We didn't like commands as children and don't much like them as adults, either. If God says, Don't commit adultery, we question His authority, wisdom, and consequences. Then we try to qualify our disobedience to the circumstances or intent. Either way, God says, Don't commit adultery.
Where adultery begins:
- In your imagination. You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5:27-28). Adultery begins in the mind long before it occurs in real life. What are you thinking about? Have you failed the Lord in the area of mental adultery?
- With conflicts. Every relationship has conflicts. If couples don't address those conflicts, they will find themselves becoming disillusioned and drawing apart. Couples need to clearly communicate their needs and wants with each other and resolve to dealing with conflict as it occurs. Husbands and wives must learn to settle their own problems and not gossip, complain, or seek comfort with someone other than their mate.
- With immaturity and irresponsibility. Too many people enter into marriage looking for someone to serve them, rather than someone to serve. They want passion over commitment. Genuine love is not a feeling - but a decision to keep loving even when you don't feel like it because you care deeply for the person you are married to and are committed to the relationship.
- With inaccurate models. Anyone watching TV sees romance, excitement, fulfillment, and even music and candlelight. They think, My marriage is so dull. So unromantic. Maybe I need to find someone else who can give me this. What you see on TV or the movies is not real. What is happening in your own home is the real thing. That is where goals and solutions must be made.
- Expectations. Your mate cannot satisfy you - only God is the satisfier who can fill the vacuum in a human heart. Don't put unfair expectations on your spouse.
- Lack of nurture. Don't deprive your mate of the love and affection - both emotional and physical - that you promised at the altar. Realize that the greatest need in life is to serve people beginning with your spouse and family.
If you've already failed: probably all marrieds have failed by allowing an impure, adulterous thought to linger in the mind. But God does not want you to be a failure at your marriage. He offers a way to recommit and rebuild your marriage.
- Confess your sin to God. Agree with God that He is right in what He says about your sin.
- Repent. Change your course. Confession without changing your behavior is meaningless.
- Accept God's forgiveness. Depend on His strength to help you stay your course.
- End the adulterous relationship you are in now! Not a week from now, or even tomorrow. The only way to end it is to END it. No more conversations, phone calls, or meetings.
- Thank God - for His restoration and resurrection power to mend and build your marriage.
- Recommit to your spouse. A good marriage takes work, and a difficult marriage takes even more work. Start working at it today.
Excerpted from The Ten(der) Commandments (c) 1998 by Ron Mehl. Used by permission of Multnomah (r) Publishers, Inc., Sisters, Ore.
Dr. Ron Mehl is a church pastor and author of the God Medallion winner God Works the Night Shift. He has also written The Cure for a Troubled Heart. He and his wife, Joyce, have two sons and live near Portland, Ore.