According to sex researcher Shere Hite, 70% of married women have cheated on their partners (1991). During a follow up study, she found that 72% of married men had cheated on their partners (1993).
Savage. Repulsive. Disgusting.
Is the vow of faithfulness to your partner just an empty string of words with no meaning?
Many – dare I say all – blame affairs on their emotional state. Any study indicates that individuals who cheat desire a particular emotion to be satisfied that is not currently being satisfied in their marriage relationship. The logic, then, is, “my feelings, my happiness, are worth far more than integrity, righteousness, and purity.” Curiously enough, nearly every individual who cheats on their partner experiences a deep sense of remorse and regret (read: negative emotion) because of their decision to cheat.
So, one decides to cheat because they desire a positive emotional experience. However, what they come out with is anything but a positive emotional experience.
Hear me: what you think will satisfy you will not satisfy, especially if it involves undermining morality, righteousness, and integrity.
The sage in Proverbs 5 instructs his readers to run from even the presence of an adulterous woman,
“So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: stay away from her! Do not go near the door of her house! ”
But who is she? What are the tendencies of this adulterous woman?
Proverbs 5 instructs us once again: she is carried away by her emotions, she is ignorant – nay, unwilling – to see that her emotional life carries her and all who succumb to her to death, she is a sweet-talker who draws men to herself through her words and physical interactions (re. flirtatious), she has a history of immorality where she has led men, through her sweet talk and flirting, to forsake the marriage covenant they have with their wives, and she cares nothing about righteous living.
“For the lips of the immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. For she cares nothing about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked train and does not realize it… [she is an] immoral woman… a promiscuous woman.”
(Proverbs 5:3-6, 20)
This adulterous woman has one goal in mind: to throw off purity and righteousness in favor of satisfying fleeting emotions that are based on immoral principles
In simple terms, she says, “I want this, I will get it no matter what tactics I have to employ. He has a wife? I could care less, I want him. I know that I am good with words and draw men in, I will use that to get him. I know men think I am attractive, I will flirt with them to get what I want.” The sweet talk of the adulterous woman can – and will – make even the most self-deprecating man feel loved, cherished, and valued. She preys on him by drawing him into her proverbial web of despair.
Men, let’s get real for a moment here. Our weakness, for the most part, is women. We want to hear that we are everything they are looking for. We want them to approach us with encouragement, flattery, and interest. We want them to flirt with us and draw us into them. We want the adulterous woman.
But do you realize that she is a double-edged sword coated in poison? Do you realize that her ways lead not to the emotional significance you crave but instead to death, despair, anguish, ruin and regret? Do you realize that your current “fling” will only result in wishing you could turn back time and choose differently?
“In the end you will groan in anguish when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, ‘how I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or turn my ear to my instructors. And I was soon in serious trouble in the assembly of God’s people…’ An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.”
(Proverbs 5:11-14, 22-23)
The adulterous woman is clever. She knows exactly what to do to draw you in. She knows exactly what to do to get what she wants. And, frankly, she could care less about you.
She is not drawing you in because she cares about you. No, men, she is drawing you in because she cares only for herself, and she knows that she can use you to get what she wants. She is selfish. She is carried about by her emotions. She is foolish. She is unrepentant.
But what do you do? Your emotions flare up and you want her. It’s easy to recognize, she wants you. So you go for it right. You pull the whole, “I’m saved, I’m forgiven, I will repent later” card.
Get this, God will forgive you. But God does not promise to erase the stain caused by the foolish, arrogant, prideful mistakes that you choose to make.
You fool! How dare you make equal the forgiveness of God with the freedom from consequences!
You fool! How dare you make light of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for you!
You fool! How dare you shame the daughters of God for your own fleeting emotions!
You fool! There is a better way!
By the mercies of God, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, open the eyes of every heart that reads this!
“My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion, and your lips may preserve knowledge… my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say… drink water from your own well– share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone? You should reserve it for yourselves. Never share it with strangers.
Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always! May you always be captivated by her love!”
You run from the adulterous woman, even when everything within you is telling you to give up. If you, like me, believe in evolutionary instincts, you fight or you flee when your life is in danger. Friend, the adulterous woman will put your life in danger. Do not go near her home. Do not enter into even a platonic relationship with her.
You fool! Don’t you realize that great joy comes only from being loved for who you really are? Don’t you realize that your wife is the only individual, aside from our father God, who will love you through thick and thin, for better or for worse, through trial and toil? Don’t you realize that you are giving up a life of joy for a life of ruin; a life of love for a life of loss?
You fool! Realize that what you really want is love that endures. When you are sitting on your deathbed, you will not regret being faithful to your wife. You will not regret choosing not to sleep with other women. You will not regret choosing love over loss.
You will rejoice knowing that the woman you loved is still with you, even in your last moments of life.
Men, listen to me:
- Recognize the adulterous woman
- She is a sweet talker who flirts with many men
- She has a history of leading men into adultery
- She is carried about by her emotions, particularly sexually
- She is sorrowful about her choices, but unrepentant
- She always gets what she wants, and deceives in order to get it
- Recognize that she is not worth it
- She is selfish, she does not actually care about you, no matter how sweetly she talks
- She does not care about your happiness, though she will use that to draw you in
- You will be shamed publicly and suffer loss
- You will ruin your relationships to utter ruin
- You will regret your decision to the point of death
- Recognize that there is a better way
- Run from adulterous women, do not even entertain a conversation with them
- Run from women who have chosen over and over again to lead men into adultery
- Listen to, ask for, and obey the instruction of the Lord in the Bible
- Pour love, care, attention, and encouragement into your wife, be captivated by her
- Drink from her love, care, attention, and encouragement
- Stay with her, fight for her, rejoice in her, even when everything tells you otherwise
Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Church NYC, in his book The Meaning of Marriage, describes the difference between consumer relationships (“marriages”) and covenantal relationships (marriages). In a covenantal relationship, Keller writes,
“… you stand up before God, your family, and all the main institutions of society, and you promise to be loving, faithful, and true to the other person in the future, regardless of undulating internal feelings or external circumstances. When Ulysses was traveling to the island of the Sirens, he knew that he would go mad when he heard the voices of the women on the rocks. He also learned that the insanity would be temporary, lasting until he could get out of earshot. He didn’t want to do something while temporarily insane that would have permanent bad consequences. So he put wax in the ears of his sailors, tied himself to the mast, and told his men to keep him on course no matter what he yelled… two-thirds of unhappy marriages will become happy within five years if people stay married and do not get divorced. Two-thirds! What can keep marriages together during the rough patches? The vows. A public oath, made to the world, keeps you ‘tied to the mast’ until your mind clears and you begin to understand things better. It keeps you in the relationship when your feelings flag, and flag they will. By contrast, consumer relationships cannot possibly endure these inevitable tests of life, because neither party is ‘tied to the mast.'” (pg. 79)
There is hope if your emotions are flagging. But that hope is not found in fulfilling those emotions through infidelity and immorality. I beg you,
Enter into the loving care of your wife. Love her ferociously. Pursue her relentlessly. Satisfy her and let her, alone, satisfy you.