Often in my work here at Ada Bible Chuch, I hear stories of those who have fallen to unfaithfulness. In a four part series, I will be writing about some different aspects of adultery: the statistics, the motivations behind an affair, the consequences of having an affair, and finally, ways to protect your marriage. I would love to hear your stories in how you have helped someone, how you have protected your marriage, or how you have been impacted because of unfaithfulness.
Some of the Statistics
First, in a recent Barna study, 4 out of 10 Americans believe that adultery is morally acceptable. For Christians, that number was 1 out of 10. Perhaps there is no reason to wonder why adultery is on the rise?
When reading research about those who have affairs, the statistics can vary greatly. Most researchers come to this general conclusion:
That over a third of married men will cheat on their wives;
That nearly a quarter of all married women will cheat on their husbands;
And that more than 50% of all marriages will be impacted by one of the spouses being unfaithful. Grim statistics if you think about them.
Here are some other interesting facts that we know:
Back in the 1960’s it was usually the husband who was unfaithful. Today, researchers are finding that women are just as likely as men to have an affair.
As a way of comparison to how adultery has become more prevalent: a 1983 study found that 29 percent of married people under twenty-five had had an affair. By comparison, only 9 percent of spouses in the 1950s under the age of 25 had been involved in extramarital sex.
Ten percent of extramarital affairs are “one night stands;” ten percent last more than one day, but less than a month; half of all affairs last more than a month but less than a year; and 40 percent last two or more years (Lampe, 2000).
Perhaps you are thinking, “This can’t be a problem in the church. Certainly the moral standards of Christians are higher.” There is growing evidence that adultery is also a tremendous problem in Christian circles. One could site many studies—the most recent from Christianity Today shows that 45 percent of Christians indicate having done something sexually inappropriate, and 23 percent having extramarital intercourse (Anderson, 2000). These numbers pretty much mirror the national averages.
There is growing psychological evidence that adulterous behavior in parents dramatically affects children when they reach adulthood. Research also tells us that just as divorce in a family influences the likelihood of the adult children to consider divorce, adulterous behavior by parents seems to beget similar behavior by their children.
Here is maybe the most important statistic—a recent University of Chicago study discovered that a third of all marriages end in divorce because of an affair.
It is vital that we understand how adultery happens and effects individuals, marriages and families. Countless times I have sat with couples or individuals who been swayed into being unfaithful to their spouse and then have to face the ramifications of those choices. And I am not immune; in my own life, I have seen this same struggle and temptation. I too am bombarded by the message of my culture, “You are your own. You don’t have to answer to anyone. Go ahead…No one will know.” While I have been faithful up to this point in my marriage, I know that without being intentional and walking a narrow path, I too, could just become another statistic.
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Tags: adultery, affairs, divorce, marriage, research, statistics, unfaithfulness