The Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect says child abuse is "any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."
This is what happens to children when a parentís adultery leads to divorce -- which it almost always does.
The children are:
* ten times more likely to be abused physically and/or sexually.
* four times more likely to become alcoholic.
* six times more likely to abuse drugs.
* three times more likely to have behavioral disorders.
* two times more likely to drop out of school.
* twelve times more likely to end up in prison.
* three times more likely to become an unwed parent.
* five times more likely to live in poverty.
* three times more likely to commit suicide. (No Innocent Affair: Making Right the Wrong of Adultery)
When a person commits adultery they seldom give thought to the ultimate damage that will be caused by their selfish act, as adultery is the quintessential example of selfishness. And the few adulterers who do give thought to the consequences that will be visited on others they profess to love (like their children), will rationalize their actions in order to justify what they know in their heart is not justifiable. As a Christian lay minister/counselor, I see this all too often. Some adulterers will go so far as to claim their adultery is in their childrenís best interests, as if they are happy they will be a better parent. How sad that sin can cloud the mind as it does.
If you are a person of faith you know that there are thousands of reasons not to break your wedding vows to your spouse and marriage covenant with the Almighty. The first being we willingly renounce our spiritual inheritance. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV): "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." Simply put, unrepentant adulterers will not enter heaven. The harm done to your children is one of the reasons.
Go back and reread the definition of child abuse and then do the same with the statistics pertaining to the children from broken homes. Clearly, if the statistics were the result of any other act against your children you would rightfully believe your child had been abused, as the damage done to innocent children by an adultery that leads to divorce is truly staggering. Weíre talking about life and death issues that have been ignored far too long. The truth is, if anyone else treated your children in a manner that increased their chances of committing suicide by a factor of three, you would not stand for it. But because itís a result of our own self-centered worldly desires, we do what we want, because weíre entitled. We can have it all -- or so weíve been told. And the kids? Letís not think about it, and weíre certainly not going to talk about it. Letís instead lie and cheat, and then head to "family court" to seek a no-fault divorce. The kids will be okay.
The truth is, as the statistics and my counseling experience proves, they wonít be okay. They will suffer the rest of their lives. Yes, many learn to cope with a parent who put themselves first above all else, including their childrenís future, but most never recover. Thatís why so many end up on a psychiatristís couch trying to understand why their life and marriage isnít working out. Sadly, as the Bible warns (Numbers 14:18), the sins of the father (and mother) are passed to future generations. In todayís vernacular itís called a learned response.
For the most part I have tried to maintain a secular view of this epidemic of "unintentional" child abuse by a parent, as that is how most view the world -- they cannot see beyond the end of their nose, so long-term ramifications when weíve found our latest "soul mate" are normally of little concern. We want what we want when we want it.
But for those of us who claim His name, we must consider how God sees this issue.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:6, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Christ, the Son of God, a man of peace, who was willing to die for the sins of all mankind said it would be better for a man to be drowned than cause a child to sin. Reread the statistics yet again.
1 Timothy 5:8 states: "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." How can you provide for all the needs of your child when, through adultery, you are in the process of destroying their world? You canít -- and that makes you worse than a non-believer. The important words being "worse than."
As I said earlier, there are a thousand reasons not to cheat on your spouse, but none more important than what youíre about to do to your innocent child who believes in you -- who loves you -- who trusts you.