24 June, 2016

A Fresh Perspective on Adultery

Here are some points that I feel are appropriate
to individuals and couples seeking biblical knowledge and freedom in these times.

Remembering that in the scripture, we are told that the perfect law brings freedom.  If you have exhausted every avenue in trying to resolve issues in your marriage and still there is no freedom,  it may be a good idea to re-examine what Jesus teaches us in the New Testament.

God gave Moses commandments. He expounded on the commandments to bring us the rest of the law, which is laid out in Leviticus.

God considered adultery a serious problem, so it was given to Moses as a commandment and etched into stone that “you shall not commit adultery”.

The commandment “you shall not murder” is fairly obviously defined in itself, but one cannot simply say that the abortion of a foetus is murder, because
Genesis 9:6 says, "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man."

Leviticus 24:17 says
'If a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death.
The core issue is taking a life of flesh and blood. Abortion tends to be more to do with preventing a life more than taking a life.

Adultery originates from the Hebrew word that the Israelites understood implicitly in those times. If we look at the Hebrew translation, the word adultery originated from the word “naaph” meaning whoredom or licentiousness. That to me seems to point out the wrong in promiscuous behavior rather than having a love affair with just one man outside of your marriage partner.
That would make prostitution a form of licentiousness. Today, the meaning has been lost in translation and we have become preoccupied by the issue of marital unfaithfulness, rather than licentiousness

The problem with the law is that adultery is only clearly defined in the New testament when Jesus gives interpretation to how adultery is applicable. Our understanding is made clearer by Jesus' teaching:

Matthew 5:32 NIV
Anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her a victim of adultery. Anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
(She is made a victim of adultery because the divorce certificate is created by the marriage break-up)
A husband concerned for the future well being of his soon to be ex-wife, may possibly decide to just separate from her rather than divorce her. That would allow his wife to enter another relationship or be re-marryable.

The danger to men is in marrying a woman who is divorced. A man would be better off marrying a woman who has separated from her husband, but better off not marrying her if she was divorced from him.  If you care about your soon to be ex-wife’s future happiness it may be best to simply separate from her with a settlement and not issue a legal divorce with ensuing divorce certificate.

The New Living Translation says  and I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery--unless his wife has been unfaithful." ... 

Again, referring to the Hebrew commandment, the problem of adultery is licentiousness, not unfaithfulness. Other translations state that the problem is lewdness, unchaste or fornication of the wife.  Unfaithfulness is not the central problem. Promiscuity is more the core issue.

God’s Word translation has an interesting slant:
But I can guarantee that any man who divorces his wife for any reason other than unfaithfulness makes her look as though she has committed adultery. Whoever marries a woman divorced in this way makes himself look as though he has committed adultery.

Matthew 19:9 NIV
I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Here the emphasis points out that the problem is anything other than sexual immorality.

The New Living Translation backs this up:

And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery--unless his wife has been unfaithful."

This appears to qualify the unfaithfulness as being acceptable, the immorality a problem. Again, I would say that if there were unfaithfulness by consent of the husband or non-consent of the husband that is considered to be acceptable. It is when the wife becomes immoral, licentious or promiscuous in her unfaithfulness that is the problem.  For that reason, I would say that the issue has been confused in Matthew 19:9 rather than clarified.

Neither Mark nor John’s gospel offer much expansion on our knowledge and I would say that once you have studied these yourself, you will agree that Matthew’s gospel is where the true defining explanations of adultery come from.

To put those findings into layman’s terms, the following points on adultery ought to be made:

If your wife cheats on you behind your back that is not sufficient grounds for divorcing her. You must be able to prove that she was promiscuous or licentious in her cheating, then that is what would be the true grounds for divorce.

Nothing is said in the gospels or epistles about the man’s unfaithfulness in marriage. Perhaps God felt that wives were more likely to be unfaithful to their husbands than the other way around. Perhaps God thought that man would find it more difficult to be promiscuous in a marriage than women. Who knows.

Divorces are issued daily by legal professionals around the world on behalf of men whose wives have cheated on them and so have been unfaithful with their husbands in loving one other man outside their marriage. 

That legal stance is unrealistic and contrary to biblical teaching.
If a women must find another man outside her marriage, it could be because her husband won’t or is unable to perform his marital obligations to his wife, not that she has a desire to be promiscuous. ... And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else
commits adultery--unless his wife has been unfaithful." ... 

What happens if a man decides to remain celibate on account of righteousness?  Could he claim a God-given right to be served by married women in a congregation? Possibly, because the commandment is against re-marriage of divorcees and the promiscuous inclination of wives and does not deal directly with a man’s needs. If many wives serve one man, then none of the wives are being promiscuous and the man is not committing adultery because he has no intention of marrying any of those women. In effect he is in a polygamous relationship with married women who don't plan to divorce their husbands. No adultery is possible in that situation and he can still maintain his celibacy.

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