“Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, ‘Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.’ So Delilah said to Samson, ‘Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.’ Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him” (Judges 16:4-6, 19).
Samson fell in love with a woman he had no business being in love with. He became emotionally attached to a Philistine, the enemies of God's people. In much the same way, leaders today are allowing themselves to become emotionally attached to women they have no business being attached to and setting a snare for sexual sin.
Leaders must recognize the dangers of “Emotional Adultery.”
In Genesis 2:24, God established the foundation of a healthy marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The phrase “to be joined” does not just mean to be joined merely in the physical sense; it means that the man and his wife should be joined in every aspect of their being. They are to be joined physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
But, unfortunately, there are some men who are joining themselves emotionally to women other than their wives. In essence, they are committing “emotional adultery.”
If you have any doubt that adultery can be committed on an emotional level, ask a wife who has been the victim of it. Most wives will readily admit that an adulterous affair occurs long before any physical contact takes place. They will assert that the husband committed “emotional adultery” first, which eventually led to physical adultery. Furthermore, many wives will say that the knowledge that their husband was emotionally intimate with another woman is even more painful than knowing that he had sexual relations with her.
What is “Emotional Adultery?” It is when one feels more emotionally connected to someone other than his or her own spouse. It is when your emotional needs are being met by someone of the opposite sex other than the person you married.
Every man has certain “emotional needs.” First, there is “The Need for Significance.” Every man needs to feel he is special and unique. He wants to know that God has gifted him for a significant purpose that he alone is suited to fulfill. Second, every man has “The Need for Success.” This is the belief that he is achieving greatness—that he is successful and fulfilling the purpose God created him for. Thirdly, every man has “The Need for Respect.” He needs to feel as though other people recognize him as a man of value and worth and appreciate the significance he has.
Brother, if these needs are being met by any woman other than your wife, then you are in an emotionally adulterous affair. When you want to be around another woman, talk to her, share personal things with her and pray with her more than you do with your own wife, you are having an emotional affair. If you look forward to seeing some sister in the church (even though you may not be sexually involved), you can’t wait to be with her, talk to her, share something with her, you are committing emotional adultery. Do you think about another woman, obsess over her, and daydream about being with her? Do you anticipate seeing her, do you look for her in church or arrange your schedule to see her—if so, you are an emotional adulterer.
Of course, there are many reasons why a man will commit emotional adultery. The excuses are boundless: “But you don’t know what my wife is like. She doesn’t understand or appreciate me; she doesn’t respect me. But sister ‘so and so’—she understands. I can talk to her. I tell her how I feel and what is bothering me. She encourages me and builds me up.”
There will always be some woman who is glad to “build you up”—especially if you are a leader in the church. There is something very attractive about spiritual leadership and the anointing. People who are very needy and emotionally weakened are often drawn to it and enticed by the compassion spiritual leaders demonstrate. They will often say things like, “You are so wise, so anointed. You are such a compassionate and understanding pastor. I love to hear you preach. I’m your biggest fan. I’ve heard Benny Hinn and Reinhard Bonnke, but you are the best.” But don’t be naive. The wise and experienced leader will see it for what it is—a Proverbs 5:23 snare—a trap that captures foolish and undiscerning leaders.
Leaders beware, when you rely on another woman to provide you with the things your wife should be providing to you, you are committing emotional adultery. And take heed, emotional adultery is usually a precursor to physical adultery. Physical adultery doesn’t “just happen.” It occurs because a man and a woman first became emotionally connected and comfortable with each other.