How does someone end up committing adultery?
Most people don’t wake up in the morning and plan to betray their spouse by the afternoon. Most people don’t set a date on their calendar for when their marriage will come crashing down. Yet it happens. It happens much like a person bakes a cake, one ingredient at a time. It starts with time, adds in talk, and finishes with touch.
Time: Adultery starts with time. You begin investing time with another person (even a graphic image as in the case of pornography). Time with that person then invades other areas of your life like family events and work commitments.
Talk: Adultery adds the ingredient of talk. Your conversations are casual in the beginning but quickly build to deeper and more intimate talks. You share dreams, hopes, and even vulnerabilities. The words you share with another diminish the talk times you would typically have with your spouse. (In the case of pornography, you are trying to convince yourself that what you’re doing is okay).
Touch: Finally, adultery adds touch. It may begin with an innocent hand on the arm or shoulder but once that boundary is crossed, it becomes easier and easier to touch. A friendly hug at this point turns into an embrace that leads to sexual encounters. (Pornography usually leads to self-stimulation to mimic this touch).
Put these ingredients together and notice how quickly a new taste is found for another person. And that taste is very addictive, growing stronger by the day. It also causes you to lose your taste for your marriage. You have become addicted to new thoughts and feelings that result in denial and eventually then death of the marriage.
Thoughts: Your thoughts and actions have put you in a bad place. You know you’re on a destructive path and the guilt and shame only provide motivation for further retreat from coming clean. You crossed a line and you convinced yourself you have no other place to go. Admitting what you have done is too scary and demands a high cost to make things right.
Feelings: After a prolonged time, you become comfortable with the relationship. You are resigned to the belief there is nothing you can do so you might as well make the best out of a bad situation. People will question your decisions, but you have now made peace with the chaos this new relationship has produced.
Denial: You have lived with this new taste for a prolonged period and you no longer think there is a problem. You believe other people don’t really understand the whole situation. Their attacks only increase your resolve to maintain your new course.
Death: You don’t physically die but you have slowly deadened your soul to the point you don’t care anymore. You tell yourself it doesn’t matter and persuade yourself that you have no energy to fix things. Your relationship has died and so has a part of you. You still go to work, but you are now a dead man (or woman) walking. Apathy rules the day.
Fortunately, there is a solution to the mess you have created—the grace of God. Isaiah points us to the only hope you have. “Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back” (Isa. 38:17, ESV).
You can never fix your own mess. The destructive pit you maintain has become your prison. But God promises to rescue you. The work of God’s grace does require an appropriate response from you. He calls you to repent and live in faith. His call of repentance demands you recognize and grieve over your decisions. His call of faith empowers you to seek true healing and peace. You can have a new start. It may be the hardest thing you have ever done but God promises the new direction will be one of contentment and joy. Stop making the cake of adultery and turn to God to revive your taste for your marriage.