The Only Non-Cheating Love Is Agape
This week's lessons opens 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. This text in Proverbs 22:14, KJV, 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 come 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.
Why would the Lord "abhor" or be "angry" with any man? The key word is "froward." "The froward is abomination to the Lord" (Proverbs 3:32). Those who are recklessly, thoughtlessly, prayerlessly going on in their own way, are the "froward" people whom the Lord cannot help but "abhor."
Then there is the not so obvious in the story. Assumptions are made; for example, that the man is wrong. There is an assumption that the man should know better, and it should be enough reason for him to behave in a way that is pleasing to his wife and pastor. What if he did not know? What if he grew up in a society, community or household where cheating was common? This would make cheating for this man normal. It does not make it right, simply he needs to learn.
Another assumption is made that he is lying about loving her. We do not know this. He may love her in his own way. He may not show it in the way she or her Pastor expects.
The other assumption made is that she is right. Of course we do not know anything about her. Has she cheated in the past? We do not know. Has she behaved in a way to provoke him to be unfaithful? We do not know this. Has she committed adultery in her heart as stated in Matthew 5?
27Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28But 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. There is one sad truth, if she never found out about his multiple affairs she would not sought counseling. It would not be an issue.
Human love only seeks after its own. It will lie and cheat in order to please itself or escape terrible consequences. In turn, God's love – agape, not charity - is spelled out in 1 Corinthians 13,
4Agape suffereth long, and is kind; agape envieth not; agape vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8Agape 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. This gives her sorrow, because He is missing on so much and she wants him to know Jesus as she does. How different would it be?