I was having drinks with a friend the other day – Heineken for him, Red Bull & Coke for me – and he brought up the issue of infidelity. Now, infidelity is a subject I understand but do not accept…Understanding and acceptance – 2 seemingly distinct states of mind that must be in harmony for me to find peace. Harmony typically comes to me after much analysis (and an eventual resolution) or if I believe/trust/have faith in someone I respect.
My friend attempted to trace infidelity’s roots by exploring the concept of Polygamy in Africa. Essentially he posits that Polygamy is an African concept which was abolished by the Missionaries. Ever since, African males have had to wrap their brains around and discipline their groins to accept a monogamous lifestyle. Women on the other hand have always hated sharing so they readily embraced the concept of Monogamy!
It’s intriguing that in the Bible, man evolved from Monogamy to Polygamy (and back to Monogamy. Perhaps we’ll return to Polygamy someday). God also placed a spiritual structure in place to accommodate the issue of Polygamy – Headship. In the New Testament, Paul recognizes that there were Christians with more than one wife but advises that if a man should desire a leadership position in the church (specifically deaconhood), he should be Monogamous.
My stand on the issue is this: Adhere to the Law of the Land. God respects norms, customs and laws. If you get married in a Court of Law, Polygamy becomes a crime. However, if you choose the Native Law & Custom route alone, I wish you luck!
Personally, I prefer Monogamy. Perhaps it’s my idealistic/romantic side. Perhaps it’s because I invest so much in a relationship. I understand the “art of detachment” though– the ability to sleep with someone when you’re in love with someone else, (yes, I do admit I have a cold streak), but I have made a deliberate choice to adopt fidelity, and I hope to stick with it. I can relate to why Men sleep around – it usually finds its roots in boredom, the need for adventure, rage or trouble at home. With women, it’s typically loneliness and the desire for validation or kindness. Practical wisdom can usually avert disaster in many relationships, but unfortunately it doesn’t prevent the horny philandering person who deliberately decides to screw around, if they so please!
It’s interesting that when people cheat, we say – He/she cheated on ME! At that point it ceases to be about the person who lost his way and is in need of mercy. It’s about YOU. We hurt God everyday and he forgives. Period. It’s our job to help the cheating one up – we may not get any reward for it on this earth, but showing true love is an uncommon honour that we show to God.
I’m not advocating that people should cheat with impunity. But, conceptually speaking, I used to think that the only thing that could hold people back from sin was a love for and fear of God. But I know better now. Love is not a good enough reason to keep people from sin. People love their spouses yet cheat everyday. David loved God and was a man after God’s heart. Indeed, God said he had a perfect heart, yet he was a murderer and adulterer. So love is not enough.
Moral standards and conscience are also not good enough. Many so-called virgins will get to heaven then realize that they have no reward. They stayed celibate not because of God per se or faith, but because of the fear of sin, getting pregnant, upbringing etc. And many have acted out the entire thing in their minds anyway. With God, thinking carries the same weight as doing. In fact, lying, gossip, nastiness etc carry the same weight as fornication or masturbation. It is only among Christian people and moralists that sex is considered the greatest sin on earth. BULLSHIT.
Recently, I’ve been thinking that the only thing that keeps a man from sinning is the Word of God. There’s a particularly beautiful scripture I know – it says “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I may not sin against you” (Psalms 119:11).
The Word of God does many things. It renews the mind and changes the heart’s motivations and inclinations, it stabilizes and makes you strong, it changes your very nature and most importantly, through it, God breathes revelation to an otherwise callous mind.
If you’re prone to a particular vice and you fill your heart with the word of God about the subject, someday, your heart and mind will open to the truth. I’m not talking about head knowledge. I mean deep, gut wrenching truth that only God’s word can give. I tell people that the only reason (okay, one of the reasons) I read my bible regularly, is because my mind craves for truth. It stabilizes me. I’m very deep and creative. I have an above average curiosity and sexuality, so you could say I need some sort of gyrostat. Am I using it as a crutch? Perhaps. I’m not proud and readily admit my imperfections and weaknesses. I think the Word of God is the key. It must be – without Faith, it is impossible to please God and faith comes by hearing the word of God.
I’m also particular about what my conscience can handle. All things are lawful, but not all things are expedient. I’m not a fool and I will not try to be anyone else, in a bid to be acceptable, liberal and hip! I may be able to do a lot of things, but are they really “me”? Can I do them with the same confidence with which I am writing this piece? This is me. Some things aren’t. Whatever your conscience considers sin, will be sin to you, even though it may not be sin to another. There may be general standards, but the truth is David ate the hallowed showbread and went away unharmed, while Uzziah attempted to perform a sacrifice and was struck with leprosy. Go figure.
Infidelity will always be a prickly subject. There are no hard and fast rules. Some will decide to opt out of the relationship, others will choose to forgive and forget. There is honour & dignity in both.