Lusting After Other's Wives is Adultery
Contrary to the new-age teaching that sexual orientations are separate and allowable, unlike sexual lifestyles (e.g. some claim they have a sexual orientation but aren't homosexuals), the Bible teaches that even desires are themselves sinful. Lusting in one's heart inappropriately after other's spouses is itself equivalent to sexual sin, or fornication. We are called to govern not only our bodies but our thoughts as well when it comes to sex, in other words. Nor was this a new commandment given by Jesus, it can be seen from the Old Testament as well.
|“||Matthew 5:27 ¶ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
Deuteronomy 5:21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.
The following sexual practices (and orientations) are clearly forbidden in the Bible and are sinful.
Probably the most criticized sexual practice, Biblically, is adultery. Again, just lusting in one's heart after another's spouse is equivalent to adultery. It was a serious enough crime to merit the death penalty in the Old Testament and indeed appears a rare crime that will be unlikely to get forgiven at the Final Judgment. Adultery is described as a soul-destroying action. (Proverbs 6:27-35)
|“||Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Leviticus 20:10 ¶ And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Deuteronomy 5:18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
Proverbs 6:27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
Incest is repeatedly and thoroughly condemned throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Incest is defined as seeing the nudity of one's father, mother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister, brother, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, stepbrother, stepsister, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandson, granddaughter, aunt, uncle, co-brother, or co-sister. Seeing the nudity of a mother and her daughter or granddaughter, or two sisters at once, was also forbidden (although it should be noted that simply marrying two sisters was not itself forbidden, as Jacob did with Rachel and Leah, rather the act of having them nude together was forbidden-compare Jeremiah 3:6-11).
An early case of incest was Reuben, Israel's firstborn, whose birthright was taken away and given to the righteous Joseph, so that Joseph was given two tribes instead of one (Ephraim and Manasseh for his two sons). John the Baptist was killed by Herod for condemning the wicked ruler's incest, and the apostle Paul demanded that the Corinthians stop allowing incest to occur in their churches.
|“||Leviticus 18:6 ¶ None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD.
7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
8 The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness.
9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
10 The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.
11 The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she is thy father's near kinswoman.
13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister: for she is thy mother's near kinswoman.
14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.
15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son's wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.
17 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness.
18 Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.
Deuteronomy 22:30 A man shall not take his father's wife, nor discover his father's skirt.
Deuteronomy 27:20 Cursed be he that lieth with his father's wife; because he uncovereth his father's skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Genesis 35:22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:
Mark 6:17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her.
1 Corinthians 5:1 ¶ 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.
Ezekiel 22:11 And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour's wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father's daughter.
Bestiality is repeatedly condemned in the Bible and bore a death penalty in the Old Testament. It was one of the practices of Canaanite nations so heinous that justified God destroying them. (Leviticus 18:24-25)
|“||Exodus 22:19 Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.
Leviticus 18:23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.
Leviticus 20:15 And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.
Deuteronomy 27:21 Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Controversial but Biblically Acceptable
As shocking as it may seem, polygamy is never once Biblically forbidden, indeed God Himself was compared to being in a polygamous relationship with Israel and Judah. Three different Old Testament prophets, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea compared God's relationship with the nations of Israel and Judah to a man married to two sisters who both commit adultery behind his back.
Biblically adultery is defined as lusting after the spouses of others. However, there is no Biblical limit on how many spouses one can have so long as there are no combinations where men are having sexual relationships with women that other men are having sexual relations with. Monogamy is a new, recent invention with no direct relationship to Biblical teaching.
|“||Jeremiah 3:6 ¶ The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.
11 And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
Ezekiel 23:1 ¶ The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Hosea 4:15 Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.
Numerous godly men in the Old Testament had multiple wives and were not criticized for doing so, including:
- Abraham: Married to Sarah, Hagar, and numerous concubines. (Genesis 25:6, 16:3)
- Jacob: Married to two sisters, Rachel and Leah, as well as Bilhah and Zilpah. (Genesis 30:1-26)
- David: Married to Bathsheba, Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacha, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah. He also had children from concubines as well. (1 Chronicles 3:1-9, 1 Samuel 25:44) While David was punished for gaining one wife through adultery, Bathsheba, he was never criticized for having multiple wives, and was called a man after God's own heart.
- Solomon: Married to 700 wives and 300 concubines. This number was undoubtedly excessive and reckless, as evidenced by Solomon's fall from grace-his pagan wives led his heart away from God, resulting in God's punishment. In pursuing so many wives he recklessly gained pagan wives who led his once-pure heart away from the Lord his God. (1 Kings 11:1-4)
- Hosea: Married two adulterous women who committed adultery behind his back. God used the prophet's life to show how Israel and Judah were treacherously treating God, like adulterous wives. (Hosea 1-4)
The closest the Bible comes to saying otherwise is declaring that church leaders, bishops and deacons, must be the "husband of one wife." For whatever reason, Paul repeatedly calls for church leaders to be married to a single wife, perhaps that they may avoid chaos in their personal lives to better lead the churches peacefully. Whatever the reason however, this command is never repeated concerning Christians in general.
|“||1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
1 Timothy 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
Titus 1:6 ¶ If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.