The Sixth Commandment – You Shall Not Commit Adultery: Commentary by Sr. Lucia of Fatima

by admin on September 3, 2011

« You shall not commit adultery » (Deut 5:18)

In these days when society seems to want to make a law of this sin, Sacred Scripture continues to repeat the commandment of God: “You shall not commit adultery ‘. It is the word of God, and the word of God does not change, nor does his Law: «It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void* (Lk 16, 17).

This commandment obliges us all, each one according to his or her state of life, to preserve chastity. Those who feel they are called to the state of matrimony are obliged to preserve chastity until the time comes to contract a definite union blessed by God in the sacrament of Matrimony; they must treat each other with respect as in the case of a tree whose fruit is still green and which must mature so that its fruit may be gathered at the proper time.

Once they have received the sacrament of Matrimony, the union be­tween the couple is definitive and cannot be shared with others: it is indis­soluble while the partners live. It was thus that God instituted the marriage union, and nobody has the right to modify or transgress what God has ordained. We know about this institution from Sacred Scripture when it describes the creation of the human race: «So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.» (Gen 1, 27-28).

Let us look for a moment at the way in which God established the marriage bond. He created man and woman, next He blessed them and only after blessing them did He allow them a definitive union, expressed thus by its fruits, that is, the growth of the human race. This blessing of God, which must precede the union of the spouses, has today, for those who are baptised, a concrete form: the sacrament of Matrimony. Only af­ter the couple have received this Sacrament can the union be considered lawful and sanctioned.

God instituted this union, formed of two people only, and not to be shared by any other person while the couple are alive. This is the order given by the Lord from the beginning: « Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.» (Gen 2, 24). ” The two become one flesh”: the two and no more!

These two, blessed by God and now one body, remind us of the tree of life planted by the Creator in the earthly paradise so that, when culti­vated, it might yield fruit in due time. If we look for fruit on a tree outside its proper time, we will not find it. And, if we pluck the fruit before it is ripe, it will be green, tasteless and harmful to our health if we eat it; if, on the other hand, we pluck the fruit when it is ripe, in the season appointed by God, then the fruit is delicious, a source of life and happiness. New flowers will blossom on the tree, new spring-times will smile in our homes and new lives will intone songs to their Creator.

This is the principal reason why God instituted the marriage bond, and all who choose this way of life must assume this obligation. By means of this union, God has willed to associate humanity with his creative work; He has given it, we may say, a position of honour; but, in this position, along with the honour, there are laws imposed by God which must be observed faithfully. Each family, like a tree, has a single trunk, and from that trunk grow many branches, that is, children: growing from the tree, they will cover it with fruit.

It is necessary; then, that this tree, which is the family, should give God all the fruit He wants from it. It is not lawful to destroy buds which are the germs of new life, because this means destroying and refusing to use the fruit of the tree and rendering it barren, thus incurring the same con­demnation which Jesus Christ uttered in the case of the barren fig-tree. One day, early in the morning, Jesus was on his way to the city of Jerusalem and; « “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.» (Mt 21,19).

Now, who would want a fig tree covered with fresh, green foliage, but never yielding fruit in his field? Its wood is of no use for building; it is taking up space on the land to no purpose. It is fit only to be cut down and thrown into the fire, because it has not fulfilled the mission entrusted to it by God, which is to yield fruit in due time. God has laid down the appro­priate time for everything; a time for sowing, a time for planting, a time for weeding, a time for harvesting; and the whole of creation which has been given us to contemplate, follows the laws which God has prescribed for it; all creation except human beings!

One day, the Pharisees wanted to know Jesus’ opinion about all this and »asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.” But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.“» (Mk 10, 2-9). We have here a confirmation of the law imposed by God from the beginning: the two are one flesh; they are the trunk of the tree of life which cannot be divided.  And if, on account of the hardness of the human heart, the two are forced to separate, each of the two is nonetheless required to preserve the virtue of chastity because, as Jesus says: «Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.* (Lk 16,18).

This law of God is very clear, and it is not lawful for anyone to give it an interpretation which distorts it. Only the Church can interpret the Law of God, and, hence, we have to follow the teaching of the Supreme Head of the Church, who is the Pope, Bishop of Rome. And if anyone happens to proclaim to us a doctrine which is different or contrary to this, we must not believe him or follow the doctrine, because only to the Roman Catho­lic Apostolic Church has Christ promised, and granted, the help of the Holy Spirit; therefore, it is the Church, in the person of its Supreme Head and Vicar of Christ on earth, which has the light and grace necessary to define, teach and govern spiritually the People of God.

There is no shortage today of people who interpret this law of God in a sense contrary to the teachings of the Head of the Church, but these false doctrines were, at all times, condemned by God. Already in the Old Testament, God complained and accused his people of profaning the sanc­tuary of the family, saying to them, by the voice of the prophet Malachi, that this was the only reason that their offerings were not acceptable to Heaven: «You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favour at your hand. You ask, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness to the cov­enant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faith­less, though she is your companion and wife by covenant. Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life? And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.* (Mal 2, 13-16).

All these divine words show us the seriousness of sins against the com­mandment, which forbids adultery. The answer, which Jesus Christ gave to the Pharisees when they asked Him about divorce, is worth our considera­tion. “It was because of the hardness of your hearts that Moses allowed a writ of divorce”, Hence, this hardness of heart is something that should not exist, because, apart from anything else, it is contrary to justice, since it violates the promise that the spouses made to love each other forever. Let them not forget what the Lord went on to say: “What God has joined together, no human being must separate” and then, ” Whoever divorces his wife and mar­ries another commits adultery against her”. Hence, all acts against this com­mandment are grave in the sight of God.

It is therefore alarming to see, in today’s world, the disorder which prevails in this respect, and the ease with which people plunge into immo­rality. To remedy the situation, there is only one solution: that people should repent, reform their lives and do penance. For those who do not want to take this road Jesus Christ says: «unless you repent you will likewise perish» (Lk 13,5), or else like the eighteen victims who perished when the tower of Siloe fell on them.

That the solution lies in repentance and a change of life-style is con­firmed in the case of the adulterous woman, whom Jesus succeeded in saving from death by stoning, as St. John describes. He tells us that when Jesus was teaching in the Temple, the Scribes and Pharisees came to Him bringing a woman who had been caught in adultery. Presenting her to the Lord, they asked Him whether He thought she should be stoned, as the Law of Moses commanded. At first, Jesus did not answer: so they persisted: «he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. (…) But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, (…) and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one con­demned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”» (Jn 8, 7-11).

We see here, in Jesus Christ, what the mercy of God to a repentant sinner is like. Most certainly He saw repentance in that woman’s heart and He pardoned her, promising not to condemn her if she did not sin again: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again. “». The interpreters of this Gospel passage may say that these words of Jesus referred to the death sentence laid down in the Mosaic Law for such cases. That may be so, but I think that, when the Lord ordered the woman not to sin any more, He was stating the condition for not being condemned to eternal death. For every sin we commit puts us in danger of eternal damnation, since we do not know whether God will give us the time or the grace to repent and do penance. “Go in peace and sin no more!” is the road marked out by God for all those who, having sinned, want to repent and change their lives in order to be saved.

With reference to what we have been talking about, consider these words of St. Paul: « To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) — and that the husband should not divorce his wife.» (1 Cor 7,10-11). Here again we have a clear affirmation of the indissolubility of marriage; it is not lawful for anyone to separate what God has joined together. And if, because of the hardness of the human heart, a separation becomes necessary, then each partner must observe chas­tity, that is, must keep under control their passions, their unruly inclina­tions and vices, because God did not create us to satisfy the desires of the flesh, but to save our souls and with them our bodies, for the day of resur­rection.

Thus, we must avoid falling into the slavery of sin, because, as the Lord says: «every one who commits sin is a slave to sin (Jn 8, 34). This will drag us down to Hell. The Apostle St. Paul warns us against this danger, saying: ^immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you (…) Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them* (Eph 5, 3,5-7).

The Apostle urges us not to have anything to do with immoral peo­ple, so that they will not lead us into evil ways. The Portuguese have a proverb, which is certainly true: Walk with good people and you will be like them, walk with evil people and you will be worse than they are. Therefore, we must keep away from bad companions, so that they will not lead us into discreditable ways: however, let us continue to love these brothers and sisters of ours and treat them with discretion, seeking to help them with our prayers, win them with our words and our good example so that they may walk on a better path, the path of purity, truth, justice and love. We must do so in imitation of Jesus Christ, who loved sinners while de­testing sin, and gave his life for our salvation: «For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him* (Jn 3, 17).

Ave Maria!

Click Here to see the List of The Ten Commandments with 122 Questions to Examine Your Conscience with.

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