Why the Seventh Commandment is So Hard For Many to Follow
Something that has always been an interesting curiosity to me has been how many cult leaders develop their philosophy of ministry based on polygamous desires. One could go down a long list of men who have come up with new religions, or new concepts based on older religions that are merely covers for their desire to entrap and seduce women. Why is there such an insatiable relationship between heresy and wicked sexual sin? Does the first produce the second or is the former a consequence of the latter? The same could be said for men in ministry. Of all the pastors I have known who have shipwrecked themselves, their congregations, their families in service of licentious pleasure far outstrips the number who’ve similarly fallen due to greed, power, or arrogance. I bet if you laid the same template down in the business world you’d probably find a similar level of self-destruction over similar issues. The reason I’ve come up with for why this is the case is really just what God teaches through the hand of Solomon in Proverbs 5:3-4:
“Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life.”
The heart is deceitful above all things and desires the pleasures of the flesh, and there is no higher pleasure of the flesh than that which we classify under the Seventh.
Now, at this point I am obliged to say that women sin to. Sometimes when we talk about the law in this regard we can on occasion act as if this is purely a male problem. However, reality will not bear this out. There is a common trope that Mother’s Day is often a day of celebration in the church and Father’s Day is when the pastor tells the men to shape up. It’s funny because it’s true.
As we read the LC question for today we need to do so with both eyes open:
Q. 139: What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behaviour, immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage; having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancing, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.
Most of the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment are not a giant surprise to us. Remember what I said last week about needing to talk about this subject like adults? Well, if you are not ready for that skip these next two lines. Sodomy is not just a homosexual sin. Any intercourse that uses parts of the body not meant for penetration is a transgression of this statute.
Male/female or male/male or female/female it doesn’t matter. All of it is sin.
Like when we spoke on the Second command the Seventh is concerned as well with the activity of the mind. All sin begins inside and works its way out. It is at heart idolatry. We know well what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount about lust. If you see a man or a woman who is not your wife or husband and you take note of their desirability you are in sin and are called even at this moment to repentance. It is sin not just because the individual is not your spouse, but you are committing the sin of abandonment in giving that which is due to your spouse alone to another. It can be thought of as owing a debt to one person and giving that money to someone else. That’s not only the breaking of a vow. It is also unjust and not fair to the one God has committed you to in matrimony. You give of yourself to them, not to another.
Some of the other transgressions noted in the catechism answer need more explanation, partly because of older words needing translated to an extent, and because we don’t really want to talk about many of them. First of all both ladies have a responsibility to dress modestly, and that of course is going to be culturally conditioned (what is immodest in South Carolina is not necessarily going to be immodest in Zambia, however, the concept should not change), and men have a responsibly to watch over their own heart, and men can be immodest as well. As noted we have a tendency to apply some sins to one side of the fence. Women should not be showing as much skin as the world does, and men need to put to death the gaze of their eyes. Parents need to be involved in leading their daughters on this. I realize it is hard to find modest clothing that either doesn’t make them look and feel weird in a world that doesn’t want them to be modest, but there are plenty of resources out there to help find that which is good and right. Here is one at the link.
As the catechism notes there is a difference between celibacy for the service of God and undue delay of marriage. Young men and young women through the encouragement of the church should be seeking a spouse. If there is trouble/lack of knowledge, etc… on this front the elders and the ministers of godly congregations ought to be available to help on this front.
Another sin mentioned is the call to avoid lascivious songs, books, pictures, etc… Christians should not be entertaining their minds and hearts with media/entertainment that contains nudity or advertises the breaking of the Seventh Commandment as a good thing to be followed. If that means you can’t “enjoy” the same tv shows and movies as unbelievers, well, so what? Should you not ask yourself if Christ, whom you are to be imitating, would involve himself in such? It is a matter of dying to self and living to Jesus to be willing to do such. For the lover of the Lord that means no Spartacus or even novels which depict insatiable desires of lust. Are we willing to put these things to death in order to testify to our faith? Hard question.
Lastly, we have stews mentioned. The Larger Catechism is not banning what is simmering on your stove at the moment. This is an older word referencing brothels. It should go without saying that keeping one or working at one is sin. So to is taking advantage of the pornography produced by such purveyors of wickedness. There is a reason why God proscribed the death penalty for such in His word. If you are tempted to partake in such remember that in most cases these ladies are coerced and some even involved in white slavery through chattel means. Is that really what you want to the Lord to see you supporting with your clicks and eyes?
Here’s a word on why nudity is different from violence on TV:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church