Commitment to happiness
FOR many centuries marital infidelity has been viewed as contrary to moral law and destructive to home and happiness. From Moses' citing of God's law in the Ten Commandments1 to Christ Jesus' admonition that ``whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart,''2 men and women have been enjoined to be faithful to home and family. Yet some have justified premarital affairs when they occur between two individuals who love and respect each other. Others have concluded that the legal and moral commitment of marriage is the only sure basis for lasting affection and happiness. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, devotes a chapter to marriage in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Here she upholds the Scriptural teaching as essential for genuine happiness and stability. She writes, ``Chastity is the cement of civilization and progress.''3
Everyone desires happiness--feeling loved, being fulfilled and satisfied. The five personal senses may insist that happiness comes primarily through sensual indulgence--that is, until this avenue leads to disease or betrayal. But which is the better way: promiscuity moderated to mitigate potential suffering, or commitment consecrated to fulfill the highest aspirations of happiness?
Perhaps the essence of this question lies in the difference between self-indulgent lust and the selfless love that two committed people express as marriage partners. Christ Jesus gave the world a powerful example of unselfish love. He recognized and ministered to human need. He treated sin, including adultery, with authority but also with compassion.
This isn't to say that Jesus himself never had to face worldly temptation. The Bible tells us that Jesus was once tempted by three devilish offers of worldly promise. But his response was unequivocal: ``Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.''4 Paul tells us that Jesus ``was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.''5 Certainly through his virgin birth he was endowed with exceptional purity, but we also know that he spent many hours in prayer, spiritually fortifying himself.
It was the Christ, his divine nature as the Son of God, which gave Jesus the authority to resist and negate evil's wily overtures. Mrs. Eddy writes: ``Christ expresses God's spiritual, eternal nature. The name is synonymous with Messiah, and alludes to the spirituality which is taught, illustrated, and demonstrated in the life of which Christ Jesus was the embodiment.''6
One may say, ``That's fine for Christ Jesus--he was the Son of God--but I'm a mere mortal.'' It is true that none of us has the advantage of a virgin birth. But we do have the advantage of Jesus' example to guide us. He expected us to be able to follow him and promised great blessings as a result. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount are not arbitrary constraints on happiness--they are the keys to happiness. Jesus said, ``Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled''7--they shall be ``satisfied,'' as we read in some Bible translations.
One's desire for lasting satisfaction and fulfillment can't be truly answered through unrestrained material indulgence or so-called sexual license, because man is actually spiritual, the child of God, of Spirit. We have higher cravings, then, for the things of Spirit--love, joy, spiritual satisfaction.
Adherence to laws of morality will reward us with improved views of God as divine Love, Spirit, the inexhaustible source of good. This will also lead to an improved view of ourselves as children of God, the natural recipients of God's goodness and love. We will begin to feel more satisfied and complete. If we are unmarried and desire companionship, this enlightened state of thought will open up satisfying, moral relationships. If we are married, it will strengthen and renew the bond of affection which cements that union.
Each of us can increasingly feel the joy found in the highest expression of love, that which comes from God, divine Love itself.
1Exodus 20:14. 2Matthew 5:28. 3Science and Health, p. 57. 4Matthew 4:10. 5Hebrews 4:15. 6Science and Health, p. 333. 7Matthew 5:6. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8