Several years ago, I didn’t understand this proverb very well. Sure, I understood what the writer was trying to tell me; namely that the adulteress would claim innocence after clearly being in the wrong. But it wasn’t until I had several different encounters with women (& men) that committed adultery that I really began to understand what this proverb is all about.
Adultery, which is breaking covenant with your mate and with God, is an especially grievous sin. The covenant of marriage is simple, yet profound. When we get married, we covenant to our mate and to the Lord to be faithful in our emotions, in our heart and in our sexuality to ONE person until our death. Any violation of that covenant is adultery. I’ve watched people wrangle over details and specifics, claiming that ONLY full on sexual intercourse counts as adultery. WRONG. Falling in love with another person while still married is adultery. Playing tonsil hockey and making out with another person other than your mate while married is adultery. Let’s not kid ourselves, when you involve yourself with someone of the opposite sex while in covenant with your mate, you are in adultery!
Nevertheless, each time I have seen someone caught in adultery they have done precisely what this proverb declares, claim innocence. They may admit that they shouldn’t have done what they did, but there is ALWAYS a justification for their actions. Yes, they’ll admit that their actions weren’t ideal and not the best case scenario, but they are most certainly justified in their eyes. I’ve heard those caught in adultery say the same thing many times, “I’m sorry IT happened.” It’s like they were hit by a tornado or something, no personal responsibility, no admittance of guilt or claiming their share of the blame. More than once, I have watched the offending party actually become self-righteous, going on the offensive and try to rectify clearly lesser wrongs while ignoring their own massive failings!
It’s truly amazing, our ability to deceive ourselves. The Bible warns us to beware of sin’s deceitfulness:
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” – Hebrews 3:13
Make no mistake about it, people don’t just “fall” into adultery. You have to work at it to get that jacked up. It takes effort. And somehow because of sin’s deceitfulness those caught in it can eat their fill and while still wiping their mouth say, “I did no wrong”.
Own your failure while it’s still small or you’ll find yourself claiming innocence while standing over the smoldering rubble of your once wonderful life.