How can we remain faithful?

Thoughts concerning the sixth commandment
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

 

1. In how many ways can we commit fornication? When we have to speak about our sins, we very easily switch to a language that we believe washes those sins sin-free. I bring three examples for this "re-contextualization", which is extremely dangerous. I show on the Biblical example of the rape of Tamar that fornication is an unfortunately good example of that the fall in most of the cases happens step by step when stages follow each other very easily. Devil slinks away fast if he encounters a closed door. Though it is getting easier to him if we have already made the first, the second or the umpteenth "careless" step towards sin. (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 

2. How can we remain faithful? Fornication is interpreted by the Bible much more extensively than sexuality. Fornication (in an extended sense) is an opposition to the harmony of the created order of God. The real essence of fornication is not betraying our spouse or our previous date but betraying God. To avoid fornication (sexually or generally) our only chance is if we let the Holy Trinity’s love community spread on us. (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 

3. Purity as a state of life. Purity is cleanness, i.e. it is not the inverse of getting impure but the measure of the closeness to God. Escaping from fornication is not a result of a continuous fight against the evil but accepting the good. Fornication cannot step into the neighborhood of God. The one who already knows the Totality of God’s love will not desire anything better or more. He will realize that Totality is total: there is no bigger totality than Totality. There is no bigger love than God’s love. It is impossible that someone commits fornication who has already been lost in the love of God. (For further details, please read my essay here.)

 


 

Introduction. This season’s essays are written about the Ten Commandments. With regard to the first commandment ("I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.") I wrote about the Christian identity. Interpreting the second and the third commandments („You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Remember to keep holy the Lord's day.”) I examined the concept of the real honoring of God. Regarding the fourth commandment („Honor your father and your mother!”) I was looking for the answer to what makes a dialogue determining in somebody’s life? The key idea of the answer is the openness to honor other people (e.g. our parents). Thinking over the fifth commandment ("You shall not murder!") I showed that there are many ways to commit a murder in our everyday lives, and whom we kill when we are unable to forgive. I also thought it over what we must murder to become capable of accepting Jesus. Related to the sixth commandment ("You shall not commit adultery!") I try to find an answer to how we can avoid fornication and what purity means as a state of life.

 

1. In how many ways can we commit fornication?

 

When we have to speak about our sins, we very easily switch to a language that we believe washes those sins sin-free. This is particularly true for fornication. Members of the older generation remember very well that American president whose sentence "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" had to be interpreted half a year later as "where Mr. President comes from, certain types of sex are not used to be referred to as sex". Another example: if someone commits adultery with a prostitute, it can be explained even as job creation, moreover, when doing this those two are increasing GDP which is "useful". Isn’t it? (Of course, we know that GDP increase per se is not useful because in most of the cases it is environmentally destructive...). King David’s affair with Bethsabe (2Samuel 11) is summarized briefly and succinctly by the 16th century Hungarian Bible as "David’s fornication and murder", while the same deeds are described by the 2017 version with the "politically correct" and neutral words as "David and Bethsabe" and "Uriah’s death". It seems that we have stopped calling sin as sin...

 

Fornication is an unfortunately good example of that the fall in most of the cases happens step by step when stages follow each other very easily. Amnon, the oldest son of David, the Dauphin, first was only pining for his own half-sister, Tamar (2Samuel 13). (It is not forbidden, isn’t it? Look but don’t touch...) Then this feeling made him sick. Then he told this to his cousin, Jonadab. Then Amnon was given a "piece of good advice" to have David, his father to summon Tamar to him. Then Amnon asked Tamar to bake cakes for him. Then he sent everyone away. Then he asked Tamar to bring the cakes into the bedroom so he could eat the food from her hands. Up to this point he could stop at each and every step. But the example shows that it is impossible to stop and that all these events directly led to the rape of Tamar and two years later to that Amnon got murdered by his own brother, Absalom. Job has to be justified, who says that "I have made a covenant with my eyes; that I would not so much as think upon a virgin." (Job 31:1). Devil slinks away fast if he encounters a closed door. Though it is getting easier to him if we have already made the first, the second or the umpteenth "careless" step towards sin.

 


 

2. How can we remain faithful?

 

Fornication is interpreted by the Bible much more extensively than sexuality. The worship of other gods is also fornication (Exodus 34:15), just like the sacrifice for the devil (Leviticus 17:7), or turning to magicians and fortune tellers (Leviticus 20:6).  The Numbers 15:39 verse is about the general fornication of the heart and the eyes, too. In the Book of Revelation Babylon is the big fornicator (Apocalypse 17:5), i.e. Apostle John describes the punishment of spiritual prostitution in general and not only in its physical sense. So fornication (in an extended sense) is an opposition to the harmony of the created order of God. Or in other words: the real essence of fornication is not betraying our spouse or our previous date but betraying God.

 

Let me quote a related section of Rowan Williams' excellent Book "Being Disciples: Essentials of the Christian Life" "In this society we have underplayed the reality of eros. That sounds odd, because eros, in the form of sexual imagery, seems to be absolutely everywhere these days. But this is not the same as eros in the sense of the profound desire that makes me who I am, that makes the whole of my life drawn towards something beyond myself which gives meaning – the other person that I love, the God I seek to love. That sense of profound yearning for meaning and acceptance is by no means so clear in our society."

 

Avoiding fornication is not the same thing as avoiding extramarital sex. It is very hard to remain faithful for a lifetime if we can only expect our love towards our spouse or our own self-control to restrain us from unfaithful behavior. First of all we have to be faithful to God. This is what creates worldly faith, too. Our strength is not enough to be faithful for a lifetime. It is only Jesus’ strength that makes the devil back off. (It is worth to read the verses 13 to 16 of Apostles 19, where the seven sons of the Jewish chief priest Sceva wanted to invoke the name of Jesus without having faith in him to expel the devil. Eventually they ran out of the house of the evil spirit naked and wounded. We also will run away naked and wounded after a fornication just like that if we can believe only in our strength.) Namely, to avoid fornication (sexually or generally) our only chance is if we let the Holy Trinity’s love community spread on us that purifies us through Jesus’ sacrifice and equips us with the strength against fornication.

 


 

3. Purity as a state of life

 

"And I will espouse thee to me for ever: and
I will espouse thee to me in justice, and judgment,
and in mercy, and in commiserations.
And I will espouse thee to me in faith:
and thou shalt know that I am the Lord."
(Osee 2:19-20)

 

Purity (as I have already written after my pastor, Peter Grendorf, in my earlier essay) is cleanness, i.e. it is not the inverse of getting impure but the measure of the closeness to God. Escaping from fornication is not a result of a continuous fight against the evil but accepting the good. Fornication cannot step into the neighborhood of God. The one who already knows the Totality of God’s love will not desire anything better or more. He will realize that Totality is total: there is no bigger totality than Totality. There is no bigger love than God’s love. It is impossible that someone commits fornication who has already been lost in the love of God, "for I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39). Amen.

 

 

Key topics: 

Key words: