It seems that every 3 months or so we learn of another celebrity caught cheating on his or her spouse. To say adultery is an epidemic in our current culture is an understatement. And it doesn’t seem to be a respecter of position. Regardless of what we do for a living, (politicians, pastors, teachers, athletes, actors, musicians, etc) cheaters are in our midst. It seems to be so prevalent today that the question isn’t who is cheating but rather – who isn’t?

Too many treat their most important relationships casually and their commitments to them as optional. Our microwave society mentality (quick and easy) has infiltrated our most sacred institution: marriage. Many cheaters try to justify their reasons for infidelity. To a cheater, their reasons make sense. Perfect sense. To those who have never strayed, they just don’t understand why.

Our thirst for affairs has become so accepted and normal in our culture that most shows on television mention an infidelity reference somewhere throughout the episode. Not to be outdone, we even have a reality show (Cheaters) that is designed to reveal an indiscretion and exploit the humiliation on national television. Honestly, I’m not sure which is worse – the immoral action of the cheater, or the people who produce the show. The fact that the series is in its 12th season is an indictment against us. I’m not sure which is more devastating – discovering your lover’s unfaithfulness or discovering the crushing news at the same time as the train-wreck-watching public. We live in a very sad day and age.

I have seen first-hand the destruction of adultery. Cheating devastates relationships and shatters dreams. If you have entertained the idea of cheating on your spouse or significant other, let this serve as your official warning. Your handsome boss, cute office secretary, or sultry neighbor down the street comes with a price tag that you cannot afford. Before you cheat here are 14 things you really need to know.

You will become a liar. It’s bad enough to bear the title of “Cheater,” but if you cheat, you will also wear the hat of “Liar.” Cheating cannot occur without deceit on some level and normally the white lies in the beginning become full-fledged lies at the end. “I’m working late at the office tonight” may be a half-truth, but you’ll need to redefine the word “working” to silence your compromised conscience. Cheating and lying go hand in hand. (For more about the lies that cheaters tell, click here.)

You will get caught. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. But eventually your affair will come to light.  Your world will come crashing down on you. If you are fortunate, the story of your indiscretion may avoid the evening news or the front page of your local paper, but your circle of friends will know your deeds. And everyone likes to share juicy news. Your poor decision will become as public as a billboard. It’s not a matter of if but when. As Pastor Rick Warren tweeted recently, “If the Director of the CIA can’t hide and cover up an affair, no one can.” As the Chinese proverb goes, “If you don’t want anyone to know it, don’t do it.”

You will disappoint everyone. Everyone. Your spouse. Your friends. Your co-workers. Your God. Your parents. Your nephew. Your children. Yourself. The disappointment you cause will be like the stench of skunks and it will take a long time to remove the smell.

You will be a bad example. Everyone is either a good example or a bad example in all things that we do. Cheating is a not only a very bad example in relationships, but brings with it a cloud of doubt that hovers over you in other areas of your life. If you cheated in one area, would you cheat in another? Cheating communicates to everyone that you took the easy road. It tells others that you were willing to cut corners in your most primary relationship. It reveals that you were not willing to do the hard work and get the help you needed. No one ever admires a cheater. No one looks up to an adulterer. Even if you did a lifetime of good, this one bad deed can erase it all.