Assimilation: The State and the Seventh Commandment

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Exodus 20: 14 says, “You shall not commit adultery.”

Although the State does not actively promote adultery among the citizens of the country, it is still the case that the refusal of the State to administer the God ordained sanctions against adultery has cultivated an environment in which the practice of adultery is winked at and deemed to be an amoral activity that takes place between consenting adults.

God’s opinion on the matter is simple. The adulterer is subject to the death penalty for his actions and it is the duty of the State to enforce the punishment, at the behest of the injured party. The State’s opinion on the matter is simple. Cases of adultery are matters for divorce attorneys in civil court. The idea that there would be any criminal sanction, especially the death penalty, for the act of adultery is deemed incomprehensible.

It is not any surprise that adultery is at epidemic levels in American society. With little or no negative consequences for the act, why should we expect people to exercise self-control and remain true to their marriage vows? Even in the Church, the widespread belief that adultery is the by-product of a person suffering from a “sexual addiction” and that there should be nothing but “no-fault” divorces, has created a climate in which the rate of adultery matches that of the world.

The Church has adopted the State’s position on divorce as being “no-fault”. No-fault divorce was initiated in the State in order to streamline the huge number of cases in divorce court. The secular State determined that it would be more expedient to process cases of divorce if there were no need to prove fault. It takes time and energy to prove fault and the civil courts wanted to speed things along. The problem with this view is that the determination of fault is what determines the rest of the divorce settlement. Without a determination of fault it is impossible to make an award to an injured, innocent party to the divorce. Without a determination of fault, it is impossible to award child custody. Sadly, the church courts also rarely attempt to determine fault, they rarely even put a case of divorce on the docket.

The positive counterpart to this commandment is that both the Church and the State should promote fidelity in marriage. A divorce should not be easy to obtain. A divorce should not be granted under no-fault terms. A divorce should assign moral culpability for the divorce to at least one, and perhaps both, of the parties involved. The State refuses to do this and, for the most part, so does the Church.

Except in high profile cases where it is politically expedient for the elders of the church to bring discipline against the parties to a divorce, it is rarely the case that divorces between Christians are prosecuted in the church courts. This is very strange indeed. Christians seek to be married in the church. Christians realize that marriage initiates the covenantal unit of the family. Christians realize that the family is a God ordained institution and that it should be done in the church. But, because of assimilation, Christians believe that when it comes time to declare the marriage covenant to be void by means of a decree of divorce, that is the duty of the civil courts. The no-fault provisions of the State no doubt make it easier for the divorcing parties to obtain their divorce. However, no Christian should ever prosecute a divorce in the civil courts prior to prosecuting the divorce in the church court. It is the sworn duty of a Christian who is seeking a divorce to make the case for the divorce in the church court. It is the sworn duty of an elder in the church court to render a judicial decision, based upon God’s law, with respect to the innocence or guilt of each party. In fact, it is the duty of the church court to tend to all matters in the divorce, from the property settlement to custody of children.

It is probably a bit of a reach to argue that this commandment is broken on a regular basis by the State because the State is a conceptual entity that, by definition, is unable to commit adultery. However, the fact that former President Bill Clinton was able to be a self-confessed adulterer with absolutely no legal or political ramifications certainly does support the conclusion that the State at least is in collusion with adulterers. The long list of politicians who have been discovered to be adulterers with no negative consequences is the best testimony that the State really does not care about this commandment. Since the commandment does have the positive counterpoint of requiring the protection of the sanctity of marriage and the protection of the injured party in adultery, it is not a reach to assert that the State violates this commandment on a regular basis.

Even worse is the fact that the Church has had little to say about this issue. Christians are up in arms about school prayer and symbols of the Ten Commandments in the public square, but have little to say about the support engendered by the State for adulterous behavior that is endemic in our legal system. Ignorance, blindness, laziness and an unwillingness to examine the State critically have all brought about this state of assimilation.

It is not a reach to assert that the responsibility of the State to enforce the positive side of this commandment is an example of a regular, public violation of the prohibition against adultery. The State is to protect the sanctity of marriage. One of the means by which this is done is by prohibiting perversions of the marital relationship. Hence, the State should have sanctions against sexual perversions like incest, bestiality, and homosexuality (Leviticus 18). What we have witnessed instead, is more and more individual states in the United States are adopting laws that establish the state constitutional validity of homosexual “marital” unions. This is a direct violation of the commandment.

Christians are correctly outraged by this behavior by the State. Unfortunately, Christians do not know how to respond to this immorality. The usual response is to call for the State to assert that the covenantal unit of the family consists only of a male and a female who promise life long fidelity. While it is true that the family is defined in this way, it is not true that the State is able to declare the legal conditions of the family by legislative fiat. It is God who has defined the family covenantal unit. The State is to recognize what God has done, not step in and create a unit of its own.

Christians become confused over this issue because they do not realize that homosexuality is not primarily a sin that will lead to punishment but, rather, it is the punishment for a previously committed sin. This is made clear in Romans 1: 18-32 which says, in part:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened…. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity…for this reason God gave them over to degrading passions…. the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire towards one another.

This passage makes it clear that, although homosexual behavior is a sin that deserves the punishment of death, homosexuality is the punishment for the failure to acknowledge the living and true God. Because men suppress their innate knowledge of the living God, God has seen fit to punish them for that act of suppression by endowing them with the curse of homosexuality.

This all has great significance with respect of the strategy to be used in confronting the State as it breaks the Seventh Commandment. It is a misdirection of action to tell the State to initiate a constitutional amendment that defines the parties of the family covenantal unit. The fact that the State has endorsed homosexual unions is clear biblical proof that the State is under the judgment of God. What the Church needs to do at this point is not enact new legislation but command the State to repent of the sin of not honoring the true and living God.

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