The Seventh Commandment: Don’t Commit Adultery
“You must not commit adultery.”
Adultery plagues our society today. It seems that not a day goes by that we don’t hear of some government official caught breaking his or her marital vows. Hollywood stars glory in their extramarital affairs. Not to be outdone, religious leaders are not immune from adultery. Recently, I watched in sadness as a friend’s church was decimated by his adultery. Years of faithful pastoring were undone by his inability to obey the seventh commandment.
As a pastor, I have listened to many who have committed adultery. I have listened to them explain how their feelings mattered more than their obedience to God, more even than the well-being of their children. I have also walked with victims of adultery, with husbands, wives, and children whose lives have been torn apart by the fact that someone in their family didn’t take seriously the blunt imperative: “You must not commit adultery.”
But what will help us remain faithful to our spouses when our marriages struggle? What will keep us from succumbing to the powerful temptation of adultery? In my pastoral experience, I have seen that the number one defense against adultery is a thriving relationship with God. If we truly love the Lord, then we will seek to honor him in every aspect of our life, including our marriage.
The number two defense against adultery is a healthy marriage. Couples who build a strong friendship, who make sure they spend adequate time together, who learn to listen well to each other, and who get help when they need it will rarely face the pain of marital infidelity.
The number three defense against adultery is genuine Christian community. If you are in a small group with other believers where you can openly share your struggles and temptations—and if you risk doing this—you will find support when you are weak.
Odds are that among the thousands of people who will read this reflection, hundreds are struggling in their marriages and dozens are facing the temptation to commit adultery. If you fall into either or both of these categories, I urge you to get help! Find someone with whom to share your challenges . . . now. Talk with your pastor, with a trusted counselor, or with a wise Christian friend. Dare to be honest with someone who can help you. God will get you through this rough stretch in your marriage if you reach out for help. Do it today!
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Why do you think adultery is such a plague on our society today? If you are married, what can you do today to strengthen your marriage?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord, thank you for the reminder to be faithful in my marriage. Even though I am not inclined to commit adultery today, I need to remember to nurture my marriage. Help me to love my wife as you love the church. Help us to build a strong, healthy relationship that will last.
Dear Lord, I want to intercede today for those who are in difficult marriages. I can think of friends who are struggling, and I’m sure there are many readers of these Daily Reflections who are in a hard place in their marriage. Help them, dear Lord, to reach out for help. And if folks are tempted to commit adultery, let your Spirit convict their hearts of the wrongness of this choice. May they seek instead to bring wholeness to their marriages.
I want also to pray for those who are in the midst of the pain of adultery, both for adulterers and for victims. May they find from you what their hearts need, whether forgiveness or healing or hope or trust. Let your grace fill their hearts and their lives, as only you can do. Amen.