Affair Proofing Your Marriage
October 25, 2009
I don’t think any of us would doubt that Jesus had a strong view on marriage. We often think that divorce is a recent innovation but rules and decrees guiding how couples should split up are more common in the bible than how they should hitch up. You would be hard pressed to find guidelines for what a wedding should look like in the bible but you only have to go four books in to find the guidelines on how a marriage should be ended.
And two thousand years ago there were some of the same concerns about the sanctity of marriage whether or not divorce and marriage split ups were becoming way too prevalent as there are today. And so in the scripture that was read earlier Jesus was asked what his views were on the subject. Now understand that the Pharisees really weren’t interested in Jesus opinion as much as they were looking for a reason to attack him.
But Jesus took a strong stand, much stronger than the church takes today and that is a sermon for a different day. And his answer is recorded in Matthew 19:4-6 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
God put them together and nobody should split them up, nobody. But as strong as the bond of marriage was for Jesus he saw one exception and that was given in Matthew 19:9 And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.” Now some people see this as a loophole and others see this as an exception but I think Jesus saw very clearly that nothing could break the covenant like a physical betrayal, that a couple’s commitment to one another was declared null and void with the act of adultery.
The Bible, the word of God takes a very dim view of adultery, as a matter of fact adultery didn’t have to be specified as a reason for divorce in the Old Testament. Because in the Old Testament the punishment for cheating was death by stoning and there was nothing to prevent a widow or widower from remarrying. I’ve said before that while it may not have been a deterrent, it sure cut down on repeat offenders. A view obviously shared by Loretta Lynn who said “My attitude toward men who mess around is simple: If you find ’em, kill ’em.”
Some recent studies indicate that 50% of married men and women will have at least one extramarital affair during their marriage. Think about it, that’s 50 out of 100, 10 out of 20, 1 out of 2 married men and women will cheat on their respective spouses. Hilda Houlding co-ordinator of the Calgary Family Service Bureau, made this comment “An affair is often an attempt to find a little bit of paradise on the side, pursuing the belief that if one just finds the right sexual partner there will be instant happiness and everything will fall into place. An affair is often able to fulfil this myth, until itself becomes a relationship that has to be worked at and looked at in a long term light. Seen in this way “paradise” soon becomes a prison”
I’m old enough to remember when Gary Hart had to withdraw as a US presidential candidate because there was speculation about an extramarital affair, and I remember the late 90’s when it seemed that America was quite willing to accept the fact that not only was their President an adulterer but was a serial adulterer.
Today adultery has become almost common place, not only has it reached almost crisis proportion out there, but the crisis has spread into the church as well. That which was almost unthinkable in the church thirty years ago has become all too common.
Keith Drury is an Author and Professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, listen to what he wrote, “The devil is a liar. No one falls in this area without believing some of the Devil’s lies. God tells the truth. His word is light, not darkness. The Devil may be multiplying his attack on Christians because he has access to modern weapons like, TV, movies, videos, sexual advertising, cable and satellite TV. He serves these stimulants daily in the living rooms of the average Christian, especially those who ‘watch TV to unwind.””
Too often when talking to people whose marriage is in trouble they want to tell me what the other person is or isn’t doing. If I speak to someone who becomes involved with someone else, by the way having an affair is just a gussied up way of saying committing adultery, they tell me if their partner had of done more of this and less of that then they wouldn’t have had to look for love in all the wrong places. And as much as I wish I could give you a list of ways to keep your spouse from cheating on you I can’t. And there isn’t anything you can do, legally anyway, that would absolutely guarantee that your spouse will always be faithful. How often have you heard of a marriage that seemed perfect and yet one or the other partner broke their marriage vows? I’ve spoken to people whose partner cheated on them and they’ve said “I thought everything was going great, I thought we were happy.” And I’ve even spoken to some people who have cheated on their spouse who said “I don’t know why I did it, everything was going great and we were happy and I just wasn’t thinking straight.”
So here’s the bottom line: if we are going to be faithful in our marriage it’s going to be up to us. If you came today to discover how to keep your spouse from cheating on you, surprise. You will never be able to control your partner’s faithfulness, but you will always be responsible for your side of the relationship. How do you do that? Good question. The answer of course is that we work at it. Grab your pen, cause here are eight suggestions for affair proofing your marriage.
1) Don’t Start Anything. Sounds simple doesn’t it. That fact of the matter is that adultery is one of those things that start innocently enough. A mutual attraction to a neighbour, co-worker, or even someone you go to church with. You both understand each other so well. You have so much in common with one another and you enjoy those quiet moments you have together. They seem more eager to listen to you then your spouse does. Soon there are those special little words that are spoken softly between you. The little pats, a gentle squeeze of your arm, a meaningful glance, a lingering gaze, a quick hug, a short embrace, and eventually you have been led down a path you never intended to walk.
Don’t start up the ladder of affection with anyone other then your spouse. Did you hear that? Don’t start up the ladder of affection with anyone other then your spouse. Listen to what Solomon reminded us of three thousand years ago, Proverbs 6:27-29 Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? So it is with the man who sleeps with another man’s wife. He who embraces her will not go unpunished.
Words from a man who knew what he was talking about considering that he was the result of the adulterous affair between his father, King David and Bathsheba. If you are involved at any stage of affectionate expression with anyone other than your mate than you are playing with fire. Stop. Turn around and turn back. I’m not saying that you can’t be friends with members of the opposite sex, but you know what I’m saying.
Sue Johanson who hosts a show on WTN says: “You can’t say, ‘I didn’t know what would happen.’ That’s a crock. You knew with the sweaty palms and sweaty pits. You knew with the long gazes. You made the decision not to decide and you let it just happen.” If you are climbing the ladder of affection, then get down, right now, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are in control. The best time to stop disobedience is today
2) Listen To Your Spouse This one is especially for you guys. God seems to have given women the special ability to identify a strange woman on their turf. Don’t write off spousal comments as jealousy, and even if at this point it is innoncent, it may not appear that way to them, and you can stand the warning.
If your spouse questions your relationship with someone of the opposite sex pay attention, they may notice a come on before you do. Twenty years ago Angela warned me about a woman I was working with outside the church, it was only when I stepped back and looked that I was able to see what Angela had been seeing. How’d she know, beats me, maybe God told her. I’m really not all that sure, but I’m really glad I listened to her.
3) Tell On The Other Person. If someone begins to quietly come on to you, then fink on them. Tell your partner that very day, don’t wait until tomorrow to see if it happens again, tell your spouse before you go to bed. Your spouse is supposed to be the most important person in your life, let them help you deal with the problem. Sometimes it’s an ego problem. It’s been so long since anyone flirted with you, you had forgotten how good it felt, and besides it’s not like it’s hurting anyone, and you wouldn’t think of taking it any further. Stop it. The both of you are in this marriage together and both of you need to learn to protect your relationship with each other and with God. Do it and do it fast. Tell your spouse if you suspect anyone; don’t play his or her game. The quicker you realize that you are in this together trying to protect your marriage the better.
4) Don’t Spend Time Alone With The Opposite Sex.
Keith Drury has this to say to Pastors “He who meets another woman alone in private hath no brains!” Don’t place yourself into a situation where there is temptation or where temptation can be acted on. It’s surprising how many martial indiscretions and outright adultery has sprung out of relationships established on the premise of “giving spiritual help” or “sharing our problems together” Hah! Do you remember what Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:13 And don’t let us yield to temptation. Only sometimes we don’t need a whole lot of leading do we? We can do a pretty good job of finding temptation all by ourselves.
When I talk to teens and young adults about their dating habits I often warn them to stay out of situations where they are placing themselves into areas of greater temptation. Parking on lonely country roads, being home together when there is no one else around. There are some areas that are danger zones not only for teens but also for adults, and we need to recognize them and stay away from them. “The person who meets with someone of the opposite sex who is not their spouse alone in private, hath no brains.”
5) Drink From Your Own Spring. Proverbs 5:15 Drink water from your own well— share your love only with your wife. It has been said that the best defence is a good offence. Though it’s not a guarantee, “Keeping the fires hot at home,” is a good defence against temptation. That has always been the case check out what Paul wrote almost two thousand years ago, in a letter to the church in Corinth, 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
The CEV says don’t refuse, the NIV translates it don’t deprive each other and the authorized version tells us not to defraud each other. And that’s what happens when you provide a dry or boring spring at home. Hey guys and girls, sex wasn’t the devil’s idea it was God’s and sexual fulfilment in marriage is God’s plan.
But listen up; don’t allow Satan to suggest that any lack of fulfilment in your marriage justifies a little sin to make up for it. It don’t, never has, never will. Didn’t for Charles and Diana, didn’t for Bill and Hillary, and won’t for you.
On the other hand if’n you’re not providing a spring to be drunk from at home and your spouse goes looking for a drink elsewhere, while they aren’t justified you are not entirely without blame. And the spring isn’t’ just a sexual one, make sure that your spouse wants to spend time with you.. If you are negative and miserable to be around your spouse might very well find someplace else to go. One Colorado psychologist’s summary of more than a decades work counselling “The other woman” argues that the common trait that the “other woman” all share is being a good listener.
6) Be Aware of Emotional Adultery This is one of the first steps up the ladder of affection. Beware of getting emotionally attached to someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse. I know that I’m sounding a bit extreme but affairs start in mostly innocent situations. Emotional attachments can lead to explosive situations where temptations come crashing in with unexpected force.
Emotional relationships often develop into something more and end up in disaster. And even if they don’t lead to sin, they can hinder your own marriage relationship. If you are getting your emotional needs met somewhere other then home than you are leaving a gap in your relationship with your spouse. And that includes relationships that develop online.
Emotional attachments are explosive, they can cause someone to fall in love with or they can cause you to fall for someone else “who seems to understands me so well” or they can cause such deep emotional bonding that you find it impossible to walk away. If you are bonding emotionally with someone other then your mate then walk away from it before it ruins you.
7) Get Control Of Your Thought Life. Long before an affair happens physically it happens mentally. Listen to the words of a Minister who ended up with a ruined marriage and a ruined ministry after a one night stand “adultery isn’t something that happens with the act — it happens months beforehand. It’s an attitude. You disconnect yourself from the person you’ve said you’re spending the rest of your life with.” Those thoughts may differ whether you’re a man or a woman. With men they are more apt to be sexual fantasies with a woman romantic fantasies but if they involve someone other then your spouse they are wrong, wrong, wrong.
You say “But they are only thoughts” sure they are, that’s why Conway Twitty wrote in one song, “We’re not exactly strangers you and I, because I’ve already loved you in my mind.” And why Jesus told us in Matthew 5:28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. And I don’t think it would be unfair to the scriptures to say Matthew 5:28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a man with lust has already committed adultery with him in her heart.
If you are keeping pure actions toward someone, and have not uttered even the slightest words of attachment, yet you are guilty of impure thoughts, then you are perching on a precarious cliff which leads nowhere but over the brink into deeper and deeper violations of God’s law.
Who do you think you are? Do you believe that you will be the first to escape God’s law? Do you think that you can play with fantasy fire without burning your soul? Do you truly believe that you can keep God’s anointing on your life even as you dwell on thoughts of disobedience? I’m not talking about temptation here, you will probably never escape that in this life. I’m talking about wilfully dwelling on impure thoughts, about thinking about them on purpose, playing and replaying them over and over again in your mind like a video tape. That my friends is sin.
There is incredible power in the mind, power that can be focused on good or on evil. Bring your thought life into captivity, before it brings you into captivity. Find out what triggers those thoughts and starve the source, it might be certain people, times, memories, places, television shows, movies or websites. Jesus said in Matthew 5:29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Now we’re not into self mutilation, but there may be some areas of your life that need to be poked out, for your own protection and the protection of your marriage.
8) Recognize That You Will Get Caught. This is the bottom line people, you will get caught. Are you involved in a suspicious relationship right now? Maybe nobody knows about it. It’s a secret. You may think you are getting away with it. Satan is telling you that you will never get caught. You believe that you are the exception and you are wrong. You will get caught. Satan is a liar, and the word of God is the ultimate truth and it says in the Bible, the word of God in the book of Numbers 32:23. . . and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.
Sinners have always believed that they could get away with sin. From day one they believe that. Adam and Eve believed it and they got caught. Cain thought he got away with murder and he got caught. Rebecca and Jacob thought they had deceived everyone but they got caught. Joseph’s brothers thought they had committed the perfect crime, but they got caught. Moses thought he’d buried his sin in the sand, but he got caught. Achan got caught, Saul got caught, David got caught, Jonah got caught, Anianas and Sapphira got caught, Jimmy Swarggart got caught, Gary Hart got caught and so did Bill Clinton, a couple of times. Well you know what Billy Sunday said, “Sin can be forgiven, but stupid is forever.” It’s simple, sinners get caught.
Do you really think that you can get away with a little sin? What makes you think that you will do what others haven’t? Do you think you can break God’s universal laws of life and get away with it? Do you think that you will be the first person who gets away with sin. Friend you will be like ever other sinner throughout history, you will get caught.
How? I don’t know, maybe the other person will get a case of the guilts and confess, it’s happened before. Or maybe someone else will tell. You think that nobody knows? When you are sinning Satan tricks you into believing that you are invisible, you’re not. Someone will see you. Or maybe the burden of guilt will get so great that you will confess. You may even get away with it for awhile. If you do, than you will get more and more bold in your sin, and that in itself will make the sin so obvious that you will eventually cause yourself to get caught.
The devil promises you all the kingdoms of the world, if you will simply bow down and worship at his altar of impure desires. But you can’t have it all. God says that your sin will find you out and you will have to pay the price, and God is the truth.
You cannot make your spouse be faithful, but you and only you are responsible for how faithful you are going to be in your marriage.
As serious as physical adultery is, and it is serious, there is a game that is even more dangerous then that. There may not be anyone here today who is cheating on their spouse, but I’m sure there are those here today who are cheating on God. Yep, the bible talks about us being unfaithful to God. As a matter of fact there is an entire book of the Bible which compares those who aren’t in step with God to a cheating spouse. Maybe you know that you have wandered away from God, you maybe you’ve never made the commitment in the first place. But there is only one who can make it and only one who can keep it and that is you. God has already made it clear that he is going to be faithful In the book of Hebrews 13:5 it says God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
Thanks to Keith Drury for a lot of the ideas in this message.