“You Shall Not Commit Adultery” (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18)
The workplace is one of the most common settings for adultery, not necessarily because adultery occurs in the workplace itself, but because it arises from the conditions of work and relationships with co-workers. The first application to the workplace, then, is literal. Married people should not have sex with people other than their spouses at, in, or because of their work. Some professions such as prostitution and pornography almost always violate this commandment, as they almost always require sex between people married to others. But any kind of work that erodes the bonds of marriage infringes the seventh commandment. There are many ways this can occur. Work may encourage strong emotional bonds among co-workers without adequately supporting their commitments to their spouses, as can happen in hospitals, entrepreneurial ventures, academic institutions and churches, among other places. Working conditions may bring people into close physical contact for extended periods or fail to encourage reasonable limits to off-hour encounters, as could happen on extended field assignments. Work may subject people to sexual harassment and pressure to have sex with those holding power over them. Work may inflate people’s egos or expose them to adulation, as could occur with celebrities, star athletes, business titans, high-ranking government officials, and the super-rich. Work may demand so much time away—physically, mentally, or emotionally—that it frays the bond between spouses. All of these may pose dangers that Christians would do well to recognize and avoid, ameliorate, or guard against.