Thursday, June 23, 2011

Adultery in Proverbs

So, I'm six chapters into Proverbs; three of them warn against adultery.  When I first began my graduate studies at Abilene Christian University, I worked as a graduate assistant for the Pruett Gerontology Center.  The focus of my research was intergenerational ministry, but necessarily, a great deal of that research revolved around Generation X.  Now, I'm pretty sure the statistics I'm about to give you aren't exact; I haven't looked at them in eight years and I don't even remember the title of the book I got them out of.  Having said that, I think I remember reading that as of the 90's 4/10 married individuals would have an affair.  2/10 would be the "other" man or woman.  Think about that.  That's a staggeringly high number.  For every ten people you pass on the street in their thirties and forties, at least four of them have had sexual relationships with married people they aren't married to...and don't think for a second that the numbers are any less inside the Church.

Those are old statistics, so I did a quick google search on adultery and Gen X, and this is what I found.  As of the early 2000's, 50-65% of men had had an affair.  40-55% of women had had an affair.  Men under 30 and women under 30 are equally likely to have an affair, and 53% of the population will cheat on their spouse during their lifetime.  Those are staggering numbers.  Those are sad numbers.  So what do we do?

Well, first we have to bring things out of darkness and into the light.  But that having been said, we have to think about our response before we start asking people to own up to their mistakes.  To be more specific, we have to follow Jesus's example and drop our stones.  For far too long the Church has been so concerned with condemning sin that we've had our giant, red A's to hang around people's necks, making them social pariahs.  But was that Jesus's response to adultery?  Did he throw the first stone?  Those of us who wear our Christianity with pride need a healthy dose of humble pie.  The 53% of us who will commit adultery in our life are no more broken or faulty then the 47% of us who wont.  We need to learn to be a community of healing and support.  Of courage and unflinching ethical standards, yes, and a community with the strength to try to carry through on our commitments...we are not a people called to live out the lowest common denominator.  However, some of our highest ethical standards are the expectation to forgive, show mercy, and love.  Even adulterers.  Even those among us who become adulterers.  Drop your stones.  Otherwise we'll end up killing off half our population.  Considering how fast congregations are shrinking and dying all around this country, maybe we already have.

Second of all, but along similar lines, the Church needs to let go of its generational prejudices.  The statistics I gave above might be associated with Generation X, but adultery is not their invention.  The book of Proverbs is a few thousand years old, apparently adultery was no small issue then either.  As a member of Gen X myself, I've had a stomach full of complaint and prejudice thrown at me.  So, let me be a bit harsh to the older generation for a moment.  My generation may have a high adultery statistic, but let us remember that my generation struggles with the sanctity of marriage because the generation before us had the highest divorce rate as of yet.  We weren't exactly set a good example.  And let it be said that even though adultery statistics have increased, divorce rates among Generation X have decreased in comparison to the Boomers.  Again, let he who has no sin cast the first stone...our prejudices aren't serving anybody.

So, adultery in Proverbs...in some regards humanity hasn't changed much.  The consequences for adultery haven't changed either.  Adultery breaks people, let alone families.  If God is going to heal those people, the Church needs to learn to be a place of healing also, and frankly, that hasn't been our forte.

Stopping point: Proverbs 6/Psalms 34

5 comments:

  1. AMEN! Great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and I like what I see. There is nothing new under the sun, even adultery. We do need to quit be the self-righteous condemning church and help people heal through loving mentoring.

    An aside, many of my hubby's parents attended ACU and my MIL was reared in Ardmore!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pearl,

      Thank your for your comment and the encouragement. And as you've reminded me with the ACU/Ardmore connection, it's a small world after all.

      Delete
    2. Oh, and we both grew up in IN.

      Delete
  2. Indiana, really?? Hi, fellow Hoosier! I grew up on the southeast side Indy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I grew up north of Fort Wayne, out in no-man's land.

      Delete