the commandments. today.
The seventh commandment is a clear call for faithfulness in relationships, a faithfulness that goes simply beyond marital relationships, but is about the state of our hearts.
‘Neither shall you commit adultery.’ (Deuteronomy 5:18)
The Big Idea
Harmonious community living was a necessity for the Israelites, meaning that the sanctity of marriage was a hugely important thing. There would have been temptations that arose in living on top of each other, and yet this is so opposed to God’s purpose in bringing couples together for monogamous relationships.
For us, there is still a call to complete faithfulness in relationships. Jesus’ teaching built upon this commandment in the Sermon on the Mount,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 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. 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)
This teaching shows that following God demands a higher standard than simply not committing adultery. If that is the mark, we can sometimes allow ourselves to argue away other inappropriate behaviour, because it is not technically adultery. Yet Jesus is clear, our hearts and thoughts are important and precious, they need to be guarded otherwise we can all fall into the temptation of lustful thinking, that can so quickly escalate.
Obeying it Today
How then do we put this commandment into practice?
Don’t put yourself in vulnerable positions
If you aware that lustful thoughts are a problem for you, do not put yourself into positions where you are making things harder for yourself. This could mean not using your laptop or phone after a certain hour, avoiding certain movies or TV shows, or ever not meeting up with people secretly. It is not always going to be the “big” things that cause us to stumble, but rather our day to day attitudes and choices have a massive bearing.
Don’t take relationships for granted
All of us are in relationships of some kind or another, and so we must learn to not take these connections for granted. We do this through listening attentively to what people are saying (rather than assuming we know what they are saying), being thankful for their advice (even when it can be challenging to hear) and choosing to honour relationships with faithfulness. In marriages, it is especially important to keep committing to your spouse, after the initial joy of starting a new life together is perhaps wearing thin.
Some things we can do…
- Cultivate attitudes in which people matter, learning to see people the way God intended us to – beautiful creations of his. When we do this, it changes our outlook on people, and the way we treat them.
- Be honest! If this is something you struggle with, talk to people you trust, such as a close friend, mentor or Church leader. This accountability, although it is hard, could be a revolutionary decision.
- Prayer triplets, or similar, provide a brilliant opportunity for us to have real on the ground help in the day to day instances. Prayer also brings us before God, and when we engage with him, this changes things.