Christian Biblical Counsel: ADULTERY

Background

God’s Word makes it clear that marriage is a commitment for life to the one individual chosen as a mate. This commitment means “forsaking all others.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Matthew 19:5).

Sexual unfaithfulness on the part of both husbands and wives has become epidemic, according to polls and reports on sexual practices. Adultery is both forbidden and condemned by God in His Word:

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4, NIV).

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers . . . will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10, NIV).

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man [or woman] commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18, NIV).

Consider some of the consequences of adultery:

• Emotional: guilt, fear, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, shattered personalities, depression

• Physical: illegitimate births, venereal disease, abortions

• Spiritual: loss in this life and in that which is to come Adultery is sin, but it is also a symptom that all is not well in a marriage.

There are many reasons for adultery:

• Our own sinful, selfish desires: “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:14).

• Lack of maturity: Fifty percent of teenage marriages come apart in the first five years; however, age is not the only criterion. Immature selfishness at any age can lead to unfaithfulness. Another sign of immaturity is a lack of willingness to accept the responsibility of a family.

• Demanding, critical, scolding, nagging husbands or wives.

• Lack of sexual satisfaction on the part of either mate.

• Transferring to one’s mate hostility felt toward a mother or father.

• Meddlesome in-laws who smother a husband and wife with criticism or well-intended advice.

• Lack of adequate sex education.

You should expect no easy solutions in dealing with the problem of adultery. However, God can work the miracle of the new birth for the non- Christian, and spiritual renewal for His own who have fallen away. If you are successful in securing a commitment to Christ, you can be confident that this will bring a new perspective, making it easier to mend lives and to reach permanent solutions.

Helping Strategy

 

For the Person Involved in Adultery:

1. Try to project yourself as a caring, concerned person, without being patronizing. You are glad to share, and hope that some solution can be reached.

2. Don’t be judgmental or assume a “holier than thou” attitude. Don’t start out with Scriptures that condemn; these emerge normally as you share Christ at the appropriate time.

3. Encourage the inquirer to talk about the situation so that you can get a complete picture of the circumstances. At the same time, don’t press for too much detail.

4. When you feel that enough information has been given, say that you want to work on solutions, but that first you would like to ask if he or she has ever received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

• If not, share Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD

• If the person is a fallen Christian, share Christian Biblical Counsel: SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION. Pray for renewed commitment, and then proceed.

5. Ask what solution the person might suggest for the adultery.

6. Make a transition to Scripture. Point out that God not only demands that we confess adultery as sin, but that we put it out of our lives. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

7. Suggest that the inquirer think about possible reasons for the infidelity and share those reasons with you. You might mention some of the reasons for adultery from the “Background” to stimulate thinking.

8. Recommend that he or she confess the adultery to his or her spouse, demonstrating true remorse and asking forgiveness. Suggest that he or she try to discuss the reasons for the adultery. An honest effort to communicate is the only way that things can be brought to light and the climate provided which will lead to solutions.

9. Suggest initiating regular reading and study of God’s Word with the spouse. This will illuminate them both as to their responsibilities, and fortify them against temptation and sin. Also, encourage them to pray together.

10. Encourage them to seek out and identify with a Bible-teaching church. This will provide strength as they fellowship, worship, and study the Bible. Becoming committed Christians should be their goal. The absence of a vital relationship with Christ is the chief factor in this problem.

11. Advise the person guilty of adultery to seek out the pastor for encouragement and counseling. If he or she doesn’t find the needed help through the pastor, such help should be sought from a Christian professional counselor or psychiatrist.

 

For the Partner of the Adulterer:

The adulterer’s spouse often feels betrayed, rejected, and hurt. Although only one partner may be guilty of unfaithfulness, often both of them contributed to it.

1. Encourage the person to ask:

A. How may I have contributed to my mate’s infidelity? Am I supportive, or critical?

B. What circumstances in our marriage might have contributed to the problem?

• Conflict with in-laws?

• Work schedules or absences from home?

• Lack of communication?

• A need for better understanding of each other or of what makes for a good marriage?

C. How may I help to provide a solution to save our relationship?

2. Help determine the best course of action:

A. Forgiveness. Things can never be worked out unless there is forgiveness. This may be difficult, but a way can be found. Those involved must ask for God’s grace and wisdom to face the reality of the situation. The true extent of their mutual love and concern will be most evident at this point. The guilty spouse must also seek God’s forgiveness and the spouse’s forgiveness.

B. Communication. The couple must make a determined effort to communicate with each other in order to discuss freely all facets of the issue. Lack of communication may have been a contributing factor to the problem. Now is the time to correct this.

C. Prayer. The couple should pray together, trusting God to work things out so that the marriage may be saved and grow stronger.

D. Counseling. They should be willing to consider professional counseling with a qualified pastor or Christian counselor or psychiatrist. It may take time to work things out.

Scripture

 

“Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’” (Isaiah 1:16–18, NIV).

Jesus said to the woman accused of adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:3–4, NIV).

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4, NIV).

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

 

Other suggested Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 6:15–20

Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996

 

 

Adultery

If one continues to live in the state of adultery, see also Sexual Immorality; Warnings; and Obedience. If one repents of adultery, see Forgiveness of Sins; and Peace.

1.   Adultery is out of the heart.

Matt. 15:19. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”

2.   No adulterers go to heaven.

1 Cor. 6:9–10. Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

3.   God will judge the adulterer.

Heb. 13:4. Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

4.   Adultery can be avoided.

Prov. 4:23. Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

Prov. 4:13–27. (Stay far from the path of evil.)

Prov. 6:27–28. (Don’t play with fire.) Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, And his feet not be seared?

5.   Shun adultery.

Prov. 6:20–35.

6.   The adulteress’ snare leads to misery.

Prov. 7:1–27.

7.   The adulteress’ snare is a deep pit.

Prov. 22:14. The mouth of an immoral woman is a deep pit; He who is abhorred by the Lord will fall there.

8.   David fed the flame.

2 Sam. 11:2–3. Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”

9.   David was depressed before he confessed his sins.

Ps. 32:3–5.

10. Nathan called David to repent of his adultery.

2 Sam. 12:1–14. (The prophet Nathan spoke to David in a parable after he had sinned with Bathsheba.)

11. David confessed his adultery, and God graciously forgave him.

Ps. 32; Ps. 51. (David pleaded for God’s forgiveness and expressed his joy after being forgiven.)

12. God forgives the sin of adultery and frees the sinner from it.

1 Cor. 6:11. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

13. Looking on a woman lustfully is adultery; spiritual surgery is needed.

Matt. 5:27–30. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”

14. Beware of seductive women.

Prov. 23:26–28. My son, give me your heart, And let your eyes observe my ways. For a harlot is a deep pit, And a seductress is a narrow well. She also lies in wait as for a victim, And increases the unfaithful among men.

15. Stolen water is sweet, but …

Prov. 9:17–18. “Stolen water is sweet, And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, That her guests are in the depths of hell.

16. Keep the seventh commandment.

Exod. 20:14. “You shall not commit adultery.”

17. Anyone who marries a wrongfully divorced person commits adultery.

Matt. 5:31–32. “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”

18. Anyone who divorces his or her spouse for any reason other than adultery and marries another commits adultery.

Matt. 19:9. “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.”

Rom. 7:2–3. For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.

19. When he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife to commit adultery, Joseph refused to sin against God.

Gen. 39:6–20.

Gen. 39:9–10. “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.[1]

Adultery

The Snare of an Affair

by June Hunt

Has your life been gripped by the agony of adultery? Has your life been forever changed because of the snare of an affair? Marriage was God’s idea. A lifelong commitment to the marriage is God’s requirement. According to His Word, God will judge those who break the marriage covenant. The painful lessons of adultery are taught only too well in the story of the most famous adulterer in history, King David. The fact that David is remembered as a great king and a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14) shows the completeness of God’s healing after a terrible affair. But David had to deal with the consequences of his disobedience—family crimes, political upheaval, violence and death—all the days of his life.

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

(Hebrews 13:4)

I.     Definitions

Those who walk through the door of adultery assume, I won’t get caught, or It’s no big deal. They have no clue that they will reap severe repercussions. This attitude was certainly played out in the life of the most famous king of Israel. David sent his troops off to battle while he himself stayed home. One spring evening when he was walking on the roof of his palace, he saw a beautiful woman bathing on a nearby rooftop. He learned that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite—one of David’s best soldiers (2 Samuel 23:39)—who was off fighting David’s battles. David sent for her and slept with her; then she went back home. Some time later she sent word to David that she was pregnant. His descent into further destruction is convincing evidence that adulterers indeed reap what they sow.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

(Galatians 6:7)

A. What Is Adultery?

•     Adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who is not his or her lawful spouse. Spiritually, it means to apostatize or to stray away from the covenant with God.

•     The English word adultery comes from the Latin ad, which means “to” and alter, which means “other, different” (to make different, to alter).

•     In the Bible, the first mention of adultery is the Hebrew word naaph in the Ten Commandments.

“You shall not commit adultery.”

(Exodus 20:14)

Question: “I find myself attracted to someone other than my husband. What can I do to ensure that I will be faithful?”

Answer: At the very moment you find your emotions turning from your husband to someone else, redirect your emotions back to your husband. Realize that guardrails on mountain roads serve as constraints that compel us to stay on course and drive safely. They keep us from plunging off the road to destruction below. In the same way, guarding your emotions keeps you from plunging headlong into an adulterous affair.

Pray, “Lord, I refuse to let my mind get off course. I choose to guard my mind. I will focus on being faithful to my marriage commitment, my marriage partner and my Savior. In His strength I pray, Amen.”

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15)

B. What Does It Mean to Adulterate?

•     To adulterate is to corrupt or debase.

•     To adulterate is to make impure or inferior by adding an improper substance.

•     To adulterate sexually means to be involved in any sexually impure activity.

“Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality [fornication], or of any kind of impurity.”

(Ephesians 5:3)

Question: “How should I pray for my husband, who has left me and is involved in an adulterous relationship?”

Answer: Your husband needs to be convicted so that he will see his need to turn from his sinful lifestyle to a sacrificial lifestyle that brings glory to God. Rather than praying for God to bless him, pray that God will withhold blessings from him until he repents. Pray that your husband can’t help but be miserable … that he would have such a heaviness of heart—such piercing guilt—that he would be driven out of the arms of this other woman and into the arms of God. Ask God to bring whatever sorrow is necessary to bring him back to his senses and bring him to his knees before God.

“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while—yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:8–10)

C. What Is Fornication?

•     Generally:

Fornication is an umbrella word for any sexual immorality, including adultery and pornographic acts. The Greek word porneia, from which we get the English word pornography, is often translated “fornication.”

•     Specifically:

Fornication is sexual intercourse between an unmarried person and another unmarried person.

•     Spiritually:

Fornication can also be used metaphorically when referring to mixing pagan idolatry with Christianity.

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”

(1 Corinthians 6:18)

Question: “How do I know whether I should remarry my ex-husband? He had numerous adulterous relationships while we were married, but now he wants us to remarry.”

Answer: What would make you think you can trust him now when you couldn’t trust him in the past? The past is a predictor of the future. Unless something intervenes, negative patterns rarely change. Certainly, the Lord can change anyone who is willing to give Him total control. God is a God of reconciliation, but reconciliation takes two.

Until you are thoroughly convinced by both his attitudes and actions that he has indeed changed, do not give open access to your home, your children, your heart or your bed. You need substantial reasons to think he is now trustworthy and ready to commit to the marriage. Key indicators that your husband has changed are:

—  Is he taking personal responsibility for his behavior?

—  Is he genuinely repentant?

—  Has he sought counsel to understand his wayward behavior?

—  Is he unquestionably committed to keeping the marriage covenant?

—  Is he demonstrating respect for you even when you don’t agree?

—  Is he considerate of you on a consistent basis?

—  Does he have sacrificial love for you, not just physical or emotional love?

“Husbands … be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life.” (1 Peter 3:7)

II.    Characteristics Of One Drawn Into Adultery

Let’s go back to the story of David and Bathsheba. Bathsheba’s pregnancy was a precarious matter—with her husband gone, people would soon see that she had experienced sexual relations with someone other than her husband, and the Old Testament penalty for adultery was death (Leviticus 20:10). Therefore, the first thing King David attempted to do was cover up the sin. He summoned her husband home from the battlefield to wine and dine him and send him home to his wife.

But Uriah was a man of conscience. As long as his commander and fellow soldiers were fighting in the field, he would not go home and enjoy the company of his wife. He slept at the palace entrance with the other servants. David tried for three days to convince him to go home, but Uriah’s honor was unshakable. Finally David sent him back to the field carrying a note to his commander that read, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die” (2 Samuel 11:15).

A. Signs of Adultery

Giving in to Temptation

Temptation   to taste  lured by the forbidden fruit 
Emotional   excitement  fulfills lust 
Minimizes   the marriage  devalues the marriage covenant 
Physical   withdrawal  avoids home and family 
Temporal   over eternal  chooses present pleasure 
Anger   over accountability  refuses to discuss marriage problems 
Twisting   the truth  lies and denies the affair 
Indulging   in imaginations  avoids reality 
Overly   protective of the other party  defends and argues 
Numb   to God’s leading  hardens the heart 

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

(1 Corinthians 10:13)

Question: “Why does anyone get involved in adultery?”

Answer: Typically, people get into adulterous relationships because they rationalize their wrong actions as “right.” Then they indulge in selfish pleasures to the extent that they develop a heart that is hardened toward the desires of God.

“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2)

B. Characteristics and Consequences of Adulterers

God’s Perspective from Proverbs Chapter 6

•     Adulterers are smooth talkers.

“The corrections of discipline are the way to life, keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.” (Proverbs 6:23–24)

•     Adulterers play with fire and get burned.

“Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (Proverbs 6:27)

•     Adulterers will be punished.

“So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.” (Proverbs 6:29)

•     Adulterers lack judgment.

“A man who commits adultery lacks judgment …” (Proverbs 6:32)

•     Adulterers destroy themselves.

“… whoever does so destroys himself.” (Proverbs 6:32)

•     Adulterers will be disgraced.

“Blows and disgrace are his lot …” (Proverbs 6:33)

•     Adulterers will experience never ending shame.

“… and his shame will never be wiped away.” (Proverbs 6:33)

•     Adulterers evoke anger and jealousy in their spouses.

“For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury …” (Proverbs 6:34)

•     Adulterers often become the object of revenge.

“… and he [the husband] will show no mercy when he takes revenge.” (Proverbs 6:34)

Question: “Does a jilted wife have any legal recourse against the other woman who has gone after her husband and ‘stolen’ him?”

Answer: In certain places throughout the world, a civil statute in the law books permits a lawsuit due to “alienation of affection” or other such wording. For example, in America, in the State of North Carolina, a civil statute dates back to the eighteenth century common law allowing a husband to sue another man if that man had seduced his wife. In recent years, wives have won substantial financial judgments from “the other woman” who pursued and seduced their marriage partners—judgments sometimes as much as one million dollars. Husbands have likewise sued other men who enticed their wives.

Therefore, those considering this course of action should first check the local law, then contact a Family Law Attorney, and above all, pray to be led by the Lord. The Bible does give permission to take unbelievers to court.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” (1 Peter 2:13–14)

Question: “What can I do about my husband’s spending a great deal of money on a girlfriend with whom he is living and incurring large amounts of debt?”

Answer: The laws vary from state-to-state regarding how a spouse can protect financial interests when the other spouse is incurring debts on joint credit cards. In some areas, an ad in the local newspaper stating no responsibility for the other person’s debts is sufficient. The safest thing to do is consult an attorney who specializes in Family Law to find out the options where you live.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)

III.   Causes Of Committing Adultery

After David committed adultery with Bathsheba, God sent Nathan the Prophet to David with a story of a rich man who had many sheep and a poor shepherd who had one little lamb. When the rich man had a guest, instead of slaughtering one of his own sheep for dinner, he took the poor man’s one lamb. When David heard this, he exclaimed, “The man who did this deserves to die!” Whereupon Nathan replied, “You are the man!… Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes?” (2 Samuel 12:5, 7–9). “Why?” How many adulterers ask the question “why”? Jesus gives the answer that is at the heart of both sexual and spiritual adultery. “I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Revelation 2:4–5)

Question: “My husband had an affair with a married woman, and now she is expecting his child. He is willing to help her financially, but she also wants my husband to be involved in this child’s life. We feel involvement with the child would be too disruptive to our own family. In this situation, what should we do?”

Answer: First, your husband would be wise to confirm his paternity. If he is the father, then he must take full responsibility for his behavior and be financially responsible. After that, all decisions need to be made in light of what is in the best interest of the child. With two families connected by adultery, the best option for the child is to be raised and nurtured within the security of one family and one alone. Any other arrangement could open the door to deceit, temptation and discord.

No good purpose is served in telling others, especially if a child can be protected from crude name-calling, which so often surrounds the stigma of being an “illegitimate child.” At a later time of life, the situation could be different. No matter what decision you make, do not lie to the child or anyone else.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven … a time to embrace and a time to refrain … a time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5, 7)

A. Why Is Adultery So Deceptive?

•     It skews objectivity.

•     It affords the illusion of being loved.

•     It gives a false sense of significance.

•     It feels good physically.

•     It provides a temporary sense of security.

•     It gives a false feeling of connecting.

•     It makes both parties feel wanted.

•     It numbs emotional pain.

•     It diverts attention away from family problems.

•     It can be a weapon to punish the spouse.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

(Proverbs 14:12)

Question: “Is it wrong to try to find out if my spouse is being unfaithful? If it’s not wrong, what is the best way to do so?”

Answer: It’s not wrong to search out and confirm the truth. Truth sets us free to make wise choices regarding the future. When a question of fidelity arises, the first approach is to confront your marriage partner with specific concerns.

Afterward, if you are still unsettled in your spirit, pray about approaches that others have used successfully. Some have chosen to literally follow a spouse suspected of being unfaithful. Others have spoken with a friend, a coworker or a discerning family member of the spouse, specifically asking if they are aware of any romantic involvement outside the marriage. Still others have hired a private investigator. Before you do anything, pray for God to reveal the truth to you, then ask Him to lead you down the path of His choosing.

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:6)

B. Why Was I Drawn into Adultery?

•     “I focused on what I thought would meet my needs.”

•     “I opened the door of compromise.”

•     “I failed to look at the lifelong consequences.”

•     “I blamed my marriage partner for my problems.”

•     “I thought I wouldn’t get caught.”

•     “I believed it would make me happy.”

•     “I rationalized that God understands my situation.”

•     “I assumed my mate would never change.”

•     “I hardened my heart.”

•     “I was lured by lust.”

“They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

(Ephesians 4:18–19)

C. Why Should I Stop Committing Adultery?

•     “My mate is wounded.”

•     “My integrity is destroyed.”

•     “My peace is forfeited.”

•     “My morality is compromised.”

•     “My health is jeopardized.”

•     “My conscience is scarred.”

•     “My children lose their hero.”

•     “My future will not be blessed.”

•     “My Bible forbids it.”

•     “My God condemns it.”

Question: “Although I am married, I’ve been pulled into an affair with someone I dated years ago. We were both promiscuous then, but I hate the deception now. Why would this woman from my past so devalue my marriage relationship?”

Answer: The blame game is most effective in shifting blame to someone else. However, you knew right from wrong. The bigger question is: why would you walk into a lion’s cage with a warning sign that says, “Beware, man-eating lion!”?

You walked back into this relationship, totally ignoring the knowledge you possess and are now being eaten up by your lust. You are the one who devalued your marriage by choosing to ignore the warning sign, and now you are being mauled! Get out immediately, slam the door and don’t look back.

“Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.” (Proverbs 6:25–26)

D. Root Cause

The root cause of an adulterous relationship is the emotional immaturity of a person who is willing to sacrifice commitment to a marriage partner, believing that personal integrity is not important and that the need for love can be fully met while going against the will of God.

Wrong Belief:

“I have a right to get my basic needs for love, for significance and for security met. I don’t feel my previous commitments are binding because my mate is not meeting all my needs.”

“Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.… Let them be yours alone.… May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.… May you ever be captivated by her love.” (Proverbs 5:15, 17–19)

Right Belief:

My deepest inner needs will be met completely in a genuine relationship with Jesus, who will be faithful to fulfill me. As I give myself to Christ and obey His commands, He will give me the right desires and the ability to keep my commitments.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.” (Psalm 37:4–5)

Question: “My husband is my life, yet he is involved in an adulterous relationship. I am consumed with pain and unable to read the Bible or pray. How can I connect with God mentally and emotionally? I need Him desperately.”

Answer: No human being is ever to be our “life.” God wants you to yield your will to His will and allow Jesus to take control of your life. When you become a true Christian, Christ will be your life. When you make Him your life, He becomes your stability, both emotionally and mentally.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:2–4)

Question: “What am I to do about getting my emotional needs met when my husband has abandoned me?”

Answer: Your emotional needs are God-given and legitimate. And even though your husband was once God’s instrument for meeting many of those needs, God will prove Himself faithful to you by meeting those needs if you will seek His provision. Look to Him as the lover of your soul to meet your God-given needs in His time and in His way.

“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)

IV.  Steps to Solution

Adultery produces deep remorse inside the souls of many unfaithful partners. One of the most poignant psalms in the Bible records the conviction David felt for his sin. In sorrow and humility, David acknowledges, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned.… Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.… Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:3–4, 7, 10–12).

A. Key Verses to Memorize

•     For the faithful partner

“For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.”

(Isaiah 54:5)

•     For the unfaithful partner

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”

(1 Corinthians 6:18)

B. Key Passages to Read and Reread

•     For the faithful partner—(Read Romans 12:9–21.)

“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

(Romans 12:19)

•     For the unfaithful partner—(Read Colossians 3:1–15.)

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”

(Colossians 3:5–6)

C.  Seven Redeeming Steps for the Adulterer

#1  Confess the adultery.

Myth:  “I’ll just put the affair behind me.… no one needs to know.”

Truth: The truth must come out in order for God to bring healing.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

#2  Commit yourself completely to your covenant partner.

Myth:  “Children are the glue in marriage.”

Truth: Commitment is the glue that holds a marriage together.

“The Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:14–15)

#3  Cut all ties with the third party.

Myth:  “Affairs are okay as long as no one knows.”

Truth: Adultery cannot be hidden. God knows, the illicit partner knows and in time, others will know. Ultimately, the affair will burn you.

“Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (Proverbs 6:27)

#4  Choose where to place your thoughts when tempted.

Myth:  “People who have affairs do not love their spouses.”

Truth: It is possible to still feel a love for one person yet at the same time be infatuated with another.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

#5  Consider the difference between love and lust.

Myth:  “How can it be so wrong if it feels so right?”

Truth: Love is not a feeling. The supreme test to determine if something is right is not how it feels, but what God says about it. If sin never felt good, no one would ever be tempted to sin. Love is a choice to make a personal sacrifice.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)

#6  Count the cost.

Myth:  “As long as no one knows, no one is hurt.”

Truth: Adultery hurts everyone involved. You’ve brought guilt and God’s judgment not only upon yourself, but also upon the other person. You have destroyed your truthfulness, your credibility and your testimony.

“A man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself.” (Proverbs 6:32)

#7  Communicate godly sorrow.

Myth:  “If I admit I’m sorry about the affair, everything will be okay.”

Truth: The Bible says there is a vast difference between “worldly sorrow” and “godly sorrow.” Worldly sorrow is being sorry for getting caught. Godly sorrow is a change of mind with a change of direction, resulting in a change of behavior. You hate your sin so much that you turn from it and never turn back to it again.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Question: “My husband, who sexually betrayed me, blames me for not trusting him. How can I trust him when he has not demonstrated real repentance?”

Answer: You should not trust someone who continues to be untrustworthy. The Bible refers to a time when even Jesus would not trust certain people because He knew what was in their hearts. Just like Jesus, you need to be wise and discerning.

“Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.” (John 2:24–25)

D. Six Common Mistakes of a Faithful Mate

#1  Trying to find ways to change your mate

You are not responsible for changing your mate. In fact, you can’t change your mate—you don’t have that power.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)

#2  Repeatedly bringing up specifics in order to convict your mate

The Holy Spirit is the One who convicts.

“He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8)

#3  Blaming yourself for the adulter

Almost all wounded mates struggle with false guilt … feeling responsible for the mate’s affair. However, anything you did or didn’t do did not cause your spouse to sin against you. You can’t make another person sin. Our actions are based on our individual choices.

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)

#4  Minimizing or denying the seriousness of the situation

Minimizing or denying the seriousness of the situation does not change the fact that it is sin. Call sin what it is.

“All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)

#5  Seeking to find ways to meet all your mate’s needs

You can never meet all your mate’s needs. If you could meet all those needs, your mate would never sense a need for God. God did not create anyone to meet all another person’s needs. God promises to meet all our needs.

“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

#6  Communicating that you can’t make it alone and that you are completely dependent on your partner

Your sufficiency is to be in the Lord alone, not in another person.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.” (Psalm 62:5–7)

Question: “My husband is having an affair and refuses to talk about it. He just goes on living as though nothing is happening. I don’t feel I have any value. I cry a lot and feel my world is gone. What can I do about feeling helpless and hopeless?”

Answer: Your world is not gone. Although you are powerless to change your husband, you are not powerless to change the way you respond. Whether your husband talks about the affair or not, you decide your course of action and tell him what it is. Don’t continue playing the part of the victim.

You have the choice to find your significance and security in the Lord. Even though your husband has abdicated his role as husband, the Lord promises to be your Husband. The Lord knows how to meet your need for love.… He promises to be your provider. The deeper your relationship with your spiritual Husband, the more stability you will feel in your heart, and you will find your value in Him.

“For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer.” (Isaiah 54:5)

E.  Six Steps for the Faithful Spouse

Question: “Do I confront my mate if I am suspicious?”

Myth:  “Bringing up the subject might put the thought in your mate’s mind.”

Truth: Bringing up the subject might relieve your thoughts, be a deterrent for the future or be used by the Holy Spirit to convict your partner. Don’t attack; don’t blame.

#1        Use “I” statements about your feelings.

“I feel that you are keeping something from me.” “I feel hurt that your affection has turned from me.” “I would appreciate your being totally honest with me.”

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” (Matthew 18:15)

Question: “How do I handle the emotion of anger?”

Myth:  Anger is always wrong.”

Truth: Anger is a natural response to hurt, fear, injustice or rejection.

#2        Express your anger in a nondestructive way.

“In your anger do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26)

Question: “Where did I go wrong?”

Myth:  “A person has an affair because of failures of the spouse (the most common belief about infidelity).”

Truth: A spouse is not responsible for the partner’s irresponsible behavior. No one can make another person sin.

#3        Refuse to blame yourself for your partner’s adulterous behavior.

“Each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)

Question: “Must I remain in a marriage with an adulterous mate?”

Myth:  “I must stay married even if my mate continues to commit adultery.”

Truth: There are Biblical grounds for divorce: marital unfaithfulness (adultery). Jesus does not demand divorce in such a case, but rather permits it.

#4        Pray that you will be guided by the Spirit of God as to whether you should leave an adulterous marriage.

“Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.’ ” (Matthew 19:8–9)

Question: “What if my mate never returns to me?”

Myth:  “In order to be whole, I must have a mate.”

Truth: One is a whole number—not a half, not a fraction. You can be whole in Christ.

#5        Lean on the Lord to be …

•     your Savior

•     your Completer

•     your Healer

“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” (Jeremiah 17:14)

Question: “How can I forgive and forget?”

Myth:  “You must forget in order to forgive.”

Truth: Forgiving is not forgetting. The key is how it is remembered.… Forgiving is remembering without bitterness, hatred or resentment.

#6        Choose as an act of your will to forgive.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

Question: “My husband committed adultery years ago. He has truly changed, but I continue to have trouble forgiving him. I keep choosing to forgive over and over, but I still feel angry and hurt. How can I overcome this anger I still feel?”

Answer: Don’t be dismayed over your anger. The four roots of anger are hurt, injustice, fear and frustration. Your response is normal because the Bible says,

“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26)

Therefore, you can feel legitimate anger over his betrayal. Every time you feel anger, admit it and then release it … release it as a sacrifice to the Lord.

Pray, “Lord, right now I release to You all the anger I feel. I choose to guard my mind from thoughts of past events that You have dealt with and that I have forgiven. Thank You for the changes You have brought about in my husband. Thank You that he is a trustworthy man, and I choose right now to trust You to continue to work in his life. In the name of your wonderful son. Amen.”

Don’t allow Satan, the enemy, to accuse you of unforgiveness just because of how you may feel. Forgiveness is a process of forgiving every single time you remember the pain or think about any of those involved. Forgiveness is a choice you have made, and you must learn to place fact over feelings. Satan, your adversary, has already been defeated.

“For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” (Revelation 12:10)

The key ingredient in marriage is   Commitment!The   keeping of the marital covenant—both physically and emotionally—is the   measure of your maturity within a marriage. The realization that Christ will   never break His covenant commitment with you is the foundation on which you   build the emotional maturity to keep your commitments in all your   relationships.

—June   Hunt

 

F.  Coping, Confronting and Coming to God

Coping … Letting Go

“What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled.”

(Isaiah 5:4–5)

•     Give up all expectations of your spouse, and place your confidence in God.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:5–8)

•     Learn to detach emotionally from your spouse’s infidelity and respond with patience and gentleness.

“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” (Proverbs 25:15)

•     Shift your focus from your spouse’s hurtful behavior to your loving responses.

“What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar.” (Proverbs 19:22)

•     Learn all you can about the deceptive lures of adultery.

“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16)

•     Stop enabling adulterous behavior by ignoring telltale signs or accepting lame excuses. God has said,

“These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face” (Psalm 50:21).

•     Let your spouse know the effect the infidelity has had on you and on others.

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21)

•     Pray for and expect God to bring consequences into your spouse’s life. Refuse to have a vengeful spirit, but choose to look to God to work in His own way.

“For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.” (Proverbs 5:21–23)

Question: “My husband walked away from our family and has been unfaithful. Now he wants to come back. In spite of our hurt, the children and I still love him. When I asked him to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, he accused me of not being a forgiving or compassionate Christian. He says I’m being punitive—I think I’m being practical. What is right?”

Answer: Your husband is simply using the “blame game” to avoid his responsibility to be tested. He is blaming you instead of blaming himself for putting you in this precarious position. He needs to accept the proper consequences of his promiscuity: the mandatory testing for sexually transmitted diseases. If your husband has contracted AIDS and if you also become infected, your children will needlessly suffer the severe sickness and loss of two parents.

Maintain your focus to do what is best for your family, and refuse to be manipulated. Keep your boundary of the marriage bed until he complies.

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4)

Confronting … Intervention

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ ”

(Matthew 18:15–16) (Read also Ezekiel 3:18–19.)

The most powerful aspect of a crisis intervention is the group dynamic—there is power in numbers. Usually by the time an intervention is arranged, the injured spouse has pleaded with the offending spouse to stop the adulterous behavior, but sadly the appeal has fallen on deaf ears. In privacy, others may state their concern, but one by one each plea is dismissed. As individuals they are powerless—as a group they are dynamite. In fact, a group can be empowered by God to move the immovable.

•     Pray for wisdom and understanding from the Lord.

“For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6)

•     Educate yourself regarding various crisis intervention programs and attend meetings on confronting and surviving adultery, marriage enrichment and even chemical dependency (such as Overcomers Anonymous, AA, Al-Anon and Narcotics Anonymous). Read materials on intervention and visit counseling centers.

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.” (Proverbs 3:13)

•     Call a counseling office and ask for a referral to a Christian leader trained in marital crisis intervention procedures.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)

•     Meet with an intervention specialist to plan the approach. Discussion needs to include counseling options, insurance coverage and the impact of counseling on the entire family.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” (Proverbs 19:20)

•     Enlist the aid of key people who have been directly affected by the adultery, those who can attest to its harmful effects on others and are willing to confront. (Consider caring family members, friends, a doctor, an employer, a coworker or a spiritual leader.)

“A truthful witness saves lives.” (Proverbs 14:25)

•     In absolute confidentiality and without the person present, hold an initial meeting with these key people and a trained leader. Each key person will rehearse with the trained leader what each will say regarding the negative impact of the person’s adultery, how it will be said and in which order each will speak during the confrontation.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:5–6)

•     Hold a second meeting, this time with the person present. One at a time, each key confronter should first express genuine love and concern for the person, followed by the rehearsed individualized confrontation.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)

The Six P’s of Appeal

#1  The Personal

Affirm rather than attack: “I want you to know how much I care about you [or love you] and how terribly concerned I am about you.”

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

#2  The Past

Give recent examples describing specific negative behavior and the hurt it caused you: “Last night when you failed to come home and spend time with me as you used to do, I felt so unimportant to you.”

“A truthful witness gives honest testimony.” (Proverbs 12:17)

Be brief, keeping examples to three or four sentences.

“A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.” (Proverbs 17:27)

#3  The Pain

Emphasize the painful impact by using “I” statements: “I was devastated that you failed to make me and your commitment to me a priority.”

“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.” (Proverbs 16:23)

#4  The Plea

Give a personal plea for your loved one to receive counseling: “I plead with you to get the help you need to break away from this sinful and idolatrous relationship. If you are willing, you will have my deepest respect.”

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21)

#5  The Plan

Be prepared to implement an immediate plan if counseling is accepted: “You have been accepted into the counseling program at , and  have agreed to be your accountability partners.”

“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” (Proverbs 24:11–12)

#6  The Price

Outline specific consequences if treatment is refused: “We cannot allow you to come home or be with our family until you have completely walked away from this adulterous relationship and stopped all contact with the other person.”

“Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die.” (Proverbs 15:10)

The Don’ts of Dialogue

Don’t call names, preach or be judgmental.

“Last night you were a totally selfish, insensitive jerk. I don’t know how you can look at yourself in the mirror!”

“A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.” (Proverbs 11:12)

Don’t argue if your facts are disputed, and don’t come to the defense of your spouse when others are confronting.

“The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24–26)

Don’t accept promises with no commitment for immediate action.

“I can’t do all that you are asking of me now, but I promise to break off the relationship and start counseling next month.”

“A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15)

Don’t give ultimatums unless you are prepared to follow through on them. Suppose your loved one chooses to continue the adulterous relationship and leaves home. However, after being away for only a short time, your spouse says, “I promise not to be unfaithful again. Just let me come back this one time.” You would be wise to say no. Not until you have had individual counseling and we have both been in marriage counseling long enough for the therapist and me to be convinced that you and I are both ready for you to return.”

“Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No,’ no, or you will be condemned.” (James 5:12)

Don’t overreact—keep your emotions under control.

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19–20)

Don’t shield your loved one from facing the consequences of marital infidelity.

“A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7–8)

This second meeting concludes with the spouse either immediately terminating the adulterous relationship and entering a counseling and accountability program or experiencing the consequences of refusing treatment.

“He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue.” (Proverbs 28:23)

Question: “How do I draw a boundary when my husband is sexually involved with another woman? I want our marriage to work.”

Answer: Be specific about the boundary—he has certainly crossed the line. You might say:

“I love you, and I have been committed to you. But now it’s time for you to make a decision. All boundaries have repercussions and rewards. In the game of football, if you stay within the boundary lines, you get to keep playing—you fully participate in the game. If you’re outside the boundary, the penalty is no participation. Because of your sexual involvement with this other woman, you’ve crossed the boundary. So now, it’s your decision: Do you want to discontinue your participation in our family life or not? If you want our family, you must totally leave her. If you choose her instead of our family, you must leave here.”

Explain that you are not “kicking him out of the house,” but that the decision for leaving is clearly his choice. “For you to be emotionally or sexually involved with another woman says that you are not committed to our marriage.” This marriage boundary gives him the choice as to whether he reaps the repercussion or the reward. Realize that for him to sexually “have his cake and eat it too” causes further disrespect toward you and further disregard of the marriage covenant. Regardless of his decision, be respectful in the face of his disrespect.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7–8)

Coming to God … Prayer

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 4:6–7)

•     Come in thanksgiving for what God has done for you.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:4–5)

•     Come to God and ask Him to reveal your harmful responses.

“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23–24)

•     Come to receive more love for the offender.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

•     Come for strongholds to be broken.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5)

•     Come for faith that all things are possible.

“All things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)

•     Come consistently and persistently.

“Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” (Luke 18:7)

Question: “My husband was unfaithful to me last year. Is it possible for me to ever trust him again? Is it possible for him to change?”

Answer: It is possible for your husband to regain your trust. First he must develop a godly sorrow over his lack of commitment to you and the marriage covenant. Then he needs to identify the key that opened the door to adultery. By both admitting and understanding his weaknesses, he would receive major help to prevent him from walking through that door again. Pray that he will see his sin as God sees it and hate his sin as God does. It is entirely possible for God to change anyone who is willing to have a changed heart.

“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

Difficult Questions Dealing with Adultery

Question: “My mate was unfaithful to me. Should I stay with my mate? I don’t trust myself to make the right decision because of my painful emotions.”

Answer: Before you make this decision, ask yourself these questions:

—  Is this a onetime lack of judgment or a repeated lifestyle?

»    If it is a lifestyle, then it is an issue of character.

»    If it was a onetime act, then it is a single act of sin.

—  Did your spouse take responsibility—or blame you or someone else?

—  Is there true repentance—a godly sorrow—or is there simply sorrow only at being caught?

—  What has been done to make restitution? What is your mate doing to avoid straying again? Has all contact been broken?

If recent attitudes and actions are positive, you have the potential for genuine reconciliation and a healthy, productive marriage.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.” (2 Corinthians 7:10–11)

Question: “For many years, my husband has been seeing prostitutes and continues to be unfaithful. Must I continue exposing myself to sexual disease? I feel I am setting an example before my children of condoning this behavior. Spiritual leaders say that divorce is not an option—that I must continue to submit to my adulterous husband. Is this right?”

Answer: The advice of your spiritual leaders is not Biblically accurate. In Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, Jesus speaks against divorce “except for marital unfaithfulness.” Divorce is permitted (not commanded) in instances of adultery. One single instance of unfaithfulness followed by a repentant heart is one thing.… Risking your health and exposing your children to continuous immorality is another. Since God’s heart for the marriage relationship is reconciliation, if there is a true change in his behavior, your position is to be open and receptive. Pray for God’s leading in your life.… At the very least, you certainly are permitted to separate from your husband sexually in order to uphold your God-given responsibility to keep the marital bed pure.

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4)

Question: “My husband left me for another woman and says he doesn’t want to be married anymore. He refuses to get marriage counseling, but when he comes to see the children, he wants to spend the night with me. Should I let him?”

Answer: The spouse who leaves his marriage partner, engages in a sexual union with another woman and refuses marriage counseling should not have marriage privileges. He’s wanting you physically outside of marriage, without the emotional bonding inside of marriage. Realize that the marriage bed is part of the marriage covenant, which is a sacred covenant before God.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)

Question: “After having a two year affair, I became a Christian. Since experiencing a changed life, I’ve been writing to this man, hoping he will be saved. Now I want to be true to the commitment to my husband, but how do I overcome the strong emotions I still feel for this other man?”

Answer: You have made a commitment to remain true to your marriage covenant. Since feelings are merely responders to thinking, do not allow your thoughts to dwell on this other man.… Do not even dwell on his salvation. Ultimately, God is the author of salvation. Stop writing to him about salvation. Most probably, your motive will be misunderstood by others, and your husband will be resentful. Flee your extramarital passions by focusing on being a person of principle and purity.

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

Question: “My friends are beginning divorce proceedings as a result of adultery. In the past I committed adultery and since have experienced a devastating divorce. Is it appropriate for me to try to talk with the offending party about this decision?”

Answer: Extending care and concern for a couple on the brink of divorce could possibly save their marriage. The most effective people to help others gain victory in their lives are those who have struggled with the same temptations and have learned valuable truths through those trials. When God guides you to share a personal failure, speak the truth in love. In this way, you can be the Lord’s instrument to communicate the value of consistency and commitment … and you might save a marriage.

“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19–20)

Don’t Give Up Hope!

“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

(James 5:19–20)

Selected Bibliography

Alcorn, Randy C. Christians in the Wake of the Sexual Revolution: Recovering Our Sexual Sanity. A Critical Concern Book. Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1985.

Carder, Dave, and Duncan Jaenicke. Torn Asunder: Recovering from Extramarital Affairs. Rev. and expanded ed. Chicago: Moody, 1995.

Carter, Les. The Prodigal Spouse. Minirth-Meier Series. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990.

Harley, Willard F., Jr., and Jennifer Harley Chalmers. Surviving an Affair. Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1998.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

Lutzer, Erwin W. Living with Your Passions. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1983.

Mylander, Charles. Running the Red Lights: Putting the Brakes on Sexual Temptation. Regal: Ventura, CA, 1986.

Neal, Connie. Holding on to Heaven While Your Friend Goes Through Hell. Nashville: Word, 1999.

Peterson, J. Allan. The Myth of the Greener Grass. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1983.

Rainey, Dennis. Lonely Husbands, Lonely Wives: Rekindling Intimacy in Every Marriage. Dallas: Word, 1989.

Strom, Kay Marshall. Helping Women in Crisis: A Handbook for People Helpers. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986.

Virkler, Henry A. Broken Promises. Contemporary Christian Counseling, ed. Gary R. Collins. Dallas: Word, 1992.

Walters, Barbara. “A Sweet Revenge.” ABC News 20/20, transcript, September 19, 1997.

West, Kari. Dare to Trust Dare to Hope Again: Living with Losses of the Heart. Colorado Springs, CO: Faithful Woman, 2002.

Winebrenner, Jan, and Debra Frazier. When a Leader Falls What Happens to Everyone Else? Minneapolis, MN: Bethany, 1993.[2]


[1] Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[2] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Adultery: The Snare of an Affair (1–25). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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