You shall not commit adultery.
to worship a false god is to aim at the life of the true God. Idolatry is spiritual adultery. Besides this the sixth and seventh commandments are clearly related; the one guards the life of the individual, the other the life of the family, the sanctity of the home. Consider: -
I. THE SIN ITSELF. When a man by anticipation, or after marriage, breaks the marriage vow; when a woman acquiesces in the crime thus perpetrated, it is murder aimed at the collective life of the family. Madness for society to make light of such a crime, which, if permitted, must destroy society. For notice, the family, not the individual, is the ultimate social unit. [Illustration. Tree covered with foliage: individual leaves and blossoms are connected with twigs and boughs; you may kill a leaf without injury to the bough, but kill the bough, and what about the leaves?] Individuals are leaves and blossoms on the tree of life; it is through the family that they belong to the tree at all. Adultery poisons the bough, and through that withers the leaves and blossoms. Further, the sin involves a spreading plague. It spreads not merely far and wide, but on and on through future generations. You may keep it hid, you cannot keep it inactive. [Illustrate from case of David and Bathsheba; may we not trace his mother's influence in Solomon's sin? He goes after strange women, and then after strange gods. On David's side we have Amnon's sin directly connected with Absolom's rebellion, which again is connected indirectly with the successful rebellion of Jeroboam and resulting idolatry of the northern kingdom. It is still the one sin which spreads; outwards and onwards.] A pure home is a sound spot in the social organism; corrupt its purity, and it becomes a centre of corruption. May notice also, in this connection, that all sins of this class, fornication, uncleanness, etc., do and must manifest themselves in spite of concealment. Other sins (1 Corinthians 6:18) are "outside the body." These are "against the body," and through the body they declare themselves. The pure may not know why they shun the impure, but instinctively they discern the signs of his impurity. His sin shows through him, as a lurid light shows through a lantern.
II. CAUSES WHICH OCCASION THE SIN.
1. A low ideal of womanhood. According to the Divine ideal, "man" is "male and female;" it is in the union of the sexes that the "image of God" is reflected. According to the human ideal, woman is rather man's play-mate than his help-mate; he chooses her as he would a picture, because he likes the look of her. She is in thought his toy, his doll. In unchristian countries this low ideal of woman is universally prevalent, but even in Christian countries it is too often tacitly if not verbally accepted. Such an ideal cannot but be mischievous. [Illustration: Take lantern from summit of light-house and place it at the foot. It will still guide the ships, though no longer off the rocks but on to them.] Woman must exert influence; place her high and it will be ennobling, set her low and it will become degrading.
2. A low ideal of manhood. If woman is a toy, then that part of a man's nature which can require such a costly toy, will be the most important. The animal nature will be uppermost. The desires will rule.
3. A low level of life. This results naturally from 1 and 2. A man cannot live above the level of his own ideals. If man is a mere animal, woman a mere toy, then marriage is a mere convention. All its sanctity has evaporated. A man will marry if he can afford a wife, if not he will take some cheaper substitute. In the light of the Divine ideal, marriage becomes a duty and a privilege; the completion of that Divine idea of which man unmarried is a mere torso. Guard, of course, against improvident marriages; at the same time it is not improvidence to share, in common, sacrifice and self-denial. One man has two hundred pounds per annum and cannot marry under four hundred pounds; another has four hundred pounds and requires one thousand pounds. If a man divides himself into his income and finds he goes once and nothing over, he may set to work and make his income larger, or he may try to make self smaller; many a man could so reduce his divisor, that, without any increase in his income, the quotient should be two, with a fair remainder. Conclusion. - All such evils spring no doubt from a corrupt heart; but a high ideal will guard the heart and tend to purify it if impure. By the help of God's grace, let man reverence woman, and woman reverence man, and each reverence in himself and in the other that ideal which is their common glory. Before the splendour of the Divine image as thus mirrored in their union, adultery and sins of uncleanness must be driven afar off. - G.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou shalt not commit adultery.