The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. (John8:4-7)
Pour a cup of coffee and let’s think for a moment about the adulteress that caused Jesus to stoop over and write in the sand. Jesus knew that the bedrock of trust can be broken in a marriage by infidelity and adultery. He gave us this story in recorded history so that we might better understand the difference and the seriousness of each in marriage.
Infidelity is emotional unfaithfulness, disloyalty, or betrayal to one’s spouse. Emotional infidelity varies in degree and over time affect emotions and feelings of one’s mate. It can be observed in terms of verbal and non-verbal communication and deals with disclosing thoughts, feelings, and emotions in order to reach an understanding, offer mutual support, or build a sense of family. In sexual infidelity, the impact is said to be not only about sex outside the relationship, but also about trust, betrayal, lying and disloyalty. What makes infidelity so painful is the fact that it involves someone deliberately using deception to violate established expectations within a relationship. Some married adults commit this sin of infidelity although they would never commit adultery, yet this sin is equally as wrong and damaging to a relationship. Infidelity is as difficult to repair as adultery, and only the most foolish person thinks nothing is wrong with committing emotional betrayal of one’s spouse.
Scripturally, adultery is when a man has illicit sexual intercourse with a “married” woman who is not his wife - the woman was then called an “adulteress.” This is physical infidelity and remains a great sin and socially wrong. Fornication was the intercourse between a married man and an unmarried woman. Jesus highlighted how common adultery was when he stooped to right in the sand. Not much has changed in two thousand years. Adultery remains extremely common, as does a host of sexual abnormalities and misconduct in our present day society. It seems we live in a society where sexual intercourse outside of marriage has become more acceptable than holding hands in public, and definitely thought of as less intimate than kissing.
Trust is the bedrock of marriage and couples should be on guard against emotional infidelity. It is the first foot out the door to a broken marriage, and adultery is the second foot out the door. Both are equally difficult to unravel and both are equally wrong to commit. So examine your own life and see if there is any hint of emotional infidelity or physical infidelity in it, and if there is – repent and turn to God for forgiveness, cleansing, and empowerment.