By Ovundah Nyeche.
Adultery, needs no introduction, it is a word a lot of people in church will not want to be associated with openly. In my previous church, getting or having this name around you could risk you been flung into a not so special seat known as ‘back seat.’
These days however, it is now very popular and has several monikers like fling, affair, cheating, two timing, fooling around, playing around, playing the field, carryings on, hanky-panky amongst others.
Christian or not, opportunities for adultery subtly stare us on the face every day in the work place, at home, religious places, online, social media, recreational areas, occasions amongst others even though the holy writ tells us in clear terms ‘You must not commit adultery.’
Ever watched a mason try to break a wall with a hammer? I have, and many times when the wall is made of reinforced concrete, it is difficult to break. 5 blows and the wall still stands, 7 blows and it is still standing and at the 8th blow the portion of the wall been hammered falls out. For most believers, adultery is similar to this process; as they are very unlikely to enter head-on into adultery, as it is usually a gradual process, step by step, day by day- Slow fade.
However whether gradual or not, it is happening. In some countries pastors are resigning due to adultery, in others some are confessing openly to their congregations, in some others it has led to divorce, in some others it has turned to a habit and hence their messages has shifted to fit their lifestyles. If shepherds who are supposedly above board are involved in this, how much more the sheep or those they lead.
Carder in the book Torn Asunder: Recovering from Extramarital Affairs notes that adultery and divorce rates in the evangelical population are nearly the same as the general population in the United States.
A Christianity Today survey found that 23 % (69) of the 300 pastors who responded admitted to sexually inappropriate behaviour with someone other than their wives while in the ministry.
The Journal of Psychology and Christianity adds that as many as 65 % of men and 55 % of women will have an extramarital affair by the time they are 40.
The statistics are alarming, coming home, it does not make for good reading.
Our focus today will be to look at pitfalls that could lead to adultery and how to avoid and end them if we are already in this dangerous hole:
- Call things what they are: These days many consider the word adultery too judgemental and harsh, and sequel to that many euphemistic terms like playing around, playing the field, carryings on, hanky-panky amongst others have arisen. However calling a venomous snake a beautiful name and kissing it to emphasize the beautiful name does not eradicate the venom. Thousands of years ago, Joseph was in an awkward situation with the wife of an important official in Egypt. She liked him, flirted around him, initiated the move, and demanded sex from him. Rather than call it an affair or fling or justify it, since he was not the one pushing for it, he called it what it was, a ‘wicked thing and a great sin against God.’ Adultery is a great sin and a wicked thing, end of story.
- Friendly fire: What kind of friends do you hang around with? Years ago, when I was a medical student, I had a roommate who said a particular slang and even though I did not really spend so much time in the room, with my roommates, due to preparations for my exams, I soon picked up the slang. What happened? Influence happened, and influence still happens. If you wish to stay sexually pure and yes you should, you have to be very careful of the kind of friends you hang around with and those who speak into your ears. If the words of your friends, even on social media, shakes your conviction about keeping your marriage vow, them you may need to change your friends. It is only a matter of time for fingers dipped into an oily meal to get stained.
- Body no be firewood: Truly speaking, you are not a firewood and you have emotions. In fact what flows through your veins and arteries is blood laden with hormones and not olive or anointing oil. This means whether you are a man of God or god of man, you are a man and you have feeling and can be tempted. Hence you have to avoid spending time with those of the opposite sex alone, whether it is for counselling, prayers or even communion. Spending intimate moments with any person of the opposite sex in the guise of any ministerial assignment is looking for trouble. Billy Graham famously had a rule which prevented him or members of his team from spending time alone with those of the opposite sex, this also included even suggestions or hints of sexual immorality. While it is not bad to have friends of the opposite sex, it is extremely important that you never overestimate your strength and you must draw appropriate boundaries with those of the opposite sex not your spouse. Your secretary, choir mistress or that loyal lady not married to you, is not your spouse keep off!
- Tend your garden: Avoid discussing your marital problems with people of the opposite sex, especially if you know it is possible to have feeling for them. It is also not wise to constantly spend time on phone with people of the opposite sex and discuss intimate matters with them, you never discuss with your spouse. What will it profit you never to speak with your spouse, but speak endlessly with others? What will it profit you never to satisfy your spouse sexually, but mope outside? Many people are married, but invest their emotions on others not their spouse, it is also not wise wishing another person is your spouse because he or she treats you better. Truly speaking, the garden grows where it is tended and watered. Flaunt your spouse and be proud of her. Your marriage will work.
- Pay back: In our world ‘do me, I do you, God no go vex’ is something a lot of people revel in. But for the Christian, this is not our nature. It is not in your best interest for you to pay adultery back with adultery. Even if it may be a tenable excuse, but in the sight of God, it makes no sense and is a sin. An eye for an eye, soon makes everyone blind; forgive if your spouse has hurt you.
- Hide and seek: Don’t start what you cannot finish. To what end is hiding to make calls, deleting inappropriate text messages, sending nudes to others, having amorous glances with people not your spouse? To what end is having mental pictures of hanky-panky and fantasizing with people not your spouse? Truly speaking not everyone married the first person they dated; and not everyone had only one person they had feelings for. Once you are married, it is advisable to cut any love channel or cord that attaches you to your ex. It is also not advisable to be married and be in amorous terms with your ex or anyone of the opposite sex; and know all the fine details in their lives, focus on your marriage and build it. In some cases it may be wisdom to block your ex/s on social media or even change your social media handles. Take anything that reminds you of them out of side and then out of mind.
- Wrong ideologies: A lot of people enter marriage with warped ideologies. Some enter saying it is a man’s world and the man is allowed to cheat, and coat it by saying men are polygamous in nature… Christians oh. Some say there is no big deal in a woman cheating and spin it by saying if it is not a big deal for a man to cheat, why would it be for a woman to cheat. Well Heb 13:4 ‘Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery’ is still in the Bible; also God does not judge males and females with different standards when it has to do with sexual immorality.
- Transparency pays: What is there to say about this…transparency pays.
- Seek help: A problem identified is half solved, see eh, if you are weighed down by the weight of adultery. Confess your sins to God, he will forgive you, seek forgiveness from your spouse, it will surely not be easy and trust me, it may certainly come with dire consequences as your spouse is likely going to be heart broken and it could take time for trust to be regained. But, many times, it is better, it is heard from your mouth, than from another.
Also if your spouse opens up to you, it will help if you pray for them and forgive them. Also more than confessing, it is important you ask for the help of the Holy Spirit and go through counselling/ discipleship.
Help is available if you seek for it, talk to God about your marriage right now, our marriages are fire proof in Jesus name. If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, talk to him to come into your life, He will.