Among savages generally adultery is rigorously condemned and punished. But it is condemned and punished only as a violation of the husband's rights. Among such peoples the wife is commonly reckoned as the property of her spouse, and adultery, therefore, is identified with theft. But it is theft of an aggravated kind, as the property which it would spoliate is more highly appraised than other chattels. So it is that in some parts of Africa the seducer is punished with the loss of one or both hands, as one who has perpetrated a robbery upon the husband Reade, Savage Africa, p.
But it is not the seducer alone that suffers. Dire penalties are visited upon the offending wife by her wronged spouse; in many instances she is made to endure such a bodily mutilation as will, in the mind of the aggrieved husband, prevent her being thereafter a temptation to other men Schoolcraft, Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, I, ; V, , , ; also H.
If, however, the wronged husband could visit swift and terrible retribution upon the adulterous wife, the latter was allowed no cause against the unfaithful husband; and this discrimination found in the practices of savage peoples is moreover set forth in nearly all ancient codes of law. The Laws of Manu are striking on this point.
In ancient India, "though destitute of virtue or seeking pleasure elsewhere, or devoid of good qualities, yet a husband must be constantly worshiped as a god by a faithful wife"; on the other, hand, "if a wife, proud of the greatness of her relatives or [her own] excellence, violates the duty which she owes to her lord, the king shall cause her to be devoured by dogs in a place frequented by many" Laws of Manu, V, ; VIII, In the Graeco-Roman world we find stringent laws against adultery, yet almost throughout they discriminate against the wife.
The ancient idea that the wife was the property of the husband is still operative.
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The lending of wives practiced among some savages was, as Plutarch tells us, encouraged also by Lycurgus, though, be it observed, from a motive other than that which actuated the savages Plutarch, Lycurgus, XXIX. The recognized license of the Greek husband may be seen in the following passage of the Oration against Neaera, the author of which is uncertain, though it has been attributed to Demosthenes: "We keep mistresses for our pleasures, concubines for constant attendance, and wives to bear us legitimate children, and to be our faithful housekeepers.
Yet, because of the wrong done to the husband only, the Athenian lawgiver Solon, allowed any man to kill an, adulterer whom he had taken in the act" Plutarch, Solon.
In the early Roman Law the jus tori belonged to the husband. There was, therefore, no such thing as the crime of adultery on the part of a husband towards his wife. Moreover, this crime was not committed unless one of the parties was a married woman Dig. That the Roman husband often took advantage of his legal immunity is well known. Thus we are told by the historian Spartianus that Verus, the colleague of Marcus Aurelius, did not hesitate to declare to his reproaching wife: "Uxor enim dignitatis nomen est, non voluptatis.
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Later on in Roman history, as the late William E. Lecky has shown the idea that the husband owed a fidelity like that demanded of the wife must have gained ground at least in theory. This Lecky gathers from the legal maxim of Ulpian: "It seems most unfair for a man to require from a wife the chastity he does not himself practice" Cod. In the Mosaic Law, as in the old Roman Law, adultery meant only the carnal intercourse of a wife with a man who was not her lawful husband. The intercourse of a married man with a single woman was not accounted adultery, but fornication.
The penal statute on the subject, in Leviticus , makes this clear: "If any man commit adultery with the wife of another and defile his neighbor's wife let them be put to death both the adulterer and the adulteress. In the Christian law this discrimination against the wife is emphatically repudiated. In the law of Jesus Christ regarding marriage the unfaithful husband loses his ancient immunity Matthew The obligation of mutual fidelity, incumbent upon husband as well as wife, is moreover implied in the notion of the Christian sacrament, in which is symbolized the ineffable and lasting union of the Heavenly Bridegroom and His unspotted Bride, the Church, St.
Paul insists with emphasis upon the duty of equal mutual fidelity in both the marital partners 1 Corinthians ; and several of the Fathers of the Church, as Tertullian De Monogamia, cix , Lactantius Divin. Gregory Nazianzen Oratio, xxxi , and St. Augustine De Bono Conjugati, n. But the notion that obligations of fidelity rested upon the husband the same as upon the wife is one that has not always found practical exemplification in the laws of Christian states. Despite the protests of Mr. Thus, in Massachusetts the adultery of the husband, unlike that of the wife, was not sufficient ground for divorce.
At present, in our States there is not this discrimination, but divorce, when granted on the ground of adultery, is obtainable by the wife just as by the husband. We have referred to the severe punishment meted out to the adulterous woman and her seducer among savages. It is clear, however, that the severity of these penalties did not find their sanction in anything like an adequate idea of the guilt of this crime.
In contrast with such rigour is the lofty benignity of Jesus Christ towards the one guilty of adultery John , 4 , a contrast as marked as that which exists between the Christian doctrine regarding the malice of this sin and the idea of its guilt which prevailed before the Christian era. In the early discipline of the Church we see reflected a sense of the enormity of adultery, though it must be admitted that the severity of this legislation, such as that, for instance, which we find in canons 8 and 47 of the Council of Elvira c. Considering now the act in itself, adultery, forbidden by the sixth commandment, has in it a twofold malice, In common with fornication it violates chastity, and it is, besides, a sin against justice.
Drawing a distinction between these two elements of malice, certain casuists, early in the seventeenth century, declared that intercourse with a married woman, when her husband gave his consent, constituted not the sin of adultery, but of fornication. It would, therefore, they contended, be sufficient for the penitent, having committed this act, to accuse himself of the latter sin only in confession.
At the instance of the Archbishop of Mechlin, the Academy of Louvain, in the year , censured as false and erroneous the proposition: "Copula cum conjugata consentiente marito non est adulterium, adeoque sufficit in confessione dicere se esse fornicatum. Where was I? A person will suffer through adultery in proportion to their temptations toward insecurity and fear.
The more insecure you are, the more frantic, anxious, and inconsolable you will be. Conversely, the more stable you are with the Lord, the more trusting you will be for what God is writing into your life. Adultery will bring you the starkest contrasts between fear and faith. The truth is that God is in your situation.
God is never preoccupied with other things.
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That kind of thinking flies in the face of sound theology. Adultery will tempt you to do that. For reasons that you will never know in this life, God has allowed you to go through infidelity. And God will not explain it to you either. He is not obligated to disclose what He allows. If He explained Himself, you could find some rest in the explanation and known outcomes of your suffering. In such cases, your faith would not be in Him, but in the interpretation of things and the known results and answers that He provided.
Your faith must be in Him alone.
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Christ called Peter off a boat to walk on water Matthew Christ did not tell him how it would go or even why He was asking him to walk on water. He called him to walk by faith and later rebuked him because he did not do it well Matthew Christ is calling you to walk by faith too. The reason He is calling you to do this is that He wants to prove to you that He is the only one worthy of worship. Like Peter, walk toward Him rather than away from Him in your time of need.
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Though you did not cause this, you are in this, and you must walk toward the Lord. Let Him take you by the hand. Let Him restore your soul. Here are a few things that I have experienced or observed when helping those who are trying to survive adultery. None of these things will be complete or satisfying to you. However, I trust the Father will use these rambling thoughts to help you to press on in Christ.
Will you trust God?
I cannot overemphasize your need to trust God at this moment—and a thousand other moments that will present themselves in your future. You will need renewed faith for each day. You will not be able to predict or plan when moments of despair shall inevitably come. It will be in these spontaneous, unsuspecting moments that the temptations will catch you off guard.
My appeal to you is to renew your faith in God each day by asking Him to help you to trust Him. Ask others to help you to trust Him.