This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. – Deuteronomy 30:19-20, NIV
When it comes to adultery, I am firmly in the camp of saying it is matter of poor choices born of poor character on the part of the cheater. The proper pastoral question to ask an adulterer or adulteress is not: “What drove you to cheat?”
Rather, the proper pastoral question is: “Why did you choose death over life?”
Stated another way: “Why did you choose to rebel against God?”
One reason this may not be asked by a pastor is that he or she may be enthralled with the “Shared Responsibility Lie.” He or she places too much emphasis on their reading of Ephesians 5 thinking that loving or respecting well enough will keep one’s marriage safe from adultery. This is a lie from the pit of Hell. I am convinced.
The truth is that we cannot prevent another human being from sinning. Only the individual has the power to choose not to sin.
This is true in marriage, too.
Our actions flow out of our hearts as Jesus makes very clear. They come from nowhere else:
“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” – Mt 15:16-20, NIV (emphasis added)
Dr. Shirley Glass, Ph.D. was an infidelity researcher, and she echoes this Biblical truth with social science observations from her practice and research. She writes:
Most people mistakenly think it is possible to prevent affairs by being loving and dedicated to one’s partner. I call this the Prevention Myth, because there is no evidence to support it. My experience as a marital therapist and infidelity researcher has shown me that simply being a loving partner does not ensure your marriage against affairs. You also have to exercise awareness of the appropriate boundaries at work and in your friendships. –Not “Just Friends,” 1-2 (emphasis in original).
As a pastor, this conclusion by Dr. Glass ought not to be shocking to us, yet I have discovered it is. Adultery reveals the heart of the adulterer or adulteress and not the state of the marriage.
Read the Bible.
Jesus told us so.