Our view of marriage can impact our commitment level to our spouse. Join us as Gene Getz discusses the biblical values of marriage.
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Why is adultery and infidelity hardly ever associated with the word “sin” today? Whether it’s the stories we hear in small groups at church or what we see on the television or at the theater, sex for immediate pleasure has become the highest priority. The idea that God has something bigger and even more pleasurable to offer to those who are faithful isn’t even an afterthought.
When I’m talking with someone who has been deeply betrayed by a friend, a family member, or a coworker, they often ask, “How can I ever trust him again? He said he was sorry, but how do I know if he is truly sorry about the damage he’s done or if he’s just sorry he got caught? I don’t want to get burned again.”
Those are tough questions, because there’s a lot at stake for both the betrayer and the betrayed.
Rebuilding trust in a relationship after a bitter betrayal almost feels like an insurmountable task. No one in his right mind would dare trust a spouse who was unfaithful, a coworker who stole his good idea, or a friend who lied about him behind his back. Would you?
But what if that person apologizes? Then what? How can you know if someone has truly repented?
As Jesus’ followers, we talk about repentance—that radical change of heart and mind that alters one’s perspective and reshapes behavior patterns to look more like Jesus. It’s been a part of the Jesus story from the beginning. John the Baptist referred to it as “producing fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8).
Testing repentance is vital to rebuilding trust in a broken relationship. So what are some of the signs of a repentant heart?
King David—a man whose deceit betrayed his wife and his nation—said it best: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:17).
One place to begin looking for “fruit” that reveals a deeply rooted heart of repentance is in how the repentant betrayer responds when questioned. A repentant person demonstrates a humble attitude that is neither demanding nor defensive when questioned. There is an openness that replaces deceit, a willingness to be accountable for his or her actions on multiple levels without resorting to blaming others or making excuses for failures.
It’s only through experiencing a consistency in both attitudes and actions that reflect repentance that the betrayed individual will over time begin to take the risky steps towards trusting again.
How much time? As much as it takes.
And the repentant person will humbly wait for as long as it takes, knowing that the celebration over restoration will be a sweet harvest for both parties—a harvest that repentance and forgiveness has made possible because of Jesus’ example.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Cor. 7:10).
Ok, I admit it. I’m a child of the 50’s and 60’s who grew up with TV. I like to watch some favorite shows then, and now. And contrary to the popular belief of some, it’s not all bad.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a wholesale endorsement of everything that comes down the media pipeline into our homes. Much of it is a major waste of time. However, sometimes they get it right. And when they do, it leaves a mark.
A current favorite of mine is the NBC series, Parenthood. My interests are both personal and professional.
Personally, I’m a parent of 3 adult children, a son and two daughters. And while my role has shifted from hands on parenting to being a trusted adviser . . . when asked . . . I’m still involved in parenting.
Professionally, I work with a lot of parents who face challenging situations. Helping them navigate through those challenges with grace and courage is what I do. I’m constantly scanning media– TV, films, books, or music–looking for viable teaching metaphors that can aid in my work.
I’ve also witnessed the the fallout of infidelity up close and personal with the couples and families who have come to my office. A recent episode that really grabbed me was Qualities & Difficulties (03/01/11 air date).
The episode chronicles the story of a younger brother, Crosby, who cheated on his fiancee, Jasmine, with his nephew’s tutor. Yea, I know . . . dumb, and typical for Hollywood. “I know where this is going” . . . I thought.
But here’s the twist.
Instead of championing the typical mantras that “sex is no big deal, it’s just sex,” “sex is just between two people,” and “what two people do sexually is no one’s business except them,” and all the other “there’s no consequences for unfaithfulness” doctrine, this episode exposes the catastrophic fallout of infidelity throughout an extended family–the couple themselves, the children, the siblings and their spouses, the grandparents, the nephews, the nieces, the tutor, the fiance. Everyone is touched by it. And it’s not good.
What was so vividly portrayed was how devastating infidelity really is!
The final scene is at Joel and Julia’s house. Julia is Crosby’s sister. They’ve had struggles in their young marriage. And as Joel walks down the steps and nervously sits down next to Julia on the couch, you can almost feel what’s coming. What I expected was a confession of his own betrayal of infidelity. Instead, he takes her hand, and begins with, “I need to tell you something.” “Okay,” Julia tentatively responses. He continues, “I will never cheat on you.” “you know. . . we’ve been through so much. And we’re going to go through so much more . . . you know . . . good and bad, we’re going to go through everything . . . and I will never . . . I will never cheat on you.”
Their embrace is priceless! And the expression on Julia’s face says it all: I’m safe and secure because I’m married to a one-woman man who has got my heart. Joel’s affirmation of faithfulness is all the more exquisite when displayed against the backdrop of Crosby’s unfaithfulness. After 8 years of marriage, this couple knows better than the day they got married what real love means and what real love requires. Passionate Faithfulness.
Faithfulness is the most costly and exquisite gift that one person can give to another that continually reaffirms, “I Love You no matter what.” And for those who are Jesus followers, it’s the model of love that Jesus himself demonstrates and invites us to follow his lead (Rev. 19:11).
So men, how bout it? It’s time to be honest. Are you more like Crosby or Joel?
If you’ve broken your woman’s heart through unfaithfulness like Crosby, it’s time to man-up and start the agonizing work of rebuilding broken trust. It will take time . . . a long, long time. Counseling, accountability, and vulnerability are vital to rebuilding trust and becoming a better man who is faithful and true.
Are you more like Joel? Then it’s time for you to passionately reaffirm your faithfulness to your bride. Do it today. Make it a practice to find little ways to demonstrate to her that you’re “a one-woman man” (1 Tim. 3:2). Because that’s what a real man who loves God and loves his woman does.
And I’m pretty sure her response will be something like Julia’s.
Many spouses beat themselves up after their partner has had an affair. Somehow they begin thinking it was their fault. But what they fail to understand is that their unfaithful partners don’t have affairs primarily for sexual pleasure. What attracts people to affairs is that they become opportunities for them to experience pleasure without the responsibilities of relationship.
Infidelity. It sounds like such a benign word, doesn’t it? It just seems to harmlessly roll off the tongue. Sadly, we’ve almost come to expect it with the media’s regurgitation of every lurid detail of yet another celebrity scandal–from political figures and pop icons, to sports heroes and yes, unfortunately, even religious leaders. It seems that we’ve become so accustomed to hearing about infidelity that we’re rarely even shocked by it any more, as though it’s become the new normal.
However, as was seen most recently in the Tiger Woods expose–infidelity is not benign. It’s an emotional, relational, and spiritual malignancy, and when left unexposed and untreated–it eventually consumes just about everything in it’s path.
But, Tiger isn’t the only one who has trouble with being unfaithful . . . is he? If we’re honest, that’s a problem we all have. I’m consistently counseling with couples who are trying to piece back together the shards of their marriages that have been shattered by infidelity. What’s alarming is that it’s not primarily just a man thing any more either. There’s an increasing number of women who, in their attempt to be “just like men” have stooped to imitating some of the worst attributes of men. And infidelity certainly is an attribute unbecoming to any man or woman because it crushes one of the foundational building blocks that’s essential for any relationship to thrive. Trust.
Now you may push back, “But that’s not my problem. I’ve never cheated on my spouse.” Great! But infidelity is far more than following through with adulterous behavior. Infidelity goes to the heart of who we are. Fantasizing about an illicit sexual relationship is just as wrong as acting out the fantasy. Now, granted, following through with a full fledged affair has far more devastating consequences than just thinking about it, but it’s only a matter of degrees. Let me explain.
No, I’ve never cheated on my wife. But I have I ever thought about it? Have I ever look lustfully at another woman other than my wife? Are you kidding? Yes. Do I do it all the time? Of course not. But in Jesus’ words, I’m guilty of having an adulterous heart. Yes. And, if you’re honest, so do you. Note the weightiness of Jesus words in Matthew 5:27-28:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Jesus first quotes the Seventh Commandment from the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:14 which states clearly and simply, “You shall not commit adultery.” But knowing the attitude of the 1st Century people as he did, Jesus knew that there had been an erosion of the weightiness of the commandment from Moses’ day. Many, while following the letter of the law, were still withholding their hearts from God. (Matthew 15:8; Mark 7:6; cf. Isaiah 29:13). That’s infidelity.
Jesus raises the stakes by making infidelity more an issue of the heart than of the body. Yes, it’s wrong to have an affair and to be unfaithful to your spouse. The consequences are devastating for all. But toying with infidelity in your heart is just as lethal to one’s relationship with God and eventually sabotages any meaningful intimacy with one’s spouse.
So, the real question isn’t “What about Tiger?” It’s really, “What about you?” When was the last time you were unfaithful? How did you handle it? Or did you just hide it like it’s no big deal because everyone does it? Does the exposure of infidelity in yet another public figure cause you to reflect more on where your heart is than on their public sin? If so, then you’re focusing on the right place–your heart.
Remember: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). S0 . . . how’s your heart?
One incident of adultery is severely damaging. What happens when there is an ongoing issue of unfaithfulness? Is there any hope for that marriage? Join Dan Allender as he talks about this painful situation and offers his encouragement to those stuck in a pattern of infidelity.
I love a fresh snow. As I’m writing this post, I’m looking out my slider door at a fresh coating of powdery white that blankets my backyard. Ever since I was a kid growing up in central Pennsylvania, snow has been a magical, mystical experience. Whether I’m inside next to the warm glow of the fireplace while the wind howls outside, or I’m outside bundled up and feeling it bite at my face, snow has always been fun for me. I feel like a wide-eyed little kid again.
Okay, I can hear some of you saying you hate it because it reeks havoc on your travel plans . . . like getting back and forth to work or school safely. And yes, I’ve had my fair share of accidents in the snow . . . like the time I was broadsided in an intersection just 2 months after getting a new car all because of 6″ of wet slushy mush that made starting or stopping treacherous. Okay, that was a bummer. I get that.
But it’s so BEAUTIFUL!
I don’t think there’s anything whiter than fresh snow. And that always takes me back to the words of Isaiah, the prophet, who wrote: “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isa. 1:18).
It’s amazing to consider that the worst of my sins–no matter how dark, grotesque or ugly they may be–can be washed and cleansed to be whiter than snow. Amazing!
Think about the worst thing you’ve ever done. Lie? Cheat? Steal? Unfaithful? Betrayal? Immoral? Murderous? You name it. God’s grace can extend whiter than snow cleansing power to deal with our sin.
King David knew that firsthand. He lied, cheated, stole, was unfaithful, betrayed the trust of those closest to him, was immoral, and in the end he murdered in his attempt to cover up everything else. After a year of anguish over his “hidden” sin (that really wasn’t all that hidden because he was such a public figure in Israel), his confession to God after the prophet Nathan confronted him about his sin is recorded in Psalm 51. David writes:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. (Ps. 51:1-3)
David openly admitted the ugliness of his wrongs, calling it his sin, his transgressions, his iniquity. In other words, there was no where for David to hide from the ugliness not only of what he’d done but of the man he had become. But it didn’t end there.
There was still whiter than snow hope. Because of God’s unfailing love, David had hope that he wasn’t forever stained by the ugliness of his sin. His request from God was simple:
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow (PS. 51:7). Whiter than snow means one thing: pure again. And that’s what God offers to us–a renewed sense of purity that is the result of the forgiveness of our sins that are washed whiter than snow because of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, on our behalf.
So the next time you see that fresh layer of new fallen snow that magically transforms all the clutter, imperfections, and even ugliness of the surrounding landscape with a glittering robe of white, remember that it’s God’s way of reminding you of what His Son has offered to you–though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.
Snow . . . it really is beautiful. Isn’t it?
Feel free to share your comments and reflections on snow. We’d love to hear from you.