But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. Proverbs 6:32
My wife and I had just boarded a flight from Amsterdam to the U. S. Seated next to us was a young man, about 25 years of age. It was impossible not to notice the glossy cover of the magazine he picked up which featured a beautiful girl clad in a bikini along with an admiring young man. The caption was, "Sex on the beach!" The glamorous tropical setting makes it seem so natural, so beautiful, and so spontaneous; but what the magazine, the media, and the message of our culture do not tell you is that sex is not casual, it is not free, and it is certainly not without consequences, whether you are single or married.
For the couple who are committed to each other in marriage, it is a sacred and beautiful celebration of love initiated by God in the Garden long ago; but outside of marriage the relation has ramifications which few ever come to grips with, especially those in the throes of passion who think of it only as a recreational instinct which must be satisfied.
But what is the reality?
Fact #1: Nothing in all of life's relationships so embraces the totality of your emotions, your physical senses, and even your spiritual life. There is a bonding that takes place in any sexual relationship--especially for women--which is all part of God's plan and purpose; but when it is abused by casual sex, the consequences wound you emotionally. No other relationship in life that has to be broken off is as painful and difficult to overcome. Created in the image of God, you have emotions and feelings which make you different from animals who follow their basic passions and instincts. That emotional bonding was no evolutionary happenstance. It was part of God's purpose to insure the continuity of a marriage, guaranteeing that eventually a mom and a dad would be there for their children.
Fact #2: The media makes the whole issue so common that one might assume the norm is a relationship with someone other than a husband or wife. For every sexual relation portrayed in the media between two adults, only one in 14 takes place between a married couple. Our culture has undergone a sexual revolution as traditional relationships have been superceded by short-term ones lacking commitment. In 1953, Alfred Kinsey reported that 50 percent of all husbands were unfaithful by age 40. Today, that number is much higher, and women, have not only caught up, but many feel have surpassed men in the category of casual sex.
In 1960, no more than one in ten couples lived together without being married. Today, as many as 50% of all couples live together before marriage – something which has produced instability in relationships and many fewer marriages. Now that the great experiment has been running for 40 years, it's a proven fact: it just doesn't work. Those who live together before marriage are 50% more likely to see a marriage fail even if they do get to the altar.
Fact #3: Nothing does more to contribute to divorce than does infidelity. The reality is that nothing does more to tear apart a relationship which was cemented with commitment and purity and was publicly celebrated in marriage than does breaking that relationship through adultery. In most cases, infidelity destroys a marriage. Ask any marriage counselor, any pastor, even any bartender, and you'll hear the same story. For most people, forgiveness is not an option.
Fact #4: In spite of the challenge which infidelity brings to a relationship, there can be forgiveness and healing. While infidelity in marriage usually results in divorce, a marriage can be saved. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? Not at all.
Resource reading: Proverbs 6:20-35