Adultery, it's the new black of all fashionable marriages. (Trendy cultural norm)
Infidelity: as each day passes it becomes a more darling indulgence in "romance" novels, movies, TV-shows. It's fun and exciting! Like jumping on a trampoline or eating an ice cream cone.
But today, in The Official Media adultery is the new and improved ingredient for any marriage. It's encouraged, presented with the same laugh tracks and soundtracks, but now as a healthy, spicy, fresh ingredient to the martial mix--like a good homemade salsa. Mix up the monogamy, and your marriage will have even more flavor and zest.
So, let's start with the obvious: that adultery in the land of trendy pretend both then and now is a cruel lie. Real world adultery is a poison. Too much exposure to this pretend adultery-as-entertainment will numb reality of poison and instead plant the seeds that it's really constructive, or at least permissible. Time I tune that message out.
I'm not just working up a commentary on the abstract media, this blog started with two recent people, trapped in the real destruction of cheating.
The past few days, I was confronted by both sides of the adultery coin, these are both friends of friends (FOF). The first of my friends (FOF) has a neighbor who is cheating on her spouse. The second friend of mine has a friend whose spouse is having an affair.
So, my mind rolls on, what to say about real life adultery? Is it even my business?
It occurred to me that part of loving other people, demands engagement with them. It's not very loving to just toss out the minding my own business card as a dodge when life gets dark or complicated.
It also hit me that minding my own business leads to the exaggeration of isolation. Living in a world of isolation islands is the perfect exotic locale for toxic consumption.
So what's the faithful response to these two FOF which avoids the useless and self serving trap of being a curious bystander or prissy Pharisee?
To the FOF, who is currently having an affair...what to say? I think, start and stay with simply what is true...
- Adultery is a decision, not an accident. It requires planning and intentional choices (no falling in and out of love)
- Adultery is destructive, it will harm many people and relationships in its path. It's cruel.
- Adultery is usually about power, not so much about sex. Address the real problem.
- Adultery is not caused by an unhappy marriage, it's caused by a spouses unfaithfulness. (period).
Risking the perceived label of judgmental, I would remind my friend about the costs of real world affairs. No laugh tracks to ease us from one scene to the next.
Next, my response to the devastated FOF whose spouse cheated:
- I am so sorry for your pain from that violation.
- I would look for ways to care for you, to remind you that what defines you is not your spouse's words, deeds or thoughts. I
- would pray for your healing and for an experience of grace--where you can experience getting better than you deserve after experiencing worse than you deserve.
- I would say get thee into a sound, faithful group of the same gender, who will encourage, equip and remind you of God's ways through God's word. Sound counseling too...let the help help.
- I would pray for the power of reconciliation to take over the marriage, possible albeit counter to what seems right or fair or good.
Healthy marriage does actually enhance the physical, emotional, financial, intellectual life--it clearly contributes to that abundant life, that free life, that joy, God portrays in painting a picture of a faithful life.
We are well served to remember honestly what is constructive about faithful marriage--celebrate it.
We are well served to remember honestly what is destructive about an unfaithful one--grieve it.