You’re about to read a blog that comes from an extremely passionate and angry part of who I am. Without any attempts at sensationalism, I’m going to be quite candid. If you’re in a marriage relationship, please feel free to comment or even call me on the carpet for what you’re about to read. I welcome it.
Nearly 3 years ago I had a friend. He was more than a friend really; he was a partner in ministry. In fact, he was someone I’d consider my closest friend in student ministry. We spent tons of time together, we always got along well, we had a similar passion for students, we shared many interests, and we really enjoyed each other’s company. All in all, we were close. Yet as it turns out, not close enough.
I say that because I clearly wasn’t close enough to see what perhaps he kept hidden from everyone; his inch-by-inch journey into moral failure. Until one night, seemingly out of nowhere, I found myself sitting face-to-face with my friend, pleading with him not to leave his wife and kids.
He left anyway.
Soon after that, I heard someone say something about the situation that I still to this day disagree with. It was a statement I’ve heard in other situations as well. You’ve probably heard it too. It’s a statement that has nearly reached the status of cliche’: ”There but by God’s grace go I.” or more to the point: “That [moral failure] could have happened to any one of us.” I completely disagreed.
You see, my friend who left his family didn’t slip and fall into a hole. He climbed in. Moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, he CHOSE to keep hidden an inappropriate relationship; one that he KNEW would ultimately bring about the end of his marriage. Do I feel compassion for him? Absolutely. But do I also hold him responsible? You better believe it.
It’s utterly flabbergasting to me how many people in ministry (and those who are not) wrongfully justify immoral behavior. And in today’s world of hyper-connectedness, we’re literally surrounded by ways that we can step into an inappropriate relationship. But no matter how many traps are set for us, it is always our choice that leads us into sin.
Consider 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
Simply put, Satan sets a trap but God gives an escape. According to this verse, you’re NEVER cornered by the enemy’s schemes. God is always faithful to provide you with a way to get away and free from the destruction Satan desires for your morality and for your marriage. ALWAYS.
Now, I know better than anyone else just how imperfect a human being and husband I am. That being said, one of my desires for my life is to be one of those men that–if you know me–you think of as a man who is head-over-heels crazy in love with his wife. But more than that, a greater desire is for my wife to know that and to feel secure in it. To that end, there are certain things that I’ve set as principles/boundaries/habits in my marriage (I recommend them to every husband):
1. My wife has full access to my phone & computer; including all text messages, web history, call history, & calendar. Period.
2. My wife and I have a standing weekly date–just the 2 of us–to talk about anything and everything. (It’s the highlight of our week!)
3. I swat my wife’s behind every chance I get. It’s my silent “I love you.” (This is a multiple times daily occurrence.)
4. I tell my wife not only that I love her, but that I’m IN love with her. And when I say “love” I don’t mean “you give me butterflies” (though she does that too), but that “I’m completely committed to God, to you, to us, to our kids, to this life together. This love is a committed decision. Period.”
5. I consistently confirm that I’m in a spiritual relationship with my wife, not merely a physical and emotional relationship. I faithfully remember that on our wedding day while I was surrounded by family and friends, I stood before God and made a covenant vow to Him that it is to this woman I am giving my everything; and all for no other reason than to have the joy of her company, the strength of her friendship, and the security of her love. And God helping me I would provide these things to her as well. That was my VOW TO GOD. Oh, that husbands and wives would study carefully and understand the word “vow” before they make one.
No, moral failure such as my friend had (and still lives in) wasn’t a “oops, I slipped and fell” kind of situation. We CHOOSE to fail. We CHOOSE to stop loving. We CHOOSE to look where we ought not look. We CHOOSE to get reconnected with that old “flame”. We CHOOSE to show interest in that co-worker. We CHOOSE to send that text message or picture. We CHOOSE to cross the line of our marriage covenant into moral compromise. We CHOOSE to put our spouse and children aside while we pursue utterly selfish and lustful desires. We CHOOSE to get emotionally entangled then physically involved with someone other than the one we’ve made a vow to. We CHOOSE.
And here’s what I CHOOSE:
I CHOOSE to grow old with the same woman I once was young with.
I CHOOSE to put on display for my kids the fact that their mother has no reason to worry about her husband’s commitment to her.
I CHOOSE to show my wife that I take completely seriously the fact that I am standing in God’s full view and accountability as I live my love for my wife out on a daily basis.
I CHOOSE to be a man of integrity, of passion, of morality, of mind-blowing monogamy, and of Godliness.
And when my vision fades and my eyes close on this life, I will look back and know that I have shown the world that in regards to marriage: “THAT is how it’s done.”