What is the Truth about the Sixth Commandment, Marriage, and Divorce?

The Sixth Commandment

You shall not commit adultery.


1. What does this commandment forbid?

Mt.15:19  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, . . . adulteries, sexual immoralities, . . .

  1. Immoral thoughts, words, and deeds arise from the sinful nature.

Mt.5:28  . . . every one who looks at a woman to want her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

  1. This sixth commandment forbids immoral thoughts.  Sexual desires for someone other than one's spouse is adultery.  Modest dress can deter the immoral desires of others.

Eph.5:3  But let no illicit sexual intercourse and impurity, . . . even be named among you, as is fitting among saints, . . .

  1. This sixth commandment forbids anything that even suggests sexual immorality, including the use of pornography.

Eph.5:4  . . . nor filthiness and foolish talk or coarse jesting, which are not proper, . . .

  1. This sixth commandment forbids immoral, obscene profanity, talk, and jokes.

1 Thess.4:3  For this is the will of God – your sanctification, that you keep away from every kind of illicit sexual intercourse, . . .

  1. This sixth commandment forbids illicit sexual intercourse, such as premarital sex and extra-marital affairs.

1 Cor.6:15  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I then carry away the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? May it never be!

  1. This sixth commandment forbids prostitution.

Ro.1:24-27  Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their own bodies with one another, . . . For this reason God gave them over to shameful sexual passions; for as their women exchanged the natural relation for that which is against the natural order, so in the same way also the men having abandoned the natural function of the woman were inflamed with their lust for one another, men with men carrying out the indecent act and receiving as retribution the due penalty for their error.

  1. Only heterosexual relations are natural.  Homosexuality and lesbianism are unnatural perversions, which the Bible describes as sinfully inflamed desires and lusts, and degrading, indecent acts.  This sixth commandment forbids homosexuality and lesbianism.

Lev.18:22,23  You shall not lie with a male as lying with a woman; it is an abomination. And you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it. And a woman shall not stand before an animal to have intercourse with it; it is a perversion.

  1. Like homosexuality and lesbianism, bestiality is a sexual perversion, which this sixth commandment forbids.

Lev.18:6  No one shall approach any blood relative to uncover nakedness for intercourse; I am the Lord.

  1. Incest is another sexual perversion, which this sixth commandment forbids.
The Truth Is:

This sixth commandment forbids:
1. Immoral thoughts and sexual desires for someone other than one’s spouse.
2. Immoral, obscene profanity and jokes.
3. Immoral acts of all kinds: premarital sex, extra-marital affairs, male and female prostitution, and sexual perversions--homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, and incest.

2. What does this commandment demand?

Ro.13:13  Let us conduct ourselves decently as in the daytime, . . . not in sexual excesses and sensuality, . . .

  1. This sixth commandment demands that we behave decently, living morally pure lives in our thoughts, words, and actions.

1 Cor.6:18-20  Flee the illicit sexual intercourse. All other sins that a man commits are outside his body, but the one who takes part in illicit sexual intercourse sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not our own? For you have been bought for a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

  1. This sixth commandment demands that we glorify and honor God with our body by keeping ourselves sexually pure.
The Truth Is:

The sixth commandment demands:
1. We live morally pure lives in thought, word, and deed.
2. We glorify God by keeping ourselves chaste and pure.

3. What does God protect by the sixth commandment?

Heb.13:4  Let marriage be held in honor by all and the marriage-bed kept pure, for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

The Truth Is:

By this sixth commandment God protects the holy state of marriage.

4. What does God teach us about marriage?

Gen.2:22,24  Next the Lord God built a woman with the rib that he had taken from the man, and he brought her to the man. . . For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will cleave to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

  1. The Lord established marriage by marrying Adam and Eve.  Marriage is not an evolutionary institution of man.  Since the Lord established it, it is holy and God-pleasing.
  2. Marriage consists of one man and one woman.  Polygamy, as well as homosexual or gay marriages, sin against God’s will for marriage.
  3. The word “cleave” in the above verse teaches us that marriage is a life-long, permanent relationship on earth.
  4. The Lord said a husband and wife would become one flesh, which means they would engage in sexual intercourse.  The Lord established this sexual union to take place within marriage, which makes it a pure and holy union in his eyes.

Pro.18:22  He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And he obtains favor from the Lord.

  1. Marriage is pleasing to the Lord and has his blessing.

Mt.19:6  Consequently, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.

  1. Based on what God said in Genesis 2:24 above Jesus also taught in this verse that marriage is a life-long, permanent relationship, which is not to be broken by divorce for as long as the husband and wife live on the earth.

Gen.2:18  Then the Lord God said, “The man’s being alone is not good.”

  1. The first purpose and blessing of marriage is companionship.

Gen.1:28  And God blessed them, and God said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, . . .

  1. Another purpose and blessing of marriage is having children.

1 Cor.7:2  But because of acts of illicit sexual intercourse, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

  1. An additional purpose and blessing of marriage is to provide the husband and the wife with sexual happiness.  After the fall into sin marriage also serves the purpose of preventing sexual immorality.

Heb.13:4  Let marriage be held in honor by all and the marriage-bed kept pure, for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

  1. The sexual union in marriage is not sinful, but pure and holy.

Mal.2:14  Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has born witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt faithlessly, though she is your companion and the wife of your marriage covenant.

  1. A man’s and a woman’s mutual consent to marry establishes the marriage.
  2. The unconditional consent of a man and woman who are free to make such a commitment is binding, even before the public ceremony.  See Matthew 1:18-20 and 2 Samuel 3:14 also.

Ro.13:1  Let every person subject himself to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except it is by God, and those authorities which exist are established by God.

  1. Men and women must obey the government laws for establishing their marriage before living together.  This obedience honors God, preserves good social order, and eliminates public offense which arises when couples live together prior to a wedding ceremony.
The Truth Is:

1. God established marriage when he married Adam and Eve.
2. Marriage is a God-pleasing, holy relationship.
3. Marriage consists of one man and one woman.
4. Marriage is a life-long union which is not to be broken.
5. The purpose and blessings of marriage are companionship, sexual happiness, bearing children, and since the fall into sin the avoidance of sexual immorality.
6. A husband’s and wife’s sexual union is holy and pure to God who designed it.
7. A man’s and a woman’s mutual consent establish a marriage.
8. The state laws for establishing a marriage must be obeyed to honor God, maintain social order, and avoid public offense.
Note: Marriage is the mutual pledge of a man and a woman who are free to make such a commitment to live for life as husband and wife.

5. What does God teach us about the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives?

Eph.5:23  . . . the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, . . .

  1. The role of the husband is being the head of the wife and marriage to provide the necessary leadership.

Eph.5:25  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her, . . .

  1. The husbands’ role is a headship of self-sacrificial love, in which he puts his wife and her needs before himself.
  2. Just as Christ loves us imperfect, sinful members of his church, so husbands will love their wives even when they are imperfect and sin.

1 Pet.3:7 Husbands, in the same way live with your wives with understanding, showing respect as to a weaker vessel, the female, as also to a fellow-heir of the grace of life, so your prayers may not be hindered.

  1. Husbands will understand the nature, needs, and concerns of their wives.  They will treat their wives with respect, not being dictatorial, uncaring, disrespectful, or harsh to them.

Eph.5:22,24  Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord, . . . But as the church subjects itself to Christ, so likewise the wives are also to subject themselves to their husbands in everything.

  1. In their role wives will submit to, or as the Greek word means arrange themselves under, their husbands in everything and accept their husbands’ decisions.

Tit.2:3-5  . . . older women . . . may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, working at home, kind, subjecting themselves to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be slandered.

  1. Wives in their role will make it their priority to be a loving wife and mother and a good homemaker.

1 Pet.3:1-4  Wives, in the same way subject yourselves to your own husbands, that even if some are disobedient to the word, they may be won over without a word by the behavior of their wives, while they observe your chaste, respectful behavior. Let not your external adornment be that of braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry or dressing in fancy clothes, rather let your adornment be the hidden person of the heart with his imperishable quality of the gentle and quiet spirit, which is so valuable in the sight of God.

  1. As house servants are submissive with all respect to their masters, even the crooked, perverse, and dishonest ones, wives will be submissive to their husbands with all respect, even when their husbands’ behavior fails to be what it should be.
  2. Knowing that nagging and complaining will not win their husbands over, wives will win them over with their true beauty – their gentle and quiet spirits, and their Christian behavior.

1 Cor.13:4-7  Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, does not boast, is not conceited. Love does not behave disgracefully, does not seek things for itself, is not aroused to anger, does not take into account the wrong done. It does not rejoice in wickedness, but rejoices with the truth. It covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

  1. The Christian love of both the husband and the wife need to practice the virtues described in these verses, which will make their marriage a very blessed relationship.

Eph.4:26,27  BE ANGRY AND DO NOT SIN. Do not let the sun go down while you are angry, and do not give the devil an opportunity.

  1. Both husband and wife should put an end to their anger before day’s end by working out whatever caused their anger.  Anger should not be allowed to become a lingering resentment, which gives Satan the opportunity to kindle hatred, suspicion, and further strife.  Where cold resentment lingers, warm love cannot survive.  Resolved disagreements tie couples together; unresolved disagreements tear them apart.

1 Cor.7:3-5  Let the husband fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and in the same way also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And in the same way the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except by agreement for a time, in order that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

  1. Husbands and wives are obligated to fulfill each other sexually as an expression of their love.
  2. Depriving a spouse of sexual love is wrong.  When the husband and wife married each gave the right to his or her body over to the other.
  3. Enforced abstinence will tempt both partners to find sexual satisfaction elsewhere.
The Truth Is:

1. The husband is the head of the wife.  His headship is one of self-sacrificial love for his wife, in which he puts her before himself and provides the needed leadership for his family.  He will love his wife in spite of her imperfections or failures, respect her as the woman she is, and be considerate of her needs and concerns.
2. The wife will arrange herself under her husband and accept his leadership and decisions, loving and respecting him as he is.  She will busy herself with her responsibilities as a wife, mother, and a homemaker, letting her gentle, quiet spirit govern her behavior.
3. Husbands and wives should practice the virtues of love for the benefit of their marriage, resolve their problems and their anger before day’s end, and fulfill each other sexually as an expression of their love.

6. What does God teach us about divorce?

Mt.19:6  Consequently, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.

  1. God joined a husband and wife together in their marriage.  Therefore their marriage is not to be broken by divorce.

Ro.7:2  For the married woman is bound by the law to her husband while he is living. But if her husband should die, she is released from the law with regard to her husband.

  1. Marriage is a life-long union which only God can break through the death of either spouse.

1 Cor.7:39  A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband should die, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

  1. Remarriage is permitted after the death of one’s spouse.

Mt.19:9  But I (Jesus) say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for illicit sexual intercourse, and marries another woman commits adultery.

  1. The Greek word for divorce means to release, send away, or set free.  Anyone who does this to his spouse is guilty of committing adultery, of having broken faith with the spouse of his marital covenant, see Malachi 2:14, for his marriage is binding.
  2. Sexual immorality is an exception for divorce.  A couple’s marriage united them only to one another for life.  By joining himself to another, the adulterer breaks his marriage.  The divorce does not break the marriage but only declares it had been broken by the adultery.
  3. The innocent spouse has the option of reconciliation or divorce.  Reconciliation is encouraged to save the marriage, but this may not be possible for an innocent spouse.
  4. The sexual immorality that breaks a marriage may be a heterosexual, homosexual, or lesbian relationship, or prostitution, incest, or bestiality.  All are grounds for divorce.

Mt.5:32  But I (Jesus) on my part say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except for the matter of illicit sexual intercourse, makes her to be adulterated, and whoever marries a woman who was divorced is adulterated.

  1. Where there has been no sexual immorality, there are no grounds for a divorce.
  2. In this verse Jesus explained that the first husband committed adultery by breaking his marriage, which should have continued and is binding before God.  He forced the divorce upon his wife, making her a party to a divorce that should not have occurred and that she did not want.  She did not cause the divorce, which broke their marriage, but she is made to suffer it and the committing of the adultery by being involved in it.  The divorce led to her remarriage, a marriage which otherwise would not have occurred.  Both she and her second husband are caused to suffer a committing of adultery, or being looked on as adulterers.

Lk.16:18  Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman who has been divorced from her husband commits adultery.

  1. This describes the marriage-go-round of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.  All parties involved are guilty of adultery.

1 Cor.7:15  But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under marital bondage in such cases. God has called you to live in peace.

  1. Desertion breaks a marriage, for a marriage cannot consist of only one partner.  The innocent spouse is no longer bound by the marriage but can obtain a divorce to declare it was broken by the desertion.
  2. Obtaining a state divorce without having scriptural grounds is also a desertion of the marriage.  The deserter is an unbeliever and false Christian.

Pro.5:18-20  Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. A lovely hind and a beautiful doe – Let her breasts satiate you at all times. Be intoxicated with her love continually. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with an adulteress, And embrace the bosom of a strange woman?

  1. Instead of divorcing their spouses, husbands and wives should remain content and happy with the spouses they have.
The Truth Is:

1. Only God has the right to end a marriage, which he does through the death of a spouse.  A divorce which breaks a marriage is forbidden.
2. Sexual immorality of any kind is grounds for divorce, for it breaks a marriage.  An innocent spouse has the option of a divorce or reconciliation.  Divorce of a faithful spouse and remarriage is adultery.
3. Desertion breaks a marriage.  The innocent spouse may obtain a divorce to declare the marriage had been broken by the desertion.
4. Husbands and wives should remain content and happy with their spouses rather than divorce them.

Review Questions

1. What is the cause of people’s immorality?
2. Check the correct answers.  The sixth commandment is broken:

 a. By fornication.
 b. Every time a man or woman has a sexual desire.
 c. By sexual desire for someone who is not a spouse.
 d. By sexual jokes and profanity.
 e. By the perversions of homosexuality, lesbianism, incest, and bestiality.
 f. By prostitution.
 g. By the use of sexually explicit, pornographic materials.

3. How and when was marriage established?
4. Check the correct answer(s).  A marriage consists of:

 a. one man and any number of wives.
 b. one woman and any number of husbands.
 c. one man and one woman.
 d. two men or two women.

5. List the purposes and blessings of marriage.
6. When is a marriage established in the eyes of God?
7. What does the Bible say the husband’s headship consists of?
8. Explain how both the husband and the wife submit to, or arrange themselves under, one another.
9. When a working woman marries, what does she accept as her primary occupation?
10. Check the correct answers.  The aim of marriage is:

 a. To change your spouse so he or she becomes what is acceptable to you.
 b. To love and respect your spouse as the person he or she is.
 c. To accept your spouse as he or she is.
 d. To adjust yourself to your spouse.
 e. For two different people to blend themselves together into one homogeneous, harmonious unit.
 f. To change yourself and what you are to become what your spouse desires.
 g. To accentuate and concentrate on your differences.
 h. To cling to your individuality and pursue your personal aims in life.
 i. To base your decisions on what will be best for your marriage and spouse.
 j. To make your marriage the best it can be for your spouse.
 k. To obtain what you want from your marriage.

11. Which of the following are scriptural grounds for divorce.

 a. Habitual drunkenness
 b. Cruelty
 c. Desertion
 d. Incompatibility
 e. Insanity or an incurable illness
 f. Prolonged separation resulting from military duty or imprisonment
 g. Adultery

12. Check the correct answers.  Family decisions:

 a. May be made by the husband as he sees fit.
 b. Are best discussed and agreed on by both husband and wife.
 c. Are made by the wife.
 d. May be made at times by the husband even though his wife may not like them.
 e. Must always be agreeable to the wife.
 f. May be opposed by threatening to withhold sexual love from one’s spouse.