By Ashley Hooker, Crosswalk.com
You have had a courtship that only Cinderella could dream of and now your wedding day has arrived. It is the day that you have been planning for since you were a little girl.
Now, as you wait for the doors to open and take those first steps down the aisle, your heart feels complete. Your prince charming awaits you at the end of the aisle and once the vows have been made, your perfect life together begins.
This is the picture most of us think of when we get married. What we fail to remember is that the marriage doesn’t start until after the honeymoon. That first year and the years to come will include hard work to protect and grow your marriage.
But what happens when adultery enters the picture? Does it always mean the end of your marriage?
Forms of Adultery
Most acts of adultery are not planned yet, 30% to 60% of men and women will cheat on their spouse. Adultery is usually situationally driven. Some spouses turn to adultery because things in their own marriage are not working.
Emotional adultery can happen in marriages where one partner feels that they are not being heard or their spouse is just not present in the home. When this happens, you or your spouse may start confiding in a friend of the opposite sex.
Intimate details of your marriage are being shared outside the marriage and you might find yourself spending more time with the “other” person.
In this situation, there is no sexual element to the relationship. What makes this adultery is that not only are you speaking of private matters to someone other than your spouse, but you are setting up a stage where a sexual act could happen.
Visual adultery includes looking at others with a lustful eye. This can happen when intimacy is lost in your relationship. Sex is not happening, and your carnal desires get the best of you. We look at objects and people that are pleasing to our eyes. When our marriages have become unpleasing to our eyes, we look elsewhere.
No matter what form adultery takes, it is an act that cuts our very souls. It is a pain that cannot be described in words.
Biblical Examples of Adulterous Relationships
Our modern society has embraced the mantra, “if it feels good, it’s okay.” Christians know that this is not new. Our Bibles are filled with examples are adulterous relationships.
Hosea and Gomer are an Old Testament example of an adulterous relationship. Hosea was instructed to marry Gomer, who was known as a promiscuous woman. Gomer and Hosea were married and conceived children together. Gomer leaves her husband to continue having relations with other men and conceived children by those other men.
Even after Gomer’s adulterous behavior, the Lord instructs Hosea to “go, show your love to your wife again.” Hosea buys her back for fifteen shekels and they reconcile.
Later, in the book of John, we read of an adulterous woman caught in the act. She is brought to the Temple by the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Jesus is in the temple and many people have gathered to him teach. The Pharisees take this opportunity to trap Jesus by asking him what he would do.
His reply is for anyone that is without sin to throw the first stone. Jesus does not condemn her but tells her to go and leave her life of sin.
These two accounts are examples of how wrong adultery is, but that forgiveness is possible.
How Is Forgiveness Possible After Adultery?
Forgiveness can be the hardest thing to give someone who has hurt you to your very core. Human forgiveness is only possible with God’s help.
God can give you or your spouse unconditional forgiveness. The prophet Isaiah wrote “Come now, let us settle the matter, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
These words are our hope. They remind us that forgiveness is not just possible, but an absolute in our relationship with Christ.
In Luke 17:3 Jesus says “If your brothers or sister sins against you, rebuke them, and if they repent, forgive them. This is our instruction to forgive those who have sinned against us. I can’t deny that there are marriages that will not continue because of adultery. What I can say is that whether you forgive and stay married or divorce, forgiveness is possible.
How Can Your Marriage Overcome Adultery?
When you have experienced the hurt that trails adultery, it is hard to imagine that your marriage could ever survive. Before you give up, I suggest considering the following qualities and questions of your relationship:
1. Was your relationship healthy at some point?
Answering this question requires you to reflect on the time prior to the act of adultery. This is the time when you can remember the good times. You could look at photos or mementos from special events or create a list of the good times you had together.
2. Is your partner willing to be transparent about what happened?
Details of adulterous actions are hard to digest, but you need to know that your partner is willing to give them when you ask. You need to have confidence that your partner will be open to their emotions. Your partner needs to be willing to spend time self-reflecting and sharing what they were feeling at the time they decided to cheat.
3. Would you marry your spouse again if you regain trust?
This question will require you to reflect on who your spouse is. Are they loyal person that made a mistake? You should consider what it was that made you fall in love and desire to spend your life with him/her.
4. Are you and your spouse willing to re-negotiate your relationship terms?
After you and your spouse have spent time reflecting on your relationship before adultery, you must decide if you’re willing to start over. Are you willing to rethink and renegotiate terms that will allow you to move forward and build a bond that is stronger than ever?
Marriage is a beautiful act ordained by God. Because marriage is between a sinful man and woman, the chance of adultery is present. If adultery stains your marriage, you can have hope that it is not the ultimate end of your relationship.
The biblical examples of Hosea, Gomer, and the adulterous woman show us that we can receive forgiveness from God and our spouses.
If we repent and turn away from our sin, we have the opportunity to rebuild our marriages and put Christ where he belongs, at the center.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/AndreyPopov
Ashley Hooker is a freelance writer who spends her time homeschooling her two children, ministering alongside her husband as he pastors a rural church in West Virginia, and writing about her faith. Currently, she is a contributing author for Journey Christian magazine. She has taken part in mission trips with the NC Baptist Men during the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey in Mississippi and Texas. In her local church, she has served on various committees focusing in the area of evangelism along with traveling to West Virginia and Vermont to share the Gospel. Her dream is to spend her time writing and sharing the love of Christ with all she meets.