“Your Word Is Truth”
“You Must Not Commit Adultery”
“ADULTERY has become almost a light-hearted and guilt-free pastime.” That was one of the conclusions reached by some of the psychiatrists attending the 1969 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. And no wonder, when the latest statistics show that 60 percent of married men and 35 to 40 percent of married women admit to having committed adultery.
In a similar vein psychologist Albert Ellis, executive director of the Institute for Rational Living, stated that “to keep a marriage together, adultery might be a good thing.” According to him, a ‘healthy’ adulterer “can carry on an affair without destroying his marriage or family relationship” and such a one may well feel that “he is better off with an extramarital affair than without one.” Certain clergymen have likewise defended adultery.
But that is not what God’s Word says. The Creator, Jehovah God, who made man and who endowed man with procreative powers has the right to give laws governing those powers. In his law to the nation of Israel, the Seventh Commandment reads: “You must not commit adultery.” And what was the penalty for violating this law? Death, capital punishment.—Ex. 20:14; Deut. 22:22.
That adultery is also forbidden for Christians is likewise unequivocally stated. They are expressly told that adulterers ‘will not inherit God’s kingdom,’ and that “God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”—1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Heb. 13:4.
While today many seek to find excuses for adultery, in doing so they are deceiving themselves. The Biblical rule, “whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap,” cannot be sidestepped. (Gal. 6:7) Consider the possible results: Guilty conscience, venereal disease and unwanted pregnancy. In the latter case, who is to be responsible for the care of the mother and the rearing of the illegitimate child? Will one go farther and commit murder by having an abortion? And what about the heartbreak of the innocent mate when that one learns about the adultery? Consider, too, the jealousy that might well result not only in divorce but also in murder.—Prov. 6:27-35.
Further, there are the psychological penalties. As psychologist and university professor Dr. L. Salzman noted, adultery prevents one from reaping the full rewards of happiness in marriage. “Fidelity is not simply a virtue but also a way of life that can add to the fullness of creative living.”—Time, May 19, 1969.
Most serious of all is the fact that adultery incurs God’s displeasure. What grief King David experienced because of having committed adultery with Bath-sheba! (2 Sam. 12:10-12) And for dedicated Christians there is the penalty of being put on probation or even being disfellowshiped, excommunicated or excluded from the Christian congregation.—1 Cor. 5:13.
To guard against adultery one must begin with the mind and heart, even as Jesus showed: “From inside, out of the heart of men, injurious reasonings issue forth: fornications, thieveries, murders, adulteries.” That is why God’s Word warns: “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.” Do this by refusing to dwell on immoral thoughts. An aid to guarding the heart and keeping it free from injurious reasonings is being careful of the impressions one takes in through the senses. It is therefore wise not to view any motion pictures or television programs that feature immorality. Also avoid reading books and magazines or looking at pictures that are sexually provocative or pornographic. Jesus said that a married man could be guilty of what might be called mental adultery by his keeping on looking at a woman with lustful eyes. Such a one might be said to be committing adultery in his thoughts.—Mark 7:21, 22; Prov. 4:23; Matt. 5:28.
God’s commands forbidding adultery are far-reaching. Judged by them, many today are guilty of adultery without even being aware of it. How could that be? In that, while obtaining a legal divorce before remarrying, theirs was not a Scriptural divorce. What is a Scriptural divorce? Jesus said: “Everyone divorcing his wife, except on account of fornication [that is, adultery], makes her a subject for adultery, seeing that whoever marries [such] a divorced woman commits adultery.”—Matt. 5:32.
Yes, to be free in the eyes of God to remarry, not only must one have a legal divorce but it must be based on Scriptural grounds—infidelity on the part of the mate. But suppose one divorced and remarried without knowing about this Scriptural condition and so violated it? What can one do? Separate? No. In having had sex relations with the new mate validity was given to the divorce, so that the first marriage is no longer Scripturally binding, a Scriptural basis being given to the legal divorce. True, such was a sin; but it can be forgiven if sincerely repented of, as can other sins committed in ignorance, and if you show your sincerity by living up to the responsibilities that are now yours as a married person.
Still another way in which some may have unwittingly been guilty of adultery is by receiving artificial insemination from someone other than one’s own mate or being a donor of semen for such use. Thus in 1963 a New York Kings County court ruled that “artificial insemination by a third party donor, with or without the consent of the husband constitutes adultery on the part of the father, and . . . a child so conceived is not a child born in wedlock and is therefore illegitimate.”
Such a practice is also fraught with many other problems. For one thing, it denies a child knowledge of who his actual father is. Husbands are known to have become “insanely jealous” of unknown donors. And women have become so curious to know just who the unknown donor was that they have stolen hospital records to find out who were the fathers of their children. According to Dr. August Mayer, a German gynecologist, husbands who have consented to such artificial insemination of their wives have afterward cursed the doctors for destroying their marriages.
The Bible also speaks of spiritual adultery. It is unfaithfulness to the vow of dedication on the part of a Christian. As the disciple James expresses it: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” Since the course of the world is directed by Satan the Devil, one cannot be pleasing it and please Jehovah God at the same time.—Jas. 4:4.
The Creator, Jehovah God, is the final arbiter of morals. His decree against adultery is both just and wise. All who would please God, enjoy happiness and long life must exercise great care to avoid adultery in whatever form it may be, physical, mental or spiritual.—1 Pet. 3:10-12.