A recent study by The Gallup Poll found that Americans view cheating on your spouse as the most morally reprehensive thing that anyone could do -- over abortion, human cloning, suicide, polygamy, and divorce. Divorce, however, was listed as one of the most morally acceptable behaviors, with 68% of responders approving. Although there are no clear statistics on how many Christian marriages are affected by infidelity, The Barna Group made a startling discovery in their research of the "Buster" generation (those in their 20's and 30's) in 2006, stating, "It is striking to see sexual behaviors and attitudes that were uncommon now becoming part of the accepted, mainstream experience of young people." The Vice President of the Barna Group added, "We expect to see this mindset of sexual entitlement translate into increased appetites for pornography, unfiltered acceptance of sexual themes and content in media, and continued dissolution of marriages due to infidelity." It appears that although people find infidelity to be one of the worst things that anyone can do, we as a society are on a fast-track to seeing those rates rise more and more. With Christian divorce rates rivaling those of unbelievers, it should be of no surprise that thousands of Christian marriages each year are also affected by infidelity. It seems that each year in the media, another prominent Christian leader has been involved in an extramarital affair. In our own marriages, we have to look closely at the reality that we, too, are susceptible to sin. The enemy desires to tear down marriages, and our own relationship is not exempt.
If we could identify risk factors for extramarital affairs, what would they be? Could we prevent it happening in our own lives? We may not be able to control the actions of another person (i.e. our spouse), but we can take preventative steps to guard our own hearts against temptation. Here are five potential risk factors for an extramarital affair:
1. Lack of clear boundaries with the opposite sex.
If you or your spouse think it’s okay to be alone with someone of the opposite sex (who is not your spouse), beware. I remember years ago hearing of a friend who was going to the movies with a co-worker who was the opposite sex. She was married, he was not. “He’s just a friend!” she told me. Her husband knew about it, but I still had a knot in my stomach. Bad idea. Thinking of heading out alone with a co-worker for lunch or drinks after work? Also not a good idea. Keep doors open if you are meeting with someone alone; have agreed-upon boundaries in your marriage about situations like this. You would be surprised how common these things are and how easily they can be overlooked.
[Read the rest of the article at Start Marriage Right.]