Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife (Deuteronomy 5:21)
Alright… its the 21st century, and we are ‘equal opportunity’ around here so let’s also add ‘neither shall you covet your neighbor’s husband’ either 🙂
The command actually includes other things NOT to covet… like… anything that belongs to your neighbor. We have some really common ‘wise sayings’ around coveting: “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”, and “Be careful what you wish for… you just might get it”. All ‘coveting’ begins with an unhealthy and unrealistic attraction with something or someone, and probably the most serious and destructive is that which occurs between two people (see the command against adultery in ‘7’ posted on 10/30).
The relationship between two lovers is intimate and priceless… its also hard as heck! It’s hard to be romantic when you’re arguing about who is going to take out the garbage and pick up the kids from school. Sometimes it’s hard to see your mate as your lover when they’ve got that annoying habit of leaving their clothes on the bathroom floor or never answering their cell phone. And it is certainly hard to be attracted to each other after a few years of marriage and all effort of ‘showing your best side’ has given way to the ‘this is me… deal with it’ attitude.
‘Coveting’ or ‘desiring’ or ‘being taken and charmed by’ is a dangerous thing. Especially when we are talking about the attraction between people. It is easy to become charmed by ‘your neighbor’s wife/husband’… because all we see is the fantasy… not the reality. Real relationships of love and trust are built on daily choices to ‘stick together’, ‘love one another’, and ‘make it work’. Real relationships are hard, messy, and very unglamorous at times.
But real relationships are also the ones ‘left standing’ when the junk hits the fan. There is no substitute for being partnered with someone we can trust to be faithful, supportive and accept us for who we are…
Our neighbor’s wife/husband won’t be able to do that… and we wouldn’t be able to do it for them.