I can’t tell you how many men have sat in my office, crying their eyes out, having been caught having an affair, and shocked to have been caught. Twenty-five? Maybe more. What delusion makes them think they’ll never be caught?
One of my favorite non-Christian authors is Garisson Keillor. While he and I are worlds apart theologically, he is one of the funniest writers I know. He’s also an astute observer of human nature. In this story I’m about to quote, he get’s right to the heart of the spiritual problem, every man I’ve met with, had.
Most of his stories take place in the fictional small town of Lake Wobegen, Minnesota, in the mid-50’s. Flo is the town’s self-righteous know-it-all. In this excerpt from Lake Wobegen, Summer 1956, she’s waxing eloquent to a bunch of women around the beauty parlor, after one of their husbands is found unfaithful. “No self-control! This is Flo’s great theme. All the Lake Wobegon men caught in adultery, never expected to. One after another, caught at the old game like a weasel in the moonlight, held up, dangling from the leg trap, and people cry shame! Shame!”
“And among the shamers is a man thinking, ‘Lucky for me that I covered my tracks. Good thing I burned those letters when I did.’ Two weeks later, his wife finds two un-burnt letters addressed to Angel Eyes and the church community puts him in stocks. And one of the men throwing dead fish and buckets of slime at him thinks, ‘I better call my secretary and tell her we can’t meet after all.’ But they do of course. They take special precautions – 50 miles away ought to be plenty! But, wouldn’t you know it, he’s seen by his brother-in-law on his way home from a business trip in Duluth, seated in a restaurant, across the street from the motel. He rose and collard the old goat before he could get his hands on the room key, and oh how he begged the brother-in-law to look the other way. Oh, he was 10 yards short of glory – oh, please, please, please but no, he was hauled home and there was hell to pay and women yelling at him. He was in the dog house for years.”
“And so it goes. One after another. Each dumber than the one ahead of him in this parade. Ping Pong balls for brains! ‘Why?,’ she asks rhetorically. ‘Because men have no more self-control than a dog in a bratwurst factory.’”
Self-Control Flo was right. Not about all men, but plenty of us! Men (or women) who are sexually impure do lack self-control. But how do you get it, if you don’t seem to have it?
“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6
The Holy Spirit has given every believer the ability to say “No!” to temptation. Nobody has to sin! However, the men I meet with generally know that. And they know what they are doing is a sin. So, then why in the world would they risk everything and do it?
Because they believe God will forgive them if they do. It’s what, in The 10 Second Rule, I call “grace abuse.” Grace abuse is holding God to his promises, while using them as an excuse to break our promises to him.
The truth is, God will forgive them. But, the price they’ll pay on earth is higher than they can imagine at the beginning of an affair. If you’re being tempted right now, beg the Holy Spirit to empower you to say “No!” Then call the most spiritually mature friend you have and tell them the temptation you’re under, and ask them to pray for you. Hoping you can say, “No!” all by yourself is one more lie we tell ourselves, because it’s embarrassing to admit you’re even thinking about adultery.
There’s one final reason I find men won’t ask for help- they’re scared to death we’ll try to talk them out of it. A man that deluded can rarely be helped.
Visualize the Unintended Consequences of Sin My advice to any man who is in, or being tempted with an affair, is this; visualize what will likely happen when you’re found out.
Flo is also right that most men believe the lie that they’ll never be found out. My experience is that 80% will be found out. Even if you are a clever sinner, your sexual partner may not be.
So, I ask them to visualize the probable response of and consequences to their wife, their children and their parents and friends. Once you’ve lost the “moral high ground,” it’s almost impossible to regain it again. The first time you’re impressed to have “the talk” with your teenage son, you probably won’t. Because you just know he’ll throw your unfaithfulness back in your face.
It’s my experience that men who will actually take the time to count the cost of this sin, will break it off. Aside from the sin of it, the very thing men crave most, respect will be lost for years to come. Every person you know will think less of you. Friends will have a tough time looking you in the eye. You’ll work at avoiding people, including your own family.
If a friend or family member is contemplating or having an affair, ask them to read this passage from Proverbs:
“My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it. Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you lose your honor to others and your dignity to one who is cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another. At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction!” Proverbs 5:1-12
Don’t buy the lie, that you can beat the odds and never get caught. The price of adultery is higher than you can ever imagine today! God knows what he’s talking about.
“Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” Titus 2:2
Following Jesus in Real Life
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