help meet.” Once Adam realized his need for human companionship, he could better appreciate having a wife. Eve’s attributes were designed to complement Adam’s. She was designed by God with the attributes needed to nurture and care for children. God made her suitable and fully compatible for Adam as his lifetime marriage partner.
Verse 24 states, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Here, marriage is defined in greater detail. God created and ordained marriage as the union in which man and woman could be physically and emotionally fulfilled. Marriage was ordained to be a giving relationship with mutual love, care and consideration. God intended that man and woman mutually assist each other in the development of character. Marriage also serves as the basis for having and rearing children. Children were to be provided a safe haven and given many years of diligent training and supervision.
God intended that family life serve as the training ground for children. As children learn to obey and honor their parents, they will learn to obey and honor God. The father and mother’s closeness and loyalty to each other helps children develop and succeed in an atmosphere of confidence and security.
In Colossians 3:18-19, Paul states, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” Recognize that if these had not been common marital problems at that time, Paul would not have mentioned them in this letter. Whatever the cause for bitterness, generally the solution involves diligence in understanding and conciliation. This works if the husband loves his wife and she is submissive, as Christ commanded through Paul.
Christ and the Church
In Ephesians 5:22-23, Paul compares marriage to the relationship between Christ and the Church: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church: and He is the Savior of the body.”
This is a profound statement! The husband must conduct himself toward his wife as Christ does toward His Church! A husband must nurture, guide, train and provide for his wife, just as Christ does for His Church!
Verses 24-25 and 28 further explain the analogy: “Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it…So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself.”
The two partners become one flesh (through marital relations) just as the Church is the body of Christ. “For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh” (vs. 30-31).
Though the world is oblivious to this “great mystery,” it is plainly written in verses 32-33: “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
In recent times, this understanding was made plain for the Church of God by a man named Herbert W. Armstrong, who stressed that the lesson of marriage was to ingrain faithfulness in God’s Church. Thus, God’s Church would be loyal to Christ for all eternity.
“You Are Not Your Own”
I Corinthians 6:15-17 reads, “Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot [sexually immoral woman]? God forbid. What? Know you not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, says He, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” Becoming “one flesh” with a prostitute emphasizes the seriousness of adultery! Genesis 2:24 shows that husband and wife become “one flesh”—one marriage unit, as well as one in their sexual relationship. Adultery and fornication are serious for anyone—but especially those called by God to be part of Christ’s spiritual body, His Church. Paul explains the foolishness of those actions, adding that Christians must exercise the power of God to rule over the pulls of the flesh.
I Corinthians 6:18-20 states, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body. What? Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy [Spirit] which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
How does a person sin against his own body? One aspect made evident in the above scriptures is that the husband’s wife is actually his own flesh, and vice versa (Eph. 5:28-29; I Cor. 7:3-4). If he sins against his wife by committing adultery, he sins against himself. “Flee fornication” means to FLEE, just as Joseph did when confronted by Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39:7-12. We must not tolerate it and see how long we can resist this temptation. Those now called of God do not have claim over their own bodies. They have been bought and paid for by the sacrifice of Christ—they are not their own! A Christian must always remember this!
The Adultery-Idolatry Connection
Temptation and sexual seduction have long been integrated with idolatry in order to attract followers. Satan the devil has made adultery, fornication and sexual orgies part of the worship rituals in many pagan religions.
Numbers 25:1 records this history: “…the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifice of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.”
In this account, many in Israel were being tempted by the deception of Balaam. He schemed a way to get God to curse Israel. Balaam arranged for thousands of beautiful Moabite and Midianite women to take part in a “religious” ceremony in the worship of Baal-peor. This sensual orgy was orchestrated to cause Israel to stumble and sin. Historical accounts point out that women involved in such pagan ceremonies were often forced to do this.
In ancient times, temple prostitutes were used to worship various pagan gods. The allure of the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh (I John 2:16) reinforced the attraction of idol worship. Notice the following quote (emphasis ours): “In Egypt, Phoenicia, Assyria, Chaldea, Canaan and Persia, the worship of Isis, Molech, Baal, Astarte, Mylitta, and other deities consisted of the most extravagant sensual orgies and the temples were merely centers of vice. In Babylon some degree of prostitution appears to have been even compulsory and imposed upon all women in honor of the goddess Mylitta. In India the ancient connection between religion and prostitution still survives… Among the Jews, who stood apart from the surrounding peoples, THE OBJECT OF THE MOSAIC LAW [the “laws of God,” or the Ten Commandments] WAS CLEARLY TO PRESERVE THE PURITY OF THE RACE AND THE RELIGION” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., Vol. 22, p. 458).
The following is from the same source and summarizes these historical observations: “Among the ancient nations of the East, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE JEWS, prostitution appears to have been connected with religious worship, and to have been not merely tolerated but encouraged.” Only in the worship of the true God was this sexual perversion not found. When obeyed, God’s laws protected Israel’s purity.
Israel was more than willing to commit idolatry when adultery was included. Concerning this, Paul wrote in Colossians 3:5-6, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.”
Such lusts of the flesh are covetousness which, in turn, leads to idolatry—breaking the seventh, tenth and second commandments. Ephesians 5:5 confirms this: “For this you know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
The wrath of God came upon those who committed adultery with the Moabite and Midianite women that Balaam had gathered. Numbers 25:9 shows that 24,000 died as a result of this sin.
The penalty of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Leviticus 20:10 reads, “And the man that commits adultery with another man’s wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” God promised swift and severe punishment for those who committed adultery. They became an example used to instill fear in others.
What Christ Taught
In Matthew 19, the Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause. He responded in verses 4-6, “Have you not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Christ taught that the marriage vow was binding. The Pharisees quickly asked about the bill of divorcement that Moses allowed. Christ answered in verses 8-9, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away does commit adultery.”
As an apostle of Christ, Paul had the authority to clarify this. This clarification involved brethren in the Church who had been previously married to spouses who were unconverted and not in the Church. The unbelieving spouses had willingly departed, rejecting the beliefs of their converted mates. In these cases, the converted spouses were not bound (I Cor. 7:12-16). This clarification did not supersede Christ’s words, but was an amendment for certain brethren who had come into God’s Church.
Matthew 5:27-28 is a powerful statement with enormous implications: “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Far from doing away with God’s Law, Christ significantly expanded and magnified it. It is now far more binding—even one’s thoughts are to be controlled, as opposed to obeying just the letter of the law. Though the world thinks that the Law is done away, God’s people know it is still in effect.
So careful is the walk of a Christian that Paul had to caution the brethren in Ephesians 5:3-5, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becomes saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
From the Book of Proverbs
The Proverbs contain many additional admonitions and warnings about adultery, with some very extensive:
“Discretion shall preserve you, understanding shall keep you…To deliver you from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flatters with her words; which forsakes the guide of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God. For her house inclines unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life” (2:11, 16-19).
“For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest you should ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that you cannot know them. Hear me now therefore, O you children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove your way far from her, and come not near the door of her house: lest you give your honor unto others, and your years unto the cruel: lest strangers be filled with your wealth; and your labors be in the house of a stranger; and you mourn at the last, when your flesh and your body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly” (5:3-14).
“And why will you, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?” (5:20).
“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: to keep you from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in your heart; neither let her take you with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whosoever touches her shall not be innocent. Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; but if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. But whoso commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding: he that doeth it destroys his own soul. A wound and dishonor shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though you give many gifts” (6:23-35).
Also take the time to read Proverbs 7:4-27; 9:13-18; 5:15-19; 18:22; 19:14.
King Solomon, who possessed great wealth and was in a position to fulfill every conceivable desire of his heart, made some profound observations (Ecc. 1:13). He learned many lessons by way of experience. We can benefit from his wisdom.
Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines—1,000 of the most beautiful women in the world. He observed that trying to satisfy carnal lusts was an exercise in futility. He saw that lust was equal to grasping an illusion. God allowed Solomon to go to these lengths and to record them for our benefit. It is better to learn from his example than to make the same mistakes.
Solomon finally concluded, “All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing” (Ecc. 1:8). Ecclesiastes 5:10 continues, “He that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loves abundance with increase: this is also vanity.”
We can take his word for it, since he spoke from experience, not from wistful hopes or wishes. Whatever one lusts after, he would never be satisfied with it—be it 1,000 of the world’s most beautiful women or fabulous wealth. Though Solomon had all this and had accomplished great things, he lamented, “Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecc. 2:17).
Here was his conclusion, repeated from the book’s introduction: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc. 12:13). The phrase “duty of” was inserted by translators, the reason for its being found in italics. The last phrase should simply be, “for this is the whole man.” Fearing God and keeping His commandments are to be ingrained into the innermost being.
This key principle is also found in Leviticus 18:5: “You shall therefore keep My statutes, and My judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.”
Solomon paid dearly for these experiences, as recorded in I Kings 11:4: “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.” Verse 11 continues, “Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of you, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely rend the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant.”
Solomon’s actions brought consequences. The same is true for anyone today!
God warns against moral permissiveness: “Do not prostitute your daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness” (Lev. 19:29). God shows that prostitution results in the land becoming full of wickedness. Every other form of evil follows its wake. Modern society bears stark testimony to this.
Occasionally, news broadcasts will show a group of residents protesting against a strip club or a massage parlor moving into their neighborhood. It is generally known that these elements bring with them other vices, such as more open prostitution, drug rings, organized crime, homicides, theft and other crimes of opportunity. General corruption fills their neighborhood.
Wickedness breeds more wickedness, which leads to moral collapse. Here is what God instructed: “Moreover you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, to defile yourself with her. And you shall not let any of your seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shall you lie with any beast to defile yourself therewith…it is confusion. Defile not you yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you” (Lev. 18:20-24).
These verses make it clear that God not only condemns homosexuality, but He also calls it an abomination. Bestiality is also forbidden and is simply called “confusion.”
God then admonished Israel to avoid this wickedness and its consequences: “And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomits out her inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourns among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spew not you out also, when you defile it, as it spewed out the nations that were before you” (vs. 25-28).
Today’s liberal educators, politicians, entertainers, media stars, and clergy promote “political correctness,” including acceptance of homosexuality. Anyone who disagrees with them is usually labeled a “homophobe” and a bigot. Just as nature itself teaches that it is a shame for a man to have long hair, so also does it cry out against these abominations. Those who are deeply warped into such behavioral patterns are often not salvageable in this life.
People, like nations, can morally collapse and corrupt others. God can and will eventually redeem the vast majority of these people and they will learn to honor His ways. Tragically, today’s liberal concept of mercy is co-existence with sin and perversion. But God has a much better plan in store for the recovery of those who have self-destructed in this life.
Great Purpose Revealed!
The world has been ignorant of the true purposes of sex. The result has been untold pain and suffering for the masses! This misery—now epidemic—is measured in disease, new kinds of perversion, unwanted pregnancies yielding abortions, illegitimate children or unwanted children in marriage, sky-rocketing divorce rates, which in turn produce corresponding numbers of jumbled families, bankruptcies, court battles and even crime.
Sadly, these conditions grow worse and more complicated, with each new generation compounding the problems and evils of the previous one.
Tragedy, unhappiness and confusion about sex and marriage have afflicted every nation of the world for thousands of years, and people have not known where to turn for the answers—the solutions—to so many ill effects, now running rampant.
The Seventh Commandment is written for those who will consider what Almighty God instructs, not for the willingly disobedient. God reveals that marriage and sex have a marvelous purpose completely beyond the bounds of human imagination. After hearing God’s explanation, you be the judge of whether it makes more sense than that which is offered by evolutionists and traditional Christianity.
There is another aspect of the Seventh Commandment that must at least be referenced before this brief chapter is complete. Remember, in regard to adultery, if you will not accept God’s revealed Word, you are left with no choice but to be ignorant of how and when marriage began, and of the purposes of sex. You must accept that marriage is either a human invention on the road of evolution, or the falsehood of religion—that it is for no purpose other than procreation because celibacy is a “higher calling.” These are your only options! With either, the marvelous answers available in God’s Word to the great questions of marriage and sex remain shrouded in mystery.
We have available a number of books and booklets on the subject of marriage, sex, dating and courtship and related topics. To understand a great deal more, consider reading the following books: Sex – Its Unknown Dimension and Dating and Courtship – God’s Way. There are also three booklets that are most informative: The Purpose of Marriage – Ever Obsolete?, You Can Build a Happy Marriage and Understanding Divorce and Remarriage.
The same question repeats itself: what if the whole world kept the Seventh Commandment? Adultery would not exist. People would consider the long-term consequences of their actions.
Almost every television program and movie would have to rewrite their scripts. Advertising would have to find a new theme to sell everything from ratchet wrench sets to used tires without their traditional sex pitch. Magazines would have to do the same. The Internet’s biggest moneymaker and fastest growing business—(ever-worsening) pornography—would collapse!
Further, there would be no more prostitution, strip clubs, adult movie theaters, exotic sex shops, or escort services. Extramarital affairs would not exist, drastically affecting the divorce rate, sending many children into a much happier future. Illegitimate births and sexually transmitted diseases would disappear. Sexually suggestive clothing styles, which lead to a variety of sexual sins and crimes, would all disappear. And the list goes on.
All these changes and more will be effectively implemented in the coming Kingdom of God, when Satan’s influences are gone.