“You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14 (Big Ten Series)
In my early 20’s I went through a divorce that began with a breech of trust. My wife at the time was supposed to be at work, but when I stopped by to surprise her with dinner and her car wasn’t there, and her coworkers told me she wasn’t scheduled I was beyond hurt. As luck would have it, on my solemn car ride home, I spotted her car outside of a bar… and I knew I would never be able to trust her again.
She didn’t actually, to my knowledge, “commit adultery,” but the lie, the deception, the breaking of that trust hurt more than I can express in words. It literally took me a couple of years to recover from that pain. I know some of you have experienced this as well.
The command against committing adultery goes beyond questions of physical intimacy. It is a command against hurting the people we are closest to by breaking our covenant promises. It is about working to not cause pain or harm to those we profess to love, because it is specifically the betrayal of a loved one that damages us the most.
Once you get past the first few commandments on the list, a pattern begins to emerge that is unmistakable. The commandments become about our attitude and actions towards other human beings. Honoring our parents, not killing people, and keeping our covenant relationships cover a wide spectrum but all say the same thing in the end: Do not hurt people. Do not hurt your parents. Don’t hurt friends or strangers, and do not hurt the ones closest to you.
Ruben Job wrote the book “Three Simple Rules” several years ago. It is about the three rules for living into our Wesleyan/Christian values. The very first rule is DO NO HARM. When we break a covenant, like marriage, we do immense harm. We destroy someone’s trust, and that destruction goes beyond trusting the one who broke it again.
When my ex broke my trust, she didn’t just break the trust between her and me. Knowing I had so wrongly placed my trust in her, I began to doubt the trust I had put in others, including the trust I had in myself. Rebuilding all of that trust took a lot of time, a lot of hard work, and a whole lot of pain.
As we start down the back half of the ten commandments, keep in mind that what God is most concerned about when it comes to sin is not that we might offend or hurt God, but that we will hurt others. When we hurt others, when we mistreat others, it is then that we do the most damage to our relationship with God.
So be kind to each other. Work hard to keep your covenants and the trust you have established. It can be difficult at times, but not nearly as difficult as repairing the damage of broken trust.
Grace and peace,