It does not matter how old I get, I still get a knot in the pit of my stomach every time I hear the following conversation:
“Did you hear that (insert male name) had an affair?”
It makes me sick to hear this kind of news. I heard it again this past week over an acquaintance of mine and it never fails to absolutely sadden me.
Rocks in the pond
When I was a kid, I loved throwing rocks into the water, and it always fascinated me how dropping a rock in the water created ripples that emanated from the rock. Not only would they continue coming from the disturbance in the water for a long time, but it was always interesting to see how far the ripples went out.
The area of the affected water seemed so disproportionate to the size of the rock.
The communication for this latest situation was handled by the church. And it was handled with grace, love, and compassion. And as I listened I had one thought that intruded my thinking more than once.
That could be me. That could be me.
I have to let those words resonate in my mind as well as state them to my wife and kids. I feel great sorrow for this husband and father and the consequences that are going to come out of this. It is like the rock dropped in the water, but in this case it was a large one. And the ripples from this will continue to be generated for a while to come, and they will not only continue more and longer, but they will continue farther and farther.
Even writing this my heart aches for this family. I have no doubt this man is a fellow believer, but I know there is going to be more regret over this than he will have anticipated.
I am thankful for grace, because the grace that he needs is the same grace that I need. I hold out no finger in judgment nor ask how this could happen. I know how it happens. I am a guy and I know the deceitfulness of my own flesh.
There is a war going on. And sometimes I think of what would happen to me if I were unfaithful to my wife and how the consequences would look…and it scares me to death.
And so today, whether married or not, male or female, I would ask that you read this. Because I am quite certain that this is not the last story of this sort that I will hear.
Unfortunately, it is easy to become the type of Christian that is known more for what they are against than what they are for. For you married men out there, I want to offer you some thinking that can help to affair-proof your marriage. And I would challenge you wives out there to read this as well. This new story forced me to reconsider some things in my own life.
I would agree that reasons to not have an affair should include thoughts about the heartache it brings people, how it robs God of glory, its sinfulness, and how it carries far more consequences that one would anticipate. Please do not get me wrong. These are all legitimate reasons and ones that I have thought myself.
But I would like to offer three reasons that I have been pondering for how we can better affair-proof our marriages.
Jesus is better
The first is one that I have heard recently in the preaching from our pastor, and though it was used in a different context, the beauty is that it applies to any sin that I am contemplating.
Jesus is better. He is better than the new attention that you are receiving from that other woman. He is better than the intimacy that you long for. Jesus is better. Read it again.
For too long in my Christian life, I was told to avoid sin because of all the consequences that it carries. The devastation. The ruin. The shame. All of those are true and they are good reasons.
They just are not the top-tier best reason.
The best way to affair-proof my marriage is to remember and live out that Jesus is better. And when I am sinning, I really am stating that Jesus is not better. And with the theme of the Bible always working its way to Jesus, that seems to be the theme to which I need to hold most closely.
Read this about Jesus:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
And how about this?
Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’ (John 6:35)
Jesus is not talking about feeding my hungry stomach or quenching my thirst. He is talking about what I pursue in life and how it satisfies.
The big pursuit
The second way to affair-proof my marriage is to pursue my wife. To chase after her with my heart and with my affections. Why? because that is the picture that best looks like Jesus with his church.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)
As Jesus pursues His church, so I am to pursue my wife. He never quits pursuing. Nothing distracts Him from the full pursuit of His bride. That is what my pursuit of my wife should look like. If my marriage gets stale, there is a high likelihood that my pursuit of my bride is lessening. I have asked God as of late to help me be more intentional about pursuing my wife. It is not because I am chasing after another woman; it is because I am not whole-heartedly chasing after my wife. And that opens all kinds of doors that I do not need to go knocking on.
And as I have been in more full pursuit of my wife, my marriage is awesome, amazing, satisfying – in all aspects. In the vernacular, smokin’ hot.
The last way that I can affair-proof my marriage is very simple – just communicate with my wife. And allow her to communicate to me. Openly. Honestly.
I have learned to value this bride of mine for her insights into my life. She is protective of me. Not protective stemming from insecurity but protective in knowing there is a huge target on my back. We have even had the following conversation from her to me: “I want you to be cautious around (female name). There is nothing you are doing in being flirtatious, but she is too casual around you. I just want you to be careful. Guard yourself.”
I used to feel defensive like I was getting accused of something. Or that she was making something out of nothing. Though she has only done that a handful of times in our marriage, I have learned to value this conversation. And so I go away looking to be more careful and cautious with relationships with other women. And then I speak with her about what I am doing to be more cautious.
I always want her secure, just like Jesus does with me.
You might think that looks like she is keeping a leash on me. I view it as love. It is just a conversation. She is never charged up or finger pointing. Just a conversation. And I have learned over our 26 years of marriage to make that conversation top-tier in my life. It is healthy and beneficial. There have never been any accusations of my faithfulness to her. She just wants to remind me that I am her prize.
I love that woman.
I would never say an affair could never happen to me, because I would not want to be that arrogant. There are a few things that I have set up in my marriage, though, that help to put the right kind of kindling around my heart to ensure that proper flames are ignited.
I hope this acquaintance that I mentioned has nothing but support, love, and grace from his church. I hope reconciliation happens between he and his wife because that is the overarching theme of the Bible. I hope Jesus works his wife through this in a good way. I hope that Jesus works his kids to right conclusions.
I hope Jesus is seen to be enough.
I know there are many other fences one can put up with regard to this topic, but I have found these three keep my heart and affections from wandering to barren places.
I’d love to hear from you — please leave a reply below on your thoughts about this topic. Thanks!
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