God is Moral Part Two
The previous article concerning God presented implications for mankind concerning the fact that God is a moral being. It indicated that God created humans in His image as moral beings. He has revealed moral absolutes to us and forbids us to violate those absolutes. God appointed mankind to administer His rule over this earthly province of His universal Kingdom in accord with His moral nature and the fixed order of moral law that He established in the universe. All of this implies that God holds human beings accountable to be morally responsible.
The previous article also showed that mankind rejected God’s rule and asserted its own self-rule. In other words, people decided to exercise dominion over the earth and themselves in their own way, not in the way God intended. As a result, people began to violate and pervert God’s moral absolutes and His fixed order of moral law.
Here we will begin to examine examples of those violations and perversions.
Sexual Violations and Perversions
We noted previously that God instituted marriage because He created human beings with sexuality as male and female. Thus God alone has the authority to determine what constitutes marriage and the proper use of sexuality. God intends all human sexual relationships to be male-female and to take place exclusively within the bonds of male-female marriage. He also intends marriage to be a lifelong union of a man and a woman.
All of this indicates that when God created mankind as male and female, He thereby revealed the fixed, unchanging, inflexible moral order that He, the sovereign King of the universe, determined and established for human sexuality. Any deviation from that order would violate and pervert what God intended and would have dire consequences for mankind. The Bible addresses several violations and perversions of God’s established order for human sexuality.
Fornication. The Scriptures use the term fornication in both a general and specific sense. In the general sense it refers to any type of voluntary sexual intercourse that does not take place exclusively between husband and wife in male-female marriage. For example, in 1 Corinthians 5:1 it refers to a relationship of incest, and in Jude 7 it refers to homosexual relationships.
In the specific sense it refers to voluntary sexual intercourse between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. For example, Matthew 15:19 and Galatians 5:19 distinguish it from adultery; and 1 Corinthians 6:9 signifies that fornicators are distinct from adulterers and homosexuals.
The Bible clearly indicates that forni-cation violates God’s moral absolutes and order and therefore deserves judgment. While God’s Mosaic Law was in effect with Israel, if a man discovered that his wife was not a virgin when he married her, she was to be stoned to death for the evil of her premarital forni-cation (Dt. 22:13–14, 20–21). Jesus stated that fornications defile a person and are evil (Mk. 7:20–23). Romans 1:29, 32 declares that people who commit fornication are worthy of death.
The apostle Paul asserted that the Christian’s body does not exist for the practice of fornication, but for the benefit of Christ. Believers need to know that, as a result of their spiritual union with Christ, their bodies are extensions of Christ in the world. Since fornication involves a physical union with an immoral person, believers who fornicate thereby unite the members of Christ with an immoral person. That thought was so repulsive to Paul that he exclaimed, “God forbid” and commanded Christians to “flee” fornication. He also stated that a person who commits fornication sins against his or her own body (1 Cor. 6:18). Because the Holy Spirit permanently indwells the believer, the Christian’s body is the Spirit’s temple. The believer should not defile that temple with fornication. In addition, since God purchased the believer through the shedding of Christ’s blood, God owns every part of the believer. Therefore, believers are responsible to glorify God with their bodies and spirits (vv. 13–18).
Galatians 5:19 indicates that fornica-tion is one of the lustful works of humanity that are divorced from the controlling power of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:3 says fornication should never be associated with Christians: “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints.” First Thessalonians 4:3 emphasizes that one aspect of God’s will for the sanctification of Christians is that they abstain from fornication.
Scripture clearly indicates that anyone who has been guilty of fornication will not inherit the Kingdom of God but will have a part in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone (1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19–21; Rev. 21:8). This is so if a person fails to receive God’s forgiveness for violating and perverting the order He determined and established for human sexuality. God will forgive and deliver people from that judgment if they personally trust Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin (1 Cor. 6:9–11).
Adultery. The American College Dictionary defines adultery as “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and any other than the lawful spouse.”1 Webster’s New International Dictionary defines it as “sexual unfaithfulness of a married person; voluntary sexual intercourse of a married man with another than his wife or by a married woman with another than her husband.”2
The Bible has various ways of emphasizing that God considers adultery a grievous sin. One way was God’s response to Abraham and Sarah misleading Abimelech, King of Gerar, by hiding the fact they were husband and wife. Abimelech, in integrity of heart, innocent-ly took Sarah for himself (Gen. 20:1–2, 5). But before he even touched her, God warned him that he was about to die because “the woman whom you have taken,…she is a man’s wife” (v. 3). God had already closed the wombs of all the women in the king’s household (vv. 17–18). The warning was to prevent Abimelech from sinning against God (v. 6). God ordered Abimelech to restore the wife to her husband and indicated that, if he did not, he and all his household would die (v. 7). The king recognized that Abraham’s deception had brought a “great sin” on him and his kingdom (v. 9).
Through His response, God revealed that (1) adultery is a sin—not only against a spouse, but also against God because it violates what God ordained for marriage and sexuality—and (2) that adultery can bring serious consequences.
In the Law God gave to Israel through Moses, He commanded, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). God had Moses tell the Israelites the consequences of both obeying and disobeying this and all the other commandments of the Law. If they listened and obeyed, they would be blessed more than any other nation. Israel would be the head nation, not the tail, and the world would recognize that Israel’s blessing resulted from its obedient relationship with God (Dt. 28:1–14). But if Israel disobeyed the commandments, the nation would be cursed severely (Dt. 28:15–68). Israel would become “an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword” among the nations (v. 37). God’s twofold way of dealing with Israel indicates that adultery has dire consequences for a nation.
In Leviticus 18 God revealed that adultery defiles a person (v. 20). The ancient nations that became characterized by adultery and other defiling practices thereby defiled their land. As a result, they were cast from their land in judgment (vv. 24–28).
When God administered His rule over the nation of Israel through the Mosaic Law, He required the death penalty for both parties involved in adultery (20:10). This was His means of removing evil from the nation (22:22–24).
He also devised a means to expose the adulterous relationship of a woman who had kept it hidden from her husband and to confirm the innocence of a woman whose husband wrongly suspected that she was guilty of adultery (Num. 5:12–31).
Proverbs 6:32 asserts that any person who commits adultery “lacks understanding” and “destroys his own soul.”
Because in the time of the prophet Jeremiah many Israelite men committed adultery with harlots and pursued their neighbors’ wives, God threatened to punish them and avenge Himself on that adulterous nation (Jer. 5:7–9).
Jesus Christ declared that adultery proceeds from a person’s heart (inner control center, where the issues of life are determined; Mk. 7:20–21). In addition, He said adultery defiles a person and is evil (v. 23).
The apostle Paul stated that adulterers are unrighteous and will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9–10). But he hastened to indicate that they can be washed, sanctified, and justified and thereby escape that judgment by trusting Jesus Christ to be their Savior from sin (v. 11). God will forgive them for violating and perverting the order He determined and established for human sexuality.
In Galatians 5:19 Paul identified adultery as a lustful work of humanity that is divorced from the controlling power of the Holy Spirit. And again he emphasized that those who practice adultery will not inherit the Kingdom of God (v. 21).
The apostle Peter declared that false teachers who have eyes “full of adultery” and cannot “cease from sin” (2 Pet. 2:14) will “utterly perish in their own corruption” (v. 12).
Christ declared that He will throw a false prophetess “into a sickbed,” and those who “commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds” (Rev. 2:20–22).
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt. 5:27–28).
Thus adultery can be committed in thought as well as deed. This fact relates significantly to Jesus’ declaration that adultery proceeds from a person’s heart (Mk. 7:20–23). Accordingly, Webster’s New International Dictionary signifies that in the Bible, adultery is “lewdness or unchastity of thought as well as of act.”3
The next article will continue to examine examples of violations and perversions of God’s moral absolutes and His fixed order of moral law.
- The American College Dictionary, s.v. “adultery.”
- Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed., s.v. “adultery.”