Adultery - RR130AH64
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Our Scripture this morning is 1st Corinthians 5, 1 Corinthians 5, and our subject: Adultery. 1 Corinthians 5.
“5 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” [00:02:42]
The approach of the humanist to scripture is to pervert
The approach of the humanist to scripture is to pervert it. And his general outlook is perverse in principle. The Bible is systematically misread by him. It is no wonder therefore that in this day and age when most of the interpreters of scripture in the pulpit and in the schools are humanist, that our ignorance of the Bible is so very great.
Let us note for example one very prominent writer who writes concerning the fall of man, and I quote: “To return to the snake when Adam is beguiled by Eve who had previously been told the truth by the serpent, the eyes of the (?) pair are opened, and they are as God’s knowing good and evil. They also learn that they are naked, and become for the first time sexually guilty. In other words, sexual intercourse is invented.”
Now of course there is not a hint of this or any grounds for this interpretation in scripture, and in this case as the rest of this man’s book makes clear, he is motivated by a radical dislike for scripture. This hatred has been there from the beginning. It has led through the centuries to a radical perversity on the part of the world as it treats Christianity. Almost anything the Christian has done has been offensive.
For example: when the early church moved into the Roman Empire, and began to make converts and create little communities of 10 or 20 here and there, one of their first offenses was their morality. Here were people who did not join in the general sexual immorality, the general tolerance of sex, and the general laxness in every sphere. And as a result the Romans saw the morality of the Christians as an offense, as a kind of implied criticism of themselves. And their attitude was: “So you think you are better than we are?” And so they became hated for their morality, and at one and the same time all kinds of stories were invented to make them seem unusually immoral. [00:05:46]
They supposedly practiced Cannibalism, they supposedly
They supposedly practiced Cannibalism, they supposedly, since they met in the evenings, Sunday evenings, Sunday in those days was a work day, met after dark so they could turn out the lights, or blow out the lights in those days, and practice promiscuous free love. Wife swapping and the like. These were the stories that were told about these Christians. And the reason for this hostility was precisely their morality.
The Biblical view with respect to sex is that only marital sex is legitimate and moral. I could cite at great length contemporary scholars as well as ancient ones who hold that this is an impossible and unhealthy view. The thesis again is very prominent that whatever man wants to do without hurting anyone else, is healthy and good for him. The Biblical law however is: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” This is stated in Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18, Leviticus 18:20. And Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22, and in many other passages.
Now we have to say then also that this commandment against adultery, and the death penalty for adultery which the Biblical law required, can be found in many cultures. In fact there is scarcely a culture which at some time has not had such a penalty. In fact, we could add further that in some cultures the penalty was a very savage and fearful one prior to the death sentence. It would be a violation of good taste to go into some of the laws which were prevalent in the Roman Empire, outside of it, and all over the world. Death was the easiest part of some of the penalties. [00:08:18]
But, these cultures had such a standard for the woman
But, these cultures had such a standard for the woman, not for the man. For example in China the death penalty for almost untold centuries from the earliest times we have record to within our lifetimes was death for the woman, without fail. A very ugly death. But for the man, it was impossible for him to commit adultery. And no child he ever begat was illegitimate. Any child he begat was immediately brought into the household, and his wife or wives had to adopt that child. It was impossible for him to offend, unless he offended another man who was more important than he was. Then it was between the two men. But as far as the law itself was concerned, he did not offend.
But Scripture makes the same requirement of men and women: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” And the only legitimate sexual relations are those of marriage.
Now to understand the Biblical law with respect to adultery and related offenses, we have to realize first of all that when the Israelites entered Canaan they were to wipe out the Canaanites and their cults. The Fertility cults of Canaan were cults that required, religiously, we will go into this at a later date, a variety of practices which included prostitution, homosexuality, adultery, bestiality, and the like. These were religions of revolution, or cults of chaos. I have dealt with them in my writing on the Religion of Revolution. [00:10:41]
Thus, Canaanite prostitutes were among those that were
Thus, Canaanite prostitutes were among those that were to be eliminated. Moreover the law specified that none of Hebrew origin were to be permitted either. This we find in Leviticus 19:29 and Deuteronomy 23:17.
All extramarital sexuality was condemned according to the law, and of course Proverbs is full of homilies on these laws. Proverbs 5 and 6 and 7 in particular. They condemn all kinds of extramarital sexuality, and adultery in particular. For example, at one point we read: ‘For a harlot seeks only for a loaf of bread, but another man’s wife stalks the priceless soul.’
Moreover the New Testament restates all these laws, and forbade all non-marital sexual intercourse, pre-marital and post-marital. And Christ forbade the thought leading to it. Biblical law thus was very clearly designed to create a familistic society.
Now, whatever is the foundation, the basic institution of the early society, anything that strikes at that institution always calls for the death penalty. Whenever the family has been the basic institution, treason to the family in every society in history has called for the death penalty. But where the family is bypassed or underrated, or destroyed, then the death penalty for adultery disappears. And usually since it is the state that replaces the family as the basic institution, then crimes against the state begin to draw the death penalty. Today even in those states with the United States, and in those states abroad, foreign countries that have abolished the death penalty, it is still on the books for crimes against the state. Opponents of the death penalty oppose the death penalty for crimes against persons. In other words, this means that not only the family but the individual in our modern society is no longer important. Therefore a crime against the family or a crime against the person of man is irrelevant, does not merit the death penalty; but a crime against the state still does. [00:13:53]
According to Biblical law, adultery is on the same
According to Biblical law, adultery is on the same level as the murder of an individual, it is an act of murder against the central institution of society, it is treason to the family. This was once the law of the western world, it is now virtually gone.
Why was the family so important, that every society; and here at this point we find that in every society at some time or another, adultery has been a capital offense. Why? The reason for this is very clear once we begin to analyze it. In a society where the family comes into its own, where the family is basic, the family is there the custodian of two of the most important things on earth: Children and property.
Children and property. Those things determine the future. The future of man depends on children and property, and the control of property. What strikes therefore at the family strikes at children and property, and therefore the future. But the minute the state takes over the children, as it has with public schools, and with an increasing variety of laws; and the minute the state begins to take over property, theft leading towards the socialization of property, the family ceases to have any importance. And adultery then becomes a question of private moral standards and private taste. And so it becomes a private option. If you like it, fine. If you don’t, so what? And laws against it begin to go by the board, as they have in this country.
As far back as 1948, which is a long time ago in terms of law today, because we had such a legal revolution, there was still conviction for adultery in Los Angeles. It seems almost absurd to talk about a conviction for adultery in Los Angeles this year. [00:16:49]
Why? Because the family has been eroded so extensively
Why? Because the family has been eroded so extensively by law, here and throughout the country, throughout the world. And because the families control of children and of property is so minimal now. Your first heir as we saw when we study the laws of inheritance is the state. Before you can take a penny from any estate, the state takes its share, under law the state today is the firstborn, the first heir. And as far back as the days of John Swett one of the superintendents of education, state superintendents in the state of California, the statement was made that the children are the children of the state. Therefore the family is irrelevant, and adultery is now a private matter.
Let us return to the Biblical law. Because in terms of Biblical law the family is the custodian of property and of children, the survival of society in Biblical law is the state in protecting the family. As a result a number of laws protected the family. Those that are related to the law against adultery, are the laws for example against rape. We find these in particular in Deuteronomy 22:23-29 and in Exodus 22:16-17. The penalty for the rape of a married woman or a betrothed or engaged woman is according to Biblical law death. The woman had to resist and to cry for help. If she did not, when help was near, her consent was assumed, and she died also for adultery, both were executed.
There was no death penalty for the seduction or rape of a young, un-betrothed girl. Why? In the former cases of an engaged or married woman the marriage was already contracted and the offense was against both the husband or prospective husband and the woman. In the case of the girl, either seduction or rape, the decision rested with the Father. If the young man were acceptable as a husband, and had been a young man of good record but had been carried away, he then could be accepted as a husband if the father gave his consent, without right of divorce, because, the law said: ‘He hath humbled her.’ If he were not acceptable, then he had to pay to her the dowry of a virgin, so that when she went into marriage later with another man, she went in with a double dowry as compensation for her damages. [00:20:41]
To understand the background of this law we need to
To understand the background of this law we need to remember that the Biblical law already envisaged a society in which incorrigible delinquents and incorrigible criminals were executed. This was the law. So that, the seducer or rapist was presumably not incorrigible although clearly guilty. If it were a married woman, he died. If it was an unmarried girl, he either became her husband under severe penalties, or paid a heavy dowry so that she went into marriage well-to-do.
Moreover the Biblical law protected married woman from abuse or slander by their husband. If he impugned her sexual morality, then if he failed to prove it, he was penalized and required to fulfill his duty as a husband to her, under severe penalties if he failed, and was fined as well a 100 sheckles of silver, payable to her father. He also lost the right to divorce, but if the charges were true, then she died.
Now the penalty for adultery as we have seen is in the Old Testament clearly death. What about the New Testament?
There is a common opinion that in the New Testament it was changed to divorce. In a sense, the death penalty is not bound thereafter, and divorce does enter in, but in another sense the penalty did not change. How shall we understand this?
Well, let us examine first of all the passage that is often brought up in this connection. The passage in John 8:1-11, where the woman taken in adultery is brought to Jesus, and Jesus at that point says: “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” And everybody leaves. And He says to the woman: “Woman, who are Thine accusers?” and she says: “No man, Lord.” and Jesus says: “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.” [00:23:37]
What is the significance of that passage? First of
What is the significance of that passage? First of all, we must realize that, the death penalty no longer existed in Israel at that time. They had in fact, by and large by-passed the entire law of Moses. But they wanted to put Jesus on the spot. If He said ‘No death penalty’, agreeing with them, then they could say: “You pretend to be the restorer of the law of Moses, you began with your Sermon on the Mount saying you had come to fulfill or to restore the law. But you are putting it aside!’ But if He said: ‘Death, she deserves to die.’ Then of course He would be very unpopular with the people because then as now adultery was very common place, and nobody thought too much about it.
Jesus on the other hand, refused to be made a judge of legal matters. This He had made clear on a previous estate, when a man came to Him asking Him to decide on a case of a contested estate with his brother. This appears in Luke 12:13-14. And Jesus refused to be drawn into legal affairs. He was concerned with proclaiming the word of God and the Law of God, not settling things as a local judge.
Second, our Lord made clear to the Pharisees who were present, who brought the girl, that a judge, to judge, must have clean hands. Or else he is disqualified from judging. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” And by sin He meant here adultery. Saint John tells us He knew what was in the hearts of man. He knew that these men, these leaders, judgers, members of the Sanhedrin, were themselves guilty of adultery. And so, frightened by His knowledge, not knowing what He might say if they opened their mouths, they quietly left. [00:26:20]
Our Lord’s principle is still sound
Our Lord’s principle is still sound. It has become a principle of Western law, although rarely enforced, one of the few cases in which it has been invoked of late was the (Abe-Porter?) case. It was also invoked with regard to justice Douglas, but has so far accomplished nothing. The judge must have clean hands, or else is disqualified from judging.
Then when the woman called Jesus Lord, He forgave her. She recognized in Him what the Pharisees, the members of the Sanhedrin refused to recognize. God’s messiah. He then forgave her and sent her away. But this forgiveness was religious forgiveness, not civil forgiveness. Because she came at that moment to faith in Him, He forgave her religiously. He did not interfere with any civil judgment, He simply told the judges: “You must have clean hands to judge.” He did not interfere with any action her husband might decide to take.
A murderer can be assured of religious forgiveness on repentance, and still be executed. We have a case of this in scripture in Joshua 7:19-26.
Thus this case does not set aside the law. The law had been set aside by men. This appears in Hebrews 13:4, where Saint Paul declares: “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled. But whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
In other words, God is going to judge them ultimately, because man today is refusing to judge them. The critical text for an understanding of what the New Testament teaches and how it concerns the Old Testament is in 1st Corinthians 5, our text. As the very first verse makes clear, we have here a case in the church of Corinth of a man living in fornication, and we won’t go into the meaning of the word fornication, a very much misunderstood word this morning, we shall next week. [00:29:29]
The man is guilty of fornication, which namely is committing
The man is guilty of fornication, which namely is committing adultery with his father’s wife. She is not spoken of as a widow, so his father is clearly alive, it is his second marriage, apparently a younger woman. According to Leviticus 18:18 this was incest as well. So that, on two accounts in terms of the Mosaic law, it called for the death penalty, as incest and as adultery. Saint Paul does not call it incest, although he makes it clear from the first verse this how it can be classified. The man is called, generally, a fornicator.
Now what is Saint Paul’s judgement? In the fifth verse he says that his judgement is: “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Now what is meant by this verse?
Very obviously, as even the liberal scholars admit, ‘the deliverance of such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh’ refers to the death penalty. The church could not enforce it, it did not have the power. The church could deal with the man if he repented, but as far as his life was concerned he was under the death penalty in the sight of God. He could repent, he could be restored to church membership, but as one who deserved death, the providential protection of God was withdrawn from him, and we was delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh. [00:31:40]
And this sentence passed on him that he might understand
And this sentence passed on him that he might understand the seriousness of his crime, and repent, “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”. The church had a duty to act. Purge out therefore the old leaven. Do not associate with him. “With such an one, no not to eat.” “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” Verses 6-13. The woman of course was not included in this judgement because she was obviously not a member.
Thus Saint Paul in this passage very clearly says that the church cannot execute, so there is no death penalty actually executed upon the man. But he deserves the death penalty, and in a sense while the church makes clear the opportunity for repentance, it must also make clear what God’s judgment is.
The church was thus given a realistic legal council for coping with the problem of capital offenses in a society which did not recognize them as such. A godly law order will restore the death penalty, but only when the family is once again the basic order of society. Not a meaningless or a political one. And today of course adultery is not important to society. It is important in the sigh of God, but not with society.
As a matter of fact, one university professor recently coming, incidentally, from a church owned university, has advocated adultery as a psychological cure-all for many of peoples personality problems. He is incidentally a professor of psychiatry. [00:33:57]
As early as 1929, on every prominent researcher found
As early as 1929, on every prominent researcher found that most cases of adultery involve a feeling of the persons involved, especially of the women, that if they did not commit adultery they were losing out. They were missing something in life. And this increasingly over the years has been the basic motive. It is carried out in the name of freedom as a perverse principle, not in pleasure; done to get something out of life that supposedly they will miss. And all the while of course the state has been encroaching on the families province, children and property.
So that today adultery increasingly is socially, although not religiously, irrelevant to modern society. But as we have seen in every social order where the family becomes central, and its control over property and children is restored, the death penalty for offenses against the family revives. The relationship between the centrality of an institution with social order and the death penalty is inescapable. Wherever an offense is treason against the society, there the capital penalty is imposed.
Having said this, we must then add, in a healthy society treason is a rare crime. In a Biblical law order, adultery is rare. In those periods of society where there has been a Godly law order, such an offense and other like offenses against eh family have been exceedingly rare. This has been the case in the past, it can and must be so again in the future. We are called by God to exercise dominion in his name, and to subdue the earth under God. If we do not, we then are plowed under with the ungodly.
Let us pray. Almighty God our heavenly Father, we thank Thee that by Thy grace Thou hast called us to be Thy people. Make us strong in Thy word, and in Thy law. That we may again reestablish a Godly law order in this country, and might know that in all things our responsibility is to serve Thee, to make manifest Thy purpose; in every area to exercise dominion and subdue the earth, to advance knowledge, to advance law and order, to advance Christian education; in every area to exercise dominion for thy names sake. Bless us to this purpose in Jesus name, amen. [00:37:51]
Are there any questions now, first of all with respect
Are there any questions now, first of all with respect to our lesson? Yes?
[Audience Member] …?...
[Rushdoony] Yes, the right of forgiveness is not a personal right. It is a religious matter, it concerns God. Since an offense is against God, any offense against law we can only forgive on Gods terms and in terms of Gods law. In certain offenses there must be repentance, in others restitution. As a result, forgiveness by us in terms other than Gods law is morally wrong.
Now, having said this, we have to realize this: there are times when in terms of the law today it is futile to attempt to bring about the restitution. Then we simply withhold forgiveness. In other words, we cannot be unrealistic in terms of what society is today, but neither can we forgive. If somebody commits an offense and we forgive him apart from God’s word, then we too are involved in the crime. We are guilty. Yes?
[Audience Member] …?...
[Audience Member] …?...
[Rushdoony] What was that latter part?
[Audience Member] …?...
[Audience Member] …?...
[Rushdoony] Yes, very well put. In terms of modern law, the crime is against the state. So that if you are robbed, there is no restitution to you, because it is a crime against the state, and the state deals with it as it sees fit. This is the law with which the Christian can’t have much to do, beyond a limited point, because the law is ridiculous, and it is ungodly. In terms of Biblical law, the crime is against you if you are robbed, and the state has the duty not only to refund what was robbed from you, but an equal amount as a penalty against the man.
But today every crime is against the state. And so in England for example, the prosecutor prosecutes for crimes against her majesty Queen Elizabeth. The state in other words. Her it is ‘The State of California vs. John Doe’. Even though you have been the offended party. You don’t enter in. So in effect in a crime, you are the person without any rights. The criminal has rights, that are protected by the Supreme Court today. The state protects its rights in any situation; but not you. You enter in as a witness to assist the state in its prosecution, but you don’t get anything out of it. [00:42:19]
[Audience Member] ...
[Audience Member] …?...
[Audience Member] …?...
[Rushdoony] Yes. This is why, although the Biblical law is restitution, and restitution was once the requirement throughout the United States because we were a Christian people, today as I have said on a previous occasion, restitution only exists in our law if you steal from the Federal government. Then you have to restore it. Yes?
[Audience Member] …?...
[Rushdoony] A very good point. You do create a disinterest in terms of law when the people no longer count under law. If it is a crime against the state rather than the person, people after a while cease to be concerned with goes on around them, because: ‘The law? Well, you will only get into trouble, you won’t get anything out of it.’ So a cynicism develops with respect to the law, it is no longer your law, God’s law given for your protection. So people lose interest. There is a general moral decline. Yes?
[Audience Member] …?... [00:44:38]
[Rushdoony] Except that the individual who has rights
[Rushdoony] Except that the individual who has rights today is not the innocent one, but the guilty one. And the kind of rights of the criminal that are exercised today are rights that give him almost immunity. If he says: “I did it” Before he is informed of his rights, he cannot be convicted. Because he has confessed and without a knowledge of his rights. And in a number of notorious cases, men who were obviously guilty, caught in the act, were set free when the kind of rights that supposedly they had in this situation are so difficult to define that even though I have read several books, as soon as I have finished the books concerning those supposed rights, it dissipates, I can’t recall the fine points. It is a protection of the guilty. You cannot give rights to somebody without taking them away from another person, if that somebody is a guilty person. And we were not convicting the guilty men before.
As I stated some time ago about 70% of the persons arrested, my figures may be wrong, are people who do not even bother to do anything but plead guilty. And all but 2% of the rest plead guilty later on because they are obviously guilty, to a lesser crime so there won’t be a long court process. The prosecution says: “Well, we will charge you with a lesser offense if you will plead guilty.” Yes?
[Audience Member] …?...
[Rushdoony] Yes, the state today is in law the Father. The father is the supporter of the family. He provides for their needs. The state now says: ‘As the Father we provide for all the children, all the women, everybody in the United States who has any need.’ So the state has taken over the role as the Father, and the state is the family. One last question, yes?
[Audience Member] …?...
[Rushdoony] Of course. It is a debasement. Well, our time is just about up, and there are a couple of things I would like to share with you, first of all to remind you of the Chalcedon seminar for college students this Saturday. If you know any college students or college age young people who would be interested, please come up and take one of the registration forms. This Saturday, from 9:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Then I would like to call your attention to an article in the August 1 1969 Forbes magazine, a business periodical. It is a long interview with Dr. Richard E (Hyacinth?) a PHD in psychology from the university of Chicago, who has taught at the Harvard Business school, and founded the Western Behavioral sciences institute at (Lahoya?). He is now vice president for sociological affairs and Dean of the School of Design at California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. [00:49:48]
He says that we have another major civil rights revolution
He says that we have another major civil rights revolution coming which may be the most violent we have yet had. This will be staged by women. I will read just in part, he says: “Women do the menial work in our society. 31% of those who work are secretaries or clerks, 15% waitresses or domestics, 14% factory workers, only 13% are in the professions, and most of them in such women’s work as school teaching and nursing. 60% of all women with bachelor degrees are house wives, only 2% of those earning over $10,000 a year are women. In 1969 you will find some blacks among the managers and executives but almost no women.”
And then he goes on to say: “I am not saying women feel oppressed, they are oppressed. People don’t feel oppressed until they have a vision of something better. Revolution comes when reforms are in motion as now with blacks and students.”
So he goes on to say that it will be a violent kind of thing, maybe with murder and bomb throwing, there is a great reservoir of rage in women just under the surface, as things get worse this could well turn into violence and so on.
Now, this sounds ridiculous, but it isn’t. After all we already have some women sufficiently worked up so that they are picketing the White House and various public buildings across country. And there are enough fools among women as among men, that they can generate this kind of revolutionary action when they are working for civil revolution. And of course this would be a revolution made to order, because as they see it: ‘it is going to be a revolution within every home, and isn’t that wonderful.’
So, this is what they are looking forward to. Well, to end things on a happier note, not too long ago there was a little comic strip in Blondie which I thought was very good. Dagwood is reading the paper, and he says: “It says here that wives secretly want their husbands to dominate them, is that true?” And Blondie answers: “Oh we don’t care if our husbands dominate us, just as long as they don’t start trying to tell us what to do.”
And with that we are adjourned. [00:52:50]