The sad fact is no longer surprising—infidelity has invaded the ranks of professing Christians. The church body bears more ugly scars than ever in its history, and instead of hiding those scars from the public eye, we now speak of them without much embarrassment. The tone is sophisticated. The head is unbowed . . . the heart is unbroken . . . the terms are mellow. It’s an “affair,” remember. No longer adultery. Everybody stays calm and cool. They take a deep breath, smile, and look accepting, tolerant, and if possible, affirming.
In The Myth of the Greener Grass, J. Allan Petersen wrote:
A call for fidelity is like a solitary voice crying in today’s sexual wilderness. What was once labeled adultery and carried a stigma of guilt and embarrassment now is an affair—a nice-sounding, almost inviting word wrapped in mystery, fascination, and excitement. A relationship, not sin. What was once behind the scenes—a secret closely guarded—is now in the headlines, a TV theme, a bestseller, as common as the cold. Marriages are “open”; divorces are “creative.”
The cesspool has now overflowed. It has contaminated our magazine racks, bookshelves, billboards, the live theatre, the movies, television, and the Internet. Everywhere you look, somebody else’s mate is invariably getting in or out of bed with someone other than his or her partner.
The shrapnel of such bombardments ultimately gets embedded in our minds, brainwashing us into believing that adultery is actually healthy, rejuvenating, and certainly understandable. Cheating is no longer a shameful act; it has come to be expected now that it’s been glamorized.
It’s now fidelity, not infidelity, that needs defending in our sex-saturated society. People who choose to stay faithful appear somewhere between mid-Victorian and square. They’re about as up to date as a kerosene lamp or a wringer washer.
I read some time ago of a wife who went to lunch with 11 other women who were taking a French course together, because their children were all in school. One rather bold type asked, “How many of you have been faithful throughout your marriage?” Only one lady raised her hand. That evening one of the women related the incident to her husband. When she admitted she was not the one who raised her hand, her husband looked crestfallen.
“But I’ve been faithful to you,” she quickly assured him.
“Then why didn’t you raise your hand?”
“I was ashamed.”
That’s like being ashamed of good health during an epidemic . . . or being ashamed of escaping unscathed from an earthquake. But apparently when it comes to having an “affair,” peer pressure shifts the shame away from the guilty.
Our society wants to pretend an affair is a harmless adventure. Not everyone is so convinced.