Originally published on Friday, July 24, 2009--
The Froward and Adultery
A lesson from a few years ago opened with the following story:
"A pastor had been counseling a husband and wife. The problem? The husband had been having extramarital affairs. That's not an extramarital affair but, in fact, many of them. The husband tried to calm the situation by telling the wife that although he had been with other women, it didn't mean that he didn't love her. In fact, he said, he loved her more than any of the others.
As could be expected, his words—far from solving the problem—only made it worse. Why? Because if you love someone, you show it by your actions, by your deeds, not just by what you say."
The story is troubling for more than the obvious reason. First, let's deal with the obvious: adultery is Sin. It says in Exodus 22: 14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
We also read in Proverbs 22:14: "The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein" (KJV). This text in Proverbs 22:14, , seems to say that any man who commits adultery is "abhorred of the Lord." Obviously, it sounds very serious! The Revised English Version says, "... is like a deep pit, he whom the Lord has cursed will fall into it." Sounds even more serious! The Goodspeed Version says, "He with whom the Lord is angry will fall into it."
It does not say that if a man falls into adultery then the Lord will "abhor" him or be angry with him; no, the idea is, that the anger and abhorrence of the Lord comes before the man falls into the pit of adultery. Sounds even more serious still! This man apparently abhors God so much, God has no choice but abhor him. Before falling in adultery, this man harbored sin in his heart.
Why would the Lord "abhor" or be "angry" with any man? We find the answer in Proverbs 3: 32. "The froward is abomination to the Lord" (Proverbs 3:32). The key word here is "froward." The word in Hebrew means to depart or turn aside. It has a similar meaning of the word for apostasy: backsliding or departing. It reminds me of the verse in Isaiah 53:* "all we like sheep have gone astray." Those who are recklessly going on in their own way, are the "froward" people whom the Lord cannot help but "abhor."
We dealt with the obvious. Then there is the not so obvious in the story. Assumptions are made; for example, that the man is wrong, and she is right. A Pastor was once preaching on the implications of all members of the Body of Christ being one (1 Corinthians 12: 20, 27). He then used as an example married couples, since "The two become one." The Pastor said that he had counseled many couples with problems. In his experience, Most of the time, she blamed him and he blamed her. However, it did not take long to figure out that they both were to blame. After all, the two are one.
In situations like this many assume that she is right. But, what if she has behaved in a way to provoke him to be unfaithful? It would not lessen his guilt. But, she would not be the victim she portrays herself to be. (It does not mean that she should have not sought intervention). We should also ask if she cheated in the past? Even if she has not been with someone else, has she committed adultery in her heart as stated in Matthew 5,
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Can she actually say that she has never lusted consciously or subconsciously after a man she is attracted to? We do not know this. To whom did she direct her affections? Human love only seeks after its own. The heart that harbors it will lie and cheat in order to please itself or escape terrible consequences. Jeremiah 17: 9 says that, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
In contrast, we have God's love. Let's see what 1 Corinthians 13 says about it,
4 Agape suffereth long, and is kind; agape envieth not; agape vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Agape never faileth: (Italics for emphasis supplied by author)
How different would the story be if the woman's concern was not for herself, but for her husband's eternal life? In other words, that her main concern would be not that he is unfaithful to her, but that his unfaithfulness to her shows that he does not have fellowship with God, that he is not walking in the Light, and does not know God (1 John 1:6, 7; 1 John 2: 3). This man's behavior shows what he really thinks of Jesus and the Cross. Knowing this about Him, would give her sorrow, because He is missing on so much and she wants him to know Jesus as she does. How different would it be?