A North Carolina judge awarded Keith King $8.8 million in compensatory and punitive damages for the loss of his marriage. Mr. King told Inside Edition,
“There isn’t a dollar amount that you can put on it for what I think my family’s worth.”
Our system of justice has no way of redeeming that which sin ruins. In the same way that no financial settlement can bring back a loved one lost in an accident or act of violence, no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a marriage and the destruction of a family.
According to reporting in the Washington Post, in the North Carolina case,
“The judge found that an affair…harmed King through…adultery, and alienation of affection, meaning responsibility for marital fracture, typically through enticement.”
That means that another man coveted his neighbor’s wife and lure her into an adulterous affair that cost King is marriage. Christians will see the connections here to the Ten Commandments, the teachings of Jesus and concerns related to the sanctity of the marriage bed.
In both lists of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 10 we read, “do not commit adultery.” But the first, last and 8th commandments are also relevant to the conversation about the sanctity of marriage. Those commandments deal with idolatry, theft and covetousness. Exodus 20:14-17 reads,
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Before the man stole Mr. King’s wife, he coveted her. In order to covet her, he exchanged the worship or longing for God with the lust of the flesh. If you ever wondered how to get God back into the conversation about the headline news, there it is.
Here we might ask what role the law and commandments serve in the life of a Christian. We might have a conversation about how the law applies for those who are no longer under the law but free in Christ. Free to sin? Heavens no. In fact, Jesus defines adultery in much more stringent terms than Moses did.
Jesus addressed the topic of adultery directly in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:27-28 we read,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Yikes. Based on that definition of adultery, all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory on this point.
What else does the Bible say about the sanctity or purity of marriage and the rightful place of sex? In a list of instructions on Christian living we read in Hebrews 13:4,
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
Why is God so serious about marriage? Precisely because marriage here and now gives us a glimpse, foretaste and temporal image of the eternal reality of Christ’s relationship with his bride, the Church.
Paul affirms the mystery of that reality in Ephesians 5 and we read descriptions of the wedding feast in Revelation. So why don’t we talk more about the eternal reality of being one with Christ and marriage as a temporal incubator for image bearers to become more thoroughly prepared and engaged in witnessing to the reality of loving Christ, alone, as in a fully-committed marriage?