Thou shalt not commit adultery

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Ten Commandments
Protestant numbering
1st 6th
2nd 7th
3rd 8th
4th 9th
5th 10th
Catholic numbering
1st a b 6th
2nd 7th
3rd 8th
4th 9th
5th 10th
For more information, see the Skeptic's Annotated Bible article:
For more information, see the Skeptic's Annotated Bible article:

Thou shalt not commit adultery is the 7th of the Ten Commandments in the Protestant tradition. It is considered the 6th commandment according to Catholic numbering.

Exodus 20:14 Bible-icon.png:

14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Deuteronomy 5:18 Bible-icon.png:

18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.


  • The punishment prescribed in Leviticus is death. “And the man that committeth adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10) Most modern cultures would frown on such an extreme punishment.
  • Adultery involves a broken promise between consenting adults and has nothing to do with government. In many, if not most, cases it is destructive to a relationship and affects children of the marriage falls apart as a result. (Other things, such as fundamentalism, can cause the same problem.) But adultery by consenting adults does not fall into the category of malicious or harmful felony. It is a legitimate concern of ethics; however, it is no crime. Why don’t the Ten Commandments mention rape? What about incest? How about the more useful “Thou shalt not beat thy wife?” Why don’t the Ten Commandments tell husbands that it is immoral to force an unwilling wife to have intercourse? Why doesn’t the bible say that it is wrong for you to have sex, even with your spouse, if you knowingly have a sexually transmitted disease (which the bible would do if it were relevant to today). Although adultery is important, does it rate the Big Ten? In the Bible, women are considered the property of men (see Tenth Commandment), so adultery was really a crime of theft.
  • The reason for this rule was to preserve male bloodlines and male power without needing to guess the paternity of children.

In United States law

The 7th commandment is not a part of U.S. Law. There is no federal law against the practice of adultery. Many still consider it immoral (religious or not), but the only laws prohibiting it are local or state laws that are rarely enforced. Some have made the argument that such a federal edict would be unconstitutional.

See also

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