A Word to Victims of Sexual Abuse and Unfaithfulness

"One day the memory of all past hurts and humiliations will be forever removed."

Victims of adultery and molestation often experience a lifetime of suffering and trauma in exchange for the brief perverted pleasure achieved by the adulterer or molester. Emotions generated within the victims churn like the relentless waves of the sea before a great storm. Revenge often becomes a controlling force in their lives.

Many victims of marital infidelity fall into the trap of retaliating against a spouse who is involved in an affair or other form of sexual immorality by doing likewise. They justify their illicit relationships or pornographic indulgences by blaming their unfaithful partner. But an immoral lifestyle is a futile attempt to make one's unfaithful partner pay for their offenses.

Believers must never forget that their own sexual purity is not contingent upon that of their spouse, but ultimately because of the Lord. He is our motivation to remain morally pure.

Even beauties are cheated on by their partners. But as a relationship expert accurately stated, "Partners cheat due to their own problems –– anger, boredom, jealousy, sexual addiction –– not due to something lacking in the women."

Both victim and victimizer must learn a valuable lesson from Scripture. Even though David realized that he had tragically wronged several people, he knew his ultimate wrong was against God –– to whom he must ultimately answer. That is why he said during his prayer of repentance recorded in Psalm 51, "Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight." Sexual immorality is ultimately between each person and the Lord.

Adulterers and molesters are indeed pathetic and pitiful people who will eventually pay for their offenses. But all of us are desperate sinners in need of the Savior's mercy and forgiveness. We cannot expect the Lord to forgive us our greater wrongs against Him if we do not forgive those who have hurt us (Matthew 6:14,15; Colossians 3:13).

Any victim who is a believer in Christ must not allow bitterness or personal revenge to consume their lives. Instead, they must release their pain and emotions to the Lord and trust Him to bring good out of every circumstance (Romans 8:28).

Instead of turning to alcohol, drugs, or other vices, the victim must take back control of his or her life with the Lord's help. Exercising, eating healthy, and becoming active in beneficial and fulfilling pursuits such as helping others is great therapy. The Apostle Paul's advice to forget those things which are behind and to press on toward the goal of our calling in Christ Jesus is crucial.

A couple who discovered each other's unfaithfulness chose the path of forgiveness, but resolved never to tolerate such behavior in their spouse again. A blessed marriage resulted as the previously unfaithful spouses were motivated to never stray again.

Victims of sexual abuse or unfaithfulness who identify with the suffering of Jesus Christ will find comfort and hope. Scripture indicates that in this life believers will face trials and tragedies. The experiences of our hurts and pain help us to "participate in the sufferings of Christ" (1 Peter 4:12- 16). Our personal suffering gives us a glimpse of Christ's incomprehensible suffering for the sins of the world and helps us to appreciate His sacrificial love and marvelous grace.

I have repeatedly observed that the victims of unfaithfulness often have their pain and humiliation replaced with mercy and pity. Later in life, they frequently become the caregiver for the unfaithful partner whose life's choices led to the adverse consequences God warned about.

Most encouraging is the fact that believers have the assurance that one day the memory of all past failures, hurts, and humiliations will be forever removed. The blessings and glory we ultimately receive will far surpass anything we might suffer or endure in this life (Romans 8:18).

The preceding was excerpted from Bill Rudge's book, Overcoming Sexual Immorality.