July 14, 2011
When mankind fell from grace at the beginning of creation of the world, God did not turn His back forever but found ways to help us return to Him -- one of the most substantial ways being His giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. Throughout time, man has struggled to follow these important rules especially in the modern world where faith and religion seem less important and not following the commandments is not seen as a big deal. While all the commandments are important, spiritual leaders say neglecting some of the rules causes deep-rooted problems that often can never be rectified.
Disobeying the seventh commandment found in Exodus 20:14 which reads: "You shall not commit adultery" is especially hazardous says a number of ministers of religion because moreso than most of the other commandments it puts in motion a social domino effect that many people will not fully comprehend for years to come as more and more of society crumbles in its wake.
"The 10 commandments were given to man for the protection of the greater good of mankind. He did not give the commandments to hurt or to hold you back from doing things that are pleasurable as many people may think. It is to assist man in living to the highest potential that God designed him to have," says Pastor Cranston Knowles, co-pastor of Abundant Life Bible Church. He says the relational commandment gives instruction as to the home and the marriage -- the foundation of society.
"God wanted us to understand that in order to have an orderly society it must be that when people decided to commit to marriage and become one there should be one man and one woman per lifetime and not one man and many women or vice versa. Now in our modern society we've looked at this commandment as being archaic since we have many people living together, no marriage in intimate relationships, and even in marriage there is this idea that sweethearting is okay. This is not okay because committing adultery is the disruption of the home. It is the beginning in the destruction of a marriage, the home and the society. Not adhering to it is at the core of the problems we face today socially."
Pastor Knowles says the seventh commandment was given specifically because when God made the foundations of the earth he made the family first, to ensure there was a solid foundation for all other factors of society to rest upon. Without this strong ground known as family, he says everything else as it regarded human relationships and developing society would not succeed.
The Abundant Life Church co-pastor says following the 10 commandments as closely as possible is important as God gave them to mankind to establish His standards of living. When the Jews originally received them through Moses it was because they had just left the lands of Egypt where for generations they were living among people who lived a very contradictory lifestyle compared to what God decreed was correct, so God wanted to purge the people of their temptations and correct them so they would live lives that were pleasing to Him.
"The thing about adultery is that the social repercussions of the seemingly solitary act creates rifts in society that go deep and hurt more people than just the persons involved. God's ideal world is where a man and woman come together with the intention of being with only one another so they can raise children in a safe and nurturing environment. If there are problems occurring on all sides ... infidelity here, children springing there, society breaks down. You deprive your family of security and faith in the institution of marriage and family life as well as leave outside children to be brought up in an unideal environment who in turn will have social consequences as well."
Adultery is not just a betrayal of a marriage, or a family, but of society and the future, says Pastor Timothy Stewart. "The purpose of this [seventh] commandment is for God to establish the fact that in an ordered society there is a specific structure that should be followed for the overall betterment of everyone."
Pastor Stewart says the prescribed format for family life is forming a strong marriage through preparation and that a reason for adultery, going outside your marriage to be fulfilled sometimes comes down to a lack of preparation.
"People should not get up one day and just decide to get married. There is a need to be prepared -- be it spiritually, financially, emotionally and physically. Get all these areas in the right place and then enter into marriage. This institution falls apart because people are not on the same page or are not ready to commit in ways expected of them. Marriage is the perfect template for the intimate relationship as it was something established by God for the perfect man and woman, in the perfect conditions before the fall of mankind. When done right, children can be raised and society established in the ways it should be. The proper familial traits and practices can be learnt and passed on to future generations. However, if there is a breakdown now and it is seen as acceptable then the family and all other standards become lost and the pillars of society crumbles."
The senior pastor at Bethel Baptist Church says finding sexual pleasure outside of marriage is not the only way to commit adultery as it can come in the form of emotional infidelity as well. And insists that the only way to combat this social problem is to be prepared for marriage and all it entails and always go to your spouse to find comfort and solve problems.
"Do your best to work things out instead of resorting to turning to someone outside your marital home for satisfaction," says Pastor Stewart. "Doing so betrays your children -- those within the marriage, and those outside who often cannot be claimed or even acknowledged by their fathers. It puts a strain on society as the family relies not on the intimate family structure but society and outside family to raise a child. The child is without the full comprehension of what a family is supposed to be like and how to form one on their own and will in turn bring up children in a similar way especially if there are no objections or social ostracism. The ripples from committing adultery spreads wide in society and this should not be happening for the sake of the well-being of the future generations."
Pastor Lyall Bethel, senior pastor of Grace Community Church, says marriage as God meant it to be is like a beautifully woven fabric made of all of a couple's hopes and dreams.
"When God made man, He made him for His purposes, but when you look at the seventh commandment it shows He also made man and woman one for another as well. God wanted man and woman to come together and find a connection, and in a sense, a kind of completion for the sake of raising children and having lifelong companionship. This was a relationship that would work ideally with one man and one woman and not many men and women. God knows that men will not know true joy until they can be committed to the right woman for them."
Pastor Bethel says always skirting this way and the next means you never settle down and have a sense of security and that the lifestyle was not what God meant for mankind.
"This does not mean it will all be easy and there will be no problems. There will be struggles and trials, but in choosing the right partner you will be able to face them and solve your problems. People make the error of thinking if they were with someone else it would be better but in reality there will be other problems you will face and other issues that will bring you down. So at the end of the day the most important thing is to work through your struggles with one another rather than look for relief or a way out elsewhere."
He says to ensure that a marriage will last, the couple should be getting married for the right reasons and that compatibility is essential. For people aiming to be married, the religious leader says proper pre-marriage classes are encouraged. He says not going through the process properly or knowing someone well enough is often the downfall of a marriage and ultimately leads to many issues such as adultery, the break down of the family and divorce, which could have been avoided with proper preparation and determination.
While adultery plays a big role in the break down of the Bahamian home not following the commandments as they were given to man by God with similar determination and perseverance, it is also leading to the overall breakdown and corruption of society, according to the ministers.
The 10 commandments as given by God are as follows:
o I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; do not have any other gods before Me.
o You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
o You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
o Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work; you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
o Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
o You shall not murder.
o You shall not commit adultery.
o You shall not steal.
o You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
o You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.
Over the next three weeks, The Nassau Guardian will engage a number of ministers of religion on the topic of the 10 Commandments, as they dissect each one and talk about the relevance of the commandments to the twenty-first century society.
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