Letter vs. Spirit

The seventh commandment is the one about adultery. You don't do it.

But, we've heard many, including our politicians, who define adultery by the dictionary definition. It means being married and having sex with someone other than your spouse. Here's the catch...defining it weakens the commandment.

Today the marriage unit takes many forms. There are long-term relationships that may not be legally bound by marriage, but are the equivalent, both same sex and opposite sex relationships. These relationships are the emotional equivalent of marriage, and cheating is wrong.

In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But now I tell you: anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart."

This doesn't mean you can't notice and appreciate attractiveness in others of God's children. It's wrong when lust for them consumes you, and the object of your appreciation becomes more important than the one you are bound to.

Mark 7:6-8 (Good News Bible: Today's English Version): Jesus answered them, "How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! You are hypocrites, just as he wrote:

'These people, says God, honor me with their words,
but their heart is really far away from me.
It is no use for them to worship me,
because they teach man-made rules
as though they were my laws!'

"You put aside God's command and obey the teachings of men."

Narrowly defining God's law by our dictionary misses the spirit of the law. Not committing adultery means more than not having sex. It's honoring the love you have for your partner, expressing that love by your faithfulness and support.

Not committing adultery includes, but is not limited to, not kissing, not snuggling, not holding hands, and not flirting with someone other than your partner.

This is unquestionably an uncomfortable commandment when you really stop and think about it. It seems as if it's one of the easier commandments to obey, until you look into it, beyond the narrow definition and into the greater spirit of faith. It's more a commandment of the heart than of the body. What we think affects our faith in God, even about something as simple as lust, which we don't usually associate with God. In fact, often when we feel lust, God is the last thing on our minds.

Which seventh commandment have you been following? The letter of the law, or the spirit of the law?