As I read this section about sexual immorality, what struck me was how very important chastity is to the Lord. He created a woman so that her virginity can be proven, so that when it is broken blood spills. When that blood is spilled a covenant is formed or broken, a union is formed or destroyed.
Sexual sin may be taken quite lightly today and for several centuries now, but The Lord considers sexual sin very seriously because it is sin against the body and the Body and because it perverts the picture of our unity with Him. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 reads,
All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Verses 13-21 read,
If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her 14 and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, ‘I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,’ 15 then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate. 16 And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her; 17 and behold, he has accused her of misconduct, saying, “I did not find in your daughter evidence of virginity.” And yet this is the evidence of my daughter's virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloak before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days. 20 But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father's house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
There are two possible crimes in this passage. The man who falsely accuses his bride of not being a virgin and the bride who comes to the marriage without her virginity. Notice that her virginity is so serious that her parents are actually the ones who guard it, who collect the sheets or clothes with the blood which proves her innocence. We must do that today for our children, both physical and spiritual. Their righteousness is just as important to us as our own. We teach them, we guide them, and we guard them. Young Christians may be easily tempted, just as children are. We take note of the fruit of their lives, we collect the evidence that proves their faith.
If the man falsely accused her, the punishment was on him. He had to pay for the dishonor he brought to the honored woman and they were forever married, he gave up any rights to divorce her. If the bride’s virginity could not be proven, because she was not, then the punishment was on her because she had brought dishonor to Israel and her father. She was killed for whoring. The Lord wanted Israel to be pure, honored, and different from other nations. He wants us, His bride to be pure, honored and different from the world.
A man and woman are supposed to cherish their virginity until they give it to their spouse when united in marriage. Our purity is something to be treasured. The Lord treasures our purity, our righteousness, even though He is the one who made us righteous. We hold onto it, we guard it until the day He comes for us, His bride and we unite with forever. If we take our purity lightly, accuse one another of wrong doing, or ourselves treat righteousness as cheap and live like the world, we cause disunity and dishonor the church, the Bride of Christ.
Verse 22 describes adultery.
If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.
God hates adultery. It is a symbol of idolatry. His love for us is passionate. He describes Himself as Jealous. It is not with the bad connotation we give it, it is a pure and perfect love that knows where our adultery will lead us. He has no reason to have faith in us, we have all the reason in the world to have faith in Him. He is not guessing we might sin, He knows when we sin, He sees what we do in private, He sees our future, and forgets our past. Adultery deserves death because idolatry leads to death.
Verses 23-24 describe another sort of adultery.
If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
She was not yet married, but promised to someone else, she willingly gave up what she should have given to her husband to another. This man eagerly took it from her. Even though she was betrothed and not actually married, she is still considered the wife of her promised husband. We are promised to Christ, we are His betrothed. God is called our Husband though the wedding feast has not yet taken place. To give ourselves over to idolatry is to commit adultery. Idolatry can take the form of many kinds of sin. We can worship money, fame, acceptance, pleasure, food, and ourselves.
We are not always willing participants in sin. Sometimes evil acts are done to us. Sometimes false prophets, false teachers, and other liars come into the church and try and pervert it. We cannot let that happen. We have to protect the truth and guard our hearts. Verses 25-29 describe two kinds of rape.
“But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor,27 because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.
28 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.”
The rape of the betrothed woman represents the Christian who is sinned against in this most vile of ways. God says rape is the same as murder and the punishment should be the same. She cried for help but no one rescued her. Had someone heard her it would have been his duty to help her and rescue her from the scenario. We have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters. God will always rescue us, but there are times when evil is committed against us anyway. He does not sanction the sin, but He uses it for our good. He will avenge us, the rapist, murderer, liar, and thief will pay.
The second rape represents the woman who is not a Christian. She is taken against her will, but both she and the man have the opportunity for redemption. They are redeemed and their union is forever, there is no way the man may ever divorce her.
The last verse talks about a horrific sin, a sin that even the world recognizes as despicable. Verse 30 reads,
A man shall not take his father's wife, so that he does not uncover his father's nakedness.
Incest, there are not many people on this earth, even those who practice it that would approve a man and his mother or any other form of incest. Even a man and his stepmother is beyond the limits of any kind of morality. It is more than dishonor to put yourself in your Father’s place, to exalt yourself to god. It is the worst kind of adultery and idolatry.
Our genitals, our nakedness are body parts that perform the lowest functions and the highest functions. They remove waste and they are the vehicles of creating life. We give them honor by covering them. To uncover our father’s nakedness, to commit incest is something that destroys bloodlines. The life that might be created out of this situation is a life that forever bears the mark of disgrace.
God cherishes your righteousness. Do you? He cherishes your purity. Do you? Believer I urge you to guard your heart the way God does and to guard the hearts of your brothers and sisters the way He does. We are the Bride of Christ! That is an honor and joy to be taken seriously.