In their inherent intended usage, rules are pretty useless at helping prevent adultery. I think that’s because we all love breaking rules. A lot of us are rebels at heart. Or we’re so good at following rules that we ignore what’s slinking around in the darkness of our hearts. The rest of us are Pharisees, (religious rule-followers who look like awesome goody-two-shoes but whose hearts are far from purity and righteousness).
Hey, you’re in good company with Christians. We fail but our Savior reigns. We know we’re terrible at following the law and unable to obtain holiness. So we submit to Him who was able to follow every rule with gladness and gentleness and not an ounce of self-righteous hypocrisy.
The law was never meant to give life. Only Jesus’ death on the cross was meant to give grace, offer a transformative heart, and deliver from the deadly cost of sin.
What rules do help us to see, though, are safe boundaries that we should in principle follow; the boundaries that we should rejoice in placing as a grace for our own good, not what we must follow out of drudgery and self-righteousness. Rules also help us to see what we really want.
It would be ridiculous of me to put a rule to never eat chocolate because I really, really want to eat chocolate. I love chocolate. I would be setting up the don’t-eat-chocolate rule to fail. That reveals my heart, though. I can’t place that rule because I can’t follow it. If I start to want chocolate more than I want to follow God, that’s a problem. I suppose I have some chocolate idolatry pondering to do after I finish writing this post.
But in relation to adultery and setting healthy boundaries, are you willing to give it all up to fight those wandering feet? Mark your own response to some of these boundaries and rules:
- What if you placed a rule that you could never ride alone in a car with a member of your attraction pool (whether members of the opposite sex or those of same-sex attraction)?
- What if you happened to have to do something with a member of your attraction pool at work, and you and your spouse agreed to call one another before this type of co-working?
- What if you placed a rule that your spouse could check your phone at any moment of the day or night?
- What if you placed a rule that you weren’t going to discuss topics surrounding your marriage with others, especially not “complaining” about your spouse?
- What if you promised to tell your spouse when you were struggling with any sorts of feelings at all toward a specific person?
- What if you promised not to flirt with members of your attraction pool (or not to flirt with anyone except your spouse)?
If your heart flares up in response to any of these “rules” as, “Hey! That’s stealing my freedom! I’m an independent person!” this thought is revealing some of your heart issues.
If you really wanted to ensure that you never commit adultery, you wouldn’t care about the cost of setting boundaries. If you’re not setting that healthy boundary, you’re giving yourself an out. You’re giving yourself the opportunity to “fall in love” with someone else. Or simply to fall out of love and commitment with your spouse.
If I was really committed to a healthy lifestyle at all cost, I would gladly give up all sugary versions of chocolate, but seriously they’re calling my name. Not setting that rule helps me to not feel that ounce of guilt that most certainly would come if I were to break that rule (like a thousand times). I’m not giving up any of my freedom to indulge either. So when I bite into that piece of sugary chocolate, I’m really not doing anything wrong. No rules broken here.
Now, we all know where my heart is.
I would communicate the same if I were not willing to set healthy boundaries for preventing adultery.
Let’s Be Clear Caveat
Now. This is not a manifesto on how to convince your spouse to submit to a list of rules to keep him/her under your surveillance. If you’re worried your spouse will commit adultery (or commit a second time) but your spouse doesn’t WANT to set these boundaries, the boundaries are useless.
When I set boundaries with my husband after the last and, by the grace of God, final adultery, they were set in order to talk through ways in which my life had been allowing these creeping opportunities.
I wanted boundaries.
I know my heart is prone to wander, and so I wanted his help in coming up with boundaries that would produce safety for me and trust for him. He wasn’t the only one who helped me set healthy boundaries either, my counselor, our church, and my accountability partners all helped and currently help, too.
Throughout Psalms and in Hymns, the writers call out to God to bind their hearts so that they will not wander from the truth. They know the depth of their own hearts and they know if they’re given the choice, they will walk off into all sorts of snares of sin. They plead with God for him to lead them away from their own flesh-driven temptation and to continue to set their eyes on his face.
That’s my heart for myself and for you if you’re struggling with thoughts of adultery!
Don’t do it. Pleading with you not to give in.
It’s not worth it.
Have a talk with trusted friends and your spouse about ways you can set up healthy boundaries today.
What are your healthy boundaries? Scroll down past related posts to comment below!
Or let me know via email to vanessa.jencks at gmail.com. Encouraging emails always help me to continue to write.