3 Steps To Move Forward After You’ve Committed Adultery
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Psalms 51:7-9
When a friend of many years became involved in an affair, Annette Lawson began asking, “Why do people walk out on good marriages for someone who is totally different from themselves and the kind of a person they would live the rest of their lives with?” Finding answers to that question led to more than a decade of exhaustive research. When this sociologist was asked, “What advice would you give to someone contemplating an affair?” she replied, “One thing that hasn’t changed about adultery is the danger. It really is a risky undertaking that can leave people’s lives in ruins.”
It’s the bottom line which doesn’t come across today when the media portrays the glamour of romance ‑‑ a dangerous business which leaves the lives and families of people in ruin.
Seldom, if ever, does a movie or a television production tell it like it really is ‑‑ the hell of a burning conscience, the fear of discovery, the concern over AIDS or sexually-transmitted disease, the question of ultimate cost. That forbidden fruit may taste sweeter than that which is legitimate isn’t the issue. The issue is the cost which is always paid in the currency of human suffering.
Should you, for one, be on the other side of an affair, there are three questions which always must be answered: (1) How do I appease my conscience? (2) How do I tell my husband or wife? and (3) How do I handle my thought‑life and memory?
Occasionally, when I deal with an issue such as this, I get letters from people who say, “I was aghast at what you said. Why don’t you just stick to the Bible?” Should you ever feel like that, you need to discover that this great book addresses the issue of life as it is today. Issues such as our sexuality, fidelity in marriage, and adultery are all discussed in the Bible, and the Bible realistically conveys the consequences of our choices, something which the media quite consistently fails to do.
The first issue to be dealt with is this: How do I deal with a troubled conscience? This was the question which confronted David following his affair with Bathsheba. Make a note of Psalm 51 and see the steps which David took as he poured out his scalding confession to God. First there was confession as David cried, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Then came cleansing as David prayed, “Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.” Then David asked that God would restore the joy and gladness which he had enjoyed as the reconstruction of a life took place.
The second issue of how you ask forgiveness of the one to whom you are married, and how you rebuild the relationship which has been damaged is a delicate one. A pastor or a counselor can help you as you seek forgiveness and restoration.
Final issue: How do you forget, picking up the pieces without your memory’s playing the situation back like a never-ending video? Make a note of 2 Corinthians 10:4, which talks about bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus Christ. Replaying the broken relationship in your mind only keeps the memory alive, but giving it to the Lord, asking the Holy Spirit to bring healing, eliminates the memory once and for all.
Resource reading: Psalm 51:1-17.