Series 9 - Comparisons Between Islam and Christianity
The Ten Commandments
IX. Seventh Commandment: Do Not Commit Adultery
1. The Institution and Purpose of Marriage
2. Permanence of Marriage
3. The Suffering Caused by Adultery
4. A Jesus-Enhanced Marriage
5. Marriage in the New Testament
6. Marriage from a Muslim Stand-point
7. A Call for Repentance
“You shall not commit adultery.“ Exodus 20:14
1. The Institution and Purpose of Marriage
God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him. He created them male and female. He has chosen both to reflect His image. Both were on the same spiritual level. Man's and woman's relationship to God is the secret of their esteem and dignity.
God created one woman for one man. Notice that He did not create two, three or four wives for Him. God is the third person in the right matrimonial covenant. He grants both partners one mind, one goal, corrects both and makes them equal spiritually. He guides them to a sacrificial life in which His love is the bond of perfection. He who loves God can love his life partner. The Lord, in His grace, binds two selfish people together, intending that both will overcome their selfishness by the power of His gentleness.
God created woman out of man, not vice versa. A Jewish rabbi explains that the Creator did not take the rib out of man's head lest woman should have authority over him, nor did He take it out of man's foot lest he should tread on her. He took it out of his side so that she may stand by his side, help him, perfect him and share his burdens.
Before man's fall into sin, woman's name was isha, the feminine Hebrew form of ish, a man, where the -a is only a feminine Semitic ending found in both Arabic and Hebrew. She corresponded equally to man in everything and in all her rights. No wonder a man would leave his father and mother, God says, and cling to his wife, not vice versa. Many should repent and let a young husband leave his family in order to live in peace with his wife. Both must form an independent family and spend their lives together in the presence of God, forming a solid unity of spirit, soul and body. Sexual love and desire are good gifts from God to preserve the reverent marital relationship with the intention of having children by the grace of God. Never did God regard sexual love in marriage as unclean or impure, but blessed and holy as long as man lives before God and is faithful to his one partner.
2. Permanence of Marriage
Marriage was distorted as soon as both partners strayed away from their fellowship with God. Man's fall into sin started in his own spirit and soul, not in his body. Man was infected by the pride of the evil one. Woman and man wanted to be like God. This temptation started in man's mind and will and resulted in the great penalty which distorted all aspects of life. Woman was subjected to man and could no longer understand how to deal with life in the world by herself. Then woman had to give birth to children through much pain while man had to work hard in the thorny fields under difficult circumstances. Death has since become the wages of sin.
Man's fall into sin has affected marriage radically, but monogamy continued to exist after man's rebellion against God. Unfortunately, men in the Old Testament began to take several wives, which gave them serious problems. They also brought great misery upon their offspring by not obeying God in practicing monogamy. In Ishmael, Abraham's firstborn, whom Islam considers to be the father of all Arabs and Muslims, we see the classic example of prolonged misery that stems from the disobedience of Abraham, the man of God. It is no secret that wars waging between the descendants of both brothers from one father shake the Near East right up to the present day.
Jacob had children by his favorite wife Rachel, with his first wife Leah and later even with his concubines. David became a killer after falling in love with a married woman, but he repented sincerely. Many sin like David, but few repent like him! We all should memorize Psalm 51 and imitate the real repentance of this man of God. The wise Solomon acted foolishly and unwisely when he married hundreds of pagan wives and allowed them to introduce their foreign gods to his nation. These idols caused his people to backslide from the faithful God.
Polygamy has not been abolished even until today in Israel. Jews who emigrated from Arab countries can keep all their wives. Divorce and remarriage is legal if the first wife does not give birth to sons.
Although God tolerated polygamy in the Old Testament and somehow let the transgressors suffer the consequences of their sins, He decreed that the adulterer and adulteress be stoned to death (Leviticus 20:10-16; Deuteronomy 22:22-26). We cannot but shiver as we read the list of penalties in the law of Moses for the different forms of adultery that are still committed today, privately and publicly. Even within families and clans sexual practices take place which ought to bring down the death penalty on the participants. There is no tolerance of homosexuality in the Bible; it was also punished with death. More hideous than all this to God is men and women having sexual intercourse with animals. No form of sexual intercourse is permitted by God except in the framework of marriage between husband and wife. Whoever resists the God-instituted order is under the curse and condemnation of God. The whole world always needs true, continuous repentance and purity of mind, heart and action.
3. The Suffering Caused by Adultery
Adultery does not usually start with one partner having intercourse with another, but it is preceded by gradual separation from God and, subsequently, from the marriage partner as well. But whoever stays in fellowship with God bears a deeper and more mature love for the life partner, and he won't commit adultery under any circumstances. That is why adultery is normally preceded by the decline and destruction of spiritual, emotional and physical fellowship successively. Couples are no longer able to understand each other and sink deeper and deeper into the mud of sin.
Marital infidelity most often starts in the mind. The mind pictures seductive images which, if not radically uprooted and rebuked in the name of Jesus, will entangle in a deadly web. Man seeks eventually to put these unclean dreams into action and deliberately commit sin. The other person may be seduced, and attracted to sin until both fall into temptation without much resistance. Conscience may be awakened in the beginning, but when rebellion increases the heart will be hardened, and adultery becomes not just a habit but a compulsion. However from the beginning of the development of his sin, the adulterer knows that his work is unjust and unclean. He who starts to sin must continue in it. Sin becomes a driving power in the one who opens himself up to it, but thanks to the Lord, there is an everlasting hope for freedom from sin. Jesus says, “Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin... But if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed“ (John 8:34-36). The grace and spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ reaches the deepest parts of human conscience, and it can cleanse and heal us completely. Some scars and temptation will remain but the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin and empowers us to overcome temptations. If the Son of God will set someone free, he is indeed free.
4. A Jesus-Enhanced Marriage
Jesus confirmed monogamy and stressed that the union of man and woman is a lifelong partnership (Matthew 19:4-6). He answered His opponents by saying, “Have you not heard that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh“? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate“ (see also Mark 10:1-12).
By these verses Jesus affirmed a kind of trinity established between God, man and woman, which He sealed with the Holy Spirit in the hearts of His followers. He sanctifies our spirit, soul and body, allows us to be the temple of the living God and develop marital life into a little paradise in which the Lord dwells and reigns. The forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus gives us a soul, a purified body and creates a fresh atmosphere in the whole family. In Christ, marital life takes on a new meaning, a blessed quality, and gives marriage a new purpose. The golden rule is that no Christian marries a non-believer or non-Christian. This way he avoids many problems. Loving Jesus means loving your life partner and serving him or her faithfully until death.
Neither Jesus nor His apostles did away with man's passion and attachment to the woman. They did not cancel woman's submission to the man. Yet the Holy Spirit guides couples to humility and gentleness in all areas of life. The apostle Paul commanded each man to love his wife just as Jesus sacrificed Himself for His church. True love is not simply to indulge in desires without restraint, but to serve one's life partner in mutual respect. Self-control comes from abiding in the Holy Spirit in which case marriage does not become a place of sexual gratification, but a marital service for one another that glorifies God.
5. Marriage in the New Testament
Jesus set a high standard for the purity of our spirit, soul and body. He said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart“ (Matthew 5:28). By this standard all men appear sinful before a holy God. We need to confess our sins to God frankly for there is no one righteous before God. We have to confess our sexual sins completely as a basis for our sanctification in the school of Jesus. We all need brokenness of self before the eternal judge, who is at the same time the meek lamb of God who carried away the sin of the world. Everyone who turns to Him will be justified, cleansed and sanctified, as long as there is time for salvation.
When the elders of the nation brought a woman who was caught in the act of adultery to Jesus, He did not play down her sin, but after He allowed the elders to think about themselves, He ordered that she be stoned in accordance with the Law. But He made a small stipulation: the man who had never sinned should go ahead and throw the first stone. Then all were pierced and convicted in their consciences. Among them were high priests, elders and apostles of Christ themselves. All left silently, one by one. Finally Jesus and the adulteress were left by themselves. Now He should have stoned her with the first stone for He was the only sinless person left. But He did not stone her. He told her to go home and not to sin any more. Did Jesus break the law by not stoning her? No! Rather, He took her sin upon Himself and died on her behalf. So He had the right to forgive her sin. Only the death of Jesus on the cross sets adulterers free from bitter judgment. Everyone who commits adultery in thought, word or deed will find salvation only in Jesus and Him crucified.
Jesus prohibited divorce and confirmed the lasting unity of the married couple. Everyone who contemplates marriage needs to pray considerably about this step. The man ought to ask, “Is she the one appointed by God for me or am I picking her out of selfish motives? Are we compatible in terms of age, temperament, talents, education and family? Does the other person stand firm in the triune Lord or does he have only a superficial relationship with God? Such questions and others need to be raised and prayerfully considered before marriage as long as there is time to decide. Breaking the engagement is better than getting into a marriage covenant when the couple is not compatible.
Sexual intercourse before marriage should be avoided at all costs. If you love your fiancee you will honor her and not defile her conscience or defame her. No one can be sure that he will stay alive until the wedding. So, as a young man you have to learn how to exercise self-control in preparation for married life. What if your wife becomes so ill that you cannot have intercourse? Love is not merely pleasure, but requires self-denial and sacrifice. If someone says he can't wait until the wedding, he had better not marry, for he cannot expect to be faithful later. Christ has called us to self-control, not to sexual indulgence, in complete contrast to what television or some religions promote.
Sexual desire is not unclean in itself; it is a gift from God for which we ought to be thankful. However, man needs to control his desire and not to tempt anyone. Concerning an adult who misuses a little one, Jesus said, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depths of the sea“ (Matthew 18:6). Severe judgment awaits such a person. Anyone who abuses children cannot inherit the Kingdom of God unless he repents sincerely and breaks with his sin completely (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). True love does no evil to anyone.
Girls also need to be prepared for their life partner as they follow Jesus. This is not easy in times of shameless films, vulgar magazines and brutal television shows which originate in hell, not in heaven. A good Christian family or Christ-centered youth group can help towards a gradual development of spirit, soul and body. The sooner a girl delivers herself to Jesus, the better. She will grow up and walk protected through all temptations. A girl does not need to seek a husband with wealth or high degrees, but she should be able to distinguish the new heart living in the young man, and if he is doing his job diligently and faithfully. Fruits of the Spirit are more important than manly attractions. The Lord said, “The wicked shall have no peace,“ which can be fulfilled in the realm of married life.
But we shouldn't deceive ourselves: the serpent was found even in paradise. There is no safety or peace in man's life without yielding to Jesus and abiding in Him. He is the only one who is able to help us overcome temptations. Since none of us lives free of sin, we ought to confess our sins and trespasses to Jesus. If you delay in confessing, sin will overrule. Turn to the Lord and He will deliver you immediately. Flee to Him every time you are assailed by temptations.
A wedding ought to be performed in the name of Jesus and, if possible, in a church ceremony, anticipating a blessed life. Money, clothing, health and worldly values are not the centre of married life, but the Lord and His Word guarantee grace upon grace for the godly couple. Jesus says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you“ (Matthew 6:33). Even in the case of impotence or sterility such a marriage can be successful. The couple could receive a special blessing and divine wisdom in serving Jesus in many ways. They might adopt homeless children or do charitable works for the Lord. If, however, marriage is planned without God the Father, Jesus and the Spirit, marital infidelity and divorce are anticipated and pre-programmed, because unbelievers have seldom learned to deny themselves and their whole self-centred lifestyle. Whoever marries for only a short time (mut'a) or lives together without a fixed term or on a trial basis has not comprehended the psychological and biological secrets in a man or a woman and lacks the fear of God. Freedom without obedience of faith is an open door to anarchy. Integrity is the basis of every civilization, so don't tempt the Lord your God, the Creator. The Holy Spirit does not permit impurity, prostitution, suggestive clothes, dirty jokes, excessive food, drunkenness or taking drugs. These are signs of decadence which defile the hearts, poison the minds and destroy the bodies of millions. We either live in the world under the authority of the devil, who is the prince of this world, or we live in Christ, the only Savior who strengthen us in our weakness. Our world has become very materialistic and is not ready to live according to the values of believers in Jesus Christ, who have inherited His purity and His holiness.
6. Marriage from a Muslim Stand-point
Islam offers special laws in the Sharia for marriage and claims that Europe and the Americas can only rise out of their moral decline by accepting the Sharia.
Muhammad allowed his followers up to four wives. He even permitted mut'a marriage which takes place for a short period of time as agreed, for a certain amount of money (Sura al-Nisa 4:4,24). His followers were adventurous fighters and experienced tradesmen. They were often away from home for a long time and they wanted to gratify their need for sexual relations. Abstinence and self-denial are not an issue for men in Islam, but only for women. The founder of Islam himself legally married thirteen wives, not to mention his Jewish, Christian and pagan concubines.
In most Islamic countries a man is entitled to divorce his wife without reason. He can remarry her within two months without paying a new brideprice if he regrets divorcing her. Even a second divorce and second remarriage are legal. But if a Muslim divorces his wife for the third time he cannot remarry her unless she was officially married first to another man. If this last husband has divorced her, too, then she can be married again to her first husband. What goes on in the mind of a woman like this? She is considered to be a piece of furniture and is not regarded as a partner with a living soul who is equal to her husband in respect, rights or duties, so that the couple could live in spiritual unity and overcome life problems together.
A Muslim is like a patriarch in his own family who is entitled to up to four wives. But there is a condition that he should love them equally. If he offers one wife a gift he has to do the same for his other wives equally. If the child of one wife gets new clothes, he must buy all the children of all the wives new clothes of similar quality. For economical reasons most Muslims do not marry more than one wife. Yet polygamy is still practiced legally in all Islamic countries except Turkey and Tunisia. An aged wife is often cast out of the house and replaced with a younger, prettier one. However, when a husband keeps two, three or four wives, such families abound in envy and jealousy. As a result of his experiences with women Muhammad described women as a source of domestic evil and claimed that they do not have much sense and little grasp of religion (Masud Ibn Hanbal II, 373). He also likened her sometimes to a donkey unfit for carrying the burden of the family, and said that a nation governed by a woman must deteriorate.
The Quran and the Hadith teach that a man is entitled to discipline his wife. He first has to warn her (if he fears her rebellion), then he refuses to sleep with her and finally he beats her until she submits to him (Sura al-Nisa 4:34).
A woman's witness before the court is regarded as worth half the witness of a husband. That is why a man's word is equal to the witness of two women. The wife also obtains only one-eighth of the inheritance which her husband bequeathed if the husband has sons. The son, even when he is still a baby receives a quarter. His value as a son is already double the value of his mother. Of course, the husband's relatives come before the wife as well when dividing the inheritance (Sura al-Nisa 4:7-11).
Children belong to the husband alone. A divorced wife may receive the privilege of raising her children until they reach the age of maturity. The wife does not usually live alone with her husband, but together with his entire family where the mother-in-law has the first and the last word. The main principle in Islamic marriage is not the unity of husband and wife or their cooperation to overcome life's problems, but rather to guarantee the continuation of the tribe. The wife is nothing but a higher class servant to the husband. Her role is to give birth to many sons for the tribe. Her influence increases once she gives birth to many sons. But if she gives birth to daughters they say, “Oh no! What a shame!“
If a married woman or a single young woman is caught in adultery, Muhammad commands that she be scourged 100 times with a whip (Sura al-Nur 24:3) or stoned to death. They once brought Muhammad a woman who was pregnant by a stranger. He sent the woman away and let her return right after the birth of her child. Then he ordered that her child be taken and that she be stoned outside his house immediately. How vast is the difference between Muhammad and Jesus, who, out of His sacrificial love, took the sins of adulterers upon Himself and died on their behalf. Islam does not acknowledge a mediator in the judgment of God. That is why a Muslim can't forgive anyone his sins but must retaliate mercilessly.
Since open adultery is dangerous in Islam, it doesn't happen often. Yet the Islamic law permits men to have a certain form of legal adultery. A Muslim can always cast out his wives and marry someone younger. Even though some Islamic countries prohibit marrying several wives, the spirit of Islam still prevails in men and women.
The low esteem of women in Islam continues on even into paradise. Muhammad said, “The lowest inhabitant of paradise are women.“ Yet men lie in wait for the various pleasures, with dozens of virgins in paradise who remain virgins even after their husbands slept with them in the dark shadows. Also, delightful lads are at the disposal of Muslims in paradise. Regarding women's future Muhammad said, “When I was shown hell, I saw that 90 percent of its burning dwellers are women.“
The paradise of Jesus Christ is the extreme opposite. In heaven His followers are glorious, like the angels of God who will not be given in marriage nor marry. The Kingdom of God is not eating or drinking or marriage, but spiritual love, joy and peace in the power of the Holy Spirit. The real paradise is not from this world. Compared with the revelations of Jesus, can anyone still consider the Quran a source of divine revelation? It rests on boasting about male habits and dominance and is far below the standards of the Old Testament and the New Testament.
7. A Call for Repentance
Christians should not look down on Muslims. There is an unbiblical freedom in many Western countries today, and there is a phenomenal rate of divorce in the United States and Europe. This destroys sheltered life for many children, who run away from their broken homes. We are embarrassed at the way sex education is presented in schools. How hideous are the pictures in weekly newspapers, magazines, videos and television. Yet only a few parents protest about them!
Promiscuity results from the lack of fear of God. Photographers in Europe have paved the way for every kind of indecency possible. The fall from fellowship with God has created a sexual chaos. Birth control pills allow people to indulge in unlimited lust. However, the use of condoms has not stopped AIDS. This is a severe punishment for anyone who is unfaithful to his wife, for homosexuals, lesbians, prostitutes or anyone taking drugs. In Romans 1:24 Paul says, “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.“ The judgment of God does not make any distinction between Muslim, Jew or Christian in name. Overlooking the commandment “You shall not commit adultery“ means that millions endanger themselves by sexual sins. The meaning of the verse, “the wages of sin is death“ becomes clearer than ever today.
Unfortunately innocent people can catch AIDS through blood transfusions. That is why it would be unfair to misjudge someone who carries this disease. God alone knows the past of each one of us. We are not better than anyone who was caught in adultery. Jesus knows what we may harbor in our hearts as He said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications...“ (Matthew 15:19). We do not need to know safer methods for protection against AIDS, but everyone needs a pure heart, a clean spirit and new thoughts. David, who committed adultery and murdered when he surrendered to lust, can teach us to pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me“ (Psalm 51:10,11).
Praying these words sincerely and confessing our sins to Jesus secures His divine reply, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you“ (Matthew 9:2; see also Luke 7:48). The Lord of holiness grants us the power of His Holy Spirit to lead a clean life along with the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus never will leave us alone in our temptations, but He is ready to strengthen us to overcome them in His name.