The Sixth Commandment
After these things I heard a great voice of a crowd of many in heaven, saying, Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power to the Lord our God! For true and just are His judgments; for He has judged the great harlot, who corrupted the earth with her whoredom, and He has avenged the blood of His servants at her hand.
AC 8904:9. ...They have wrought folly in Israel, and have committed adultery with the wives of their companions, and have spoken a word in My name falsely, which I did not command them (Jer. 29:23) ....
AC 8904:10. From these passages it is very manifest that “to adulterate” and “to commit adultery” mean to explain and pervert the truths of the Word from one’s own heart, that is, from one’s proprium*, in such a manner as the loves of self and of the world persuade one to do; consequently it is to speak lies, that is, falsities, as is openly said.
AC 8904:12. From [various] passages [in the Scriptures] it can be fully seen what is meant by “committing adultery,” namely, that in the external sense it is to commit adulteries. In the internal representative sense, it is to worship idols and other gods by means of such things as are of the church, consequently it means external and internal idolatry. But in the internal spiritual sense, adulterations of good and perversions of truth are meant. From all this it is plainly evident why it is that adulteries are in themselves so wicked and are called “abominations,” namely, from the fact that they correspond to the marriage of falsity and evil, which is the infernal marriage. On the other hand, [it can be seen] why genuine marriages are holy, namely, from the fact that they correspond to the marriage of good and truth, which is the heavenly marriage. In fact, genuine conjugial love descends from the marriage of good and truth, thus out of heaven, that is, through heaven from the Lord; whereas the love of adultery is from the marriage of falsity and evil, thus from hell, that is, from the devil.
Life 74. In proportion as anyone shuns adulteries of every kind as sins, in the same proportion he loves chastity. To “commit adultery” ...means, in the natural sense, not only to commit whoredom, but also to do obscene things, to speak lascivious things, and to think about filthy things. But in the spiritual sense to “commit adultery” means to adulterate the goods of the Word and to falsify its truths. In the highest sense to “commit adultery” means to deny the Divine of the Lord and to profane the Word. These are “adulteries of every kind.”
The natural man can know from rational light that to “commit adultery” includes in its meaning doing obscene things, speaking lascivious things, and thinking things that are filthy. But he does not know that to commit adultery also means to adulterate the goods of the Word and to falsify its truths, and still less that it means to deny the Divine of the Lord and to profane the Word. Consequently, neither does he know that adultery is so great an evil that it may be called devilishness itself, for he who is in natural adultery is also in spiritual adultery, and the converse.... But those who from their faith and their life do not regard adulteries as sins, are in adulteries of every kind at the same time.
Life 76. No one can know what the chastity of marriage is like unless he shuns the lasciviousness of adultery as sin.... The truth is that the lasciviousness of adultery and the chastity of marriage stand toward each other exactly as do hell and heaven, and that the lasciviousness of adultery makes hell in a man, and the chastity of marriage makes heaven. But the chastity of marriage exists solely with the man who shuns the lasciviousness of adultery as sin....
Life 77. From these considerations it may be concluded and seen without doubt whether a man is a Christian or not: indeed, whether a man has any religion or not. He who does not regard adulteries as sins, both in faith and in life, is not a Christian, neither does he have any religion. But on the other hand, he who shuns adulteries as sins, and especially he who on that account holds them in aversion, and still more he who on that account abominates them, has religion, and if he is in the Christian Church, he is a Christian....
* i.e., self-intelligence, self-interest
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- Sometimes “chastity” in common speech means abstinence from all sexual relations, but in the Doctrine, it means purity in thought and conduct; decency, modesty, cleanness. True conjugial love is chastity itself. Synonyms for “lascivious” are lustful, lewd, wanton, lecherous, and licentious, or in other words, inciting or coming from immoral lust. We can see that chastity and lasciviousness are opposites, and that we have a real choice between them. Do some people have less of a choice because of how they were raised, or abused while growing up?
- We can explore our own minds to see whether we believe adultery, pornography and other obscene things are sins or not, by imagining what we would do if no one would ever be able to pin it on us. We have a free choice, whether to turn our minds away from adulterous things because the Lord says to, or not. If we see that adultery is a sin against the Lord and destructive of everything good and human, then we can pray to the Lord for help against it, and hold our noses against dirty things wherever they come up (CL 49e).
- It’s not our fault that dirty thoughts occur to us, over and over again. What matters is what we do when we realize that dirty thoughts have come into our mind. Do we turn away, or do we indulge such thoughts? The Lord said, “Not what goes into the mouth [or the mind] defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” (Matt. 15:10–20)