Additional thoughts to: “Do not commit adultery”

Here are some additional thoughts to past Sunday’s sermon on “Do not commit adultery”.

With much of Sunday’s teaching dealing with Matthew 5 and Matthew 19 where Jesus expands on what constitutes as committing adultery as well as legitimate reasons for divorce, there are many questions that can arise out of these two passages.

Here are just a few topics/questions that I didn’t have time to address on Sunday during the sermon:

If looking lustfully is committing adultery in our hearts, is that enough to justify a divorce?

                Opportunities to look with lust are much more prevalent than they ever have been before. Not only is the majority of our media driven by sexual content to be more attractive to the average viewer, but our society has very little concept of the importance of dressing modestly. Also, seeing that we have all committed adultery in our hearts, we are all guilty of committing adultery. Does that mean that we should all be divorced? By no means! The physical act of adultery, engaging in a physical sexual act with someone other than our spouse, requires much more effort and neglect of moral boundaries that I think it merits the distinction between adultery of the heart and the physical act of adultery. With it being extremely easy to look at another person with lust (it only takes a millisecond!)

If the physical act of adultery has been committed, does that require a divorce?

                This is a tough one. I have seen several marriages be redeemed, through their commitment to Christ, from cases of physical acts of adultery. Through mutual desire to remain married as well as solid biblical counseling, the couples were able to work through the painful event in their marriage and thus be a beautiful picture of reconciliation, redemption, and forgiveness (all are elements of our relationship with God!). I have also seen many marriages, unfortunately, end in divorce as a result of infidelity. If the guilty spouse is genuinely repentant, and both parties want to seek reconciliation, then I believe they are seeking a good thing. When it comes to broken relationships, very few people experience the joy of reconciliation. However, I don’t think that married couples are required to reconcile and remain married after infidelity. Of course, every situation is different and there are many variables (children, ages of children, financial situation, family support, the extent of the infidelity, etc) that make every case of infidelity complicated.

Is physical abuse a valid reason for divorce?

Yes. I believe that if a spouse is physically abusive to their spouse/family members, they are displaying a blatant hardening of their heart in the lack of concern for the physical well-being of their family. Also, if someone is physically abusive to their so-called “loved one”, it seems obvious to me that it is a form of adultery because they are behaving unfaithfully towards their spouse.  If a Christian is in a chronically abusive relationship, I would definitely encourage them to divorce; both for their own physical safety, as well as the safety of any other family members in the household. Remember, Jesus said the reason why God allowed divorce in the Law of Moses was because of the “hardening of their hearts”. I cannot think of many other instances that describe the hardening of someone’s heart more than an abusive spouse.

It is important for young Christians to know that godliness should be the #1 attribute they are to look for in a potential spouse. Godliness does not simply refer to their character and how “spiritual” they are, but it also refers to the fact that a godly person holds themselves accountable to God first and foremost. A wife’s confidence in her husband’s holiness should be in the fact that he is more committed in his relationship with God than he is to his wife, and vice versa. When one is solely devoted to the cause of Christ, that should bring any spouse great comfort, knowing that it is not their responsibility to change the other person, but they can be confident that their spouse is committed to changing for the better because of their sole devotion to their Lord.

If Deuteronomy 24:25-27 shows that God is aware of when someone is sexually abused, then why does He allow it to happen in the first place?

This question is very similar to the general question of “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”. In general, we can see in the Bible that it does not take long for one human being to sin against another human being (see Cain and Abel in Genesis 4). One of the greatest struggles for human beings to grasp is how God allows a person to commit evil acts against other people. We have all sinned against one another in various ways in a variety of degrees. In response to the question “Why did God allow that person to hurt me?”, I think one way of answering that is by asking the question, “How many times to God allow me to hurt someone else?”. I want to say this very sensitively, because there is a chance that the person reading this has been sexually abused and is still dealing with the hurt and trauma of that abuse. When we ask the question, “How many times did God allow me to hurt someone else?” it is only meant to put in perspective the fact that God, in His sovereignty, allows us to act upon our evil and sinful desires. If God were to prevent every person from sinning against one another, there would be no need for His Law. But since His Law came in so that “transgression would increase”, we are forced to deal with the fact that we have all willfully acted upon our sinful natures, and those sins are what condemn us to hell. If God prevented us from sinning, there would be no need for forgiveness. But by recognizing just how sinful we are, we are able to appropriately appreciate His grace and mercy and how His patience was displayed in us by granting us faith in Jesus Christ, when He could have righteously judged us before we received His salvation.

The answer to this question is not necessarily going to diminish the hurt and trauma for abuse victims, but I hope that some Biblical perspective can help them gain some sort of closure and a better understanding that God is faithful to all those who cry out to Him for help and salvation.

How does the 7th commandment give us guidance on our attire?

If we take Jesus’ definition of adultery seriously, in that even looking with lust is committing adultery in our hearts, then we should also take into account our motivation for what we wear (or not wear) when in view of others in public. If a person dresses with the intent of looking “hot” or “sexy”, then they are essentially encouraging others who look at them to commit adultery. If we also understand that committing adultery is deserving of the death penalty, then we would also be wishing death upon others by enticing them to look at us with lust!  On the other hand, sometimes it doesn’t matter how modestly one dresses, it will not prevent another person from sinning if they already have lust in their heart.

I believe that Christians should be mindful of how they dress in public and in photos, keeping in mind that if adultery is committed with a look of lust, then we should take it upon ourselves to not encourage others (especially our brothers and sisters in Christ) to look at others lustfully. At the same time, every Christian is personally responsible for guarding their eyes and hearts whenever possible, because non-Christians will have little-to-no convictions regarding dressing modestly.

I’m married to an unbeliever, should I remain married to them?

Instructions regarding a believer being married to an unbeliever are found in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 and 1 Peter 3:1-7, and are likely in the context of couples who were both unbelievers at the time they were married, and since that time one of them has become regenerated by the grace of God through Christ. The instructions are pretty clear: remain married as far as it depends on you and your faithfulness in the marriage for the purpose of potentially seeing your spouse saved as a result of your personal witness to them. If the unbelieving spouse wants to leave the marriage, then the believer in the marriage is to allow them to leave.

This, of course, is not an easy task by any means for the believing spouse. Their loyalty to Christ will be constantly challenged by there loyalty to their spouse. Since the other is an unbeliever, it will be increasingly difficult to distinguish the difference between being loyal to God and loyal to the spouse (as Jesus put it, “you will love one and hate the other”).

I will also say that a Christian should never desire to marry an unbeliever, because that is literally saying “I love worldliness more than godliness”. However, if  Christian has made the decision to marry an unbeliever, then they have the extremely difficult task of somehow not allowing their devotion to their spouse get in the way of their devotion to God. Sadly, when I have seen professing Christians marry non-Christians, it often reveals that the professing Christian’s faith was merely nominal and was not a significant part of their life at all, and this will show itself through the professing Christian’s quick transition into no longer attending church, fellowshipping with Christians, holding themselves accountable to God and His Word, and an obvious disinterest in the things of God.

Got any other questions regarding Sunday’s sermon?

Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions regarding any of our Sunday sermons. I want to serve you the best that I can, and I will need your help in letting me know if I can help you in any way. You can either reach me through calling the church office or email me at corwin@fbcwinthropharbor.church.

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