The Sixth Commandment

The Sixth Commandment declares “You shall not commit adultery.”

Men and women were designed to be together and to need each other. Marriage is a natural union of a man and a woman and is divinely ordained and established by God at the creation. His laws and in particular the Seventh Commandment authorizes the marriage relationship and establishes it as the foundation of the family, which in turn stands as the foundation and the most important building block of society.


Unless the natural desires that attract us to members of the opposite sex are channeled exclusively toward a loving marriage relationship, the temptation to engage in sexual immorality can easily overpower our self control. This weakness is the focus of the Seventh Commandment.


As children grow old enough to shoulder the responsibilities of a family and come to love and honor someone of the opposite sex, it is natural and proper for them to marry and be joined together and create their own family apart from their parents. Only then should they “become one flesh” by physically uniting in a sexual relationship. Jesus makes it clear that God from the very beginning intended that marriage be a monogamous and permanent relationship (Matthew 19:3-6).


God intended that marriage and sex in that order exist as tremendous blessings to humanity. Their potential for good is boundless. But the same desires that bring a man and a woman together into a loving, natural relationship, a sacred blessing, can pose risks. Unless the natural desires that attract us to members of the opposite sex are channeled exclusively toward a loving marriage relationship, the temptation to engage in sexual immorality can easily overpower our self control. This weakness is the focus of the sixth Commandment.


Adultery is the violation of the marriage covenant by wilful participation in sexual activity with someone other than one's spouse. Since God's law sanctions sexual relationships only within a legitimate marriage, the command not to commit adultery covers in principle all varieties of sexual immorality. No sexual relationship of any sort should occur outside of marriage. That is the message of this Commandment. In much of the world sexual immorality is no longer regarded as a significant social evil. God however, categorically condemns all forms of sexual immorality (Revelation 21:8).


God gave us this Commandment to direct and define the sexual roles that bring lasting happiness and stability. Nothing is more desperately needed in this age. God created sex and was His idea. Contrary to some long held opinions, He wants us to enjoy an abundantly pleasurable and stable sexual relationship within marriage. In that context, our sexuality endows us with the capacity to convey our appreciation, tenderness, devotion and love to our mate. It can add immeasurably to our sense of well being and contentment. The joy and confidence we derive from a proper marital relationship can positively affect our interaction with others, especially our own children. God wants the marital relationship strengthened and protected. He tells us in His Word: “Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life, and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:9


The decline in commitment to marriage and family and the resulting decrease in spouses' loyalty and devotion to each other have contributed heavily to the steady increase in extramarital liaisons. A growing segment of our society has adopted the practice of casual live in relationships. Ours is a throwaway society. Intimate personal relationships are routinely discarded. Children are the big losers in our fast track society with its touted sexual revolution. They receive less and less parental guidance. In the United States fathers spend an average of only a few minutes per day in one on one contact with each child. Because of this we see a rapidly expanding subculture of alienated and rebellious and dissatisfied children. Society is losing sight of what families are all about.


Broken homes are another staggering cost of the sexual revolution. They in turn spawn other social tragedies. A majority of the economically disadvantaged live in one parent homes. Homes headed by a single parent are a leading factor in the incidence of subsequent criminal activity. Broken homes are the main consequence of sexual immorality and shattered marriages resulting from sexual infidelity.


Divorce makes for even deeper personal problems. Custody fights go on for years. Children become pawns in a tug of war between parents for their love and loyalty. Children's grades suffer and some drop out of school. Teenagers in turn become parents at younger and younger ages. To this we must add devastating legal fees and decreased productivity and income, not to mention the frequent loss of dwellings and personal property. These factors reduce many people to poverty and particularly single mothers with young children. The problem is compounded when some of these children grow up with inadequate job and social skills and remain wards of the welfare system even as adults.


Long before a divorce, emotional and psychological damage is often inflicted on the mate and children of the sexually unfaithful. Many are permanently scarred from disillusionment, shame and a loss of a sense of self worth. In these situations a home can no longer provide the warmth, comfort and security that builds confidence and hope. Lack of hope contributes to suicides, which after accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults. Such tragedies can occur years after the sowing of the seeds of despair.


The psychological cost of betrayal, rejection and abandonment is staggering. The spirit of millions is submerged in anger, depression and bitterness because their trust in one whom they loved whether mate or parent has been betrayed. Many of these people are emotionally distorted for life. Some of them seek counseling but others look for vengeance. The problems go on and on. Adultery and promiscuity are tickets to social disaster. The real cost of sexual immorality is astronomical.


Society suffers because we have lost the vision that God had for marriage from the beginning. Marriage is not a requirement for success in pleasing God. But it is a tremendous blessing to couples who treat each other as God intended. Most people desire and need the benefits that come from a stable marriage. To return to what God intended, we must give marriage the respect it deserves. We must faithfully obey our Creator's Commandment “You shall not commit adultery.”