What Are the Consequences of Adultery?

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People don't usually set out to commit adultery. Most often, it snags them before they know what's happening. It's like the frog placed in warm water: As the temperature of the water gradually increases, the unsuspecting frog doesn't realize he's getting fried before it's too late.

Adultery affects not only the people involved but everyone else close to them. Although adultery is rampant, it should be taken seriously and prevented before it even starts.

1 Identification

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife, or between a married woman and someone other than her husband. In other words, it's having sex with someone who is not your spouse.

According to the Biblical definition, adultery is a sexual act committed outside of a marital relationship and against the marriage (John 8:4). Also known as infidelity, "adultery" is used interchangeably with terms such as cheating, extramarital sex or having an affair.

2 History

Adultery has been around since Abraham and Jacob, the first recorded husbands to be unfaithful to their wives. Later, God recorded his position on adultery in the Seventh Commandment, "Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery."

Throughout Biblical history, even God's chosen servants fell victim to adultery--including King David, who cheated on his wife with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12). As a result, David lost the son he produced with Bathsheba, as well as suffering emotionally and spiritually because he had failed God.

Divorce has always been a subject in literature, including the writings of Shakespeare. Several centuries ago, it was even punishable by death in some countries. Although it is taken more lightly in modern America, it's still a serious offense in the Middle East and Asia.

3 Size

Adultery continues to be huge concern.

According to a recent CNN/Times poll, most Americans polled believe it adultery is morally wrong, and worse than prostitution or teen sex. Ironically, 69 percent of those polled knew men who were in adulterous affairs, while 60 percent of the women polled said they knew of women who were in adulterous relationships (See Resources.)

4 Effects

Adultery has painful consequences, affecting the adulterers physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is the No. One reason for divorce.

Possible physical outcomes involve not only the adulterer, but those damaged by the act. A few negative results include illegitimate births and abortions. Other physical damage from adultery includes life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases like Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

The emotional scars of guilt, fear and anxiety can devastate everyone affected by adultery.

Participants suffer, losing their self-esteem as personalities are shattered and depression sets in. If not treated, the emotional effects can lead to an early death.

5 Warning

Adultery changes the interactions between people.

It lowers the quality and purity of relationships. Bad seeds sown through adultery don't stop with the adulterers, but continue to produce grief in those who are troubled by the act, including the children of future generations.

6 Misconceptions

There are many misconceptions about the consequences of adultery.

One of the biggest is the myth that it doesn't affect others. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Don't believe the lie that it's okay to have an affair if either you or the other person is separated. It's not until the divorce papers are signed that someone is free.

7 Prevention/Solution

Once adultery is committed, the harm is done, and it takes much work and time for the victims to heal. That's why it's important to prevent it from happening before it's too late. The best way to prevent adultery is to be aware when it starts.

For example, consider the temptations that are present when you are working in an office for long hours with someone who is attractive and meets your needs.

If it's not addressed, this situation can lead to emotional dependence. Avoid even going to lunch with a married person you're attracted to, and don't exchange personal emails. If that person starts sharing intimate details of unhappiness at home, don't offer a shoulder to cry on.

Communication in marriage is a preventive tool. Talk to your spouse rather than gravitate to someone else who does not belong to you. If you are experiencing problems in your marriage, seek counseling before it gets worse.