The counterfeit pleasure of an affair can never overcome the ways infidelity can destroy a life and marriage.
We were praying for someone who was cheating on his wife. And I was struck by what one person said in his prayer: “Lord, work in his heart so that he will think less about the pleasure he is experiencing and more about the pain he is causing.”
That seemed quite appropriate to me. A spouse who is caught up in adultery is living only for the moment, caught up in a fantasy of excitement and desire, and ignoring the very real consequences.
Recently a seminary paper came across my desk titled “100 Consequences of Adultery,” written by Philip Jay, a student at Phoenix Seminary. The list provides a stark wake-up call about the ways infidelity can destroy a life and marriage. Here’s a selection from Jay’s list, presented with his permission:
If I committed adultery…
- My relationship with God would suffer from a break in fellowship.
- I would need to seek forgiveness from my Lord.
- I would suffer from the emotional consequences of guilt.
- I would spend countless hours replaying the failure.
- My wife would suffer the scars of this abuse more deeply than I could begin to describe.
- My wife would spend countless hours in counseling.
- My wife’s recovery would be long and painful.
- Her pain would grieve me deeply and compound my own suffering and shame.
- Our relationship would suffer a break in trust, fellowship, and intimacy.
- We would be together, yet feel great loneliness.
- The reputation of my family would suffer loss.
- My sons would be deeply disappointed and bewildered.
- My grandchildren would not understand.
- My friends would be disappointed and would question my integrity.
- I would lose my job at church.
- My witness among neighbors would become worthless.
- My witness to my brother would be worthless.
- My testimony among my wife’s family would be damaged.
- I might never be employed by a church again.
- I might never be in men’s ministry leadership.
- I would suffer God’s discipline.
- Satan would be thrilled at my failure.
- Satan would work overtime to be sure my shame never departed.
- My wife might divorce me.
- My children might never speak to me.
- Our mutual friends would shy away from us and break fellowship.
- I would bring emotional pain to the woman.
- I would bring reproach upon the woman.
- If the woman is married, her husband might attempt to bring harm.
- He might divorce her.
- An unwanted child could be produced.
- My part in conception might trigger an abortion, the killing of an innocent child.
- Disease might result.
- Some might conclude that all Christians are hypocrites.
- My business could fail because I couldn’t be trusted.
- My leadership among those I have led in the past might also be diminished in impact.
- My zeal for ministry would suffer and possibly result in others not continuing in ministry.
- My health would suffer.
- I might have to start life over again.
- This same sin might be visited upon my family for four generations.
It’s a pretty sobering list, isn’t it? What’s even more sobering is that many people will consider these consequences and still proceed in their sin. The fantasy is more important to them than the reality.
Also note that, though the list reflects a man’s perspective, nearly all the consequences would also apply to a wife committing adultery. The biggest benefit of this list may be in helping all of us realize the need to set up strict safeguards to ensure that we are faithful in our marriage commitment. If I am convinced of what adultery would do to me and to my family, I will watch my wandering eyes, guard my thought life, and avoid any situations that could put me in harm’s way.
The fantasy is just not worth it.
Copyright © 2010 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Everyone knows that physical adultery is when one man or woman has chosen to physically touch another person who is not their husband or wife in a sexual way. However, there are two more subtle and sneaky ways the devil tries to deceive a husband or wife into crossing the line into adultery. Are you aware of what they are?
1. Emotional Adultery
“The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein.” (Proverbs 22:14)
Emotional adultery can occur when one person shares their personal thoughts, feelings, and emotions with another person other than their husband or wife. This can be deceiving because a person can think they aren’t being unfaithful as long as they don’t touch the other person; however, emotional adultery is crossing the line into sin just as physical adultery does and can cause extremely serious problems in your relationship with your spouse and lead into physical adultery if not stopped.
Here are some examples of emotional adultery:
- When a conversation becomes about personal topics instead of just business with a member of the opposite sex who is not your spouse
- Discussing your marriage issues and problems with a person who is not your spouse
- Discussing your sex life or experiences to a person who is not your spouse
- When you feel attracted to a person’s personality or looks who is not your spouse and you don’t guard your heart
- Having a friend of the opposite sex that you talk to or hang out with without your spouse
- Anytime you have “chemistry” or unspoken attraction to the opposite sex who is not your spouse and you do not attempt to escape the situation (remove yourself from their presence)
- When you provide inappropriate emotional support or comfort for a person of the opposite sex who is not your spouse (even if they claim they really need your help or that they are struggling with something). Also, if you receive inappropriate emotional support and comfort from a member of the opposite sex that is not your spouse.
2. Visual Adultery
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
Visual adultery is exactly what it sounds like; committing adultery with your eyes. Again, visual adultery can be deceiving as well since a person can think that as long as they aren’t physically touching someone other than their spouse, that they are not being unfaithful. Jesus proved this wrong when he said that if you just look with lust you have committed adultery in your heart.
I would define looking with lust as anytime you look at someone or someone’s body because you think they look good or might look good. This would be opposed to the normal routine of just noticing a person. You can notice a person has red hair, or is tall, has broad shoulders, etc., however, lusting is different than noticing. Lusting is when you intentionally direct your eyes towards a person or their body because it looks good or is sexually appealing to you.
When you look with lust, you look at a person as if they are an object and not a person with a personality and soul. Instead, you receive a little bit of sexual gratification from the glance. It’s just a small amount of pleasure you receive when you look so, because of that, it doesn’t make you feel that guilty and makes it easier to do again. This can open the door for a spirit of addiction as well because that little “feel good” moment you got from looking is so seemingly innocent and easy to accomplish that it becomes very easy to do and you can easily slip into being addicted to looking at people other than your spouse in lust.
“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adultress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.” (Proverbs 6:23-29)
It is a fact that what the world thinks is wrong and right is not necessarily what God thinks is wrong or right. God’s standards are much higher. For example, the world says that as long as you don’t cross “third base” you haven’t sinned; however, when I was engaged to my husband the Lord let us know we were being too physical even with our hugs and that we needed to back off of each other and remain pure until we said “I do.”
There are a great deal of people in the world today who would think that is being too strict or religious. But the simple fact is God lays his laws on our hearts and when we sense the prompting of the Holy Spirit that says “don’t go there, you’re crossing the line,” then we need to listen or we could suffer the consequences of sin.
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” (Proverbs 21:2)
You might think you can get a away with indulging in a little “fun” sin for a while, but let me remind you that the cost is very, very high even just for a “little” sin. Each time and specific instance you commit adultery physically, emotionally, or visually you are inviting the enemy, Satan, and his demons into your life, your marriage and your home. Since you’ve given right to the enemy to come in, he can then work in your mind, your thoughts, and your actions to drive you further away from your spouse because Satan’s objective is to destroy you, your family, and your marriage.
Unhealthy soul ties could be created when you choose to lust after another person which could make it difficult to break free from the sin, needing God’s intervention to sever the tie. The pleasure of looking in lust, entertaining the idea of someone else, or having a “crush” on someone other than your spouse can be “fun” for a moment, but realize what you are signing up for when you do it. You could not only lose your wife/husband, your family, not be able to see your children anymore, pay hefty child support fines for a great deal of your life, be distant from your spouse and unsatisfied with them, bring strife and stress to your marriage and home, be a bad example to other believers, and send the message to others that you aren’t serious about following Jesus, but you would also be guilty before God and that is a scary thing.
“But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.” (Proverbs 6:32-33)
So, what should you do? The Bible’s instructions are clear. Guard your heart and flee from evil. When you feel that hint of attraction, it’s time to flee. Get out of the situation as soon as you can because anything less is agreement with the adultery.
“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.” (Proverbs 27:12)
Clearly, the cost of committing adultery in any form is high. You have decide for yourself if it is worth it. One major pitfall is thinking you are “above” the sin and won’t do it. The Bible makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 10:12: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
So, what agreements come to mind that you have made with the enemy? You can ask forgiveness from God today, ask Him to fix what damage has already been done, and choose to turn away from sin. Don’t let the enemy in… it’s just not worth the momentary pleasure!
Jessie Warner is a wife, mother, artist, and writer. She is the owner of Tender Mercies Studio. You can visit her blog at www.tendermerciesphoto.com.
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