Friends, the following story is from a friend who ended up having an affair and wanted to remind us of these important words from James 1:13-15, which tell us:
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
She shares this story anonymously.
When my husband first discovered that I was having an affair, he was full of anger and shock. I was shocked too. Looking back, both of us have at times wondered how I, a “good”, Christian woman could have strayed so far from my marriage vows. How had allowed myself to put my marriage, our family, my witness, etc. at such risk; why did I treat the things that mattered most to me with such frivolity?
Like so much of sin, it started small and then grew. I can see now that I had been drifting—allowing small compromises to seep into my heart and mind. I would read trashy magazines, and when the kids were out or napping, I would watch TV shows that made light of sexual sin and were filled with scenarios meant to entice. As a woman, my struggle with lust was falling under the radar. Like many communities, mine assumed that Christian women don’t struggle with sexual sin, at least not to the extent that our husbands and the single men in our community did. In some ways, I felt invincible because of that, and I had convinced myself that the content I took in wouldn’t seep into my “real” life.
Additionally, after my last pregnancy, I started spending time with some of the women I had met through a mom’s group in our city; many of them weren’t Christians, and some of them had chosen intentionally to live an “alternative” lifestyle. A few were divorced and a few were single, and despite the fact that they were fun ladies, our conversation tended to dive pretty quickly into the gutter. I had convinced myself that it was good for me, a Christian, to be spending time with these “un-churched, lost souls”, but I knew in my heart I wasn’t witnessing for Christ, I was allowing my company to change my worldview and corrupt my care for honesty, purity and those things which are “beneficial”.
We would go out to dinner and indulge in a few too many glasses of sangria and flirt with the male waiters and size up the male patrons who walked through the door. In retrospect, it sounds awful, and I was engaging in behavior that I never would have imagined myself engaging in earlier in my marriage. But the process of allowing sin to reign in me was slow and steady and to go from the point of vulnerability to action involved years of these compromises and changes. My husband had noticed a difference in me, but we were busy with three kids, and I defended and twisted my actions to make them something more than they were.
All throughout this time, my husband and I had a close single friend male friend at church. I always had fondness for him, but for years, it wasn’t sexual. As I started the slow decent into sin, I would find myself thinking about him more and more. I told myself it was out of concern and care, but in an instant, I could feel it twisting towards lust and fantasy. I loved my husband and I didn’t really want anyone else, but I was allowing sin to play tricks on me. I would find myself reaching out and touching and interacting with this man more and more. At some point, I sent him an email, and from there, we occasionally exchanged personal emails, initially cloaked in friendly banter, but which gradually shifted into more and more intimate content.
We arranged an “innocent” coffee to talk about what was going on. We both hid the meeting from everyone. I knew that lust was growing, and we started sneaking around more and more to have our “friendship dates”. One day, we were saying our goodbyes, and he drew me close and then the physical aspect of my deceit began.
The affair lasted for several months before the man confessed to my husband what was happening. That was five years ago, and it has taken a tremendous amount of counseling, forgiveness, cleansing and transformation to save my marriage. It’s only by God’s grace that my husband found it in his heart to forgive me. The whole thing makes me feel sick, and I wish in every fiber that I could take back all of the compromises, big and small, that led me to be used like a pawn for the enemy’s purposes. I share this story because I think you know, as I did, what a compromise feels like. I think there are moments when the head clears and you can know when you’re opening the door a little bit for sin to enter in. Sin can be a quick thing, or it can be a slow slippery evolution. If you are in any way starting to struggle, then the time to turn the train around it now, not after you’ve gone farther down the wrong track. Tell your spouse what’s going on; talk to a trusted, Christian friend. Seek accountability–for the sake of your children and your family and your faith.
Don't give up on your marriage. It is worth the effort and investment. If you feel like your marriage is struggling, or even failing, there is hope. There is healing.