Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Ok, time to beat the dead horse again.
Mark Sanford, for all of his shenanigans, is already old news. Unfortunately, I still have a few things to say about it, so we will be stuck in the past for a little while longer.
I think there are three kinds of married people:
1) Those who will have an affair because they want one.
2) Those who will have an affair because they weren't careful or smart.
3) Those who will never have an affair because they were careful and smart.
I really don't have anything to say to the first group. Of course, hardly anyone will admit they are in this group. They will couch it in excuses, but they aren't that hard to spot. It usually surfaces as soon as any kind of discipline comes into play. They view themselves as mistakers rather than sinners. I have learned to not waste too much breath on them after a certain point, because God needs to deal with them and nothing I say is going to help.
The second group is different, Although, once the affair has begun, they automatically jump to the first category if they don't immediately repent of it and break off all ties. Before that happens, however, I believe there is a measure of naivete that exists that makes us vulnerable to adultery. Maybe they truly weren't looking for it, but found themselves in the middle of it anyway. This is why affairs never need to happen and never should happen in the Church. If we are careful and smart - they never would! (except of course the ones in category 1)
Here is what I have learned over the years to do for me. Consequently, I require it of all my staff:
- Never counsel a woman alone unless a female is in the main office. Anytime someone needs to meet with me after hours, my secretary either comes back to the office, or she finds another female to come sit at her desk. For you, this may mean not huddling off in a corner somewhere with a person of the opposite sex having private conversations.
- Never ride in a car alone with a woman. Rarely, I will make an exception to this one, but it is so rare that nothing could ever come of it. Occasionally, it is unavoidable - but it must never be common. Those of you who work in sales or have jobs that require you to travel with members of the opposite sex, need to work something out. All that travel time is time that you spend talking to another woman instead of your wife, and if your marriage communication is typical, it's probably a lot more time than you spend talking to your wife. Out of boredom you start sharing details about thoughts and opinions, life experiences, etc., and that is just not smart or healthy for your marriage.
Those of you who travel and have to meet with women away from home for business, need to bring a friend or wait until you can meet with them in some kind of official capacity when other people you work with are around. Never, never, never meet in a restaurant where it is just the two of you. Why would you ever need to do that?
The usual response to something bad happening out of that is, "Well I would never!" How do you know? What if the other person flatters you and propositions you while you are alone with them? Are you that strong to turn them away and tell them in no uncertain terms that that is innapropriate? Or would you waver, maybe just for a few moments, because it is kind of nice to be wanted in this way....
If you are still adamant that you would be 100% bullet proof in a situation like this, at the very least consider how you would explain that episode to your wife! "Well, we were alone at this restaurant, you see..." yeah, I don't want to have that conversation either. Most men would probably keep it to themselves which is not a good alternative. It's better to stay away from the possibility.
- Never discuss marital problems with a person of the opposite sex.
Don't complain about your wife to them, don't talk about her weaknesses with them, nothing. And don't let them complain to you either. A manipulative person can exploit that in a NY minute.
- Always tell your spouse when a person is flirting with you or sending you "that" message.
This is my favorite. Usually, Amy spots them before I do, but occasionally I get to share the news with her and it's fun to watch her go to work! It also has the added benefit of communicating to her - I'm all yours.
This has probably only happened 3 or 4 times in all my years of ministry (which is amazing because I'm so obviously handsome) but occasionally I will get a look from a woman that tells me, if I wanted to pursue something with them, I could. Telling Amy about it takes it completely out of the realm of possibility because she will definitely be keeping an eye on that person (welcome to the competition for the understatement of the year!).
Look, you may think I am being ridiculous, but Amy never has to worry about me straying. There is a 0% chance I will ever cheat on her, unless I stop doing these things to protect myself and then she would spot that right away. This is for my protection, for my families protection, and for the protection of Jesus' name and reputation.
Pastors, lest you think you might offend someone by suggesting that they are being inappropriate with another person, you need to nip this as soon as you start to see it happening. I am not shy about addressing this with people who go to my church, especially those who volunteer in a ministry. I have had an affair happen in a ministry. Everyone saw the warning signs and nobody wanted to be the one to act judgmental and two families were destroyed (not to mention all of the fallout on the church level).
Now, i just look at it this way: If they accept my gentle rebuke, then they are wiser and the church is safer for it. If they don't, and they get all offended, I just assume they are in the 1st group. And if they are in the first group, I don't care if they are offended because to let them continue just invites more chaos and disruption to the life of the church.
Not convinced? Well, fine. If we are going to look at these kinds of measures as extreme, can we at least do one thing? Can we stop blaming Satan for all the affairs and divorces? And can we stop asking God why we are losing our families and why we are alone and miserable? At this point it's not God or Satan's fault.
When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.
(James 1:13-16 NIV)