OK, this is a bit of a big post title. Before you read this post, if you are a Christian, I STRONGLY encourage you to spend time praying for a pure heart to read what it says. This is not because there is anything in this post that is wrong, or unwisely phrased or unhelpful. Rather, it is because I know the way the human heart and mind work. I don’t want anyone to use anything in this post as licence to go and do something silly. There is absolutely nothing in this post that could legitimately be considered permission to act this way. However the same way some people twist the Bible to get from it the very opposite of what it actually says is the same way I know some people might be tempted to use this post.
Alternatively, if you are dubious or sceptical, or cannot possibly envisage what I mean, by all means read the post, then go and pray.
So once again, this is a very big post title. I cannot by any means claim to fully understand this issue. This is but one aspect of something that has many strands. I also understand that this battle against sexual temptation is one that we fight on an ongoing basis. As with all battles against our sinful nature, no-one can claim to have comprehensively defeated sexual temptation until they get to Heaven. That is, I believe that God gives us the tools to fight and win, but we have to fight on an ongoing basis while we are down here on earth. There is always the possibility that this temptation will rear up another fire-breathing head again, just as we have finished cutting off the last one.
So then, bearing in mind that this issue is very big, and I cannot possibly claim to understand everything about it, please let me share with you a little of what I do understand.
This is an issue that I have been thinking about and trying to understand for a very long time. I know that it is something to which we as human beings are very susceptible generally, and I know that it is a favoured weapon in the hands of the devil to use to pull down God’s mighty warriors specifically. And then obviously at any particular time I am very aware of what is happening in my own mind and heart.
So then this is what I have recently come to understand. Now I do believe that this is from God. However, I am not trying to establish new doctrine. As with everything on this blog or anything else I could write, please please test it, evaluate it, pray over it and edit it as necessary to make it useful in your life. If you do not find any use for it then by all means reject it. However I think that it is important for us to be aware of this subject, and especially for everyone to recognise that no-one is immune. Even such a Bible heavyweight as King David, a man whose heart was perfect before God, committed adultery (and subsequently) murder and brought a big curse on his family line after him. His son, King Solomon, whom God blessed with abundant wisdom and unfathomable wealth, let his heart be turned away from God by the thousand-odd women with whom he got romantically and sexually involved – he married 700 wives and three hundred concubines. Technically in Solomon’s case it was not adultery as such, because he was technically married to all these women. However these women still stole his heart away from God. So a point to be learned from Solomon is that the danger does not end just because you dignify the relationship with marriage.
In our own days/in more recent times there have been countless stories of men and women of God who have fallen prey to this thing to the utter destruction of lives, marriages, ministries. (When both parties are single and available then at least they can get married. However the deep danger comes when this is not the case). It is almost as if it is deeply bound up with our human psyche. This is how it seems to me:
It occurred to me that the impulse which results in “falling in love with” and subsequently marrying a suitable, single partner, and that which leads to falling in love with someone whom you can’t/shouldn’t have, possibly because you or they are already married, is exactly the same. This might sound quite obvious – well of course they are the same! However, in the case of 2 single people this same thing is lauded and celebrated where it leads to a good marriage, whereas in the case where at least one of the parties is married, or the match is otherwise unsuitable, this exact same thing is condemned as evil. My radical argument in this post is that the impulse itself is dangerous and misleading, and it is this we should keep in check, and here I hope to demonstrate why.
When God created the world
When God created, everything was perfect – that is, “everything” and literally every thing. And so was every person. Following on from the post I wrote about being better off single or married, I was thinking about my own deep yearnings for “Mr Huggie-Wuggie”. I was thinking the usual things – how amazing it would be to hold hands, hug, have deep conversations etc. And then, it occurred to me that as well as perfect character from both parties as I have written in the post, these dreams of marital bliss depend on perfect communication between the two parties. This is the point – when God originally created the world, before sin entered the world, this was a realistic expectation of your marriage relationship – perfect character from your spouse as well as you yourself, and perfect communication shared between the two of you. However, as soon as sin entered the world, this stopped being a realistic expectation. After the entry of sin all marriages have to deal with the reality of imperfect character and difficult communication. However remember that marriage was created by God before sin entered the world.
By cultivating these dreams it is as if our hearts continue to yearn for perfect character and perfect communication as if we still lived in a perfect world. However, the point is that we don’t live in a perfect world and we never will. (Heaven will be perfect. However there is not actually going to be any marriage in Heaven). This is why these thoughts are dangerous – because they are so insistent, yet they make us yearn for something we can never have.
Perhaps this is what God means in the Bible (Genesis 3.16) when He curses women thus: “Your desire will be for your husband” – that is, you will keep yearning after the perfection of a beautiful marriage, as it was originally intended to be “And he will rule over you” – but you will have to deal with the reality of dominant, glass-ceiling husbands? (Furthermore, whenever we as women brag to one another about our marriages, it is about how closely our marriages correspond to these dreams – how deeply and mutually we are in love with our spouses, the extent of emotional intimacy that exists between us – and also admittedly how financially successful our marriages are.)
So here is an even more radical idea – these thoughts and yearnings were created by God in the first place! And yet I refer to them here as dangerous, because the world that we live in no longer reflects a realistic opportunity of achieving these dreams.
Relating to marriage
This is how I believe this all relates to marriage in the first place. If you are not like me, then maybe you are very sensible and realistic about marriage and marital expectations. You don’t cultivate any deep emotions about your future spouse…you never dream about holding hands or deep meaningful conversations.
However if you are like me, then these kinds of thoughts and dreams about holding hands etc etc play very strongly in your mind, and it will be these kind of things that sweep you along into marriage, or inappropriate relationships that don’t realistically even offer the prospect of marriage. For me these feelings are so deeply held, that I can honestly say that they are utterly part of me. I can’t help feeling that this is how so many of us get swept up into inappropriate or unedifying marriages in the first place.
16 Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be only your own,
And not for strangers with you.