There once was a time when Americans took adultery very seriously. But that seems to have changed, at least if you believe what you see on TV and in the movies! You don't have to flip the remote control too many times to discover adultery. Name a night, name a popular show, and you'll see someone sleeping with another person's spouse!
Intellectually, we know what adultery means. It is, as the dictionary plainly says, "violation of the marriage vow." Adultery is sexual intercourse of two persons, either of whom is married to a third.
Biblically, we know what is taught about adultery (Exodus 20:14
). Elsewhere, the Old Testament teaches that "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death" (Leviticus 20:10
The Book of Job refers to adultery as "a heinous crime" and an "iniquity to be punished" (Job 31:11
). And Jesus said, "I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28
Henry Ward Beecher was pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church of Brooklyn, New York, for 40 years. A great preacher, writer, and social reformer in the 1800s, Beecher was accused of being involved in an extra-marital affair. It was a topic not simply for New York gossip but for national discussion. Today, it would have been on CNN every day!
A public trial for adultery was held and eventually Beecher was cleared of the accusations. But the scandal did him no good and much of what he had accomplished and had stood for was tainted.
The Book of Proverbs uses straight-forward language in talking about adultery. In fact, Proverbs repeatedly flashes warning signals -- trying to alert us to the peril of adultery.
I. The Peril of Adultery Includes Destruction
In Proverbs 5:4-6
, we can see how adultery ushers destruction into our lives. Words and phrases we find there are: "bitter as gall"; "double-edged sword"; "death"; and "the grave." All of those are clearly suggestive of destruction.
Also in Proverbs 5:23
, we read that the adulterer will "die for lack of discipline." In Proverbs 6:32
, we can see that one who commits adultery "destroys himself." The adulterer is described in Proverbs 7:22-23
as being "like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose."
Pick up a Crayola and color the life of the adulterer the color of destruction!