Have you ever wondered how to start an affair? Or, maybe you’ve known someone who had an affair and asked yourself how it could have happened.

Although I have never personally had an affair, I have had a front row seat. I have seen it unfold, step by step. I have watched as the one I loved was offered repeated opportunities to stop the affair before it ever started—and yet chose to keep walking deeper into sin, farther from God.

After several years of rehashing the events, I have reached a place of healing and wholeness. I can now recite the facts without shedding a tear. I can regurgitate dates and times—even emotions—without faltering. I can even laugh at things that broke my heart a few short years ago. But, the process still haunts me.

When I write, I always try to focus on me…on what God has done in me and for me and through me. However, as I walked through the stages of adultery and divorce yet again this morning, I was hit with the realization that the other side of this story needs to be told. There is someone, somewhere who is walking blindly down the path to an affair. There is a spouse blindly allowing the one he/she loves to engage in dangerous activity. There is someone who needs help—before it’s too late.

With that preface, I offer you the recipe for an affair.

1. Have a healthy dose of approval addiction. 

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant (Galatians 1:10).

We all long to hear words of affirmation, but it can get out of hand. My ex-husband was a pastor. If you have never been in ministry, you may not realize the amount of criticism that is heaped upon pastors. One person complains that the music is too loud; another complains that it’s not loud enough. One person complains if the pastor doesn’t wear a shirt and tie; another complains that he needs to dress more modern. One complains that the sermon is too long; another complains that it is too short.

There is no way to satisfy an entire congregation. When we are focused on the approval of man instead of God, we live by emotions. When someone offers a word of encouragement, we are swept off our feet and seek more. We search for those who will stroke our egos, tell us how wonderful we are. If we get that encouragement from the wrong people (i.e., attractive members of the opposite sex), we are putting ourselves in danger.

2. Study scripture without allowing it to penetrate your heart or mind.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).

My ex-husband has one of the finest theological educations money can buy. He had the privilege of sitting at the feet of amazing men of God: Chuck Swindoll, Howard Hendricks, Roy Zuck, and more. He worked hard and has the degrees to prove it. However, you can read and study scripture all you want. If you keep God at bay, don’t allow Him to penetrate your heart and transform your thinking, you are still in danger. You might even find yourself thinking that you are an impenetrable fortress because you know the scriptures inside and out.

James 1:22 warns, But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. Knowing scripture is wonderful. But, we must do more than possess knowledge of the scriptures. We must seek to obey God’s word in every area, allow it to penetrate our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). We must hide it in our heart so that we don’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). Otherwise, we are only fooling ourselves.