This is a study of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28 (from his so-called "Sermon on the Mount"). This article will attempt to answer the following questions:
- What does "lust" mean?
- Is "lust" a temptation or a sin?
- Is temptation a sin?
- Did Jesus teach something new, or did he teach what was from the beginning?
- Did Jesus "add to" or "take away" from God's Law?
- What is adultery?
- Is it a sin to lust after an unmarried woman?
- Is it a sin to have sex with an unmarried woman?
- Do all sins require a blood sacrifice?
- Are spiritual truths represented by physical truths?
- What are all the sexual sins listed in scripture?
Matthew 5:27-28, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
Most people use this one and only verse to teach that it is a sin to lust after all women, but is this what Jesus really said? This article will explain, from scripture, what Jesus meant by this expression.
Let's begin by asking the following questions:
If one has answered correctly, we can lay down the following scriptural truth, and build from there. Which is:
- Do you believe God tells us what is a sin in His Word? (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
- Do you believe, if something is a sin against God, that God would not tell us about this sin in His Word?
- Do you believe God would punish us for committing an act/thought, if that act/thought is never defined as a sin in His Word?
If something is a sin against God, He will tell us it is a sin against Him in His Word, and won't leave any sin out.
[Note. In God's Word, the Truth remains unchanged and constant. When you come across one of these highlighted phrases in this article, these are truths which have no exceptions. This article will build upon these truths. And if there is something which seems to contradict these Truths, we must either change these truths, or change our personal beliefs.]
Is Temptation a Sin?
Now, let's start with this question, "Is it a sin to lust?"
Lust is defined as "to desire eagerly, to long for, to wish, to crave, to covet, to yearn, to be eager to, to have an appetite for." Lust could be used rightly or wrongly. By itself it is neutral. Whether lust is good or bad should be determined only by your Maker, and not by mere man! The Law does not say, "Do not covet, it says do not covet anything that belongs to somebody else (Exodus 20:17). Do you lust for your wife, or do you lust for somebody else’s wife? This is the point. There is nothing wrong with lusting. Lust, at most, is only a temptation. Temptations are not sins. It can only be a sin when lust has conceived into a physical act:
James 1:14-15, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin "
The word "conceived" is translated from Greek word #4815, sullambano; it is a verb, and always refers to a physical act in every other passage of scripture. Temptations are not sins. When a lust has conceived into an act, only then can it be considered a sin.
Those who believe that temptations are sin, well, they cannot avoid the false conclusion that Jesus was a sinner! Why? Because Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1). Because Jesus "suffered being tempted" (Hebrews 2:18). Some may claim that Jesus had a different kind of temptation, that he was not tempted like we are tempted. But Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus "...was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Notice this passage says Jesus went through temptation, yet he did not sin! This proves that temptation is not a sin!!!
You may ask, "Are there any positive examples of lust in scripture?" Yes, there are. Here is a list of some of the positive examples of "lust, covet, and desire" in the scripture:
The following verses contain the Hebrew word for "lust" (#8378 ta'avah, #0185 avvah & #0183 'avah):
The following verses contain the Hebrew word "covet" (word # 02530 chamad)
- Deuteronomy 12:15 (lusteth) , where God commanded the Israelites to kill and eat flesh whatsoever their soul lusts after;
- Deuteronomy 14:26 (lusteth) where God commanded the Israelites to turn the tithes into money and spend it on whatever their soul lusts for;
- Psalm 21:2 (desire) where God satisfies your lusts if they are good and right for you;
- Psalm 132:13 (desired) where the Lord himself lusted Zion for his habitation;
- Proverbs 10:24 (desire) where the lust of the righteous shall be granted;
- Proverbs 11:23 (desire) where the lust of the righteous is good, and this is in contrast to the lust of the wicked;
- Proverbs 13:12 (desire) where lust will earn you the "tree of life", and not eternal torment in the lake of fire, as many Christians teach today; and
- Isaiah 26:8 (desire) where the lust of our soul is to God's name.
- Genesis 2:9 (pleasant) where, in the Garden of Eden, the LORD God made to grow every tree that is covetous to the sight,
- Psalm 19:7-10 (desired) where the Law of the Lord is to be coveted after,
- Psalm 68:16 (desireth) where God Himself covets us to dwell in the hill of God,
- Proverbs 21:20 (desired) where the wise will covet treasure,
- Matthew 13:17 (desired) where the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven have been coveted after by many prophets and righteous men,
- Luke 16:20-21 (desiring) where a beggar coveted to be fed,
- Luke 17:22 (desire) where Christ told his disciples they would covet to see one of the days of the Son of man,
- Luke 22:15 (desired) where Christ Jesus coveted to eat the passover with His disciples,
- 1 Timothy 3:1 (desireth) where if a man covets after the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.
- 1 Corinthians 12:31 (covet) where believers are commanded to covet earnestly the best spiritual gifts,
- 1 Corinthians 12:31 (covet) where brethren are commanded to covet to prophesy,
- Hebrews 6:11 (desire) where we covet after others to show diligence, and
- 1 Peter 1:12 (desire) where angels covet after the things of God.
It is not a sin to lust, because God commands us to lust! We are to lust after God (Isaiah 26:8 desire). Therefore, lust itself is not a sin, what determines whether or not it is wrong is the intent of your lust. For example, if one lusts sexually after a married woman, then one has committed adultery in one's heart (Exodus 20:17, Matthew 5:28).
It is not a sin to covet, because God commands us to covet! We are to covet after the law of God (Psalm 19:7-10). Therefore, coveting itself is not a sin, what determines whether or not it is wrong is the object of your covetness. For example, if you covet after something that belongs to someone else, this is wrong (Exodus 20:17).
Some may claim that when the original word for covet is translated into desire in the English, then it is a good lust, but when it is translated as covet or lust, it is a bad lust. But let's examine God's Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:17, and it's parallel verse in Deuteronomy 5:21). In Exodus 20:17, the original Hebrew word is translated covet, but this same exact word is translated desire in Deuteronomy 5:21! This word has the same meaning no matter how it is translated into English.
Exodus 20:17, "...thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife..."
Deuteronomy 5:21, "Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife,"
Jesus taught nothing New
Before we cover Matthew 5, let us establish another scriptural truth. Jesus taught nothing new! He might have taught in new ways, but he did not teach us new laws. Everything Jesus taught was from the beginning, and is found in the Old Testament books. That's why he commonly preceded his teachings with it is written, or the scriptures saith, and then proceeded to quote God's written law from the Old Testament. Jesus might have explained what the Old Testament laws meant in different words, such as by using parables and such, but nonetheless, the truths he taught are all found in the Old Testament.
Matthew 5 is commonly called The Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount deals with righteous personal conduct. Many people believe Jesus was teaching new truths here, and that Jesus was laying down new laws, and abolishing Old Testament laws. However, this is not true. Each and every statement he says in this chapter is taken directly from the Old Testament. He was not changing God's Law!
As a matter of fact, in the middle of his Sermon on the Mount, he paused to stress the truth that the Old Testament laws have not passed away!
Matthew 5:17-18, "Think not that I came to abolish the law, or the prophets: I came not to abolish, but to fulfil. For verily I say to you, Until heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle in no wise shall pass away from the law, until all be fulfilled."
Jesus stressed that, in no way, will any part of the Old Testament law pass away, not one jot (dotting of the i) or one tittle (crossing if the t), no part of God's written law in the Old Testament will pass away until two things happen. One, until heaven and earth pass; and two, until all prophesy is fulfilled (Luke 24:44). Jesus did not come to abolish the Old Testament law period!
Now, why would Jesus begin his sermon by teaching God's (Old Testament) Law, and then pause in the middle of his sermon to say that none of the Old Testament law would pass away, and then a few minutes later, tell everybody how the Old Testament laws have passed away, and are replaced with new laws? The answer is, he wouldn't, and he didn't.
Therefore, Jesus was telling his audience, "No matter what you hear from my mouth, do not interpret what I am saying as meaning the written law of God is passing away. Because I am not replacing God's Law!" Remember this. Jesus knew that there would be people who would be mis-interpreting his teachings as saying he was abolishing God's Law, or that some parts of it were no longer binding, or were being changed, but Jesus warned his listeners that this would be a false interpretation.
Remember the context. In Matthew 5, verses 17-18, Jesus said he was not changing the Old Testament law, and in verse 19 He stresses to keep God's Commandments, and in verse 20 He accuses the scribes and Pharisees of being self righteous. Now, verses 21 through 48 will be addressed, because many people believe Jesus was changing the Old Testament written laws in these passages! Let us look at them briefly.
Matthew 5:21-22, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill But I say unto you "
Matthew 5:27-28, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you "
Matthew 5:31-32, "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you "
Matthew 5:33-34, "Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you "
Matthew 5:38-39, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you "
Matthew 5:43-44, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you "
First of all, let's get one thing clear. Jesus was not quoting from the written law of the Old Testament in these verses! Let me repeat that. Jesus was not quoting from the Old Testament laws in these passages! Even the choice of words used by Christ indicates that He was addressing a confusion, or a distortion, that was commonplace. Christ used this same Ye have heard that it hath been said, or it hath been said. figure of speech to straighten out misunderstandings or falsehoods being taught by the religious leaders of the time. In other words, Jesus was dealing with hearsay statements.
Contrast this to Christ's use of the phrase "It is written" or "The Scripture saith" when He was appealing to the Scriptures for authority (for example, see Matthew 4 where on three occasions during His temptation by the devil, Christ answered each one of the devil's lies or misquotes from Scripture with the words: "it is written").
You may ask, But the laws such as 'an eye for an eye' are found in the Old Testament. If Jesus was not quoting from the Old Testament, then what was he quoting from? Yes, most of the above laws in verses 21 through 48 are found in God's Law. But even though Jesus may have been referring to God's Law, Jesus was not quoting from God's Law. Jesus was quoting from man's law! Man's laws always have scriptural truths in them; but when someone quotes these truths in man's laws, even though they have reference to God's Law in scripture, they are still being quoted from man's law itself.
In Jesus' case, the Pharisees and Sadducees took God's Law, from the Old Testament, and applied it to situations that God never intended. They had changed God's Laws. They placed their own commandments and traditions above the Word of God (Mark 7:7-9). Jesus was correcting the laws that the people have heard from their religious leaders, and explained these laws as God intended them to be.
Remember, even though such precepts were never before expressed with such breadth, precision, and sharpness, Jesus is only the Interpreter of the Law that has been in force from the beginning. His one object here was to contrast the perversions of the law with the true sense of it.
- For example, Jesus said:
Matthew 5:43-44, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
Was Jesus teaching something new?
God's law says, Thou shalt love thy neighbour (Leviticus 19:18), but God's law does not say, hate thine enemy. The Pharisees were taking God's Law out of context, and added to it, and changed it to mean that we are to hate our enemies, as if the one were a legitimate inference from the other. This is what the people heard from man, but it is not what they read in scripture. However, when Jesus taught we are to love our enemy, Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament (Exodus 23:4-5, Deuteronomy 23:7, Proverbs 24:17-18, Proverbs 25:21-22). He taught nothing new!
- Another example is when Jesus said:
Matthew 5:21-22, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:"
Was Jesus teaching something new?
God's law says, thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13), but it certainly does not teach to hate your brother. The Pharisees were teaching it was okay to hate (be angry at) your brothers. But what does the Old Testament say? Leviticus 19:17, "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him." Again, Jesus taught nothing new! He was quoting from scripture! He was correcting them with Old Testament scripture. Jesus was explaining the spiritual meaning of Old Testament laws, using the Old Testament itself! The spiritual meaning in this case would be that before one can commit murder, one must first be angry and hate the one he wants to murder.
Jesus was referring to that anger which leads a man to commit outrages against another, thereby subjecting himself to that punishment which was to be inflicted on those who break the peace. As far as being in danger of judgment, that is, to have the matter brought before a magistrate, whose business it was to judge in such cases.
- Another example is when Jesus said:
Matthew 5:33-35, "Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King."
Did Jesus teach something new?
It was not the intention of Jesus to repeal or abolish this law. God's Law allowed, and in some instances required, the administration of an oath made unto the Lord (Exodus 22:11, Numbers 5:19). But the Jews, looking upon this law, construed it as giving them exemption from the binding effect of all other oaths. According to their construction, no oath was binding in which the name of God did not directly occur. They therefore coined many other oaths to suit their purposes, which would add weight to their statements or promises, which, however, would not leave them guilty of being forsworn if they spoke untruthfully.
But Jesus showed that all oaths were ultimately referable to God, and that those who made them would be forsworn if they did not keep them. To prevent this evil practice of loose swearing Jesus lays down the prohibition, "Swear not at all."
Christ does not forbid judicial oaths in this prohibition. This conclusion is also reached when we interpret the prohibition in the light of authoritative examples; for we find that God swore by himself (Genesis 22:16-17; Hebrews 6:13; 7:21); Jesus answered under oath before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:63); Paul also made an oath to the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 1:23) and made solemn appeals to God (Romans 1:9, Galatians 1:20, Philippians 1:8; 1 Corinthians 15:31, 1 Thessalonians 5:27, Revelation 10:5-6).
Therefore, judicial oaths, and oaths taken in the name of God on occasions of solemn religious importance, are not included in the prohibition. But as these are the only exceptions found in Scriptures, we conclude that all other oaths are forbidden. Looking at the details of the paragraph, we find that oaths "by heaven...by the earth...by Jerusalem...and by thy head" are utterly meaningless save as they have reference to God.
Jesus says elsewhere that all who swear at all, do in fact swear by God, or the oath is good for nothing (Matthew 23:22). To swear by an altar, a gift, or a temple, is of no force, unless it be meant to appeal to God himself. The essential thing in an oath is calling God to witness our sincerity. If a real oath is taken, therefore, God is appealed to. If not, it is foolish and wicked to swear by anything else.
- Another example is when Jesus said:
Matthew 5:31-32, "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery:"
Did Jesus teach something new?
The Pharisees are the ones who said that it was "...lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause" (Matthew 19:3), And Jesus was correcting them by saying, in Matthew 19:8, "...but from the beginning it was not so. Jesus was simply teaching the same law that was from the beginning! Jesus taught nothing new!
- Another example is when Jesus said:
Matthew 5:38-39, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you "
Did Jesus teach something new?
Jesus was not saying that the Old Testament law on an eye for an eye has now passed away! Because a few minutes earlier he had just stated that none of the Old Testament law would pass away (Matthew 5:17-18), and Jesus would not contradict himself. So, what was Jesus teaching in this passage?
The reference to "an eye for an eye" is found in Exodus 21:24-25, which deals with how the magistrate must deal with a crime. Namely, the punishment must fit the crime. The religious leaders of Christ's day had twisted a passage that applied to the magistrates and misused it as a principle of personal revenge. Christ is clearing up a confusion that had led people to think that conduct proper for the magistratesthat is, taking vengeancewas also proper for an individual. This law of retribution was designed to take vengeance out of the hands of personal revenge and commit it to the magistrate.
The Pharisees and their followers misused this law as a principle of personal revenge, so that they could give "tit for tat" to those who harmed them, which is contrary to the injunctions of the Old Testament itself (Proverbs 20:22; 24:29). A law that was meant to be a guide to judges rendering judicial decisions and handing down sentences was never meant to be a rule of our personal relationships. The function of magistrates is to administer the vengeance of God upon evil doers (Romans 13:4), but not so with individuals. Our duty is to love our neighbor as the Lord Jesus has instructed us.
Jesus was teaching from the Old Testament, which specifically stated that if evil is done to us, we are not to do to him as he did to us!
Proverbs 24:29, "Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work."
The reason is because this would be personal revenge. Instead, the duty of rendering to man his evil work is the duty of the majistrates. Jesus taught nothing new.
Now, with this scriptural truth in mind, that Jesus did not teach anything new, let's go to the point of this article, and examine what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:27-28. Many believe that Jesus was laying down a brand new law that to lust after all women is now adultery, whereas before, only the physical act was considered adultery. But is this what Jesus was teaching?
Please answer the following four questions before proceeding:
Most people would answer the first three questions with a yes, and the last question with a no. Well, if we were to use the world's definition of adultery, those answers would be absolutely correct. However, the definition of adultery in secular dictionaries, including law dictionaries, is contrary to God's definition of adultery as defined in scripture. If you answered these four questions correctly, there should be two yes's and two no's. The way you define adultery will determine how you interpret Matthew 5:27-28.
- If a married man has sex with a married woman (other than ones own wife), is it adultery?
- If a married man has sex with an unmarried women, is it adultery?
- If an unmarried man has sex with a married woman, is it adultery?
- If an unmarried man has sex with an unmarried woman, is it adultery?
What is Adultery?
Let me ask you a question at this point. Please read God's seventh commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18). What was God referring to? Does He not refer to the sanctity of marriage? Yes, He does. As defined by God, and as will be shown by scripture, Adultery means "sex between a married woman and a man who was not her husband." Or, in other words, adultery means "sex between a man and a married woman." Adultery is of two kinds;
Double, when between a married man and a married woman;
Single, between an unmarried man and a married woman (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22).
Adultery was punishable by death, and is distinguished from fornication (Exodus 22:16, Deuteronomy 22:28-29). Adultery never involves an unmarried woman. Never. Only a married woman, only a wife (Ezekiel 16:32). Now, let us look more closely at God's 7th and 10th Commandments.
7th Commandment: "Thou shalt not commit adultery." (Exodus 20:14).
10th Commandment: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife." (Exodus 20:17).
In other words, this 10th Commandment says that whosoever covets, desires, or lusts after a married woman, has committed adultery with her already in ones heart!!! Why? Because one has broken the 7th Commandment already in one's heart! This is the spiritual meaning of adultery, and this is exactly what Jesus meant when he spoke in Matthew 5:27-28.
Matthew 5:27-28, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
Was Jesus teaching something new? No, Jesus was not teaching something new. Just as in all the other examples given in Matthew 5 above, Jesus was teaching directly from the Old Testament. The spiritual meanings of the Old Testament laws are also found in the Old Testament itself.
Let me ask you another question. When Jesus was teaching about adultery in Matthew 5:27, "...Thou shalt not commit adultery", was not Jesus also referring to the 7th Commandment and the sanctity of marriage? And when Jesus was teaching about lusting after a woman in Matthew 5:28, was not Jesus also referring to the 10th Commandment? Yes, he was.
In God's 7th and 10th Commandments, God refers to the sexual relationship of adultery only. In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus, referring directly to the Ten Commandments, also refers to adultery only. Jesus was not re-defining the term adultery to mean sexual relationships outside the marriage state. If he was, Jesus was changing God's meaning of this word as used in scripture. Since words define the meaning of law, Jesus would be, in truth, changing the meaning of the words used in God's law, which would be the same as changing God's Law!
If having sex with an unmarried woman is grouped in the same category as those who commit adultery, then this fact should be taught in the Old Testament as well. Otherwise, Jesus would be teaching something completely new and foreign to his listeners.
[Clarification: Just because Exodus 20:14 limits this sin to adultery only, it does not mean adultery is the only sexual sin. We must go to other parts of scripture to see what other sexual acts are also a sin. But we cannot lump them all together and say adultery refers to all sexual acts, because it does not have that meaning. Likewise, even though Jesus limited this passage to adultery only, it does not mean adultery is the only sexual sin. We must not put them all in the same category with the same punishment, because God did not do this.]
If Jesus was lumping both married and unmarried women into the same category, that means he changed the penalty of committing sexual acts with these women. As will be shown later in this article, the penalty of adultery was death for both the man and woman. But there was no penalty if an unmarried man and unmarried woman had sex together. The consequences were not death for both it was marriage for both! And Jesus would be changing the consequences that God laid down in His law, by replacing the marriage that God ordained with the penalty of death; a penalty that God never gave to unmarried men and women if they had sex together. (Some may claim marriage is death...but that's a different topic).
Whatever is a sin in the Old Testament, is still a sin for us today. And what was not considered a sin in the Old Testament is, likewise, not a sin for us today. God does not say to people, there will be no punishment if you do this act, and then later, after people have been doing this same act for thousands of years, suddenly say, Well, I changed my mind. You cannot do this act anymore, because if you do this act that I previously did not consider a sin before, I will punish and kill you. Sorry. God does not do that.
Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever"
Malachi 3:6, "For I am the LORD, I change not"
James 1:17, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
If Jesus was replacing God's Law with a new Law, he would be adding to and taking away from the Word of God, which would be a sin (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Jeremiah 26:2, Revelation 22:18-19), and as we all know, Jesus was without sin (John 8:46; 15:10, Philippians 2:8). Therefore, since Jesus taught nothing new, he must have been teaching the same thing that the Old Testament taught, which is that lusting after married women will cause adultery in one's heart.
Now, knowing Jesus taught nothing new, let us examine Matthew 5:28 further in this Light.
Adultery involves the Marriage State
Matthew 5:28, "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
Now, let's take the first part of this verse, whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her (meaning the intent of looking at her is because you desire her, whether it's sexually or not). Dear reader, is it a sin to lust after all women? Would you include your own wife? No, of course not. But some people would say that lusting after your wife is a sin in certain situations. This will be addressed in the next two paragraph. For now, let's say that it is definitely a sin to lust after some women. So let us continue with this verse to see which women, hath committed adultery
Now, whoever this woman is that Jesus is referring to, she is only the type of woman who may cause adultery. Will your wife cause you to commit adultery if you have sex with her? Obviously not. So, in this specific verse, Jesus could not possibly be referring to ones own wife; he was not teaching that it could be a sin to lust after your own wife. Even if it can be a sin to lust after her in certain situations, this specific verse has nothing to do with that because this passage is dealing with cases of adultery, of which can never happen between a husband and his wife.
Now, some claim that if a married couple has sex for purposes other than to bear children, then they would be defiled. Even though one of the reasons for having sex with your wife is to have children, it is not the only reason. And if it is wrong to have sex with her other than for the purpose of having children, it would contradict Hebrews 13:4, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled, which states that having sex in marriage is not defiling. Hebrews 13:4 does not say the bed is undefiled only in situations where the couple is making children in bed.
Now, in order to understand which women may cause which men to commit adultery in their heart, we must first establish which women may cause a man to commit adultery in the flesh. If a woman cannot cause you to commit adultery in the flesh (such as your own wife), then that woman certainly cannot cause you to commit adultery in your heart!
Once we establish which women and which men may cause someone to commit adultery, then we will know more clearly the truth of what Jesus was saying.
Here are the answers to the four questions asked earlier:
As we can see from the above, both married men and unmarried men can commit adultery. Therefore, the man referred to in Matthew 5:28 definitely refers to both married men and unmarried men. But what about the woman?
- If a married man has sex with a married woman (other than ones own wife), is it adultery?
Yes, they were put to death (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22-24).
- If a married man has sex with an unmarried women, is it adultery?
No, she became his wife (Genesis 4:19; 29:23-30; 31:17; 32:22; 36:2,6, Exodus 21:10, Deuteronomy 21:15-17; 25:5-10, Judges 8:30, 1 Samuel 1:2; 25:42-43; 30:18, 2 Samuel 5:13, 1 Kings 11:1-3, 1 Chronicles 4:5; 8:8; 14:3, 2 Chronicles 11:21; 12:7-8; 13:21; 24:3, Daniel 5:2-3).
- If an unmarried man has sex with a married woman, is it adultery?
Yes, they were put to death (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22-24).
- If an unmarried man has sex with an unmarried woman, is it adultery?
No, they were commanded to marry each other (Exodus 22:16-17, Deuteronomy 22:28).
According to scripture, if any man has sex with an unmarried woman, it was not considered adultery! God sentenced married men to death, married women to death, unmarried men to death, but never does He sentence unmarried women to death for adultery. Adultery can only take place when the woman is married.
Therefore, if an unmarried woman cannot possibly cause a man to commit adultery in the flesh, she cannot possibly cause him to commit adultery in his heart. Or, in other words, if it is not adultery to have sex with an unmarried woman, it cannot possibly be adultery to think about having sex with an unmarried woman.
Now, the following objection might be raised at this point. But it is fornication to have sex with an unmarried woman, therefore this verse applies to unmarried women as well. It is true that unmarried women can commit fornication, but we must consider the sexual sin that Jesus describes in Matthew 5:27-28. Jesus was very careful to use the word adultery, which can only refer to married women, and not fornication, which applies to unmarried women. Thus, Jesus limits this lust to only cases where adultery happens, which only applies to married women, not unmarried women.
In Matthew 5:28, Jesus used the word adultery, not fornication. These are two different sexual acts, from two different Greek words, with two different definitions. If an unmarried man and unmarried woman have sex, it is never, ever called adultery in scripture. It simply does not have that meaning. The correct term to use is fornication. Let's look at three different bible dictionaries for verification:
- Fornication: This word is used in Scripture not only for the sin of impurity between unmarried persons, but for idolatry, and for all kinds of infidelity to God. (American Tract Society Dictionary).
- Adultery: Is a criminal connection between persons who are engaged, one or both, to keep themselves wholly to others; and thus it exceeds the guilt of fornication, which is the same intercourse between unmarried persons. Illicit intercourse between a married man and a woman who was not married, nor betrothed, constituted not adultery, but fornication. Fornication may be, in some sense, covered by a subsequent marriage of the parties; but adultery cannot be so healed. (American Tract Society Dictionary).
- Adultery: The parties to this crime, according to Jewish law, were a married woman and a man who was not her husband . (Smith's bible dictionary).
- Adultery: Conjugal infidelity. An adulterer was a man who had illicit intercourse with a married or a betrothed woman, and such a woman was an adulteress. Intercourse between a married man and an unmarried woman was fornication. (Easton's 1897 bible dictionary).
And secular dictionaries also confirm this meaning:
- Fornication: 1. Unlawful sexual intercourse on the part of an unmarried person; the act of such illicit sexual intercourse between a man and a woman as does not by law amount to adultery. (Websters Revised Unabridged, 1913 Edition).
- Fornication: 1. law: Consenting sex involving somebody unmarried: sexual intercourse between two consenting adults, who are not married to each other. (Encarta World English Dictionary, North American Edition).
- Fornication: Date: 14th century: Consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other. (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 11th Collegiate Edition).
- Fornication: Voluntary sexual relations between a man and woman not married to each other. (Wordsmyth Dictionary-Thesaurus).
- Fornication: Sexual intercourse between partners who are not married to each other. WORD HISTORY: The word fornication had a lowly beginning suitable to what has long been the low moral status of the act to which it refers. The Latin word fornix, from which fornicti, the ancestor of fornication, is derived, meant "a vault, an arch." The term also referred to a vaulted cellar or similar place where prostitutes plied their trade. This sense of fornix in Late Latin yielded the verb fornicr, "to commit fornication," from which is derived fornicato, "whoredom, fornication." Our word is first recorded in Middle English about 1303. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition).
- Fornicate: To have sex with someone you are not married to. (Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary).
Is it a Sin to Lust after an Unmarried Woman?
To lust does not mean to think about having sex with a woman. All lust means is to desire. The object of your lust may be sex, but the term lust itself has nothing to do with sex. God command us to lust after Him and His Word, does that mean we think about sex? No.
For example, is it possible to desire to be married to a certain woman, yet not lust after her body? Yes, it is. Is it wrong to desire an unmarried woman in this case? No, it is not. Now, let me ask you this. If the woman you desire to marry, even though you are not thinking about having sex with her, if she is married to another man, is it wrong to desire her? Yes it is. Why? Because she is another man's wife, and you have committed adultery already in your heart. But, keep in mind, thinking about having sex with her had nothing at all to do with committing adultery in your heart. Just the fact that one desires someone else's wife, even without sexual intent, is committing adultery in one's heart, because she belongs to another man! And this proves that the term lust does not mean to think about having sex, even when applied to women, even when applied to adultery. Even though the object of lust may be sex, sex is not inherent in lust.
In Matthew 5:28, the term lust literally means to have a desire for, long for, to desire, covet. It does not necessarily have anything to do, whatsoever, with thinking about sex, when it's in reference to a woman. Why? Because it was okay to desire (covet after, lust after) unmarried women (as long as it did not violate any of God's sexual restrictions in Leviticus 18 and elsewhere).
Coveting a neighbour's wife is wrong, because she is married to another. Coveting after a neighbor's daughter is not wrong, because she is not married to another. Before one can be betrothed to someone's daughter, one must first desire her. Even God himself said that if one sees a beautiful looking woman, and desires her, this is good, and he may marry her:
Deuteronomy 21:10-13, "When thou goest forth to war And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife."
One thing the above passage teaches us about Matthew 5:27-28 is that to lust and desire after an unmarried woman is okay, if you desire her to be your wife, because she is not already taken. But lusting after a married woman, as is shown elsewhere in scripture, is not okay, because she is already taken. If you look at scriptural history, before a man would marry a woman, he would first have a desire towards her, and would covet her.
To give another example, in Genesis 29, Jacob kissed a girl he never saw before, Rachel (verse 11), she was beautiful to him (verse 17), and because Jacob desired her, and loved her, he asked her father if he could marry her (verse 18), and Jacob eventually married her (verse 28). It was not a sin for Jacob to desire Rachel. Jacob did not commit adultery in his heart by desiring Rachel. Jacob did not commit fornication in his heart by desiring Rachel. Why? Because she was unmarried.
What is the first thing that a man does before he even considers marrying a woman? The first thing he does is desire her, covets her, and lusts her. One would not marry a woman unless he had a desire for her. Unfortunately, some families command and force a man to marry a woman, against their will, which is unscriptural. Even the law of God commands a man to marry a woman in certain situations, but will allow them to not marry if one so desires, and it will not be counted as sin against them.
One example is where God said that if a wife's husband dies, then the husband's brother was to marry her. However, if that man does not desire her, then God gives him the choice of not marrying her, and he does not have to marry her (Deuteronomy 25:5-10)! The man has first choice. God does not force men to marry women against their will, and it is wrong for families to force men to marry women, if they do not desire them. God wants desire to play a role in marriage. God is not a tyrant.
God's law also commands a man and women to get married if they have sex with each other for the first time. But if the father does not desire his daughter to marry him, God said they do not have to get married, even though God commanded them to get married (Deuteronomy 22:28, Exodus 22:16-17). Why? Because if someone does not have a desire to get married, God does not force it upon them. God wants desire to play a role in marriage.
And finally, in the case of Rebekah and Isaac, it was shown how it was God's Will that they both be married (Genesis 24), and after all the families knew it was God's Will for Rebekah to marry Isaac, her family still asked her if she desired to marry him! Genesis 24:58, "And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go." They would not have forced her to marry Isaac if she did not desire to marry him, even if it was God's Will. God wants desire to play a role in marriage.
Here's a question. If somebody thinks about having sex with an unmarried woman (who is not blood related), can you show me, from scripture, what sexual sin one would be at risk of violating? For example:
Therefore, I am asking you to fill in these blanks.
- If a man is thinking about having sex with another man's wife, they would be at risk of violating Exodus 20:14, of which the penalty is death to both if carried out, and the penalty for this sin can be found at Leviticus 20:10.
- If a man is thinking about having sex with his sister, they would be at risk of violating Leviticus 18:9, of which the penalty is death to both if carried out, and the penalty for this sin can be found at Leviticus 20:17.
- If a man is thinking about having sex with an animal, they would be at risk of violating Leviticus 18:23 and Deuteronomy 27:21, of which the penalty is death to both if carried out, and the penalty for this sin can be found at Leviticus 20:15.
- If a man is thinking about having sex with an unmarried woman (who is not blood related), they would be at risk of violating ________________, of which the penalty is _____________ to both if carried out, and the penalty for this sin can be found at ________________.
All Sins require a Sacrifice
If an act is not a sin, then to think of that act is, likewise, not a sin. For example, if it is not a sin to eat carrots, then to think of eating carrots is not a sin. I'm sure we will all agree on that.
Let us presume that Jesus was referring to fornication between all women in Matthew 5:27-28; that he was referring to both married and unmarried women in this passage. In order for it to be wrong to lust after an unmarried woman, then it must be a sin to have sex with an unmarried woman. Agreed? If it is a sin to have sex with an unmarried women, then it would be wrong to think about having sex with her also. Agreed? And, if by chance the opposite be true, if it is not a sin to have sex with an unmarried woman, then it would not be wrong to think about having sex with an unmarried woman. Agreed?
Let us establish another scriptural truth before proceeding.
In order for something to be considered a sin, there must be the shedding of blood to atone for that specific and particular sin. In the Old Testament, a sin required either the shedding of blood of an animal, or it required the shedding of blood of man, "to make an attonement for your souls" (Leviticus 17:11). Either way, all sins require a death penalty. No exceptions.
Similarly, in man's law, when a wrong is done, a "remedy" is required. There is something that the violator of the law must do in order to "right the wrong" he has done. In God's Law, there is something the sinner must do to right the wrong as well.
Some sins required people to bathe themselves and their clothes in water (Numbers 19:19-20 - all the washings and sprinklings under Levitical institutions were designed to teach the necessity of the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost - Titus 3:3-7), but at the end of the year, an animal would be killed for those sins (Exodus 30:10, Leviticus 16:34, Hebrews 7:27; 9:7). For example, anyone who came in contact with any thing unclean was to wash their clothes and themselves in clean water, and were considered unclean till the evening (Leviticus 11:24-31), then blood would be shed at the end of the year as well. However, if somebody did this act in ignorance, and he was not aware at the time that it was wicked, then he was guilty (Leviticus 5:2), and he had sinned (Leviticus 5:5), and since he did not wash himself in water that very day, he must now shed the blood of an animal immediately (Leviticus 5:6-13).
The purpose of shedding blood is to cleanse the land of sin. If an act does not require the sinner to do something to cleanse himself or the land, then there is nothing to clean! And if there is nothing to clean, God does not consider that act unclean! And if an act is not unclean, it is not a sin! Period! No matter how many people believe a particular act is a sin, if there is no penalty mentioned for committing this act, if there is no shedding of blood, God does not consider that act a sin. And if God does not consider it a sin, then, in truth, it is not a sin! No matter how many people believe otherwise.
Numbers 35:33, "...the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it."
Hebrews 9:22, "And almost all things with blood are purified according to the law, and apart from blood shedding there is no remission."
Without the shedding of blood, there is no "remission of sins" See also Leviticus 4:20,26; 6:7; 16:15-18; 17:11. When the above passage says "almost" all things are purified with blood, it does not mean that some sins do not need the shedding of blood to be remissed (because this verse says that the shedding of blood is the only thing that will remis sins), but it means that some sins are so great that it cannot be remissed even by the shedding of blood. For example, Jesus Christ said the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-29, Luke 12:10).
Let's look at an example of atoning for the sin of theft. Theft relates to the sanctity of property. Scripture says God owns everything in Heaven and earth (Psalms 24:1; 115:16), and He has only entrusted property to others. Thus, theft is considered a sin, not only because one is stealing from man, but also because one is stealing from God as well (Leviticus 6:2), and it required a trespass offering (Leviticus 6:5), which meant that an animal must die (Leviticus 5:6). The reason for a trespass offering is because theft is a trespass against the LORD (Leviticus 5:19). This is important to remember. If something is a sin against the LORD, it requires the shedding of blood!
Coveting after a neighbor's things (God's Tenth Commandment) may lead one to commit theft (God's Eighth Commandment). Jesus' point, in Matthew 5:27-28, was that coveting after a married woman (God's Tenth Commandment) may lead one to commit physical adultery (God's Seventh Commandment), and that is the reason why one has committed adultery in one's heart. However, is it a sin to covet after a neighbor's wife? The answer is no. Why did God command us not to lust after a neighbor's wife? Because it may lead to sin, but it is not a sin itself. This can be easily shown by the penalties imposed by breaking the Ten Commandments. If a death penalty is required for breaking a particular commandment, then yes, it is a sin. If no death penalty is required, then no, it is not considered a sin.
Here are the penalties for breaking each of the Ten Commandments:
1st Man was put to death for having other gods before Him (Exodus 22:20, Deuteronomy 18:20), or preaching to others to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 13:5-10).
2nd - Man was put to death for serving other gods (Deuteronomy 13:5-10), or communicating with spirits (Leviticus 20:27).
3rd - Man was put to death for taking the Lords' name in vain (Leviticus 24:16), or trespassing on sacred ground (Exodus 19:12).
4th - Man was put to death for working on the sabbath (Exodus 31:14-15; 35:2, Numbers 15:35).
5th - Man was put to death for not honouring his father and mother (Exodus 21:15,17, Leviticus 20:9).
6th - Man was put to death for murder (Exodus 21:12, Leviticus 24:17,21, Numbers 35:16-31), even if owner's animal kills someone (Exodus 21:29).
7th - Man was put to death for adultery (Leviticus 20:10), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13), rape (Deuteronomy 22:25), sleeping with animals (Exodus 22:19, Leviticus 20:15-16).
8th Man had to sacrifice an animal for stealing physical property (Leviticus 5:6,19; 6:2,5), or he was put to death for stealing another man for the purpose of selling him (Exodus 21:16, Deuteronomy 24:7).
9th Man had to sacrifice an animal for lying (Leviticus 6:1-6), or he was put to death for bearing false witness in certain situations (Deuteronomy 19:16-21, Proverbs 19:9; 21:28).
10th no penalty for coveting!!!
Why is there no penalty for violating the 10th Commandment? Because it is not a sin to covet! It is only a temptation, which may lead to sin. But temptations are not sins. Only when temptations conceive into a physical act can it be considered a sin.
James 1:14-15, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin..."
Does this mean it is okay to lust after your neighbour's wife? No, it is obviously against God's Will if we covet after our neighbour's wife, but just because something is not God's Will, it does not mean it is a sin. To covet your neighbour's wife may lead to adultery. Coveting your neighbour's property may lead to stealing. But it is not a sin to lust after these things, because only when thoughts materialize into actions can it be considered a sin.
Today, how do we atone for the sin of physical adultery? Through Christ's blood, we receive remission and atonement of all sins (Matthew 26:28, Romans 3:25; 5:11 ). In the Old Testament, this was represented by the blood of man when he committed physical adultery. Now, if lusting is a sin, and this sin is atoned by the blood of Christ, my question is, what is this represented by in the Old Testament? What blood was shed in the Old Testament for lusting? The answer is, there was no blood shed. Why? Because it was not considered a sin. A temptation yes, but temptations are not sins.
Is it a Sin to have Sex with an Unmarried Woman?
Does scripture say it is a sin to have sex with an unmarried woman? If a sexual relationship requires the penalty of blood, then it is a sin against the Lord. If a sexual relationship requires no penalty of blood, then it is not a sin against the Lord. For example, if one sleeps with one's own wife, there is no need for a blood sacrifice of either man or animal. Why? Because it is not a sin to do so. Now, let us see what God's penalty was for having sex between men and women.
Obviously, the above sexual acts are considered sins, because it required the shedding of man's blood to atone for those sins. How cruel it would be of God if He did not make clear that these sexual acts are a sin, and that blood was required to cleanse this sin!
- If a married man was convicted of adultery, both he and the married woman that lay with him were to be executed (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22).
- If a married woman was convicted of adultery, both she and the man that lay with her were to be executed (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22).
- If a betrothed virgin was convicted of adultery, both she and the man that lay with her were to be executed (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).
- If a man forces a betrothed woman to have sex with him, the man was executed, but the woman was blameless (Deuteronomy 22:25-27).
Remember, scripture is clear that only married women could be guilty of adultery, not unmarried women (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22). Even betrothed (engaged) women could be guilty of adultery, because she was a man's wife once they became betrothed, which is the reason why scripture says if a man rapes a betrothed (married) woman, then he was to be executed (Deuteronomy 22:25-27). It is a sin to do this to a married woman. Why is it a sin? Because the man committed adultery (but the woman would be held guiltless).
Deuteronomy 22:25, "But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her "
However, there is nothing in scripture that says a man was to be executed for raping an unmarried woman! Deuteronomy 22:25-27 does not say, But if a man find a damsel in the field, which would refer to any and all women. No, it explicitly limits it to only women who were a wife. Does this mean there were no consequences to raping a woman just because she was not married? Of course not. For a rape to occur, there must be a stealing of her, or, a kidnapping. And under God's Law, stealing and kidnapping were punishable by the shedding of blood (Exodus 21:16, Deuteronomy 24:7, 1 Timothy 1:10, Revelation 18:13). However, if a man was punished for raping an unmarried woman, it was not for the crime of adultery (which is a sexual act), but for a different crime.
But let us now examine the consequences of an unmarried man and an unmarried virgin that have sex willfully with each other. What is the penalty? Is there the shedding of blood of man, as in the case of adultery? No. Well, is there the shedding of blood of an animal, as in the case of theft? No. Well, just what kind of penalty was there for having sex with an unmarried woman? Well, there is no penalty! As a matter of fact, they were commanded, by God himself, to marry each other (Exodus 22:16-17, Deuteronomy 22:28)! To marry! And to marry a virgin required a payment of fifty shekels of silver to her father as well. There was no shedding of blood required! Why not? Could it be that God did not consider it a sin for an unmarried man and an unmarried woman to have sex together? After all, all sins always required the shedding of blood. Otherwise, it is not a sin in God's eyes.
But, you may ask, What is the penalty if that man and woman do not get married, like God commands? Well, the father could utterly refuse to give his daughter away to a man, and then that couple would not have to get married. But the man still had to pay the father money according to the dowry of virgins (Exodus 22:16-17), which was fifty shekels of silver, (Deuteronomy 22:28), the same price as if he did marry her, and then the man and woman did not have to get married! They were off the hook! That's all! But keep in mind, this payment to the father is not a penalty!
Scripture explicitly says why this dowry price was paid to the father, so there is no need for conjecture. It was not to be paid because of a penalty, but "...because he hath humbled her" (Deuteronomy 22:29). Any man who humbles a virgin, whether it be a man who marries her after going through the betrothal period, a man who marries her without going through betrothal, a man who marries her because he had sex with her first, or even a man who had sex with a virgin without marrying her, all men pay this dowry price to the father for the same reason; Because he hath humbled her. It is not a penalty. (Note: one shekel of silver was equivalent to 4 days wages. Therefore, 50 shekels of silver would be equivalent to 200 days wages).
How about the woman in this case? Was there any penalty for her willingly sleeping with a man before marriage? Well, there was no penalty at all! There was no shedding of blood on either her part or on the part of the man who slept with her. In other words, to have sex with an unmarried woman is not considered a sin against God! The land was not considered unclean after this act. If one considers this act a sin against God, then we have to change the established scriptural truth that all sins require the shedding of blood. We have to change God's Truth to fit our pre-conceived ideas. But, we all know it is wrong to do that. It is much easier to accept scripture for what it says, rather than try to make it say something it does not say. And, unlike rape, one cannot claim this act is theft, because if somebody willfully gives something to another, it is not theft to take what another willfully offers.
You may ask, Well, what happens if the man who sleeps with the woman refuses to marry her? Well, there is no penalty mentioned! No shedding of blood. As a matter of fact, there is another law of God that also commands a man and woman to marry. We can learn what happens in this case by going to that passage.
In Deuteronomy 25:5-10, God's Law states that if a woman's husband dies, and has no child, then the husband's brother must marry her and become her husband. This is Law! Now, what is the penalty if this man disobeys God and refuses to marry her? Is this a sin? Does his blood have to be shed? Does the blood of an animal have to be shed for this defiance? Well, let's see. Verses 9 and 10 state the penalty that must be inflicted on this man. The woman, in the presence of the elders, is to loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face (verse 9)! And his name shall be called, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed (verse 10). That's it! The act of spitting, whether in or before the face, marked the strong contempt the woman felt for the man who had slighted her. And it appears that the man was disgraced in Israel. However, there was no shedding of blood involved, because there is no sin involved in refusing to marry a woman that God commanded to marry. Remember, God does not force people to marry against their will.
You may ask, Well, what happens if the man refuses to pay the father the dowry price? Well, there is no penalty imposed on the man in this passage for refusing to pay the father this price. However, one can accuse him of theft in this case, since he owed the father a debt and did not pay it, and he would be penalized according to the theft of money. However, if he was a man after God, he would marry her, and at the very least, pay the dowry price to her father (this is why we should not be yoked with unbelievers).
Notice, too, that only an unmarried virgin was commanded to marry, not an unmarried woman who was not a virgin. This dowry price only applied to unmarried women who were virgins, not to unmarried women who were not virgins. That is why it is called, in scripture, dowry of virgins (Exodus 22:17). Once a woman is no longer a virgin, there are no more payments to be made to the father. There is even a maxim of law which states, The law favors dower; it is the reward of chastity. In addition, this helps prevent the father from making a harlot out of his daughter, since he cannot get any more money from another man if he sleeps with her.
But either way, there is no penalty mentioned in scripture for having sex with an unmarried woman, whether she was a virgin or a non-virgin. That is, unless you consider marriage a penalty to atone for ones sins?! But scripture says only the shedding of blood can atone for sins, not marriage. Marriage is not a penalty!
Spiritual Truths are expressed through Physical Truths
All spiritual truths are expressed through physical truths. One must first have an understanding of the physical act of adultery before one can understand the spiritual act of adultery in one's heart. One must understand that when an act requires the shedding of blood physically, this means this is a sin against God spiritually as well. If an act does not require the shedding of blood, then that means that act is not a sin! Because without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.
The physical meaning of marriage represents the spiritual meaning of marriage:
Physical: married man + married woman = Marriage Covenant Spiritual: God + Israel = Covenant with God
The physical meaning of adultery represents the spiritual meaning of adultery:
Physical: married woman + other lovers = Physical Adultery (Against spouse) Spiritual: Israel + Heathen Nations = Spiritual Adultery (Against God)
Now, if Jesus said that all women, even unmarried woman, can commit adultery, then spiritually, that means all women are in a marriage covenant:
Physical: married man + unmarried woman = Marriage Covenant??? Spiritual: God + Heathen Nations = Covenant with God???
And Adultery would thus mean:
Physical: unmarried man + unmarried woman = Physical Adultery??? (Against Who?) Spiritual: Heathen Nations + Heathen Nations = Spiritual Adultery??? (Against Who?)
All spiritual truth is represented by physical truth. The scripture shows the spiritual meaning of adultery by showing us its physical representative physical adultery. If an unmarried woman can now commit spiritual adultery, then where is its corresponding physical representative? Where is it stated that unmarried women can commit adultery? And where is this spiritual adultery represented in the spiritual realm today? It is not.
For example, in the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-12), this represents the marriage of believers with Christ and His New Testament. The five virgins who married Jesus, can they commit adultery against Jesus? Yes, they can. The five virgins who did not marry Jesus, can they commit adultery against Jesus, even if Jesus told them, I know you not (verse 12)? No they cannot. But if Jesus changed the spiritual meaning of adultery in Matthew 5, then that means these unmarried women can commit adultery! This means the Heathens are on an equal basis with Believers. That God will punish them for adultery, for breaking their covenant, when they have never entered into a covenant with God! That would mean there is no more difference between sinning in ignorance and sinning willfully! God never called Heathen nations adulterers, only Israel. God never called unmarried women adulterers, only married women. In the New Testament, only believers can commit spiritual adultery with Christ. But we must throw this distinction out now if Jesus said all people can commit adultery now. Now we can say, we are all the children of God, Everyone is saved no matter what, because we are all under the Covenant of God, believers and unbelievers alike.
This supposed spiritual meaning of Matthew 5:27-28 is not represented anywhere in the scriptures. Therefore, if Jesus was saying all women can commit adultery, even unmarried women, Jesus would be teaching something completely new, and something that contradicts what both the Old and New Testaments say.
Analogy of Eating
If something is unclean, if something is a sin, then God will tell us. If something is a sin against God, it is inconceivable that God would not tell us about this sin in His Word. And it would be equally wrong to claim something is a sin, when it is not defined as a sin by God in His Word.
- Some people are vegetarians because they claim eating meat is a sin.
- Some people are celibate because they claim having sex is a sin.
- Is eating a sin? No. Can eating be a sin? Yes, if we disobey the laws regulating eating.
- Is sex a sin? No. Can sex be a sin? Yes, if we disobey the laws regulating sexual acts.
- God lists the meats that are a sin to eat in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. God takes the time to tell us which kinds of animals cannot be eaten.
- God lists the sexual acts that are a sin to do in Leviticus 18 and 20. God takes the time to tell us which kinds of sexual acts cannot be done.
- It would be cruel of God if, an animal is unclean to eat, He does not tell us that it is unclean in His Word.
- It would be cruel of God if, a sexual act is unclean, He does not tell us that it is unclean in His Word.
- Now, If God takes the time to list all the animals that are unclean, and not to be eaten, would it be right if we lumped all meats into this category and said eating all meats is a sin, regardless of what God said? No, this would be wrong, because only the meats that God said are unclean are unclean. God does not say all meats are unclean, he specifies which meats are unclean.
- Likewise, If God takes the time to list all the sexual acts that are unclean, and not to be done, would it be right if we lumped all sexual acts into this category and said all sexual relations are a sin? No, this would be wrong, because only the sexual acts that God said are unclean are unclean. God does not say all sexual acts are unclean, he specifies which sexual acts are unclean.
- God does not say eating all meat is a sin.
- God does not say all sexual acts are a sin.
Sexual Sins Defined
Leviticus 18 lists all the sexual acts that God considers a sin.
How do we know these are sins? We know these are sins because, after describing these acts in Leviticus 18, God says those who do these things are defiled (verse 24), and the land is polluted (verse 25), and calls these sexual acts an abomination (verse 26) and says they are abominable practices (verse 30). But wait a minute. In order for something to be a sin, there must be a shedding of blood! Is there a penalty of blood associated with the above acts? Yes, there is. And here is proof of how God explains to us whether something is a sin or not, by telling us the sin, and its penalty. After God describes these sexual acts, he goes on to say, concerning all of these sexual acts:
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy father (Leviticus 18:7).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy mother (Leviticus 18:7).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy father's wife (Leviticus 18:8).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy sister (Leviticus 18:9).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy son's daughter (Leviticus 18:10).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy daughter's daughter (Leviticus 18:10).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with the daughter of thy father's wife (Leviticus 18:11).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy father's sister (Leviticus 18:12).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy mother's sister (Leviticus 18:13).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy father's brother (Leviticus 18:14).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy father's brother's wife (Leviticus 18:14).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy daughter-in-law (Leviticus 18:15).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy brother's wife (Leviticus 18:16).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with a woman and her daughter (Leviticus 18:17).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with a woman and her son's daughter (Leviticus 18:17).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with a woman and her daughter's daughter (Leviticus 18:17).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy wife in addition to her sister, as rivals (Leviticus 18:18).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with a menstruous woman (Leviticus 18:19).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with thy neighbour's wife (Leviticus 18:20).
- Thou shalt not have sexual relations with the same sex (Leviticus 18:23, Romans 1:26-27).
- A man shalt not have sexual relations with an animal (Leviticus 18:23).
- A woman shalt not have sexual relations with an animal (Leviticus 18:23).
Leviticus 18:29, For whosoever shall do any of these abominations, the souls that do them shall be cut off from among their people.
Or as the Septuagint says, destroyed. Lest anyone think that cut off does not refer to execution, I give these witnesses that it does mean execution.
Genesis 9:11, "And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth."
Exodus 31:13-14, "Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people."
Leviticus 20:2-3, "Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name."
This last verse is from Leviticus 20. If anyone doubts that the penalties for all the above sexual acts mentioned in Leviticus 18 is not the shedding of man's blood (death), Leviticus 20 goes into even further detail about their penalty:
If God considers something to be a sexual sin, it will be listed here in Leviticus 18. The other sins mentioned in the beginning of this article are also covered in Leviticus. For example:
- For sleeping with another man's wife, they were both sentenced to death (Leviticus 20:10);
- For sleeping with his mother, they were both sentenced to death (Leviticus 20:11);
- For sleeping with a daughter-in-law, they were both to be put to death (Leviticus 20:12);
- For homosexuality, both were executed (Leviticus 20:13);
- For sleeping with a woman and her mother, all three were burned with fire (Leviticus 20:14);
- For sleeping with an animal, both the man or woman and the beast were to die (Leviticus 20:15-16);
- For sleeping with his sister, both were to die (Leviticus 20:17);
- For sleeping with a menstruous woman, both were to die (Leviticus 20:18);
- For sleeping with his father's sister or mother's sister, both were to die (Leviticus 20:19);
- For sleeping with an uncle's wife, both were to die (Leviticus 20:20);
- For sleeping with his brother's wife, both shall die (Leviticus 20:21).
In other words, every sexual sin in scripture can be associated with the sins listed in Leviticus 18. If it is not found here, then it must be found somewhere else in scripture in order to constitute a sin. If it is not found in scripture, and God does not say it is a sin, how can we call it a sin? And if an act is a sin, it will have a corresponding penalty attached to it. This is important because sometimes a sexual act would be a sin, and sometimes it would not be a sin. Even in the case of adultery!
- A man must not have sexual relations with a woman betrothed to another man (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). This falls under the penalty of adultery, and both were executed (Leviticus 18:20; Leviticus 20:10).
- A man must not have sexual relations with his ex-wife after she married and divorced a second man (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). This falls under the penalty of adultery, and both were executed (Leviticus 18:20; Leviticus 20:10).
- A man must not rape a betrothed woman (Deuteronomy 22:25-27). This falls under the penalty of adultery, and the man was executed, but the woman was blameless (Leviticus 18:20; Leviticus 20:10).
For example, Leviticus 19:20-22 is a situation where a man can sleep with another man's wife, where both of them have sex willfully with each other (yes, both engage in adultery willfully), yet neither party will be executed! Why? Because, in this particular case, the woman was a slave, and she is supposed to have less self-command, and therefore less guilt. However, since she did not make any resistance and consented to it, they were to be scourged. But only the man was to bring a ram for a trespass-offering. Since the woman did not need to make a blood sacrifice, it was not considered a sin for her. It was a sin for the man, however. The reason for this difference is not from any respect which God gives to persons, for bond and free are alike to him, but because bond-women were scarce wives, and their marriages were scarce true-marriages, being neither made by their choice, but their masters authority, nor continued beyond the year of release, but at her master's or husband's pleasure.
You see, if somebody makes general statements about God's Law, and says, all who commit adultery, or any sexual act with someone besides one's own wife, is guilty of sin, then that is wrong. Because if something is a sin, there will be a specific penalty attached to that particular act. In the above case, the man had to make a blood sacrifice, because it was a sin for him. However, because the woman was a slave, even though she performed adultery willfully, it was not a sin for her. And those who believe that God considers all willful sexual acts, outside of one's marriage, sins, would be wrong. This is why it is so important not to assume a sexual act is a sin. Scripture must plainly tell us if it is a sin or not.
Here is a question for you. If a man desires to marry and spend the rest of his life with a woman, and he is not lusting after her sexually in any way whatsoever, but this woman is listed in Leviticus 18, would it be wrong to desire her? Yes, it would. Why? Because God prohibits having sex with these women. Now, would it be wrong to desire to marry an unmarried woman who is not listed in Leviticus 18? No, it would not.
Now, think about this. If the reason why we cannot desire a women in Leviticus 18 is because God prohibits having sex with them, then why is it we can desire a woman not mentioned in Leviticus 18? Can it be because God does not prohibit having sex with other types of women not mentioned in Leviticus 18?
Now, someone may say, But God prohibits sex before marriage with unmarried women! Where does God say sex before marriage is prohibited? Does God consider it a sin? Does God consider it unclean? If so, then how did someone cleanse their sin, and atone for it, in the Old Testament? Was their blood shed? Did they shed the blood of an animal? What offering was this animal shed under? If there was no sacrificing of blood to atone for that act in the Old Testament, how can the blood of Christ atone for this act in the New Testament? The sacrificing of blood for sins in the Old Testament were a shadow of the sacrificing of Christ's blood for sins in the New Testament.
Look how God tells people when they sin:
Ezekiel 22:11, "And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour's wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father's daughter."
All these above sins are listed in Leviticus 18. But no where do you see where God said, "And one has committed abomination by humbling an unmarried woman."
And think about this! If it is a sin to have sex with any woman who is not one's wife, why did God go into all this explicit detail about sexual relationships in Leviticus 18-20? God could have easily summed everything up in one sentence, instead of taking up chapter after chapter after chapter, by making this one, easy to understand, statement:
Whoever shall lie with any man, woman, or beast (except one's own spouse), has committed sin, and the penalty is
That one sentence would cover all of the sexual sins listed in Leviticus 18 and 20, and throughout the entire scripture. And it would also cover any sexual sins not mentioned in scripture. Why did God not say that? If it is a sin to have sex with any woman who is not one's wife, why did not God say that, instead of going into explicit detail of all these many different sexual acts?
The reason is clear. Because only those sexual acts that God said are a sin in His Word are a sin to Him. Therefore, since God does not say it a sin to lie with an unmarried woman, then God does not consider it a sin to lie with an unmarried woman (as long as she is not blood related). If it is a sin, why did God not tell us it is a sin? Why is there no penalty mentioned for this sin? Why is it not mentioned in the list of sexual sins?
Someone may object to Leviticus 18 being the chapter that lists all forbidden sexual acts, by saying, "But in this list of sexual sins, it does not prohibit a father or mother from sleeping with their son or daughter! Therefore, there are sexual sins that are not listed here, for it is obviously wrong for a man to sleep with his daughter (especially when Leviticus 18:10 says it is a sin to sleep with his daughter's daughter!)." Actually, it does say it is a sin to sleep with your son or daughter (Leviticus 18:7). First of all, the sins in Leviticus 18 work both ways. It takes two to have sex. For example, when Leviticus 20:17 prohibits a brother from having sex with his sister, it also prohibits the sister from having sex with her brother. Likewise, when Leviticus 18:7 prohibits a son from having sex with his mother, it also prohibits the mother from having sex with her son.
Dear reader, if you believe it is a sin for a man to have sex with an unmarried woman (who is not blood related), please fill in these blanks. They would be at risk of violating ________________ (insert verse), of which the penalty is _____________ (insert punishment) to both if carried out, and the penalty for this sin can be found at ________________ (insert verse).
Your Questions Answered
The scribes and Pharisees were the prosecutors and they brought her before Jesus to be the judge. They argued that Moses commanded that such a woman should be stoned. But they wanted to know how this new King Jesus would respond.
- Since there is no penalty if an unmarried man and an unmarried woman have sex together, what is preventing unmarried couples from having casual sex, and from having multiple sex partners before marriage?
Answer: Well, for the heathens, nothing is preventing this. However, for those who believe in the truth of God's Law, there is a preventive measure built into it.
Deuteronomy 22:28 and Exodus 22:16-17 was an exceedingly wise law, and must have operated powerfully against seduction and fornication; because the man who might feel inclined to take advantage of a young woman knew that he must marry her, nor had he authority ever to put her away by a bill of divorce. He must also pay a dowry, if her parents consented; and if her parents did not consent to their daughter marrying her seducer, he was obliged to give them the full dowry which could have been demanded had she still been a virgin. This consideration was a powerful curb on disorderly passions, and must tend greatly to render marriages respectable, and prevent couples from having sex casually. This law is still applicable today, and those men and women who do not marry after having sex are disobeying the Lord. However, they are not disobeying God by having sex before marriage, they are disobeying him by not getting married after having sex.
- Scripture says that a virgin is holy in both body and spirit (1 Corinthians 7:34). Therefore, it is God's Will that one be a virgin, and it would be a sin to not be a virgin before marriage.
Answer: Yes, a virgin is holy is God's eyes, and it is pleasing to God when a man and woman keep themselves pure, and remain virgins, until they are married. However, this does not mean it is a sin to do otherwise.
Just because something is "holy," it does not mean that when something is not holy, it's a sin. To be "holy" means to be dedicated to God. Here are some examples of things being "holy," yet these same things are not a "sin" when unholy.
Likewise, just because the state of a "virgin" is holy, it does not mean the state of a non-virgin is sinful. Especially if God does not say it is sinful, or have any penalties imposed upon someone once they become a non-virgin.
- When Moses stood before the Lord on Mount Sinai, God told Moses to take off his shoes because he was standing on "holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). Does that mean all other ground on the earth is sinful? Just because it's not holy? No.
- There are seven days in the week. The seventh day of the week is the Sabbath, and it is a "holy day" (Exodus 35:2). Does that mean the other six days of the week are sinful just because they are not "holy" or "dedicated"? No.
- The clothing that Aaron wore were "holy garments" (Exodus 28:2). Does that mean everybody else's garments are sinful just because it's not "holy"? No.
- If somebody uses something other than "holy anointing oil" (Exodus 30:25), does that mean they will sin if they use vegetable oil, olive oil, or other oils? No.
- If a bread is not "shewbread" (Matthew 12:4), or "hallowed bread" (1 Samuel 21:4), does that mean all other bread is sinful because it's not holy? No.
- If a man does not "sanctify his house to be holy unto the LORD" (Leviticus 27:14), does that mean every other house in the world which is not sanctified is sinful? No.
- You claim that thoughts cannot be a sin, only the act. But what about these verses?
- Didn't God say, in Genesis 4:7, when Cain was wroth, and was thinking about killing Abel, he was sinning?
Answer: No. When Cain's countenance fell, and was planning evil things, God said that sin was lying at the door. In other words, sin was about to enter.
Genesis 4:6-7, "And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door."And it did enter. In the next verse, Cain killed his brother Abel. When Cain was thinking about killing his brother, he was being tempted, and sin was close by. It wasn't until he actually killed his brother that it was considered sin.
- But doesn't James 4:17 say that he who "knows" to do good, but doesn't do it, to him it is sin?
Answer: Yes. But notice that it was not his thoughts that made it a sin, it was his lack of action.
James 4:17, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
If a man has an opportunity of saving a man's life when he is in danger, and does not do it, he is guilty of his death. It was not necessarily any sinful thoughts that caused this sin, it was his lack of action.
- What about Romans 14:23, "...for whatsoever is not of faith is sin"?
Answer: The context shows that Paul meant that whatever actions one does, without a full persuasion of its lawfulness, (see Romans 14:22) it is a sin to him; for he does it under a conviction that he may be wrong in so doing. Whatever a man cannot do with a clear conscience, believing it to be right, ought not to do it. If he in is doubtful whether they are right, he must not do them. This is speaking about acts.
- But if somebody does something against God's Will, is that not a sin?
Answer: No, not necessarily. It is true that all sins go against God's Will, yes; but not all things that go against God's Will are sinful. For example, God's Law says, "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together" (Deuteronomy 22:10). Now, what is the penalty mentioned in scripture if somebody goes against God's Will and plows with an ox and an ass together? Well, there is no penalty mentioned, which means there is no blood shed, which means it is not a sin. However, there are consequences.
A "yoke" is something fixed together on the neck of oxen for the purpose of binding them so that they might draw the plow. The reason God forbids an ox and an ass to be yoked together is because they would plow in different directions, and the farmer would not get much work done! But, not getting any work done because of this is not a penalty, it is a consequence.
This is also the reason why God commanded His people to be separate from unbelievers, and why Jesus commanded us to be yoked to Him (Matthew 11:29-30). If we do His will, He will guide our steps. If we do our own will, we will pull in different directions.
The One who created us knows what's best for us. He tells us what is best for us in His Word. But if we don't do what is best for us, it does not necessarily mean it is a sin to do so.
Another example; God's Law says, "When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof" (Deuteronomy 22:8). If you had a flat roof with access from the inside to the roof, and people will be spending time on the roof, God commanded that we put a railing around the roof. What is the penalty for failing to do this? Well, there is no penalty mentioned, which means there is no blood shed, which means it is not a sin. However, there are consequences. One of which may be that someone may fall off and be killed, in which case the one who failed to put the railing on the roof would suffer the consequences of manslaughter.
The command to put a railing on the roof is designed to prevent a wrong from happening, but it is not a sin if one disobeys this command. If somebody fell off a roof with no railing, the one in the wrong would be penalized, not for failing to put a railing around the roof, but for manslaughter. Likewise, the command to not lust after a married women is designed to prevent physical adultery from happening, but it is not a sin if one disobeys this command, at most it is only a temptation. If somebody slept with a neighbor's wife, he would be penalized, not for lusting after her, but for physical adultery.
There is a difference between a punishment and a consequence. For example, when my brother was 3 years old, he moved a chair over to an oven and stood on the chair. One of the burners were on and it was hot. His father was watching him, and had told him several times not to touch the burner, but my brother's curiosity was too strong. My brother stretched out his hand to touch the burner, but his father did not try to stop him this time. After he touched the burner, he withdrew his hand very rapidly because of the pain. His father looked at him and said, very slowly, "hot." My brother looked at him and repeated, "hot." From that moment on, my brother knew that if his father said, "hot," then he would get hurt. This was a learning experience for him.
Now, let me ask you this. Was it his father's will that he touch that burner? No, his father did not want his son to get burned. Did my brother sin by disobeying his father's will? No. When my brother got burned, was that a punishment for his disobedience? No. Was it a consequence? Yes.
Therefore, if we disobey our Father's Will, there will be consequences. But these consequences are not necessarily a punishment for sinning against him.
- But there is a penalty if a man has sex with an unmarried women, and that penalty is death (Genesis 34).
Answer: Let us examine this chapter in context. This chapter tells of Shechem (son of a prince) sleeping with Dinah (the daughter of Jacob and Leah), before marriage. He humbled her (verse 2). He loved her and spoke kindly to her (verse 3). He desired to marry her (verse 4). This is not a sexual pervert we are dealing with here. This is a man who has fallen in love with a woman and desires to take care of her for the rest of her life.
Remember, God's Law says that a man must marry a woman if he has sex with her (Exodus 22:16-17, Deuteronomy 22:28). So far, Shechem is willing to obey God's Law.
Hamor, the father of Shechem, communed with Dinah's family, and asked them their permission for Dinah to marry Shechem (verses 8-9), and even offered her family to dwell in their land, and to trade, and to be as brothers (verse 10). Shechem even asked Dinah's father and her brothers personally to find grace in their eyes, and whatever they shall say unto him he will give them (verse 11). He was willing to give dowry and gifts according to whatever they asked (verse 12).
So far, Shechem and Hamor have acted honestly, and they show every desire to establish friendly intercourse. He did not take her by force and rape her. He did not intend on marrying her without her family's permission. But he showed respect to her and her family by approaching them and fellowshipping with them.
However, Dinah's brothers were angry with Shechem (verse 7). Simeon and Levi answered Shechem and Hamor deceitfully (verse 13), and agreed to give Dinah to wife on the condition that they be circumcised, and every male in their city be circumcised (verses 14-15), and if they do this, both families will become one people (verse 16). However, Dinah's brothers also said if they did not get circumcised, then they will take Dinah and leave and she will not marry him (verse 17).
Shechem did not delay to get circumcised, because he had delight in Dinah (verse 19). Shechem and Hamor took Dinah's family to their city and communed together, and every male was circumcised according to their agreement (verses 20-24).
As we can see, there has been no evil intent on the part of Shechem or Hamor, and they were willing to do whatever it took to marry Dinah honorably, according to both God's Law and her family's wishes. No act was done to deserve a death penalty. Now, let us proceed.
On the third day, Simeon and Levi each took a sword and slew all the males in the city, including Shechem and Hamor (after a man is circumcized, he is very weak, so these men would not have been able to defend themselves), and took Dinah out of Shechem's house and went out. Then Simeon and Levi plundered the city, took their sheep, oxen, donkeys, and that which was in the city and field, and took all their wealth. They took all their children and their wives captive, and plundered all that was in the house (verses 25-29).
Dear reader, was this punishment just? Did Shechem deserve to die, when God's Law commands him to marry her? Let us go to scripture to see if what Simeon and Levi did was good or bad. Immediately after Simeon and Levi did these things, Jacob said:
Genesis 34:30, "And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house."
Jacob, their father, rebuked them! It was not Shechem that deserved the death penalty, now it was Judah and his family that deserved the death penalty for the evil Simeon and Levi committed. What else did Jacob have to say about his sons?
Genesis 49:5-7, "Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel."
You see, it was not Shechem who was in the wrong, it was Dinah's brother's who were in the wrong. Simeon and Levi did not kill Shechem because that was the penalty that God laid down; Simeon and Levi killed him because it was their self-will (not God's Will). Because of their anger (not God's anger). Because they were instruments of cruelty (not because they were instruments of God).
Therefore, this chapter does not condone the death penalty if a man sleeps with an unmarried woman; this chapter condemns the death penalty if a man sleeps with an unmarried woman!
The word humbled is rendered defiled in the King James Version, and most people believe Dinah was raped. This is Hebrew word #6031, and this word means humbled. It means to have sex. It does not have the meaning of rape, even though having sex can be rape (Deuteronomy 22:24, 2 Samuel 13:14,22,32, Lamentations 5:11). However, there is no hint in Genesis 34 that she was raped. Surely, Dinah would have put up resistance to marrying a rapist, but she does not. By comparing other verses, we can understand that humbling a woman usually involved marrying her.
Genesis 31:50, "If thou shalt afflict (humble word #6031) my daughters, or if thou shalt take other wives beside my daughters, no man is with us; see, God is witness betwixt me and thee." (Word #6031 had the meaning of taking his daughters as wives! This happens when a woman is humbled, or has sex).
Deuteronomy 21:13-14, " thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled (word #6031) her." Again, this is in reference to having sex with a woman for marriage.
Deuteronomy 22:28-29, "If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled (word #6031) her, he may not put her away all his days."
- What about Deuteronomy 22:20-21? If a man marries a woman, and finds out the woman is not a virgin (had sex before marriage), look at what happened to this woman. This passage plainly says that God considers a woman who has sex before marriage someone who has played the "whore." She was to be stoned to death. Therefore, God must consider it a serious crime for a woman to have willful sex before marriage.
Answer: This passage is taken out of context. First of all, the man was betrothed to a woman who was supposed to be a virgin. He paid the dowry price of a virgin to her father, and this was the agreement between the man and the woman's family. If a man consummated his marriage by having sex with her, and the man accused her of not being a virgin, according to their agreement, then they were to go to the judges and solve this matter. The parents of the woman were to show proof that their daughter was a virgin, according to their agreement. If they prove that she was indeed a virgin, then the husband would be chastised, and he would be fined a hundred shekels of silver, which would be given it to the father of the woman, because that man hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel (Deuteronomy 22:14-19).
However, if what the man said was true, and the woman was not a virgin, then this means the woman lied to this man. She bore false witness against him and God. Therefore, they were to bring this woman to the door of her father's house (since her parents partook of her lie) and stone her to death. Why such a serious penalty? Because, again, this marriage involved an oath which was not only made between the husband and wife, but it was made before God as well. Therefore, it was actually an act of blasphemy against God, which carried the penalty of stoning to death (Leviticus 24:16,23). Specifically, she broke God's third Commandments at Exodus 20:7, "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain," and God's ninth Commandment at Exodus 20:16, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour."
- Doesn't having sex with an unmarried woman fall into the category of those who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleaness (2 Peter 2:10) and the lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16)?
Answer: Notice that this lust of the flesh must be unclean. God tells us which lusts of the flesh are unclean in His Word. If something is unclean, it requires a blood sacrifice, because blood is used to clean that which is unclean (or, at the very least, it requires to be bathed in water). Where, in scripture, is a blood sacrifice required for having sex with an unmarried woman (or bathing in water)? The fact that God does not have a blood sacrifice for this act (or commands one to be bathed in water) shows that God does not consider that act unclean, because everything that's unclean requires blood to atone for it (or water). If there is no atonement for this act, how can one possibly repent of this act? If God does not say it is a sin, what right have we to say it is now a sin?
- What about 1 Corinthians 7:1. "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
Answer: The phrase not to touch a woman, was an idiom which meant, not to marry. Paul was saying that on account of the present distress, (verse 26) it was good not to have family ties. He goes into more detail about why it is good to not marry in verses 26-40, but this is only because of the persecutions and distress the Corinthians were presently going through. Paul was not forbidding to marry; Paul specifically said that his judgment about it being good not to marry was not a command from God, but was his own judgment (verse 25). Besides, Paul wrote elsewhere that forbidding to marry is a doctrine of devils (1 Timothy 4:1-3, Hebrews 13:4). Paul was not forbidding to marry, he was only saying that it was preferable not to do so because of the present distress the Corinthians were going through. But he also said, in 1 Corinthians 7:2, to go ahead and marry in order to avoid fornication.
- What about 1 Corinthians 7:2,9, Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn."
Answer: Okay. What does fornication mean? Does it mean to have sex with any woman who is not married? Let's see what kind of fornication Paul is talking about to the Corinthians. In context, the kind of fornication Paul is talking about is sleeping with a father's wife (1 Corinthians 5:1), and sleeping with a [married] whore (1 Corinthians 6:16-18). These are the two types of fornication that Paul is talking about to the Corinthians, because these are the types of acts that the Corinthians were doing at the time. Fornication is never defined, in scripture, as sleeping with an unmarried woman other than one who is not blood related. Never.
Elsewhere in the New Testament, fornication is defined as bowing down and serving other gods (1 Corinthians 10:8, referring to Numbers 25:1-9), and as homosexuality, like in Sodom and Gomorrah (Jude 1:7).
Each and every one of these sins can be traced back to the Old Testament. Sleeping with a father's wife (1 Corinthians 5:1) is specifically mentioned in Leviticus 18:8, and is considered adultery in God's eyes, and its penalty is mentioned in Leviticus 18:20, which is death to both. Bowing down and serving other gods (1 Corinthians 10:8) is mentioned in God's first and second commandments (Exodus 20:3-4), and its penalty is mentioned in Deuteronomy 13:5-10, which is death. Homosexuality (Jude 1:7) is mentioned in Leviticus 18:22, and its penalty in Leviticus 18:22, which is death to both.
Now, if fornication refers to a man sleeping with an unmarried woman, where are the corresponding verses in the Old Testament, and its penalty?
- But doesn't 1 Corinthians 7:9 say that if a man or woman cannot contain themselves, it is better to marry than to burn with passion and lust?
Answer: First of all, Paul made it clear that this statement is not a commandment from the Lord, it is not a commandment from himself, but Paul is expressing what he personally would like to see the Corinthians do (verse 6-7). The word "burn" here does not refer to burning with lust. Let us look at Adam Clarke's Commentary concerning 1 Corinthians, Chapter 7, Verse 9:
But if they cannot contain] If they find it inconvenient and uncomfortable to continue as widowers and widows, let them remarry.
It is better to marry than to burn.] Bishop Pearce translates the original thus: For it is better to marry than to be made uneasy. purousyai, says he, "signifies primarily to burn; but in a metaphorical sense, to be troubled, vexed, or made uneasy. So in 2 Corinthians 11:29: Who is offended and I burn not (i.e., and I am not troubled). So in Terence, Uro hominem, is I vex him." It would be well to soften the sense of this word in reference to the subject of which the apostle speaks. He cannot mean burning with lust, no more than Virgil means so when he says, AEn. iv. ver. 68: Uritur infelix Dido, the unfortunate Dido is tormented; and in Eccl. ii. 68: Me tamen urit amor, love torments me. All this may be said with the strictest truth in such cases where the impure fire referred to above has no existence.
- Can you explain 2 Corinthians 12:21, "And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed."
Answer: Remember, for something to be unclean, there must have been something done to cleanse the land. There was no shedding of blood for sleeping with an unmarried woman, and there was no other kind of task that was performed to cleanse the land for sleeping with an unmarried woman, therefore, it was not considered unclean, or a sin, by God. Fornication is not described as something that takes place between an unmarried man and unmarried woman, except with certain blood relatives.
- You claim that Jesus taught nothing new, and that Jesus did not change the penalty of adultery. But Jesus did change the penalty of adultery! He did not condemn a woman caught in the very act of adultery!
John 8:3-11, "And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
Answer: This passage clearly shows us that Jesus was following God's Law, not changing it. It would have been strange if Jesus, when he was not a judge (verse 15), and had not the witnesses before him to examine them (verse 10), nor a confession from the accused, and when she had not been tried and condemned by the law and legal judges, should have taken upon him to condemn her. This being the case, it appears why Jesus avoided giving an answer to the question of the scribes and Pharisees.
What took place in John 8 follows the Old Testament law on punishing adultery. A woman accused of adultery could not be stoned to death if:
- She did not confess her crime, or
- There were no witnesses (Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15), and
- There was no judge to pronounce sentence (Deuteronomy 19:17-21).
When Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee,” this is to be taken in the sense of judicial condemnation, or of passing sentence as a magistrate, for this was what they had arraigned her for in front of him. It was not to obtain his opinion about adultery, but to obtain the condemnation of the woman. As he claimed no authority to magistrate, he said that he did not exercise it, and should not condemn her to die.
This is proven by Jesus' statement a few verses later, when he said, "I judge no man" (John 8:15). Elsewhere, Jesus said, "who made me a judge or a divider over you?" (Luke 12:14). Jesus also said, "for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world" (John 12:47). Jesus was not a judge, so he could not pass judgment upon the woman. And even if he was a judge, God's Law prohibited him from passing judgment without any accusers or witnesses.
When Jesus said, "He that is without sin among you [He that is not guilty: his own conscience being the judge], let him [as a witness] first cast a stone at her" (verse 7), he was actually confirming God's Law, not changing it. Under the law, the witnesses were to cast the first stone (Deuteronomy 17:7-8). Jesus maintained and vindicated the law, but imposed a condition which they had overlooked. The one who executed the law must be free from the same crime, lest by stoning the woman he condemn himself as worthy of a like death.
This was in order that the witness might feel his responsibility in giving evidence, as he was also to be the executioner. Jesus therefore put them to the test. Without pronouncing on her case, he directed them, if any of them were innocent, to perform the office of executioner. This was said, evidently, well knowing their guilt, and well knowing that no one would dare to do it.
Jesus considered her act of adultery to be a sin, he did not change that. He told her, “Go, and sin no more.” In other words, Jesus basically told her, “You have sinned. You have been detected and accused. The sin is great. But I do not claim power to condemn you to die, and, as your accusers have left you, my direction to you is that you sin no more.”
Therefore, this passage teaches us:
1st. That Jesus claimed no authority to magistrate.
2nd. That he regarded the action of which they accused her as sin.
3rd. That he knew the hearts and lives of men.
4th. That men are often very zealous in accusing others of that of which they themselves are guilty. And,
5th. That Jesus was endowed with wonderful wisdom in meeting the devices of his enemies, and eluding their deep-laid plans to involve.
Verse six reveals their evil intent. They were tempting him, that they might accuse Him. Jesus stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground as if he had not heard them. Finally Jesus said, "He that is without sin among you, cast the first stone." Jesus was putting them on trial first. If they wanted to judge her, then they needed to be on trial first. The scribes and Pharisees must have been outraged. "Hey, she didn't pay the full penalty of the law." But, they left her alone because their lives were also in sin.
Jesus also knew full well that none of them could even pretend to be sinless with any degree of believability. In bringing the woman accused of adultery, they had all conspired to sin! A woman cannot be found in the act of adultery without also a man being found with her, yet no man was brought with the accused. Also, as far as the guilty are concerned, Moses' law says that "they" shall surely be put to death, not that "she" alone shall be put to death.
Conclusion to Matthew 5:27-28
Therefore, when Jesus said:
Matthew 5:28, "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
He was not saying it was a sin to lust after women, because lust, at most, is only a temptation, and only when temptations conceive into a physical act could it be considered a sin. Also, Jesus was referring only to married women in this passage because:
Therefore, since it is not a sin to have sex with all unmarried woman, it could not be a sin to think about having sex with all unmarried woman. Therefore, since the restriction on lusting after women only applies to married women, and the penalty of adultery only applies to married woman, Jesus could not possibly be saying that it is adultery in ones heart to lust after all women!
- An unmarried woman cannot cause a man to commit adultery.
- It is not a sin to have sex with all unmarried woman, as it is with all married women.
Dear reader, if you believe that there are sexual sins not mentioned in scripture, then we must change all these scriptural truths mentioned in this article:
If something is a sin against God, He will tell us it is a sin against Him in His Word, and won't leave any sin out. False.
In order for something to be considered a sin, there must be the shedding of blood to atone for that specific and particular sin. False.
If a sexual relationship requires the penalty of blood, then it is a sin against the Lord. If a sexual relationship requires no penalty of blood, then it is not a sin against the Lord. False.
Dear reader, if you believe Jesus was teaching it is a sin to lust after all women in Matthew 5:27-28, then we must also change all these other scriptural truths established in this article. Such as:
Temptations are not sins. When a lust has conceived into an act, only then can it be considered a sin. False.
Jesus taught nothing new! False.
Adultery can only takes place when the woman is married. False.
If a woman cannot cause you to commit adultery in the flesh (such as your own wife), then that woman certainly cannot cause you to commit adultery in your heart! False.
If an act is not a sin, then to think of that act is, likewise, not a sin. False.
All spiritual truth is represented by physical truth. False.
Even though it may not be a sin to have sex, in some cases, before marriage, nonetheless, both a godly woman and a godly man should keep themselves pure, and remain a virgin, until married. A virgin is holy in God's eyes (1 Corinthians 7:34), and it is pleasing to God when a women and man remain a virgin until married.
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