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Allow me to explain (16 of 439)

April 4, 2011

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16. Is it wrong to commit adultery? Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18, Hebrews 13:4 vs. Numbers 31:18, Hosea 1:2, 3:1

I think quoting every scripture – even if it’s a simple repeat or hardly supports the argument – means one more red arch, and thus looks cooler.

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

Deuteronomy 5:18
‘You shall not commit adultery.’

Hebrews 13:4
Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Numbers 31:18
But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately.

Hosea 1:2
When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry, And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry, By departing from the Lord.”

Hosea 3:1
Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who isloved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.

So we can agree that the first three all say the same thing. Adultery is bad.

Numbers 31 is scraping the proverbial barrel a bit. Listed in this company it seems to imply that the virgins were being spared for sexual purposes with married men, but that’s not implied in the context of the scripture. In fact, when you consider the whole story, it’s absurd to think the virgins in Numbers 31 would be spared for purposes of adultery.

In Numbers 31, Israel’s armies are returning from battle with prisoners. The story starts in Numbers 25, when foreign women seduce the men of Israel into adultery and idolatry. Israel is punished via plague, and the guilty die. Israel goes to war against the nation that caused the trouble because, as we saw last time, the punishment for adultery is death. The men had died in the plague, so there was just the women left. When the armies come back with prisoners – the very people whose sin of adultery caused the plague in the first place – Moses is a little upset. He orders them killed, except the virgin girls because they’re clearly innocent.

It’s a bit ridiculous to think that after all of that, they’d hand over young, virgin girls to another batch of men to start the adultery all over again. They were more likely given as servants, and probably too young to be sexually tempting to anyone anyway.

Now Hosea.

Hosea married a prostitute at the direct command of God, but the whole point was that it was a horrible abomination. Hosea was an OT prophet, and they sometimes did odd things to make people to stop, pay attention, and think. They were the guerilla marketers of their day. Consider:

  • Isaiah walked around naked to demonstrate how Assyira would take Egypt and Ethiopia captive. (Isaiah 20)
  • Ezekiel built a model to portray how Jerusalem would be attacked, and then laid on his side one day for each year of their iniquity. (Ezekiel 4)
  • Elisha had King Joash shoot arrows into the ground when he came to him for advice about a battle. (2 Kings 13)

The news of Hosea – a known man of God – marrying a prostitute would have been big news. It got everyone’s attention, and he used it to show Israel how they had “cheated” on God. Hosea’s whole message is about how God’s people “played the harlot,” and left their God. Israel – and these days the Church – is often referred to as His “bride,” and it’s exactly because adultery is such a horrible sin, that it becomes a powerful analogy.

Short answer: Yes

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