“This is the way of an adulteress: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’ Proverbs 30, verse 20.
Today is Ash Wednesday. The partying is over and we’re into a time of reflecting before we rejoin a better party. To me, the verse for today is a verse of reflection, not just an observation. Verse 20 is actually the completion of the thoughts from verses 18 and 19, but it is distinct enough that I thought it would stand on its own for discussion.
You see, I can’t speak for the adulteress, although I’ve known and been with a few. Even though I’ve written about it before, it’s still tough for me to admit that I can speak for the adulterer because that was me. Some folks would say that Scripture is sexist; by the measures of our so-called modern society they would almost have a point. There are many verses that condemn women and seem to paint women in a negative light. So if that makes you uncomfortable, men, substitute “adulterer, he and his” and then read the verse again. Take it from me: it still works and is just as damning.
That’s the way it is with affairs. They’re damning. The adulteress sees someone who she thinks will make her feel the way she wants to feel. Cherished, wanted, nurtured, loved, sexy: name your adjective and put it here. She wants something that she isn’t getting from her marriage, whether it’s satisfaction, a thrill, or validation. It might even be something else. For awhile, she gets what she wants and it feels pretty darn good to be bad! If you confronted her about it, if she told you the truth, she would probably say she’s done nothing wrong. She might even rationalize it, trying to justify her unfaithfulness as something she needed; or worse, deserved. She’s dangerous that way.
That was me. More than once I was that dangerous & damn dirty dog who decided I was too good for what I had and wanted more. There’s a curious thing about affairs: they don’t have to involve sex. If that’s the measure, being a terrible flirt and being someone who tried to take on the problems of others, I found what I was looking for. If sex doesn’t even have to be involved, I could say I’ve had many affairs. Many more times than I can count I’ve thought of holding someone I wasn’t married too, and as I said, when I got brave and crazy enough, I crossed the line.
They were good women; they really were. I thought they were the kind of women I would want to have in my life forever; maybe they were. Leaving my marriage was what was on my mind, and more than once I did leave. I wanted to be wanted, to just love and be loved, and that’s what I wanted with someone. That’s not how it turned out, though. It’s not that real feelings weren’t involved, and it’s not that we didn’t genuinely share them. It’s just that, well, it was all wrong from the start and nothing could take that back or make it right. There’s a reason why adultery was included as one of the things God forbade in His commandments. God isn’t a prude, or a control freak, and believe it or not He doesn’t have hang-ups about sex. Indeed, God wants us to have sex but within a framework that uses it to glorify, not gratify. No, God wired us a certain way and He knew how adultery cut to the core of so many things that would cause problems. Everyone affected by it would be hurt. God knew it before it ever happened.
He certainly knew me before I ever did that, and He knew me when I was flirting, trying, being tempted, seduced, enamored. God knew me when I jumped into the hot water and when we gave into temptation. He knew me when I was the self-justifying man who did as he pleased and ignored what was wrong about it. He knew me when I was hurting my family and theirs too. God knew me when it all fell apart, and He knew me when I finally absorbed the body blows to my soul that are the consequences of that particular sin. God knew me enough to weigh heavily on my conscience and to send angels bearing forgiveness to me in good people who wouldn’t let me go, especially the lady I hurt most of all.
She didn’t have to take me back. She could have, maybe should have, dropped me like the radioactive adulterer I was, but she didn’t. You see, she was listening to Him as well, and she saved me, saved us, when she did. Twice in the space of a few months someone literally saved my life, and hers was the gesture that mattered most. “God isn’t done with you yet,” she told me. My precious wife told that to me: the adulterer who had savaged her heart, done as he pleased, and blindly, foolishly said “I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Amazing love. Truly amazing love that I didn’t deserve but that made all the difference in this life and the next. God had guarded and cherished her, and she reached out to guard and cherish me. Me, the SOB who had hurt her so badly. The adulteress(es) couldn’t or wouldn’t do that, and as I’d said, they were good women. But they didn’t do what she did. It was amazing love that was a gift from God, and she knew she wanted to share it with me.
I look back on that guy I was and I don’t want to be him anymore. I don’t even want to know him, even though he was me and is still a part of my past. It’s hard work changing, but letting God take control of you isn’t difficult at all. I’ve given up addictions before without backsliding; that’s how I looked at this: as an addiction I could kick with God’s help. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t tempted now and then, or that things are always easy. But what keeps me going home after so many times of nearly giving up is that amazing love of hers and His. A Godly marriage isn’t a partnership: it’s a triumvirate of real love. It was real because He was real through her. He reached across the breach and healed it.
Here’s the real kicker in all this: adultery doesn’t have to be your pet sin. The verse is talking to you, my friend, even if you’ve always been faithful to your spouse or significant other. If you think the wrongs you do are always alright, I challenge you to read the verse again. It’s talking about you whether you want it to or not. The verse is talking about each of us, pointing out where we fall short. Hopefully it’s pointed that out to you, and pointed out that there’s a problem. You know what to do about that. What are you waiting for? I can’t speak for the adulteress, and I can’t speak for you either. But because someone spoke up for me and told me that God wasn’t done with me yet, maybe it’s time I spoke up for Him and said He isn’t done with you either. Knowing that, I’ll ask it again: what are you waiting for? Wherever you are, you know in your heart it can be better. Today is a good day to reflect on that. Then, it’s time to move forward to where He wants you to be.