Take some time and browse through any good-sized newsstand. Look at article titles in the most popular magazines. Nearly every magazine features an article on sex. Even by simply skimming through the articles, you would have to agree that editors want us to believe that the key to human happiness is sizzling sex. Whether you’re married, single, young or old, magazine writers leave us with the impression that if we are not having passionate sex there is something wrong with us.
Do humans have to put such focus on sex to find true happiness? Is sex the all-important thing in life?
Let’s face it! Our Western society is obsessed with sex. Prior to World War i, it was illegal in the United States to print, sell or distribute information about sex. Yet there was a need for proper sex instruction. But now, we are living with the opposite extreme. There are literally mountains of publications that openly discuss details of what should be reserved for the private, most intimate moments between a husband and wife.
It gets worse. abc News reported in January 2004 that in the U.S., the sale of pornography—in books and magazines, on tv, in movies and on the Internet—has grown into a $10 billion business. Human sexuality has been grossly corrupted—made into a sleazy business.
On the subject of sex, we have moved from the age of hush to a culture of full disclosure. We must ask this question: Has our increased knowledge and modern openness about sex made us happier? Sadly, the answer is no.
Our rising divorce rate is a good indicator of the growing unhappiness in people’s lives. In America, it is projected that one half of all new marriages will end in divorce. This statistic is the same for most every Western nation. Is there a connection between sexual promiscuity and divorce? Experts in marriage and family see a direct link. Infidelity is still a major cause of marital suffering, anguish and grief. Yet the suffering doesn’t end when the marriage does. In fact, usually it just begins. When a marriage ends, a home is broken. Often, children grow up frustrated with the loss of a warm, loving environment that only two loving parents can provide. Youth violence and crime is a direct result of our broken homelife.
Is our sexual freedom adding to the quality of our lives? Emphatically, no! In real fact, Western society’s promiscuous use of sex is destroying human health—even killing us. Over 20 million people have died worldwide from the hiv/aids epidemic since 1981. National Public Radio reported that approximately 5 million people contracted the aids virus in 2003—more than in any previous year (July 6, 2004). There is also a rampant increase in other venereal diseases, known as sexually transmitted infections (stis). Did you know that the United States has the highest sti rate in the industrialized world? Microsoft’s Encarta Reference Library reports that about half of Americans become infected with an sti before age 35. The economic, social and emotional impact of sexual disease is enormous. Besides the harm to adults, many infants have been left physically scarred, suffering from low birth weight and blindness, or harmful diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis. There is an ever increasing number of orphans due to aids deaths (an estimated 18 million by 2010—which is about the population of Australia).
Where is the sizzle in these statistics? Shouldn’t we begin to question our destructive, sexually loose lifestyles?
Seventh Commandment Stated
In the last two parts of this series, we have been covering the commandments that safeguard the incredible sacredness of human relationships and human life. The Fifth Commandment protects the government that God established in the home: “Honor thy father and thy mother ….” This commandment also preserves the parent and child relationship. The Sixth Commandment safeguards human life: “Thou shalt not [murder] ….”
The Seventh Commandment protects the most vital human relationship—that of husband and wife.
From Mount Sinai, our Creator commanded: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Almighty God gave this commandment to protect the honor and sanctity of the marriage bond. The married state is the highest earthly relationship possible for human beings. The wording of the commandment directly forbids adultery. The sin of adultery violates the sacred rights granted by the marriage relationship. This means that the commandment forbids any use of sex outside of marriage. Any kind of premarital sex is a grievous wrong done to a future marriage. God considers it unfaithfulness prior to marriage.
Although our free-for-all society refuses to recognize it, the Creator God has a lot to say about the use of sex. God designed sex, and He set in motion a great law to regulate its use. Adultery and fornication are capital sins—demanding capital punishment. God told Moses this while the nation of Israel was encamped at Sinai: “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10). Men may try to reason around it, but adultery is a grave sin. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul stated, “For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23). Paul means eternal death. When a person continues a life of sin—like adultery—without repentance, that individual faces God’s judgment in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).
Why does the sin of adultery call for such a severe punishment? God considers adultery such an awful sin because of the incredible purpose He planned for marriage. In our sophisticated, supposedly educated world, we have forgotten that the word holy should be associated with marriage and the use of sex in marriage. Men, women and children must come to understand the sacred meaning of marriage.
God’s Purposes for Marriage
To fully understand marriage, humans must not leave God out of the equation. Yet our educational system does just that.
Millions of young people attending high schools, colleges and universities are taught science, math, language and history all based on the false theory of evolution. Evolution is simply man’s explanation of a creation without a creator. When will the brightest minds wake up to the understanding that the theory of evolution degrades both God and man? Man is not an animal. He is unique, created for an astounding purpose.
In God’s plan, marriage and man’s incredible human potential are closely connected. It is time for every human being to acknowledge that sex and marriage are God-designed and God-ordained. To do so, we must go to Genesis. When we clear our mind of all prejudice and let the truth speak to us, it is awesome what is revealed.
Mankind is made in God’s likeness and image (Genesis 1:26). The word likeness shows that we carry the same shape and bodily features as God—only physical. The word image refers to God’s character. During this mortal life, God intends that we build His righteous, holy character.
Moses gives us details of Adam’s and Eve’s creation in Genesis 2. He wrote, “And the [Eternal] God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (verse 18). The scriptural record shows that God brought Adam to life first. But God knew that Adam was incomplete in himself—it was not good that he was alone! So God decided to create a help meet, or suitable, for him. God intended to create another human being that Adam could truly share his life with.
Notice that God drives this important point home for us. After Adam’s creation, God put Adam to work, requiring him to name the newly created animals. Adam saw firsthand the wonderfully designed pairing of the cattle, birds and other living creatures. “[B]ut for Adam there was not found an help meet for him” (verse 20). There was no other creature like Adam. He recognized immediately that he was alone—no one to talk with. There was no creature capable of sharing his hopes, dreams, joys and sorrows.
God then did something incredibly miraculous. He caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and created a woman out of his rib. This is not Hebrew myth—it is the revealed truth of God! When Adam saw this creature, he was truly elated. He said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (verse 23). Although Adam was created from the dust of the ground, Eve was not. She was molded and shaped from Adam’s own flesh. This fact carries deep meaning. Eve was created equal with Adam. As the Apostle Peter states, they were “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7). Here was another human being—made in God’s likeness—who could share life with Adam. She was created to help Adam by being his wife and companion.
When presenting Eve to Adam, God said specifically, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This verse proves that God instituted marriage—not man or the laws of man! Only God’s laws preserve and give honor to marriage.
God made man male and female (Genesis 1:27). God designed and created sex as a beautiful and holy thing. After the creation of man, Moses recorded, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God viewed the creation of sex in humans as very good. There is nothing shameful about God’s intended purposes for sex (Genesis 2:25). In fact, the proper use of sex—solely reserved for marriage—actually brings glory to God (1 Corinthians 6:20). For a thorough explanation of what the Bible reveals on the subject of sex, please request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The Missing Dimension in Sex.
Making Man Complete
A primary purpose for sex and marriage is to make man and woman complete. Each is incomplete without the other. Adam alone was not able to fulfill the purpose for which God created him. He was not able to learn the vital lessons of building godly character without the woman God created to assist him.
At the time of our first parents’ creation, it is clear that God intended Adam and Eve to live together as husband and wife. Of course, that meant bodily union. The use of sex in marriage is not sin. Adam and Eve were meant to share everything in this life. They were to grow together and become one in mind and purpose. Building a happy, mutually supportive marriage would have given them a physical completeness they would not have experienced otherwise.
A second purpose of sex and marriage is for building a family. God told Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth …” (Genesis 1:28). With the birth of children comes the serious responsibility of protecting and teaching them. A stable, happy marriage is the key to a happy and stable home. A stable homelife is the only right way to properly nurture a child. God commands all couples, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). People in our fast-paced, materialistic society have become so self-centered that children are criminally neglected. Children are often left to themselves while parents pursue their own selfish goals.
Both parents are responsible for the supervision and education of their children. God charges the father with the overall responsibility to see to the needs of his wife and family (Ephesians 6:4). But the wife must shoulder the daily care and training of children. She is the God-created helper to her husband, and this most definitely includes his children. A woman can only achieve the true happiness God intended for her by embracing her God-ordained role as wife, mother and homemaker. This is not the teaching of a man or men. God commands that young women be taught “to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5). We cannot take family lightly and claim to be religious. God the Father and Christ put prime importance on family. So must all men and women.
Character Begins at Home
A stable family life is the very foundation of all civilized societies. History shows repeatedly that when family life breaks down, nations crumble. Respect for law, authority, the property and welfare of others—elements of solid moral character—are all learned in the home. The qualities of goodness, patience, understanding, compassion and cooperation—all necessary to build up society—are first practiced at home. God’s holy, righteous character is outflowing concern for others. Jesus Christ stated, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Only well-balanced, stable homes can foster the growth of such character.
In this 21st century, men and women still want to experiment with marriage and family; many are searching for alternative families that will work. Let’s face reality. None of these alternatives will work. The family structure God designed for man is perfect. It is man that must change. We must stop trying to change God.
A third purpose for sex and marriage is for the preservation of the matrimonial bond in order to safeguard and protect the home and family. To fully obey God’s law in respect to marriage, a man and wife must totally give themselves to each other in every phase and aspect of their lives. The spiritual principle of give must be practiced in the sexual relationship.
The Apostle Paul taught, “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). It is clear that neither God nor His true ministers ever taught that sex is evil, shameful or degrading. Paul’s teaching here is based on the positive principle locked within the Seventh Commandment. Paul taught that you shall have sex—in marriage! Sexual relations are a debt that married couples owe each other. Yet, it is a debt of love—true giving—not getting or taking. Sex must never become a weapon to harm or wield power over another. It must be the wellspring of mutual love that binds a husband and wife together for life.
God created sexual attraction as the initial spark to kindle genuine love. Love in its deepest spiritual sense is union. God designed marital relations to bring a man and woman together so there is a complete surrender of two lives—the perfect union of mind, heart and body. No home can be broken that is founded on such a union.
Marriage—Type of Christ and His Church
God considers marriage holy. Why? Because it is a type of the relationship between Christ and His Church. Few understand this deep spiritual subject.
Paul taught, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing” (Ephesians 5:22-24). This strong teaching is not popular today. Yet its intrinsic spiritual value is immeasurable. It is worth more than all the gold in the world to those women willing to apply it.
God shows through Paul that a wife is to submit herself to her husband as the head of the home just as she must learn to submit to Christ for all eternity. In her marriage relationship to her husband, she is learning the deep spiritual lessons of obedience, loyalty and faithfulness.
Paul addresses husbands by teaching, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it …. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (verses 25, 28). This society desperately needs this kind of male leadership.
A real masculine husband will serve, help, protect, teach and give himself to his wife and family in the same manner as Christ did the Church. A man who truly follows Christ will gladly take the reins of leadership as the head of the home, yet he will use that office to serve, not bully, his wife and family. Almighty God holds all husbands responsible for being the right kind of leader.
Isn’t it time all men and women evaluate how they are living in their marriage?
There is a tremendous spiritual purpose behind marriage. Paul continued, “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (verses 30-32). Explained here are what should be the real goals for all marriages.
Through a marriage, God makes a man and a woman one flesh. That union must then picture the eternal, loving and serving relationship of Christ and His Church; therefore, nothing should come between a man and his wife.
God gave marriage and family to human beings to prepare us for our eternal future in the God Family. The Church will marry Jesus Christ at His return (Revelation 19:7-9). From that union will come multiple millions of children born into the God Family. The lesson of marriage is to teach us eternal faithfulness to Jesus Christ as our Head. To sever a marriage represents a tragic failure to learn what God most desires to teach us in marriage. God must reveal this great mystery to you. He will to all willing to listen.
God Hates Divorce
God wants us to prove our faithfulness to Him for all eternity by remaining faithful to our mate in this life. What kind of message do we send to God if we cannot remain faithful to one human being for life? If we cannot remain true for a few years—how can we ever remain true for eternity?
Divorce is rampant in our society. Eventually, our way of living is going to exact a heavy price. God tells us through the Prophet Malachi, “For the [Eternal], the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away …” (Malachi 2:16). “Putting away” simply means divorce. God hates divorce. Jesus Christ taught this fact clearly.
The Pharisees, always critical of Christ, one day quizzed Him about divorce. Divorce was common in Judah at the time of Christ. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Jesus responded firmly: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:3-6). Taking a justified swipe back at these hypocritical lawyers, Christ asked them if they had read the account of marriage in Genesis 2.
It is clear that Christ upheld God’s Word that legalizes only one husband, one wife for life. What God has joined, man has no authority to separate.
Not liking Christ’s answer, and wanting to trap Him, the Pharisees fired back, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” (verse 7). Jesus Christ, the Maker of man and marriage, answered simply and directly: “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so” (verse 8). From the beginning of man’s creation, God intended that couples not divorce. It is because of the hardness of men’s hearts that divorce even exists.
Just after this public debate, in private discussions with the disciples, Christ taught, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). God the Father and Jesus Christ name divorce and remarriage exactly what it is—adultery!
To fully obey the Seventh Commandment, we must also observe the spirit of the law. Unfaithfulness in marriage begins with the sin of lust. We must eliminate this sin from our minds. Jesus Christ taught, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Christ shows that you break the Seventh Commandment when you even think about sexual lust toward another person. Action follows thought. People who desire to obey God must learn to guide their minds and thoughts away from all lust and wrong sensual desires.
In our world, people have become so accustomed to an open display of sexual lust in clothing styles, in advertising, on tv and in movies that most don’t even realize what is happening. This base and degrading emphasis on sex in our Western culture is a grievous sin. We must realize that all use of all forms of pornography is adultery. The death penalty hangs over anyone’s head that engages in such a lifestyle (Romans 6:23). We must understand what a serious matter this is!
God’s Word is plain that fornicators will not enter into the Kingdom of God. Paul taught, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind … shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). A wise and loving God states that all human beings should “flee fornication” (verse 18). God’s laws are written for our good and the good of those around us. Obeying them brings real joy, happiness and excitement to life.
What this world needs most is strong teaching about sex, marriage and faithfulness. That education can only begin when we are willing to obey God’s Seventh Commandment in both the letter and the spirit: Thou shalt not commit adultery!