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Today I’d like to look at the Seventh Commandment “You shall not commit adultery.”
What is adultery? The dictionary says that it’s voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than their legal spouse. Marriage is a tradition that has changed drastically since Biblical days when men had all the power and women had less value than cattle; she had no rights, she was his property. Men could have several wives simply because a woman alone in those days needed protection. She couldn’t work outside the home. If she was divorced or widowed, she had to return to her parents to survive.
Women needed to be protected from sexual intercourse with anyone other than her husband because women were and still are more vulnerable. This doesn’t mean that they are less capable than men or have less value, in fact, the Torah brought women to the level of being equal in value with men. The act of intercourse is a physical connection between two people which can lead to the blessing of bringing new life into this world, but it is also a spiritual one, a soul connection. So “do not commit adultery” means “protect the woman”. Many Biblical regulations for the women were given solely for that purpose.
How can we enter a marriage trusting that our spouse won’t commit adultery? That’s very difficult without God at the center of the marriage union but here’s a couple of tips.
Step one: an intimate relationship should not begin in the bedroom. Do not be fooled by sexual attraction. There is a natural law of attraction between male and female, but it is best when followed by step two. I repeat, don’t be fooled into hopping into bed based on that first feeling of lust. The brain is telling us that there are certain things about the other person that it desires, real or unreal. Step two, the wise thing to do is to wait, to see if that desire is still there after the next few months spent on getting to know the other person, their values, their family, and their interests. If you truly want to enter a relationship where adultery won’t be committed, it’s important to take these steps and it begins with friendship. Marriage is a rational decision based on mutual love and respect for each other. Once that decision is taken, the contract can be signed, and the covenant of marriage entered.
Rabbi Yeshua took it a little further telling us that everything begins with our thoughts. If we even think about committing adultery, it’s as if it already happened. This is a topic for a lengthy discussion. The best marriages are sealed with a knowledge that the Creator is watching and helping, after all the vows were made in His name.
But what if this word, adultery, could have a meaning other than cheating on a spouse? For example, when we take milk from a cow, pasteurize it, add water, and then sell it as 2% “milk”, hasn’t the milk been adulterated. When any true or real thing has been replaced or watered down, it has been adulterated. When we exchange the true God, the Creator of the universe, for anyone or anything that is not real, are we not adulterating Him? That would mean that adultery can also be idolatry.
Isn’t that what God accused us of? God entered a covenant relationship with Israel. The Ten Commandments were the ketubah, His marriage contract to us. When we broke our vows after we promised “to do and obey” and went after false gods, we committed adultery. The Torah warns us about the consequences and later our prophets accused us of playing the harlot with gods who were not real.
Our God however said that He loves us with an everlasting love and that although we would suffer the consequences of our poor choices, He would not allow us to be destroyed; rather He waits with outstretched arms for us to return to Him. That’s depicted in the beautiful story of the prodigal son told to us by Rabbi Yeshua.
If we want to make changes in this world, each of us needs to stop committing adultery by going after things that water down the message handed to us by the mouth of the Creator at Mt. Sinai, His Ten Commandments and this was Commandment number seven.
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