WPG,

The thing to remember about God's forgiveness is that HE paid the debt already. He offers forgiveness based not on what we have done or promise to do but based entirely on His willingness to give us the chance to try.

As for the fake it till you make it thing...

The way feelings follow actions has to do with changing our attitudes based on the results that come from doing what is right. We DO the right things so that we can feel the benefit of having done the right thing. The repentance part of it is KNOWING and acknowledging that the way we DID things in the past was NOT right and now we will do the right things because we want to do them right.

See, when we sin, we think we are doing what is right. That's the whole point of sin. We BELIEVE we have the right to decide what is and what is not sin. We define sin and right and wrong in our own terms. This relates to all sin and not just adultery. We feel we are entitled to our own choices based on how we feel rather than on what God requires.

As it relates to marriage and affairs, this means that we believed we were right to do things that either we could prevent from affecting our spouse or we could do things that were right for us but wrong for our spouse. That is the myth that leads to an affair, that we even have the right to choose based on what we feel at the time rather than on a clear view of what is right and what is wrong.

Infidelity is always wrong. When asked if they believe that to be true, 90% of people all over the world would say that they accept that premise. Even in societies where polygamy (more than one wife) and polygyny (more than one husband) are practiced, adultery is considered wrong. Yet some estimates in our own society suggest that between 60% and 80% of all marriages are affected by infidelity. To me, this says that people don't really believe what they say they do because they believe right and wrong are situational rather than clearly defined concepts.

What happens when we start to do something wrong is that we first redefine it as not wrong or not AS wrong as something else we find more disagreeable. We tell ourselves that we are entitled to have this opinion based on what we feel at the time. We turn what even we would say as wrong into something that isn't wrong because we haven't yet crossed some line we have said is where we would be wrong. The problem with this sort of thing is that when we do it, we are taking upon ourselves the decision as to where that line should be drawn rather than leaving it where it really belongs.

We put up walls of lies and secrecy, not around our relationship with our spouse but between us. We open windows between ourselves and this other person who is triggering the reward center in our brain and what we need to do is to reverse this process entirely. We need the walls to be AROUND the marriage and the windows to our spouse to remain open at all times.

The change in thinking needs to be that we will never allow that to take place. We need to keep the walls of protection not around ourselves to prevent our spouse from finding out what we are doing, but around the marriage so that others can't enter into the same kind of relationship we are to have with our spouse.

When we start down the road to an affair, we have already decided against protecting the marriage when we left the windows open. The walls of secrecy we build are to protect us from the consequences of what we have chosen to do and so by admitting that there might be negative consequences of what we are doing, we are actually agreeing that what we are doing is wrong.

This is how we commit any sin, but cheating on our spouse is especially obvious when we see the results of having cheated and the destruction of the person we promised to love, honor and protect all the days of our lives.

EPs are what we need to do to protect ourselves from what we have identified as weakness within ourselves. They are boundaries we construct to stop us from being selfish and following the road to entitlement we once followed. They keep us from being put in a place where only our will and commitment can save us from making the wrong choice because we already know that our will and commitment alone cannot prevent us from committing the same sin again.

You see, God does not require us to change in order that He might pay the price for what we have done. Rather HE paid the price, willingly, knowing that some would accept that as payment for their debt while others would not. For us to be forgiven by God we only need to come to the place of acknowledgment that we did in fact believe we had the right to decide what was right for ourselves. It isn't a feeling that we have been forgiven, but accepting what He has paid as full payment of our debt. It is coming to the understanding that we could never fully pay the debt and that no matter what we might do, the debt would remain unpaid except for His grace and the payment He already made.

Dr Harley's most basic premise is that whatever we do once we are married, it affects our spouse. This can be either a negative effect or a positive one. It either enhances the marriage relationship or diminishes it. If we consider the outcome before we act, then our actions should take this into account for every action and choice that we embark upon. It sometimes requires that we override our feelings and act from what is right and not just what we think is right for us at the moment in time we find ourselves in.

Mark