Church of God, New World Ministries

The Ten Commandments - Part Seven

The Seventh Commandment

What is the reason for so much misery and frustration in modern marriages? What is the God-given way to really happy homes? The answer is revealed by understanding God’s living law!

Is “sexual compatibility” the all-important thing in marriage? In this age of broken homes, juvenile delinquents and modern psychology, many will say that the answer is “yes.”

But the fact remains that the more these “modern” theories are put into practice, the faster the divorce rate climbs and the more little children are doomed to grow up without the blessing of a stable, happy home. It is a painful fact that almost one out of three marriages in America ends in the divorce courts. And the more educated and “modern (liberal)” people become in their views, the more the divorce rate literally skyrockets!

Take a look at California – one of the most “up-to-date” areas on earth. In California 50% of marriages end in divorce – and for Los Angeles County, the percentage is even higher – 70%!

Yes, where modern “scientific” views of sex and marriage are most widely held, more than half of all marriages end in divorce! The marriages end – but the suffering and anguish does not. For the little children of such broken homes, the years of frustration and emptiness are only beginning.

Is there a real meaning to marriage that modern man needs to understand? Are there God-given laws and principles that can safeguard a Christian marriage and make it happy and purposeful?

The Creator God devoted two of His ten great spiritual laws – the Ten Commandments to protecting the relationships in the home and family. In this series, we have already discussed the first of these: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” The other law directly governing the home and family is contained in the 7th commandment: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14).

Almighty God gave this commandment to protect the honor and sanctity of marriage. Immediately after the 6th command which declares the sacredness of human life, God gives this law to safeguard the highest earthly relationship. Marriage and the home is the basis of all decent society.

The words of the command directly forbids adultery as violating the sacred rights of the marriage relationship. Its spirit makes evident the fact that all unchaste conduct before marriage is a wrong done to the future marriage; and unfaithfulness before marriage is violating the command as much as adultery committed after marriage.

In this “permissive” modern age, it is important to remind ourselves that God has promised to reward those who break this commandment with the penalty of death. “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” (Lev. 20:10).

Again, in the New Testament, God says: “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

Why is the sin of adultery so great as to merit death, and, in God’s judgment, eternal death in the lake of fire? The answer is this: The reason adultery is such a terrible sin in God’s sight is that marriage is such a precious, righteous, holy thing that must not be defiled!

The meaning of marriage and its great purpose in God’s plan needs desperately to be understood in this age of unhappy marriages and broken homes.

It is impossible to understand the true meaning of marriage without first understanding that sex and marriage are God-given and God-ordained. To leave God out of the picture – as this modern age is doing – is to degrade the marriage union to mere animalism.

Notice God’s purpose in creating man and woman! “And the Lord God said (after He had made only the man), it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him” (Gen. 2:18). God saw that man was incomplete by himself, and so He decided to make a help “meet” or suitable for the man – one with whom man could really share his life.

Then God brought all the other living creatures to Adam – and he named them. “But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him” (v. 20). There was no other creature really like Adam – one who could share his sorrows and joys, his hopes and dreams.

And so God created woman out of Adam’s very flesh and bone. “And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man” (v. 23).

Here now was a creature equal with Adam, another person with whom he could share everything. And she was created to be a suitable “help” to him, and to be his wife and companion. For God said: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife (not wives): and they shall be one flesh” (v. 24).

God made us male and female. God created sex as a beautiful and holy thing to be used to His glory. And, as we have just seen, God instituted marriage – not man, or the laws or courts of man, or as it is today, public opinion.

So the first and primary purpose of marriage is to make man and woman complete. Each is incomplete without the other. Man alone was not able to fulfil the purpose for which God created him, was not able to learn the lessons of character which God intended – and so God created the woman as a “help” to the man. And, in the very creation, God showed also they were to dwell together as man and wife in one fleshly union – to share everything in this life, and so make their lives meaningful and complete in a physical sense at least.

The second purpose of sex and marriage is the begettal and training of children. For God told the man and woman: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).

In begetting children comes the responsibility of protecting and training them. A stable, happy home and marriage are indispensable to the correct nurture and training of a child. And God commands: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

Both parents are responsible for the supervision and training of their children. But the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour responsibility of care and training of the children falls the lot of the wife as the God-given “helper” of her husband. The Eternal God commands that the young women are to be taught “to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5).

The home and family is the basis of all decent society! The lessons of character learned in the home – patience, understanding, kindness – all these are qualities that God wants in man for all eternity, and the family relationship is one of the best places in which they can be learned!

Better than any other place, the lessons of decency, loyalty, and a sense of responsibility are learned in a happy and well-balanced home. And so, in addition to making man complete and to the begettal and training of children, a third great purpose in sex and marriage is the building of character in the home and family relationship. The kingdom and law of God is based on love, Jesus said: “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20: 35). To obey God’s law of marriage, man and wife must literally give themselves to each other in every phase and facet of their lives.

Showing that this principle must be practiced in the sexual relationship, as well as in others, the apostle Paul commanded: “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence; and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise, also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency” (I Cor. 7:3-5).

The material act of bodily union is a debt each marriage partner owes the other. But is a debt of love and is so intimate and holy that God often blesses it with a new life.

The Divine purpose in sex attraction is to kindle love and intensify it until there is complete and mutual surrender of two lives. Love in its highest sense is union. The marriage union is of mind, heart and body, it is made sacred by God’s command, for He instituted marriage to be the prefect expression of this love of man and woman.

As ordained by God, the marriage union is a holy thing. It is so holy that in His Word Almighty God uses the marriage union as a type of the relationship between Christ and His Church!

Notice Ephesians 5:22-23 – “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. Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”

In this place, God shows that in the Christian home the wife is to submit herself to her husband as the Head of that home just as she must learn to submit to Christ Himself for all eternity! In this holy relationship, she is learning a lesson of lasting faithfulness!

Then the husbands are addressed: “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” (vs. 25, 28).

 Jesus Christ served, helped, trained, protected and eventually gave Himself for His Church. So are husbands to protect, to provide for, to guide, to encourage, to love and give to their wives!

A Christian man is to be the Head of his house. Yet he is to use that office to serve and to give protection, guidance and happiness to his wife and family. And God holds him responsible for being the right kind of head!

Because of this great lesson and purpose in marriage, God says: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife (not wives), and they two shall be one flesh” (v. 31).

In the marriage union, man and woman are made ONE. Their relationship is then to picture the eternal, loving and serving relationship of Christ and His Church. Therefore, nothing can come between them!

The lesson of marriage is to teach us eternal faithfulness to Jesus Christ as our Head! To separate from one’s God-given mate is to fail to learn the lesson which God intends for us to learn in marriage. It is a reproach to God – for it denies His wisdom in ordaining the marriage union in making us truly “one flesh” with our mate!

How can we ever be faithful to the living God throughout all eternity if we selfishly refuse to be faithful to the mate to which we are bound in this life for only a few years, and to learn the lessons of patience, kindness, longsuffering, self-control, love and faithfulness in the sacred marriage union?

Now it becomes increasingly clear why Jesus Christ taught the binding quality of the marriage vow.

When Jesus was asked by the hypocritical Pharisees why Moses allowed divorce in Old Testament times, He answered: “For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one-flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark10:5-9).

The Christ of your Bible stated that divorce was permitted in Old Testament times only because of the “hardness” of the hearts of those carnal, unconverted Israelites who had no access to the Spirit of God! Jesus showed it was only a temporary thing for that carnal nations and that “from the beginning” God intended man and wife to be “one flesh.” And after two people who are free to marry are legitimately joined as husband and wife - regardless of race, color or creed: for God ordained marriage for all humanity – man is commanded on the authority of Almighty God: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder!”

Man is commanded on that authority which transcends and supersedes all other authority not to divorce or separate husband from wife! And any such lesser codes of men granting such divorce of separation are simply acting in defiance of the highest law of Almighty God in heaven!

In plain language, the teaching of Christ is that divorce and remarriage is nothing more or less than legalized adultery.

Divorce generates divorce! A moment’s reflection will recall that the commonplace granting of divorces was absolutely unheard-of only 100 years ago. The religious leaders of that time, and before, warned us that if divorce were once tolerated there would be no restraint powerful enough to keep it within the limits then fixed or foreseen. Today we see the truth of this warning! We now behold the sad and miserable spectacle of one third and in many areas as many as one half of all marriages – a holy and sacred and lasting relationship ordained by Almighty God – end in failure in the divorce courts of men!

And after divorce, what then?

It is a matter of record that most divorced persons seek another mate, and many find a second or a third or a fourth mate to satisfy a desire which God intended should be satisfied and channeled and uplifted in the holy ad sacred marriage with their first and only real mate – who in most cases is still living!

And the words of the living Jesus Christ thunders: Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, commits adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). The God of creation through His Son Jesus Christ calls divorce and remarriage adultery!

He did not say that the second marriage ceremony is adultery. He says the one who remarries “commits” adultery. The word is used in a progressive sense and means such individual practice or continues to live in adultery! The penalty for all adulterers is to be burned alive in the lake of fire! This is indeed a serious matter!

We now see that marriage is not something that just “evolved” through the reasoning and gradual civilization of man. Rather, marriage was ordained by the Creator God. He ordained marriage as a holy union picturing the everlasting faithfulness between Christ and His Church!

Every form of adultery is so very wrong and evil because marriage is so holy and sacred in the sight of Almighty God.

Adultery is not only an offence to the grieved husband or wife involved. It is an offence to their home and their children. It is an offence against society – because it strikes at the very basis of all decent society. But, most of all, it is an offence against God Himself and against an institution which He had ordained and made holy!

In America and Britain today, a God-rejecting society all too often sentimentalizes about remarried couples who may both have living mates by a previous marriage bound by God. Modern society thinks it is a “shame” to speak evil – as they would put it – about such a “love” between two formerly married people. They think a second marriage must be blessed because children come along – and that it must not be spoken against on their account. Or they sympathize with the “love” and “happiness” that such a couple claim to have found in such a second “marriage.”

What they do not consider is that God sets the laws concerning marriage and divorce! They often fail to consider the suffering and the frustration of the children involved in the original and God-ordained marriage of such a couple being married for the second time. Society often refuses to consider that this couple ought to have learned the patience, wisdom, self-control and real love which would have made a success of their first and only real marriage in which God bound them for the remainder of their natural lives!

People fail to realize that anything which constitutes adultery such as divorce and remarriage – unfaithfulness to a marriage partner or even lust which is the beginning of all adultery-- is regarded as rebellion against the law of God who gives them every breath of air they breathe!

The sin of lust is more fully understood when you realize how righteous and holy the proper use of sex in marriage is to Almighty God the Creator. The process of adultery, and the process of divorce and remarriage usually begins in the heart.

Notice how Jesus Christ covered this point in magnifying the law of God and making holy: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt.5:27-28).

Jesus taught that you break the 7th commandment when you even so much as entertain thoughts of sexual lust toward another person. Action follows thought. So it is part of the development of Christian character for every God-fearing person to learn to guide and to channel his thoughts away from all lust and sensual desires.

More than most people even begin to realize, the sordid emphasis on sex in our modern society is terribly wrong! Yet that sex emphasis is so deeply permeating every phase and facet of modern society that most people have become accustomed to it and do not even fully realize what is going on.

The dress and clothing styles of modern women emphasize one thing – sex. Our newspaper’s headlines emphasize and exploit things having to do with sex. Most modern magazines, television shows and even commercials, movies emphasize sex continually – and often think that they will not be able to sell enough copies unless they can get the word “sex” in the title of some article appearing on the magazine cover!

More modern books and novels are using just plane “new” sex as a theme than ever before. This sort of thing is simply the lowest form of degrading human filth!

Meanwhile, in the industries that control the most realistic, life-like media that influence and move young people to action – movies and television-- the emphasis in an ever increasing number of production is upon sex or violence, or a combination of both.

But modern society is paying a terrible penalty for these widespread sins and abominations! More and more homes are made miserable and wretched because of adulterous relations of one or both mates. Increasing numbers of homes are ending in divorce. More children are being left without the love and guidance of both parents! And illicit sexual intercourse before marriage – called “fornication” by God-- is becoming almost a commonplace thing among young people in today’s society. Yet any and all of these things are breaking the 7th commandment!

Those young people who are cheapening and damaging the happiness of their future marriages through illicit sex before marriage are not only damning their future in this present life, but are forcing God by an eternal necessity to exclude them from His Kingdom and everlasting life and happiness therein (I Cor. 6:9). Rather, with the “abominable” and whoremongers,” they will have their part in the lake of fire which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

God gives some important advice to those who are tempted to commit fornication or adultery. In this age of sex stimulation and lust, it is invaluable to heed this advice if you would enter into the Kingdom of God and eternal life.

God says: “Flee fornication” (I Cor. 6:18). He does not say to place yourself alone with another man’s wife or with a single woman with whom you might be sexually tempted. He does not say to watch movies or television or read books which wrongly stimulate the sexual appetite. God does say to get as far away from these thing as you possibly can. He says to you, to flee - away from temptation to sexual sin.

Sex is not a “toy” to be played with and experimented with. It should be regarded as a God-given blessing in the holy and sacred marriage union which the Creator Himself has ordained. It should always be thought of with reverence, and an expression of unselfish love in a Christian union which pictures the everlasting faithfulness of Christ and His Church!

Those who are married or are about to be should look forward toward marriage as an expression of love in the sense of giving – not selfishly getting and taking. They should look forward to home and family as a training ground to build character to better fit them for eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Realizing this, they should let nothing turn them aside from their faithfulness to each other, from their growth in patience, in understanding, kindness, in self-control, in wisdom, in love.

“Cheap” and temporary loyalties are wrecking and ruining many of the departments in our governments – as they all sadly realize. They are hurting industry, the schools, and even the Church. The God-intended blessing of being able to really depend upon your own beloved partner in marriage is being withheld from most married people in our modern “scientific” society! And the fears, doubts, mistrusts and frustrations that this breeds are affecting the relations of people through every phase of their lives.

The generation need desperately to learn the lesson of lasting faithfulness in marriage and in the home! It needs to obey both the letter and the spirit of God’s 7th commandment: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

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