For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q70

The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q63-81) is The Means of Grace: The Commandments: The Second Table. (see Harmony Index)
This catechism study begins our look at the seventh commandment. God places a high premium upon marriage, and keeping it honorable and holy. Marriage was the first institution established in the Bible; and in the New Testament Paul shows how the marriage relationship gives a picture of the significant relationship between Christ and the Church. Much has been said and written about the topic of marriage and adultery, for it is an important issue with far reaching implications.
As always, we need to approach our study with prayer, that the Lord would grant us understanding unto a joyful and obedient heart in the keeping of his commandments.
WSC Q 70. Which is the seventh commandment?
A.   The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery[a].
[a] Ex. 20:14; Deut. 5:18
Question #70 asks what the seventh commandment is, and answers that the seventh commandment is: You shall not commit adultery.
Comments and considerations
We come to the seventh commandment and the special relationship of husbands and wives in the union of marriage. The next two catechism questions follow the normal pattern, looking at what is required and forbidden in this commandment. Here it is simply stated for our consideration.
The Bible has much to say about this first institution established by God. It is important not only in his eyes, but also for a stable and prosperous society. All around us we see the heartache and misery left in the wreckage of failed marriages and adulterous relationships. The blessings of God’s commandments are not only for his glory, but also for our protection, wellbeing, and enjoyment. This valuable institution ought to be treasured; is should not be debased, weakened, and polluted to its demise, the very meaning and outcome of adultery.
We correctly understand adultery to mean the unfaithfulness of a married person, a violation of the marriage bed. We also know there are implications and applications that go beyond this basic meaning, which we will see in the next two studies. For now, let’s look more closely at the word adultery. It is a compound of two words—adult, which means mature, full grown, complete, and alter, to make different or modify. We get this understanding from the root word of adultery, which is adulterate, meaning to debase, make impure by an admixture of a foreign or a baser substance; corrupt intrusion. Looking at some of the older definitions of adultery we find an obscure but rather interesting usage: “Among ancient naturalists, the grafting of trees was called adultery, being considered as an unnatural union.” (I find this definition amusing as it might be applied today in the environmentally-conscience society that fears anything “unnatural.”) Other definitions talk about debasing—weakening or devaluing—metals, or making food or water impure. The point is that the marriage union designed and ordained by God is a holy union, “adult” in the sense that it is a mature and complete reflection of God’s purpose, a union foundational to a godly and ordered society. Through their sinful lusts and unchecked desires, individuals ultimately destroy the very fiber and substance of protection and blessing that their covenant God has provided for them. You cannot make more complete that which is already complete; you only introduce something foreign to the body that either rejects the intrusion or becomes contaminated to it’s own detriment.
Our culture is preoccupied with environmental pollution; yet, ironically, we have so little concern for the soul pollution of adulterous thinking that so thoroughly corrupts the heart and mind, the very fabric of our homes and society.
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.        Read Prov. 18:22. The following are excellent comments directly from Starr Meade’s devotional book, Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: “God intended for husbands and wives to have a special relationship with each other, closer than any relationship they have with other people. He meant for husbands and wives to be each other’s best friends. God intended for husbands and wives to spend their whole lives together, with nothing separating them. The purpose of this commandment, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ is to protect the special relationship that husbands and wives have with one another.”
2.        The closeness of the marriage bond is that husband and wife are to be “one” as described in Matt. 19:4-6. Read Mal. 2:13-14. How does God view it when that “oneness” is broken, and what important term does Malachi use at the end of vs. 14 to describe the marriage relationship?
3.        Because we are sinners, self-centered by nature, putting others first, especially in marriage, is very difficult. Read again Malachi 2:13-16. What are two things that God hates?
4.        Marriage is a special thing created by God for two people to enjoy and keep holy together. What picture is represented in the marriage union, as describe in Eph. 5:22-33? How are husband and wife to treat each other?
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q70, WLC 137, and WCF XXIV.I
WSC Q70. Which is the seventh commandment?
A.  The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery[a].
[a]  Ex. 20:14; Deut. 5:18
WLC Q137. Which is the seventh commandment?
A.  The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery[a].
[a]  Exod. 20:14
Of Marriage and Divorce
I.    Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.[a]
[a] Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6; Rom. 7:3; Prov. 2:17
Question(s) for further study:

It is always instructive to reflect upon the scriptures our father’s reference in their catechetical and confessional instruction.  In Prov. 2:17, what might our father’s want us to observe in how the covenant influences or regulates our marital relationships?

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