December 14, 2017

The Man in the Shadow of Adultery

adultery.jpgI have been wanting to write this major essay on adultery for almost four years. It was just never there. Yesterday, for whatever reason, I knew it was ready for “birth,” and so in a few hours this morning, it arrived. It is a plea for men who are somewhere in the vicinity of committing the sin of adultery to stop, return home, and take hold of the wonderful Good News of the Gospel. If I have earned a few more readers this week, I pray this essay would go out to as many as possible, and help those men and those marriages that can be helped before the plague of adultery destroys what is precious. On this weekend of my 50th birthday, thanks to all of my readers, and if this isn’t for you, it is for someone you know.

This is dedicated to Mike M and Michael A, both gone to be with God, both men whom I loved as fathers and brothers, both men who yielded. God’s peace to them.

I spend my days teaching the Bible to high school students. While there are many matters of fact and text that occupy my teaching, the great emphasis of my classes is that this book is about God’s message to “you”, the reader. The human person.

I’m not denying the God-centeredness of the message or the centrality of Jesus Christ. I simply mean that the point of a message is to talk to you in ways you can understand, that you can know the truth about God, about yourself, about why things are the way they are, and what God has done in Jesus to make them right. When you are finished with the text, it is a faith response from you- a “yes” to the message and person presented- that matters. Unlike almost any other kind of literature, the Bible is a personal appeal from its author for you to place your trust, faith and confidence in him, and to live with him as the Lord of your life.

This makes various points, messages and subtexts of the Bible more important than they might seem at first. For example, Solomon pens chapters of wisdom, but his life is not one that honors Wisdom. It is a life that exemplifies foolishness. What does this mean to me? It means that I am a person who can know wisdom, even teach wisdom, but I am a person who may abandon wisdom personally.

I find it fascinating that many Christians will study the Proverbs as a guide to life, and ignore the companion portrait of the idolatrous and insatiably materialistic Solomon who collected those Proverbs. We pretend that we love wisdom, and that our children can be taught to love it as well. Perhaps. But more likely, we are people who throw away wisdom, and take the foolish, destructive path, often in the prime of life.

What has my attention today is a particular scene in the life of David. All of us know it well. Before I reference the text, it’s important to remember that David is, in many ways, the high point of the older covenant. In David, God appears to deliver fulfillment of many of his promises. Land. Kingdom. King. Worship. David is the type of the Messiah, and a reader of his story is meant to be led to that conclusion…and beyond it.

Beyond that conclusion is the truth of human nature, the truth of who we are and what we are like as persons; especially male persons.

2 Samuel. 11:1 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. 2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

And the rest, as they say, is history. Israel’s sorry history. The decline and fall of an entire nation into subjugation, civil conflict, idolatry and defeat. The promises of God, so close to fulfillment in David, go tumbling down the abyss of Israel and Judah’s folly, and come to rest in a stable in Bethlehem, where David’s true son is born.

This probably seems like an unusual way to start out an essay on men and their temptation toward mid-life adultery, but it really isn’t. David was a man. A man after God’s own heart, but a man’s man. He had wives and concubines. He had wealth, power, success and significance. Whatever men are supposed to want in life, David had it in bucketfuls, with plenty left over.

But he’s brought down by adultery with the neighbor’s wife. He’s ruined by the sin of lust that every college student understands. He’s brought down, and his nation brought down, by a sin that stalks the mid-life man relentlessly, and far too often, wins out over good men with David-like success and achievements.

I work with many men younger than me. I believe many of them see me as a mentor, and if so, I want to ask them to please read what I am going to write here with every assurance that yes, I am writing about all of us. I can say this because, as a mid-life man, I now know things I did not know at 30 or 40, and I see things I did not see at 30 or 40. I see the power of adultery as a temptation. I understand why men fall into it, and I believe I understand something of how to resist it.

1. Adultery happens to men who do not have a truthful perspective on their own sexuality.

Sexuality in evangelicalism is largely discussed in feminized, moralistic terms. This isn’t helpful to anyone, male or female. Sexuality is the hard-wiring and software installation of God’s creative design. It is not something we do. It is who we are. Sexuality is as much a part of you as an ignition or fuel system are parts of a car. When the car “runs”, it is because these systems “run”. When you are a man, you are a sexual man.

The separation of male sexuality from Godly identity has been a disaster, and I’ve written about it elsewhere. Castrating men for usefulness in a prissy, feminized evangelicalism is bad. (BTW- the answer to all of this is Jesus, not hairy chested men grunting and making rude noises.)

Fear of sexuality is communicated to men throughout life. Men are rapists. Men are perverts. Men are porn addicts. Teenagers are told that masturbation is evil. Erections are embarrassing and the male sexual response is dirty. Young men are told that sexual thoughts- not wrong sexual fantasies, but sexual thoughts- are evil. The fear that male sexuality will “break out” hangs around any community of men from middle schools to nursing homes. Many Christian homes are in trouble because normal male sexual behavior is treated as disgusting and dirty.

(I am well aware that fear of female sexuality has its own essay that ought to be written, but I am not writing it. I do agree and understand it, however.)

The usual result of this in the mid-life male is a mine field, if not a ticking time bomb, as far as adultery is concerned. As we grow older, we are socially trained to be sexually disciplined and docile, but we are psychologically and emotionally just as vulnerable to the power of our own sexuality as ever. In many men, the repression of their sexuality has made them particularly vulnerable. They have lived for years with their sexuality on a leash with constant feelings of shame. When an adulterous or potentially adulterous relationship unleashes that repressed aspect of the personality, the energy and consequences are large.

David knew his enemies, but I do not think he was going to win any awards in knowing himself. The power of sexuality to cause a man to cross boundaries, justify wrong actions and then lie to himself and others is immense. David defeated Goliath, but he was slain by his own lust for a naked female body, something he had access to in his own house.

What would help? Communities of men that talk to one another honestly about sex, adultery, the “plot line” of sexual transgressions and the consequences of sexual sin. David’s isolation and subsequent cover-up should teach us that we can be better men if we talk to one another, confront one another, and encourage one another in specific, down to earth terms.

I like sermons about Christian guyness, but frankly, having a preacher who can use sexual terms and blunt language is overrated in terms of assisting a man in the middle of the struggle not to commit adultery. Other men, talking to you face to face, are of inestimable value. To be quite honest, if you can’t talk about your specific temptations to specific people in specific terms, you don’t yet have the kind of support that will yield truly helpful self-knowledge.

2. Despite a lot attention to the “seductress” in Proverbs, the problem in adultery is the married man, the condition of his marriage and the lies he tells himself.

One of the marks of male juvenility, and likely eventual downfall, is the tendency to put the emphasis on flirtatious women, scantily clad women, women with cleavage, women who smile at you, women you laugh at your jokes, women who pay attention to you and so forth. I’m not saying this kind of information is all useless, because it’s clearly a kind of common sense warning that anyone ought to heed. It’s just mislocating the problem.

The guy about to commit adultery is a person with a marriage he’s neglected and a wife he’s turning into an excuse to step out on. He is convincing himself he deserves something rather than admitting he is responsible for something. Did I just hurt your feelings? Good.

Let me say it again: The man about to commit adultery is choosing sex with someone other than his beloved because he doesn’t want to own up to his part in the marriage he’s about to violate. It’s that simple. Moving the responsibility elsewhere, or amplifying any other factors to the point of “cause”, isn’t helpful.

Any man about to violate his marriage vows is going to tell himself a story. That story varies greatly from man to man, but there are some predictable commonalities: lack of sexual availability and willingness. Excessive blame and criticism. A lack of “understanding”. Coldness. Rejection. Bitterness. Lack of forgiveness. This story will have the quality of myth, and it will place the man contemplating adultery in the place of someone whose actions may not be excusable or right, but are at least understandable and explainable. The men who destroy marriage vows without reason are few. The men who believe themselves to have suffered enough, and are now deserving of some kindness, are many.

Men: look at yourselves in the mirror. Your marriage is not meant to greet you each day with a package of pleasures, goodies and benefits. Your marriage is an ongoing project. It requires constant reassessment. There are readjustments, repairs, revisions and sacrifices necessary. Like a child that grows in your home, a marriage contains the mutual “DNA” of the marriage partners, but it presents surprises and problems that few of us can anticipate.

As I grow older, I am constantly amazed at the number of men who simply have no coping skills in marriage. They are passive and helpless when they most need to act, and they are afraid- often paralyzingly so- to become vulnerable, to suffer gladly, to admit error or to seek humility. They are, in too many cases, childishly distractible by someone else when they are most called to think about and love their spouse.

I understand the complexities of marriage in a fallen world. I hold God responsible for the outrageous notion that we can successfully remain married after the fall. It seems, frequently impossible. But I also hold God responsible for the grace, mercy, transformation and agape love that flows into our lives via this conduit of marriage.

So I believe the story of the seductress is not the story of David or Solomon. It may be the story of the young simpleton in Proverbs, but few adulterers are young simpletons.

3. The behaviors and emotions that precede adultery are easily discerned, and no man can say he doesn’t know what is happening.

David is looking at Bathsheba, and he is sexually stimulated. He sends messengers to her home. She arrives and he orders those men away. He takes her to his chamber.

At what point is this mysterious? Nathan was right: The rich man took the poor man’s one sheep while awake, sober and rational.

Men, that sexual stirring you feel when engaging a co-worker in intentional conversation? That laughter over the slightly off-color humor? That extra email, voice mail or visit to the cubicle? That unnecessary phone conversation? That intentional proximity to a lunch table? That extra attention to a problem? That intentional “pastoral” call? That willingness to listen? That second glance? That touch on the arm? That nod and smile? Those assurances of friendship? That promise to “pray” and be there?

What in hell are you doing? (And I mean that. Don’t edit for the church ladies, please.)

If the above paragraph seemed a bit obsessive, I’m sorry. By age 50, you should be able to write it yourself. Actually, you should be able to write a much longer one.

There is more that could be said about the later actions and feelings, when the other party is joining in, secrets are shared, plans are made, more lies are told and the whole business takes on a life of its own. But by that time, the mortal damage has often been done. I want to gain your attention now, early on, when there is much more hope for genuine repentance and healing.

You know what is happening, and you know that it is the edge of something completely dangerous. You are taking steps- baby steps, but steps- away from the one-heartedness you promised. You promised to be a one woman man. She is counting on you to keep that promise. She is counting on you to be better than other men; to be devoted to her through everything. And now you are looking, talking, returning, even touching, with another woman in mind. You have put yourself above your marriage. You have put the momentary excitement, the eventual fantasy, the immoral boost to the ego above your love for your wife.

I wish we could see ourselves at these moments. Do you know those MSNBC bits where they trap the child predators by convincing them online to come to a house? Then when they arrive at the house, the journalist confronts them? These men come in, and they are like men possessed. They do and say things that are shocking, perverse and vile, all in anticipation of the sexual thrill of being with a minor.

We are rightly shocked by such men. But if a camera were to follow a man- yes, a Christian man- fantasizing and contemplating adultery, around for a day or week or a month, the camera would capture a fool in his folly; saying and doing things that, if played before that man and his spouse, would bring most men to a place of such grief and regret that they would be weeping like children.

We must see ourselves in the real world. God does not play into these fantasies and thrills. He sees us, and he sees deeper. He who witnessed your covenant vows, and knows your avoidance of the problems in your marriage, sees into your heart. The movie is being made, for the largest audience imaginable.

4. The Gospel is for adulterous men.

I am a great sinner, and I have a great savior. I was loved into existence. I do not have to be, but I am because God calls me into existence. He delights in me and in you; in the possibility of our lives and his glory interacting for all eternity.

My sins separate me from this God. He is holy and my sins are putrid. They have contaminated me, and they separate me from his presence. But they have not separated me from Jesus. My redeemer lives. My sins are laid on him. He is vile when he has done nothing. He became the sins of adultery and lust for us, that we might become purity and righteousness in him. He is the one mediator, and he was made like me for just this purpose.

There is more. All our hurts are there in him as well. The disappointments as children and as adults,. The losses. The grief. The abuse. All are upon him and in him, and in him they are all healed. He is ostracized, shamed, rejected, taking all of these things in every form for us. He becomes the victim of every wrong, and he becomes the scapegoat for every guilt.

And he is for us. For us. We do not need to persuade him to love us, because he already loves us. He is for us and nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

He has special compassion for the hurts of marriage. He knows what it is to have an imperfect spouse and a flawed marriage. He knows the wandering hearts of unfaithful people. He is determined to make the Marriage of the Lamb the very meaning of all eternity. So he looks upon your marriage, whatever its condition, and whatever your part in it, with the compassion that only comes from the great heart of God.

You can rest in him. Whatever the restlessness, go home to him. Stay with him. Tell him- honestly- what you are feeling. Don’t run away from such a God as the God that forgave David. Be his child. Seek what it means to be vulnerable in the treasures of his graciousness. In the heart of the ultimate wounded one, there are your wounds, and the healing of your wounds.

The woman dragged before Jesus found his forgiveness for sexual sin. The man who committed the adultery was nowhere to be found. Like so many men, he hid to avoid the repercussions he feared most at the time: humiliation and embarrassment. But what if he had been with Jesus, too. What would Jesus have said to him? Would his love have been less than what was shown to her? No, where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.

The road to healing in your marriage will not be short, easy or miraculous. I am skeptical of those stories where one trip to the altar takes away all the issues. There are problems with deep roots and histories embedded in our history. Forgiveness takes confession. New life comes from repentance. Grace is the in-breaking of light into darkness, and the darkness seldom loves the light. So it may take a very long time to come to the place where there is, once again, the kind of love and joy in your marriage that you so deeply desire.

You must know that God desires you to drink from the fountains of his joy, and to know satisfaction in the fountains of marital joy. He is not stingy, but we prefer cisterns of our own construction. To admit this, to move beyond this, and to embrace the grace of God available to a broken marriage, are all difficult, but possible and necessary movements forward.

My prayers are with you. As John said, I am your brother in the suffering and testimony of Jesus. Let us be faithful, joyful, useful, hopeful, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Don’t be weary in well doing, for in due time, we will reap a harvest of righteousness.

Look to that marriage of yours with the mind of Christ and the spirit of the prodigal coming home. Call upon the Lord, and he will deliver you. Declare your love for your wife, and let all your actions declare it even louder. Honor your vows, bless your children and do the right thing so that you will have no reason to be ashamed in the day of Jesus Christ.

Comments

  1. Great essay, Michael.

  2. Michael,
    Thank you for writing this essay, but I doubt (because of the nature of it) that you’ll get many replies. I’ve counseled with many men who are either in the middle of affairs, been recently caught, or are contemplateing infidelity of some sort. There is a common pre-existing fault that I see in almost every case that the bible corroborates…They secretly hate themseleves.

    “but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”

    There is a form of Narcissism that allows men to disown any bad thing in their past in favor of a made up image in the water. This image mostly consists of success, achievment, affairs, praise of others. As long as the image holds, there is no ‘need’ to be honest and face your demons. The greatest mercy (and greatest pain) is when the image finally falls apart, and they see themsleves as they really are. Then reall healing can begin in the marriage, family and in the man’s life.

    If anyone out there is even remotely considering an affair, I encourage you to go to http://www.chatcheaters.com . Its a website that catalogues stories of the spouse that was cheated on. Some of the tales will break your heart. I also recommend a book by Terrance Real called ‘I don’t want to talk about it’. It deals with this issue and its root causes.

    Do what Michael urges: Talk to a person you can trust to be honest with you…..NO CHEERLEADERS! Get counseling, do the introspection, date your wife, and turn to God. If you’re in it deep, He can help you find the way out.

    Peace
    Mark

  3. First time, long time.

    I have several friends in our church I will be sharing this with. Thanks for being honest and frank about the matter…especially with us men.

  4. So many great points don’t know where to start. One of the most honest and on target pieces I’ve read on the subject. The part aoout the difference between a sermon and talking one-on-one reminds me of Richard Baxter’s comment in Reformed Pastor that a few hours one-on-one did more good than a year’s worth of sermons.
    I think every man should tape “I am a person who can know wisdom, even teach wisdom, but I am a person who may abandon wisdom personally.” to their forehead.

  5. This is holiness in plain talk.

  6. Excellent. You hit this one out of the ballpark, MIchael. Happy Birthday!

  7. OneFollowingHim says:

    I remind myself daily that no matter what challenges I face in my marriage, I have a responsibility to my wife and our marriage. It is MY responsibility. And there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, that should take precedence over the responsibitilty [i][b]I[/b][i] have. The challenges appear ever day and take so many forms it is impossible to do without going to God and God’s men for strength to persevere. Wives also have their responsibility, but as husbands live out their responsibility, their wife can more successfully carry out her responsibility. I do not live that perfectly by any means. But we husbands do need to take the lead.

  8. Don’t know what more can be said, Michael. Oh that men would love their wives (and most importantly their relationship with Christ) more than their sin. That they would seek His kingdom, rather than their own!

    Thanks for addressing this and pushing His men toward Him!

    Tom
    Doctrine Matters

  9. steve yates says:

    I’ll be honest – it’s essays like this that scare single guys like me…I wish to God I’m half this wise when I get married, but perhaps that’s the scary thing – Michael knows all this from 20+ years of marriage, happy times and mistakes alike. He didn’t know it all when he got married. God help the single.

  10. @steve yates and other singles:

    The thing to do is not to run scared but to listen to guys like Michael and profit from their experience and even their mistakes so you don’t have to repeat them.

    Because unless you are called to celibacy and have the gift (or the discipline) of life-long abstinence, avoiding marriage runs the risk of ending up in physical relationships with one or more women you are not married to — and that’s no better than adultery in the narrow sense.

  11. Michael,

    Very much needed perspective.

    Your comments section links to the Creative Commons license, but the sidebar says, “Cannot be used without permission”.

    What do I need to do to distribute this essay (and perhaps others) either as a PDF or on paper, to guys in the various communities I move in?

    And could you perhaps put such a clarification on the sidebar?

    Thanks!

  12. Dear Internet Monk (I love your “handle”),
    I am a first-time poster who has read your blog for about a month now. We seem to be coming from somewhat different viewpoints about some doctrinal matters but I thoroughly appreciate the depth and eloquence of your thoughts as expressed here. (I attend services at a United Church of Christ.)
    This was such a wonderful column. As a very happily married woman who trusts her husband completely, I hope that men reading this will take to heart the truths you conveyed.
    Sincerely,
    SusanF

  13. stkatheryne says:

    Monk,
    Thanks for helping our Christian men out there. I’ve been married to two Christian men and the first one didn’t do the “Christian” part as well as I needed him to. If men realized what even the relatively minor pieces of unfaithfulness (like looking out of the corner of their eye) do to their wives it might cause them to rethink the relationship they have with their God. I can only speak for myself, but in looking back on my 37 years of cumulative marriage, I have lately realized that as I stood at the altar promising my future to a Christian man, I was actually expecting to – in a sense – marry Christ. A Christian woman NEEDS to marry someone who will be more than the average non-Christian man is, as I’m sure the reverse of that is also true. There is nothing more sexy to me than a man who is completely given over to our Lord. Thankfully, that describes my second husband perfectly. He’s not a “pretty” man and he’s far from perfect, but he has the world view of a child sitting on God’s lap. When I recognized that quality in him it captured my heart forever and healed a world of hurt inside me caused by the unfaithful soul of another.

  14. I appreciate your passion and honesty…

    Of interest, perhaps… according to relationship expert Dr. John M. Gottman, “the frequency of extra-marital affairs does not depend on gender so much as on opportunity.” Believe it or not, since women have entered the workplace in such large numbers, the number of affairs that women have “slightly exceeds those of men.”

    As it turns out, both men and women are seeking “friendship, support, understanding, respect, attention, caring, and concern” in affairs. So, the best antidote is a happy marriage. And I have to say that Gottman’s emphasis on what makes marriage work has been highly effective for me (and a lot of other people). Check out his The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

    So, to the scared single guy… don’t be afraid… just be a friend… and keep being one if you get married.

  15. This is magnificent. I particular take to heart your third numbered section.

    CH Spurgeon had the best advice on this: “With regard to some sins, if thou wouldst avoid them, take one piece of advice – run away from them. Sins of lust especially are never to be fought with, except after Joseph’s way; and you know what Joseph did – he ran away.” (full quote in the post on my own blog that I’m about to trackback).

  16. Wow, thank you for your honesty and boldness in the writing of this topic. Please keep speaking out on it.

  17. Thanks for this, Michael. I have known the heart-ache of trying to help people recover from the other side of adultery and wish that I could have intervened earlier with this wisdom.

    The only part I’d question, from those incidents I’ve encountered is the intentionality of it all. In one sense, I agree with what you’ve written, but in another – especially the most recent – the guy just was not himself. That’s not to confuse anything (obviously!), but I’m sure that medical research would demonstrate that his mind was being overwhelmed with chemicals that were normal under his control. Perhaps that simply demonstrates that there is almost a point-of-no-return when all of the intentionality leads one to the point where conscience is deafened by desire?

  18. Sorry, in my comment above, I meant: ‘That’s not to *excuse* anything (obviously!)…’

  19. I’ve posted a link to this article on the Family Life forums. After reading some of the discussions over there, I’ve thought many times that any person, man or woman, that is considering adultery should read through the topics regarding the effects of it.

    You’ve said well something I’ve commented on many times over the years; it doesn’t “just happen”. At some point, we have to know we’re on a dangerous path, and make the choice to stay on that path or to get back on the right one.

  20. I think it’s also important to note that men who ultimately do choose adultery typically choose to do so with a woman.

    So the numbers are pretty even as far as men and women sinning sexually.

    These men are typically not having affairs with other men.

    Even if the female affair partners are not married, they are still part of a marriage damaging and/or destroying affair.

    So, I don’t really believe one can characterize this as a male or gender specific issue. Women are just as involved in affairs as men.

  21. I did not mean to imply that this is a male only problem. I think in my cultural niche, it is a predominantly male problem, but I know that isn’t the case in other areas, esp urban, academia, etc. And in many churches.

    I am just a guy writing to other guys. Not a researcher.

  22. Andrew Goodwin wrote about adultery for salon.com–in which he discussed his own temptation and his girlfriend’s affair with someone else. These three lines have stuck with me:

    “Affairs do not begin with kisses; they begin with lunch. Or something like it. So when you hide the shared meal and the excitement that came with it, you do so for a reason.”

  23. Michael, as always, you do a fine job of both writing and analysis. I have counseled men with sexual addictions for 24 years, and I can add two other (perhaps smaller) categories of men who have affairs.

    1. Men for whom intimacy brings up internal lies about being rejected or being ridiculed. In today’s cultural approach to sexuality, men are constantly robbed of that complete emotional release that sex is supposed to bring. Instead, we are harrangued at every side by the fears that we will not be seen as enough. These fears lead some men…even some with excellent marriages…to seek to prove their acceptability through sexual encounters. Of course, the reality is that the guilt and shame they feel afterward and the mocking sneer of the enemy makes their internal ridicule even worse. And if they are “found out” then they truly will be rejected. It isn’t surprising that our lies become reality as we live them out.

    2. Another group of men (and I have seen several of them lately) are angry and have been told that anger is a sin. Their solution to the anger at their wives is to hurt them through one-night stands. Passive-aggressive behavior is fueling so much sexual temptation today. There are times I feel it as a counselor and pastor. Let me rediscover the right to holy and godly anger and perhaps sexuality will lose its angry side.

  24. mharrison777 says:

    Thanks for the article. Of the reply comments, I am one of the few people who are actually struggling with this right now and hopefully God will use this article and I will stop before it is too late. As a guy going through it – and I realize that different people operate different ways, so this is not meant to be a generalization – there is a feeling of control. I feel that I could stop at anytime and feel I would stop before sex occurred, but enjoy the excitement of the “baby steps” you mentioned. I believe this, so I don’t even feel the need to share it with a small group of guys I meet with (and embarassment). Section 3 of your essay really hit home regarding this. In the midst of this temptation, my marriage is going great, by the way, and I love my wife more than ever. I know that may seem confusing from the outside, but I don’t feel like I am really doing anything wrong yet. Just a few lunches here and there – not even that secret -, a few touches on the arm, a LOT of extra emails, and certainly not very good thoughts.

    Being honest with myself after reading this essay, I can see the path I am heading down. This article will give me motivation to resist the temptation for another week or two, but it will still be there and I could easily jump back on the path and catch up to where I was in a hurry. I guess that is what is so important about having accountability and someone to share this temptation with and who will not let you jump back on the path. It seems a little drastic for something that you feel “is under control”, but I think I need to recognize the foolishness of what I am doing, the gravitiy of the consequences, the persuasiveness of the opponent (sin temptation and sexual drive) and ask for help. Say a short prayer for me that I bring this up to my accountability group and flee from this temptation. Thanks for the article.

  25. I could cry at each of the words.. My soon to ex husband will take no blame for his actions.. multiple affairs.. sexual behaviors with others. A story truly a myth that epic in all ways that tells of our “bad marriage” and the death of his soul from his mouth wounds more the adultery if that is possible. He shared his pain with our pre teen daughters… moved across the country by way of 3000 miles, had very little contact with them…yet I am at fault. Lives with a “friend” female, and he is still not happy. My unforgiving nature is all that stand between him and his daughters. My lack of forgiveness is all that prevents us from being friends again. Forgiveness is not for him… it is for me. I done with him, and if I did not forgive him… I could not have survived this… I just will be in any sort of relationship with him. It is just too harmful to me. He just causes pain and harm.

    He has told me that Jesus died on the cross for his sins… he has told his sins to God, and to his new friends including his lover and he has been forgiven. Jesus died on the cross so he could commit adultery. Again, it is me who is at fault. 20 years and three children mean nothing… he needs to live his dream.

    If he would have given 1/10 of his energy to us, our marriage and family. I would have done anything for him, and the marriage. He does not value us at all. He left the marriage, and the children. I am waiting for the total self~ destruction to occur. I wish he could read the essay, and feel the pain he caused. The sad part he never will… thank you. If you reach one man, save one wife from the pain of this and most importantly save the children from the pain. It is so hurtful to them.
    You cannot have a marriage of one, I learned that the hard way. Husband’s should love their wives and children.That should be enough to stay, and make things right. His path is one that will destroy him, and I cannot help him at all.

    Wise words, I thank you for them. It is so easy to take the whole blame when your wife in this situation. I refuse to anymore, your words tell the story. I hope it can be a cautionary tale to some men.
    Di

  26. sinnerman says:

    As a fallen man who committed adultery and completely destroyed my entire life I am always looking to read analysis and encouragement from others about this subject. While you have made some good points, I would caution that you also make some “always” statements that are not valid to everyone. That is extremely dangerous, because, as someone who sinned by adultery, if you are truly repentant, and truly look to get back up and endure the pain of your sin to work towards healing for everyone you destroyed, you find that many in the church (and I’m talking about the church as the Body of Christ) simply refuse to let you attain redemption on their watch. The exceptions are, of course, those who have had a major life-altering broken experience. You know, something bigger than your water heater developing a leak or the transmission in your car needing replacement or not being able to go to the beach this summer afterall.

    So, what happens is that the adulterous male, even as he publicly and painfully looks for redemption, even as he has turned away from his sin, is defined forever by that same sin by a frightened group of Christians afraid to forgive. I do not know if that, for me, will ever change. I may always, unless I move to another part of the world, be what I did and not who I was before or even who I am now.

    All that to say, please be careful that you do not present your points as absolutes, because behind each affair there is a story, and it is not always the story you thought, or one that is so easy to define. Men are not all sexual thugs looking selfishly to hurt their wives or to shun responsibility for their part in an unhappy marriage. Your insinuation, more or less, that this is true could hurt deeply some brothers who want to rise above their sin, walk away from it, and start the “healing bow” and rebuild.

    “Quick to judge,
    Quick to Anger,
    Slow to Understand”
    Rush (Witch Hunt)

    My personal story is long and complex and nothing like what most folks want to hear. It isn’t bound up in some neat and easy little “He was a jerk and had an affair” short story. And I know of others who also have unique circumstamces. Please don’t hear that I would ever defend adultery under any circumstance. What I wouldn’t give to erase what I did. But, do not judge or pretend to know the fuel that drives a man to sin unless you have been in that person’s shoes. Period.

  27. hurting and trying to heal after 24+ years of marriage, and 8 children. We lost our oldest son (20 years old) to a construction accident and then my *Christian husband, who was talking the talk but not walking the walk, cheated on me and refused to confess & made me feel crazy when I asked and accused him of cheating with his office assistant who worked at our home office. I found out by being punished (not able to work at a youth camp for the summer, because of my husbands sins) then he confessed. he wants to stay married- he love me – loves God – want to do right. I hurt. life has changed. I keep trying but it’s not working. I doubt him and God .

  28. Dear Mama,

    I am praying for you and for your family. May I humbly suggest that you (and your husband if possible) seek marital counseling. In light of what happened about the church camp, I would try to find a counselor who respects your faith, but not connected to your particular church.

  29. Newly Wed says:

    I am married to a man who feels that it is completely normal to fantasize and masterbate, watch porn and masterbate. Without being too blunt, I feel that he has done this for so long, it has made sex with me only physical exercise. Yes, its nice, but it very rarely ends in the same way that it does for him when he is alone. It demoralizes me. I feel as if I can not please him and take it personal. He is quick to say, “it has nothing to do with you”. I feel that when he fantasizes, he is have mental sex with another woman and it hurts me. It is a hurt that I can not even describe. He says that all men do this and that I have lived in a bubble and need to wake up to the real world. Please advise me if I am being foolish, unreasonable, over sensitive, etc. I really don’t know what to do. Its ruining our marriage….causing me to feel anger and bitterness, which in turn is causing more harm than good. I should add that he is not a Christian. He went with me until we got married and then said he didn’t like it. I feel that I’ve ruined my life and know that without God, I’m headed for heartache….a lot bigger than coming home from work to find out that he spent the day in our room having sex by himself. Why am I even there?