God's Seventh Commandment has far-reaching application — life-and-death import for the true Christian!
"MY sex life is my business! And as long as I don't hurt anybody else, I'm going to do just what I want." Those words sum up the feelings of most people about their sex life — it's "their business" and they're going to do just exactly what they want as long as they "don't hurt anybody else." But people who think this way are wrong. Sex is not just "their business." And to prove it, God thundered from Mt. Sinai his Seventh Commandment: "You shall not commit adultery" (Ex. 20:14). Don't be deceived! God commanded this law for you, today, now, in this era of the world. It is not just for the swingers, overt sexual deviates or the sleep-around college set. It is a binding physical and spiritual law you need to understand if you are going to make it into God's Kingdom. You need to see how you may be breaking this commandment, or it will break you!
Rocked to our senses
Our busy, crowded, sensational, high-technology society dazzles our minds and tends to dull our senses to sin. We become mesmerized to the evils around us and how those evils affect us, just as the ancient inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah failed to see their wicked ways. But the truth of the matter is that we are literally bombarded by sex — in all its illicit forms — every single day of our lives. Our music sings about it, our television commercials use it to sell everything from new cars to perfume, our entertainment jokes about it, our books describe it in lurid detail and our magazines flaunt it for leering eyes. It is all around us — we cannot escape it. But instead of even wanting to escape it, we tend to take it for granted and forget that we are slowly (or maybe not so slowly!) being destroyed by our sex sins! Make no mistake about it: You need to be rocked to your senses. The penalty for certain sex sins in the Old Testament was death. And, unless you see how the sex sins of this society may be sapping your spiritual strength, you may also have to pay the penalty — with your spiritual life.
All sex sins included
The Seventh Commandment is short and to the point. God says merely, "You shall not commit adultery" (Ex. 20:14). But the commandment against adultery goes far beyond the mere surface or limited technical meaning of the word adultery, meaning sex with someone other than a person's own husband or wife. Christ clearly expands the meaning in Matthew 5:27-28: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Here, Christ expands the commandment to include not merely the act of physical adultery, but sexual lust. Sexual lust expresses itself in many forms, all of which are sinful. But even then, lest some too narrowly construe this scripture, God in other passages adequately condemns such woeful, common practices as fornication (I Cor. 6:18), homosexuality (Lev. 18:22), incest (Lev. 18:6), bestiality (Lev. 18:23) and others. Thus we see that the Seventh Commandment, which at first glance may seem like a mere legal prohibition against one type of improper sexual activity, includes under its umbrella, both in principle and by application from other texts, a prohibition against misuse of sex in every form. But the real point of God's commandment against adultery even goes further than this. The point of the commandment is not only to protect man's physical body or his biological reproductive machinery, though the modern curse of sexual diseases would certainly be eliminated if everyone obeyed this law. No, the law's purpose is to protect man's mind — our thoughts and our attitudes. And beware: Your thoughts and attitudes about sex have been negatively affected by this society even if you have never physically committed adultery or any of the other sex sins mentioned above. You simply cannot have escaped the bombarding influences of our society's moral disease. The ultimate tragedy of breaking God's law against adultery, whether it be in the letter, in the spirit, in our thoughts or in our attitudes, is this: A wrong use, understanding or even attitude toward sex causes a breakdown of the basis of society, the family, and threatens, in this way, all of civilization.
Satan the author of adultery
God is the author of sex. He is the one who made the human body, and He is the one who designed that sex should be a pleasure bond between a legally married husband and wife in the privacy of their own bedroom. But it is Satan the devil and his wrong attitudes that injected the attitude of adultery into the human society. We are not told specifically how Satan did this — what words he may have used or his method of implanting wrong attitudes — but we do read that Adam and Eve's pure motives about sex were definitely tainted by their eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden: "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings" (Gen. 3:6-7). Adam and Eve covered themselves out of a newly found sexual shame, which resulted from Satan's influence on them. As Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong has explained, it is from Satan that man gets his human nature — his evil " heart." And it is from this evil heart that man gets his propensity for sexual sin (Matt. 15:19). The bases for sexual sins are infidelity and a materialistic and sensual lusting for pleasure. Both these qualities were initiated into the universe by Satan, as Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-15 point out. The very foundations of Satan's fall from power as a glorified archangel of God to Satan the devil included his lust for things that were not legally his (such as the power and glory of God) and his lack of loyalty — infidelity, as it were — to God who was his Creator and a family member in the widest sense. Both these vices — infidelity and a lustful desire for unearned pleasure — are at the basis of the sexual sins in which our society wallows. And Satan is clever, for he has managed to foist his perverted ways off onto our society, and at times has even made them look good or proper. Some methods Satan uses to bombard our minds are obvious. Others aren't. One of the more obvious is out-and-out pornography in all its forms — "R" — rated, "X" — rated, "soft-core," "medium-core," "hard-core," "triple X" and so on. Perhaps most co-workers or members of God's Church would not be fooled by obvious pornography, in the sense that one who imbibes in these materials knows exactly what he is doing (e.g., reading pornography). Nonetheless, these materials, which are many times displayed on magazine racks right along with legitimate magazines, form a constant magnet to our human nature and a net that can snare us when we're weak. And such materials are deadly. They pervert the mind. They lessen one's satisfaction with one's mate and create improper understandings about the realities of men and women and the way they act sexually. They push one further down the toboggan slide of sexual perversion and deviance, and finally tend to cause one to want to act out sexual fantasies through adultery or other extramarital acts. Make no mistake about it: If you indulge in these types of materials, they affect you. And the deeper hold these things get upon your mind, the further through the bonds binding you and your mate will be cut. You cannot escape it.
Pornography by degree
Not as obvious as open, notorious, X-rated pornography is what we might call "pornography by degree." That is, those forms of influence that Satan uses more commonly to cause the minds of men and women to stray from the pure, giving relationship of sex in marriage into lust. One example of this is the modern style of dress. Today women and men alike have been brainwashed to misuse clothing purposely to try to entice each other's looks by constantly dressing in a very physical, seductive, sensual way. People do this, no doubt, in order to satisfy their vanity, to enjoy the luxury of having others find them exciting or sensual. But, while it's true that God made men and women so that they are naturally sexually appealing to each other, He did not intend that they parade themselves in such a way as to intentionally excite virtual bedroom lust from every stranger who passes them on the street. The sexy, slinky, seductive look is not the look that a Christian man or woman should strive to reach — not outside the privacy of his or her own married bedroom, that is. For an example of proof, examine I Timothy 2:9, which admonishes women in particular to "adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation." Dress should always be appropriate for the occasion and should exemplify discretion, balance and moderation, whether it be swimwear, evening wear, casual dress or whatever. Intentional seducing of the eye clearly flies in the face of God's command that we "flee sexual immorality." "Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body" (I Cor. 6:18). A man or woman who blatantly displays the charms intended by God as reserved for a marriage partner can hardly be said to be "fleeing sexual immorality." Take heed: You who dress and act in this manner are breaking the spirit of the Seventh Commandment. God will not hold you guiltless. Numerous other techniques of Satan fall under the category of "pornography by degree." These include the use of blatant sex in advertising and the inevitable sex themes and scenes in entertainment. All of these things, in one way or another, help to mold the attitudes of people — of your attitude — and hence the thoughts and finally actions of all of us. The bombardment is literally torrential.
Pornography by deceit
Still another of Satan's methods of deceiving the world about sex might be called "pornography by deceit." Included in this category are areas that on the surface may not appear to be sex-related at all, but in reality are laced with illicit, lustful actions and attitudes. One good illustration of this category is music. Some songs — whether rock, country, pop or easy listening — may be pleasant ballads or humorous anecdotes. But, more and more, the basic underlying message of these songs is sex, sex, sex — anywhere, at any time, with anybody. In recent months, for instance, popular songs that have hit the top of the sales charts have espoused, many times in semi-camouflaged lyrical form, such perversions as adultery, fornication, bestiality, homosexuality and even necrophilia (sex with the dead). And remember, this music is on your home stereo or your car radio, and in the restaurants in which you eat. Your children do their homework by it and unconsciously imbibe the message of sexual promiscuity that these songs proclaim. This music affects your society, your family, your children — and you. Your attitudes, thoughts, moods and sexual point of view and outlook are manipulated by this type of thing. Another type of "pornography by deceit" is the example set by the people around us — including sometimes, sad to say, our friends and relatives, who simply traffic in all types of illicit sexual practices. As we see them literally romping from wife to lover and back, or as we view major sports figures, political people or entertainment personalities hopping from partner to partner — always with impunity and an implication that what they are doing is fun — our values become affected. We, if we are not careful, can become deceived by the outward, temporary "pleasure" of promiscuity and decide that such actions "aren't that bad after all." But such actions are "all that bad." The devastation of families left in the wake of such activities is causing disgrace and lament for which our society is paying the price in true happiness. And God does not wink or laugh at such antics: "How shall I pardon you for this? Your children have forsaken Me and sworn by those that are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses. They were like well-fed lusty stallions; every one neighed after his neighbor's wife" (Jer. 5:7-8).
How can you protect yourself in a war in which the enemy — Satan — has literally monopolized all the weaponry (the media and other forces)? Is there a reasonable defense to such an overall barrage of high-powered sexual bombardment? Yes, there is. And the first step in your defense is this: Clearly see the evil that promiscuity reaps upon society and can inflict upon you. Contemplate the subtle methods Satan has used to push his perilous perversions upon all peoples. Develop a revulsion for allowing your mind to be manipulated by Satan. You who have read the pages of this magazine for years know by now the supreme purpose God is working out here below: God is making sons in His own image, literally putting human beings into His own Family as God Beings themselves. And you know by now that one major quality you will need to qualify for this supreme blessing is that of loyalty — fidelity — to God the Father and Jesus Christ, who is our spiritual brother and groom. Once you see how Satan has been trying to rob you of the potential of being in God's Family by destroying the parallel human family, partly through sexual sin, you will be prepared with the determination you need to follow the next step in your defense. Second, guard the door of your mind. Sex sin, like all sins, begins in the mind (Jas. 1:14-15). The place to stop sin is at the point where we are tempted. All sin, and especially sexual sin, gains allure if we harbor it. It begins to snowball and gains strength until we allow ourselves to sin in our mind or even in our actions. So do not permit yourself the luxury of even a "little" lust. For a "little" lust is the match that lights the fire of sexual promiscuity, which burns the bonds of matrimony into ashes.
God plainly states that our sex sins are grievous in His sight. "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled [i.e, by extramarital sex]; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous" (Heb. 13:4, Revised Standard Version). Fidelity and sexual purity are, clearly, what God requires. But it is true, unfortunately, that in the lives of many who read this, Satan will have already struck. The good news is that we can be forgiven of our past sins — even our sex sins — if we repent — stop sinning and start doing what is right. Remember the story of the "woman caught in adultery"? "When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, 'Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said to her, 'Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more'" (John 8:10-11). "Go and sin no more." Good advice, and the advice that all of us must take if we are to learn the lesson of fidelity, which can carry us from the warm bonds of a physical marriage into the spiritual Family of God. And, though many today feel that their sex lives are "their business," we can know for certain that God has made sex His business when He thunders — for our good — "You shall not commit adultery." And we should praise His name and thank Him that He did.