Among American Gods: Adultery and the Pursuit of Happiness


For Meditation

The 7th Commandment is both specific and general. First, it specifically singles out adultery instead of more broadly addressing sexual immorality. CS Lewis wrote that “monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.” This inclusion of idolatry in the Ten Commandments and a more comprehensive study of adultery in the Old Testament confirms that this sin especially leads to destruction.

When Jesus speaks on the 10 Commandments in the Sermon on the Mount, He expands the commandment to include lust. Desiring others for sexual satisfaction violates this commandment just as clearly as actually acting upon those desires. This remains consistent with our series and the commandments ability to confront us in dehumanizing or objectifying others.

Finally, the preponderance of Scripture paints a broader picture of adultery in the idolatry and forgetfulness of the people of God. God is the faithful spouse while we are the wayward, forgetting what God has done, doing what is right in our own eyes, devoting ourselves to false gods, and prioritizing our own temporary happiness above our commitment to God. The 7th Commandment should convict each of us as both victims and perpetrators of adultery yet the Gospel offers hope in the face of these transgressions.

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Exodus 20:14

Do not commit adultery. 

Matthew 5:27-30

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.