As with nearly all of the parables theres a joke associated with the one of today. Where Jesus stands beside the woman caught in adultery and they all want to stone her he says, ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.’ Suddenly a rock whisses past narrowly missing the lady and Jesus shouts out, ‘Mother. you said you were staying at home today!’
This is a piece I call, ‘Love is the strongest perfume’, because its shaped like a fancy perfume bottle with an open heart shape inside. What a shame when a beautiful love gets damaged and when Jesus teaches about adultery that what he means, something that can destroy love. While that might appear to be another relationship the real cause of the separation could lie not with the one caught in the act so to speak but with the injured party who feels so hard done by.
Adultery is a lot more complex than it usually appears. Its exact meaning is not even sexual but rather anything that is allowed to act as a wedge that begins to force apart the primary relationship. It may well be another person, but in that broader sense it could just as easily be work or sport, inlaws or even children. That may sound shocking but work or sport can so take over that there’s little head or heart space left for one’s partner. Likewise engagement with chidren can become so all consuming that a partner is feeling left out and lonely. In today’s world it might even be the TV, Internet or absorption in Social Media. Adultery is really where one party has become more present to something or someone else other than to to their partner.
The first time I mentioned that broader understanding of adultery was over in Kilmore Quay ten years ago. A few days later I called to a house I had never visited before. An elderly gent met me at the door and with a scowl said, ‘Come in, I want to talk to you.’ He then proceeded to lambaste me on distorting the Gospel of the previous Sunday by mentioning adultery in terms of being a wedge between two people. I sensed something was bugging him so I let him rant on and on until the truth eventually broke through. All his life he had been an avid amature radio enthusiasist who spent endless hours pursuing his hobby. His wife had only died two years earlier and it was only with her passing and feeling his own loneliness he realised that she had lived a very lonely life with him being more present to his hobby than to her. Now needless to say the guilt was killing him and initially it was easier to vent his anger on me than to face how he had literally been guilty of adultery for most of his married life. Previous to that he might have prided himself on always having been a faithful husband who never strayed but now the penny had dropped as to how little he had been present throughout the marriage.
Very few can get through marriage without at some stage being seriously attracted to another. Irrespective of any underlying reason like what I’ve mentioned, if such an attraction is not nipped in the bud it quickly takes on a life of its own and its like coming under a spell. In that state we begin to see all the things we don’t like about the person we once adored and idesalise the other. We then end up justifying our actions and making all sorts of excuses for ourselves. The more we try to hide something the more attention we draw to it and while love may be blind the neighbors are not.
Some years back I became aware that a friend of mine who was married to a woman who was as lovely as she was attractive had begun to stray. I struggled with whether I should bring up the issue with him or allow the affair to take its course which would probably mean the end of what had been a wonderful marriage. Out of respect for the wife I felt something needed to be said, but, it needed careful consideration to have any effect to break through whatever infatuation he was under at that time. Eventually what I said was; ‘Tony,’ (Not his real name) ‘In relation to what you’re doing at present there’s no need to be the least bit worried about Clare. Such an attractive woman won’t be lonely for too long and there’s plenty men who would love to fill your space in her life’. He was as shocked as was intended. Thankfully the intervention was successful. It seemed ok for him to have his fling but the prospect of her being with another man was more than he could take so he did what he had to do and the marriage was saved.
In the Book of Genesis when God saw all that he had made he said that it was good and that includes sex and sexuality. It’s so good that as one wit said if he made anything better he must have kept it for himself! However being as powerful as it is, we have to make jolly good sure that we are in control of it and not the other way around. If sex takes up more space in our minds than our sexual organs do on our bodies then there is an inbalance that can so easily land us in trouble.