“‘And you shall not commit adultery.” (Dt. 5:20)
The Lord’s Day 41 (Week 41) lesson in the Heidelberg Catechism states,
Q. What does the seventh commandment teach us?
A. That God condemns all unchastity,
and that therefore we should thoroughly detest it
and live decent and chaste lives,
within or outside of the holy state of marriage.
Q. Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?
A. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul,
and God wants both to be kept clean and holy.
That is why God forbids
all unchaste actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires,
and whatever may incite someone to them.
While sitting with my children to discuss the commandment and the catechism yesterday, I noted these words from Starr Meade:
“The catechism reminds us that God forbids adultery. A husband commits adultery when he treats a woman who isn’t his wife in the special way he should treat only his wife. A wife commits adultery when she treats a man who isn’t her husband in the special was she should only treat her husband. The catechism calls adultery ‘scandalous.’ The catechism was written hundreds of years ago. Back then, adultery was scandalous. When a married person left the marriage or turned to a new lover, everyone in the community was shocked. They all thought it was a terribly bad thing to do. Sadly, in our time, adultery is accepted. People stay married to one person for only as long as they enjoy being with that person. Then they move on to someone else, or they go back to being single.
To the people of God, adultery should still be scandalous. The people of God should still think of adultery as terribly wrong, because that’s how God thinks of it.”
Starr Meade, Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Heidelberg Catechism [Phillipsburgh, MJ: P&R Publishing, 2013]: 208. (See also, Kevin DeYoung “Swords for the Fight Against Lust,” The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism [Chicago: Moody, 2010]: 193-197.)
We have lost the scandalous nature of scandals.