“I did not have sex with that woman.”
These words from President Clinton concerning his relationship with White House intern. Monica Lewinsky. raised questions about what does and does not constitute marital infidelity.
How does one define infidelity?
Is it an act of the heart, a break of trust and/or a physical breach of the martial vow? Can you be emotionally involved with someone outside of the marital covenant and still be faithful? If you are physical, but stop short of intercourse, are you OK?
Tom was a bright guy who found himself restless and bored at his job. He began flirting with a co-worker. The two started having lunch together and met after work for a drink. Eventually they became very physically involved but never had sexual intercourse. Fearing he might step over his self-imposed line, Tom came to therapy. His first question, “Have I really been unfaithful to my wife? I haven’t had intercourse and we haven’t been together fully undressed. We’ve done a lot of kissing and fondling, but does that really count?”
My response, “If you told your wife what you just told me, what would she say?”
Infidelity is a breach of trust, a breaking of the covenant, a betrayal of the relationship. It goes beyond sexual intercourse to include the physical, emotional and thought life of a person.
God wants you to be faithful to your spouse. Jesus takes a hard line on extramarital relationships, addressing both the heart and impure thoughts (Matt. 5:27, 28; 19:18,19). According to His words, emotional adultery is as serious as sexual immorality. I know this sounds incredible to many living in our society. Lust, the root of infidelity, is encouraged because it is economically profitable and satisfies basic urges. Self-restraint is not popular in many facets of American living.
Infidelity is almost always draped in secrecy and lies. So not only are you breaching a marital vow, but you must lie to cover up. Obviously this breeds appropriate guilt that must be pushed out of the mind in order to continue the infidelity. A vicious cycle ensues- extramarital involvement, cover-up, lying, guilt, pushing the guilt away, more extramarital behavior, and so on.
While adultery is a term used to describe sex outside of marriage, infidelity is about sexual dishonesty. If you hide any acts, thoughts and inappropriate emotional attachments from your partner, it may be because you are wandering into dangerous territory.
Ask yourself these questions:
How would my spouse feel if he/she knew?
Would it be a betrayal of the trust and covenant we have together?
Is my behavior and thought life pleasing to God?
Then, determine to make changes if you think they are needed. Staying faithful to marital vows requires a continuouswalk with God. It is very difficult to do on your own. Ask God to help you to be faithful to your marital covenant.