A father’s warning against adultery

For thousands of years, parents have been giving their children advice at all different times for all different reasons and on all different topics:andrew and me walking

  • “Eat your vegetables”
  • “Sit still”
  • “Take a bath”
  • “Go to sleep”
  • “Say thank you”
  • “Clean your room”
  • “Be kind”

If we are honest, most of the time that advice is unwanted and unsolicited – which is why we so desperately need it.  No kid ever runs with scissors thinking, “I wish I had a ‘grownup’ to tell me if this is a good idea.”   No child ponders the many benefits of bathing.

Instead, as the Scriptures teach, “foolishness is bound up within the heart of a child.” (Proverbs 22:15)  This makes sense.  Since a small child has never touched a hot stove before, how can they possibly know the pain that is about to scream in their small fingers?   Children don’t know what they don’t know.  This is one of the primary reasons why we need parents in our lives to help guide us along the way.  Parents have often been where children are heading.  Our scars come from a painful past.  Even if we haven’t touched the proverbial stove ourselves, we’ve been tempted and our ancient perspective allows us the ability to forsee the pitfalls a child simply cannot see.  As parents, we KNOW what happens when you don’t “eat your vegetables” or “go to sleep.”   Though there are other authorities in our life that can certainly help guide us (relatives, pastors, teachers, police, etc), none are quite as motivated like that of a parent.

A casual reader of my blog can see that I have a sordid past.   I have tripped and fallen while running with moral scissors.  I have not always colored within the lines.  I have touched more stoves than I can count.  Some discredit me because of it and deem me a poor teacher.  From my perspective, my sins were the tuition to the most expensive school in the land, EU – Experience University.   To be honest, I hold honorary degrees I wish I never earned.  But as a highly educated fool, I have a responsibility to share what I know with others, especially my own children.

If you have been paying attention to the news lately, adultery is once again front page material.  With the recent hack of the Ashley Madison website and the continued exposure of the names of those who were members, infidelity is wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of families.

Given the sad state of relational affairs (pun intended), I thought it was time to post a heartfelt letter about the topic – from a father’s perspective to his son.   All parental advice should be listened to simply because of that unique relationship.  But some parental advice is so packed with street cred that only a foolish child would choose to ignore it.   This letter, penned to a beloved son, is that such letter.

It is no secret that this particular father had numerous illicit relationships.  Because of this, he can offer an extremely unique perspective.  More than most, he understands the temptation and deception of the human heart and more than anything – wants his children to avoid his path.  If you don’t have a father who shared such wisdom with you, consider this wisdom as coming directly from him. (Though this letter is written from a father to his son, it obviously applies to daughters as well.)

And to my two boys, if you read this one day, please listen.  It is truth purchased at an incredibly painful price.

“Dear son,

(1-2) Please listen to what I’m about to share with you.   I beg that you stop what you are doing and really hear me.   These next few minutes can keep you from a world of hurt.

(3-6) In time, you will encounter an adulterous woman and her lying lips will seem like a sweet candy to your ears.  Her candy will give you a lifetime of cavities.  Her speech, though flattering, is deceptive.  Her words will cut you like a knife.  She walks down a street of destruction and following her will lead you straight to the grave.   She is lost and she will lead you into the land of the lost.

(7) Please listen to me and do not ignore this letter. Keep it somewhere safe and refer to it often, especially when you’re married.

(8-14) Do not go near this woman.  Stay as far away from her and her house as you can.  Don’t even drive by her neighborhood, lest you fall prey to the deceiving thoughts of your strength.   Taking her hand will bring a mere moment of pleasure and a lifetime of irreversible regret.  You will lose everything you have worked hard for. 


Trust me on this.  I don’t want you living with regrets that you can never change.  I don’t want you haunted with the voices that will scream, “Why did I not listen to my Dad’s words?  Why did I ignore his instruction?  How did I get in this position – even as a Christian?” 

(15-20) Son, would you eat food found in the dumpster?  Would you quench your thirst with water from a street puddle?  Of course not!  Eat food from your own plate and drink water from your own trusted bottle.  Don’t open your heart and body to a total stranger.  Blessing is found in the context of marriage.  Concentrate all your energies on your wife.  Discover the treasure of that relationship. May her body alone satisfy you always.  Get drunk with her love.  Why get intoxicated with another man’ wife?  Why get entangled with a woman of poor character?

(21) Don’t be deceived, you will get caught.  And even if you escape the notice of men, everything you do is in plain view of God’s sight.  Every night He is keenly aware of the bed you lie in.

(22) Being with an adulterous woman is like willingly walking into jail.  You will lose precious freedoms. 

(23) This decision can cost you your marriage, family, career, reputation, friendships and income and if you choose this, you will be led astray by complete and utter foolishness.



(This above letter was originally written by King Solomon to his son as recorded in Proverbs 5.  Obviously, the passage above was paraphrased and placed in modern context – particularly for my boys.)

Before you cheat… 14 things you need to know.

It seems that every 3 months or so we learn of another celebrity caught cheating on his or her spouse.  To say adultery is an epidemic in our current culture is an understatement.  And it doesn’t seem to be a respecter of position.  Regardless of what we do for a living, (Politicians, Pastors, teachers, athletes, actors, musicians, etc) cheaters are in our midst.   It seems to be so prevalent today that the question isn’t who is cheating but rather – who isn’t?

Too many treat their most important relationships casually and their commitments to them as optional.  Our microwave society mentality (quick and easy) has infiltrated our most sacred institution, marriage.  Many cheaters try to justify their reasons for infidelity.  To a cheater, their reasons make sense.  Perfect sense.  To those who have never strayed they just don’t understand why.

Our thirst for affairs has become so accepted and normal in our culture that most shows on television mention an infidelity reference somewhere throughout the episode.  Not to be outdone, we even have a reality show (called Cheaters) that is designed to reveal an indiscretion and exploit the humiliation on national television.  Honestly, I’m not sure which is worse – the immoral action of the cheater or the people who produce the show.  The fact that the series is in its 12th season is an indictment against us.  I’m not sure which is more devastating – discovering your lover’s unfaithfulness or discovering the crushing news at the same time as the train-wreck watching public.   We live in a very sad day and age.

I have seen first-hand the destruction of adultery.  Cheating devastates relationships and shatters dreams.  If you have entertained the idea of cheating on your spouse or significant other, let this serve as your official warning.   Your handsome boss, cute office secretary or sultry neighbor down the street comes with a price tag that you cannot afford.   Before you cheat here are 14 things you really need to know.

  1. You will become a liar.   It’s bad enough to bear the title of “Cheater,” but if you cheat, you will also wear the hat of “Liar.”   Cheating cannot occur without deceit on some level and normally the white lies in the beginning become full-fledged lies at the end.  “I’m working late at the office tonight” may be a half-truth but you’ll need to redefine the word “working” to silence your compromised conscience.  Cheating and lying go hand in hand.  (For more about the lies that cheaters tell, click here.)
  2. You will get caught.  It may not be today.  It may not be tomorrow.  But eventually, your affair will come to light.   Your world will come crashing down on you.  If you are fortunate, the story of your indiscretion may avoid the evening news or the front page of your local paper, but your circle of friends will know your deeds.  And everyone likes to share juicy news.  Your poor decision will become as public as a billboard.  It’s not a matter of if but when.  As Pastor Rick Warren tweeted recently, “If the Director of the CIA can’t hide and cover up an affair, no one can.”  As the Chinese proverb goes, “If you don’t want anyone to know it, don’t do it.”
  3. You will disappoint everyone.   Every.One.   Your spouse.  Your friends.  Your co-workers.   Your God.  Your parents.   Your nephew.  Your children.  Your neighbor.  Yourself.  The disappointment you cause will be like the stench of skunks and it will take a long time to remove the smell.
  4. You will be a bad example.   Everyone is either a good example or a bad example in all things that we do.  Cheating is a not only a very bad example in relationships but brings with it a cloud of doubt that hovers over you in other areas of your life.  If you cheated in one area, would you cheat in another?  Cheating communicates to everyone that you took the easy road.   It tells others that you were willing to cut corners in your most primary relationship.  It reveals that you were not willing to do the hard work and get the help you needed.  No one ever admires a cheater.  No one looks up to an adulterer.  Even if you did a lifetime of good, this one bad deed can erase it all.
  5. You will lose your moral authority.  It’s hard to tell your children (or others) to do the right thing when they know you didn’t.  Saying “Do as I say, not as I do” is the fastest way to lose the respect of others.  Not only will you lose their respect, you’ll lose yours.  Every moral judgment you make in the future will be weighed against your adulterous action of the past.   It doesn’t mean you can’t speak the truth in the future, it just means that few will listen to you.
  6. You will create trust issues for your spouse.  Forever.  You will single-handedly damage the precious self-esteem of the one you promised to love.  Every relationship they have after you will be one that they struggle to trust.  If that were not enough, you will rock the world of children and cause them to question the stability of every meaningful relationship they have.   For children, their parents relationship is their anchor and cheating cuts the line.
  7. You will lose your standard of living.  Depending on what you do for a living, you may lose your job.  Many lose their home.  Most end up with enormous court fees since cheating is usually the precursor to divorce.  Betrayed spouses have a way of making you pay and that payment is always expensive.  Every check you write is a constant reminder of your foolishness.
  8. You will spend years trying to rebuild your life.   Literally years.   Even if you somehow weathered the storm financially, you will find it takes years for you to recover emotionally.  It takes years for you to restore certain friendships, if you even do.  It takes years for you to rebuild your character.  It takes years to rebuild trust.  It takes years to truly forgive yourself.
  9. You will lose relationships.   You will lose a LOT of relationships.  Lifelong friends will walk away.  Close friends that you have helped countless times will not be around to help you.  Even some family members who are supposed to love you no matter what will vanish.   A cheater can end up living a very lonely life.  It’s hard for many people who used to call you friend to get past that skunk smell of disappointment and regain any level of trust.
  10. You will increase your chances of getting an STD.   Sexually transmitted diseases run rampant among promiscuous people.   But your paramour is “clean,” right?   After all, they told you so.  And if there is one thing we all know – we can trust a cheater and their word.  As the saying goes, “There is honor among thieves.”   One helpful thought may be to assume that everyone but your spouse has an STD.  That should curb your appetite for destruction.
  11. The grass is not greener on the other side.   The “grass is greener” idea is a common misconception.  Because we have never been on that grass, we assume it must be better than where we currently stand.  It’s not.  In fact, though it may look greener from a distance – once you get there and make yourself comfortable, something interesting happens – the grass changes color.  This usually happens soon after you get caught.  You will then see that patch of land differently.  You will also have a strange desire for the green grass you left… except now it is burned and won’t let you back.   The best way to enjoy green grass is to water your own yard.
  12. Would you want this done to you?   Thieves like to steal wallets but hate when it’s done to them.  If we all lived by the Golden Rule (“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”) most of life’s problems would be solved overnight.   Think about this action as if it were being done to you.  The problem is that it requires thought and thinking is often the last thing a cheater has on his/her mind.
  13. You will eventually regret this decision.  In the heat of the moment, cheating appears to make sense.  It feels good and sometimes even feels right.  Feelings are deceitful.  Soon afterward, your eyes will be opened and you will regret that you ever partook of the forbidden fruit.   Don’t we all have enough regrets in our lives?   Why add another one – particularly one that can only destroy everything you have worked so hard to build?  Your home may not be perfect but it sure beats living in a tent.
  14. The pain outweighs the gain.  No one ever says from their deathbed, I wish I would have had an affair.  No one ever leaves their lawyer’s office with a smile on their face – grateful for the experience.  No one loses dear friends and is glad they have one less Christmas card to receive this year.   The loss is immeasurable.  The pain can be unbearable.   Entire kingdoms can be lost for a few minutes of pleasure.  It is just not worth it.

In November 2008, I looked in the mirror and did not like what I saw.  I did not like who I had become.  I was finally at the point where I was willing to admit the dark side of my soul.   The Dark Knight within me had risen indeed.  Days later, I confessed to my wife, children and church that I had been unfaithful during my marriage.  Needless to say, it was the most difficult series of conversations I have ever had in my life.  There is no pain like watching people you love sob in tears because of your selfish actions.  Within one year, I had lost everything dear and precious to me.

The 14 points above come from an extremely painful personal experience.  I know what it’s like to fall and not be able to get up.  Over the last several years, I have had to learn how to tear down my emotional walls – walls that assisted me in getting in trouble in the first place.  I have come to understand the problem with pedestals, especially in the church, and have wrestled with the mechanics of forgiveness, especially forgiving myself.  As difficult as it is, I now embrace my past and appreciate the many regrets.  They have become precious to me.  As a result of my actions, I have accumulated many scars and now try to learn from each and everyone of them.  I have hit “rock bottom” and realized something amazing in the process.  God is still here, even if others are not.

That’s my story.  Chapters are still being written.  It’s not easy to share but it’s mine nonetheless and I finally accept it as part of HIStory.  As I read the Bible with a humble set of eyes these days, I see that the Book is filled with great men and women who have fallen in some pretty huge ways.  God picks them up and uses them in spite of their past.   I’ve come to learn that we all fall, just in different ways.

If I can help any of you get up from a fall, let me know.  I’m merely one beggar telling other beggars where to find Bread.

I’ve fallen and can’t get up…

As I write this, I have two friends of mine who are spending the night in a hospital.   Shannon is in critical condition in an I.C.U. unit in Asheville, NC after suffering a severe head trauma from a motorcycle accident.  Jason is awaiting an M.R.I. on his broken vertebrae (T-12) after a freak trampoline accident with his kids.  Though both are suffering different injuries from unrelated accidents, they have several things in common:

  • Both are amazing people.
  • Both are married with children.
  • Both are heavily involved in Christian ministry.
  • Both have a LONG road to recovery.
  • Both will need a lot of support to heal.
  • Both are dealing with self-inflicted wounds.   In other words, both are where they are tonight because they chose to participate in risky activities.  (I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t have been doing what they were doing, but merely pointing out that motorcycles and trampolines tend to be dangerous and unforgiving.)

As I sat in Jason’s room tonight, he was telling me about all the people who visited him today.  While I was there, two more people showed up.  It doesn’t surprise me.  He’s a wonderful man with a great sense of humor, godly character and a shepherd’s heart.  Everyone loves him.

When I visit Shannon’s Facebook page, I cannot believe all the comments.  Literally hundreds of people from all over the country – all day long – every few minutes – leaving their well-wishes and prayers.   Since no one can visit her right now – online comments seem to be their only connection to Shannon at the moment.  Only a remarkable person with a huge heart for others could receive such an endless thread of support.

As I watch both of my friends hurting & struggling right now – I also see the Church (with a capital “C”) come running to their aid.  It’s beautiful to witness.  People are watching their children so spouses can practice the “sickness” & “for worse” part of their wedding vows.  Others are “praying without ceasing”.   Many from their respective churches are cooking meals, doing household chores, literally whatever they can to help both families recover and heal.   The Church was told by Christ to “love one another”.  It’s great to see that commandment lived out in such a practical way.

I have found that when someone is hurting physically, the church is quick to respond.  When a husband falls off a ladder at home, the church responds immediately with concerned phone calls and get well cards.  When a teenage girl is in a near fatal car accident, the church is there to support the parents and offer months of support throughout the long healing process.  When mothers are delivering babies, the church has weeks of food prepared for the husband and older children.  If someone is hospitalized with cancer – the church shows up, in droves, to love and support.   Even if the accident or incident was their fault or was a result of risk taking or stupidity – the Church overlooks the unfortunate mistake or foolish decision and simply loves.  Simply helps.  Simply serves without judgment.   As it should.

But here is what I find interesting.   When someone “falls” morally, the Church is in slow motion.   Lives are devastated every day by vices like adultery, anger, gambling, alcoholism, pornography and drugs and many times, when someone has fallen “morally”, the church is missing in action.  The man who cheated on his wife obviously made a horrific error in judgment, and he needs the church more than ever after that admission.  The woman who has just come out of the closet with her alcoholism needs help and support, not distance and gossip (otherwise known as “prayer requests” in the Church).  The gamblers and drug addicts and fornicators and pornographers need help to change their ways.  They need support and love and grace and time to heal and learn how to do things right.   Some people fall morally.  Others, like Jason & Shannon fall physically.  The Church should be there for both.

For some reason though, it’s easier to call someone who has fallen physically and ask, “What can I do for you?”.   It seems to be harder to ask someone who has just fallen morally the same question.  For those who fall physically, we have doctors and nurses and hospitals for them to go to.  But for those who fall morally, where can they go for help?   The Church should be that place, but too often too few are around to offer them any type of support.   When the physically sick enter the hospital, no one looks at them funny.  They are embraced immediately with compassion and by people whose training and desire is to see them get well.   And the physically sick RUN to the hospital because they know it is the one place where they can find healing and help and compassion and medicine.   They know they belong there.

Do you know why the morally sick do not run to the Church?  Because they don’t feel it’s a safe place.  There are few there who are trained to handle their issues.  There are even less there that want to.  Sinners, many times, do not feel the Church’s embrace or see enough compassionate Christians interested in helping them become whole.   For the most part, they are right.  The hookers and strippers and bikers and druggies and adulterers and pornographers and thieves can’t walk into most Churches without feeling even more judgment on them.  The sinful choices they have committed in the past are a heavy burden on them and many don’t know how to stop carrying it.   Not much has changed in the 2,000 years since Christ walked the earth.  The sinners back then were known as prostitutes and tax collectors and they dared not enter the Temple.  They simply were not worthy and the Church leaders (Pharisees) reminded them often of that.  That is why they chased Jesus around Galilee.  For the first time, they found Love and Compassion and Grace, in human form.  In the Person of Christ they found both Help and Hope.

That is what makes the story in John chapter 8 so powerful.   A woman “caught in the very act of adultery” was brought before Jesus and was asked what should be done with her.   Instead of helping her find healing, the Church (aka Pharisees) were quick to point out her faults.  They literally drug her into the town square and publicly humiliated her.  Ah, the devastating power of gossip.  Everyone desired to give her exactly what she deserved – a judgemental stoning.  The Pharisees (aka the Church) had set a trap for Christ.  If Jesus agreed to stone her, He would be violating Roman law since the Jews were not allowed to carry out such a punishment.  If He agreed to let her go unpunished, He would be violating Jewish law which required her to be stoned for her sin.  How would Jesus handle such a sinner?  Famously, He said to the group, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  He did not condone her sin but He also did not condemn her either – though He alone could.  The heart of God overflows with compassion for people who recognize their wrong.  He did not stone her, but instead saved her.  He could have given her hell.  Instead, He gave her help.   Did she deserve it?  No.  But neither do you.  Isn’t that the point of grace?   Grace is for sinners.**  It is designed for those who don’t deserve it.

Everyone who falls needs help getting back up.   And if the church only helps those who fall physically, then how are they any different than a hospital or the Red Cross?   The Church is at first to be a spiritual hospital.  That is what Jesus was talking about in Mark 2:17 when He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick: I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  We must be a people who are equipped to help sinners – those who have fallen morally, emotionally and spiritually.  Anyone can put a band-aid on a body.  We must become people who learn how to help bring healing to a troubled soul.

Who has fallen in your midst and could really use a friend right now?   Who do you know that has made some poor decisions in the past and needs help getting back on their feet?  If you have never reached out to them, do so today.  Call them.  Email them.  Take them to lunch.  Be a friend and offer to help.  If you have never inquired as to how you can help them, ask yourself why.   The answer may reveal more about you than you care to admit.

And remember… at one point – you were fallen too.

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:6,8


* “Grace is for sinners” is also the name of a powerful book written by Serena Woods, one of my Facebook friends.  Look her up on Facebook or her website (www.graceisforsinners.com) for more information.