In the previous post in this series going through the ten commandments, we began to look at the 7th commandment, which simply says, “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14, ESV)
We saw last time from the Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew chapters 5 through 7), that Jesus taught that this commandment forbids not only the outward act of adultery, but even the inward disposition of lust in the heart as well. To look at another person with lust in your heart is to commit adultery in your heart (Matthew 5:28).
But God’s commandment against adultery also shows us something about the importance and sanctity of marriage, something which by any objective standard has fallen on hard times in our day.
Despite what you may have heard, God is not ant-sex. The Bible is not anti-sex. Christianity is not anti-sex. But sex is intended solely for within the confines of marriage, between a husband and a wife alone.
God instituted marriage all the way back in the garden of Eden in Genesis chapter 2. There in paradise, before the Fall of mankind into sin when Adam ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3), God saw that everything that He had made was good . . .except one thing.
Man was alone.
In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (ESV) And so who was this “helper” suitable for Adam that God made? It was Eve, his wife. In Genesis 2:24 we read of God instituting the creation ordinance of marriage, saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (ESV)
That is God’s purpose and design for marriage. And the 7th commandment is given in order to safeguard it.
Why does God take marriage so seriously? Any number of things could be said in answer to that question. One could point to the many societal ills and the damage that is done by sexual immorality and divorce. The breakdown of the family has taken a truly staggering toll on our society.
But there is also another answer to that question that you might not have considered: Marriage is a picture of the gospel of Christ!
In Ephesians 5:21-33 the Apostle Paul has a lot to say about God’s design for marriage. (Space will not permit me to go into detail at this time.) And he bases everything that he has to say about marriage on Genesis chapter 2 (i.e. God’s original instituting of marriage).
But in v.32 he says something remarkable – he sums up everything that he says about husbands and wives by saying, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (ESV, italics added)
“When God created marriage it was not simply that God considered marriage to be a good idea, though it certainly is that, or even because God thought it would be a good way to have and rear children. God created marriage to illustrate the relationship between Christ and the church.” (p.180)
Simply put, marriage between a husband and wife is a picture of the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and His church (i.e. His redeemed people). No wonder God takes marriage (and the sin of adultery which violates it) so seriously! And no wonder we should do so as well!