Adultery against a future spouse?

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by SRoper, Mar 23, 2007.

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  1. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    I have often heard it said that sexual immorality before marriage is really adultery against your future spouse. I never quite understood how that works. It seems to me that adultery is a violation of the covenant of marriage. The covenant is bound in time; it begins when the two are married (or perhaps pledged to marry) and ends when one of the two parties dies. Adultery does not seem possible outside these bounds since there are no contractual obligations. I'm wondering if there is any biblical basis for this claim that I'm overlooking.
     
  2. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    But sex is the SACRAMENT marriage. To take it out of the covenant is fornication. It mocks the covenant of marriage and takes away the beauty of practicing the sacrament for the first time with your spouse.
     
  3. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Bob, I agree with your statement. While I view adultery and fornication as separate sins, both are equally grievous and destructive.
     
  4. smhbbag

    smhbbag Puritan Board Senior

    Fornication, usually, is sex between unmarried, unrelated, oppositely-gendered people and is not normally punishable by death in the OT. [Exodus 22:16-17, Deut 22:28-29]

    Adultery is committed by a married person who has sex with anyone not his spouse, and is punished by death.[Deut 22:22, Leviticus 20:10]

    Fornication is certainly a grave offense against a future spouse, but is not adultery against them, by definition.

    This may be a topic for another thread. But if they are equally grievous and destructive, and even within the same category of sin (unlawful sex), would they not bear the same penalty? Both are terribly rebellious and destructive...but adultery is more heinous.
     
  5. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Fornication is voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and woman who are not married to each other. Adultery is one type of fornication. (http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/fornication.html)

    Separate sins? Why?
     
  6. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    It's this "first time" sentiment that I find curious. It seems to make the second marriage of a widow less beautiful or tainted in some way.
     
  7. smhbbag

    smhbbag Puritan Board Senior

    Distinguishing the labels, for me, is a mere convenience for clarity's sake.

    While the definition of adultery is strictly defined in scripture....and fornication is as well, through the use of porneia - they have very different connotations.

    Because adultery is technically a part of fornication - whenever one means adultery, we say "adultery," not "fornication."

    But when we mean unlawful sex other than adultery (and other than some other sin that has a descriptive name, like homosexuality) it is labelled "fornication" as a general term.

    I don't know that the term we use is all that relevant, and so just going with a convention is ok.
     
  8. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    For the reasons you articulated. Fornication is a sin outside of marriage. Adultrey is a sin within the marriage covenant. Both are sexual sins, but they are not the same offense.
     
  9. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    If fornication is not included in the sin of adultery then the ten commandments don't address pre-marital sex.

    The command to keep the marriage bed pure means that we stay away from premarital sex. We bring every previous partner to the marriage bed, having become one flesh with those people. Hence, pre-marital sex is a violation against marriage, spouse and is in fact adultery.
     
  10. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    Adultery in the OT was having sex with the wife of another man. Both were to be put to death. If a married man has sex with a woman unmarried or unbetrothed he was to take her as his wife as well. Sex with woman betrothed to another man was death as well.
    Other forms of of fornication such as incest, beastiality, homosexuality, ect., were also met with the death penalty.
     
  11. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

  12. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    :up: :up:
     
  13. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Of course, we all know this already, but it might be time to bring up the fact that both fornication and adultery are offences against God first and foremost and only on a much smaller scale are the offences against a spouse. :2cents:
     
  14. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    There are many categories of sexual sin which are wrapped up in the 7th commandment that are not technically "adultery" (illicite sex between married men and women), just as there are many categories of sin wrapped up in the 6th commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" ("immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations;" per the WLC Q136).

    The WLC say:

    Not all the sins listed under the category of the 7th commandment were punishable to the same degree under the civil law of Israel, which is a model for all just laws.

    While pre-marital fornication may fall under the category of "adultery" ala WLC Q. 139, it is not technically adultery that was punishable by death under the juducial law of Israel.

    And it does not carry forward to some future covenant marriage, otherwise the offender would be liable to the death penalty as soon as they married.
     
  15. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Bob, I stand corrected. Thanks for pointing this out.
     
  16. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Tom, I'm not sure what significance you're placing on the difference in penalties given to national Israel and the topic at hand.

    How would you fit our Lord's words into this discussion when he says

    Matt. 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    Does this mean that if you are not lusting at a married woman then you are not committing adultery? Or if you are single and you lust after a woman you are not committing adultery? Jesus is equating lust with adultery and does not give the marital status of the offender.
     
  17. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    We have to keep in mind what Pastor Klein has reminded us that we are straining for technical exceptions and allowances but there is a much bigger and dangerous matter at hand.

    The family, the marriage, is an illustration of God's covenant with his elect AND the family/fellowship component of the Trinity itself. To commit adultery is an attack on the covenant and the Godhead. Jesus said that you should be careful if you're looking for a loop hole. If you lust, you have committed adultery and proven that you are a covenant breaker.
     
  18. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    Regardless of the technical definitions, this is what we should all be following:



    1Th 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort [you] by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, [so] ye would abound more and more.
    1Th 4:2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
    1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
    1Th 4:4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
    1Th 4:5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
    1Th 4:6 That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
    1Th 4:7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
     
  19. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Great passage James although I am always shocked when the word 'concupiscence' makes it through the very sensitive naughty word filters on the Puritan Board. Rich you might want to ratchet that filter up a couple clicks. That just can't be right. My children might see this page. ;)
     
  20. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    Gotta love that King James english!:lol:
     
  21. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    Only that the fact that various offenses in the OT which may be grouped under the same generic heading carried different penalties and thus could not be the same thing.

    Again, if pre-marital fornication is truly adultery in the technical sense, then every person who committed pre-marital fornication would be forbidden from every marrying.

    The Westminster Standards recognize them as different offenses under one category, "... adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; ..." (WLC Q. 139).

    Of course this is becuase the Scripture does as well:

    "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness," (Gal. 5:19).

    Given Jesus statement in Matt. 5:28, which is certainly true in what it says, do you believe that a person has the right (not "must" but "may") to divorce their spouse who has admitted to "lust in the heart" because they have committed covenant-breaking adultery?
     
  22. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    No, the I believe Jesus is addressing this to the self-righteous in order to demonstrate that if you commit one 'lesser' sin you break the whole law.

    So we probably agree there.
     
  23. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    Bob,

    I am a little interested in this. Where exactly do we get the idea that each and every sin must fit under one of the Ten Commandments? I know it is the standard reformed view, but where exactly does it come from ?
     
  24. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Great question Mark.

    Matt. 19:16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”


    Matt. 22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
     
  25. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Westminster Larger Catechism:

     
  26. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks as usual Mr. Farley fo encouraging us all with the Word.

    I guess we would all agree that it would be wrong (or at least incomplete) to counsel someone to avoid premarital sex in order to prevent committing adultery against some imaginary future spouse. Premarital sex is wrong because it is wrong, period. Site chapter and verse (fill in the blank) ________ :judge:
     
  27. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    I hope no one thinks that I was looking for a loophole or something. I specifically used the words "sexual immorality" in my first post. My question was more concerned with whether this immorality would be a sin against a future spouse.
     
  28. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    I don't consider sexual immorality before marriage to be "adultery." But it is of course a sin against the seventh commandment, which promotes and protects the holy institution of marriage, and is designed to uphold chastity, both conjugal and otherwise. The commandment is spiritual and encompasses all the sexual purity that is required and all the sexual sins that are forbidden.

    That said, sex before marriage can and does affect a later marriage. It can result in a child out of wedlock, sexually transmitted diseases and emotional scars, all of which can affect a future marriage in significant ways. Does all of this constitute a sin against one's future spouse? I would not put it that way -- I think they are sins against God which have consequences in life (life-long consequences), and particularly in one's future marriage.
     
  29. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    That's a good point Andrew. It reminds me of Nathan's rebuke of David for his sin with Bathsheba.

    His sin was against God as he later confessed, "Against you only have I sinned". However, the consequences were against his entire family. His sin was forgiven but David woulwill all do well to keep in mind.
     
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