The seventh commandment

Originally published in the July 16, 1910 issue of The Christian Science Monitor

It is typical of all Jesus' teachings that when he was asked which is the great commandment of all he chose not the negative form of the decalogue but the affirmative reading from Deuteronomy, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.” The seventh commandment is one at which poor humanity halts and stumbles. But does not the sad failure to comply with the high standard of purity set by Jesus come chiefly from ignorance of what it is to love God and the neighbor? It is certain that purity of heart, chastity of every thought, alone truly keeps this command. Jesus taught that the very evil desires of the heart, unexpressed, break the law. But one is cleansed of these evils in learning the reality of love.

There is an interesting secondary meaning of the word adulterate cited by the Century dictionary, which says that the Latin also means to counterfeit. There is nothing more plainly a counterfeit of the real than that evil passion which human beings sometimes name love. It is of the flesh, true love is of Spirit, God; it is quickly changed to hate, true love is unchangeable; it brings suffering and destruction, true love is endlessly beneficent. To conquer this false belief, however, one has only honestly to recognize that it is a counterfeit, not the thing one really wishes. This takes away its seeming allurement. When human beings are asked to give up any false sense of affection they seem to fear that they are asked to give up love. Yet those who resolutely take the stand expressed by Jesus where he bade one pluck out the offending eye find that they only then begin to know what love really is. Both the false fleshly sense and pure love we cannot have, but it is easily proved in human experience that to choose the pure is to clear the eyes that they may discern the reality of love, the reflection of Love.

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