The Big Result of a Little Independence
Read Jeremiah 2:1–3:5
“You have lived as a prostitute with many lovers—would you now return to me?” declares the LORD.
~ Jeremiah 3:1 (NIV)
A while back, a man who had attended our Bible study stepped down from his responsibilities at church and moved out of his house. He left his wife and children and moved in with a gay lover. Our church was stunned, and our close-knit Bible study group was numb with shock. We hadn’t seen this coming.
Yet the clues were there. With the 20/20 vision that hindsight provides, his wife and I identified numerous tiny infidelities that had led to the ultimate big one. He had often made unilateral decisions, not taking his wife’s feelings or viewpoints into consideration. He often had kept his thoughts and feelings to himself. He certainly had not made a practice of humbly confessing his weaknesses or sins to his wife. His spending of time and money reflected a determination to primarily please himself, not to lay down his life for his family (see 1 John 3:16).
The prophet Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet” because he often openly expressed his sorrow over the spiritual and moral condition of the faithless people of Judah and their impending destruction. God was long-suffering, but the people would suffer his coming judgment.
Judah’s infidelity showed up in numerous acts of disobedience. The people had fallen into idolatry, immorality and injustice. Personal and social corruption was prevalent. The Israelites fulfilled their religious obligations, but their hearts weren’t in the right place. Prophets, priests, nobility and common citizens were all guilty. God viewed his people’s many acts of independence (rather than God-dependence) as tantamount to adultery, an ultimate breaking of relationship with him.
Most of us can’t imagine how we would ever get to the point of entering into a sexual relationship outside our marriage. And yet adultery happens all the time, almost as often with Christians as with non-believers. And it usually begins with little acts of unfaithfulness that build gradually into bigger ones until suddenly one day we realize we’re up to our necks in a full-blown affair.
So if we want to safeguard the purity of our marriage, we’ve got to be on guard against small acts of faithlessness. We’ve got to ask ourselves questions, such as: Are my decisions to spend money at the mall based primarily on my own self-interests or are they made for the good of my spouse and family? Do I think more about myself than I do about my spouse in making plans for the evening or weekend? How important are the needs of my family in deciding whether or not to take on more work?
If, with God’s help, I refuse to take any baby steps of independence that distance me from my spouse, then I may never take that giant step of adultery. I’m not so overconfident as to say, “Sexual infidelity could never happen to us.” Instead, I humbly say, “Lord, protect my daily faithfulness in every way, both to you and to my spouse.”
- When have we been totally surprised by someone’s unfaithfulness?
- If we act as our own “fidelity police,” can we identify ways we’ve each acted independently or without consideration for each other?
- How can everyday choices lead to lifelong sexual faithfulness?