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What is the definition of adultery?

Merriam-Webster.com says adultery is “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or a married woman and someone other than her husband.”

According to the dictionary, the term “adultery” is applied when there has been actual sexual intercourse.

Adultery Definition – God’s Way

In God’s eyes, sexual intercourse between two people who are not married to each other is a serious sin. We read in the Bible, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

God’s definition of adultery is even more direct.  Jesus Christ taught us through the Sermon on the Mount: “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

Adultery of the mind, being unfaithful in our thoughts, is against God’s commandments. He desires us to be pure in heart and pure in thought, in addition to being pure in our actions. “[W]hatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Is God’s Adultery Definition Too Strict?

Being faithful to one’s spouse in a physical sense is a wonderful thing, and some feel that’s good enough. As long as they aren’t actively pursuing other relationships, a little fantasizing won’t hurt, will it? Our Heavenly Father knows and understands the human tendency to rationalize our behaviors and our thoughts, and we are given this wise observation: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

If we allow ourselves to dwell on an attraction for someone other than our spouse, it’s only a matter of time before those thoughts turn to the temptation to commit adultery. Then, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep from committing the act in full. We may believe that our “innocent” fantasies will not lead us astray, but our Heavenly Father knows and understands the dangers of these thoughts.  This is why He has asked us to be pure not only in our bodies, but in our minds. Even when the fantasy does not lead to action, we are still being unfaithful in our thoughts, which is a betrayal of our spouse.

Understanding the Adultery Definition

God knows that marriage, and staying true to the partnership that comes with it, is one of the greatest keys to our happiness. For this reason, He has given us the commandment not to commit adultery. We should not have sexual intercourse with someone who is not our spouse or who is married to someone else (dictionary definition), and we should avoid thinking lustful thoughts about someone who is not our spouse  (God’s law).

Yes, God’s law is more stringent than the world’s, but  if we desire to follow God, we must understand that His ways are not the world’s ways. As we come to Him and ask Him for help to live the commandments as He would have us do, He will help us overcome our temptations and walk with us as we strive to change our lives for the better.

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“Adultery Definition” was written by Tristi Pinkston. The subject “Adultery Information” is important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you would like to know more about Mormons with no obligation, please click on the following links: