Some of the things that I have said in regard to the previous commandment also apply to this commandment and the ones which follow, for those commandments warn us against doing any kind of injury to our neighbor. They are also arranged in good order, for they deal first with life, then marriage, and then property and reputation. Here the Bible explicitly forbids any violation of the marriage covenant. Adultery is specifically mentioned because breach of the marriage covenant was a violation of civil law, and was, therefore, punishable by death. God instituted government to condemn and punish public prostitution, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, and public lewdness. (1 Tim. 1:9-10)
*However, this commandment is directed against all manner of
whatever it may be called. Not only is the external act forbidden, but
also every cause, incitement, and means. We are to be chaste, not only
in regard to the outward act, but also in our heart, our lips, and
aspect of our behavior. Furthermore, we should always encourage
and avoid any temptation to rationalize sexual sin, while counseling
to do the same. Those who egg on someone who is inclined to sexual sin
or say nothing to dissuade him are as guilty as those who actually
the act. This includes those who encourage sexual sin by immodest
attire or by trafficking in pornography. To put it briefly, this
requires everyone to live chastely and help his neighbor do the same.
this commandment, God would protect our homes and increase our
[*Luther saw this commandment as a summary of everything the Bible says about sexual sin.]
Through this commandment, God honors and defends His institution
of marriage. He sanctioned marriage in the fourth commandment, "Honor
father and thy mother,", here He defends and protects it. This
makes it clear that God wants us to honor marriage, take our
seriously, and conduct ourselves in a way that recognizes it as a
and blessed estate. It is an estate which He instituted before others,
making it clear that He did not create men and women for lewdness and
but that husband and wife should live together in love, be fruitful,
children, nurture them, and train them to honor God.
For that reason, married life is not to be entered into lightly or without careful consideration. Marriage should be treated as a holy estate and should be approached with all seriousness. In the eyes of God it is of utmost importance we raise up children who will fight against wickedness and the devil while promoting the knowledge of God, godly living, and all virtues. That is why God has richly blessed marriage above any other estate, and would severely punish those who violate it. Knowing the importance God places on marriage, we should never hold it in contempt, speak of it as a trap, or regard celibacy as a higher estate (as do those blinded by Satan). Instead it is to be honored, respected, and held in high esteem. Its importance can be seen in the fact that no one is above this commandment. All men, no matter how exalted their position in this world, must respect the marriage vow – not just among Christians, but throughout the world.
Marriage is not only honorable, but in most cases necessary. God's general command is that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife. While there are some, like the Apostle Paul, who are able to remain chaste though unmarried, it is difficult if not impossible for most people to do so. God created men and women for marriage, and marriage is good, because as long as we are in the flesh we must deal with the desires of the flesh, and in marriage the natural inclination and excitement have an outlet making it less difficult to avoid unchastity. Although we still have a sinful heart, and, therefore, need God's mercy and forgiveness that we might be pure, God has instituted matrimony that every one may have his proper portion and be satisfied therewith.
Those priests, monks, and nuns who resist God's will in regard to
marriage, thinking that their avoidance of marriage somehow makes them
more holy than others, show contempt for God while deceiving the simple
with their lying words. No one has so little love and inclination to
as those who try to make themselves righteous by avoiding marriage.
of them have become involved in prostitution, homosexuality, or the
abuse of children, yet the truth is covered up. Though they abstain
the act, their hearts are so full of unchaste thoughts and evil lusts
there is a continual burning and secret suffering which can be avoided
in married life. Therefore all of their vows to remain unmarried are
by this commandment, and those who have accepted God's free gift of
have His permission, yea His command, to marry. It is His will for
poor ensnared consciences that have been deceived by monastic vows to
the unchaste state and enter married life. Even if the monastic life
godly, those who are not able to remain chaste without marriage will
bring upon themselves God's condemnation should they remain in it.
That righteousness might be exalted, it is important for youth to see marriage as a blessed estate that is pleasing to God. If this is done and married life is restored to a position of honor, there will be less of the filthy exaltation of immorality that now plagues our society. Because our government has ceased to enforce laws that condemn immorality; adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, and other shameful vices are rampant in out society. Instead of encouraging immorality, our government ought to support the efforts of parents to see that their children are brought up to discipline and respectability, and when they are grown to have them married honorably, in the fear of God. The greatest happiness this life has to offer belongs to those who, having entered into an honorable marriage relationship, have His grace and blessing upon their home.
In conclusion let me point out that this commandment not only requires us to live chastely in thought, word, and deed, but also that every one love and esteem the spouse given him by God. For where chastity is to be maintained, man and wife must live together in love and harmony each cherishing the other from the heart and with entire fidelity. For mutual love and commitment are fundamental to the desire to be chaste, so that, where love and commitment are found, chastity will follow. That is why the Apostle Paul diligently exhorts husband and wife to love and honor one another. In contrast to ecclesiastical celibacy, obedience to this commandment is in full accord with the will of God, and many good works and acts of kindness follow from it.
[The above is based upon, and closely follows, Martin Luther's explanation of the sixth commandment.]