Adultery Of All Kinds.

24 05 2010

Speaking about adultery (how’s that for an opening?) that’s a word you don’t hear tossed around much these days. We seem to prefer “left his wife for another woman” or “she had an affair” to adultery; maybe the word is too bottom line for our taste: voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her spouse.

“Adultery” feels more weighty than the more neutral “extra-marital sex,” for example. Maybe this is because in order to use the word adultery, you have to say, “she committed adultery” which sounds an awful lot like a crime.

Another alternative to adultery, “infidelity”:

“Infidelity is not just about sex outside the relationship,
but about trust, betrayal, lying, and disloyalty.
What makes infidelity so painful is the fact that it involves
someone deliberately using deception
to violate established expectations within a relationship.” (Wikipedia)

I don’t even need to describe the scene immediately following the deed. Proverbs 5 does so, masterfully. Without exception, what seems sweet as honey one day ends up bitter as gall (“a thick bitter yellow or greenish fluid that is secreted by the liver…” ‘case you’re wondering).

So, I don’t want to write an essay on adultery here. What I want is to ask myself some questions.

I think the verse that is jumping out at me in Proverbs 5 is “She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not.” The New Living Translations puts it this way, “For she cares nothing about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.”

Maybe there comes a time when you are tired of thinking, tired of working, tired of what makes you tired. Escape is enticing when you are tired; I know this. How many things have I wanted to escape from? More than I can count. If there had been a viable way for me to escape, but for my conscience I surely would have. But what if your conscience is tired. What if you just don’t care anymore? Couldn’t I find myself there?

So back up. I can’t get “tired.” I can’t get to the place where I haven’t got any “want to” left in me; where I am too foggy to be vigilant. Keeping myself in a place where I can think has to be really, really, really important to me long before I find myself in the weary place where I can’t.

I don’t want to oversimplify the horrifying after-affects of a spoiled marriage, but as I am writing this I kind of feel God whispering to me that adulterous tendencies worm their way into a lot of different areas of our lives.  Being unfaithful is what we are good at. Violating comes naturally. Atheists might say that we are fighting the wrong fight; the perception of morality is our undoing. But we can’t just decide wrong is right no matter how hard we try to lose our moral compass; as much as we don’t want to, it is in us to feel outrage and shame and longing for the Ideal God stitched into the fabric of our being.

But we cheat. I cheat. I transfer my affections to lesser things because I stagger down a crooked trail and don’t even know where I am.

It isn’t even that whatever has replaced my love and devotion is better. It’s just that when I am tired, then even false comfort feels good. I mean, in an adulterous affair, is the lover you have taken “all that?” Is the guy who is willing to be completely disloyal to another — a liar — who will rip his intimate bond from the one he originally promised himself to, the man of your dreams? Not so much. But he seems easier than the harder option of staring at the stark realities of your other life and dealing with them.

Same thing when I cheat in my relationship with Jesus Christ. If resentment and bitterness are my lovers at the time, I may speak tenderly to them, but they are “ropes that catch and hold me;” though I revel in their attention, they age me and separate me from the freedom I once had.

I am asking myself, do I care enough about what is right to feel pain; to live in it? Because the right way, the right choices, may very well be the most painful, frustrating, humbling, lonely place to find myself in. I don’t like writing that. I know even as I am typing that this is true, and even while I am typing I want to escape what is hard to do.

There is that option: escape. Entertain it. Let it roll around in your mind. Let it just begin to take over your thought-life a little. Let it convince you that you deserve it. Let it make you feel good about your own bad. Let it cast others in a more negative light so your choice actually seems justifiable. Let it isolate you from a more reasonable conversation. Do coffee with it (that’s innocent enough). Let it meet you in the dark. Don’t think ahead because one day

12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
If only I had not ignored all the warnings!
13 Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers?
Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors?
14 I have come to the brink of utter ruin,
and now I must face public disgrace.”

— Teresa Klassen

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