Forgiving Infidelity - A Personal Story
Forgiving infidelity starts with admitting it. I know first-hand the anguish that marital infidelity can inflict, but not because I suffered from the pain -- it was because I caused it. I was sexually unfaithful in both my first and my second marriages. Actually, "sexual unfaithfulness" is just a euphemism for "cheating," and I definitely cheated on both my husbands.
My story of adultery actually began before my first marriage. I had my first affair with a married man when I was 19 years old, and my pattern of adultery and marital infidelity continued for many years after that. Ironically, I grew up in a fairly conservative household that frowned on premarital and extramarital sex, and I remember early in my teenage years wanting to remain a virgin until I got married. However, I also wanted to be noticed by members of the opposite sex, so I spent a lot of time making myself attractive and "sexy" for them. I felt empty if I wasn't trying to attract a man, yet once I had gained his attention and had begun an affair, I soon grew bored and began looking for a new conquest.
I never thought of myself as the "other woman" type, but without a doubt, I was the other woman. There were times when I was even "friends" with the wife of the man I was having the affair with. My behavior was abominable, but I had myself convinced that everything was all right because I never intended the break up anyone's marriage. I just wanted to see if I could entice a man enough that he would cheat on his wife to be with me. Although I know of only one wife who found out about me, I'm sure that I caused all of the other wives excruciating pain. For that I am truly sorry. "Sorry" doesn't really begin to cover it, but unfortunately that is all I can offer at this time.
With my sexual history, I should have never gotten married. I cheated on my first two husbands before and during our marriages. I couldn't seem to stop myself. Although my extramarital affairs certainly involved sex, ultimately, they were not about sex. My marriages were not sexually dissatisfying, so it was not sex that I was seeking when I had affairs. Instead, I was searching for something to fill the emptiness in my life-the hole in my heart that never seemed to heal. Some people use drugs, alcohol, or money to try to fill that emptiness; I used sexual affairs. I had what is known as a "process addiction." I needed the "high" of my latest sexual conquest to feel alive-to feel anything.
I "needed" my sexual affairs until, at age 35, I finally found the one and only thing that could fill the emptiness and heal my heart for good -- or should I say, "the one and only person." That person is a man, but He is not just any man; He is the perfect man. He is the man, Jesus Christ. When I was 35, I had sunk about as low as I could go. A friend introduced me to Jesus and I gave my life to Him and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. Because Jesus is God, and He is my Creator, He is the only one who knows me inside and out and is able to heal me of my addiction. When I asked, He forgave me of all of my sexual sin and He cleansed me of my immoral lifestyle.
Forgiving Infidelity - The Biblical View
Forgiving infidelity is essential. God takes a very strong stance against marital infidelity. The term adultery is used 15 times in the Old Testament and 18 times in the New Testament. Every mention is some sort of admonition about or against the act. In the book of Proverbs, we learn that whoever commits adultery lacks understanding and destroys his or her own soul. "You shall not commit adultery" is the seventh of God's Ten Commandments to us, and in Jewish law, anyone who committed adultery was to be given the ultimate punishment and be put to death. There were not a lot of offenses punishable by death in the Jewish law, but adultery was one of them. That's how strongly God feels about marital infidelity.
Forgiving Infidelity - Where to Get Help
There is help for forgiving infidelity. God created the sacred bond of marriage between a man and a woman and He wants to protect that bond, so He gave the commandment against adultery. God knows that marital infidelity will tear a marriage apart, so He never condones it, and He always requires that the offenders be punished. However, He also knows that we are weak, selfish individuals who will commit adultery despite His warnings and commandments, so He provided a way for us to break out of our destructive, sinful patterns.
God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer the ultimate punishment of death for our sins. Jesus died in our place; He died in my place. I committed the adultery, yet God put His only Son to death for it. This is God's grace to me. I put my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and God wiped away my sins. I started my life fresh, as if I was just born (actually reborn through God's Holy Spirit); and through the power and love of Jesus Christ, I was able to stop committing adultery. The strength did not come from within myself. Believe me, I tried to break my destructive pattern on my own several times, but I was unsuccessful because I was focused on me. I still had that emptiness that needed to be filled. Only a relationship with my loving Creator could fill that emptiness. Through that relationship, Jesus changed me so that rather than being focused on myself, my heart was turned toward helping others. As I began to look outside myself and see the needs of others, my life was no longer empty. I was excited (and continue to be excited) about my future of serving others and glorifying God.
Forgiving Infidelity - The Source of Forgiveness
If you are struggling with the issue of marital infidelity -- either as someone whose spouse has or is being unfaithful, or as someone like me who was (or is) an unfaithful spouse -- you can find the same help I found in the person of Jesus Christ.