Westminster Larger Catechism (Q 139)

Dear Church Family,

This past Sunday, we did not have Sunday school; however, two weeks ago we continued our Sunday school lessons in the Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC) in questions 139 (dealing with the seventh commandment). Here is a brief review.

WLC 139  What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?
The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behaviour, immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage; having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company, lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.

The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment may be summarized under nine headings:

(1) Neglect of the required duties of the sixth commandment (see previous question, WLC 138)

(2) Adultery, fornication, rape, and unnatural sexual sins (Hebrews 13:4)

(3) Unclean thoughts and affection, filthy communications, impudent behavior and immodesty (Matthew 5:27-28)

(4) Prohibiting lawful marriages (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

(5) Allowing, tolerating, keeping, or resorting to stews (Deuteronomy 23:17-18)

– A term “stew” originally meant a public bath house but came to be used for a house of prostitution; in today’s vernacular we might say “massage parlor.”

(6) Vows of chastity, undue delay of marriage (Matthew 19:11-12)

(7) Polygamy (Matthew 19:3-6)

(8) Unjust divorce of desertion (Matthew 5:31-32; 1 Corinthians 7:12-15)

(9) Laziness, unchaste company, and lewd media (Ephesians 5:3-4; Romans 13:13)

In the class, we also spent some time talking about how our Westminster Standards list two biblical reasons for which divorce may be permissible, but not necessary: adultery or willful desertion (Matthew 5:31-32; 1 Corinthians 7:12-15; WCF 24:6). It’s also important to note that our Confession also the Church and civil magistrate as two institutions that out to help in remedying marital conflict, and that the husband and wife ought not to be left to their own wills and discretion in their own case (WCF 24:6).

In 1992, our own denomination published a study paper on “Divorce and Remarriage” which is biblically based, thorough, and well-written. While not binding, the study report is a great help for pastors, elders, and sessions. That paper, along with many other study papers published by the PCA, may be found online here: https://pcahistory.org/pca/digest/index.html.


As we read and study the required duties and forbidden sins of the ten commandments, we all are certainly convicted of the innumerable ways in which we do not conform to God’s law and the innumerable ways in which we transgress God’s law every day in thought, word, and deed. And, as we are convicted of our sin, we are also reminded of the two special uses of God’s law for the regenerate which we learned in WLC 97.

First, we grow in our assurance of salvation through faith in the Person and work of Christ. The law of God shows us how much we are bound to Christ for His fulfilling the law and enduring the curse of the law in our stead, and for our good. Second, we learn better how to love the Lord and to love our neighbor. The law of God provokes us to thankful obedience, to endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ.

Join us on Sunday mornings at 9:15 am as we learn how we may offer up our thankful obedience to our Savior in all that we think, say, and do.

The Lord be with you!
Pastor Peter M. Dietsch