You shall not covet your neighbor's wife

Ninth Commandment


You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
(Exodus 20:17)

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
(Matthew 5:28)

One can commit adultery in the heart not only with the spouse of another, but also with one’s spouse if one looks at it with lust or treats it "only as an object to satisfy the instinct.
(John Paul II - Osservatore Romano 8 October 1980)

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You shall not covet your neighbor's wife

This commandment concerns the intentions of the heart and then summarizes all the precepts of the law. St. Paul says: "I say then, Walk in the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh, the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are opposed to each other, you not doing what you want". (Galatians 5:16-17).

"The lamp of the body is the eye. When your eye is simple, even your whole body is bright, but if it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light is in thee be not darkness" (Luke 11.34-35). It is envy that makes the evil eye, because without inner righteousness, every attitude and every word will be in vain, since each one is tempted to lust, and enticed. The reduction of the person to whom devote object of lust, it can be done by anyone, because our hunger and our thirst, in relationships with others, can lead to behaviors cunning and ingenuity to take advantage of the weakness of others, to deceive. The desire always precedes action, the will always precedes the work, especially in the field I am the desire, if accepted by the mind, can hardly be stopped. It is therefore necessary not to impose the will and try to have at all costs that do not belong to us. Prudence, if implemented, will help us make no mistake.

This command connects to the sixth, in which among other failings is condemned adultery. If, in fact, a sin to take the wife of another, sin is the desire to take it, because you just want to do something a little less action accomplished.

The Ninth Commandment commands us not to covet our neighbor's wife. Very often you wish to go gaze, then the seduction, and finally when the agreement. How did King David with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. "One evening David got up from bed, walked on the terrace of the palace, from the terrace when he saw a woman washing their hands. She looked very nice. David sent for information on the woman and was told: it is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. David sent messengers to get her. She went to him and he slept with her, who had just cleansed from his uncleanness; and then went back to his house. The woman conceived and sent to inform David: I'm pregnant"
(2 Sm. 11).

Then David sent Uriah on the front of the battle harder to be killed and it was so. The Lord sent word through Nathan the prophet: But now the sword will never depart from your house.

The Lord commands us to "not want" because he knows our weaknesses and the tenuous boundary between desire and will. Not only the act performed, but also the desire to fulfill it is a sin, because it begins with the desire, then continues with the seduction, then performs the act. From a look unclean takes over the malice in the mind which energizes through imagination, the desires of the body, which is why we must be prudent, chaste and innocent as children. "Take away the eye from the handsome woman, and not seek the beauty of a stranger, has seduced many a woman's beauty, her love burns like a fire. Do not sit with his wife of another, with him not to drink a party, because your soul does not run and you fall behind, bloodied, into perdition".
(Sr 9.8-9).

The desire is not wrong when it's good and not offends anyone. God wants us to learn to seek the true Real, true beauty, true happiness, true love. True love is never selfish and narrow, but generous and open. True love is not built in receiving but in giving.

You shall not covet your neighbor's wife also means not reduce the person from subject to subject. This sin can also occur within marriage when one spouse wants the other only as a means to satisfy his lust.

The ninth commandment requires to overcome the lust in carnal thoughts and desires. The struggle against such concupiscence entails purifying the heart that requires clarity of purpose, transparency of the eye, the discipline of feelings and imagination with the practice of temperance.

The purpose of the commandment is mutual fidelity between man and woman in marriage, their loyalty will be complete only if they can be faithful to each other in thought and desire, and will reach a total transparency between them.

We all realize that often takes place within us as a struggle between the trends and desires of the Spirit to show us the good, the meat and trends that drive us to do evil: it is the spiritual battle. The heart, in fact, that you have to purify it, as the evangelist Matthew says, "from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication" (Matt. 15:19). And yet Matthew says: "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." The pure in heart are those who seek to live God's holiness in their lives.

St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and pride. The "lust" is any intense form of human desire and the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to human reason, creates disorder in the moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sin. "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her already in his heart".
(Mt 5:28).

The ninth and tenth commandments are checking all the others: who really looks out of conviction cannot observe these two, because all the law, but particularly the Prophets were called to the faith of the heart against the externals.

Don't desire the woman of others


The Lord commands us to "not desire" because he knows our frailty and how dangerous the boundary between desire and will is and he tells us not to desire, in this way God helps us not to sin because "the desires of the flesh lead to death"in essence this is a Commandment of teaching and love.
From an impure gaze comes malice in the eye, hunger in the body, fantasy in the mind, fever in the blood, decision in the will. Therefore we must be prudent and sober, chaste and simple, using much prudence in the looks and instincts of our heart, Desire always precedes action, as the will always precedes the work.

Prudence, which is the first of the four cardinal virtues, helps us not to err. The eyes of a person reveal to us what is hidden in them. Who has a pure heart and a clear gaze is able to see God in his neighbour.

We have within us an anxiety of infinity, but we are limited in our human nature, imbued with infinite desires. Yet we can still feel the longing to embrace the infinite, to go beyond the stars. The obligation to respect the commandments in all circumstances is not an end in itself but, on the contrary, indicates that "the commandment of love of God and neighbour has no upper limit in its positive dynamic", that is, it is an invitation to love more and more: there is instead "a lower limit, going down under which the commandment is violated.
(John Paul II - Veritatis splendor, 52).