The last three weeks, I've taken the time to talk about building a wall around your marriage to keep out Satan's attacks on your marital covenant, the biblical response to sexual temptation, and the steps that lead to an affair.
This topic has come about primarily because a good friend of mine is going through the total destruction of her marriage due to the adulterous actions of her husband. This came from a man I would have never suspected was capable of such a thing. However, I believe that given the right combination of circumstances and a lack of intentionality in preventing adultery, sexual temptation can creep up and take just about anyone hostage. We must be as innocent as doves and as shrewd as snakes regarding this issue (Matthew 10:16).
So what if you're already there? What if you are already in a compromised situation with someone outside your marriage?
I have discussed here my sexually promiscuous past before my marriage. In effect, that was adultery too because I was having sexual contact with someone other than my husband. God desired for me to focus all of my sexual energy on the spouse that He would provide for me. I've done a lot of thinking since then about what would have prevented me from getting trapped in sexual temptation. I have a list of things that would have helped me never arrive at that point. However, I am less certain what someone could have said at that time to pull me out. The one direct challenge I received, I rebuffed like a volleyball and then stopped talking to that person.
So what can I say to you either? What words can get us to wake up and understand that things can be different?
I think the words are What if. When you are in the midst of sexual sin, you don't see how you can go without and you don't want to. You also don't want to feel the horrendous guilt or hurt others in the process. So you feel stuck.
Here's what someone might have said to me then, and it could have made a real difference:
What if you could have the pleasure you experience without the guilt?
you could have this experience within a secure, committed relationship?
if you knew that you would be able to stop yourself before going too far?
What if you could feel pure again?
In a similar vein, if you are in a compromised sexual position with someone other than your spouse, you need to ask some important what if questions:
What if you could have all these feelings of romance and desire for the spouse you already covenanted with?
What if you knew your relationship with God and your spouse could be restored?
What if you knew the other person you're falling in love with would be okay without you?
Time after time, couples have survived infidelity. These are not hypothetical what-ifs. They can happen. In fact, I suggest you follow Marriage Life Ministries and My Beloved Is Mine blogs to see stories from people who not only survived but thrived after adultery. AffairCare also offers resources for renewing a marriage after infidelity.
And I assure you that making that other person into an adultery partner is not doing him or her any favors: You are hurting their reputation, their family, their future, and their relationship with God. Step away and let them find an appropriate mate for life.
If you don't believe that God can redeem your marital relationship, I pray that you will reconsider. I believe in every fiber of my being that's exactly what God wills to do. Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'" And Psalm 37:3-6 says, "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun."
Read The Gospel in the Bedroom for more on God's desire for your marital intimacy.
Stop and ask yourself What if? What if this affair doesn't work out? What if things could be better in my marriage if I would give it my all? What if the way that seems right to me isn't the way I should go? ("There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." Proverbs 14:12) What if my marriage could not just survive, but thrive?
I also highly recommend that you check out the powerful post and the video presented by the Mission:Husband blog: 'Til Death Do Us Part.