Those who persist in denying self-evident truths in theory must eventually come face to face with the practical implications of their beliefs. This commandment gives us a great illustration of this point. Although it is written from the perspective of the one committing the transgression,1 consider for a moment the person against whom the transgression has been committed.
The popular saying is that “there are no atheists in foxholes,” and a similar principle emerges here. When someone’s spouse betrays them by breaking this commandment, the person betrayed (skeptic or not) will most likely feel that they have been wronged. This is not because some government law says they have the right to feel that way, or because they were taught that way. It is because this law, written on our hearts, will explode like a volcano.
Instinctively, we know that this love bond between two people, committed to each other for life, should not be dishonored in this way. It is self-evident.
If there is no God and no natural law, no right and wrong, then what is the basis for telling your spouse they were wrong? There is no wrong.
Only there is. You can try to explain your feelings away, but you can’t deny that they exist.
World famous atheist-turned-believer C.S. Lewis’s first step on his journey towards Christianity was the recognition of that undeniable law written on his heart.
It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table.2
Although some certainly get it wrong on this commandment, we all know we ought not to violate it.
Notice the commandment presumes the bond of marriage exists in the first place. That sacred institution, as created by that Creator from whom our rights come,3 has been under an intensive attack for many years.
Though some may single out individual issues (promiscuity, homosexual “marriage,” cohabitation, etc.), when talking about these attacks on marriage, the reality is that all of them emanate from one place in particular: our hearts.
When we think of it in those terms, we are able to better understand the words of Jesus, Who spoke about this issue in a most truthful and convicting manner:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.4
It is in our heart that adultery starts, and it is at that level that we must guard against it. That is why we feel the way we feel when we break this commandment.
This in no way means that the problem is merely a personal one. A proper understanding of that reality should move us as a society to enact policies that support God’s model for marriage and the family. That is what our founders tried to do. They recognized the family as the foundation of a productive society and marriage as that bond that holds that family together. Today, as we move further away from those prosperous policies of the past, we increasingly feel the consequences of the weakening of that foundation.
As a women’s organization, Concerned Women for America (CWA) has been fighting for over thirty years the lies of a feminist movement that encourages women to treat sex “like men,” as a casual, meaningless, recreational act with no consequences. Much of their abortion theory is born out of that distorted view of “equality.”
The promotion of these ideas, not only through policy but through the arts, has been intense and consistent for many years now. That’s where we have gotten ideas like the “friends with benefits” lie that has hurt women and society so deeply.
The statistics are staggering. More than 40% of marriages end in divorce,5 and about 41% of children are born out of wedlock.6 That statistic is absolutely heartbreaking for the African-American community, with more than 70% of children born out of wedlock.7
These statistics, and the negative consequences associated with them, are the direct result of the policies our society has supported in recent years. It is estimated that when “no-fault divorce” laws began to be passed in 1969, the divorce rates in the different states went up about 25%.
We have promoted these policies, despite overwhelming evidence telling us that communities with a higher percent of healthy marriages enjoy many benefits, including:
1. Higher rates of physically healthy citizens
2. Higher rates of emotionally healthy citizens
3. Higher rates of educated citizens
4. Lower domestic violence rates
5. Lower crime statistics
6. Lower teen age pregnancy rates
7. Lower rates of juvenile delinquency
8. Higher rates of home ownership
9. Lower rates of migration
10. Higher property values
11. Decreased need for social services8
As is always the case, our experiences prove God’s principles are true and best for all, not just the believer. And our society will either enjoy the benefits or suffer the consequences of abiding or ignoring them.
- There is a simple explanation for that, “knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. …” 1 Timothy 1:9-10.
- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 7 (HarperCollins 2001) (1952).
- “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh,” Genesis 2:24.
- Matthew 5:27-28
- National Vital Statistics Report, Volume 58, Number 25, available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/divorce.htm.
- National Vital Statistics Report, Volume 60, Number 1, available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/unmarry.htm.
- Jesse Washington, “Blacks struggle with 72 percent unwed mothers rate,” Associated Press, November 7, 2010, available at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39993685/ns/health-womens_health/t/blacks-struggle-percent-unwed-mothers-rate/#.T1jpllGmNMY.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Healthy Marriage Initiative, available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/healthymarriage/about/mission.html#background.