What Constitutes Adultery?

I will admit that as a pastor I was confronted by the usual internal question of, “how am I going to preach good news to this text” this past week. The assigned gospel lesson for this past Sunday was Mark 10:2-16, which has Jesus responding to the Pharisees question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” I thought I did a decent job responding to this text and looking a little deeper into what Jesus speaks to and how he seems to be speaking of an equality in the entire passage. After Sunday, I figured I would be done with this text and could then move forward to the next weeks lesson.

However, as I sit down Monday morning to read the assigned readings from my devotional, Bread For the Day, I found texts relating to divorce and adultery once again. It happened again yesterday. And once again the readings this morning spoke to these questions. The thought of adultery today does not seem to have the same weight has it did centuries ago, even though there was probably just as much promiscuity occurring. They just didn’t have television, internet, or Facebook to share the lurid details!

In marriage I have committed my life to my spouse and the thought of doing anything to risk that does not entice me. At one point Jesus says that even by looking at someone else you may commit adultery in your heart; I guess in this regard most of us could probably be found guilty.

As I read this mornings readings though, I began to think of more of those things that we can do that lead us to commit adultery against God. What in our lives have we placed before God? It could be an addiction (alcohol, drugs, pornography), the love of money, misplaced priorities, and many more things. We are called to be in a relationship with God, just as we are with our partner in life.

As we turn away from God and are distracted by other things, we may not be committing adultery in the common understanding of the word, yet we are still sinning against God’s word. No one is an exception to this and this is where we can accept the gift of grace which is bestowed upon all of God’s children. In God we find healing and forgiveness as we come back to God.

By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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