THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY Marriages in the Bibles, part7
New love is the brightest, and
long love is the greatest, but
revived love is the tenderest thing known on earth.
In the U.S. today, according to research, at least 90% of Americans believe infidelity in marriage is wrong. Yet, infidelity/adultery/affairs emerge over and over in marriages. Behavior does not reflect a person's verbal opinion but it reflects the values of a person's life.
In 1988, research found that 77% of women and 64% of men said that adultery had been relevant to separation or divorce.
The most common belief is that people who have affairs aren't happy in their marriage. Shirley Glass (author of NOT Just Friends) writes, In my data, 56 percent of men who entered into affairs said they had ''happy'' or ''very happy'' marriages, compared with 30 percent of women. For men, the strongest predictor for having an affair is their attitudes and values about monogamy. For women, it's marital unhappiness.
Bad marriages don't cause infidelity;
infidelity causes bad marriages. Frank Pittman
When a person marries, he is saying "yes" to one woman and "no" to all other women in this world. And women are doing the same. Somewhere along the life of the marriage, a man or woman forgets the commitment of his/her vows and allows his mind and emotions to consider an involvement with another person.
In our culture today, many people spend more time with a person of the opposite sex in the workplace than they do with their own spouses. Being faithful in marriages takes diligence. If I ever believe that I am immune to the attention of the opposite sex, then I am in danger.
Jerry Jenkins wrote a great book many years ago about protecting your marriage. I first read the content as a series of articles that he wrote for Moody magazine. He later put them into a book and it has been republished more than once. The book is Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It. He clearly shows how easy a person can slip into an affair, especially in the workplace. He also shares what he has done to protect his marriage and what each of us can do.
In the Bible, God gives us a great example of a couple with an extreme situation with infidelity. Hosea and Gomer exemplify the relationship between God and His people. He tells the story of the unfaithfulness of this bride and how her husband chases after her. The story is to show God's faithfulness to His people, even when they are unfaithful, how He chases after them and never stops loving them.
When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.” So he married Gomer. (Hosea 1:2-3a).
Some believe that God was commanding Hosea to marry a woman who had formerly been a prostitute. Others contend that taking an adulterous wife would merely refer to marrying a woman from the northern kingdom of Israel, a land which was guilty of spiritual adultery.
Whatever her past, he found his heart drawn to her in deep and unselfish love. God directed him to take her as his wife, and so it was that Gomer, became the unlikely wife of the this young preacher.
Somewhere Gomer became dissatisfied in her marriage and became involved with other men. She was extremely unfaithful. God uses the marriage of Hosea and Gomer as an illustration of His relationship with the nation of Israel as she ran after idols, other gods.
Gomer may have had a man supporting her or a series of prostitution encounters. She ends us broke and homeless. She is for sale in the slave market.
The ugly part of this marriage is easy to see. But the good is beyond what any of us can imagine. We are not saying that God calls everyone to go to such great lengths after one partner has left and been promiscuous. But in their culture, women had very few ways to support themselves. She was being sold as a slave.
God shows us some strong marriage qualities through this relationship.
God tells Hosea not to give up but to go after the love of his life. Buy her back, take her home. Hosea did that.
The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods… (Hosea 3:1)
Hosea was faithful, even though Gomer was unfaithful. He shows us what God does for each of us. He is faithful, even if we are unfaithful. Hosea had an undying love for his wife. God has an undying love for us.
How many times should a husband or wife forgive? Some contend, “If I keep forgiving I simply affirm him in his pattern of sin.” Or “If I keep forgiving, she’ll think she can get away with anything she wants.” Others say, “If I keep forgiving, it’s like putting my seal of approval on his behavior.” Or “I can’t take another hurt like that. If he does that one more time, I’m leaving.” Those are human responses.
Listen to the response of the Lord Jesus. You see, Peter had asked the Lord this same question: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” The Lord’s answer was, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21, 22). That is a great deal of forgiveness. In fact, Christ was simply saying in a captivating way that there is no end to forgiveness.
We can love like that.
We can forgive like that.
We can bring the hurts in our hearts to Christ.
When we fully forgive, our minds will be released from the bondage of resentment that has been building a wall between us, and we shall be free to grow in our relationship with each other.
God can restore your marriage - even if one person has been unfaithful. In fact, your marriage can be better than it has ever been before! We have seen it happen!
Resources for overcoming infidelity:
Focus on the Family
Smart Marriages page (not just Christian resources)
More GOOD, BAD, and UGLY to come.
For previous posts in this series:
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The First Marriage, The Good
Part 3 - Adam and Eve, The Bad
Part 4 - Nabal and Abigail
Part 5 - Mary and Joseph
Part 6 - Hosea and Gomer