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Seemed Innocent Enough . . . . .

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But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. — Proverbs 6:32

It seemed innocent enough. He was driving to military training in another state—and stopped for a cup of coffee. While in line waiting for the barista to complete his order, a lady in line struck up a conversation with him. One thing led to another, and they sat down to finish their coffees.

Turns out she was having some relationship problems with her ex . . . . . and he thought he could help. She gave him her phone number and they stayed in touch. He didn’t tell his wife about the meeting—it all seemed innocent enough.

Again, one thing led to another . . . . and a year and a half later he and his wife are divorced, leaving three kids confused and hurting. He and the young woman at the coffee house are “dating”—an unlikely meeting now turned into a marriage disaster. Certainly there is a lot more to the story (there always is). But the details are only concentric circles around Satan’s target of this young man’s heart, and the ripple effect of the marital breakdown will continue for generations.

It’s not a new story. In the Bible we read of King David’s adulterous tryst with Bathsheba, a military leader’s wife, and review a similar tragedy. In Chuck Swindoll’s teaching on this familiar story of unrestrained lust, Pastor Swindoll cites the “steps downward”: “1) seemingly innocent attraction; 2) curiosity (comparisons take place); 3) temptation (imagination); 4) fantasy (sin enters as dreams combine with imagination); 5) lust (restraints removed: ignoring personal standards & commitments, blindness to consequences, rationalizing the wrong, burning with excitement to proceed); 6) sin; 7) compulsion leading to addiction.” (Insight for Living, May 20, 2011) James 1:14-16 states this clearly: “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” God’s judgment ensues.

Jim and Barbara Grunseth have similar words of explanation and warning in their book, Remember the Rowboats: Anchor your Marriage to Christ: “Marriage partners who fall into deep sin, or who file for divorce are pulled down the Devil’s Ladder rung by rung (1st rung—The Devil isolates you; 2nd—He discourages you; 3rd—He deceives you; 4th—He destroys you). He (Satan) is a master at greasing the rungs. Help others to see this and to get off that ladder!” (p. 9)

Bob and Cheryl Moeller write in their “Marriage Minutes” that their most well-read article is entitled, “Why is it dangerously wrong to have a close friendship with someone of the opposite sex? Here are eight reasons”:

1. If they are similar in age or potentially attractive to you, there is a problem.
2. Every love affair begins as a friendship, just as your marriage did.
3. As you spend time alone together (or even in a group), a deeper connection can develop.
4. You can learn to turn to them for emotional support (rather than your spouse).
5. The energy that should go to your spouse, now goes to your friendship with this other person.
6. Once the two of you share secrets, you’ve entered the danger zone.
7. Your emotional bond easily opens the door to a physical one.
8. Your heart is now divided in a way God never intended it to be.

If deployment has separated you and your spouse geographically . . . you need to be warned. What started out as an “innocent” conversation with someone of the opposite sex can lead down a path that you never intended to go down . . . . and down . . . . and down. The consequences are deadly. Be careful.

Make sure to guard your relationship with your spouse by avoiding intimate conversations with others, by breaking all connections that perhaps have already begun, by finding an accountability partner (another Christian of the same gender) who will help you to keep track of your thoughts and actions, and by developing your spiritual life with self-discipline so that the Holy Spirit will lead you with conviction and righteous purpose. Like Joseph in Genesis 39, you will know to run away from the lure of sexual temptation citing, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9)

Don’t be deceived. Be on guard at all times—your marriage, and future, is at stake.

Work Cited:

Grunseth, Jim & Barbara, Remember the Rowboats: Anchor Your Marriage to Christ (Minneapolis: River City Press, Inc., 2008)

Bob & Cheryl Moeller, Marriage Minutes, May 13, 2011

Questions to Share:

1. Can you think of a couple who experienced extra-marital temptations and succumbed to the devil’s plans for destruction? What mistakes did they make?

2. Can you think of a couple who resisted extra-marital temptation? What steps did they take to avoid potential destruction?

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