WHEN I think of faithfulness in matters of marriage, Joseph is a favorite example. Do you remember this man from the Old Testament? Joseph wasn't married at the time; he was a slave. But his Egyptian owner's wife repeatedly proposed adultery to him. Each time, Joseph refused.
This was faithfulness. But faithfulness to whom? Joseph answers this question himself in his reply to Potiphar's wife: ``How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?''1 Evidently, to Joseph, his debt of faithfulness was owed to God.
Faithfulness to another can bring out the best in human character. I had, for example, an uncle whose wife suffered from a severe mental illness. This disorder caused her to rail at her husband -- the uncle -- at fairly regular intervals. Yet this man lovingly cared for his wife for many years while rearing their son. To this day, this gentle, loving man's example stands as a guiding inspiration to those who know of him. There can be no belittling such faithfulness. One can't help believing that the higher love of God sustains it.
In the ordinary ups and downs of marriage, most partners deserve that kind of faithfulness. Yet, if an individual doesn't seem to deserve a spouse's faithfulness, when everything is based solely on fidelity to another human, things can quickly fall apart. Fidelity is strongest when it's seen as part of the spiritual relationship man has with God. This doesn't in any way downgrade the importance of faithfulness in our obligations, such as marriage. It does, though, establish the natural, spiritual basis for all matters relating to fidelity.
The Biblical command, ``Thou shalt not commit adultery,''2 one of the Ten Commandments, is central to man's relationship to God, as well as to the sanctity of marriage. Because immorality, disease, poverty, unhappiness, and the like are the result when we lose sight of the spiritual nature of creation, we can see that the Commandments grow out of God's love for us.
Just as remaining faithful to a spouse does so much to keep home happy, so obedience to the Commandments can ensure the happy, progressive living that comes from an ever clearer understanding of God as Spirit and of ourselves as spiritual ideas.
The faithfulness that doesn't fail is really a matter of working at that most important love we have in our lives -- the spiritual bond of love we share with God as His child, the bond Christ Jesus taught us about when he spoke of God as ``our Father.'' This spiritual love is part of that ``perfect gift'' James speaks of: ``Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights....''3
It is in our active love for God and for the things of the Spirit that we find this ``perfect gift'' of fulfillment in our everyday lives. But this is something that we need to work at. The prospect of earthly advantage or pleasure can temporarily blind us to our heavenly oneness with God. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``All nature teaches God's love to man, but man cannot love God supremely and set his whole affections on spiritual things, while loving the material or trusting in it more than in the spiritual.''4
It is a wise, never-failing God who asks for our full affection. We can never lack in the richness of His love. And as we remain anchored in this love, we'll find our faithfulness to Him satisfies. It fills us with worth and love that never run out.
1Genesis 39:9. 2Exodus 20:14. 3James 1:17. 4Science and Health, p. 326.