IS IT WRONG TO HAVE AN AFFAIR?
Is it wrong to have an affair? This is a relevant question, for some marriage counselors are advising their married clients to have an affair to help ease their tensions and frustrations. The subject is pertinent because we live in a time of moral permissiveness. Both married and unmarried people are wanting greater moral freedom. We are being told that morals are relative and that there are no absolute standards of right and wrong. It is becoming more and more socially acceptable to have an illicet affair. Furthermore, there is more than one kind of an affair. There is the affair carried on by the unmarried, and then there is the extra-marital affair. Again, there is the affair between two people of the same sex. This whole matter of having an affair belongs to the general subject of morals, and since I am a preacher of the gospel, I shall approach the subject from the viewpoint of Christian morality. The standard of morals for Christians is the New Testament. The word of God, as revealed in the New Testament, is God's final authority in our day to determine what is right and wrong and what is good and bad.
What about having an affair? Is it right or wrong? One of the undesirable side effects of modern education has been the ability to give us seemingly justification for almost anything we want to do. Many times such justification only requires that we rename the practice so that it may be described by some high-sounding words and impressive phrases. One such example is the phrase, "having an affair". This expression has been so glamorized by motion pictures and television it hardly seems wrong at all. And yet such a phrase is only a means of covering up the guilt, sin, and moral decay the Bible describes as adultery. We make all manner of excuses for extra-marital affairs, but they can never be justified. Galatians 5:19-21 declares that people who commit the sin of adultery shall not inherit the kingdom of God. This means that they cannot go to heaven. You may say that you are married to a man or woman who is sullen, irritalble, inconsiderate, and selfish, but there was a time, was there not, when you had eyes to see what fascinated your heart and won your love? Why is this vision faded? If it remained it would enable you to overcome the annoyance, disgust, and contempt which is eating away like a canker all your peace and joy. Husbands and wives should think of each other as they appear in their best and highest moments when cheerful influences are upon them. They should remember the times they have seen their mates suppress selfishness, vice, folly, and develop all that is wisest and most beautiful in their souls. These are the moments in which their true self is revealed. Try to forget all the rest. You don't root up a rose bush in your garden because there is neither beauty or fragrance upon it during the months of winter. You do not despise it because it looks barren and ungracious in December. You know that it has life and beauty in it, and you have faith in it all the winter through even while its beauty is unseen. Most of us require the same forbearance and the same faith. And the more of it we have, like flowers which need the heat and light to bring out their blossoms, the more fully are we able to manifest the perfection of which our life is capable. But it is so easy to become disappointed with our companions. When this happens our lives are filled with loneliness, but adultery is not the answer. It will bring heartaches to you because it is a violation of heaven's will. It will betray every holy impulse of your soul. The Bible says, "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge"(Hebrews 13:4). Adultery correctly defined is sexual relations with a person other than one's own husband or wife. If you are thinking about having an affair, you are in reality thinking about committing adultery. Extra-marital sex may be defined as the giving of one's body without the giving of one's total self. When two people allow themselves to be swept into these illicit affairs, the reason is not that they love each other too much, but that they love each other too little.
Adultery is not only a sin against God, against your companion, and against yourself, it is also a sin against your children. When a husband or wife enters into these immoral affairs, they aim a damaging blow at the helpless little ones. Who has not read heartrending stories of children tossed about and beaten hither and thither. They are taken into court and handed over to one guardianship to another till all sense of childhood, home, and parental affection have been lost from their hearts. How depressed little children must feel whose parents have forsaken them? Animals do not neglect and desert their young. The deer will fight for a faun; the bird will toil for her nestlings, and no alluring voice can call her away from domestic cares. Is it strange then that we call the conduct of parents unnatural and inhuman which shatters the home and imperils the welfare of its helpless members? If anyone should say that adultery may be committed without shattering the home, we reply that only the mockery and the skeleton of a home is left. This is a poor excuse indeed for a home. Suffice it to say that all extra-marital affairs on the parts of husbands and wives are strictly forbidden in the word of God in the New Testament. This is a saying worthy of all acceptation.
My second observation is that married people are not the only ones who can become involved in illicit affairs. What about young men and women and old men and women who simply live together without benefit of marriage? This is becoming a very popular way to beat inflation and enjoy some of the privileges of marriage without any responsibility. Numerous are the illicit affairs between single boys and girls who indulge in immoral relations casually and for recreational purposes. Such immoral affairs belong to the general subject "Sex Before Marriage." Sex before marriage or out of the marriage relationship is referred to in the New Testament as fornication. The word of God knows no exception and it allows none. Renaming fornication does not change the act or remove the consequences. Those who commit fornication sin. The Bible says, "Nevertheless to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband"(I Corinthians 7:2). God has forbidden human beings to indulge in sex out of the marriage relationship and the violation of His law is called fornication. The apostle Paul said, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication."
(I Thhessalonians 4:3). The fact that premarital sex and fornication are condoned and laughed at by the world should be of little consequence to one who seeks for truth. It is the truth that gives us freedom. Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free"(John 8:32). However fornication is not an unforgivable sin,ut the one and only way these young unmarried boys and girls can be forgiven is to become Christians and have all sins of all kinds of the past life forgiven by faith in Christ, repentance(the promise to correct their lives), and be immersed in baptismal water for the forgiveness of all sins of the past life(Acts 2:38).There is no other way to win God's favor. The same rule applies to all who commit adultery.
When we consider the act of fornication or adultery in the light of God's truth, we learn that it is a sin against God and just against one another. All sin or violation of God's law is transgression of the law of God. It is to go against or across what God has revealed. So if one believes in God and Christ and would obey their will, he must stand on the central conviction that fornication and adultery are wrong. Prostitutes, street walkers, call girls, and all who indulge in sex casually out of marriage for recreational purposes, all have one thing in common; they commit fornication. It is a sin against God, against His will, and against His word. Judgment will fall on all who are guilty of fornication, unless they turn to God in repentance and obey the gospel of Christ. It is not sex which God condemns, but its misuse outside the marriage bond.
The third kind of affair condemned in scripture is incest. Incest is an immoral relationship between persons related within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law. It is wrong to have an affair with your near relative. The Old Testament had very strict laws against incest. For example Leviticus 20:19 says, "And you shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother's sister, nor of your father's sister, for he uncovers his near kin; they shall bear their iniquity." Furthermore, incest is strictly forbidden in the religion of Christ. When a Christian fell into this vice in the early church, the apostle Paul wrote these words of denunciation, "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife" (I Corinthians 5:1). The apostle commanded the church to bring that man to repentance or remove him from the fellowship of the church. It is to be noted that incest is classified in the New Testament as fornication. The term fornication is a general term for all sexual immorality, and incest is one of the more degraded forms of it. The Gentiles had a very inferior standard of morality, but Paul said that incest was something that not many of them would stoop to practice. In the United States the statutes of the various states define the degrees of relationship within which sexual relations and marriage are forbidden and provide for the punishment of incest as a crime.I know that some will say those are the most harsh, difficult and unreasonable commands that could be imposed on human beings. Who can serve a God who makes such demands? I will tell why God makes such demands. He is angered because little children brought into the world have no one who them, who no one wants, and who are often killed by both men and women whose lovers do not want to care for these children. God is angered when mothers and fathers break up their homes and children are mistreated by broken homes and moved from one home to another under the care of the state. Now that is harsh. unreasonable and demanding conduct imposed on the world's children. God knows what is right and good, and He will hold us all accountable for rejecting His good and reasonable laws. God is angered when unfaithful wives and husbands who have their mates killed to please another lover.
A fourth type of illicit affair into which the human family has fallen is homosexuality. Homosexuality is an emotional disorder in which one has an abnormal love for the same sex. It is an immoral love which a man has for another man or a woman has for another woman, including sexual relations. Female homosexuality is called lesbianism. It is a violation of God's will for men to have sexual affairs with other men and women to have illicit affairs with other women. God knows what is good for human society and what is bad for human sociwety. God declared His great displeasure with homosexuality by utterly destroying the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah about 1900 B.C.(Genesis 19). These same kind of people today do not want to believe what the Bible says God did to those cities because they do not want to believe it. They choose to defy God. God intended that His severe punishment of Sodom to be a solemn warning and example to the human race for all time. The New Testament declares this fact in 2 Peter 2:6, "And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with en overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly." This scripture declares that to practice homosexuality is to live ungodly.
The New Testament characterizes homosexuality as "going after strange flesh."(Jude 7) When God created man and woman, He chose heterosexuality as the lifestyle for the human race. He created woman for man to live with in the marriage relationship. The Creator has the right to determine the lifestyle of His creatures. Homosexuality turns the marriage institution upside down and changes God's intention and God's law. God forbids a man to use man's body for sexual pleasure. Furthermore, the New Testament states that homosexuality is abnormal and contrary to nature. Romans 1:26,27 says, "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature, and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly..." I Corinthians 6:9 declares that people who practice this vice cannot go to heaven.
The fifth type of affair is the most degrading that human beings can enter and is called bestiality. Bestiality is sexual relations betweeen a beast and a person. As revolting as it may seem, human beings have been known to have immoral affairs with animals. This unnatural connection with a beast is known as bestiality. It was necessary for God to warn Israel against this degrading act in Leviticus 18:22-24, "You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shall you lie with any beast to defile youself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you."
Now for a final word on these illegal and unfortunate social relationships. I have mentioned five illicit affairs which are condemned in scripture. They are adultery, fornication, incest, homosexuality, and bestiality, God does not forbid these relationships simply to be legalistic, restrictive and authoritative. These forms of social conduct have a demoralizing and degrading effect on society. God is concerned about the well being of society as a whole. There are certain forms of conduct that are harmful to society. Adultery destroys the happiness and wellbeing of the family unit. Fornication destroys the morals of innocent children and brings small children into the world who must live without benefit of a mother, father, or both. Homosexuality endangers the marriage institution as divinely originated by God. If these affairs were good and useful, if they contributed to the well being of society, God would not have forbidden them. One of the real weaknesses of human beings is our lack of understanding of the elementary principles of group living. We do not l£ve by ourselves; we live in social groups, and this means we cannot always do as we please. We are as a whole one of the most lawless civilized nations on earth. We have not yet learned to accept the restrictions which living together in a complex group forces upon us. One of the first lessons which each of us as an individual has to learn is to make a satisfactory adjustment to the world in which our God has placed us. Life is a personal challenge to each of us; it means individual responsibility and co-operative action on the part of the group. However, there are individuals in society who will not adjust and accept their responsibilities to others. Society must exercise some restraint on such people. Freedom does not mean we have a right to do and live as we please. The criminal element in society must be restrained. A crime is committed every 18 seconds. A murder is committed every 60 minutes and a robbery every 10 minutes. Anti-social people plead their constitutional rights to live as they please. Among those making this plea are pickpockets, thieves, prostitutes, and producers of pornography. Good laws must be enacted to protect society from criminals, moral deviates, and those who would corrupt society. It is the teaching of the Bible that adultery, fornication, incest, homosexuality, and bestiality are anti-social and anti-religious forms of conduct that will demoralize and corrupt good society.