Adultery and the Kingdom

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In the Old Testament, God promised to make a new covenant with his people in which he would write his law, not on tablets of stone, but on the tablets of their hearts (Jer 31.31-33). In Jesus, God came near. And in the sermon on the mount, Jesus began bringing the law near. He did so by chiseling away the accretions the Scribes and Pharisees had added which were obscuring and undermining the law and by reaquainting the people with what God had intended in the first place. These particular remarks about adultery, Jesus directs to men only, not because adultery only concerns men, but because the Scribes and Pharisees had not only reduced adultery to physical sexual infidelity in marriage, but had also made it quite easy for men to divorce their wives for most any fault, real or imagined. In contrast with this perverse picture, Jesus shows us that God expects a fierce fidelity by husbands toward their wives, a fierce fidelity that Jesus himself modeled in his single-hearted devotion to his bride, the Church. And behind this fierce fidelity is not a stoic God, but a God who promises us that at his right hand are pleasures forever more (Psalm 16.11). As G.K. Chesterton said, “No restriction on sex seem[s] so odd and unexpected as sex itself. . . . Keeping to one woman is a small price for so much as seeing one woman. . . . A man is a fool who complains that he cannot enter Eden by five gates at once.” (Orthodoxy.) I hope this sermon will help provoke you to wonder at the goodness and fierce fidelity of God toward us, and to pursue a deep gratitude and a fierce fidelity toward God and toward your own spouse. I hope you enjoy the sermon. Thanks for listening. –Alan Burrow

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