When we think of infidelity our minds almost immediately related to marriage, and rightfully so since marriage comprises one of the greatest commitments a person can make. Two people committing their lives to each other, which represents an astounding investment of years, fortune, affections, etc. Therefore, betrayal in that area, breaking of that commitment, constitutes an awful act of infidelity.
However, breaking of other commitments, large and small, also represents acts of infidelity. The person who agrees to do a job for a certain wage, but then only does so halfheartedly is in effect breaking his commitment and therefore acting unfaithfully toward his employer. A person who is consistently late to appointments is acting unfaithfully in failing to keep his commitment to meet at a certain time.
The issue of infidelity is even broader, not only applying to explicit commitments that we make but also those made implicitly. For example, if we agree to serve on a committee, in effect we are committing ourselves to meet the responsibilities inherent in that position, even though we may never have explicitly promised to do so. Therefore, failure to meet those responsibilities comprises an act of infidelity.
Infidelity constitutes a serious breach of character that produces major negative results. When we break commitments, the person with whom we made the commitment often will exact the related punishment, e.g. an injured party may divorce a spouse for infidelity or a boss may fire an employee who functions unfaithfully on the job. The broader fallout is that people may no longer trust the unfaithful person, especially if infidelity comprises a pattern in his life.
There is also the resulting internal problems, having to live with ourselves as an untrustworthy individual, someone whose word is not good, who can’t be relied on. The unfaithful person lacks integrity, saying one thing but doing another. Therefore, the unfaithful person is corrupted at the very core of his personality.
The most significant negative outcome of infidelity is found in God’s response to it. Ezekiel 17:15 makes reference to King Zedekiah breaking the covenant that he made with Nebuchadnezzar: “But he rebelled against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt, that they might give him horses and many people. Will he prosper? Will he who does such things escape? Can he break a covenant and still be delivered?” King Zedekiah a covenant with the king of Babylon, and therefore sending ambassadors to Egypt in an attempt to find help in order to attack Babylon served as a breach of that covenant.
In this passage God is asking a rhetorical question regarding covenant breaking in general. “Can a person break a covenant and escape?” The implied answer is “no,” because God will not let the person get away with covenant-breaking, with infidelity.
This message is reinforced several verses later in Ezekiel 17:19: “Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘As I live, surely My oath which he despised and My covenant which he broke, I will inflict on his head.” Some commentators believe that God judged Zedekiah for breaking this covenant because he swore the covenant in God’s name. We make such a covenant in traditional wedding vows, which state that we are making the marriage covenant both with the other person and with God. However, I believe that any time we give our word, or even imply a commitment, ultimately God holds us responsible. It is as if we are making the commitment to Him. Consequently, when we fail to keep our commitments, stated or implied, God judges us for this breach of faith, this act of infidelity.
If we confess our infidelity, God will forgive, but this does not mean that we will not suffer consequences. God forgave David of his sin with Bathsheba, but he suffered severe consequences for the rest of his life. Likewise, God holds us responsible for keeping commitments that we make to other people. Therefore, if we break those commitments, He will ensure that we suffer the consequences. How much better to the objects of God’s blessing, have the reputation among others as being faithful people, and also being able to live with ourselves.