Two Talents

Faith-based expressions of a Christian.

Adultery

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“You shall not commit adultery.”  {Exodus 20:14}

Adultery is the sin committed when one married person engages in sexual relations with someone other than their spouse. It is one of the Ten Commandments so we therefore know it’s a big deal to God. And should you be one of those who places importance upon the sin based upon where it falls on the list of the Ten Commandments, this one is listed right after the sin of murder and right before the sin of theft.

It is not, however, as simple as that. We should first consider why it is a sin. The first part of that answer is found very early on in the scriptures:

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. {Genesis 2:24}

The other reason is that the marriage covenant is not merely between the man and the woman; it also involves God. In every covenant God has made with man He has kept his end of the deal perfectly. He takes covenant agreements seriously and upholds them. He expects us to do likewise. When a man vows to love, honor and cherish his wife, and vice-versa, as long as both shall live they are making a covenant between  themselves and also with God. One could argue this is not the case with secular weddings performed outside of the church, however God is not a lawyer and because He ordained marriage (i.e. it is something He created, not man) He expects vows to be kept, be they made in a church or before the Mayor at City Hall. He is part of the process regardless of the specifics of the wedding ceremony.

In like manner, God expects us to be faithful to Him, as we are to be faithful to our spouse. The first of the Ten Commandments is to have no other God before Him, and God states that He becomes jealous when this happens. Elsewhere, the church is stated to be the bride of Christ, and Paul extolled us to engage in spousal relationships that mirror that of Christ and the church.

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. {Ephesians 5:22-27}

Of note here are that wives should be subject to their husbands in the way that the church is subject to Jesus Christ. The state of the American church might explain why adultery and divorce are so common in our society, but that’ s a whole other topic. The point is that wives should be a bride to their husbands in the fashion that the church is the bride of Christ. Likewise, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. These are, quite frankly, tall orders for we flawed humans. We will never truly reach those objectives, but we are instructed to endeavor to do so, and that’s the important point.

Also important is how it is stated that the church will be presented to her groom as “having no spot or wrinkle”. Now, we know the church is replete with spots and wrinkles, and it is only through the shed blood and power of Jesus that the church (and every individual that composes it) can be without spot or wrinkle. Husbands cannot make their wives so, nor wives their husbands, but the model we are to strive for is to be blameless; without spot or wrinkle.

Knowing these traits about God and His Son we can understand why adultery is a big deal to God and His Son. And, in fact, Jesus pointed out in Matthew 19:9 that “immorality” is the only reason permitted for a divorce. The immorality is clarified earlier in Matthew 5:32 as being adultery. Jesus even admitted this was a difficult truth for many. Why? My guess is because the easy way out of a marriage where the spouse commits adultery is divorce. Forgiveness is more difficult.

I know a man who was the victim of an adulterous spouse and who chose the more difficult route of forgiveness over divorce. He agreed to share his story.

I discovered my wife had been unfaithful when she left the computer, still signed in to her e-mail account. The message still on the screen was to another man and it was obvious that she was cheating on me with him. My initial reaction was shock. I stared at that message, almost unable to process what I was reading. But there was no denying what was in front of me. I searched through her inbox and sent messages and found other messages that made it obvious she was having an affair with this other man.

I confronted her when she got home, telling her she had left her e-mail open and I’d read the messages to and from this other man. At first she played dumb and said she had no idea what I was talking about. Enough time had passed that I’d gone from my initial shock to anger, and I exploded at her for denying what I knew to be true. I yelled, I screamed, I stood on the pedestal of the righteous who has been taken advantage of. She said nothing during my outburst. Finally, she admitted to it. I began asking questions, wanting to know specifics about this sordid business. Who was he? How long had this been going on? How many times had they slept together?

My wife told me she would not answer those questions. Her reason for it was because it wouldn’t help matters and would only hurt me more. I think she was afraid that if I knew who the guy was that I’d do something stupid, like go find him and put a bullet in his head. I don’t think I would have done that, but I can’t say I wouldn’t have at least wanted to find him and beat him to a pulp. The affair was cleared up, except for my wife admitting to what she had done and saying she had never meant to hurt me. That didn’t help at all, because in my mind if she’d never meant to hurt me she wouldn’t have done what she did. Her comments were also delivered robotically, with no emotion. I wasn’t buying that she felt any remorse.

At that point I had no idea what to do. My life was now complete chaos and my emotions were a swirling mess. Probably by Christian instinct I went to another room and after a minute of pacing around I fell to my knees. Shaking and now sobbing uncontrollably, I blurted out, “Lord, please help me! I don’t know what to do and this really hurts! Please, help me!!!” There was more to that prayer, but I did repeat the plea for help several times during it. I was a broken man and had nowhere else to go, so I went to the One who is always there. After praying I sat down and continued sobbing. My wife came into the room and asked if I wanted her to stay or go. I didn’t answer for a long time.

I finally looked at her and told her that I wanted her to do both. Part of me wanted her to go away and never come back but the rest of me still loved her and wanted her to stay. I could tell she was hurt at seeing me in that state, still sobbing while I spoke and in great pain. She left the room. I eventually composed myself and spent the rest of that day in a zombie-like state. The next morning was still awful, as was the day after that. In fact, I was in deep pain for quite some time. We’d been married for 8 years and this was the woman I believed to be the one intended for me.

It took weeks for the initial hurt to subside, and even then it didn’t just go away. They say time heals all wounds and that is true to an extent. When I’d discovered those e-mails I sent one to the other man, telling him that I was the husband and knew what they were doing. My wife eventually told me that the other man had replied to my message, intending it for me, cowardly claiming that he didn’t know she was married, that she was responsible for it all and so on (which my wife swore were lies). Knowing her I could eventually see that she felt awful for what she had done and was living with tremendous guilt because of it. After all, she was also a Christian. She had fallen away, but the guilt I knew she was living with told me that she still belonged to Christ. After some time had passed we had a long talk. I knew that she hurt from what she had done and my own pain had lessened enough for me to settle this mess. She told me how awful she felt for what she had done, how she was entirely wrong and that she would understand if I wanted a divorce.

I told her that I still loved her, despite her having caused me such incredible pain. And I had also come to grips with the fact that I hadn’t been a very good husband to her. She told me that was not important and that it was all her fault, but I knew better. I’d was dealing with some shame myself because I’d taken her for granted for awhile leading  up to that mess. I told her that I forgave her. She expressed relief at that and thanked me. We reconciled and remain married to this day.

It wasn’t easy. For a year or so after that I wasn’t able to completely trust her. If she went to the store and wasn’t back in what I felt was enough time to have completed her task I would call her cell phone, asking where she was. To her credit, my wife always told me where she was going every time she left the house, how long she expected to be gone and who she would be with (if the situation involved others). She told me I could come along if I wanted to. She would encourage me to call her cell phone or the land line where she would be if I wanted to check up on her. She never once questioned my lack of trust or got upset about it. In fact, she always said she understood and knew she would have to earn back my trust. She eventually did.

You know, I wouldn’t want to go through that again, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Going through that was extremely painful and even years after the fact I don’t care to recall the memories of that time. But there was one thing about that time which I recall favorably, and that was when I fell to my knees and prayed for Jesus to help me. I didn’t form a prayer because I didn’t know what to say. I just said what was in my heart: Jesus, help me! And He did. Jesus was there for me at the lowest point in my life. It was like that famous “Footsteps” story, when the man saw only one set of footprints and Jesus told him that it was at that time He had carried the man. Jesus carried me. I know in my heart that when I need Jesus, He will be there and He will comfort me. I can’t say that I am glad I lived through my wife’s cheating, but the positive I take away from it is that Jesus is faithful to us. And it was because of Jesus that I was able to forgive my wife. We are still together, and happier than we were before that time, because of Jesus. I can only thank Him and offer Him praise!

After reading that story I’m left thinking. When we commit spiritual adultery against God, does it hurt Him as much as it hurt the man who shared his story? We know God is faithful to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9), but do we forget that it surely hurts Him to see us stray? I am also reminded of the story of the prophet Hosea and his wife, Gomer. God told Hosea to take Gomer as his wife, despite the fact that she was a prostitute. And despite the fact that Gomer continually cheated on him with other men, Hosea was told by God to forgive her time and time again, for every transgression. The story of Hosea and Gomer was meant to show us the relationship between God and man. Like Gomer, we continually stray, and yet He forgives us time after time.

What an amazing, wonderful, long suffering, grace-filled God we have! What a privilege it is to belong to Him!!

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Written by Shawn

April 14, 2010 at 5:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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