1 Thessalonians 4:1-12Contemporary English Version (CEV)
4 Finally, my dear friends, since you belong to the Lord Jesus, we beg and urge you to live as we taught you. Then you will please God. You are already living that way, but try even harder. 2 Remember the instructions we gave you as followers of the Lord Jesus. 3 God wants you to be holy, so don’t be immoral in matters of sex. 4 Respect and honor your wife. 5 Don’t be a slave of your desires or live like people who don’t know God. 6 You must not cheat any of the Lord’s followers in matters of sex. Remember, we warned you that he punishes everyone who does such things. 7 God didn’t choose you to be filthy, but to be pure. 8 So if you don’t obey these rules, you are not really disobeying us. You are disobeying God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
9 We don’t have to write you about the need to love each other. God has taught you to do this, 10 and you already have shown your love for all of his people in Macedonia. But, my dear friends, we ask you to do even more. 11 Try your best to live quietly, to mind your own business, and to work hard, just as we taught you to do. 12 Then you will be respected by people who are not followers of the Lord, and you won’t have to depend on anyone.
Matthew 5:27-32Contemporary English Version (CEV)
27 You know the commandment which says, “Be faithful in marriage.” 28 But I tell you that if you look at another woman and want her, you are already unfaithful in your thoughts. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, poke it out and throw it away. It is better to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to end up in hell. 30 If your right hand causes you to sin, chop it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
31 You have been taught that a man who divorces his wife must write out divorce papers for her. 32 But I tell you not to divorce your wife unless she has committed some terrible sexual sin. If you divorce her, you will cause her to be unfaithful, just as any man who marries her is guilty of taking another man’s wife.
+++One night at the dinner table, the wife commented, “When we were first married, you took the small piece of steak and gave me the larger. Now you take the large one and leave me the smaller; You don’t love me any more…”
“Nonsense, darling,” replied the husband, “you just cook better now.”
The church held a “Marriage Seminar” and the Priest asked Luigi, as his 50th wedding anniversary approached, to share some insight into how he managed to stay married to the same woman all these years. Luigi replied to his audience, “Well, I tried to treat her well and spend money on her. But the best thing I did was take her to Italy for our 20th anniversary.”
The Priest said “Luigi, you are an inspiration to all husbands here today. Please tell the audience what you plan for your wife for your 50th anniversary.” Luigi proudly replied “I’m gonna go and get her.”
Jane, one evening, drew her husband’s attention to the couple next door and said, ‘Do you see that couple? How devoted they are? He kisses her every time they meet. Why don’t you do that?’
‘I would love to do that,’ replied Jane’s husband, ‘but the problem is……….she won’t let me.’
At a cocktail party, one woman said to another, ‘Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?’
The other replied, ‘Yes, I am, I married the wrong man.’
Social news: Nellie Morgan and John Rees were married on February 2nd in Newtown’s Baptist church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A couple goes out to dinner to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
On the way home, she notices a tear in his eye and asks if he’s getting sentimental because they’re celebrating 50 wonderful years together.
He replies, ‘No, I was thinking about the time before our nuptials. Your father threatened me with a shotgun and said he’d have me thrown in jail for 50 years if I didn’t marry you. Tomorrow I would’ve been a free man!’
MARRIAGE A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t. A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change, but she does.
As we have studied the Ten Commandments this summer, we have learned how to honor God, to honor our parents, t0 honor our neighbor. Now we need to look at how we honor our spouses and each other within in our relationships as gender-specific people. How do men and women get along?
Men and women are made for each other. That being said, sometimes men and women don’t get along. I’ve heard more than once, from both sides of the equation: “You can’t live with them; you can’t live without them.”
I can’t imagine a world without marriage.
The sixth commandment focuses on our relationships with our spouses, our boyfriends, our girlfriends, our sweethearts, and on our own self-respect.
As with all the commandments, it’s pretty straight forward: no adultery. And, as with all the commandments, we find that it’s easier to commit and harder to avoid than a surface reading indicates.
The sixth commandment requires loyalty. It requires commitment. It requires honesty. It requires respect.
When I as taking Confirmation classes, I was taught that no commandment is better or more important than another. If I broke the Fifth Commandment, it wasn’t any worse than breaking the Second Commandment. (Murder, swearing.)
However, I think our culture reads the commandments differently. When you look at the most sensational headlines in the news, they don’t have to do with swearing or lying; they have to do with adultery. When you think of all the reasons public officials have had to resign from office, how often has it been for committing adultery, for marital infidelity, as compared to false swearing or damaging someone’s reputation.
Another difficulty is that our culture presents multiple opportunities for adultery.
Adultery is not just about married people; it is about purity in mind and body. Which movies would you watch with Jesus sitting beside you, sharing a popcorn? Television shows?
When I think back to the television of my youth, The Dick Van Dyke Show, To Tell the Truth—even the soap operas, I’m amazed by the standards of what is presented as comedy and entertainment. I’ve always valued the honesty of documentaries, and I think the news should be reported honestly, but where should the line be drawn?
Of course, as literary person, I’m conflicted because I believe censorship can be carried too far, too. I made my students read Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Why would I teach them about two people who aren’t supposed to know each other, let alone date, who run away to get married, and then kill themselves? The only complaint I ever had from a parent was when one young man told his parents that he had seen a little bare breast in the film version we watched. A split second of skin and I was in trouble. Forget the plot. The young man saw only one thing.
So, where do you draw the line? And where is the line?
Let’s get technical. First of all, adultery is both mental and corporal. That is, you can commit adultery in your mind or you can actually, physically commit adultery.
How do you commit mental adultery? Let me give you just a few of my personal examples: Here is my list: Kevin Costner, (during Bull Durham), Christopher Plummer (during The Sound of Music), Harrison Ford (The Fugitive), Tommy Lee Jones (also The Fugitive) (I think that’s called two-timing.) Without going into detail, I wouldn’t have minded being Susan Sarandon or Julie Andrews. And in The Fugitive, I would have let either one of them catch me. Bim was not cast in any of those mind movies. That’s adultery.
It seems harmless, but like all “harmless” sins, it can lead to bigger trouble. Likewise, having impure thoughts in our minds can lead to acts that we condemn in others, but excuse in ourselves.
Adultery is also the sin of encouraging others to act in ways that harm their self-esteem or bodies. Sex-trafficking is an issue that has been uncovered by the media in recent years. It has not lessened the instances of trafficking, but we at do know that it exists everywhere; one of the most dangerous spots is the I-80 Truck stop, down the road from us. If you ever want to learn more, friends of mine made a documentary about women in our area. Any Kid Anywhere: Sex Trafficking Survivor Stories (2014).
It is not polite or pleasant to talk about this issue, but this is one of those times when what we don’t know can hurt us. Any of you who have worked at busy intersections like truck stops know that putting vulnerable people and self-serving predators in the same place can lead to irreparable harm.
I haven’t even touched on pornography. You may think it’s your right to read or view whatever you like, but your pleasure is likely provided by someone else’s pain or shame. Is that a good thing?
The Ten Commandments are ten simple statements. Do this. Don’t do that. Fortunately for us, enough scholars and theologians have written simple explanations for all of them so that we understand exactly what how we are supposed to follow them.
Martin Luther wrote “What does this mean?” after each commandment in his small catechism. To obey the commandments, we have to know what they mean. When Moses was preaching, when Jesus was preaching, adultery had different reasons for existence. In those times, women were property, owned by their husbands, so adultery was a kind of stealing another’s property. Now, when we read Luther’s explanation, we understand that the commandment has much broader ramifications for us. We are not the property of each other; we are much more precious to each other than property. That makes loyalty and love and respect all the more important.
And, as Luther says, this commandment applies to all of, not just those who are in committed relationships.
What does this mean?
“We are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and decent lives in word and deed”—all of us—pure and decent lives—
And, if we are blessed with a loving spouse, — “and each of us loves and honors his or her spouse.”
I pray for you that you may lead a pure and decent life in thought, word, and deed. Amen.