There’s no way around it; affairs are a tough topic. As we continue through our Relationship Rehab series I want to make sure I address the difficult road of both emotional and physical affairs. But first, let me give you an illustration of what an affair looks like:
We’ve all seen those construction signs on the freeway that read “Wrong Way Do Not Enter.” GPS might be telling you this is your exit, but if you see that sign, you know you’re going to have to be rerouted. And we’re thankful for these signs! Without them, we’d drive right into a danger zone. I happen to know someone who neglected the wrong way signs on the freeway and was actually driving against traffic on the 94. What’s interesting about this situation, is that this person was actually able to drive several miles on the wrong side of the road without a problem. Yet, this is the perfect illustration of what an affair looks like when you haven’t been found out yet. You’re coasting … but ultimately, this person ended in a head-on collision that resulted in near-death for the other driver.
If you’re involved in an affair, it isn’t a matter of if you’ll experience a head-on collision, it’s actually a matter of when.
And if you’re someone who looks at the Bible like a set of rules, you’re looking at the Bible all wrong. God is no killjoy. He invented sex! He also created parameters so we can get the most fulfillment in our marriages. We need water to survive and thrive, but too much water and you’ll drown. Fire is good for many different uses, but too much fire and you get burned....
Same thing when it comes to sex. Sex under godly parameters is the pinnacle of the sexual experience. Have an affair, and everyone involved will get hurt. And, the reality is, the Bible is clear, you can choose your sin but you can’t choose your consequences. You can look at the Do Not Enter signs like a rule, or like a safeguard. Either way, God loves us enough to offer us the perfect protection plan. It’s better than any insurance out there AND it’s free. While that may seem too good to be true, I can assure you that not only is it true, but an affair will ALWAYS cost you more than you’re ever able to pay.
After 23 years of full-time ministry, I’ve counseled countless marriages, heard ALL the excuses, and seen a tremendous amount of pain. I want to reiterate, that these messages are not to bring up the past but to prevent us from falling into the trap of unhealthy relationships. If you've had an affair and you've genuinely repented and asked God and your spouse for forgiveness ... God has forgiven and forgotten it. You need to do that too! If you're still feeling guilty, that is not God making you feel guilty, that is the devil trying to remind you of your past. It's one of the ways he tries to keep you in bondage and in pain.
Let's talk about an emotional affair for a moment. So often, Christians camp in an emotional affair because they fool themselves into believing that “nothing physical” is going on so there's no problem. But the truth is, we fall for what we flirt with. James 1:14-15 says it like this, “Temptation is the pull of a person’s own evil thoughts and wishes. These evil thoughts lead to evil actions and afterwards to death.” Non-believers typically go right to the physical once the emotional connection occurs. But for Christians, we fool ourselves into believing that we’re “not doing anything wrong because we're not doing anything physical.”
One time, a woman shared with me about a co-worker that she shared EVERYTHING with. Told him all her problems and the troubles in her marriage. He was so kind and easy to talk to and really empathized with her. But she insisted that things were not physical and if he ever attempted to do anything, she would end the “friendship.” I had to let her know … she was in an emotional affair. If you’re seeking comfort, affirmation, connection, or any sort of emotional fulfillment with someone other than your spouse, you’re in an emotional affair.
It’s especially hard these days because everything has sexual innuendo. Sex sells everything from cars to fruit salad. PG used to be safe. Now it stands for pretty gross. And that picture you just liked on social media, you know guys, the one where she's pointing to how much she loves the coffee she's holding, but she's showing much more than the coffee, that’s flirting with temptation. If you’re constantly looking at garbage, it’s not the harmless little fantasy you think it is.
It’s easier to get married than stay married. This is why God has made it abundantly clear that the parameters of sex are between one man and one woman. ONE. We have to acknowledge that the path to an affair starts in the mind. That’s why Jesus said, “If a man looks lustfully at a woman, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” And once you cross that line from mental to physical, the attraction, passion, and lust are so powerful, it takes ten times the effort to break it off (more effort than it would have taken for you to work on your marriage). If you have unmet needs, unresolved conflict, unfulfilled expectations, selfishness, undeveloped self-worth, are lacking communication or maturity … any one of these can be a trigger toward an affair. That's why you need safeguards to help you affair-proof your marriage!
There is no amount of rationalization that is going to give you a pass on committing adultery. In fact, reasoning with your sin is only going to ramp up the pain you’re causing. 1 Corinthians warns us to, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” We’re so good at deceiving ourselves and letting the devil deceive us. We convince ourselves that it’s okay given the circumstances.
Here are just a few of the excuses that I’ve heard …
“If only my husband/wife met my needs, I wouldn’t be doing this.”
“Just one more time.”
“But we love each other.”
“God will forgive.”
Listen to me … God forgives genuine repentance. He does not forgive anticipatory sin. God is not a fool. You may be fooling yourself but you’re not going to fool God. Jeremiah 17:9 reveals the condition of our hearts when it says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. No one can understand how deceitful it is.” Adultery is not love. Love does not break up a family.
Nothing destroys a family faster than adultery. Adultery is a trap (Proverbs 22:14). If you’re currently on the road to OR already living out an affair, I want to encourage you to genuinely examine your heart and repent. The road you are on is an illusion of what God truly has for you and will only lead to pain. You may be cruising down the 94 affair freeway without an issue, but you can be sure, the collision is coming. Seek prayer from others so that you will have the strength to stand against the enemy, for this battle is more than just flesh and blood (Ephesians 6), but a plan from the enemy to destroy your marriage. Redemption is possible! I've counseled dozens of couples over the years that have overcome the pain and destruction of an affair and are now living proof that redemption is possible.
Affairs are a tough topic. But I have to make sure that we address the tough topics in the Bible, not just part of the Bible. This Sunday, I’m going to give more safeguards that will help you protect your marriage. We will also talk about the pathway back when an affair has occurred.
When you look at establishing cities in the Old Testament, they would build up walls around the city. These walls would be inspected for cracks and holes to prevent any sort of breach from their enemies. We need to build up walls around our marriage to protect it and honor it. As we do the work (almost every message in this series I've given you some sort of homework) we will see the joy and fulfillment in our marriages that God intended.