A little boy who listened to his Sunday School teacher go over the Ten Commandments was a little confused about the seventh commandment and decided to ask his dad about it. As they were driving home from church, he said, “Daddy, what did the Sunday School teacher mean when she said, ‘You shall not commit agriculture’?” The father knew his son was referring to the commandment that says, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14 NIV). So he said, “Well, let’s see, son. That means you are not supposed to plow the other man’s field.”
Imagine how different the world would be today if people kept this commandment – if adultery were never committed. Imagine how different our news headlines would look. Imagine how many divorces would be avoided. Imagine how many families would still be together and how many fathers or mothers would still be at home to raise their children.
Sex is not sinful or evil in and of itself. There is nothing wrong with sex. In fact, sex is a good thing; we wouldn’t be here today without it. Sex was created by God, and no shame or embarrassment needs to be connected to it – if it is done God’s way. And God’s way is in a marriage relationship between a man and a woman. Within that confine, within the safety and protection of marriage, God can bless sex.
However, if taken out of God’s order, it can be destructive. Adultery is when you have sex with someone other than your spouse, while fornication is when you have sex before marriage. God says that both are sins, and he doesn’t want us to commit them.
Therefore, sex is not the issue; it is the place of it. In marriage it is blessed, enjoyable and fulfilling. Outside of marriage it is harmful, damaging and destructive. We are told in Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (NIV).
Yet some insist that illicit sex doesn’t hurt anyone. I think it hurts a lot of people, however, including the people involved. It damages them spiritually. And according to a University of Tennessee study, it can even cause depression. The study found direct correlations between illicit sexual behavior and serious emotional problems. Then there is the issue of teenage pregnancy. Every year, 1 million teens become pregnant, and many of these pregnancies never make it to term. One in every five abortions is performed on a woman under the age of 20. Of the 1.6 million abortions conducted annually, 400,000 are done on teenage mothers.
Does illicit sex hurt anyone? What about the woman who carries the shame of abortion throughout her life? What about the baby who is never given the privilege of living out his or her life? Who knows what some of these children could have done in our world today – the difference they could have made? That is why the Bible warns against this sin, because it does hurt, and it does bring spiritual devastation.
That is why there is no such thing as a “one-night stand.” The husband says to his wife who finds out that he has been unfaithful, “It was just a one-night stand. It was a little fling. It didn’t mean anything.” Au contraire. It means a lot. Sex is not some casual toy. It is a gift from God to be saved for the person with whom you are united in marriage. But when you engage in sexual contact with another person, the Bible says that you become one: “And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, ‘The two are united into one’” (1 Corinthians 6:16 NLT). In a marriage, it is great to become one. But that is the only union God blesses. So run away from sexual sin, because sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.
Just by virtue of statistics, there is someone reading this who is either in the midst of an adulterous relationship, is considering an adulterous relationship or, at the very least, is just playing little mind games and fantasizing about what it would be like to be with a certain person. So I want to conclude with some quick reasons not to commit adultery. There are many more, of course, but here are four of them.
One, you do incredible damage to your spouse. When you have sexual relations with someone besides your spouse, you violate the oneness I have already mentioned. And that is why the Lord actually gave a release clause to the marriage when there has been sexual unfaithfulness. But it is also grounds for forgiveness. Yet even if forgiveness is extended by the offended spouse, the trust factor is almost destroyed, and it will take years to get that back again. So don’t go there.
Two, you do incredible damage to yourself. In the case of adultery, it is not usually limited to a one-night stand. It is usually an ongoing relationship. People end up in adulterous affairs most often with coworkers or other people with whom they are in close proximity on a regular basis. It requires habitual deception, lying and the hardening of one’s heart. You are damaging your soul and are damaging your heart because you are living in open hypocrisy.
Three, you do incredible damage to your children. Your position as a leader in your home is undermined by your own hand. Your children’s trust in you is shattered – as is your wife’s – and it will take years to regain. And they may even repeat your sin later in their own lives. And then when you wave your finger at them and tell them it is wrong, they will say, “Dad (or Mom), you did it, didn’t you?”
Fourth, you sin against God himself. This should be the primary reason to avoid this sin. Adultery is a big deal to God – and it should be a big deal to us as well.