ADULTERY: ‘Evolutionary Claims’ versus ‘Christ’s Explanation

It is both interesting and usually frustrating (from a Christian standpoint) to often hear people on television (usually psychologists or behavioural experts) trying to explain why people do some of the terrible things that are reported on our screens. In many cases the cause is attributed by them to some ‘deficiency’ in the person’s upbringing like poverty, a lack of parental love, poor education of some other social factor and influence. Whilst in some cases these factors could possibly have triggered bad behaviour they are (from a Christian standpoint) not the root cause of the problem, for this very simple reason, that people raised in affluent situations, who enjoyed parental love and who received a good education have often displayed the very same bad behaviour. So why is it that people do what they do?

To highlight the radical difference in thinking between the atheistic/evolutionary and Christian/creation views on these matters I want to focus on one issue namely ‘adultery’ and to begin by quoting a short article that was printed in the Belfast Telegraph on Saturday 21st May 2011. The title to the article was ‘Are some men programmed to stray?’ and this was the article in full –

‘Many scientists believe that men are genetically programmed to commit adultery. “From a Darwinian perspective” says Dr Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in New Jersey “there are reasons for adultery – the adulterer spreads more of his genes”. Dr Fisher carried out a study of adultery in 42 human societies and found it was common in every one.’

“Let’s go back a million years and you’ve got a man living in the grasslands of Africa and he’s got a wife and two children. And so he occasionally slips over the hill and has sex with another woman and by pure chance he has two more children. That doubles the number of genes he’s going to spread into the next generation. People who were adulterers tended to have more children, passed on more of their DNA, and passed along whatever it is in the male (or female) psyche to be adulterers” she says.

This hypothetical example quoted by Dr Fisher of some African man from, in her view, a million years ago slipping over the hill and committing adultery in the circumstances outlined certainly would have doubled the number of genes he would spread into the next generation but would that really have been his reason for doing so? This example reminded me of the old saying about young men ‘sowing their wild oats’ whilst they are still single. Are they engaging in such behaviour to supposedly build up a ‘gene-pool’ for a future generation – absolutely not – they are merely giving licence and free rein to unchecked hormonal promptings without regard for standards (particularly biblical) of morality.

In the case of married men, I would have found Dr Fisher’s supposed motive for such behaviour by these men (to supposedly increase their ‘gene-pool’) to be both ridiculous and humorous if sadly it hadn’t been so serious and emotionally damaging to their wives and in some cases also to their children. Does she really believe for example that the many over-paid, married footballers who have been exposed in recent years as adulterers, really had some such hereditary biological motivation in mind – I don’t think such thoughts would ever have entered their minds – in my view they were simply gratifying their own lusts and desires.

If Dr Fisher’s atheistic, evolutionary-based premise for men committing ‘adultery’ is incorrect, as I believe it to be, then does Christianity offer an alternative explanation for such immoral and unfaithful  behaviour (remember most if not all of these married men would have vowed before witnesses to be faithful to their wives).

No less a person than the Lord Jesus Christ, who is revealed in the Bible as the Creator of all things, including humanity, (see John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; revelation 3:14) explained clearly why such behaviour occurs and not once did He ever attribute such behaviour to the motive that Dr Fisher has come up with, namely to increase a personal ‘gene-pool’.

The Lord was one day speaking to a crowd of people and He was explaining to them what it is that actually ‘defiles’ a man in the sight of God (see Matthew 15:11). From Vine’s Expository Dictionary we learn that ‘defile’ means ‘to render unholy, unclean’. Then, a few verses later (v 18-20), the Lord sought to identify to the people the root cause of the types of behaviour that render men as being ‘defiled’ (unholy, unclean) in the sight of the Holy God of Heaven. This was how He revealed the ‘root cause’ of such behaviour to His listeners –

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and they defile the man. For, out of the heart, proceed evil thoughts, murders, ADULTERIES, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.”

The reason men commit ‘adultery’ is not down to some high-minded, egotistical, hereditary biological motivation but rather such behaviour is due to the natural condition of ‘the human heart’. By ‘the heart’ I’m not of course talking of the vital organ that circulates the blood and is essential for the maintenance of natural life. Rather I’m talking about the inner bias of fallen man to naturally veer towards behaviour that is ‘unholy’ in the sight of God. The Psalmist captured this dire situation perfectly in Psalm 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies”.

God’s Word has much to say about ‘the heart’ and perhaps the most revealing statement of all is found in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”

If something is ‘deceitful’ then according the Scriptures it will mislead and take someone down the wrong path and that is precisely what ‘the heart’ of fallen man does supremely as the verse in Jeremiah teaches. But not only does it deceive and mislead it also has another huge problem – it is ‘desperately wicked’.

Matthew Henry in his commentary on this verse sums ‘the heart’ situation up brilliantly in these words –

‘’The heart, the conscience of man, in his corrupt and fallen state, is deceitful above all things. It calls evil good, and good evil; and cries peace to those to whom it does not belong. Herein the heart is desperately wicked; it is deadly, it is desperate. The case is bad indeed, if the conscience, which should set right the errors of other faculties, is a leader in the delusion. We cannot know our own hearts, nor what they will do in an hour of temptation. Who can understand his errors? Much less can we know the hearts of others, or depend upon them. He that believes God’s testimony in this matter, and learns to watch his own heart, will find this is a correct, though a sad picture, and learns many lessons to direct his conduct. But much in our own hearts and in the hearts of others, will remain unknown. Yet whatever wickedness there is in the heart, God sees it.’

The explanation given by the Lord Jesus Christ as to why men do the wicked things they do is infinitely more plausible than that posited by Dr Fisher. At the end of the verse in Jeremiah the question is posed concerning ‘the heart’ – “who can know it?” Well, obviously the One who created humanity has the divine capacity to “know it” and that’s precisely what the Scriptures teach.

In Matthew 9 we read of an incident where the Lord forgave a crippled man who had been brought before Him by his friends and the on looking scribes thought inwardly “this man (the Lord) blasphemeth(v3) and in the next verse we read “And Jesus, knowing their thoughts said, Why think ye evil in your hearts?”. Mark records this same incident in these words in Mark 2:8 “And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves he said unto them. Why reason ye these things in your hearts?”

The scriptures are true “man looketh on the outward appearance but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1st Samuel 16:7).

Not only has the Lord diagnosed ‘the heart’ problem of man but He has also promised to solve it for His chosen people as we read in Ezekiel 11:19-20 “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you: and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh and will give them an heart of flesh, That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances and do them; and they shall be my people and I will be their God”. A similar promise was made in Jeremiah 24:6-7 “I will set mine eyes upon them for good… And I will give them a heart to know me that I am the Lord and they shall be my people and I will be their God; for they shall return unto me with their whole heart”.

The fate of those who reject ‘Christ’s Explanation’ and take as ‘gospel’ the Evolutionary Claims’ of Dr Fisher are set out in verse 21 of Ezekiel 11 “But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God”. Let all such “take heed”.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 31st May 2011