Summary: Though adultery is often justified in our world, there is no justification for this infidelity. God holds the adulterer to account, especially if that one bears the Name of Christ.

“It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, ‘Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant.’” [1]

“You shall not commit adultery” [EXODUS 20:14]. The sixth commandment is quite precise and emphatic, leaving no room for equivocation. Driven by personal desire, people may attempt to find wiggle room, an escape clause, but the commandment as delivered is immediately understood. Most of us are not favourably impressed with the spouse who is unfaithful. Oh, she may be pretty enough—and men will excuse her perfidy. He may be truly handsome—and women will find a way to justify His infidelity. Human nature attempts to minimize sin; and in our day and in this culture, we have become almost blasé about adultery. True enough, we don’t want to be on the receiving end of a cheating spouse, but it happens all the time.

Frequently we will hear adulterers say they couldn’t help themselves. It was the fault of the situation, the fault of the other with whom they entered into the adulterous relationship, the fault of a spouse who didn’t meet the needs of the adulterer—we’re pretty good at justifying our actions. At other times we will hear the adulterer say they really love their spouse, but they are so confused. And yet, God didn’t leave any room for confusion in the matter when He instructed Moses to write that sixth commandment.

I’ve been serving in pastoral ministry for almost five decades now. During that time, I’ve encountered a surprising number of individuals who imagined that God would make an exception in their case. Their situation was unique, and they could not understand why I would respond to that plea by agreeing that every situation was unique. The principle doesn’t change, however. It is important to understand the will of the Lord and then make that divine will authoritative for your own conduct.

He was certain that I would see “reason.” He showed up at the church office and insisted that I go with him for a canoe ride on an area lake. It was supposed to be a day off for me, so it wasn’t all that difficult to convince me to take some time with him. Lynda was busy at the dental office, and I hadn’t taken time off for some weeks. He had the canoe on the roof rack and some food items in a hamper, so I closed up shop and away we went.

We unloaded the boat and carried it down a path to a mountain tarn, packed up and paddled out to an island. He unpacked his hamper, and the primary “foodstuff” was a magnum of wine and two flutes. There was some cheese and summer sausage with crusty bread. But clearly, the wine was important for this trip.

I informed him that I didn’t drink. He was astonished at my refusal, and made several attempts to convince me that I was wrong. It was apparent that the wine was central to his plan—a plan that appeared to be unravelling rather quickly. Finally, he put away the wine and got to the point of asking me to go canoeing.

A husband and wife in our church were passing through some rough waters in their marriage. She was a lovely woman and he was a handsome man. Both had spoken to me, and I had sent them for counselling. The gentleman who now sought to ply me with a little wine and a canoe trip had decided that the aforementioned wife was ripe for the picking. All that was lacking in the estimate of my canoeist friend was my blessing to allow him to swoop in and rescue this woman from her matrimonial chains. When I didn’t immediately agree with his view, he was angry enough that I thought I would have to swim in order to return to the far shore. And it would be a rather long walk back into town. Nevertheless, I held my ground and after numerous attempts to get me to change my mind, we loaded his canoe in silence and drove back into town.

I had pointed out to this man that he was asking me to approve of adultery. I assured him that I held the conviction that marriage was designed to be permanent. Though there may be reasons why the marriage relationship can be destroyed and the union dissolved, no man should ever imagine that he can either precipitate or hasten that destructive process. I don’t know that love is blind, but I’m reasonably certain that lust is blinding. That gentleman never again came to the services of the church, though I did see him about town from time-to-time. I don’t believe he ever again spoke to me, though he did glare at me whenever our paths happened to cross. I was informed by others that he did attempt to pursue the lady in question without success.

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