Avoiding Unfaithfulness

When Sandra Bullock won an academy award for her role in the movie The Blind Side her husband, Jesse James, was smiling at her side. Unfortunately, James had already blindsided Bullock by having an affair with another woman and it wasn't long before news leaked out and Bullock sought a divorce. The Bullock/James split reminded all of us that unfaithfulness can crash anyone's world, even the rich and famous, and certainly yours and mine.

Some people think unfaithfulness means physical adultery, and that certainly is one kind of unfaithfulness. But unfaithfulness starts in the mind long before it acts in the body. Jesus said, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” and the same is true for women. The book of James says it even more to the point: “Each one of us is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own (mental) lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin and when sin is accomplished it brings forth death.” In the context of marriage we might rephrase the passage this way: “Each of us is tempted to be unfaithful when we let our minds wander into dangerous territory. And when we let those wandering thoughts linger, they give birth to the desire to act on them, and that’s when sin results and the death of our marriage often follows.”

How do we avoid unfaithfulness in our marriage? The same way we keep crab grass from growing in our lawn—root out the problem at the very beginning, before it grows out of control. Here’s what that means in practical terms:
  • We don’t spend time alone or confide with a member of the opposite sex—something that lowers inhibitions and opens the door to greater intimacy. This is especially dangerous and true in the era of Facebook. According to a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, twenty percent of divorces involve Facebook and 80 percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in the number of cases that use social media for evidence.
  • We don’t let our minds dwell on things that are suggestive, pornographic or fantasy romance. This includes websites, magazines, romance novels or movies and television. Instead, We look for ways to spice up the romance in our own marriages. If the fire has gone out in your romance fireplace, make it your goal to stoke the embers back into a flame. Feelings follow actions. Act romantic and, (believe it or not) after awhile, you’ll feel romantic.
  • We don’t let emotions rule our actions. When we feel the tug of temptation with a member of the opposite sex we follow the advice of the Apostle Paul and “flee youthful lusts.” This applies even when we’re not so youthful! One of my favorite expressions is "You have to act better than you feel." If we just acted the way we felt and let emotions rule our behavior, people would be shooting each other on the interstate every day. Bring your behavior in line with the faithfulness commitment you made in your marriage vow.
None of these are “easy” tasks—but few important things in life come easily. We have the mistaken notion that love should just naturally flow out of our pores, but it doesn’t work that way. We sometimes “feel” loving, but more often we must “choose” to be loving. Choose today to be faithful to your spouse and to act in a loving way.

By Jim Priest

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