Avoiding Adultery in Small Groups

Craig Groeschel at LifeChurch.tv delivered a powerful message about adultery during a series called “5 Easy Steps to Wreck Your Life.”  It made me think about the sad stories I’ve encountered about small-group members having affairs with each other.

It doesn’t surprise me that people within small groups might find one another attractive. Openness, honesty, empathy and sensitivity are characteristics displayed in small-group settings, and these are attractive traits. It would be easy for someone to admire another person in their group exhibiting these traits and think, “I wish my spouse were more like so-and-so.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to admire qualities in other people, but it can quickly become dangerous if you and the members of your small group do not have proper boundaries.

We must be cautious of legalism for sure, but boundaries are necessary for protection. At the outset, though, we should always keep in mind Scripture never tells us to fight sexual temptation but to flee it.

Run away from sexual sin! 1 Cor. 6:18 (NLT)

So if you find yourself physically or emotionally attracted to another person in your small group, do what 1 Corinthians 6:18 says: Run away! Find another group! It’s easier to find another small group than to find another spouse!

That being said, it is appropriate for groups to establish boundaries without becoming legalistic. Here are some boundaries I suggest every small group consider having in place:

To avoid emotional attraction:

  • No one in the group is ever alone with anyone of the opposite sex who is not their spouse.
  • No one privately confides in anyone of the opposite sex in the group who is not their spouse.
  • No one prays alone with anyone of the opposite sex in the group who is not their spouse.

To avoid physical attraction:

  • No one in the group dresses suggestively.
  • When hugging someone of the opposite sex in the group, members agree to give “shoulder hugs” only.
  • No one in the group talks openly about sexual preferences.

To avoid marital discord:

  • No one openly criticizes their spouse to others in the group.
  • No one brags openly about the characteristics of someone else’s spouse in the group.

Do you need to implement some of these boundaries? Do you need to run away? Do you have any additional boundaries to suggest? 

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Alan Danielson
Alan Danielson is the Lead Pastor of a church that’s probably a lot like yours. New Life Bible Church is a church of a few hundred people, but not long ago he was on the executive staff of Life.Church in Edmond, OK. Now, along with pastoring New Life, Alan is a consultant and has worked with many of America’s largest churches. Despite this, Alan has a passion for the small church. That’s why he lives by the personal conviction that no church is too small for him to work with. Alan founded Triple-Threat Solutions to help leaders of and churches of all sizes grow. Learn more from Alan at http://www.3Threat.net.