Like a premature unveiling of the picture of Dorian Gray, the hideous hypocrisy that lay discreetly stashed in the attic of AshleyMadison(dot)com’s online vault was unceremoniously exposed last week.
This outing of 28 million male and 5 million female adulterers has made a lot of people hot under the lipstick stained collar. Furtive liaisons that “weren’t hurting anybody” have now left a swathe of casualties in their wake. And now that their trust in the sanctity of Internet privacy has been shattered, these poor philanderers and home wreckers have to grow used to the scarlet letter on their reputation, now that everybody knows who they really are. What could they have done differently to avoid getting caught?
There is only one way to not get caught in adultery: don’t commit adultery.
Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
God’s observation of our lives has no blind spot.
But the Bible gives us practical wisdom on how to avoid committing adultery. Here are six suggestions from God’s word:
- Meditate on the immediate consequences of being caught
There is no cold shower as effective as the picture of an infuriated husband, with a gun, banging on your door.
Prov 6:34-35 For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts.
Besides the peril of homicidal cuckolded husbands there are many equally sobering consequences to dread. The pain of loss your dalliances will bring are incalculable. Imagine losing your spouse to divorce, your children’s respect, your ministry, your friends’ support, and your reputation. Let these thoughts linger alongside the fantasies lurking in your mind. They might just be the wax you need to mute the sirens’ song of temptation.
- Meditate on the eternal consequences of being caught
If you die before anyone hacks into your online world, you have not escaped the real consequence of your sin. As a believer our sins are all forgiven, but an unrepentant adulterer who never turns from his/her sin has no assurance that they are a child of God.
1 Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, … will inherit the kingdom of God.
A good dose of fire and brimstone imagery may do wonders for an untamed libido. When one confronts the desire for sin and faithlessness in one’s soul, that brings a decision point: repent of the sin or stop claiming to be a Christian.
- Believe that you will get caught
No one with an account at AshelyMadison thought they would be exposed. No one ever does. Of the millions of people who have been caught in adultery over the centuries, how many do you think believed they would be found out? And yet they all were. Even King David wasn’t immune to the illusion of a consequence-free affair. He was convinced he had covered-up his sin. Enter Nathan. The rest is history.
One way to avoid the temptation of adultery is to believe the inevitability of your sin leading to shame and heartache.
Prov 6:27-28 Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.
The only insurance against living with a guillotine blade of guilt hanging over your head is to have genuine integrity. There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.
Sir Conan Doyle had a penchant for practical jokes. He once purportedly sent letters to some friends with these alarming words: “All is discovered. Fly at once!” Almost all of them fled their hometowns in terror of being caught for the secret they assumed had now been revealed.
- Pursue your relationship with God
The reason Christians don’t sin is because they love Jesus and he hates sin. You have to realize that God sees everything you do online, everything you fantasize about, and every image your eyes dart toward when no one else is looking. And then you have to make a choice to please God.
Prov 5:20-21 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths.
Job 31:1-2 I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? What would be my portion from God above and my heritage from the Almighty on high?
- Pursue your relationship with your spouse
Adultery, by definition, means at least one person involved is neglecting this wisdom.
Prov 5:18-19 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
1 Cor 7:5 Do not deprive one another [sexually], except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Enough said, right?
- Avoid places/sites that tempt you
The frontline defense against adultery is fighting off temptation’s assault on the heart and mind way before it reaches the body. When a man falls into adultery, he never falls far. By the time you qualify as an adulterer under the dictionary’s definition, there have been unfaithful thoughts that germinated into unholy desires, that produced rotten fruit of adulterous non-verbal cues, followed by words, escalating into actions.
James 1:14-15 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Prov 5:8 Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.
Prov 6:25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes.
Thankfully, the most damning verse for adulterers is followed by the most hopeful verse for all sinners;
1 Cor 6:9-11 … Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers…will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Whether or not your name was one of those unveiled by the internet hack, we all know that there is much we have done we could never excuse on judgment day. No one here is casting stones. Neither does Jesus. Repentance always begets forgiveness. Praise be to our Savior Jesus Christ that his blood was enough to wash us clean, and that the names of those who trust in him are written with indelible ink in the Lamb’s Book of Life, to be revealed to all on the last day.