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Counsel the Word: The Affair

Posted by Joshua Claycamp on

Association of Biblical Counselors

The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12)

The Word of God penetrates through problems to the root spiritual issues, provides counsel to those who lack understanding, and offers solutions and healing to all of life's problems. God who is the creator and author of our souls offers His Word as a sufficient remedy to all that ails us. We, as Christians, are called to minister that word to all of life's problems. The question becomes, "Are we preparing ourselves to this end? Are we seeking answers to problems encountered in real life within the Bible? Are we preparing to answer the call of God to share truth and healing with the world around us no matter what the situation might be?" On a weekly basis I will present a fictitious scenario drawn from real life counseling situations. I ask you to carefully consider what the Scriptures say about the topic, contemplate how you would counsel those who are within these situations (what scriptures you would turn to, how you would explain those scriptures and apply it to the person's life, what on-going Spiritual Disciplines you would prescribe, what verses of Scripture you would have the counselee memorize, ect.), and how you would follow up with them afterwards. Please post your responses, how you would approach the situation, or any questions you might have within the comments section in order that all may benefit. We will follow up each week with an in-depth response.

The Affair

Affairs are quite common in this crudely sex-saturated culture in which we find ourselves. Sharon and Edgar, friends of yours from church, have asked you and your spouse out for dinner because they, "...just need to talk to someone about some things." After dinner, the two of you wind up at your house enjoying a cup of coffee. You have noticed that they are cold and distant from each other the entire night. Edgar appears generally ticked off, while there is almost a pleading look of fear in Sharron's eyes. She seems nervous and skittish the whole time, even jumpy around Edgar.

So you ask: "Hey guys. What's up. There's enough tension in this room to cut with a knife. What's going on?"

Eric jumps in, "Well, it's about time that you asked! I'll tell you what's going on. She's FRIGID! She won't love me anymore. I know I'm not perfect, but I don't deserve to be treated the way she's been treating me!" He goes on to share with you that because of Sharron's "corpse-like refusal" to have any sexual intimacy in their marriage, he was compelled to find sexual gratification somewhere else. As a result, he engaged in an affair with a lady from work. But Edgar is quick to remind you that there had not been any sexual intercourse for almost a year between him and Sharon before his marital infidelity.

You take a gulp of coffee and direct your attention to Sharon to hear her side of it.

Sharon doesn't hesitate, nearly yelling in response, "But don't forget to tell him about those times that you beat me! Or about that time that you even threatened to kill me! You were drunk and out of control! I was so scared that night! David (their son) won't even stay in the same room when you are drunk off your rocker and out of control like that! EVERYONE IS AFRAID! And I can't perform for you the way you want me to when I am so terrified!" Sharon breaks down and begins to cry uncontrollably.

As the couple begins to spew out all the details you learn that they have been living apart from each other for a month; that Sharon refuses to allow Edgar to visit their son, David; that David is struggling with depression over not being able to see his dad; that Sharon has started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol as well; and that Edgar is sliding into fits of anger and depression, and he thinks he might be bipolar and wants your opinion on it.

You pray a quick prayer, asking God to work a miracle, and plunge in with the only thing that comes to mind: "It appears to me that, Edgar, you are going to have to acknowledge a drinking problem and an anger problem, and we are going to need to counsel through all of that over the course of a couple of months. Edgar, there is never any excuse for engaging in an affair. You have much for which to ask Sharron's forgiveness. And Sharon... I know it's hard, but you will have to forgive Edgar if you want to put your marriage back together again. Turning to drugs and alcohol are not bringing any solutions to this problem. More than this, we will all of us need to seek God's forgiveness in Christ. That's where reconciliation really begins..."

Sharon responds, "I have forgiven him! But I can't ever forget! Forgiveness doesn't demand forgetting, does it? I know that I really do love Edgar deep down, but I don't know that I could ever really trust myself to be in the same house with him being so violent, and I could never ever give myself to him ever again."

Questions to consider

  1. Identify all the passages of Scripture that speak of marriage. What is the Biblical Foundation for marriage. As a result of this, what are God's goals and expectations for this couple within their marital relationship?
  2. The problems here are numerous, varied, and overlapping. Identify all the different issues, and prioritize the order in which the couple needs to address those issues.
  3. What Scriptures speak to the various issues that you have identified? How do you begin to apply  these passages to the couple? What steps of obedience do you ask them to begin taking?
  4. The couple does not know Christ very well, obviously. How do you continue to keep the love of Christ and the Gospel at the forefront of the discussion while seeking their mutual reconciliation and forgiveness of each other?
  5. What about Sharron's fear of violence? Should she be counseled to let Edgar move back in? What approach do you take here, and what wisdom do the Scriptures offer?
  6. Identify major passages treating Forgiveness and Reconciliation that would apply in this situation.
  7. Explain the over-arching theme of Forgiveness and Reconciliation found within the Gospel and show how it could be utilized in counseling this couple.
  8. What homework, personal Bible study, or Scripture memorization is needed? What spiritual disciplines do you advise for this couple to pursue in-between your follow up visits?

 To see a Biblical Response to this situation, click here.


Tags: biblical counseling, nouthetic, nouthetic counseling, marriage, affair, marital infidelity, forgiveness, reconciliation