Hosea, Adultery, and God

Adultery is a horrific thing. My wife saw He’s Just Not That Into You in the theaters some months back. One character (played by Bradley Cooper), has an affair in the film. My wife literally now can’t look at his face in previews or other movies without becoming extremely angry (and for the record, she hated the movie and wouldn’t recommend it…in case any one cares).

Much has been made of the culture of today’s moral collapse in many areas. It has become quite the norm to have sex before marriage, to live together during engagement. The frequency of curse words on television has skyrocketed. The regulations on what words are allowed on network television during prime time hours have been relaxed. And if you object to commercials which sell jeans, or breath mints, or cheeseburgers with scandalously clad women and overt sexuality, a large part of the population would probably label you a prude.

Much of these moral areas today have changed over the years. What was once deemed unacceptable by 90% of the population, might today be deemed acceptable or even worthwhile by 60% or more. Things have flipped in many areas.

And yet, American attitudes towards adultery do not seem to be changing at such a drastic pace. Is it viewed as acceptable by more people today than 50 years ago? Probably. But not at the same level as other things on the above list.

Why?

Because adultery gets to the core of many things so vital to the human heart. It’s so secret and damaging. It is the breaking of a promise. It is the breaking of trust. It destroys the lives of so many – wives, husbands, children, parents, friends. There may be no other act between one human and another that better epitomizes the word “betrayal.”

But I don’t write this to brow-beat or to stand on a moral high horse.

I write it because this is the image God uses so often in his word to describe what we, his people, do to him.

We hate adultery in our relationships and in the world, and yet we so often tolerate it in our own relationship with God.

The book of Hosea is a powerful image of this. In it, God calls Hosea, a prophet, to take a wife who is and will be an adulteress. A cycle ensues: faithfulness, adultery, repentance and redemption, faithfulness, adultery, etc. But God isn’t just telling the story of one husband and wife. He’s using their story to point his people to the fact that we do the exact same thing to Him.

God has given us salvation, hope, and freedom. And yet we often turn away from him and turn to other gods. Money, career, vanity, success, people’s perceptions of us. God reminds us that we are idolaters and adulterers.

But just as importantly, God reminds us that he has paid the price for our sin, and there will come a day when all will be made right. And in that day, our relationship with him will be mended entirely and our redemption will be complete. Let us despise the adultery of our hearts and at the same time long to be redeemed to the one who truly loves us.

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