MAINTAINING EMOTIONAL and MORAL FIDELITY
For too many people. Christians included, adultery is the first step out of a marriage. An emotional or sexual attachment to someone other than your spouse creates intense passions that sabotage trust and steal marital intimacy. For that reason, God stated emphatically in the Seventh Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex.20:14).
Adultery destroys homes and lives. Proverbs 6:27-29 details the consequences of playing with this kind of 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? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent.”
Adultery, as alluring as it may seem, always fails to live up to its promises. It pledges excitement and fulfillment, and instead delivers pain and alienation. Peter Blichington, in his outstanding book Sex Roles and the Christian Family, cites a study by the Research Guild that measured sexual satisfaction. The guild found that “Compared with the 67% of men and 55% of woman who find marital sex very pleasurable, only 47% of the men and 37 % of the women with extramarital experience rate its sexual aspect very pleasurable.”
The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence!
The glistening highway of adultery is actually a rutted back road littered with loneliness, guilt, and broken hearts. Adultery supplants loyalty and trust with fear and suspicion. The consequences are enormous and last for a lifetime. As my colleague and friend Bob Lepine warns, “No sex outside of marriage is that good!”
Will you commit to emotional and moral fidelity to your spouse, no matter how much you struggle in your marriage? If so, three steps are critical.
First, maintain a healthy sexual relationship. Lovingly study your mate to learn what will keep him or her interested and satisfied in your sexual relationship. Cultivate the fine–and often forgotten—art of romance. Pursue your spouse with the same creativity and energy that characterized your dating relationship.
Second, guard your heart in relation to the opposite sex. According to Jesus, the eyes are the doorway to the heart (Matt.6:22, 23) For this reason, restrict your gaze and refuse the temptation to look longingly at other men or women. Don’t fantasize about someone else.
Proverbs 4:23 counsels, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Build boundaries around your heart by making yourself accountable to a friend for your secret thoughts.
Third, be honest with your spouse about temptations. One of the most important practices Barbara and I employed early in our marriage was that of sharing with each other when we experienced temptations. On more than one occasion I’ve asked her to pray for me because I was struggling with lust. Once, in our first year of marriage, Barbara shared with me that a certain man was being inappropriately friendly with her. These confessions can seem risky, but when a husband and wife are committed to each other, they actually help to nurture trust.
As partners in life, we need to protect our fidelity and trust…all the days of our lives.
NOTE: This article was written by Dennis and Barbara Rainey from Family Life and Marriage Bible.
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