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When You Have Been Involved in an Affair

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Adultery has tragic consequences, and concealing the transgression only compounds the tragedy. -

In this second part of a four-part case study, Dr. Don Dunlap brings to light how the sin of adultery, kept concealed, can damage both marriage partners – spiritually and physically. Keeping such a secret only causes the unfaithful partner to have feelings of deep guilt that will seriously hurt the marriage relationship. There can also be lasting consequences to health due to undetected sexually transmitted diseases. The sin of marital unfaithfulness has tragic consequences, and deceptively concealing it only compounds the misery for everyone.

I explained to a counselee who had not yet confessed his extramarital affair to his wife that he had broken a vow to her, he had lied to her and he had covered over his sin in violation of God’s Word. Then I pointed out three more reasons why he should tell her about his infidelity.

The secret sin of adultery causes an unfaithful partner to have feelings of deep guilt that seriously damage a marriage relationship. God is swift to discipline every Christian who attempts to hide his sin. Psalm 32:2-4 explains, “How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away…for day and night Your hand was heavy upon me.” Proverbs 28:13 warns, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”

Christians can be sure that their sins will “find them out.” God faithfully disciplines His children and exposes concealed sin.

Sometimes a Christian continues to commit a particular sin for such a long period of time that he numbs his conscience and no longer feels guilty. We must remember, however, that guilt is not primarily a feeling, but rather a standing before a holy God. Although a person may not feel the emotional pangs of guilt for his marital infidelity, he is, nonetheless, guilty; and his guilt takes an undeniable toll on his marriage. Believers are commanded to speak the truth in love to one another. Every spouse has the right, before God, to know when the sacred trust of his marriage has been violated.

Many spouses must deal with the heartbreak of their partners’ unfaithfulness and the tragic consequence of having contracted a sexually transmitted disease.

The next argument for confessing marital infidelity is that extramarital sex exposes both marriage partners to the danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Some of these diseases may not manifest themselves until years later, but they all have devastating, sometimes fatal, results. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 firmly addresses this issue:

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit…and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

Through the years, I have counseled many people who faced the shattering news that the unfaithful spouse had infected his, or her, marriage partner with some type of sexually transmitted disease. The need for medical attention was as urgent as their need for counseling.

Marriage partners should understand that their bodies are not their own. Consider another Scripture found in 1 Corinthians 7:4, “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does, and likewise also, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” The one-flesh relationship between husbands and wives is a spiritual transaction. God supernaturally causes the two people to become one in His sight. Thus, the sin of adultery damages both marriage partners, physically and spiritually.

The sin of marital unfaithfulness has tragic consequences, and deceptively concealing it only compounds the heartache and misery experienced by everyone involved.


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