Adultery of the Mind – Marriage Message #35
In the Marriage Message before this one (#34), Cindy and I shared some thoughts on the topic of Marital Intimate Issues. Afterward, some men wrote to say they really liked the “sex is a type of worship” part. But as we said, “there is a right kind of worship and a wrong kind of worship.” This time we’d like to talk to men a little more in depth on the two questions we posed and asked you to pray about:
1) Do I look pure on the outside to everyone else —but in reality have I merely settled on a middle ground somewhere between paganism and obedience to God’s standard?
2) Do I get any sexual gratification from anyone or anything other than my wife?
If you do, then you aren’t keeping yourself and your marriage bed “undefiled” as the Bible tells us to do. I don’t know one true Christ follower who doesn’t WANT to be a man of sexual integrity. Yet at the same time I believe most Christian men struggle greatly in this area of their lives, myself included.
My aim in this message is not to throw stones but to share a few pointers that have helped me and many men I know as well.
First, I had to personally come to realize that I cannot mix God’s standard for sexual integrity with my own —because mine will always fall short of God’s. It isn’t a matter of “what I can and can’t get away with” in what I allow my eyes and mind to focus on, but rather staying away from everything that even hints at being wrong.
Why even go there? What’s the point of “playing so close to the edge?” Is that kind of behavior something that would please God? Is it a place where God would want to go with you? Where there is too much confidence in your own strength as well as reckless regard for the consequences, a fall is very likely.
Obtaining even a hint of sexual gratification from a woman by writing to her, talking to her, viewing her in real life or in pictures, on the computer or any other form where you would be embarrassed if Jesus were with you, is a form of adultery (see Ephesians 5:3-5) —and yes, if you are a child of God, He IS with you.
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute (or a woman that you are viewing as if she were one)? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh‘” (1 Corinthians 6:15-16).
The Bible tells us to flee from immorality (as the Bible says that Joseph did when tempted by Potifar’s wife). We’re told to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” And anything or anyone that we allow for even a brief time to sexually entertain us, apart from our wife, that we don’t flee from, entangles us into sinning. And make no mistake about it, this type of sin is addicting. Experts say that it is “the fastest growing addiction in the world, and is the addiction of choice among Christians.”
How tragic! It’s one of the reasons so many outside of the church point to us as a bunch of hypocrites. And it has to be angering and breaking the heart of God. As God’s children, we’re God’s Holy Temple, so whatever dirt we bring into our lives, we’re throwing at God as well.
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body“ (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
So don’t try to normalize any sexual behavior that dishonors God and your wife —justifying it as “harmless” or “only natural” or saying that it “isn’t a big deal” —because it is a big deal. You give the enemy of our faith a foothold every time you entertain your sexual appetite apart from enjoying your wife alone in your sexuality.
I personally made the decision a number of years ago to flee from feeding this type of behavior. It’s a continual battle, but it’s worth it. For me, that means turning away from TV, media ads, and any images that are the least bit suggestive.
It means that I “starve” my eyes to such an extent that whenever a woman or an image of a woman begins to tempt me to think impure thoughts, I instantly remove my eyes and my mind away from it as many times as it takes until it is gone. It’s a matter of starving that which I don’t want to grow. I only want to feed that which is beneficial to the health of my marriage and my spiritual life.
If I look like a fool to others, I don’t care. I’m not viewed as a fool to those most important to me —my God and my wife. I came to realize that holiness and purity are achieved by a series of choices that I make every day.
For me, the choices that help me are (1) “To set no vile thing before my eyes“ (Psalm 101:3) and (2) “To put to death sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires“ (Colossians 3:5-6).
Men, I pray you will join me in making the choice to live according to God’s standards for purity.
- Become accountable with another man whom you can trust to hold your feet to the fire over this serious matter.
- Search for the help God can bring your way for a “way of escape” when you are faced with temptation.
- Please take advantage of that which we offer on this web site. We have many web site links and recommended resources that could greatly help you win this battle.
- And above all else, pray for purity as David did in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.“
Women: I (Cindy) want to add something to help you as well. I urge you to follow the advice of Laura Hall, who wrote the book, An Affair of the Mind… One Woman’s Courageous Battle to Salvage Her Family from the Devastation of Pornography. In it she said,
“Don’t condemn yourself. A husband will work hard at convincing his wife and others that the addiction [to pornography] is her fault. He does this to lessen his own guilt, but don’t subscribe to such thinking. Beating yourself up is nonproductive and pointless. It also invites self-pity and therefore sin.”
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
As authors Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus says in their book, “Intimate Issues”:
“God doesn’t want us to condemn ourselves. Neither does He want us to deceive ourselves into thinking we’re perfect. We should always be open to correction and change, but God’s way of achieving transformation is through LOVING instruction, not brutal condemnation.
“How are you doing with the battle in your mind? Are you refusing to ‘compare’ and ‘condemn?’ Are you thinking right? If so, you’re free to begin ‘doing.’ The first item on the ‘to do list’ is to increase your understanding and its dangers.”
Husbands and wives: We pray you will flee from sexual temptation and sin, do what you can to sexually enjoy each other only, refrain from even the “appearance of evil” and educate yourselves on these matters. Do it for your sake and also to someday help to educate your children before their minds become exposed to things that can draw them into such addictions that can ruin their lives and marriages.
Steve and Cindy Wright