The Affair

theaffairThere are times when a man and a woman, even though they’re good people, even though they’re both married and committed to their respective spouses, even though these spouses love them, find themselves falling in love with another person whom they think is their soulmate. It isn’t planned. They’re not looking to cheat. But out of the blue they meet someone else and begin thinking, “I might be happier with this other person.” Then they have a choice to make.

That, at least, is the premise of the new Showtime drama, “The Affair,” which began airing earlier this month (October 12). One of the co-creators of the show, Sarah Treem, told Hitfix, “The idea [for the show] was that you’re in a marriage, you love your wife, she’s a good woman, you’re a good man. You have kids and then you meet somebody by chance who [sic] you think is your soul mate. What do you do?”

Yes, that is the pressing question: what do you do? To begin with, you drop the pretense that you’re still being faithful. You’re not. If you:
(1) “fall in love” with another person;
(2) confuse “falling in love” with real love;
(3) know the other person so well that you think he/she is your soulmate;
(4) are already imagining that life with the other person might make you happy
then you may not have opened your bedroom to that person but your heart is already a mess of tangled sheets. So it’s not a question of whether you will begin an affair, but whether you will escape from the one you’re already in.

There are countless articles and books about how to “Affair-Proof” your marriage, complete with lists of five or ten or twenty things to do to protect your marriage from infidelity. And many of these have helpful suggestions. I’m not writing another such list. What I want to urge is one main point, one truth that undergirds so much of this discussion: affairs don’t begin with lust, or discontent with your spouse, or boredom in a long-term relationship. Affairs always begin by believing lies.

Falling in Love is Not Love

Chief among these delusions is that “falling in love” is the same as loving the other person. As I’ve written about elsewhere, “falling in love” has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with love. No exceptions. It is not the prelude to love, nor the foundation of love, nor the ongoing nurture of love. What we term “falling in love” is stumbling into a state of emotional bliss with another person. True love, on the other hand, is the willful choice to act selflessly for another person, to commit yourself to that person, regardless of the emotional ups and downs. A man and woman who commit adultery together cannot love each other. It’s impossible. That’s like saying two people who are stabbing each other are giving life to each other. If they loved each other, they wouldn’t be harming each other through adultery, harming their spouses and children, and living a lie. Adultery begins in selfishness, continues in selfishness, and breeds yet more selfishness. It is not, and cannot be, a relationship of love. They may mouth the words, “I love you,” but what they really mean is, “You are meeting my selfish emotional needs and I am meeting yours. We are using each other.” In “The Affair,” Noah and Alison will “fall in love” but they cannot, by definition, love each other.

With a Soulmate Like That…

A second delusion, so often believed by men and women who travel the adultery road, is that they’ve found their soulmate. They think that fate has led them to that one person, within the vast sea of humanity, whose soul is a perfect match for their own. Now, leaving aside the fact that soulmates are a figment of a romantic’s imagination, that no such thing even exists, let’s assume for a moment that they do. Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that all of us have this soulmate out there, just waiting for us to meet them. Would such a person, so intimately bound to you, presumably wanting only what is best for you, actively encourage and participate with you in breaking the oaths you swore to your spouse, assist you in ripping your family to shreds, and become one flesh with you in a union God Himself condemns? If that’s what these closest of confidants do, then perhaps C. S. Lewis should have named his bestseller The Soulmate Letters. If you’re married, you have a mate. And that mate has a soul as well as a body. Your spouse is your bodymate, your soulmate, your heartmate—the whole shebang. No one else is. You left your father and your mother to become one flesh with your husband or wife. You are no longer two, but one. To look elsewhere for this fictional soulmate is to deny that God has joined you to another person already in holy matrimony.

Fantasizing About Adultery is Adultery

Finally, the third delusion is that you can fantasize about having an affair without actually committing adultery. You can live out your fantasy vicariously through Noah and Alison in “The Affair,” or Robert and Francesca in The Bridges of Madison County, or through the million other books and movies that revolve around this theme. But, of course, you don’t need media for these mental games. You can daydream about what you’d like to do with that guy from work who is always flirting with you. You can close your eyes while you’re having sex with your wife and imagine she is that newfound friend that’s stirring feelings within you that you thought had died long ago. The heart is the bed where most adultery takes place. As Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart,” (Matthew 5:27-28). If you’re imagining that life with the other person might make you happy; if you’re romanticizing about him or her; then you have already betrayed your spouse. You have willfully chosen to adulterate in your heart. And your heart has your body on a leash; where your heart goes, your body is sure to follow.

Escaping from the Lies

Affairs always begin by believing lies. They dress themselves up as sexy lies, beautiful lies, fun lies, but beneath this lovely veneer there is the stinking, rotting, worm-infested corpse of adultery that your lips seek to kiss.

Affairs are all about lies—lies that ultimately destroy. Christ is all about truth, and true love, the kind of love that pursues even the rebellious to bring them finally to repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. He did that for me. And He wants it for all who have entangled themselves in the web of adultery. There is healing, and that healing is in His wounds. There is new life, and that new life is in His death and resurrection.

If affairs always begin by believing lies, then repentance always begins by believing the truth: the truth that you are in the wrong, the truth that you have a God who loves you in Jesus Christ, and the truth that He and He alone can save you not only from adultery but from every sin that seeks to lead you down the path of destruction.

ChristAloneCoverIf you enjoyed this reflection, please take a moment to check out my new book, Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons. This is not a collection of feel-good, saccharine devotional material. It’s hard-hitting, Gospel-giving, Christ-focused writing that takes you to the cross of Jesus again and again as the only source of healing for us. Purchase your copy by clicking on CreateSpace or Amazon. And thank you!

InfantPriestfrontcoverThe poems and hymns in my book, The Infant Priest, give voice to the triumphs and tragedies of life in a broken world. Here there is praise of the crucified and risen Christ, dark lamentation of a penitent wrestling with despair, meditations upon the life of our Lord, thanksgiving for family, and much more. If you’d like to purchase a copy, you may do so at this website or on Amazon.com.  Thank you!

Advertisements

Single Post Navigation

20 thoughts on “The Affair

  1. I agree with nearly everything you wrote except one thing. Feelings and reactions fly across the brain when we see other people we think we should be with. These are things which cannot be helped, but must be fought and definitely not dwelt upon. I tend to agree with Billy Graham who, when faced with such temptations, often said, “Lord, I’d rather have you strike me dead then let me dishonor You this way.” Every eye strays and we have all fallen short.

  2. RogerT on said:

    Superb again, Chad. I just left a comment on your post “No one has ever fallen in love.”

  3. RogerT on said:

    Tony makes a good point, too. Feelings and reactions can’t be helped, but they can be responded to responsibly.

  4. Sam Pakan on said:

    You may not be able to keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair. Yes, most of us (at least) are weak and subject to this particular sin, but some conscious decisions ARE involved in fantasy.

    Great job, Chad!

  5. As I think about what you said Chad I have to take a good look at myself. I too have fallen (still do on occasion) into the appeal of that trap. I suspect my wife has too. But I can say with certainty that it is only by the grace of God that I (we) have not felt the snap of that trap. We’ve been married for 40 years – been mostly up, but also down and sideways -and if had not been for the guidance and raw power of the Holy Spirit we would have both been goners. Thanks for such an enlightening post Chad. Once again you got the wheels spinning…

    • Part of what I want to do is just that: make people think. We all fall into the habits of mind that can lead incrementally to falls we didn’t even see coming. The more we are aware of how we get to the deadly destination the better we can avoid those paths to begin with.

  6. Shared it on FB. Shared it on Twitter. Sent the link to my pastor. Excellent article!

  7. Patrick Shaffer on said:

    “…your heart has your body on a leash; where your heart goes, your body is sure to follow.” Yes.

  8. Devonne on said:

    well put ! Thank you for writing

  9. I thought this was brilliant: “falling in love” has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with love. No exceptions. It is not the prelude to love, nor the foundation of love, nor the ongoing nurture of love. What we term “falling in love” is stumbling into a state of emotional bliss with another person. True love, on the other hand, is the willful choice to act selflessly for another person, to commit yourself to that person, regardless of the emotional ups and downs. A man and woman who commit adultery together cannot love each other. It’s impossible. That’s like saying two people who are stabbing each other are giving life to each other. If they loved each other, they wouldn’t be harming each other through adultery, harming their spouses and children, and living a lie. Adultery begins in selfishness, continues in selfishness, and breeds yet more selfishness. It is not, and cannot be, a relationship of love. They may mouth the words, “I love you,” but what they really mean is, “You are meeting my selfish emotional needs and I am meeting yours. We are using each other.” In “The Affair,” Noah and Alison will “fall in love” but they cannot, by definition, love each other.

  10. Thank you for this article. Having survived an affair (over a decade ago) that devastated me and but for the grace of God, very nearly ended my marriage, I can attest to the lies that people believe when Satan has them in the snare of adultery. I watched my husband swallow every one of them- and more- hook, line, and sinker. It is not just a physical battle (attraction, chemistry, gratification, etc) but most certainly and most deadly a spiritual battle. And while the wound heals, the scars forever remain.
    I pray that even “solid” couples take your words seriously, as those who “think they stand should take heed”…it is so easy to fall. Guard your hearts, guard your thoughts, guard your marriage. The alternative is never worth it, and the road back to restoration is not always available…and even when it is, it is a long and difficult one.

  11. Kelly T. on said:

    Thank you for this. My ex husband committed adultery and abandoned our 21 year marriage. He said he loved me but was not longer IN love with me. It is the most devastating thing I have ever been through. Shattered my heart to pieces. I despise adultery. I am remarried to a godly man who also was dumped by his wife who was adulterous. She committed suicide 3 years after their divorce, living in total darkness due to her lust. We have a wonderful rock solid, built on Christ marriage and I am so thankful. Adultery is just so henous.

  12. CThimesch on said:

    We do have soul mates. I was not at peace until I quit living the facade of a marriage that the Lord himself told me that I should not be in. He said,”He will keep you from me.” And I out of my stubbornness, I chose to marry him to please those around me. It was the most depressive and most horrible time of my life those 19 years. God led me out of that Egypt and rebellion into his love. And there was a soul mate at the end of God’s will for my life.

    • David Crutchfield on said:

      Do not confuse the person God chooses for you with a soul mate. They are not the same thing. The person God chooses for you may well choose someone else. God may then bring someone else for you to marry. This does not make the second person any less perfect than the first,only different. To believe there is only one person for you forces God to make imperfect decisions for you, and God can’t make imperfect decisions.

  13. Thank you so much Chad for speaking God’s truth! I’ve seen first hand these lies of affairs. My ex wife and I were married for 19 years when she had an affair. And even though I fought to save the marriage, she was too trapped in the lies. Adultery is utterly selfish and destructive. But like you say God’s truth is even more powerful! God bless you

  14. I want to thank you for this post. My husband abandoned me two weeks after the birth of our fourth child for another woman. I can’t tell you how many long nights I spent trying to tell him some of these very things. Our children’s minister says it best, “Sometimes, sin just makes you stupid.” I keep praying for restoration and repentance. I do believe in a God that can redeem ANY situation. “As for me, I will always have hope and I will praise you more and more.” Thanks for your hard hitting stance on this issue.

  15. Pingback: My Top Five Most Popular Blog Posts of 2014 |

  16. anonymous on said:

    Very powerful. And very personal for me. God has restored my marriage after I told myself some of the lies you discuss, so I NOW recognize the deceit and devastation that accompany adultery, as well as recognizing the vastness of His grace and mercy to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: