Paula and I continue to read and “discuss” on our blogs The Ten Commandments: Laws of the Heart by Joan Chittister and this week is my week and it is the sixth commandment –You shall not commit adultery. Great. I get the one about sex. But you know what—after reading this chapter I found out that it isn’t all about sex. (some may argue with that…) But read on, dear sister, and here is what I gleaned—I am looking forward to your comments also!
Obviously in the Hebrew scriptures there are zillions of references to adultery but what the author pointed out was that these violations were not violations of trust and intimacy but rather of violations of property law and inheritance. Marriages in Israel were not based on love as we define it. Wives and children were a measure of a man’s wealth and statue so if a man took another man’s wife in an intimate relationship it was as if he took that man’s “property”. Now that is a pretty difficult concept for me to wrap my head around because I have never been treated as “property” but I am sure there are many who have experienced that even in this day and age. Wives were owned. The definition the author gives of an adulterous woman was “a married woman who had sexual relations with any man, married or single, not her husband.” Sex was the woman’s sin. Hmmm. Seems unfair but it was the way that that society was set up.
But how do we look at this commandment today when our definitions have changed? Chittister suggests it is more of an issue of commitment. Marriage is one of the few things these days that is based on mutual trust. I loved her thoughts when she stated that “everything today is a movable feast”. This is my life! We move around, change states, towns, sometimes even countries and it is hard work to keep relationships alive and going. It takes time and commitment. How wonderful it is to say that I am able to continue relationships with high school friends, friends from Navy days and from all the places that we have lived! Not that it is always easy ( Facebook and the internet certainly help!!) but it is the way that we can retain some permanance in our lives amid the movement.
Chittester suggests that we do not normally marry for property or clans these days but instead we marry because of the need for human intimacy . We long for someone to share our lives with . It takes work. A lot of work. Don’t be fooled. It isn’t always easy to love the guy whose elbow ends up in your face in the middle of the night and wakes you up! But it is soooooo worth it !!!
So perhaps what I got from this chapter is best summed up with this: This commandment tells us to truly care about others, not just give the lip service. Go out of our way to make them know that they are important to us–not property or something to be just taken for granted. Relationships are an investment of time and self. It doesn’t always come easy. Let’s face it—we are not always easy to love. But at the end of the day–what is it all about??? Love.
“Marriage should be a duet—when one sings, the other claps.” Joe Murray