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Morality and the Clergy....continued


Unfaithfulness in marriage, infidelity, cheating, the affair - call it what we will, is a sin before Almighty God as clearly stated in the 7th of the ten commandments(6), and in the days when the commandment was first given, its contravention carried the sentence of death which, although the sentence was not always carried out, it did show God's utter displeasure.

How does adultery come about? What is the anatomy of infidelity? When an Ecclesiastical Court has to hear such a case against a minister, it will, as all courts do, weigh up very carefully all the circumstances. If the offender was of previous good character and was overtaken by sudden temptation, or strongly seduced, but then immediately admitted his guilt and showed true repentance, that would be judged differently from someone who had been engaged furtively in a long affair, and after being found out denied it and lied about it. It is interesting to note how often lying goes along with immorality.

Adultery is usually the result of a subtle process. A growing mutual feeling and intimacy develops. It can be accentuated by careless conversation, and if one of the parties (or both) has an unhappy marriage, there can be a rationalizing of the situation in which they seek mutual comfort; but before an illicit liaison can really begin there are several hurdles to surmount. First, as a Christian and especially as a minister, he must square his conscience when he knows that his affections are passing from his wife to another. He will have to make excuses for certain absences as he pursues his furtive errands, and this is often where lying comes in. The scripture verse in The Proverbs is all too true, 'whoever committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding'(7).

The whole thing is so stupid and there is no future in it. It should also be borne in mind that adultery involves two people to both begin and end it, and where one of the parties is not willing to end it, some sort of blackmail can be used. How often we read of the 'kiss-and-tell' situation where well-known people are concerned, and the other party runs to the tabloids and obtains an excellent remuneration, and what started as to what they thought would be a wonderful escape from dull routine suddenly turned sour. One Christian lady who strayed from the strait and narrow into adultery said how near she came to suicide.

Index to the topic
Morality and the Clergy
Some Safeguards
The Crux of the Matter
Marriage is honourable
Guidelines and Helps

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