Adultery is a “form of death” that causes a “grief” like something died. In a way, there was a death. The difference is that there can be a “resurrection” of the marriage, but that does not change the grief.
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Rick – Why are you willing to grant this interview?
Biff – I don’t think people give a lot of thought to the victims of abuse—not just those who have gone through adultery, but any kind of suffering. The abuse I’m talking about here is adultery, but there are all sorts of hurtful things that happen to people, and you rarely hear their voices.
Rick – So are you an advocate for the hurting? Is that your primary reason for talking with me?
Biff – Yes and yes–I am advocating, and that is my main reason. I think I’m over what happened to me, as much as one can be over such a thing, but I often think about others who are going through pain (Hebrews 13:3).
We read a lot about David’s confession of adultery (Psalm 32:1-4, 51:1-19), but we do not have a lot of information on those he hurt. What about them?
Don’t take me wrong; I love David and believe he was one of the most exceptional people in the Bible (Acts 13:22), as far as an example of passion for the Lord, but all the chatter is mostly about what he did rather than the victims.
What about his wife? Or his children? His actions hurt them, but we are unsure how they processed through it, except to say the sword never left his family (2 Samuel 12:10).
Then there is Uriah, the man who lost the most because of David’s sin (2 Samuel 11:26). I realize the point of the Bible is not to give us all the details about the personal lives of all the people in the Bible.
I suppose I’m just using it as an analogy to make a point about the victims of abuse. Even in our churches, we can sensationalize those who sin, but not talk to the hurting souls, who were devastated by those sins.
It’s like a tornado rampaging a town, leaving shattered and ruined lives in its wake and years later what we remember and talk about is the tornado. That is probably a weak illustration, but it is what I think about when people hurt people.
Rick – Was that your story? Were you left to work through your pain?
Biff – For the most part it was.
Rick – How did you get through it?
Biff – Probably silently is the best answer I can give you.
Rick – What do you mean?
Biff – Being a victim of adultery is like having cancer, I think. It is something you bear alone. Even the best words and kindest expressions from others, though well intended, cannot resolve the depths of the pain that it causes.
I honestly don’t think there is anything anyone can say to make adultery better. That is what I would like to say to all those who have committed adultery, or even those who are playing with the temptation.
Rick – What would you like to say to them?
Biff – That you have no clue to the amount of pain and devastation you have brought into people’s lives. Like my tornado illustration earlier.
You may think about what you’ve done to others, but you do not understand. The wound you rip in the heart of the victims of adultery is deep, broad, and in some ways it is inconsolable.
Rick – Do you mean the victim of adultery as opposed to all the victims from one adulterer?
Biff – No, I mean many victims from one act of an adulterer. A tornado goes through one town, but it destroys the lives of many people. Adultery has a ripple effect. Every individual connected to the infidelity is affected in some way.
David’s entire family, as well as Uriah’s whole family, plus the whole nation of Israel went through change by one man’s selfish act. There are always multiple victims of one person’s adultery. Though the victim-spouse may be in the epicenter of the action, there is still collateral damage.
Rick – How would you describe the pain in the epicenter?
Biff – That is a great question. I have thought about it for years. The best description I can give you is that of an amputee, one who reaches down to scratch an itch, only to realize (again) he has no leg.
I hardly understand what I just said, but I do know what I would like to say: it is an indescribable pain that seems to have no remedy.
If you were to cut your finger or break your arm, you would know who to call, where to go, and what needs fixing. There is no fixing adultery—at least not entirely, just like there is no complete fixing for the amputee.
Though he can enjoy life, he will also be reminded, in different ways and at different times, of his limp. It is unavoidable.
Rick – How do you “limp” today?
Biff – Probably the biggest thing is trusting the Lord.
Rick – What do you mean?
Biff – Well, we believe in God. We trust that God can do all things. We understand that God loves us, protects us, and has good things in store for us, right? (See Romans 8:31-39)
Rick – Yeah, you’re right. So, I guess when you try to connect living in heaven to living on this planet, you struggle? Would that be fair?
Biff – Precisely. I think I duped myself into believing that becoming a Christian meant things would be better for me. (See Hebrews 11:32-38) And they have been; don’t get me wrong. I do not regret at all God saving me.
It was the greatest thing that has ever happened to me—by a long shot. The problem for me was that I did not realize I was still in a war and there were enemies of my soul (1 Peter 5:8).
Rick – I think you could say that applies to all Christians.
Biff – Yes.
Rick – What were some of the keys that helped you work through the aftermath of adultery?
Biff – For me, it was a matter of starting points. As in, where do you start? In my view, the starting point has to be with God, which means the Lord was in my adultery. He was there.
Shoot, He knew it was going to happen in eternity past if you want to go that far back. Being omniscient gives you that kind of intellectual advantage, you know?
Rick – Oh yeah, I know.
Biff – So, if God was in it, so to speak, I must make peace with that and with Him. The adulterer destroyed my life, but God was there. Putting those two things together and being at peace with them was the hardest, but most important thing for me to do.
Rick – That is a tall order. How did you do that?
Biff – It boils down to how I think about and live out the gospel in my life. I know that sounds trite or maybe like a cliché, but it is true. I had to go back and rethink the gospel and what it means to me.
Rick – Okay, I’m in. Tell me more.
Biff – The gospel is about transformation. In the beginning, the gospel comes to us to regenerate us (Ephesians 2:1-10), but that is not the end of the gospel’s work in our lives. The gospel is about finishing what it begins (Philippians 1:6).
When the Lord first came into my life, He did not get a good deal or a gift in excellent condition, so to speak (Romans 3:10-12). What he got were damaged goods. I was an imperfect person, who got saved and after my regeneration, there was work to do (Philippians 2:12). I guess you could say it would be like buying a “beater” (car) from a salvage yard.
The Lord picked this beater from the junkyard and brought him home. The buying part may have cost Him a lot of money (the death of His Son on the cross), but the restoration of the beater was not an easy task either.
Rick – I guess we’re all beat up and worn out cars, right?
Biff – Yep. That would be fair. And that is what I needed to remember. I cannot look back on my pre-adultery-victim life and say I was in good shape and did not require any adjustments. I was probably in worse condition than I realized.
Let me take that back. Of course, I was. Only omniscient Lord could search my heart and know me fully, thoroughly, and without error (Hebrews 4:13). I suspect He looked at me and in me and thought, “We’ve got some work to do.”
It is kinda like when He said, “Let us make man in our image.” (See Genesis 1:26) That has always been His goal for humanity—for us to be like Him (Galatians 4:19). The problem came in chapter three (Genesis 3:6) in the form of a serpent. When sin entered our world and our lives, we all were heading to hell in a hand-basket (Revelation 20:15).
When the Lord said that They wanted to make us in Their image, that seems to mean He would do whatever it took, for however long it needed to take, to finish what He began way back then (Philippians 1:6).
It was the kindness of God that has been leading to my ongoing change (repentance, as in Romans 2:4) and adultery was part of His goodness to me. I could not always say that, but I see it now. He has changed me in some wonderful ways through the indescribable pain of adultery.
Rick – Then it becomes a question of who gets to choose how that change takes place and what means the Lord wants to employ to bring about that change?
Biff – That would be correct. Does the thing formed say to Him who formed it that you have to do it this way or that way (Romans 9:20)?
Rick – That sounds familiar.
Biff – The key to changing—at least for me—was to accept what Sovereign Lord was allowing into my life (Genesis 50:20). When I did, it was no longer about the adulterer, who destroyed my life, but the Lord who wanted to give me something better than I could ever have on my own.
This new way of thinking about adultery is how I had to come to terms with the gospel. I know it sounds so elementary to you, but it was where I was at the time. Jesus had to die on the cross for many good things to happen.
I had to die to many things for me to have any redemptive value to myself or for others (Luke 9:23-24). Once I got to that place in my thinking, I was on the right track, and things began to look up for me.
Rick – Did that happen immediately? I mean, once your mind was reoriented to the kind of practical gospel living that you are talking about, did things begin to change for you?
Biff – That is an interesting question. I guess I could say things did change immediately, but the feeling of change or the practical reality of change were still years into the future.
In John 12:24, Jesus talked about a seed that goes into the ground and dies. He says after it dies that it will bring a lot of fruit. That is how it was for me.
The seed died, which was a change of sorts, but it perished in the darkness of the cold and unforgiving ground. Nobody knew about the change that I was going through, and I was not enjoying any of the benefits of dying to myself. I felt dead and in some ways I was.
But in my heart of hearts, I knew I had changed, and that there would be more change to come. I’m not exactly sure how to say it, but the truth is that something happened as I came to terms with the gospel.
Rick – Wow. That is a powerful illustration. Would you say you are back today?
Biff – I think that I am back, but it is more than being back. It is being different. I mean, I would not want to waste the Lord’s suffering that He brought into my life. I don’t want to be just back, but I want a transformed life. I would say that is what the Lord has done for me. He has changed me.
I’m not perfect. I still walk with a limp (Genesis 32:31), but God has changed me. Adultery has been the most profound and transforming tragedy the Lord has allowed into my life. I never want to go through it again, but I would never want to lose or waste the redemptive value it has brought to me.
It reminds me of Jesus—a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3), but at the same time, He was stable and satisfied with who He was and who He would follow (John 6:38). That is how I think about the worst thing that has ever happened to me.
Also published on Medium.