As harmful to the soul and psyche as premarital relations are, they pale in comparison to the damage of adultery. Adultery takes emotional havoc to an entirely different level. When someone has sex outside of a marriage, it is a betrayal of trust and intimacy unlike any other. When the marital bond of oneness comes undone, the consequences to families, children, and individuals are incredibly severe. When we understand the terrible damage done it is easy to understand why God included the prohibition against adultery in His Ten Commandments. It is exceptionally important.
Adultery’s damage can best be understood in the context of the beauty that God intended for marital intimacy. The more beautiful the object that is damaged the more tragic the loss. Graffiti on a bridge overpass is ugly; graffiti on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is a catastrophe. All immorality is wrong and sinful, but when the masterpiece that is God’s plan for marital purity is ruined by the stain of adultery it isn’t just wrong, it’s a tragedy. The greatness of the tragedy of adultery, the violation of the marriage covenant, is profound evidence of the beauty God intended for marriage. Conversations with people who have known no other partner apart from their spouse confirm the beauty intended by God.
This exquisite quality is evident in the attitude towards sex I have seen in faithful men. The sexual desires in men who have only been with their wives are not merely desires for sexual release or for a physical act. There is much more to it than the mere pursuit of pleasure; faithful men desire their wives. They don’t want to be with just any woman; they want to be with the woman God gave them. This directed desire creates a powerful bond of attachment. When these men think about sex, they think about their wives, as they have no other frame of reference. This passion for their wives is intensely personal and private. By default their wives become their sexual ideal. This is truly a wonderful thing.
The strong attachment that results from undiluted intimacy has additional benefits beyond physical union. When a man’s wife is truly his and a woman’s husband is truly hers it gives rise to strong nurturing and protective emotions. As years of faithfulness accumulate, the emotion grows. I have seen this in my own marriage. I can honestly say that after twenty-six years of marriage my love for and connection to my wife has grown with every passing day. Love truly blooms with faithfulness over time. As clichéd as it may be, our relationship is the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.
Country singer John Berry echoes my feelings in his song, “Your Love Amazes Me”:
I’ve seen the seven wonders of the world,
I’ve seen the beauty of diamonds and pearls
But they mean nothing baby Your love amazes me
I’ve seen a sunset that would make you cry
And colors of the rainbow, reaching across the sky
The moon in all its phases, Your love amazes me
It was, is, and always will be God’s desire that one man and one woman share such a bond. This physical and emotional bond of unity is the foundation of marriage and, by extension, the foundation of the family.
Thanks for reading, and a special thanks who share these posts with their friends. This post is the 4th in an eight part series on adultery taken from my book, Life Medicine. The book is available through this site and on Amazon.com. A small group study guide can be accessed through this site as well. I am in the process of uploading a video series on the book to my vimeo page, www.vimeo.com/bartbarrett