Sister to Sister: That Night of Adultery…So Stealthily it Comes and Goes

o-ADULTERY-facebook-3What was about to happen to David and Bathsheba in II Samuel 11 is very “Hollywood-ish”. In fact, Hollywood or Broadway would have had a heyday with Bathsheba’s bath time. It has everything that makes for the “R” rating (nudity, passion, adultery, and pregnancy by the wrong man) and yet they truly were “in love.” Lines like “The passion was bigger than both of them,” or “They just could not fight the feeling any more,” or “David had spent his lifetime running from Saul. He refused to run from his own desires,” would have been the trailer captions if Hollywood were doing the story.  But the Holy Spirit handles sin much differently than does Hollywood.

David had been called by God  the “man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). There were times when he surely had been given the chance to kill his arch enemy, King Saul, but he so deeply respected God and His anointed, that he could  not smite the King (1 Samuel 23:14-24:22; 26). He had shown bravery, wisdom and kindness on multiple occasions. When it came to women, however, David surely thought he knew better than God. So many men (and women) today can handle most any temptation except the sexual one.

In Deuteronomy 17:16-20, God had, interestingly and prophetically regulated the throne of Israel, even before they had asked for a king. Notice this regulation:

But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’  Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.  “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites.  And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

But David had taken lots of wives and concubines, already (II Samuel 5:13). Certainly David’s copy of the law was not arresting his attention that night as he looked down from the palace roof and saw the beautiful Bathsheba as she bathed. The king for which the people had clamored to “ “go out before us and fight our battles” (I Samuel  8:20) was home during the battle and up on the palace rooftop looking at a beautiful woman as she bathed. This combination of failures was to be the huge blot on the record of David. This is the night that became his undoing in many successive and pivotal ventures. Lust, adultery, deceit, betrayal, making accomplices of subordinates, and murder followed each other in rapid succession in David’s mind, will and actions. His bedchamber must have turned into a dark, sleepless and torturous room of guilt, rationalization and plotting.  In fact, Scripture tells us in retrospect that the Bathsheba incident was the one time that David turned from following the commands of the Lord (I Kings 15:5). He should have had all of his defenses in place. But on that night, when his armies were succeeding, his personal, spiritual battle was lost as he looked from the roof and saw Bathsheba bathing.

It was a huge departure. How many times in later life must David have wished his distance vision had not been quite so good? Maybe he wished his spiritual distance vision had been a bit better!  How many times did he later wish he’d been out on the battle lines that night with his men as their active commander-in-chief? Sometimes large regret is born when we are in the wrong place, even for a short time.  Two people were in the wrong place on this particular evening.

Defenses are important. Prevention of opportunity…denial of tempting places and situations IS the best defense against adultery. David could have asked the question Joseph asked “…thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). But he didn’t take the time to ponder the impending damage to the one to  whom Bathsheba belonged, that the message he was about to send was wicked, that its intended result was great wickedness, and that His sin would also be against the God who had faithfully delivered him on numerous occasions.  One night, one bath, one leisurely rooftop stroll , one message, one response, one tryst…all likely occurring in just a few hours…and the pain of Psalm 51 tells the rest of the story:

 

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment. (vs. 3-4)

Married with Children (and a Few Extra Lovers)

(The post today is lengthy. I hope, if you are in the Digging Deep study, that you can take the time to read it before the podcast tomorrow night. Whether or not you get the time to read, please be sure to join us at 7 CST on the 23rd for a discussion of a heartbreaking read. If Hosea can’t bring us to crave sanctification, I’m not sure it will happen.)

Hosea chapter three has got to be one of the saddest passages in all of scripture. It’s heart rending to realize that this man of God was commanded to go and then actually did go and get a prostitute to marry and bear his children. So far as we know, Hosea had never been intimate with a woman. He gave his all to Gomer, the prostitute. He loved her. He rescued her from a life of cheap one-night stands and wrapped his world of respect and honor around her. He took the girl out of harlotry, but, alas, he could not take harlotry out of the girl. Gomer tasted respect. She nursed the precious babies of Hosea. She was granted his affection and his provisions. But she walked away from all that was good and right and re-entered a world of disease, sorrow, humiliation and death. She preferred being used and discarded by multiple lovers to the security and integrity she had gained in her union with the man of God.

Finally, we see Gomer, living with a man. She has left Hosea, who was, to her, both husband and friend. Adding insult to deep injury, God tells Hosea to go to the “auction block” as it were and buy her back. Hosea, at the behest of God Himself, bears the reproach of purchasing his own wife for a paltry amount. He feeds her the food of a slave and restrains himself from bringing her home to his bed and to her children. He must treat her as a slave, feeding her course meal and giving her time to prove that she can be his and his alone, before he has marital relations with her again.

And then, of course, we come to realize that the spurned husband is God, Himself. Gomer is representative of Israel, who, chosen by Jehovah for His spiritual bride, spurned His love, turned her back on His goodness and went whoring after gods of wood and stone. She actually convinced herself that a life of cheap idolatrous pleasures was preferable to the honor of being married to Jehovah, participating in His holy worship and being guided by his faithful hand. In fact, the Israel represented by Gomer would remain separated from Him until the time of the cross, when the marriage chamber would once, again be opened to her.

Let’s just think about that as wives, for a moment. If you are in a godly marriage, you know what it is like to be wrapped in the caring arms of a faithful provider. You long for that protection when you may be out alone at night and someone scary is driving along beside your car in the lane next to you. You are thankful for a man who always makes sure there is food on your table. You know that he would give his life to protect you or your children. You have seen him stand up to evil. You love hearing his tender voice on the phone when you are apart, at night saying, “I will always love you.”

If you do have this kind of husband, and you have a good heart, you cannot imagine turning your back on him when he is hurting. It nauseates you to think of being in the arms of a man who would take your physical pleasures without committing his heart and life to you. Even though your man is not perfect, he is good. He wants with all He is, to be what you need. He wants to lead you to heaven.

I hope you have this prince in your life. I hope, if you do, you will never, ever allow yourself to be drawn to the adulterous life that will surely end in sorrow for you and Him.

But, sisters, you are spiritually married to God! He is the perfect One. He has brought you out of the slavery of sin (Galatians 4:3). He purchased you at the greatest personal price imaginable. He paid the blood of His Son (I Peter 1:19) for your freedom. He brought you home with Him and wrapped you up in His blanket of mercy and gave you hope of eternal salvation. He listens every time you speak and He gives you always what is best. You…yes, you are His spiritual Israel, the apple of His eye (Deut. 32:10).

I know you do not want to hurt this loving Husband. I know you want to bring honor to Him and you would never shame Him. The world around you is spitting on your Husband today. People everywhere are mocking Him. They are laughing at Him. Their actions run the gamut from ignoring His existence (even though He keeps giving them sustenance and wealth) to blaspheming His name. The world shouts insults in His ears and throws obscene gestures in His face. They eat His food, drink His water, enjoy His nature and breathe His air while they ridicule the “happiness manual” He mercifully gave them.

Hosea 4:2 gives a succinct list of behaviors exhibited by the adulterous wife:

Here are the characteristics she displayed.

  1. She cursed. (According to a recent study by Family Safe Media, American television profanity rose 69 percent in a recent five year period.)
  2. She lied. (We don’t need, nor could we get a correct statistic on this evil. Will liars tell you that they lie in a survey? We’ve been inundated with lies in the public arena in recent years; i.e. Clinton, O.J. Simpson, Jodi Arias, John Edwards, etc…)
  3. She was a murderess. (American women kill over a million babies each year. Although Boston, Sandy Hook, Columbine, The University of Alabama in Huntsville and many more examples of death by violence can be cited, abortion is by far the most common and accepted form of murder.)
  4. She stole. (For the sake of space, think about only one form of American stealing. According to The Educational Testing Service/Ad Council campaign, 73% of all test takers, including prospective graduate students and teachers agree that most students do cheat at some point. 86% of high school students agreed. Cheating no longer carries the stigma that it used to. Less social disapproval coupled with increased competition for admission into universities and graduate schools has made students more willing to do whatever it takes to get the A.)
  5. She committed adultery. (According to truthaboutdeception.com, somewhere between 30 and 60 percent of spouses will cheat during marriage. Again, it’s easy to see why we don’t have accurate stats about adultery. Spouses don’t file accurate “cheating reports”. But, as Christians, we know that whatever the reported numbers about adultery are, they are actually way too low to reflect reality because large numbers of “marriages” today are actually adulterous unions.)
  6. She broke all restrictions. She went wild. (This one reminds me of the 2012 widespread looting in major American cities. Incidentally looting has broken out in the West, Texas wake of a deadly explosion over the past weekend. It reminds me of the in-your-face homosexual demonstrations of recent years and of the uncontrollable sex, filth and immorality of the Wall Street protests of 2012. There is a restrictions-free subculture in our country that is growing its way into mainstream at a frightening pace.)
  7. In her world, “blood touched blood”. (This refers to one act of violence being barely finished before another was reported. Does this remind you a bit of watching the local news?)

I know I didn’t really have to list these parenthesized modern American parallels to make you connect the dots. We can see that the world around us is truly bereft of morality. But,as much as we would like for things to be different in our beloved country, let us remember, that America is not married to God. The church of Christ is married to God. The United States of America is not the chosen race of God. His Israel–His chosen people–is the church. Thus, we as God’s wife, must decide how much we love Him. Do we love Him enough to give up the pleasures of the world around us? Maybe it’s time we even ask it this way. Do we love God enough to stay with Him even if the “other man” is the American culture in which we live? See, as the America that, in years past, was somewhat nurturing of our relationship with Jehovah turns into the object of our adultery, there grows a sense in which we must decide between God and America. Oh, as long as there is an America, it is never to late to pray for the country and to work for America’s betterment, but if I have to choose between love of the country and love of God, let me be sure I will be true to my husband!

Many times I have heard preachers use the following amazing passage in reference to America:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (II Chron. 7:14).

But that verse was written for Israel. The modern-day Israel is not America, at all. See America is just not the chosen people of God in any sense. It never has been. The Israel of God today is the church, the body of Christ (Gal. 3:29). If II Chronicles 7:14 applies to us today as the spiritual Israel of God (and it does), it applies to those of us who are the children of Abraham by faith in Jesus, those of us who comprise the body of Christ.

May we, as the body of Christ, decide that our sacred marriage to Christ (God, the Son) is far more important than any covenants we may have with country, employer, relative or friend. When my “friends” become a distraction to my marriage to God, they (just like a “friend” who would tempt me to physical adultery) are not really my friends anymore. May I become very uncomfortable in their presence. In fact, may I seek to avoid them.

James 4:4 reminds me a lot of Gomer and Hosea. It’s for today though. It’s for you and me. It calls us what we are when we give our husband’s devotion to the world.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Spiritual Pornography?

It’s heartbreaking to work with couples who are dealing with the problems that pornography brings into a relationship. Lack of trust, jealousy, feelings of worthlessness,  guilt, lust, and uncertainty about the future are all a part of the grim picture that accompanies it. What is most surprising to me is that there are people, some even “experts” who would have us to believe that the use of pornography is not a bad thing…maybe it’s even a good thing, and healthy for marriages. This is preposterous and anyone who is God-centered at all in his thinking reckons the loss that  accompanies the use of pornography as being profound in its ramifications. Often, when adultery is traced back to its insidious roots, pornography was involved long before the actual adulterous encounter. Jesus, of course, called this looking and lusting adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:28).
When studying James 4 recently, I pondered the obvious truth that, as members of the bride of Christ, we can commit spiritual adultery by our entanglement with the world. Notice the first six verses of this very serious discussion:
1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?
6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
These verses made me think about how a member of the body of Christ might make God jealous in the same way that I might provoke my husband to jealousy—the kind of jealousy that is normal in a husband. What if I were to talk negatively about Him to people outside the family? What if I were to break my appointments with Him? What if I were to make fun of Him and laugh when others made fun of Him? What if I did not want to share generously with Him of my time and money? What if I enjoyed being with others more than I enjoyed His company? What if I did not take the time to read what he wrote to me or to respond when He gave me a gift?  You can understand readily, especially if you are married, how we can begin to court the world rather than being faithful in our marriages to Christ. 
But then I thought about the sin of pornography and how that, long before a spouse forsakes his wife, he may look at other women with passionate desire. He may lust for another woman. He may be busy facilitating his adultery before he knows the woman with whom he will one day commit the sin. 
Do we sometimes do that spiritually? I mean long before a person actually leaves the Lord for the world, does she sometimes look at the world with passion and desire? Does she place the lure of the world right in front of her eyes? Does she gaze longingly long before she become a full-fledged friend of the world? I believe we often do this through our entertainment choices. Are you looking with favor on that which is enmity with God? I think when we choose to be entertained by movies, television shows and music that are filled with profanities, obscenities, lasciviousness, fornication, homosexuality, adulteries and/or uncleanness, we are allowing ourselves to gaze on that which is off-limits to the bride of Christ. The more we gaze, the more comfortable we become with these desires for the world. The more we look, the more we want to look and the more anesthetized we become to the shock factor that sin should bring. Soon, just as a pornography addict is a short step from adultery, we are a very short step from committing the overt sins of the world–spiritual adultery. That which once entertained us becomes less something we watch and more something we do. 
Being entertained and aroused by looking at pornography often leads to the commission of the overt sin of adultery. This destroys marriages and families.
Being entertained by the sinful things of the world often leads to all kinds of worldly alliances and actions. This destroys our relationship with God and our relationships within the family of Christ. Is this spiritual pornography? I think so.

Part Two, Adultery: Professional Protection

The Internet
You don’t need statistics to know I’m accurate in telling you that internet relationships are a serious threat to our marriages in the twenty-first century. I can tell you from just observing people I thought I knew quite well and from watching these people wreck and ruin innocent lives, that when we begin spending seemingly innocent private time on the computer, the anonymous relationships we form in chat rooms and on web sites can turn into spiritually deadly trysts in the bedroom. I learned that my friend Janice, after twenty years of marriage to a faithful gospel preacher, had left behind her husband and two teenage children to travel across the country and move in with a man she met in a chat room. I learned that  my friend Sam, was losing his job as a gospel preacher because his computer pornography addiction had let to physical acts involving women in the church. I learned that my friend Mary Ann had walked in on her husband…again…as he closed the door to his home office and nurtured his perverse pornography habit to the neglect of his three young children and his beautiful and dutiful Christian wife. I learned that my friend Dara recently discovered the “other” life her husband had been living for the past 15 years. Tim, Dara’s husband, was a computer programmer. His own personal computer, when finally examined after one slip-up, let his wife know there was an infidelity problem. It  revealed a long and deceptively sordid tale of pornography addiction and repeated liaisons with women even as he served their congregation as one of its ministers. Many counseling situations have found me sitting across the table from a wife whose world has just collapsed because of behavior triggered by internet misuse. It used to take a lot of rather bold immoral behavior to engage in conversation and liaisons that might escalate to an affair, but now that behavior is easily concealed and solicited by lonely people in chat rooms and on instant messaging services in your most private world. Pornography formerly required going into a store and purchasing magazines or going to an adult movie store for a rental. At least there was a deterrent there for one who was at all concerned about reputation. But the devil now peddles pornography in private perverted sanctuaries. He has successfully removed the stigma and he loves it when we step on the path to ruin thinking “No one will ever know”.

So what can women do?

  • Keep computers in open and busy places in your home.
  • Purchase internet guards that are reliable in blocking pornographic material from your computer.
  • Stay out of chat rooms in which you talk to people of the opposite sex that you don’t know.
  • Don’t get on the computer at night after your husband goes to bed. Go to bed with your  husband.
  • Use your email server’s blocking service to automatically delete emails that have sexual content. Most servers have the ability to delete emails that contain certain words. I have blocked all emails with heading containing the words breasts, Viagra, sexy, sex, fantasy (and lots more that I won’t include here). This is a simple step to take, but your email content will be mush less provocative if you do this at the outset.
  • When suggestive emails do get by your guards, hit “delete”. Never open questionable emails from people you don’t know. If you accidentally delete an email you needed, the sender will find another way to contact you. Take precautions. Sometimes one click can put an image in your mind that you can’t easily erase.
  • If you already have a problem with pornography, quit cold turkey. Any attempt to wean yourself away from this temptation is merely feeding the addiction. If after quitting, you have a relapse (even one time), then set up an accountability system by which you will report to a responsible person daily. Tell someone outside of your family about the problem. Choose someone you respect. Then set up a daily communication system with this person, so you know everyday that you are committed to honestly “coming clean” with him/her about your addiction. If you still have relapses, seek professional Christian counseling and therapy.
  • Stay away from www.myspace.com. This popular social utility remains largely unprotected from pornographers and sexual predators.
  • Always err on the side of caution. If you veer into an area of internet use that makes you uncomfortable, whether it is a web site or a conversation via internet, just click away. Just as surely as you are always a click away from temptation, you are always a click away from safety. Just remember that the devil works very subtly. What is fun and interesting and just a little risque, can lure you into deeper waters. The temptation to do something you never dreamed of doing doesn’t appear with sirens and warning signals on your screen. It happens in a slow progression and you’re suddenly more intimately and deeply involved than you ever could have imagined.
  • If thy computer offend thee, cut it off (Matthew 5:30). If you find your computer is a negative obsession or a constant temptation and you just can’t overcome it, then get rid of it. If you have to change jobs to get away from it, change jobs. Whatever sacrifice it takes to preserve your marriage and insure your salvation is a small price for eternity in heaven. I’d rather be totally illiterate in heaven than be the most computer savvy woman in hell.
Works cited:
U.S. Department of Labor (2007) Quick Stats 2006 [On-line] URL:  http://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/main.html

Adultery: Professional Protection

(This is also an excerpt from the book “You’re Singing My Song,” by Glenn and Cindy Colley)

Recent statistics show that about 60% of women over the age of 16 are either employed or actively seeking employment. The female sector comprises about 46% of the U.S. labor force (U.S. Department of Labor). Also significant, from our vantage point, is the kinds of work women are doing today. In the fifties, women were typically working in fields with other women and children. Many were schoolteachers and nurses. A large segment of those workers were also secretaries, working in offices with men, but generally finding themselves in different social circles from their higher paid bosses. Today, lots more women are working in high paying, even high tech arenas. My friends work long hours, side by side with men, as computer programmers, aerospace engineers and medical professionals. They are actually in the presence of the men with whom they work for the majority of their waking hours.
This chapter is not to discuss the effects of feminism on the economy or even on society in general. This is about protecting our homes from adultery. However we slice it, this evolution in the gender picture at work has profoundly and negatively affected the strength of the American family. When a woman works closely with a person of the opposite sex for more hours each day than she sees her husband, it only takes a little chemistry for temptation to rear its ugly head at the workplace.
Let me begin by stating an unpopular, but obvious truth. Our homes are better off, particularly when the children are growing up, with Mom at home. I do not see how we can apply the eternal principles of Deuteronomy 6:4-8 (all day long teaching) when we have our children for only about a third of their waking hours and into these hours we are trying to cram all of the chores, shopping, cooking, dinner and any extra-curricular activities. I think Titus 2:3-5 clearly teaches that the most important career of a Christian woman is to be a home-keeper. I believe it’s a stretch to think we can work forty hours a week and have enough left of ourselves to joyfully keep and protect our homes physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I think we have to journey away from God’s Will and into the culture of our day to convince ourselves that it’s a good plan for mothers to place their children’s souls in the care of others day after day.
Having said all of this, let me hasten to add that I have seen desperate situations in which mothers had to be in the workplace. For those mothers who truly find no alternative, I offer my support and prayers. May God help them in this and every decision to provide for and protect those little souls that are dependent on them.
So what precautions should working women take to guard their marriages from adultery? First, it’s important to remember that adultery doesn’t begin in the bedroom. It begins in the boardroom, the office, on the ball field, or at the mall. It doesn’t begin with intimacy. It begins with a look, a comment, a conversation, or a hug. Satan can get us incrementally when he can’t get us all at once.
So here are some terribly antiquated rules to follow to safeguard an institution that is as old as the Garden of Eden. (Remember God’s Word is very old!)
  1. Avoid being alone with any man. If you make this a general rule of thumb that applies to all men of all ages, you won’t have to deal with any claims that you are prejudiced or just don’t like certain men. Work in areas where there are lots of people. If you have to go to a private room, keep the door open.
  2. Don’t go to lunch alone with a man. No exceptions.
  3. Be accessible by phone and/or email to your spouse at all times of the day.
  4. Don’t ever share relational problems you may be experiencing at home with a man at work.
  5. Don’t flirt or participate in electric conversations. People at work talk about ridiculously personal things (the way someone’s bottom is showing as she gestures at the plans spread out on the table, the frequency with which a woman has to go to the bathroom, the way a man’s pants are unzipped, etc…) avoid personal conversations. When you begin to feel that lines of discretion are being crossed, change the subject. If you feel that someone is flirting, say something about your wonderful spouse. (This works every time.)
  6. If you ever feel a physical attraction or “chemistry” with a person of the opposite sex, get yourself immediately out of the situation (change projects, change jobs, ask for a transfer, etc.) Do what Joseph did in Genesis 39:13. Never put your marriage at risk.
  7. Share details of your day openly and honestly each evening with your spouse. Never lie to your spouse about anything. Every totally honest day you spend with your spouse strengthens the barriers you are erecting against adultery.
  8. Speak often and glowingly about your spouse when you are at work.
  9. Whenever possible, avoid taking assignments that will take you out of town for lengthy periods of time without your husband.
  10. Avoid projects that demand lots of overtime, especially projects that would keep you apart at bedtime.