It seems the Pharisees were like hormonal teenagers raised in a dead Christendom; they read the law wanting to know how far they could go (Matthew 5:27–30). You could lust, only you mustn’t commit adultery. When one asks the question, “How far is too far?” they’ve already crossed the line. The law makes hard lines, no doubt, but we shouldn’t treat the law like a cow does a barbed wire fence, straining our necks through the lines to get the green grass on the other side. “But my feet and body are still on the other side.”
Think of the law less like a line between and more like a line to: a line leading you unto godliness, a line to express love to God, a line that you want to climb higher up. The law is a line to pursue deeper intimacy. The point isn’t how close you can stay to sin, but how you can grow closer to the Holy one in holiness. The point isn’t to stay an inch away from sin, but to run miles away from sin towards God.
In Proverbs 5 Solomon calls for his sons to flee the forbidden woman. He doesn’t give his sons wisdom for how to knock on her door and stare only at her face. “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house (Proverbs 5:8 ESV).” But that alone isn’t the full prescription: “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress (Proverbs 5:15–20 ESV)?”
Enjoying the aged and refined scotch in your cupboard curbs the appeal of the illicit and deadly moonshine. Delighting in the truth that God has given you the best grass is the way not to succumb to Satan’s lie that the grass is greener on the other side. The Puritan Thomas Watson commented, “It is not having a wife, but loving a wife, that makes a man live chastely. He who love his wife, whom Solomon calls his fountain, will not go abroad to drink of muddy, poisoned waters. Pure conjugal love is a gift of God, and comes from heaven; but, like the vestal fire, it must be cherished, that it go not out. He who love not his wife, is the likeliest person to embrace the bosom of a stranger.”
This is a glorious way to fight sexual sin, but it is yet a lesser way. It is a lesser way in that marriage is lesser thing than that which it is a copy of, Christ’s love for His bride. The way to avoid violating the command to not commit adultery, in all that it entails, is for the bride to delight in Her Bridegroom. He is without peer. He is altogether lovely. He is without fault. When we truly see Him, we have eyes for no other. Be intoxicated in the unequalled jealous love of your Savior, and may this overflow into your marriage, and may it keep you from adultery of every sort.