Sexual (In)Justice: Day 35
‘…any unchastity has these two aspects: to be at once intemperance and injustice.’ (The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper, p. 158)
‘…in adultery…we see lust…and neglect almost completely the element of injustice. Yet it is very important that the collective moral consciousness of Christianity should assign greater weight to this objective side of chastity, which is concerned with the common weal and with justice, as against a view limited entirely by the subjective factor.’ (The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper, p. 159)
Many of us are profoundly aware of how lust has split us in two. In agreement with St. Paul, we feel the self-violation of sexual sin (1 Cor. 6:18). It may well be that our many adulteries launched us into new mercies and a caring community. We may even have been celebrated as returning prodigals who received a double portion of the Father’s favor in exchange for our shame (Is. 61:7).
Chances are, no-one invited our spouses to the homecoming. In the war on lust, Pieper is right. We treat sinners (the subjective factor) like royalty, and neglect persons most damaged by our felonies (the objective impact of unchastity). We have not weighed the injustice of adultery. We not only fail to give another his or her due when we violate our vows--we knife them with our betrayals. If sexual sin is unique in its power to divide one’s personal temple, then adultery blows a hole in the temple of the one we betrayed.
I won’t soon forget a woman who came begrudgingly to an open gathering in Mexico. Her husband had participated in Living Waters, was growing happily with Jesus, yet was saddened by his wife’s flat response to such happiness. She confided in me: ‘He expected me to join in the Hallelujah Chorus for his resurrection. My crucifixion had just begun as I started to sort through years of his affairs. I now understand why Jesus gave adultery as the only excuse for divorce.’
When I sin, I sin--I get the pleasure and can fool myself that I hurt no-one but me. But in truth I violate my vows, which disorients the one who has a right to my faithfulness. Perhaps nothing destabilizes a spouse more than the questions surrounding why a spouse chose something or someone other than her, not to mention the threat of future violations.
We can repent. We can acknowledge how our sexual wanderings render us unavailable for loved ones. That applies as well to singles who fear the Lord and thus can recognize the injustice of their sexual sins. When we muck around with porn and same-sex fantasy and sexing friends we blow holes in our premarital training. Fidelity starts now. A wedding won’t make us faithful. We start now by training our bodies and hearts in the ways of justice. If I want to be true to my future spouse and thus just, I practice chastity today.
Perhaps we can also repent toward spouses whose damage we refused to see. And in our pastoral caregiving, we can give equal time, if not more, to the ones whose voices we haven’t heard. The betrayed need space to heal, which can only happen if we acknowledge the grave injustices done to them by adultery.
A hopeful note: on the DSM Board are married persons who have been broken by adultery. I have experienced how both parties in their marriages have worked long and hard to repair the damage done. I see in them trophies of God’s mercy: each has recognized the depth of injustice yet surpassed mere justice with extravagant mercy. In inviting Jesus to help them repair the irreparable, He triumphed over adultery and has made the two one in a way that only He could. Glory to the Lamb for His inexhaustible love.
‘Jesus, forgive us for selfish assessment of our sin. Show us the impact of our many adulteries. We want to live in the Reality of how our unrealities impact others. Sensitize us to others’ needs and teach us to deny ourselves for them. Where we have failed to see, open our eyes, fill them with tears, and make our repentance sure. Break our hearts with the injustice of adultery.’
‘Jesus, thank You that we are first and foremost citizens of Your Kingdom. Your saving purposes, the plans of Your heart, endure forever (Ps. 33:11). Patriotism and its partisan interests must bow before “Thy will be done.” “The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, who hope in His unfailing love” (Ps. 33:18).’