This command is one of those regarded as among the most obvious, the easiest to understand, and the most reasonable to expect everyone to obey.
The problem, however, lies with the meaning of the word ‘adultery.’ People nowadays define adultery as any act of sexual intercourse outside of marriage or sexual intercourse between a married person and another person not their spouse.
What is the difference between adultery and fornication?
Adultery according to scriptural references is when two people have sex whom aren’t married to each other. More specifically when either one person is married and the other is not, or when both are married to other people and have sex.
Fornication occurs when you have sex with a person and you have no intention of being with forever (one-night stands, flings etc.). This is how Abraham or any other patriarch was able to be married to one woman and then acquire a 2nd or 3rd wife, and then also to have concubines, and yet God testified that Abraham kept the commandments. “And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Genesis 26:5).
Now to better understand Adultery and Fornication we should look to the scripture to define marriage. The criterion for a ‘legal marriage’ in the USA in 2009 is not the same as being married in the eyes of God. Before the United States was a nation men and women were married. When we look at scripture we find that it is not a piece of gold (wedding ring),
“When a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to a woman and the two become one flesh is when you are married BIBLICALLY! Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:24-25).
A woman became a man’s wife when the man ‘knew’ the woman. (Gen.4:17) In most civilizations including Israel, an inability or an intention to refuse to consummate the marriage, even after the initial ceremony are probable grounds for an annulment.
LET IT BE KNOWN: A common misunderstanding about Jesus is that he somehow changed the laws by which people of God should govern their lives. Take for instance the woman caught in adultery, dragged thru the street and thrown at the feet of Jesus. “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? …Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not… 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 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? …Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:1-11).
“If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbor’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 22:22-30).
This woman’s accusers caught her ‘in the very act,’ however somehow the man that she was caught with was not apprehended to share in the punishment as he shared in the misdeed. If the man ‘got away’ then they should have let the woman get away with a warning… Definitely not the full penalty, as the scripture says BOTH should suffer the penalty. Jesus didn’t change the law, which is why he told her go and sin no more!
Lastly: Many have argued that adultery should include lustful thoughts. The first to argue this was of course the Messiah.
“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. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:27-29).
Sinful acts always start with impure thoughts, and therefore to stop sinful acts we must pay more attention to the impure thoughts. Why? Because if you think about doing something (or in this case fantasize) long enough, sooner or later you will find a way to accomplish it. But if you can stop it in your mind, you will never have opportunity to act it out.