This past Sunday I talked about the Principle of Intimacy and how to protect your marriage. This is a follow-up blog to the message.
In 32 years of fulltime ministry I have observed that the percentage of Christians who have affairs is not significantly different than the percentage of non-Christians who have affairs. Whether you are a Christian or not, having an affair is a bad idea. Here are seven principles that will teach you how to avoid this devastating mistake.
1. Be aware of your vulnerabilities.
Ego and a lack of self-awareness lead to a dangerously susceptible mindset. We must be aware of our vulnerabilities if we want to avoid having an affair. The Apostle Paul warned us to “consider ourselves lest we also be tempted.” One of the first steps to avoiding an affair is to acknowledge your vulnerability and build boundaries.
2. Be aware of the effects of an affair.
Affairs are devastating and painful. They devastate families, children, and finances. Affairs are crippling emotionally and create future trust issues. It is impossible to duplicate the “feelings” of an affair over a long-term relationship. It also violates a sacred trust. Hebrews 13:4 states, "Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband."
3. Understand God’s purpose.
Every command in the Bible is rooted in God’s love for us. They were never meant for your pain but for your protection, pleasure, and joy. Sex was God’s idea and He made it for His purpose and our benefit. 1 Timothy 4:4 states, "For everything(even sex) God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected, but all is to be received with a prayer of thanks." (GN)
4. Increase your emotional intelligence.
1 Peter 3:7 states,“In the same way, you husbands should live with your wives in an understanding way…” This is very practical for married couples. Peter was saying that it is possible to learn about the emotional needs of your spouse. It does not need to be such a mystery.
5. Prioritize your commitment.
Anything that is neglected gets worse. This is true of your health, your finances, your business, or your golf game. It is especially true of your marriage. Don’t be guilty of thinking that you never have to work on your marriage. It, like everything else in life, is vulnerable to inattention and carelessness. I believe the most important commitment in marriage is your commitment to God. You are meant to be in church together, to give together, and to serve together. Being involved together in regular worship, service, and small group community is critical. Do people who do these things ever have affairs? Yes, but not nearly as often. Committing to God’s values means worshipping and obeying him. Psalm 119:9 states, “How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word and following its rules.”
6. Guard against temptation.
You must establish the kind of boundaries that will keep you from giving in to temptation. Temptation is not a sin, but exposing yourself to constant and needless temptation is unwise. One of the best ways to avoid having an affair is to work on your sex life in your marriage. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:7,"Do not cheat each other of normal sexual relations, unless you both decide to abstain temporarily to make special time for prayer. But afterwards you should resume relations as before, or you will expose yourselves to the obvious temptations of Satan."
7. Confess your sin.
The beauty of the gospel is that Christ traded his righteousness for my sin. No matter the sin, forgiveness is available in Christ. Confess the sin of neglect. If you have had an affair, stop it, get help, get accountable, and confess it to God. One of my favorite verses in all the Bible is 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
You can have a blessed marriage. You can’t have a perfect marriage, but you can have a happy and blessed one. Work on these principles and you will affair-proof your marriage and be well on your way to the kind of marriage that God blesses.