Something greater than our own wants

July 17, 2013

You shall not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14

We’ve gotten ridiculously good as humans at making excuses for certain kinds of harmful behaviors, and often tend to believe that if it makes us happy, then it can’t really be all that bad.  But the Ten Commandments remind us that our lives are meant to be about something greater than our own happiness.  And when the pursuit of our own happiness infects and impacts relationships, then we are going against God’s will for creation.

The prohibition against adultery calls us to a level of commitment that is not always easy, but that has at its heart an understanding of the depth of God’s love for creation.  It is a reminder that sometimes in a relationship things get difficult, and that there are powerful temptations in this world.  But it tells us that there is something greater than our own wants, desires and feelings.  True commitment calls us to transcend our base desires and live in faithful covenant with another, no matter what.  For many people, this is an extraordinarily difficult thing.

But this is not simply a prohibition. This commandment, while clear in what we are not to do, also has a positive side, which points to God’s very real, very loving concern for healthy relationships in all our lives. How we interact with others in relationship is not, ultimately, a private matter. It is a community matter.