Do affairs help marriages?
Recently, I was made aware of a website which helps married people have affairs. It is promoting adultery and propagating that an extramarital affair is a means to help marriages.
This website has 34 million members, the world's second-largest dating website, after Match.com. The company is valued at US$1 billion, with reported revenue of $115 million last year, up 45 per cent over 2013.
According to the company, affairs help married couples: "The responses we get from our members who have had an affair via the website is (sic) that they feel happier, invigorated and transmit that happiness, which actually reinforces and ignites a spark in their marriage and relationships."
This seems one-sided. What about those who had affairs that led to sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancies or uncertainty of who the male parent of the unborn child is? What about affairs that cause marital breakdown, lack of trust, a sense of betrayal, and children who are hurt?
Furthermore, the marriage vow is about a commitment to be faithful to one person to the end. Fidelity in marriage is not to be scoffed at but to be promoted or lauded, as it can facilitate a healthy family life and stable society.
A case can be made that if one cannot keep one's word to the one who is supposed to be closest to you, then how will one act towards co-workers, neighbours, strangers and fellow citizens? Trust is an important value to make a society prosperous and peaceful. Where there is no trust, there can be no peace. Trust undergirds all transactions, all contracts, all promises, all agreements and all relationships. Therefore, to deliberately break the trust bond by having an affair is dangerous and deceitful.
ADULTERY NOT GOOD
Even if, as others claim, having an affair helps a marriage, it does not mean adultery is a good thing. God can, however, make good out of bad. A mother might sell her body to pay school fees and her child does well at school and becomes a professional, but it does not mean prostitution is good. In the Bible, Joseph's brothers sold him into Egyptian slavery, and after a series of events due to his godly wisdom, he helped the Egyptians, his father and brothers during a severe famine. It does not mean that selling Joseph into slavery was good; it only means that what was evil and intended for evil was used by God for His holy purposes.
So whenever an affair affects a marriage, the first thing is to express sorrow for the evil act. One must show regret and acknowledgement of fault, a shortcoming and failing.
Nobody is perfect; we all make mistakes. In such circumstances, we ought to acknowledge and pledge not to repeat the error. The offending party ought to take full responsibility for what occurred. In addition, a failure to acknowledge fault and partial apologies will not lead to a change in behaviour. Some will say, "I'm sorry", but what they mean is that they are sorry the other person found out or that the person was hurt by the affair. In such instances, they are not expressing regret at their actions but instead implying that they enjoyed it and would do it again, but more discreetly next time.
Some persons who have affairs do not want to admit being wrong but rather want to keep up the facade that "it wasn't me". However, unlike the promoters of this dating website which encourages extramarital affairs, one needs to have a changed mind and attitude towards adultery and make a resolute commitment never to go down that path again. Then it will be possible for the marriage to be helped and restored to being enjoyable again.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.