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Article Info:
published: 10/8/13

You Shall Not Commit Adultery

The 7th Commandment

You shall not commit adultery is the seventh of the 10 Commandments that God gave the Israelites through Moses. The purpose of the seventh commandment is to honor marriage, a God-created institution (according to Genesis 2), promote the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of the husband and wife, as well as protect children by providing them with a stable, secure, and nurturing home environment. Furthermore, adultery is the willful breaking of a husband's or wife's vows and commitments to each other and to God entered into at marriage. The seventh commandment also encourages the health and wellness of the man or woman with which a spouse is committing adultery. This commandment continues to be observed in the Jewish religion.

What is the Scripture reference? Exodus 20:14, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (KJV); "You shall not commit adultery." (ESV); "You shall not commit adultery." (NASB); "You shall not commit adultery." (NIV)

What is the relationship focus? People and people (commandments 5-10 emphasis people's relationship with other people as opposed to "people and God")

Is the commandment a prohibition? Yes (the commandment is saying what "must not be" done as opposed to what "must be" done)


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.

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).

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.

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