Are we tired yet of fornication before marriage and infidelity after marriage? The media would have us believe it’s natural, or that men and women are not made to be monogamous. We’ve heard all the reasons out there, but I like the way that Dr. Scott Haltzman, a therapist and expert on marriage, challenges this notion:
“Infidelity is not a victimless act. The decision to have an affair involves a secret choice made by one person to rob another person of what is rightfully his or hers: fidelity. It is an act that includes lying, family neglect and often the theft of time and money.
Does that sound harsh? It ought to. Sociology experts and evolutionary psychologists can argue all day long as to whether monogamy is natural or whether it is reasonable for anyone to keep unrealistic vows made in earnest. While the data on the prevalence of infidelity is daunting (about 40 percent of couples will be affected by an affair), the majority of married people have never had affairs. It’s amazing all the “unnatural” things humans can do when they put their minds to it!
So if you’re surprised at the moral outrage against infidelity, you shouldn’t be. Plain and simple, it’s wrong.”
Forty percent is a very high statistic for ruined marriages. Those of us who choose to honor our marriage vows should feel a “moral outrage against infidelity”. Like Elder Perry, “we want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established” (Elder L. Tom Perry, “Why Marriage and Family Matter” Apr. 2015).
As The Family: A Proclamation to the World states: “HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”
Our commitment is first to the Lord. Part of our responsibility on this earth is to generate an ongoing civilization by multiplying and replenishing the earth. Second, we are to teach and raise responsible children who will continue the generations, not just through procreation, but also through a moral lifestyle, which will strengthen and define us as the holy offspring of our Heavenly Father.
The families that are destroyed by selfish behavior become focused on the pain of betrayal and emotional hurt, and this draws attention away from the raising of our children. It also promotes displacement and depression in children as they develop into adulthood.
I recently watched a series on Netflix that had been recommended by many of my friends. The first several episodes showed good people dealing with problems that came up, but a moral view helped them make good decisions and yes, of course, in less than an hour everything worked out and life was good once again. Many people don’t like to watch that kind of “happily ever after” scenario. They find it boring and insipid. Well, as the series progressed, the morality of the people went downhill, and by the end of the second season, there seemed to be no moral compass at all. Everyone was making selfish and hurtful decisions. People call this entertainment? After wasting several hours of my life watching this show, I saw how life is very much like this: there are problems that arise in everyone’s lives, but without a personal sustainable stand on morality everyone seems to fall into this self inflicted infidelity, which causes misery and deep pain that is not fun for anyone to live through, let alone watch on television.
Our movie and TV rating system is useless to us if that is what we use to make viewing decisions. An article in the Deseret News stated, “The purpose of the rating system is to reflect the standards of American parents, not set them — the rating board tries to rate a film the way they believe a majority of American parents would rate it. Societal standards change over time and the rating system is built to change.” (italics added.)
Our Family Proclamation offers this warning: “WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
Dr. Haltzman gave another brilliant reasoning against moral decay:
“The bottom line here is ‘human nature’ is not an excuse to have an affair. We have instincts to do all kinds of things, from punching out bosses, to pushing people out of lines at airports, to taking the really cool Ferrari in the neighbor’s driveway out for a spin. Part of being human and living in society is the capacity to control instincts, and not have them control us.”
As parents, we have a serious responsibility to teach our children the moral law of accountability. We weren’t sent down to this earth to have a party. We were sent here to prove to our Heavenly Father that, in spite of Satan, and his dangerous games of human destruction, we can choose to follow our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are commanded to “put off the natural man” (Mosiah 3:19).
I am continually amazed to see this world fall down deeper into the abyss of unhappiness. People in our world are seeking desperately for happiness and so they seek to find themselves by fulfilling their appetites, and feeding the natural man within themselves. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind” (1 Cor. 6:9). The Bible teaches this. Everyone has been commanded to control themselves and yet they choose to ignore this cry from God to His children. They allow Satan to “grasp them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance” (2 Ne. 28: 22).
Elder Richard G. Scott spoke these words, as he shared his greatest wish.
“Please pardon me for speaking of my precious wife, Jeanene, but we are an eternal family. She was always joyously happy, and much of it came from service to others … I know what it
is to love a daughter of Father in Heaven who with grace and devotion lived the full feminine splendor of her righteous womanhood. I am confident that when, in our future, I see her again beyond the veil, we will recognize that we have become even more deeply in love” (“The Eternal Blessings of Marriage,” Apr. 2011).
Instead of misery because of infidelity, may we seek to strengthen our marriages, and thus our families, because we truly love our spouse, and our children, and desire to find true happiness with them.