Well, results are in. Looks like South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford did not spend public money improperly while having an extramarital affair. His attorney was quoted as saying, “No public money was used in relation to the governor’s admitted marital infidelity. This issue is behind us once and for all.” But is it? I’m sure if you ask his wife and kids they would beg to differ. To them, knowing that there was no misuse of public funds isn’t much of a consolation prize. There’s no unscrambling an egg. I’m sure they’re feeling hurt, insulted and betrayed. And all for what?
Before we get too smug, let’s take a look at what God says about adultery. If you so much as look at someone other than your spouse with lust in your eyes, you have committed adultery (Matthew 5:28). Uh oh, now it isn’t so easy to judge. Now it may not only be if I am an adulterer but how many times I’ve committed it.
Thankfully God offers us forgiveness just the same. No one sin is less OK than another. It’s all sin. When we miss the mark, it doesn’t matter how close to or far off we are from the target. We missed it. End of discussion.
But still, relationally, it is so much harder to forgive and or recover from the physical act of adultery than it is an emotional breach of confidence. So how can we prevent ourselves from making the same mistake as Governor Sanford? What are some boundaries you and your spouse can set that would make it more difficult to jump a barbed-wire fence than it would be to cross over into infidelity? Know what conditions to look for.
Most affairs occur in broad daylight, in public, with your spouse present, right? Not so much. I’m thinking more often than not they occur:
- out of town
- at night
- in private
- where you are not anticipating your spouse to pop up around the corner
Some steps to guard against infidelity:
- Honesty is the best policy. Hold each other extreme transparency. Talk about it ahead of time. Hold each other accountable to sharing where you are and who you’ll be with. It isn’t being nosy to want to know where your spouse is–it is holding each other accountable to the vows you made to one another.
- Never meet with the opposite sex when you will be alone. Live as though you always need an alibi and you’ll never need one. Just don’t put yourself in that situation. Scripture guarantees you that all will be tempted at some point (Genesis 4:7). Don’t think your relationship is exempt.
- Keep the conversation going. Don’t allow life to get in the way of knowing your spouse. Ask each other what your biggest challenges, dreams, and fears entail. If your spouse needs to talk, listen before someone else does. Governor Sanford was quoted as saying his mistress was his “soul mate.” Do you think that meant they might have discussed intimate things? Be sure you are the one talking about intimate things with your spouse, not someone else. Adultery isn’t just physical. It is also emotional, intellectual and spiritual. Do all you can to guard yourself from an affair on all fronts.
- Pray for your spouse and your own purity in marriage. Pray that God will always provide a way out should either of you find yourselves being tempted. We’re instructed in scripture to focus and meditate on what is good, what is pure, what is right. So common sense tells us that if we are to focus on these positive things then we shouldn’t spend time, energy or attention focusing on the negative. Such as movies, books, magazines or conversations that would tempt you to dishonor your spouse.
Rarely do people meet and have an affair all in a day’s work, it’s a slow fade. (If you haven’t heard the Casting Crowns song “Slow Fade“, I recommend it.) Make a commitment today to actively build intimacy with your spouse and prevent the devastation that infidelity can cause.