Beware of Adulterous Leanings!
EARLY in 1972 a popular American picture magazine published a marriage questionnaire and invited its readers to fill it out and return it. Some six months later it reported that it had received 62,000 replies from readers whose responses amounted to “a sober, often enthusiastic, sometimes angry defense of traditional marriage.” But it is one thing to be in “defense of traditional marriage” and quite another thing to live according to it.—Life, November 17, 1972.
For example, there was a very well-known and much-liked man. After serving for some twenty years as presiding minister of a congregation he was excommunicated, disfellowshiped, as an unrepentant adulterer. It was not as if he had gone out of his way to sin. It was simply that he had been advanced in his place of secular employment to where he had prestige and was required to take long business trips. On these, there were wining and dining and socializing with people who had no qualms about committing adultery, and he succumbed to temptation.
As is usual in such cases, he kept the facts from his wife and from the Christian congregation, and so for a time he lived a lie. He ignored Scriptural warnings such as: “Know that your sin will catch up with you.” “The sins of some men are publicly manifest, . . . as for other men their sins also become manifest later.” No doubt about it, he nourished adulterous leanings, and when the opportunity came he satisfied them and persisted in doing so. What a tragedy, not only for himself but also for his family and the congregation!—Num. 32:23; 1 Tim. 5:24.
Testifying to the prevalence of adulterous leanings among menfolk is the popularity of certain men’s magazines that feature pictures of nude women and dirty jokes. While one magazine after another fails because of rising costs and less interest in reading, those magazines that cater to lewdness keep increasing and boast of their multimillion circulations in spite of the high cost per copy.
As regards American wives, one of the foremost authors writing in a woman’s magazine stated that “the best-kept secret of many American wives is . . . they daydream about men,” immorally so. According to him, not only is this trait widespread, but there are those in the psychiatric profession who approve of such daydreaming. According to these psychiatrists, such daydreaming is an acceptable escape from boredom or the lack of romance in their lives. They do warn, however, that such fantasies can become so compulsive and demanding as to threaten the stability of one’s marriage.
Adulterous leanings are a result of the sin of our first parents, for they are a form of selfishness, a putting of selfish desire ahead of the laws of God; even as Adam and Eve did when they transgressed.
No question about it, the Creator made the mating instinct in humans so strong that there would be no danger that the human family would die out. And wisely and lovingly he also made the sexes so that they can contribute much comfort, pleasure and happiness to each other.
But not only does the Creator give gifts, he also justly and wisely stipulates how these gifts should be used. Thus he provided that humankind should be kept alive by the pleasurable activity of eating and drinking, but he did not purpose that humans should be drunkards or gluttons; least of all did he purpose that they should steal or commit murder to get the food they wanted or needed. That is why his Word condemns gluttony and drunkenness, thievery and murder.—Ps. 104:15; Prov. 23:20; Phil. 3:19; 1 Pet. 4:15.
The same is true of God’s gift of sex. He created man, male and female, and he alone has the right to tell man how this gift should be used. So his Word condemns adultery and fornication. (Heb. 13:4) Not only does the Bible warn against these sins; it also speaks out against the very leanings in their direction. Thus Jesus warned that when a married man kept looking at a woman, not merely to admire her beauty, but so as to have the desire to have relations with her, he was already committing adultery with her in his heart.—Matt. 5:28.
In a similar vein the apostle Paul warned, not only against the sins of fornication and adultery, but also against all uncleanness and loose conduct. All such things would debar a Christian from gaining everlasting life. (Gal. 5:19-21) His understanding of this matter and his serious concern with it are seen from the way he counseled his friend Timothy about such things. He admonished Timothy to treat older women as he would treat his own mother, with respect and kindness, and the younger women in the congregation as his own fleshly sisters. And how is that? “With all chasteness.” Later, when writing Timothy a second time, he felt it necessary to counsel Timothy again along this line, saying: “Flee from the desires incidental to youth, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.” If the heart is filled with unclean thoughts or fantasies, how can one call upon Jehovah God in prayer out of a pure heart?—1 Tim. 5:2; 2 Tim. 2:22.
The very idea of romance is appealing to many married persons whose mates may be unresponsive, unimaginative or too preoccupied with business. But romance is a snare if it is outside of marriage or is not intended to lead to marriage. Thus Dr. Mace, in his book Marriage—East and West, tells of what an Oriental woman said in regard to her friend who was having an extramarital affair: “Please don’t misunderstand me. I love my husband and value my home and have no intention of following her example.” Then smiling, she added, “But it is a bit romantic, don’t you think?”
The remedy? Above all, there is the need to guard the heart by being careful what the mind feeds upon. (Prov. 4:23) Avoid entertainment that countenances unchristian conduct; avoid reading about such things in newspapers, magazines or books. Instead of dwelling on “romantic” episodes, heed the apostolic advice: “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.” What an antidote for romantic daydreaming!—Phil. 4:8.
From God’s Word we learn that such romantic liaisons are wrong, are bad, and it also tells us to hate what is bad. (Ps. 97:10) Even if we never translate romantic fantasies or daydreaming into actions, they still do harm. How so? In that they are bound to weaken one’s love and respect for one’s mate, cause one to grow careless as to pleasing the Creator in other matters, result in a guilty conscience and weaken one’s zeal for righteousness.
Truly the Word of God clearly points out where the course of wisdom lies—not in yielding to unwise feelings and inclinations—but in disciplining ourselves, in following right principles, in taking delight in the law of God, meditating on it and being guided by it.—Ps. 1:1-6; Prov. 2:1-9.