Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife

I would like to resume explaining last two of the Ten Commandments, in order to give you a whole picture of what God wants of His people and how our way of life should be regulated. The continuity was broken, because of the important events, which needed focus. Now let me explain the ninth Commandment, which states:

Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s wife 

First of all, I want to make it clear that even if this Commandment is directly addressed men in reference to another’s married woman, the same Commandment is equally applicable to women in reference to married men. This Commandment can be seen as an extension of the sixth Commandment with a difference in emphasis. Whereas the sixth Commandment emphasizes physical act, the ninth Commandment makes an emphasis on the deliberate and conscious intention, thought and sight.

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus declares: “… every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). To covet another person’s wife or husband means entertaining impure thoughts about the woman or man married to someone else. Even if one may not act on such thoughts, but simply considers them for his/her personal pleasure, it is a violation of the ninth Commandment. However, if such thoughts arise in mind involuntarily and the person sets aside as soon as he/she is conscious of such thoughts, then this is not sin. In the same way such thoughts coming in dreams while sleeping, do not make it a sinful act. Since an act is sinful, only when it is committed with full knowledge and will, bad thoughts while sleeping or in dreams are not acts of sin. 

Here is what St. Paul has written in his letter to the Colossians: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness …” (Colossians 3:5).

God bless you

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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