No one gets married with the plan to someday commit adultery. With apologies to Lemony Snicket for using the title of his book, it is most often a “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Adultery is usually the culmination of a series of failures. For whatever reasons, boundaries erode and integrity is compromised, selfish desires rise leading to a total breakdown of character. There are numerous paths than can lead a person to this point. The sad thing is that they are all avoidable.
Sexual desire is instilled in us by God. Biologically, it assures the procreation and survival of the species. As humans it also offers us the opportunity to be intimately joined to another in a mystical union, which makes us one. Our sexuality is a gift from God; which like all gifts can be either used or misused. There is nothing wrong with sexual attraction, as it is part of being human. The world is full of people we find to be attractive and sexually appealing.
When we join ourselves to another in marriage, we do not promise that we will not find another person to be attractive or sexually appealing to us. What we promise is that we will guard the sanctity of our union by pledging our fidelity to our spouse. We will notice the physical beauty of people of the opposite gender, but we need not move beyond this notice. There is an old saying, “You cannot prevent the bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair.”
There are almost as many reasons that people give for committing adultery as there are people. Some feel that their marriage is failing, so they look to another to fulfill what they thought their marriage should be. Some may be flattered that someone still finds them attractive, and is willing to offer them the romance they are missing. Some may simply need an ego boost, or need to feel good about themselves. Whatever the reason, they generally stem from not dealing with issues in the marriage relationship, or issues within ourselves.
God did not establish this commandment in order to throw a wet blanket on someone’s lifestyle choice or to keep people locked in miserable relationships. This commandment is God’s protective shield around marriage and families. When two people engage in an adulterous affair, there are far more than two people involved. The collateral damage and destruction are massive; spouses, children, family members, friends and church members are all hurt in some way.
If you are in a good marriage, continue to nurture it. If you are in a troubled marriage, seek help and fix it. If you are in a situation that is perilously headed toward adultery, do not let the bird build a nest in your hair. Whatever your reason for heading in that direction might be, it is not a good one. It can certainly be difficult and stressful to do the work necessary to put our marriages back on track. However, I promise you it is much less stressful than suffering through the consequences of an adulterous relationship.
Remember how you believed at one time that your spouse and your marriage were gifts from God? Well, you were right. Go back and rediscover the gifts. Go back and find the joy that God intended when he brought the two of you together.