The Ten Commandments for Jews, Christians, and Others

By Roger E. Van Harn | Go to book overview

THE SEVENTH WORD
Sexuality and Marriage

Carl E. Braaten

You shall not commit adultery.

In this chapter I will follow the lead of Martin Luther, who interpreted the seventh commandment of the Decalogue, “You shall not commit adultery,” as applicable to every kind of unchastity in thought, word, and deed. Of course, here Luther was being guided by the example of Jesus, as reported in Matthew 5:28: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” In the same vein we will emulate the pattern of the Judeo-Christian ethical tradition that does not limit the explanation of this commandment to adultery as the specific form of unchastity that occurs by either partner in marriage. Related issues bearing on sexuality and marriage will also be considered.

The rabbit has become the symbol of contemporary America’s obsession with sex. It was the founding trademark of the Playboy philosophy. As a symbol, it intends to commend not only the sexual behavior for which the bunny gained its reputation, but also an attitude that, like the bunny’s, is frolicsome and sportive, morally unreflective and spontaneous in matters of sex. A widespread conviction prevails that traditional moral codes cannot cope with the magnitude of the sexual revolution that has swept American society in recent decades. Loud and frequent are the calls for a new morality suitable for these postmodern times — which to those who cling to traditional morality seem more like a cover for plain old-fashioned immorality.

This is an essay in Christian theological ethics. I define Christian eth-

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The Ten Commandments for Jews, Christians, and Others
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword viii
  • Preface xi
  • The Ten Words - Exodus 20:2-17 (New Revised Standard Version) 1
  • The First Word - The Face of Ethical Encounter 3
  • Response 16
  • The Second Word - No Other Gods 23
  • Response 40
  • The Third Word - The Blessing of God’s Name 47
  • Response 62
  • The Fourth Word - The Sabbath Day 69
  • Response 80
  • The Fifth Word - Honoring Parents 87
  • Response 100
  • The Sixth Word - What Have You Done? 113
  • Response 127
  • Response 132
  • The Seventh Word - Sexuality and Marriage 135
  • Response 148
  • The Eighth Word - Calvin and the "Stewardship of Love" 157
  • Response 175
  • The Ninth Word - Bearing True Witness 179
  • Response 194
  • The Tenth Word - God or Mammon 199
  • Response 212
  • Afterword 218
  • Contributors 221
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