In Exodus 20:3-17, God gave us the Ten Commandments to follow. Right now, it's the last of these which is bothering me. Exodus 20:17 goes like this:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.
Now my question here is about the part concerning the coveting of my neighbor's wife. This Commandment seems to have a lot of grey areas here. I mean, what exactly did God mean by "covet" in regard to women. It really isn't a word that most of us have in our everyday vocabulary. Has anyone ever heard a man tell a woman, "I covet you with all my heart"? How about, "I covet you to be my wife"? Or has anyone ever said things like, "Man, I could covet her all night long," or "What that girl needs is a good coveting"?
The dictionary says that "to covet" means to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others. So coveting is just desiring in a rather excessive way. Well then, what if I just desire my neighbor's wife but keep it within respectable limits? What would God consider a satisfactory level of coveting to be? Does coveting only refer to desiring for the purpose of sexual relations? What if I covet her to come over and cook me dinner or clean my house? Is that a wrongful desire in the eyes of God? Finally, if it's only the act of coveting that displeases God, do I have the right to rape my neighbor's wife as long as I don't really covet her in the process
Another thing that bothers me here is, who is my neighbor's wife? Does it have to be a legal marriage for her to be considered a wife? What if they're just living together? Do common-law spouses count where coveting is concerned? How about girlfriends? Are they open targets for unbridled coveting?
And which wife are we talking about here? I mean, the Commandment refers to only one wife, stating "neighbor's wife" as opposed to "neighbors' wives." But which wife of which neighbor doesn't God want me coveting? No one ever notified me of who the forbidden woman was when I first reached the tender age of my first covet. Does this mean that I get to choose the one that I shan't covet?
If the Commandment does refer to neighbors in the plural, then how far does the term "neighbor" extend? What if there's a wife a few blocks over who's worthy of a covet or two? Is she acceptable to covet since she's out of the immediate neighbor range. Or does it include the whole neighborhood? Or neighboring villages? Neighboring states? Neighboring countries?
Why does this Commandment have to be so vague? How can we live pious lives if we don't know where the zone of forbidden coveting ends? I need to know at what point I can begin coveting wives with a clear conscious!