Mate Poaching

In recent years, researchers at several universities have been stud­ying what they have come to call “mate poaching” — when a third party interferes with an existing romantic relationship. (I guess “home wrecking” didn’t sound scholarly enough?)

In one study from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, 60% of men and 53% of women admitted they “had attempted to lure some­one else’s mate into a committed relationship.” In addition, 60% of men and 38% of women said they had “sought brief sexual flings with other people’s mates on one or more occasions.” In other words, more than half the people in that study said they had made a willful, direct, personal assault on someone else’s committed relationship. Assuming that most of the “mates” in question were married, that’s a lot of peo­ple with no respect for the sanctity of marriage.

Does this sample of people accurately reflect the general popula­tion? I hope not. But it’s possible; the consensus among researchers is that about half of us will have an extra-marital affair at some point. An estimated 40-50% of new marriages will eventually fail — many, no doubt, due to “mate poaching.”

And if you think these trends have not affected God’s people, think again. Recently I was thumbing through a stack of old bulletins from a church that I know well and reflecting on the news items, including marriage announcements. And suddenly it hit me — the realization that many of those couples had divorced in the space of just a few years, and that many of those divorces were caused by adultery. You’d be hard-pressed to find a group of Christians where unfaithfulness and divorce have not reared their ugly heads.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The solution begins with each and every one of us. We must commit ourselves to our mates and to God’s commandments in marriage. “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adul­terers God will judge” (He­brews 13:4).