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published: 10/8/13

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The 7th Commandment: You Shall Not Commit Adultery

What does "you shall not commit adultery" mean?


You shall not commit adultery is the seventh of the 10 Commandments.

Summary: "The family life is safeguarded by the 7th commandment." (IBSE)

Scripture: Exodus 20:14, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

Relationship focus: People and people

Prohibition: Yes

The Seventh Commmandment

Within the biblical definition of marriage, sexual relations are designed to result in children, to unify husband and wife, and in Judaism and some Christian traditions, to be a source of carnal enjoyment, although some traditions look down on any minimal physical pleasure evoked by intercourse as leading to concupiscence, or tendency toward or lowered ability to resist sin, in this case, sexual sin. and Before the account of the Ten Commandments, there are biblical examples that adultery was understood to be a serious offense.

According to Exodus, the law forbidding adultery was codified at Mount Sinai as one of the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God on stone tablets. Details regarding the administration of this law and additional boundaries on sexual behavior followed. According to Deuteronomy, the commandment was reaffirmed as the leadership of Israel passed from Moses to Joshua.

In the book of Proverbs, the temptation to adultery is described, and advice for avoiding it is offered. Proverbs likens a man entering an adulterous encounter "as an ox goes to the slaughter." Adultery may be the first specific activity referred to as a ‘highway to hell,’ and temporal consequences are starkly stated. For example: He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts. — Proverbs 6:32-35 (English Standard Version)

In Egypt, Joseph resisted temptation to adultery at great personal cost. Image from the Vienna Bible, 1743
New Testament scriptures support the sanctity of marriage and affirm the gravity of the commandment:
Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers. — Hebrews 13:4 (New American Bible Revised Edition)

Other New Testament passages describe the positive expectation of sexual relations within marriage, and the sinfulness of adultery and of sexual relations outside of marriage.

The 10 Commandments

The 1st Commandment:
You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me
The 6th Commandment:
You Shall Not Murder
The 2nd Commandment:
You Shall Not Make for Yourself Any Graven Images
The 7th Commandment:
You Shall Not Commit Adultery
The 3rd Commandment:
You Shall Not Misuse the Name of God
The 8th Commandment:
You Shall Not Steal
The 4th Commandment:
You Shall Keep the Sabbath
The 9th Commandment:
You Shall Not Commit False Witness
The 5th Commandment:
You Shall Obey Your Parents
The 10th Commandment:
You Shall Not Covet


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