Part Four – return to Part Three
DEALING WITH THE TEMPTATION OF ADULTERY
Hormones on a rampage are pretty difficult to deal with, it seems. Sometimes, even the best-intentioned Christians get knocked off-balance when they find themselves uncontrollably attracted to another. It is even more troubling when that object of desire is someone either married to another, or is not your own spouse. Perhaps you have already found yourself in this situation. Whether or not you succumbed to temptation, God’s mercy is always available to those who are willing to repent, and “sin no more.” We need to take a mental stand against adultery and lust before the next test comes. If your conviction is solid that purity and obedience to God is the only wise and loving course of action, you can protect yourself and
others from the inevitable suffering and sorrow that adultery brings.
In your struggle to withstand the onslaught of aggressive mental suggestions that would mesmerize you into justifying a sexual affair, it helps to listen to God’s angel messages that come to uplift, inspire, and protect. That’s what divine Love is there for! You can also stick with one simple basic Christian rule: the Golden Rule.
“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
You can apply the Golden Rule in some of the following ways: Think how this act of adultery or fornication that you are contemplating will affect your innocent spiritual selfhood, and the pure innocence of the person whose body you plan to use to satisfy your sexual desire. Think of those you may hurt by this act. Think of how you would feel if you were a husband or wife being cheated against. Think how disappointed your parents might be. How would you feel if one of your children were being seduced into an adulterous affair? Consider what you would do if you came face to face with Jesus during your tryst. How would you feel if the affair were videotaped and broadcast over the internet.
Developing empathy and compassion for how others feel — or how you would feel, if caught —can help us put the brakes to behavior that might hurt others. You may try to justify a situation by saying that you and your sex partner are single adults, and no one is getting hurt. This is short-sighted. Few women can avoid emotional entanglements with those they have sex with; men can eventually begin to lose a sense of integrity when they wake up to the fact that they may have selfishly abused a friendship by taking something that does not morally or legally belong to them.
Along a similar line, many people may find themselves caught up in affairs, not for the sex, but simply because they have a need for romance, intimacy, or personal validation, and have developed the mistaken notion that they can only find such affection or attention by agreeing to a sexual relationship with someone before the couple has had a chance to form a mutual bond of love. Women, especially, can be easily seduced by the right words whispered at the right moments, without using their logic to realize that there is no foundation to safely stand upon. Men may feel they have to prove their manhood in a sexual way to win the love of a woman they desire, or to gain bragging rights to impress their guy friends. People want to be loved so much, they can justify actions for themselves, or others, they might not otherwise choose in the cold light of day. But using sex in this way is just plain dangerous – physically, emotionally, spiritually.
We’re not talking here of only the obvious things that can go wrong and bring hurt to all: unwanted pregnancy, sexually-transmitted disease, lowered self-esteem; guilt. We’re talking of how sex outside marriage affects yourself and others in ways you may not be thinking about at the time of your affair. A loss of trust and trustworthiness is a sad thing.
If you and your friend are single, consider that you may be committing adultery against a future partner, even if you do not yet see how you are committing adultery against God and yourself. Future husbands and wives can feel the same type of jealousy over previous sex partners their spouses may have had, that they might feel about recent ones. If they are being honest, few people want to compete with the memories of previous lovers!
Virginity is a special gift to bring to a marriage, even in this day and age, and is one that should be more highly valued by both partners, and by society at large. At the very least, sexual discipline, as opposed to promiscuity, needs to be an active goal for both men and women. It is never too late to begin. It will save a lot of emotional torment and regrets for everyone involved. Through the teachings of Christian Science, we learn that innocence and purity are mental states found in our reflection of Soul, and are not just physical conditions that can be lost in a
one-time event. We always have the opportunity to be re-born, regenerated, washed clean from the impurities of past sins, when we are ready to let go of the false sense of ourselves (remember the Prodigal son!), and return home to our true heritage as the pure sons and daughters of God.
When those who are married and have children commit adultery, they are not just being disloyal to their spouse (and God!); they are being disloyal to their whole family! The children are being robbed of a stable, secure home environment. They are being affected, no mistake about it. They can feel the tension when their parents’ relationship is floundering. They may blame themselves for any marriage break-up. No amount of physical pleasure found outside the home is worth the loss of a child’s respect and trust.
In his book on The Ten Commandments, William Barclay, the Scottish New Testament scholar, steps outside of his Bible commentary for a moment, to answer in his own way the question of why adultery or sex before marriage is wrong. He suggested that if it is accepted as normal, the whole institution of the family is radically altered; that to demand premarital sex is to demand privilege without responsibility; and that it is wrong to demand sexual rights without
commitment. Unfortunately, even today, many do not see how true Barclay’s opinions are, and that we must regain a higher standard.
Learning to put the Golden Rule to use, and to love others more than ourselves, is what is needed. By studying the teachings of Jesus or Christian Science, we learn the rules to obey; plus we learn why adultery is wrong on both a moral and spiritual level. We learn that while our purity and innocence are never really adulterated — because of the fact that God, Spirit, is infinite — mortals will suffer the punishment of adultery as long as they hold onto it and believe it is pleasurable and a part of man’s real nature. As Christian Scientists, we must resist the temptation to believe we are material creatures, with appetites and passions that are uncontrollable. We must affirm our spiritual identity that is created and preserved by God. We must see that we are naturally attracted to Spirit, not to the world’s sensual pleasures. We must understand that our sense of completeness, worth, and satisfaction are in good, God.
Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, writes:
“Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness: conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing else can.” (Eddy, Mary Baker: “Message for 1902,” pg. 17)
It can seem like a mighty battle, or a long struggle, to fend off the temptations of sexual relations outside of marriage, or even lust within marriage. But God, our divine Father-Mother, would not have created us incapable of obeying any of His laws or commandments; and Jesus, our brother, would never have taught us to think and live with an attitude that is unnatural to our innate being. We are spiritual, not material. We are the “image and likeness” of the Father-Mother God, and therefore have the male and female qualities that make us complete and satisfied with a life of purity and goodness. We are embraced by divine Love that loves us
unconditionally; we do not need to seek love through physical bonds, although these bonds can benefit from the pure, sweet affections of love that can be brought to marriage.
We can trust God to control all of our relationships throughout time and eternity; we do not have to force or manipulate or use others to make us feel loved or attractive. There is no pleasure in sin. We can turn from sin, and look to the light of Truth for all our needs. God will supply the opportunities we need in order to share our love with mankind, and therefore feel that oneness and unity that we are truly searching for. These ideals have often been proven in the lives of Christians and Christian Scientists.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
What about the constant pressure of the human sexual drive? Should we blame ourselves or others if we cannot overcome sexual urges that are “natural” to man, whether those urges are heterosexual or homosexual?
First off, we are taught by Jesus not to judge others; that is not a responsibility God has given us. Instead, we should always show mercy to those struggling with the temptations of the flesh, in whatever form that seems to be. We all have the problem of being to work out in “earth’s preparatory school.” If we are merciful with others, we can humbly expect mercy to be shown us whenever we manage to mess things up.
Is it possible, in our human experience, to gain complete dominion over the sexual drive, or to prove its “unreality” as a God-given function? That task may be too great for many at this point in time, but we can make a worthy start by disciplining the cravings for the so-called pleasures of the senses. Just as we must often deny our brains and stomachs the pleasures of certain foods, alcohol, or drugs, when offered to us socially, we should be able to resist temptations to indulge in sex presented to us as easy opportunities. It is okay to just say no!
We can also re-think just what it is that motivates us, and others, to do what we do. Self-knowledge or self-awareness is always useful. With that in mind, an interesting spiritual interpretation of the human sex drive is seen in the following recorded statement of Mary Baker Eddy’s:
“What is the scientific realization of which sexual intercourse is the counterfeit? It is the recognition and realization through communion with God of man as a perfect, complete idea, masculine and feminine. That which is true of yourself as a complete reflection of Father-Mother God, is true of every individual in the universe and reveals God and His creation, perfect and eternal. Mortals are struggling for completeness and hope to find it through sexual intercourse; when in fact this desire
is simply the divine idea, struggling to express itself in completeness. A recognition of this brings compassion, tenderness, and love for the poor struggling heart and conviction that there is no sin.” (DCGC 224)
This insight can help us show mercy towards those caught up in the belief of lust or adultery. The underlying drive, though unrecognized, is a divine one. The natural desire for completeness has been inverted by material sense (a.k.a. the “devil,” “Satan,” “the serpent”) into a search for physical satisfaction. The sin is a belief in separation from our true identity, and from God. When Jesus told the adulterous woman to “Go, and sin no more,” he saw that there was no evil heart that needed to be stoned; she was merely mesmerized by her belief in lack of completeness, whether that was lack of money, companionship, or her spiritual unity with God. But her false belief was no excuse for her to keep sinning; she needed to go back and ponder her healing, and see that the Christ had just lifted her into a higher sense of her true identity, which would not need to, or want to, commit adultery.
“Overcome selfishness and you bring out unity. Overcome sensuality and you bring out purity. Overcome sexuality and you bring out the God idea.” (DCGC 211)
One day there will be no temptation of adultery, because man will have risen to see that the only true marriage covenant is between God and man: His child, His reflection, His image. There is nothing that can separate, or come between, “Principle and its idea.” All is One. There is nothing to spoil or adulterate this divine relationship. We can begin to prove this in our lives now, by being loyal to those we have committed our hearts to, and those to whom we have promised our love. Is a “piece of paper” the only proof that a bond, or covenant, exists?
No. Adultery, as we now see it from a more spiritual altitude, can happen anytime we have broken a mutual promise, or covenant, that we have made with another – whether that is a promise to follow Christ, or to honor a personal commitment built upon trust. Our motives, our heart, can make a covenant; they can break one, as well.
Mary Baker Eddy once wrote:
“This time-world flutters in my thought as an unreal shadow, and I can
only solace the sore ills of mankind by a lively battle with ‘the world, the
flesh and the devil,’ in which Love is the liberator and gives man the
victory over himself. Truth, canonized by life and love, lays the axe at
the root of all evil, lifts the curtain on the Science of being, the Science
of wedlock, of living and of loving, and harmoniously ascends the scale
of life. Look high enough, and you see the heart of humanity warming
and winning. Look long enough, and you see male and female one —
sex or gender eliminated; you see the designation man meaning
woman as well, and you see the whole universe included in one infinite
Mind and reflected in the intelligent compound idea, image or likeness,
called man, showing forth the infinite divine Principle, Love, called God,
— man wedded to the Lamb, pledged to innocence, purity, perfection.
Then shall humanity have learned that ‘they which shall be accounted
worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither
marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more: for they
are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God.’ (Luke 20 : 35, 36.)
This, therefore, is Christ’s plan of salvation from divorce.
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body nature is, and God the Soul.
(First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, 268)
Copyright 2006, 2017 Vicki Jones Cole
The Eighth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective – [includes Biblical Background; Jesus and the Eighth Commandment; Christian Science and the Eighth Commandment]