Someone once asked me how I knew that my husband was not going to be unfaithful. And I just stared! It is the kind of thing that I absolutely take for granted that among the circle of friends that I keep this is the kind of commitment to God that they demonstrate. I just take it for granted! You may as well ask how I know that I am going to be faithful (something else I probably take a little too much for granted!) Well here are the answers to that question, why I expect that I am going to be faithful to my husband, to pretty much the point of taking it for granted.
1. Current behaviour is an indication of future behaviour. By the grace of God I am not behaving recklessly now, and I never have done – by the grace of God
2. Faithfulness starts before marriage. It is first and foremost a commitment for sexual purity between myself and God. This is why sleeping with my husband-to-be before marriage would still count as unfaithfulness, even if I still went ahead to marry him.
3. I tell myself the truth about attraction. ALWAYS. IMMEDIATELY. If there is a guy that I find attractive, I instantly admit that to myself. I don’t even try to pretend. And if he was married or otherwise unavailable, I would take myself out of there.
4. I recognise danger, and run away from it! I am working hard to understand how attraction works on me specifically, to recognise my own weak points so that I can build around them: “This is what makes me feel vulnerable…”
Thinking now about what I am looking for in a husband:
5. I am looking to (I mean that I unconsciously take it for granted that I will) choose a husband who is very, very careful about his interaction with women – a man who cultivates very strong boundaries. Please believe me that I have very strong boundaries with men. Sometimes some men apparently think that my boundaries are too strict, so they take the initiative to reassign my boundaries for me. So where for instance I am extremely careful about pretty much anything – name something (and I clearly communicate that), they seem to suggest by their words or actions: “Well Tosin I think you could give a little bit more leeway about this!” My attitude towards this is too ungracious to be typed out, but basically that always spells the end of that “friendship”. In short this is my future that is at stake, so I am going to be the one defining the boundaries for my life – not you, some random person who has no real significance in my life whatsoever! Are we clear?!
6. I want someone who has thought about this commitment, at length. Candidly I want someone who has thought about marriage or relationships at length anyway, and who is committed to implementing all lessons learned in his own marriage.
Specifically, someone who does not say or suggest that his faithfulness is because his wife is so wonderful, or beautiful, or sexy (and men say this all the time, don’t they?!) “Girl, you’re so beautiful that I know that I’m never going to look at anyone else ever again!” Hmm. Firstly that is a lie. Secondly by the time a man is getting to the point of marriage, by that time he should already know that his faithfulness will be determined by himself and his own commitment to God – not how amazing his spouse is. And it works in exactly the same way too for women.
7. I watch out for men who are playfully flirtatious with other women. Once there was this guy I was interested in/checking out before I formulated this “two year thing”. As short as he was, he was playing me (he had nice hands. In fact, he started this whole “nice hands” thing!) and while he was playing me he was simultaneously flirting with other women. Once as I was looking over I saw this girl/lady put her hand on his leg as they were flirting away. Oh My Goodness! If any man put his hand on my leg before we were married I would probably pray the fire of God to come down on that hand and consume it. Sincerely, by the grace of God that simply is not going to happen. (Although I do remember that not too long ago someone “accidentally” jostled my leg with his own knee, under the table. Hmm. That one I let slide…then…but that “friendship” is equally now essentially over. If you as a man are feeling sexually frustrated, then why don’t you get married?! It is after all easier for a man in that he is “allowed” to go around asking out a succession of women until one finally accepts, without being labelled “desperate”…) And to think that someone would have such lax boundaries as to just casually let someone touch him, so intimately, in a flirtatious manner. And then can you imagine that this joker who went around flirting with literally anyone and everyone – men included, oh yes! – had the effrontery to ask me once whether I was pregnant, just because I happened to be wearing a puffy jacket that day, the same puffy jacket I always wore?! I almost told him that it was more likely that he would get pregnant than that I would, considering how he went around flirting with everyone. And what’s more, it was true too! Seriously!!!
However, in terms of touching, you know sometimes these things happen as a sincere accident. This has happened to me before, under the most innocent circumstances. It did cause a little awkwardness at the time, but thankfully that was as far as it went.
I also look out for (to avoid) men who try to use other women to manipulate me, or make me jealous
Furthermore, have you ever met someone, and you thought that this person if married, is definitely going to have an affair, or otherwise make a very big sexual mistake – it’s only a matter of time? Or if they are not married, possibly make a mistake before marriage? I have met such people before, and thinking back I ask myself what it was about these people that gave me such a strong conviction about them:
1. Sheer carelessness around the opposite sex. (For the purposes of this post, I am assuming that there are two genders). No apparent boundaries in place. (That said, these days, we are all having to be increasingly careful around our own gender…)
Being overly touchy or tactile, laughing too loudly. What this means in practice is letting other people touch you casually, around your neck, your shoulders, your back, your hair; letting other people’s touches linger a little too long. Sometimes not even noticing when someone touches you in a way that is quite intimate. Also being a little too enthusiastic about casually touching people yourself.
All of this possibly combined with carelessness around alcohol.
2. An attitude of manipulating people romantically; using one person to make another person feel jealous. Yes, to my unending shame I have acted in this way before. Many times. And yet thankfully it was never too intense, rather it was being a bit too enthusiastic, laughing a little too loudly. Some people go so far as to give to this other person attention or intimate touching or gifts that they should reserve exclusively for their spouse, just to make their spouse jealous.
3. Being too casual about entering a relationship in the first place: easy come easy go?!
4. Flirting with anyone and everyone, sometimes even publicly flirting with more than one person at the same exact time – so one person will be sitting on their lap, and they will be making salacious suggestions to someone else
5. An attitude that seems to suggest that they are too special (amazing, talented, sexy, hot) to restrict themselves to just one partner! Even God Himself could not realistically expect to hold them to such a restriction!
Also, an attitude that seems to suggest that someone would be unspeakably lucky to win them exclusively.
6. People who think that they are somehow immune to adultery, or too holy to commit it; so because of that the ordinary rules do not apply to them. So they can sit around talking for hours to someone late into the night, possibly on the phone; they can cultivate any kind of careless aloneness with someone; in the name of “laying their hands on someone” in prayer they can touch intimate body parts; in the name of “Spiritual counselling” they spend hours shut up alone with someone hearing intimate and private details about someone’s life and possibly sharing a few details about their own life. And big, life-changing, ministry-destroying sexual mistakes tediously and predictably happen over and over and over and over and over and over again with pastors – of both genders – with people of both genders. And yet each next pastor will think that he or she is miraculously immune, that it could never happen to them.
This almost happened to me – not as a pastor, but rather as a recipient of overly enthusiastic pastorly attentions! More than once, in fact! That is, with more than one pastor. Off the top of my head I can think of two situations, but it really would not surprise me if I remember more. There was certainly a third case with someone who claimed to be a pastor (with 400 pastors under him, or so he said) and tried to get me to enter into a relationship with him after I met him just once, on a bus. Ewww. What is more, at the time I was 21 and he was about 45. Double Ewww. Furthermore I bet he was already married. Triple Ewww. I politely turned him down and ran away as fast as I could. I’ve had to do that a few times in my life! In both of the other situations too, by the grace of God I was whiter than white in terms of my own behaviour, I felt no attraction to them whatsoever and I was extremely mindful of my own boundaries. Thankfully God rescued me from those supposed men of God before anything dubious happened, otherwise – hmm! Let’s just thank God that nothing dubious happened! This is one reason why the simple act of walking into a church is something that can make you so vulnerable, when there are so many profound character deficiencies in supposed men of God. And so when people start saying things like “Tosin, there’s no such thing as a perfect church!” and they start giving voice to similar platitudes, I feel like telling them where to go. Frankly I have been through such things in church. Things that should be unthinkable. Thankfully, God has currently blessed me with an outstanding church. All the same I am being extremely careful even in this church. Hello?!
7. People who are too complacent with their friendships, or dismissive when someone warns them about the dangers that can come about through their friendships, because of the great faith they have in “friendships” generally, casually letting themselves get into dangerous situations. If you combine being alone together on a late night with an attractive friend with pouring out your heart to them and even innocent touching, perhaps a little alcohol, seriously, what do you expect to happen?! It is almost guaranteed. From my readings and observations, so many people talk about their relationships starting in situations like these, how someone went from being “just a friend” to something more, literally overnight! Many times these relationships do have happy endings, which is good. But if you already happen to be married to someone else, or in a relationship with someone else, then it is not such happy news. This is so serious that for myself I consider being in this situation in itself to constitute unfaithfulness: being alone with an attractive friend late at night. Whether or not anything actually “happens” is a mere technicality, and almost irrelevant. Letting yourself get into such an intimate and dangerous situation with a friend is what constitutes the unfaithfulness. Before marriage, if I ever let myself get into a similar situation with a man, even my own fiancé, I will consider myself to have been unfaithful.
So these are a few red flags in terms of character traits.
However, the truth is that if you were to look out for dodgy behaviour regarding this or other character issues, you would be constantly looking out for things. If it is not sexual carelessness then it might be physical violence, and if it is not physical violence then it might be financial self-centredness…This is why for me it makes more sense to cut out a precise focus on these issues and look instead for great character, and ongoing commitment to great character. Obviously if you see any huge red flags about specific areas then probe them, or run as necessary. Great character will reliably give birth to fantastic and delicious fruits; hopefully including deep sexual passion, intimacy and tenderness between the two of you and you two alone, shared with no-one outside your marriage. Conversely poor character will also reliably bring forth poor behaviour; it might not be this, but there will predictably be something, perhaps something that had never even occurred to you to think about; something you might have never heard of.
That said, even people with great character
sometimes often have strong weaknesses in certain areas. But a person who sincerely seeks to serve God will still be striving as hard as he can, through his weaknesses, he will still be crying out to God. And God will help him until hopefully the issue can be conclusively wrapped up, and forgotten about.