“One of the major causes of marital breakups in the Christian community is the lack of protective hedges. These are hedges that spouses should plant around their marriages, their minds, their hearts, their eyes, and their hands” (Jerry Jenkins).
God warns us in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” We’re also told in another part of the Bible to “be on the alert.” The enemy of our faith wants to destroy us, along with destroying every “Christian” marriage because marriage is viewed by God as a living picture of Christ’s love for the church. We’re told that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” (1 Peter 5:7)
Wake Up! Guard Your Hearts
If we’re going to resist, we must wake up to the subtle attacks aimed to destroy the testimony of Christ in our marriages. We can’t be cautious enough because of all that’s at stake!
We rarely meet a person who is caught in an affair that says, “I was just looking for someone to help me destroy my commitment to my spouse.” But we DO hear, “We never meant for it to happen; it just did.” This should be a warning for us ALL to build hedges, protecting marriage, BEFORE anything has even a CHANCE of “happening.”
“The fact is that very few of us start out to disrupt marital intimacy. Sometimes we simply fail to establish it. Sometimes we fail to maintain it. More often we fail to protect it. ‘It just happened’ is a common explanation for adultery. And it also exposes how little we understand the steps that got us there. When we have unresolved issues in the marriage, we make it easier to ‘just happen,’ and when we don’t have appropriate hedges in place we invite it to happen. …You have to admit your vulnerability before you can recognize the need for protective measures. Safety glasses were created because someone got hurt. Don’t let that someone be you or your spouse.” (Gary and Mona Shriver, from book, Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity)
Pay Close Attention
With that said, we’d like to share with you a few things written (used with permission) in the book, Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It written by Jerry Jenkins. Please pay close attention to what he has to say. (Then pick up the book to fill in the details not explained here. We HIGHLY recommend it.)
The sad fact is that, “No one thinks he needs hedges until it’s too late.” Without being aware of the need to protect ourselves against it, we are vulnerable. Just as it’s the “little foxes who spoil the vine,” (see Song of Songs 2:15) so the seemingly small indiscretions add up to major traps.
One of the dangers we face today is that there’s a new openness to interaction between the sexes in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in counseling —even in the church. Christians touch more, speak more intimately, and are closer to one another. There are advantages to this but also grave dangers.
One potential danger is that it’s not uncommon in the workplace to meet someone with whom there seems to be an immediate bonding. You like them, they like you; you hit it off.
Please, don’t fool yourself into thinking that it can’t happen to you. You can be married 10 years and still develop a crush on someone else. You think about them, find yourself talking about them, quoting them (even to your spouse), and generally becoming enamored with them. It can become a serious dilemma.
This is the time to remind yourself that this is nothing more than an adult version of adolescent puppy love and it will pass. It really will. The person is off limits, and you should run from the situation as from a contagious disease.
Ground Rules Are Needed for Guarding Hearts
You may still see the person in the work setting, and you may still enjoy proper interaction with them. But ground rules need to be set immediately. Never tell the person you are attracted to them. Talk about your spouse frequently in front of them. Tell your spouse about the person, but use your own judgment as to how fully to explain your dilemma.
When you first become aware of the impact the other person has on you, that is the time to move into action. Refrain from touching them, being alone with them, flirting with them (even in jest), or saying anything to them you wouldn’t say if your spouse were there.
Call it what you will, but a man with as perfect a wife as he could ever want is still capable of lust, and of a senseless seeking of that which would destroy him and his family. If he doesn’t fear his own potential and build a hedge around himself and his marriage, he could naively head for disaster.
A complex litany of events takes place between the vows and the adultery, and it behooves those of us who want to remain pure to examine those events, expose them for what they are, and either avoid letting them happen or avoid letting Satan use them to trick us into justifying our sin.
What to Do?
Once we’ve identified them, what will we do about them? Will we pray over them? Resolve to conquer them? Turn over new leaves? Ironically, the answer is easier than that. We are not to win, not to gain the victory, not to succeed by the sheer force of our wills, our consciences, or our determination.
“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22, NIV) We are to run —to flee —to get out —and get away. Shall we all run scared? Yes! Fear is essential. “There are several good protections against temptation,” Mark Twain said, “but the surest is cowardice.”
So what is the solution when temptation rages? The only answer is to plan, to anticipate danger, to plot the way of escape, to build hedges before the enemy attacks. So, let’s start planting some practical hedges.
Here are some pragmatic ways to guard our hearts against our weaknesses:
• Whenever I need to meet or dine or travel with an unrelated woman, I make it a threesome. I don’t know why, but there’s something very personal and even intimate about eating with someone. If that weren’t true, why are so many dates centered on food? If an unavoidable last-minute complication makes this impossible, my wife hears it from me first.
• Logic says that if I am following the biblical injunction to abstain from even the appearance of evil, I will also abstain from the evil itself. My philosophy is, if you take care of how things look, you take care of how they are.
• I am careful about touching. While I might shake hands or squeeze an arm or a shoulder in greeting, I embrace only dear friends or relatives, and only in front of others.
• I avoid flirtation or suggestive conversation, even in jest.
• I remind my wife often —in writing and orally —that I remember my wedding vows: “Keeping you only unto me for as long as we both shall live.” The sad fact is that there’s simply not enough emphasis on wedding vows anymore.
Give kids a model of love and caring and interdependence. Show them what it means to make and keep a commitment with no wavering, no excuses, and no me-first philosophies. Make a decision. Set a course. Carve out the time it takes to devote to your wife and children, and plant a hedge that will protect you and her and them from the devastation of a broken home.
The important thing is to understand the dangers in the weak areas within yourself. You need to do something practical and concrete about them. Plant hedges wide and deep and tall against any weakness you may have. Remind yourself what price you’d have to pay for a brief season of carnal fun. We who have remained true to our spouses need to do something to ensure that we remain that way.
That means working on our weaknesses, shoring up our strengths, pouring our lives into each other, and planting hedges. The time is long past for us to worry about people snickering at us for being prudish or puritanical. Treat this blight on marriage as the epidemic that it is. Flee! Plant a hedge. Do something—do anything. Don’t become a sad statistic.
Something wonderful happens in a relationship when hedges begin to grow.
Cindy and Steve Wright
— Also —
We HIGHLY recommend you guard your marriage because of the problems the Internet is introducing into them. It’s becoming increasingly easier to “meet” someone or meet up again with someone through Facebook, Chat Rooms and other avenues the Internet makes available. Below are a few articles we recommend you read that could give you important insights to guard your marriage:
• Facebook Divorce Stats: Couples, Be Wise!
• Is Facebook a Cyber Threat to Your Marriage?
• How Facebook Can Improve Your Marriage
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2 responses to “Guarding Your Hearts – MM #141”
(USA) What an encouraging website. I was actually looking for material because we are planning a marriage retreat at church. Something for the women. My husband and I have been married 34 years now by the total grace of God and we have seen how truly the strength of a church lies within the strength of its families. Thanks. This particular article is so relevant to us all because our culture takes things so lightly. It is important to return to living lives of respect and honor and still be able to have a good time with other couples. Boundaries are necessary for adults as well as children.
(USA) Hello, I listened to part of the program on FOCUS ON THE FAMILY a few days ago. I want to learn as much as I can about protecting my marriage. Its been rough through the years. We have been married 37 yrs. I am alone most of the time and sometimes I can’t help but wonder what he really does with his time away from me. Can a person really work as much as 14 to 18 hrs. every day?
I think we both really need to study more of God’s word on this. If only I could talk to somebody! Please just pray for us, God knows who we are. I am afraid for our marriage… Thanks & God bless you. :)