The Sixth Commandment

Educate in faith. Thou shalt not commit impure acts


Nacho Calderón Castro gives Exaudi readers this series of articles dedicated to the 10 commandments in the Educate in Faith series.

The commandments: The tenth, the ninth, the eighth, the seventh.


In Exodus 20:16 we read “You shall not commit adultery.” This, like other commandments, has been expanded from its initial brief indication to a broader vision of sexuality: “Thou shalt not commit impure acts.”

I particularly like this commandment because it constitutes the point of union between two groups of people who consider themselves positioned in total antithesis. I am referring to the meapilas and those who have renounced the faith, precisely because they cannot live this precept coherently.

Both groups of people – the statue huggers and the renegades – tend to consider the sixth commandment no longer the main one, the cornerstone, but the only one in the decalogue. Both groups assume that stealing and killing is bad, NOT by God’s law, but by natural law, and, therefore, no one questions it, but “committing impure acts”, touching “sexuality”, that is already gone. For some “sexuality” is THE door to damnation – if you manage not to fall into the sixth commandment it would seem that heaven is guaranteed – and for others it constitutes the most inadmissible interference of “priests” in the “freedom” of people, and from this assessment they consider that the Church is absolutely incapable of existing.

Twenty-five years ago, I was still studying in college, and a professor explained to us how the adolescent, feeling guilty about this commandment, decides to completely distance himself from the Church rather than embrace the sacrament of reconciliation – with all that it implies -, and it is that is why so many “desertions” occur at that age. Since then, I have seen teenagers, twenty-something, thirty-something and people of any age renounce their faith because NOT of the sixth commandment, but solely of how it is lived. I have often seen people who had deeply lived their faith renounce the entire Church, because they cannot bear to look in the mirror of this commandment, limiting it to its original expression “You shall not commit adultery.”

From my point of view, the problem is in considering sexuality exclusively in its most basic version – pure corporeality – they do not take into account sexuality in its integral and integrative vision of the person.

Sexual relationships reach their maximum potential, for which we humans have been created, by being integrated in a total donation of our life and in the total acceptance of the life of the other, starting from the desire to give instead of receiving pleasure, assuming fully the responsibilities that derive from them, starting from the primary purpose of sexuality.

On the other hand, when they are not integrated into a total donation, they do not entail total acceptance of the life of the other, they are based on the desire to receive instead of giving pleasure or they do not fully assume the responsibilities that derive from them, beginning by denying the primary purpose of sexuality, they lower its functionality to levels that are very distant from what we can achieve as humans, and therefore limit our potential.

Sexuality has a primary purpose, which is procreation, but it would be absurd to propose that someone only have sexual relations for that sole purpose. Sexuality fulfills many more functions, but it would be equally absurd to try to deny the existence of its primary purpose.

Eating has a primary purpose, which is nutrition, but it would be absurd to suggest that someone would choose where to go to dinner based on the restaurant’s nutritional offering (“here they serve very good proteins, well-balanced with carbohydrates and seasoned with an adequate proportion of lipids” ). We all choose where to have dinner or what to have for dinner based on our tastes, but even if we only eat what we like (this is what 99.99% of adults in the first world do, although we force children to eat what they don’t like), we do not avoid, nor do we intend to, the primary purpose of eating, which is to feed ourselves.

Having sexual relations and trying to avoid, deny, or even annihilate the responsibilities that derive from them is a clear use of the person. I am NOT referring exclusively to children – this is the first responsibility from which one cannot escape, I am also referring to the psychological, affective, emotional and cultural responsibilities that any sexual relationship entails – yes, it entails them even if there are those who insist on deny them. Responsibilities in others, but also in ourselves.

Am I exaggerating? Have you ever established a personal relationship – not necessarily sexual – with a person who had a very peculiar physical characteristic? Have you developed that relationship, like with anyone else? I recommend you reflect on it.

Years ago there was a play in Madrid called “Gorda” by Neil Labute. It tells the story of a successful thirty-something man, with a socially acceptable physique – the actor who represented him was Luis Merlo – who begins a relationship with a “great but fat” girl, the main actress was Teté Delgado.

In one of the dialogues between the protagonist and one of her astonished friends, the former asks: “what do you think of her as a person?”

“¡¡ ¿As a person? !!” – answers the friend absolutely disoriented.

He had not been able to see her “as a person”, he had only seen her as “fat”. That’s what I call depersonalization.

This is the same thing that is intended when a sexual relationship is established in which one does not intend to give or accept anything from the other, only the body, or even when one starts from a premise with an expiration date: I surrender, and I accept you, but only as long as my sensitivity and my effectivity are in a positive tone. If they change to a neutral or negative tone, what I have given you will be mine again and what you have given me will be rejected.

Logically, reducing sexuality to corporeality prevents us from living it in the fullest (and fun) way possible. Living sexuality not as a means but as an end is seriously limiting. Maybe even pathological.

Let us remember that the commandments are the guides that God gives us so that we can live in the fullest way possible, they are not there to put restrictions – except for what can harm us and those who are by our side – they are to guide us to enjoy to the fullest and to get the most out of our humanity.