Humanity’s Rejection of Genuine Wisdom
The foundation, or beginning, of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Ps. 111:10). Unfortunately, large segments of humanity do not fear the Lord and have no true wisdom. Instead, they violate God’s moral absolutes through sexual perversions, as we saw in the previous article. This article will continue that discussion.
The word translated beginning refers to “the beginning of a process with a definite end or goal.”1 For born-again Christians, the goal should be to have such reverence, worship, and obedience to God that they reflect God’s holy nature.
The Bible reveals that God is a moral being, and He created people in His image as moral beings. He revealed moral absolutes to humanity and forbids violations.
God appointed mankind to administer His rule over this earthly province of His universal Kingdom in accordance with those moral absolutes. Consequently, God holds people morally accountable. But humanity rejected God’s rule and asserted its own self-rule, violating and perverting God’s fixed order of moral law.
Sexual Violations and Perversions
A significant way in which humanity began to violate God’s moral absolutes was through perverting human sexuality. God instituted marriage because He created human beings with male and female sexuality (Gen. 1:27). Thus God alone has the authority to define marriage and determine the proper use of sexuality.
He intends all human sexual relationships to take place exclusively within the bonds of male-female marriage, a lifelong union of a man and a woman. Any deviation from that system violates God’s intended order.
The Bible addresses several types of sexual violations and perversions. The previous article addressed fornication and adultery. This article will expound on adultery, as well as address incest, pedophilia, and bestiality.
Adultery is “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
God regards adultery as a grievous sin. This point was illustrated through God’s response when Abraham and Sarah misled Abimelech, king of Gerar. They hid the fact they were husband and wife, so Abimelech innocently took Sarah for himself (20:1–2, 5). Before he touched her, God told him to restore Sarah to Abraham, her husband, or all the people of his household would die (v. 7).
So Sarah was restored to Abraham. God’s response revealed (1) adultery is a sin, not only against a spouse, but also against God; and (2) adultery can cause serious consequences.
Adultery Under the Mosaic Law. In the Law that God gave to Israel through Moses, He commanded, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). He told Moses to tell the Israelites the consequences of their obedience or disobedience. If they would obey His commandments, they would be blessed more than any other nation (Dt. 28:1–14). The world would recognize Israel’s blessing was the result of its obedient relationship with God (v. 10).
But if Israel disobeyed His commandments, the nation would be cursed severely (vv. 15–68). It would be “an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword” among the nations (v. 37). God’s two-fold way of dealing with Israel indicates adultery has dire consequences for a nation.
In Leviticus, God revealed that adultery defiles a person (Lev. 18:20). Ancient nations that became characterized by adultery and other immoral practices defiled their land and were removed from it in judgment (vv. 24–28).
When God administered His rule over Israel through the Mosaic Law, He required the death penalty for both parties involved in an adulterous relationship (20:10). He indicated that this was His means of removing evil from the nation (Dt. 22:22–24).
God 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 her of adultery (Num. 5:12–31).
Proverbs 6:32 asserts that any person who commits adultery “lacks understanding” and “destroys his own soul.”
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 the adulterous nation (Jer. 5:7–9).
Adultery According to Paul. The apostle Paul called adultery a lustful work of the flesh that is divorced from the controlling power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:19). He said adulterers are unrighteous and will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but he also hastened to indicate they can be washed, sanctified, and justified and thereby escape that judgment by trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin (1 Cor. 6:9–11). God will forgive them of their violation and perversion of His established moral order for human sexuality.
Adultery According to Peter. The apostle Peter declared that false teachers who had “eyes full of adultery” and could not “cease from sin” would “utterly perish in their own corruption” (2 Pet. 2:12, 14).
Adultery According to Jesus Christ. Jesus said adultery proceeds from a person’s “heart,” the inner control center where the issues of life are determined (Mk. 7:20–21). He asserted that adultery defiles a person and is evil (v. 23). Christ said He would throw a false prophetess “into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation” if they would not “repent of their deeds” (Rev. 2:20–22).
Jesus also stated, “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 in deed. This fact relates significantly to His declaration that adultery proceeds from a person’s heart.
In line with this truth, Webster’s New International Dictionary signifies that in the Bible, adultery is “lewdness or unchastity of thought as well as of act.”3
Other Sexual Violations
Incest. Incest is “the crime of sexual intercourse between persons related by blood or marriage within the degrees in which marriage is prohibited.”4
Before God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel, Jacob’s firstborn son, Reuben, had sexual relations with Bilhah, his father’s concubine (Gen. 35:22). Years later, when Jacob was on his deathbed, he did not bless Reuben. Instead, he rebuked him for defiling his father’s bed (49:4).
Through the Mosaic Law, God forbade an Israelite man from having sexual relationships with any woman who was “near of kin to him” (Lev. 18:6). This included his mother, stepmother, half-sisters, granddaughters, sisters by adoption, aunts, daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law, his wife’s daughters and granddaughters, and his wife’s sisters while his wife was still living (18:7–18; 20:17, 19–21; Dt. 22:30).
When the Law was in effect in Israel, God required the death penalty for all people involved in the following violations: sexual intercourse between a man and his stepmother or a man and his daughter-in-law, and the marriage of a man to both a woman and her mother. Such violations perverted what God had ordained, and He characterized them as “wickedness” (Lev. 20:11–12, 14).
Pedophilia. Pedophilia is the “erotic desire of an adult for a child.”5 The term includes sexual activity of an adult with a child, including all forms of sexual abuse and the production and distribution of child pornography. Those involved in pedophilia would be wise to heed Jesus Christ’s warning:
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven (Mt. 18:6–7, 10).
Bestiality. Bestiality is “unnatural sexual relations with an animal; sodomy.”6 The Bible declares that if a man or woman mates with an animal, that man or woman shall surely be put to death, and the animal should be killed (Lev. 20:15–16).
- S. Rattray and J. Milgrom, “raysheeth,” Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry, trans./ed. David E. Green, translated from Theologisches Worterbuch zum Alten Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), 13: 269.
- Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed., unabridged (Springﬁeld, MA: Merriam, 1939), 37, s.v. “adultery.”
- The American College Dictionary (New York, NY: Harper & Brothers, 1948), 612, s.v. “incest.”
- Webster’s, 1803, s.v. “pedophilia.”
- The American College Dictionary, 116, s.v. “bestiality.”