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ADULTERY by Fr. Linh

ELEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - YEAR C

 

First Reading: 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13.

 

The Lord has forgiven your sin; you shall not die.

 

Nathan said to David: “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king of Israel. I rescued you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your lord’s house and your lord’s wives for your own. I gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more. Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in his sight? You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you took his wife as your own, and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife.’ Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die.” 

 

 

 

ADULTERY

--Rev. Linh N. Nguyen

In the field of spiritual experience, when a person begins to feel pride and self-conceit, when his heart is filled with temporal achievements, that person often compromises his relationship with God and loses his close communion with him. It is said that pride goes before a fall. And it happened to King David.

 

After many resplendent successes, after frequent triumphs over his enemies, King David was beset with passion for prosperity and wealth. Unfortunately, these were dangerous adversaries more difficult for David to subdue than the Philistines and the other powerful nations. His strong avid passion threw him off his guard. Through his secular infatuations, he was compelled by his lust. When lust had conceived, it brought forth sin. When sin was finished, his spiritual death was the consequence.

 

David was infatuated with the attractiveness of Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, a valiant and generous soldier who was at that time fighting in the battles. Contrary to the laws of God, David led Bathsheba to transgress her connubial engagements. When a person has committed a deliberate sin, unless he honestly confesses and returns to God at once, it is sure that he is led on to other sins. Such was the case of David. He tried to “sweep under the carpet” the crime he had committed by various efforts to deceive Uriah, and make it impossible for the dark secret to be known.

 

A year had passed since David’s fall. He had returned to Jerusalem in triumph. The death of the brave soldier Uriah was almost certainly forgotten by the people, like water under the bridge. Yet, the diabolical story was not entirely forgotten by King David himself. The charge of the crimes of adultery and murder had injured his conscience. He was unable to rest at ease under the terrible memory that he had allowed contemptible passion to rise above his better self.     

 

God was looking in mercy upon his servant David. He sent Nathan to David to bring him to the fullness of a sincere contrition, and to bring him back to peace with God. Nathan did his duty fearlessly and completely. David repented with all his heart of all transgressions in his life. “God is the God of comfort,” and he comforted David. Bathsheba was now his wife. Another child was born to them. With the sense of restored peace with God, David named this son Solomon which means “the peaceful.”

 

Among many topics that can be discussed about King David, I find myself interested in reflecting on the topic of adultery based on his story. “You shall not commit adultery,” the Old Testament law indicates that it is wrong for a person to have sex with someone other than his or her spouse (Exodus 20:14). King David had many legal wives and concubines. Perhaps it was allowed as a form of regal prerogative. But I wonder what made David commit such a dissolute act, while he was a modest and noble man? Perhaps, we should remember that lust is a form of adultery.

 

According to his usual custom, David was supposed to accompany his army to the battles. But he didn’t. Remaining in Jerusalem, he had given himself up to a life of sloth and sinful indulgence. One afternoon, David rose from his nap. Instead of spending himself in some useful occupation, he walked idly upon the roof of the king’s house.         

 

From the roof, he saw a woman of great beauty washing herself. Instead of turning away his eyes from this tempting, curvaceous flesh, he allowed lust to get into his heart and at last to take full possession of it. He sent and inquired after the woman. He was straightforwardly told that she was already a married woman, the wife of one of his brave generals, Uriah the Hittite who was actually risking his own life in battle fields for the safety and honor of David’s crown. But his lust for this woman drove him crazy. He persistently persuaded her to forsake the covenant of her current marriage to have an “affair” with him.    

 

Perhaps, David was not aware that his sin would be unearthed so quickly. But after a month, Bathsheba had conceived. She perceived that she could no longer cover up her disgrace. In consequence, she sent the information to David, “I am with child” and probably reminded him of his promise to protect her. According to Mosaic Law, both the adulterer and the adulteress would be put to death. The issue raised an immoral dilemma to David. The same evil spirit that urged him to perpetrate the crime soon suggested a plan for whitewashing it.  

      

When Nathan was sent by God to reprove David for his licentiousness and artifice, David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” David was humble to own up to his secret affair with the servant of God. But how often we warrant sin by calling it a differing name? Some call adultery “a meaning relationship,” “an extra-marital affair.” A life of sensual pleasure is “living with gusto.” Do we think sin is not sin just because we not call it by its right name?

 

When a man leaves his wife and children for another woman, it is not an “affair.” It is adultery. Charles R. Swindoll said, “Divorce and adultery invaded the church…creating an epidemic-like atmosphere. Rationalization reigned supreme.”

 

Dr. Tom McGuiness, a counseling psychologist in New Jersey, gives this explanation of why many “affairs” take place:

“Married people seek out or succumb to affairs when they feel devalued or less than fully alive. They are bored. Overburdened. People who have affairs have a child’s deep longing to be touched, caressed, held, hugged and kissed, whether they admit it or not. They want happy surprises. That might mean a sentimental unexpected gift every once in a while. More important, it is the dependable gift of time and caring. The present of shared ideas, experiences, stories, nonsense and games, including sexual games. They want the world to butt out. They want a loving friend, a pal who isn’t judgmental. They want someone to convince them they’re still loved, lovable and very special. For a little while, now and then, they want out from under the grown-up responsibilities that have become predictable, dreary and difficult.” (From Bad Beginnings to Happy Endings, by Ed Young (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers., 1994), pp. 122-123).

 

As you see, when a person commits adultery, he wants to leave behind his responsibility and get away from reality. But real Christians do not commit adultery, because real Christians are responsible. Real Christians keep their commitments to the covenant of matrimony. Real Christians pray to God daily to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Real Christians pray to avoid the quicksand and get wise as an owl to the stratagem of evil. Saint Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, gives you an antidote against adultery, “Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).

 

Again, adultery is an escape from reality. What is the supposition of reality in your marriage? Perhaps, it begins with dissatisfaction. It is not the way it used to be between the two of you. No longer do you have as many good times like you had when you were dating. You hardly ever have meaningful conversations. There remains little sense of sharing anything in your lives. You might be together in some daily activities such as eating, sleeping, or cooking, but your mind is distracted. Things have changed and are different.   

 

Furthermore, when your sexual desire cannot be fulfilled by your partner, you become bored and frustrated with your marriage. Your vulnerability of carnal fulfillment needs to be healed, and you are easily tempted to find someone who can mend the tear in your vulnerability.   

 

Now, you can imagine a typical scenario for an affair taking place. Whatever the reason or the circumstances, you find yourself in an intimate relationship with another woman. She is engaging and a lot of fun to be around. She always looks like a “winsome young screen star.” This is how an affair gets started. You are frustrated and disappointed in your wife. Your needs are not being met. And then this woman comes along.

 

Pause here for a moment to mull over the warning against adultery in the book of Proverbs:

                        She wins him over by her repeated urging,

with her smooth lips she leads him astray;

He follows her stupidly,

like an ox that is led to slaughter;

Like a stag that minces toward the net,

till an arrow pierces its liver;

Like a bird that rushes into a snare,

unaware that its life is at stake (Proverbs 7:21-23).

 

You see! This convenient new woman is fully capable to lead you astray. She will be interested in what you say. When you discuss your ideas and plans, she will encourage you. You will begin to sense an attitude of understanding and appreciation that you probably have not gotten at home. As a result, you will begin to compare this lady with your wife. Your wife is going to lose in all likelihood because she cannot meet some of your sought-after needs in life, while another woman has a great deal of respect and interest in you.

 

This woman would be more understanding than your wife. But you have to question yourself, “Why is she more understanding?” The honest answer for that is because she does not know you very well. All she sees are your strong points and insights. Plus, you make an attempt to impress her with flowers, gifts, and luxurious restaurants. Let me ask you this question: If she knew you as well as your wife does, would she be so understanding? You have the answer.      

 

If a man could see clearly his situation at this point, he would realize that he has been living in an unreal world or in a fool’s paradise of false happiness. You are not changing yourself in this new relationship. You remain the same personality, strengths, defects, and weaknesses you have in your current marriage. And if you cannot work out things with your current wife, how will it be any different with another problem? Be humble enough to admit that you are a major part of the problem.

 

The enticement of adultery is that another woman will truly meet your needs. But the deception of adultery is that none of women on the face of the earth has the capacity to meet to the full the needs of another man. Adultery is the duplicity, for it promises what it cannot deliver.

 

Christians are asked to protect themselves against adultery. Christians think in earnest about the implicit and explicit repercussions of an act of infidelity. Christians are asked to ponder the facts and count the cost of their actions. Christians are instructed to “simple as doves, but shrewd as serpents” to anticipate with judgment the hoax and fool’s paradise that comes from making a series of wrong choices.

 

The betrayal of adultery cannot go on for the foreseeable future without someone finding out. The adulterer or the adulteress needs to “take the bit between their teeth” to cut off right away his/her illicit relationship. Remember the adulterous story of King David! God hounded David because he did not take the initiative to admit his misdeeds to God. David lived in deceit for a year before Nathan publicly confronted him. That was necessary for David because he refused to listen to the voice of God in his heart. Don’t make that mistake. See to it now.


This article was published on Friday 11 June, 2010.

Back to main topic: STUDY THE WORD OF GOD
THIS POOR WIDOW PUT IN MORE THAN ALL THE OTHERS
CHRIST WILL RETURN WITH GREAT POWER AND GLORY
YOU SAY I AM A KING
BASILICAS OF ST. PETER & ST. PAUL
THE KINGSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST
CHRISTMAS
YOUR REDEMPTION IS AT HAND
GOD’S PROMISES IN ADVENT
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC UNDERSTANDING OF ECUMENISM
WE NEED ADVENT!
WE SAW HIS STAR AT ITS RISING AND HAVE COME TO DO HIM HOMAGE
EMMANUEL – GOD IS WITH US!
THE BLIND BOY AND HIS SIGN
EPIPHANY
WHEN JESUS HAD BEEN BAPTIZED AND WAS PRAYING, HEAVEN WAS OPENED
ALL FLESH SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD
“WHAT SHOULD WE DO?”
GOD KNEW ME BEFORE I WAS BORN
GOD IS LOVE
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE VIRGIN MARY
“THE MOTHER OF MY LORD SHOULD COME TO ME.”
THE LAST EIGHT DAYS IN THE ADVENT SEASON
HIS PARENTS FOUND JESUS SITTING IN THE MIDST OF THE TEACHERS.
MARY – “MOTHER OF GOD”
WHETHER THE BLESSED VIRGIN SHOULD BE CALLED THE MOTHER OF GOD?
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
WHETHER THE BAPTISM OF JOHN WAS FROM GOD
WHETHER IT WAS FITTING FOR CHRIST TO BE BAPTIZED WITH JOHN’S BAP
JESUS TURNS WATER TO WINE

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