Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Anatomy of Adultery

Adultery is reprehensible.  I think we can all agree on that, but I do not think we really grasp just how horrible a sin that it is. For one thing, it is the only reason for-cause where divorce is allowable.  In other words, it is the only legitimate reason to put asunder what God has put together.  In fact, that is what adultery does.  It breaks that marriage bond.  It takes your flesh and joins it with another, breaking apart the one flesh created by God.  It is also one of the only sins (if not the only) that involves a life-long injunction from God.  There are real consequences in this world for adultery that ends in divorce in that the adulterer is not allowed under God to be married to another.  Any future marriage, though sanctioned by man and even allowed by a disobedient church, is not sanctioned by God.  It is merely a continuation of the adultery, and bringing another in to share in that sin. 
And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.  Matthew 19:9 NKJV
Adultery is a reprehensible sin.  It is also a prevalent one.  Studies have been doing showing that anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of adults have had some kind of affair.  Even if the low number is the correct one, that is still 1 in 5 marriages.  In fact, there is a website that is specifically designed to be a place for married people to meet and have an affair.  It is a sick and fallen world we live in.  I am sure that very few people get into marriage with any intention to commit adultery.  Affairs do sometimes just happen (meaning they are more spontaneous than built up to), but more often it is something that we never see coming.  Please never think that adultery is something you are incapable of because you are a Christian.  Many Christians fall into this sin.  If King David can fall into this kind of temptation, who are we to say that we can not?  In fact, it is this lack of vigilance that oftentimes leads us to falling.  We never see the warning signs if we do not believe we need any kind of a warning. 

So how does this happen?  Usually, the process begins long before the sin actually happens.  It usually begins with a need not being met by the other spouse. Please do not think I am blaming the victim.  The adulterer can not stand before God and blame the other person for their own adultery.  Each will have to give an account of their own actions.  Not providing for the needs of your spouse is something you do have to work on as that is the responsibility of a spouse, but it is never a reason for adultery.  There is never a reason for adultery, only excuses.  But what happens is that spouse begins to seek out that need in other places.  This need is not necessarily sex, and usually it is not.  Usually it is loneliness because the other spouse is distant physically or emotionally.  The other reason has nothing to do with needs at all, but just putting ourselves in situations that we should not be in, leading to temptation that we can (and many have) fall into.

In the first case about needs not met, the road to adultery begins with someone else meeting that need.  This usually starts innocently.  The husband or wife who is home alone for long periods of time begins to have companionship with other people, be it a neighbor, a friend, a coworker, or anyone else.  The danger arises when this growing friendship is with someone of the opposite sex.  That innocent replacement for companionship often grows into something not so innocent at all.  As the husband or wife complains about the missing spouse, a wedge begins to develop in the relationship.  It is only a matter of time before the lonely spouse looks forward to those lonely times just so he or she can spend time with the person who is becoming much more a part of his or her life.  Adultery is only a small step away once it gets to that level.  The same is true for a spouse not meeting emotional needs.  That offended spouse ultimately finds friends to meet those emotional needs not being met, and if that friend is a member of the opposite sex, the same kind of scenario plays out.  You grow closer and closer to the one who meets those needs and further and further away from the spouse who does not.  Once again, adultery is only around the corner.

The other main reason is getting ourselves in situations that we should never be in.  In fact, this is always part of the reason.  Even in the case of a lonely spouse, that spouse puts themselves into a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. A married man or woman should never spend time alone with someone unrelated of the opposite sex.  If you stand by that rule, adultery can never happen.  For example, I know of an affair that happened by two married people (not to each other) who were involved in ministry together.  They often drove a truck together delivering food and as time went on, they got closer and closer together.  Eventually, they had an affair and two marriages were ruined.  What started out as a desire to serve the Lord turned in time to a sinful desire for each other.  This all happened by putting themselves in a situation where it can happen. 

So how do we save our marriages?  The simple answer is to not put yourself in a situation where temptation can get the best of you.  If you are never alone with a member of the opposite sex, you can never have an affair with that person.  It really is that simple.  Another important thing is accountability.  Temptation is a fact of life, and sometimes that temptation can even be to have an affair.  If you are in that situation, tell someone.  Have someone pray with you and for you and have that person hold you accountable for your actions.  You are much less likely to cheat on your spouse if you know a good friend is going to ask you about it later.   Next, you need to be there for your spouse.  You need to be there physically and emotionally to meet those needs.  If you did not have a need to be together, then why would you have come together in marriage?  I know there are situations in the world that will take husband and wife away from each other for a time, but that should be the exception rather than the rule.  It is hard to be one with someone who can not even be around.  If you are alone or your spouse is not meeting those needs, then you need to pray with and for your spouse.  Do not keep company with someone of the opposite sex who is not your relative.  That is never ever safe.  Draw closer to God, pray for your spouse, spend time with friends of the same sex or family, and have them pray with you as well.  God can certainly change your circumstances to give you the physical and emotional closeness you so desire.  And, finally, never think you are above falling.  It is when you stop being diligent that the devil can get a foothold. 

I need to address one more thing before I close.  If you have had an affair or are having one, you need to confess.  No matter how much you think you are hiding it now, it can be exposed at any time.  I know of one man who was having an affair for years until one day he was finally caught.  His mistress came clean and his marriage was in shambles.  You did a terrible thing, and there is no getting around the hurt you will cause, but it is much better for you to come clean than for you to be exposed.  It is better to find out from you, humbling yourself and confessing,  then from a friend or stranger who saw something or from the one you were having the affair with.  If there can be any kind of healing in that relationship, it must begin with you humbling yourself.  If you started down that road, then you need to stop before it is too late.  If you have a friendship that you do not want your spouse to know about, if you have emails that you do not want your spouse to read, or if you find yourself looking more forward to spending time with that other person, then you are in extreme danger.  You need to repent and immediately before you go too far.  Once that line is crossed, there is no uncrossing it.   Unless it is a surprise party or a gift, there is nothing you should ever hide from your spouse.  I know for my wife and I, we know each others email and Facebook passwords and we use the same computers.  I recommend that for every marriage because nothing should ever be kept hidden from one another.  If you think there are things on your email that you do not want your spouse to see, then there is a problem. 

Love your spouse, be there for your spouse emotionally and physically, and be open and honest with your spouse.  Your spouse is the other part of you, closer than any best friend or family member could ever be.  Next to God, your spouse is the love of your lifetime, enjoy that relationship and treasure it for the awesome gift of God that it is. 
And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made [them] at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."   Matthew 19:4-6 NKJV

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