What Children Need
What does the seventh commandment in God’s law have to do with family stability? Ask many a teacher who has had a few decades of classroom experience in a public setting and they will tell you that children are often bitter, angry, resentful, or anxious? Why? For too many children divorce has upset their dreams, and undermined the stability of their home-life. So they bring their angst to school with them and act out their frustrations. This was not the case decades ago, when divorce was often avoided if only for “the sake of the children.” But with changing attitudes towards sexuality, and marriage, divorce has gone from rare to commonplace. And the fruits of this dramatic shift in societal norms are being witnessed daily in the classroom.
No Adultery – For Family’s Sake
L’a ThN’aPh – the Hebrew transliteration of the seventh commandment says simply, “No adultery” This is an eternal principle that transcends any circumstance. It is a light to guide the path of those who believe God. Yet, throughout scripture we see the principles encompassed in this simple sacred command elaborated in detail. It was a teaching based on self-control and understanding the consequences of ignoring this fundamental truth in human relationships. It was this wisdom that would save you, keeping you in covenant with God, preserving your family, and helping you avoid the heartaches of the sexually promiscuous.
This seventh commandment to avoid adultery was a central pillar of God’s plan from Creation. God’s goal was strong families, knowledgeable, resilient, and adaptable children, and healthy sustainable societies. And there would be negative consequences of not following God’s instruction. Cause and effect would bring blessings or curses. God knew that those who would not keep covenant with their spouse, would also ultimately deny him too. So in scripture God linked marital infidelity, adultery, with infidelity towards God, idolatry. God declared that he would not hear the prayers of the hypocritical promise breakers who had broken faith with their spouse. This was a key element of Malachi’s message, and God warned his people not to deal treacherously in their sexual relationships. Why? Because intact, loving, stable marriages could effectively nurture children in God’s ways.
God’s Spiritual Workshop
God created the marriage relationship as a ‘training ground’ or spiritual workshop to develop faithfulness and loyalty. And children seeing their parents fidelity, would be more likely to emulate their example. Parents were to become ‘one,’ having a united purpose and vision. And this unity would be both, a model for children, and a physical representation of God’s spiritual intent. For God wants to be one with his people, having a deep personal loving relationship with those who covenant with him. Jesus warned his followers that anything that would undermine the covenant relationship should be avoided. He made it clear that behaviours begin in the mind, so it was not enough to merely avoid actual sexual misconduct.
A believer had to avoid even the lustful thoughts that could lead to sin. This would include the age-old traps of pornography, or obscenity. For the Pharisees of his day, Jesus, broadened the scope of the seventh commandment, beyond their narrow understanding of ‘adultery.’ Jesus redefined the command to include all sexual impurity, lustful desire, or debauchery. And Paul made it clear that in following Jesus’ example his children would walk in the light. So there would not be the slightest hint or even rumour of sexual sin or greed — two idolatrous practices. Just as a married couple covenant to show loyalty day by day, all day long, ’till death do them part, so God wants his children to be loyal to him. But God wants more for his people than a mere dutiful fulfillment of an obligation.
God is interested in loving loyalty. He wants people to go beyond the letter of the law to embrace its full intent and to develop loving lasting marital relationships. Marriage between a loving husband and wife is the biblical ideal patterned after Christ’s love for his church. Husbands are instructed to love their wives as Christ loves, with a willingness to sacrifice for their wellbeing. And wives are to respect their husbands. The seventh commandment is a call to faithfulness and loyalty that serves to preserve the family. In a society straying far from God’s moral values it may require wisdom and moral courage to avoid the sexual pitfalls that abound all around us. But God has called his people to be holy as he is holy. The marital relationship is one of God’s chief training grounds to prepare his people to live faithfully with him for eternity.
Learn more about God’s Commandments