Guard Your Heart From Adultery

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Guard Your Heart From Adultery

By Robert Wolgemuth

The core issue here regarding sexual temptation is the condition of our hearts.

“Guard your heart above all else,” a concerned dad warned his young adult son, “for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT).

Many years ago, I had a close friend who made a bad decision to hang out in a hotel bar and stay there until late into the night. This man had never been unfaithful to his wife. But after a few extra drinks, he began a conversation with a woman that continued into the early hours of the next morning.

Before going to their separate rooms, they exchanged cell numbers. When he returned home from the trip, my friend told me all about the woman. “Nothing bad happened,” he said, cautiously defending himself, “But we did share phone numbers,” he added.

I remember this conversation as though it happened last week. My friend and I were in his office. He was behind his desk; I was standing in front of him. And I spoke to him as lovingly and directly as I could.

“Guard your heart,” I pleaded with him. “Guard your heart.”

For the full article go to Family Life’s blog.

If you would like help with your struggles in the area of adultery or with your relationship, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our coaches or counselors.

Infidelity: Does the Root Cause Matter?

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Infidelity: Does the Root Cause Matter?

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Learning that your spouse has had an affair is a jarring, traumatic emotional experience. For the foreseeable future after the discovery (or your spouse’s confession), you’ll go through a deeply painful mourning period. Everything you believed about your life before this knowledge may be shattered, and you may wonder if you’ll ever be able to trust your spouse again.

Picking up the pieces after infidelity is incredibly difficult, but it can be done. The question is, can it be done if your spouse isn’t willing to dig into the why behind his or her actions?

WHY WE WANT TO KNOW

If you’ve been betrayed by your spouse, you’re most likely trying to figure out why they made the choice to have an affair. You’re probably asking yourself questions like:

  • Why did my spouse want to cheat?
  • Was I not good enough
  • What does the other person have that I don’t?
  • Was it something I said or did? Or something I didn’t do?
  • Did my spouse feel their needs weren’t being met?
  • What could we have done differently?
  • How can I be sure it won’t happen again?

It might feel tempting to try to answer all these questions (and more) at once. After all, infidelity will rock your marriage to the core, and if you’ve recently learned of an affair, you’re probably trying to decide what the future has in store. Will you be able to work it out? Will you need to end the marriage? What’s going to happen?

It’s normal to want to know what to expect going forward, as much as possible. For this reason, you might be inclined to question your spouse to get to the bottom of the issue. If you can learn the reasons behind the affair, you believe, perhaps that will help you determine your next steps–especially if the two of you want to work toward saving your marriage.

Learning the reasons behind an affair can also be a powerful form of closure. Perhaps you feel like you can’t forgive completely or move forward unless you’ve gotten all the answers from your spouse. But often, spouses who have been unfaithful don’t want to dwell on details of an affair, much less get to the bottom of the reasons why it happened.

If your spouse is holding back or avoiding conversation about the affair, it can create tremendous anxiety for you. Shouldn’t your spouse be willing to open up and answer all your questions? After all, he or she is the one who’s in the wrong…right?

WHY YOUR SPOUSE WON’T DIG DEEPER

When infidelity has occurred, spouses who have committed adultery often aren’t very articulate about what has happened, and don’t have a deep sense of understanding about the internal factors that drove their decisions to engage in the affair. If your spouse is avoiding these conversations, it’s likely he or she lacks insight into the “whys.”

Another motivation he or she might have is shame regarding the series of decisions that led up to this situation. Your spouse isn’t proud of what has happened, and it’s not something they want to repeat. At this point, they’re so bogged down by the shame of what they’ve done that they have a deep desire to move forward rather than wallowing in the past. Answering questions dredges up emotions, mental images, and more questions that your spouse probably doesn’t want to deal with over and over again.

The future seems very, very bright compared to what you’re going through right now. Your spouse is craving that brighter future, away from the dark season you’re in.

All these factors can compel your spouse not to look deeper into the situation at all; they just want to move forward and put all this behind you. The problem is, you might be left feeling like you’re in the dark.

MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER

Can you and your husband or wife move forward without dissecting the reasons behind an affair? Absolutely. But only the two of you can determine whether this path is the best for you. Healing from infidelity is very tough, no matter how you and your spouse choose to approach it.

What matters most is where you’re headed as a couple, not necessarily understanding everything about the past. You can choose to put it behind you and move forward without digging into the details, but it won’t be easy. (Bear in mind that, after an affair, every path to recovery is difficult in its own way–and the answers are different for each couple.)

While it may be possible to heal and move forward without delving into all the reasons behind an affair, keep in mind that lack of open communication can make it more difficult to reestablish trust. If you feel that your spouse’s avoidance of the topic indicates a desire to hide the truth (whether that’s their motivation or not), that’s likely to raise your suspicions and feed resentment.

If you don’t have an open license to discuss how you’re feeling with your spouse or ask him or her questions about what has happened–and have them honestly answer–trust may not be reestablished in your relationship. Infidelity wreaks havoc on the emotions of the injured spouse, and one important avenue to healing is the ability to freely express how you’re feeling and ask questions. This is not to drag your spouse through the mud over what he or she has done, but rather to reach forgiveness and the closure we talked about earlier.

Agreeing together on a commitment to openness will allow your communication to flow more freely. This is key to healing from the affair that has hurt your marriage so deeply. If you are unable to reach this agreement at first, take heart in knowing that it is possible to move forward regardless. But we strongly recommend finding a way to open those lines of communication between the two of you (seeking out a professional counselor can help you to do this).

If you would like help in your marriage or the fall out of infidelity, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Does He Need to Confess Adultery to His Wife?

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Does He Need to Confess Adultery to His Wife?

By Dr. Russell Moore

[Note: Questions and Ethics is a monthly series in which Dr. Russell Moore provides insight into how Christians should navigate through life’s most challenging moral and ethical issues. The following is a transcript of this audio.]

Today I have an email that came in from someone who is writing—he is a Christian man, a member of a church, who writes and tells me that he had an affair several years ago, that this affair only lasted about a week, that he put an end to it, but he writes and wants to know whether or not now—even though he has confessed it to God, he has repented toward God, he has talked to a couple of key accountability partners in his life—whether or not he ought to tell his wife. Now, this man says that their marriage is already precarious. It has been precarious for some time. He is not sure whether or not his wife knows the Lord—or if she does, how mature she is in Christ—and he doesn’t want to jeopardize their marriage. He doesn’t want to split up their marriage and really wreck the lives of their children. And so he says do I have to tell my wife?

Now, what I want to say is first of all I just stopped and prayed for this family because I know that this has to be absolutely agonizing. It is agonizing for him. It will be soon agonizing for her and for the children—those who are completely innocent in this saga. I do think that you need to tell her and for several reasons: One of those reasons being, you have sinned against her. Your having this adulterous affair is a sin against your wife, and until you have confessed to her and until you have repented to her I don’t think you are finished with the process of repenting. Biblically she has ownership—that is radical language, I Corinthians, chapter 7—she has ownership over your sexuality, and so your sin affects her, even if she doesn’t know about it. And it affects her in several ways: one of them being you have joined yourself with some other woman outside of your marriage, which has a spiritual, mysterious effect, Paul says in I Corinthians, chapter 6.

Secondly though, you have brought to the marriage a breakdown in intimacy. You are keeping a secret from her about something that is at the core of your marriage. She deserves to know this, and I don’t think you have finished repenting until you confess it to her and until you ask for her forgiveness. I also don’t think that you are going to be free from the weight of conviction that you feel from that sense of guilt that you either feel—or if you don’t feel, it’s because you have covered that over and you have a heart that is numb to that. I think that you need to confess this and get that out in the open.

Having said that, I want to say to you be prepared for the consequences of your sin. And I think that you need to make it very clear when you confess this to your wife that she is more important to you than the risk that may come along with your confessing this to her. And so you need to own your sin. You need to communicate this to her as a sin, and do not give any indication that you blame her at all. She is already probably going to be looking for that in whatever it is that you are saying. Do not give even the appearance that you are blaming her. So whatever problems you may have had in your marriage, whatever sorts of issues that you may have with her, this is not the time to talk about those things. You have no ground to give any list of grievances to her—regardless of whether or not those things may be legitimate. She is not to blame for your immorality and your sin, and so don’t imply that she is.

And I would also say don’t take her first reaction to be necessarily her last reaction. She is going to feel betrayed. She is going to feel outraged. She is going to feel as though she doesn’t even understand what her world means right now. That is all completely natural because you have broken the covenant. You have sinned against her, and you have done so with a breach of trust. Don’t defend yourself. Don’t give excuses, reasons. And let her express the grief and the anger that comes out of this. You have been carrying this sin with you now for several years. It could feel to you almost as a relief to get it out in the open in front of her. But this is the first time she is hearing about this, and so, you can’t expect her to forgive you immediately, reconcile with you immediately, move on. She has to grieve this, and she has to express the sort of anger that she has. Let her do that, and then wait patiently for her to forgive you. Don’t expect that she owes you some sort of immediate reconciliation. You are going to have to spend in many ways the rest of your life in your marriage rebuilding the trust that is there, even when she does forgive you.

So I am really sorry about this, and I am praying for your entire family, but yeah, you need to tell her. That is the second step for you, after confessing to God, in your repentance.

 

If you would like help in navigating the struggles of your marriage or relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Six Reasons Why Adultery Is Very Serious

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Six Reasons Why Adultery Is Very Serious

By Tim Challies

Adultery is a serious matter. At least, it is a serious matter in the mind and heart of the God who created sex and marriage and who put wise boundaries on them both. But why? Why is adultery such a serious matter. Christopher Ash provides six reasons in his book Married for God and I am going to track with him as we go.

Adultery is a turning away from a promise. In the mind of the adulterer, the pursuit of another person is not first a turning away but a turning toward—a turning toward someone who is desirable and lovely. “I deserve him.” “She meets my needs.” “He understands me.” “She does the things my wife won’t.” But at heart, adultery is first and most significantly a turning away. It is a turning away from one to whom promises were made in the presence of witnesses. Most importantly, it is a forsaking of promises made in the presence of God and, in that way, a turning away from God himself.

Adultery leads the adulterer from security to chaos. Because the adulterer has turned away, he or she enters into a life of torn loyalties. “Once the promise is broken, the barrier is breached, the secure wall of marriage is torn down, all hell breaks loose. And an adulterer finds he or she has not after all exchanged one secure place (his marriage) for another secure place (the new home with the new partner). That is the illusion, but the reality is much different. Adulterers soon find they’ve entered a world in which unfaithfulness is the norm—after all, if one set of vows can be broken, why not another?” Even when the adulterer remains loyal to that new partner, there is still the divided life, the divided family, the divided memories. “To the adulterer, the grass seems so much greener the other side of the fence, but it isn’t nearly as green as it looks.” The adulterer’s actions lead away from the security of stability and into disorder.

Adultery is secretive and dishonest. Adultery is inherently secretive, inherently dishonest. It has to be because no one wants to trumpet that they are breaking a promise. Adultery loves the darkness and flees the light and for as long as it can it tries to remain a secret. “Whereas news of a marriage is broadcast by joyful announcement and invitations, news of adultery leaks out by rumor and under pressure.” Ouch. That alone should tell us what is at the heart of adultery, for sin loves to remain in the darkness while righteousness loves the light. Adultery depends upon a dishonest secrecy.

Adultery destroys the adulterer. Adultery does no favors to the adulterer. To the contrary, it undermines and erodes character and integrity. “Like all secret sin, it eats away like some noxious chemical at the integrity of the one who commits it. The moment any of us drive a wedge between what we say we are publicly and what we actually are privately, we injure ourselves at the deepest possible level.” Isn’t that always the way with sin? It promises so much but delivers so little. It promises freedom and delivers captivity. It promises fulfillment and delivers emptiness. Adultery destroys the adulterer even as it promises joy and life.

Adultery damages society. We can widen the scope from the individual to the society around him and see that the damage continues there, too. Adultery does harm to the very fabric of society. “Each act of adultery is like a wrecker’s ball taking a swing at the secure walls of the social fabric of society. It stirs up hatred and enmity. It encourages a culture which reckons marriage boundaries needn’t really be quite so rigid.” We love to think our sins are our own, that they concern only us. But no, our sin goes far beyond ourselves and impacts others. With adultery we see this even in the ways friends or colleagues are uncertain how to speak, how to react when they learn of adultery. We see the damage it does if and when they say “At least he’s happier now.” The adulterer removes one more brick from the foundation of marriage.

Adultery hurts children. Adultery does grievous harm to an innocent party—children. “Because children are right in the thick of it, in the intimacy of the family home broken by cheating on promises, darkened by secrecy and lies, riven with conflict and hatreds.” Children thrive when there is structure, when there is stability, when there is peace and order. Children are harmed when adultery brings chaos and conflict and disunity. Children are innocent parties who are terribly harmed when adultery separates their parents.

In these ways and many more, adultery is a matter of the utmost seriousness. No wonder, then, that the Bible contains such serious, repeated warnings against it: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished” (Proverbs 6:27-29). “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32). “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4).

 

If you are struggling in your marriage, please contact a counselor or coach at CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 for help.