THE SCARLET SIN, THE BIBLE AND YOU
BY K. DAVID OLDFIELD
Ours is a nation of adulterers (Jer. 23:10). Despite all of God's commands to the contrary (Deut. 5:18; Lev. 18:20; 19:29; Matt. 5:27; Acts 15:70; Rom. 13:1; 1 Cor. 6:13, etc) you or your neighbor are likely an adulterer. Even our leaders are often adulterers. "Their eyes are full of adulteries" (2 Peter 2:14). Despite the claim to be a religious nation, our society breaks the seventh of God's Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14 – “Thou shalt not commit adultery!”) and sinks us deeper and deeper into the wrath of God.
Part of the problem, a minor part I must admit, is that some people just don't know what we're talking about when we speak of adultery, so let us put it into a Biblical perspective.
WHAT IS ADULTERY?
At times it seems that the word "adultery" pops up in the most unusual Bible passages (Jer. 3:9; Matt. 12:39; James 4:4, etc.). It doesn't seem to fit since God is talking about spiritual sins rather than sensual ones: The explanation lies the fact that God equates idolatry and adultery.
God has commanded every human soul to love Him with all our might (Deut. 6:5, 10:12, etc.). Our relation to Him, especially if we claim to be His children by faith, is not unlike a marriage situation. This may be one reason why God so loves the home and human marriage relationship. For us, then, to turn about and worship someone or something which is not God -- this is spiritual adultery in His sight.
God's hatred of physical adultery parallels His hatred of the spiritual variety. Both have the same penalty - death (Ex. 22:20; Lev. 20: 10 etc.).
Both sins are damning (I Cor. 6:9 - "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God neither ... fornicator, nor idolater, nor adulterer..."). Both adulterers and idolaters are to be excluded from God's churches. Idolatry is adultery -- but in a special sense:
Almost as often as one reads of adultery in God's Word we read of fornication (Matt. 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; 2 Cor. 12:21 etc., etc.). In fact, at times these two seem interchangeable. Philologists may argue about the shades of difference between the two, but both clearly refer to sexual immorality. For the sake of argument we might generalize and say that fornication is premarital while adultery to be extra- or inter-marital.
Whichever we refer to -- it is sin.
And yet another form of adultery we might call re-marital.
2ND, 3RD & 4TH MARRIAGES
As Christians we need to take with a grain of salt how society, liberal denominations and cults define things. If they should accidentally agree with the Bible - fine, but if they disagree, they are wrong. The Bible is our rule for doctrine and doing, for eternal life and earthly life.
In Matt. 5:31-32 - Jesus tells anyone who Will listen that the only grounds for divorce (perhaps “annulment” might be a better word) that He recognizes is fornication. The divorce of a fornicator frees the innocent mate from that marriage and any further responsibility if the fornicator remarries. If someone, however, should divorce for some other reason (incompatibility, infertility, lost love, or whatever), they are then putting the partner into the temptation of remarriage and adultery.
Does Jesus here give anybody permission to marry? No! The last part of Matt. 19:9 explicitly says that to marry a divorcee is adultery no matter what was the reason for the divorce. Some folk like to squeeze the context into saying that innocent mates of fornicators and adulterers may divorce and re-marry, but that is not Jesus' meaning!
Romans 7:3 puts the nail on the coffin. Once a person is married and divorced then the only way they can marry anyone else is if the first, and now divorced, mate should die (naturally of course). "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then, if while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress..." There is no exception to this rule.
Since in many countries 1/3 to 1/2 of all marriages today end in divorce, and since most of these people marry again, it is safe to conclude that about half of the people on your block are adulterers in God's sight.
(Thank God, forgiveness is available through our Lord Jesus Christ; more on this later.)
But hold on, there is even a more common form of adultery.
ADULTERY OF THE HEART
In Matt 5:28 Jesus said that to look and lust after a member of the opposite sex is, before God, adultery of the heart. To think of someone or see someone without clothing may not be adultery (a doctor for example), but to lust after that person, or imagine and dream of adultery with that person is very definitely breaking the Seventh Commandment.
I suppose that there are some who have not committed adultery of the, heart, but for every one who hasn't there must be five who have, and there are probably more mental and spiritual, adulterers than there are physical adulterers.
To summarize we could say that adultery is "love" which is not sanctified by lawful marriage. It includes "affairs," liaisons, rapists, "living together," marriage after divorce, strip-show devotees, reading pornography, and much more. Never let it be forgotten that God says adultery is worthy of capital punishment, and six times the Book of Proverbs says that it leads to Hell itself, "Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death" (Proverbs 7 :27).
BUT WHY IS IT SIN?
Why is adultery included in God's Ten Commandments while drunkenness comes later, and smoking and wife-beating etc., aren't mentioned at, all?
Well, because God can declare anything forbidden that He so chooses, and He doesn't need our permission nor does He need to give any explanation. If He wished to call the chewing of gum a capital offense, it would be. But the Lord is wise as well as sovereign, gracious as well as God. He has good reason to outlaw adultery and fornication.
In 2 Samuel 12:14, God explained through Nathan, that when His people commit adultery the heathen are given one more excuse to blaspheme our Holy God. When those who claim to be Christians today sin so openly and do not have better morality oftentimes than those who we call "heathen," how will the non-Christians put faith in our Savior? Of course they will not; rather, they blaspheme God because of the hypocrisy in Christendom.
DESTRUCTION OF THE FAMILY
David, Israel's best earthly sovereign, was a one time adulterer, but that sin had all time effects on his family. Nathan succinctly put it - "Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from thine house..." (2 Sam. 12:10). David's family life was destroyed; he rarely again had respect within the walls of his palace: many of his children, after his one time example, were totally amoral - rapists, murders, etc.
A roving mate can't treat his or her family as it deserves. The love necessary to bind a home is misspent and along with that goes family care and service. How can he teach the family biblical and moral principles?
Adulterous parents, once into the slough, are rarely able to maintain their marriages, thus further damaging their children. Adulterers, as a rule, produce children who are morally below even themselves. It is a crime against all society, for the generation to follow is usually worse than its predecessor. And keep in mind that there has never yet been a great nation which was liberal on sex. Rome fell without a single battle because it fell first in permissiveness. The same end will come to an adulterous nation.
OUR SACRED BODIES
By the right of Creatorship, Jehovah has claim to the human body (Ps. 24:1; etc.). Especially is this true of the Christian - the child of God (I Cor. 6:20). This body, therefore, ought to be used only in God-glorifying ways.
Anything which destroys it, such as smoking, alcohol and other drugs, for example, should never he considered, and those things which simply displease the Creator must also be avoided. In this light notice I Corinthians 6:15-18,
"Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body."
In the same vein it is fact that adultery/fornication puts a person in position of serious disease. Depending on which report, we read of anywhere from 1 out of every 20 people to one out every three teenagers is a carrier and probable spreader of venereal diseases. We can almost guarantee that 1/2 of those who are "sexually active" (living immoral lives) are diseased.
Venereal Disease is not as glamorous as the movies paint it. Some of the worst kinds are incurable. And if one should choose to be adulterous with more than one person the odds, are against you for avoiding gonorrhea or herpes. It's not a gamble - it's a sure loss.
Guilt, too, should make the adulterer think twice about his sin. Let us imagine that you infected another with an incurable disease. Maybe you caused the birth of a blind or retarded child. You could end up as crippled as that baby -in your mind and heart.
Don't let any of this infect you or your family! Keep yourself pure!
We've already made the charge that ours is a nation of adulterers based on the fact that we probably have more who are guilty of this sin than those who are not. The next question is: "How has this occurred?" What has made us so spiritually criminal?
WHAT ARE THE CONTRIBUTING CAUSES?
The purpose in raising this point is to also raise a warning flag and perhaps blow a trumpet call for counter-attack.
When those who care learn to recognize the danger signals of any plague, they are better equipped to protect themselves.
LACK OF CONDEMNATION
Close to the top of the contributing causes for the spread of adultery in our nation has been, and continues to be, the neglect of clear denunciation of this sin by those who call themselves the preachers of Christ. It used to be that one could count on multitudes of preachers to scream out against immorality, but no longer. Observers who care can quickly fill their files with accounts of church groups sponsoring pornographic films for marriages in trouble. People "living in sin" are accepted into churches with open arms. Ministers defend homosexuality. Denominational counselors in the prison systems supply sexual materials for inmates, etc., etc.
The root of the problem is seen in 2 Timothy 4:3, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables." Today if a preacher bears down on the sins mentioned in this article, he is often fired by his congregation. Society is dictating its own religion (Humanism) rather than letting the Lord speak. Often those preachers who do preach on these subjects and who are not fired simply find themselves ignored.
Perhaps some of you will do the same to me.
It doesn't matter whether we're talking about square dancing, waltz, or rock and roll, dancing means sex. Just as it's impossible to get boys to dance with boys (except among homosexuals), it's impossible to separate dancing and sexuality. When a man puts his arm around a woman and squeezes, rubs her back or pulls her close sparks, undoubtedly fly somewhere.
You may protest, saying that immorality has never crossed your mind while dancing. Although this is unlikely, it may be possible, but can you guarantee that it hasn't occurred to your partner or to those watching? Just to see an undulating, gyrating body is an automatic turn on for some people, as prostitute after prostitute can testify.
If anyone is interested in what the Bible says, I Corinthians 7:1 tells us not to touch a woman, someone of the opposite sex. Herod watched a woman dance and completely lost his head (and so did John the Baptist as a result - Matthew 14). In Matthew 5 Jesus implied that to merely watch a man or woman puts one in danger of adultery of the heart. How much more true this must be at a dance.
Can you describe the difference between underclothing and the average swim suit? Color? To be seen in public in one's underclothes is a crime punishable by the law. To call it immodest would be an understatement. Yet some people take great pride to be seen in exactly that way at the beach or pool. Public swimming isn't far removed from a strip tease. Many people go just to see the sights.
Getting closer to home, perhaps, we come to tight pants, i.e. blue jeans.
For a description of what they do to members of the opposite sex, listen to a country-western radio for an hour. If those singers are an accurate gauge of North American culture, tight blue jeans are an open invitation to adultery. Now, you may not think so when you pour yourself into them, but no man thinks like a woman or vise verse. You don't know what effect your skin-tight pants have on your neighbour. To some they say that "You're available." No God-loving woman ought to be found dead in them. (Many women have been found dead in them.)
If men and women dressed as the Bible DEMANDS - modestly (I Timothy 2:9) -- then even the thought of adultery would be farther removed in our society.
INDECENT MOVIES AND TV
Hollywood (and Bombay and other cinema making centers) has brain-washed us into thinking that adultery is okay. Weekday afternoons are filled with it.
It's the theme of many television movies; it sells. Those shows would be dead – cancelled -- in a week if it weren't for sex and the loss of millions of viewers. And now we have "soaps" which parody “soaps,” making adultery not only fun, but funny.
Don't 80% of all modern, movies stink with, adultery? 75% of prime time TV shows give tacit approval, if not outright ratifications of fornication?
Now we have video movies and are going to increase if all the more. "This writer walked into a video shop place out of curiosity. This was not some sleezy back room but a store in a major shopping mall. 25% of that store's wall space was dedicated to "adult" (short for adultery) programming. Later, I accidentally passed the video section of a major discount store and there, open to the eyes of any five year old was a wall full of X-rated video tapes, resplendent in pictorial wrappings.
Here in our area the biggest pay TV network competes by advertising that they have the Playboy programming channel.
Christians shouldn't be caught with any of it in their homes.
Pornography, often sponsored by big time criminal concerns, contributes to adultery. It, too, has come out of the back room of the sleezy hotel in a skid-row/homosexual neighhourhood. It can be found in anyone's neighbourhood, as “respectable” business.
There are free information and counseling services across our continent. They are often government, United Way and church sponsored. They are excellent sources of information of how to have an affair without effects. They advise people, yea, even children on how to prevent babies, or, if one has already gone too far, how to kill it. Abortion mills are open invitations to society, "Go ahead and play with fire! We're here to put the fire out." Free or inexpensive abortions give incentive to adultery.
A month ago this writer was in the presence of the Director of Family Life Education for the public schools of our city. She was asked if sex-education in her schools was compulsory. She said that it was not, but parents had to specifically ask their children be excused, implying that they must find out when and if such classes were being offered. (The onus is on the parents of publicly educated children.) This woman was then asked if homosexuality was taught. She replied that it was presented as a common alternative lifestyle. Next, came the question if sex was taught with any moral guidelines. Her answer was that children were taught that if two people agreed and no harm was done, then it was acceptable.
Reader, public schools are teaching, by example, visuals, and outside reading, that adultery and fornication are great. No Christian child should be permitted even to approach it. It should be opposed with all out might.
Years ago it was called petting, today, making-out. In a marriage situation it is natural and right, but outside of marriage it is wrong. Mark it down, it leads to fornication.
Dating does not demand making out. If someone's date tries to make, that demand they are not worth seeing again. Dating ought to be designed to learn a person's soul and mind, not their body. Amazingly, in survey after survey, both boys and girls say that they want to marry virgin but before that day arrives they may try their best to destroy all the virginity that they can. If to get a mate one has to auction off his or her body "dating" is not worth-while.
As an experiment, take a day and keep track of how much sex is thrown at you. Not even a blind person can go through the day without temptation.
Radios and TVs scream out adultery. Billboards invite us to consider adultery with the shapely model. Cars to candies are sold on sex appeal. If you're looking, it is possible to find male and female strippers all across town. It's impossible to buy a newspaper or a paper back book without being sexually assaulted by the pictures. Ice makers to fortune cookies are filled with adulterous suggestions. Children have found sex manuals in public candy dispensers. Brothels are being declared national historic sites.
It seems that despite all the precautions society SHOULD take and Christians MUST take, it's only by the grace of God that we keep from sin.
And our children, our children, God spare our kids. They need parents who will do everything they can to inspire a moral upbringing. If it means burning the TV, putting them in a Christian school, censuring their friends, whatever - it must be done. Bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), not in the way of the world (Ephesians 5:3, 11).
Paul the Apostle may or may not have been married before his conversion. Whatever the experts decide, he was not married during his ministering years. Whether he knew the joys of married life or not, he didn't long for them after meeting Christ. What he said about money be might also have said about our subject as well: "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (Philippians 4: 11). There's good advice in these words.
Adultery begins when someone starts looking around admiringly. It may begin with TVs and movies, comparing our mate with the gorgeous "ideals" they present. It then grows into watching the neighbours: maybe into reading pornography; eventually into divorce or something a little more daring.
Christian, find the mate God has for you or thank Him for the good one that you have, then close your eyes, mind and heart to all others. If you are married, remember that God says -that it's for life. I know that your mate's not perfect, but he or she is perfect enough for imperfect you. God says, "I forbid you to commit adultery." Don't imagine it, think about it, read it, watch it; and especially, don't consider it.
But if in the past you have considered it and succumbed to those considerations, you may yet have opportunity to rejoice, for forgiveness from God is available through the Lord Jesus Christ.
In John 8 we read of the woman taken in the act of adultery. Most scholars say that Jesus forgave her. He said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (John 8:11). Whether she was saved or not, our Lord teaches us what salvation involves: (1) It is the declaration; (2) Our faith must be placed in that Savior and Lord (3) And our repentance of our sins must be real and practical--"Go and sin no more." Without our hatred of sin and the desire to leave it, there is no salvation—no forgiveness (Luke 13;-3). If you are guilty of adultery, recognize that it is damnable sin in God's sight, repent (turn) from it completely, and put your trust for forgiveness in Christ Jesus' shed blood! Remember that not to do so means eternal punishment in Hell for your sin (Rom. 6:23 etc).
Notice, too 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, shall inherit the kingdom of God.", What does this say? These people are worthy of Hell forever excluded from the kingdom of God. Oh, but we must not forget verse 11 "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." There have been thousands of adulterers forgiven by Christ from Rahab and David to some of your neighbours. That forgiveness can only come through Jesus, for "there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Won't you trust the Lord and YOUR SAVIOUR, and seek out a congregation of Christians with whom to share your conversion, fellowship and spiritual growth?