A friend of mine inadvertently revealed how he would be relieved after he got married because sexual purity wouldn’t be a problem. Much as I hated to burst his bubble, I had to let him in on the truth. Marriage does not solve the problem of lust. I won’t deny the fact that getting married does help restrain lust (even the Bible admits it 2 Corinthians 7:9 “It is better to marry than to burn with lust”). However getting married does not guarantee freedom from lust. A married person is still as susceptible to lust as a single person. And with that wet blanket I begin today’s blog post to encourage fellow married Christians.
The other woman
When I got married I thought it would be as easy as pie to avoid taking the second glance at the woman showing a lot of skin. In truth, it was easier, but it was not easy. It wasn’t automatic and it wasn’t pie. Baking pies is work! When you get married, Beloved, you will be better equipped by knowing that you can easily meet someone you connect with emotionally and end up liking them. Am I starting a cult? Not yet. It gets worse. You can even “fall in love” with that person. Has it happened to me? No, it hasn’t. I’d wish to say it did so that this post could be more credible but frankly and thankfully, no, it hasn’t happened to me. So how do I know? I know because I have sniffed the stench a mile off that road. I know because I have seen that it is possible to spend so much time with another woman more than my wife and develop an intimate bond. When I sense that budding (despite being married) I know I have overstepped a boundary and I stop. I mark the boundaries again to avoid emotional entanglements. There are times, when a few ladies have approached me concerning personal purity matters and the conversations begin getting a bit private and detailed. I know that lust is knocking at my door if I keep listening without my wife present. So I would normally refer them to my wife who would gladly help them. I haven’t been in a situation where things get murky but I know that such an intimate moment shared between two people of the opposite sex even in a public place could be the start of a purity issue. It would be incredibly naive to smell the smoke and deny a potential fire. Just as you can tell the stages of falling in love with someone as a single person, so can you notice the signs when you are married. Gentlemen, you can tell that you are getting fond of someone who isn’t your wife. Ladies, you can tell that you are going beyond admiration and he is not your husband. It isn’t complex, really. How do you think affairs work?
Be that as it may, remaining faithful and drawing boundaries with the opposite sex is NOT a sign that a Christian man or woman is walking in purity in their marriage. You could be as faithful as a three-year-old chewing gum at the bottom of a cafeteria table- never leaving your spouse- but still be captive to the power of lust in your marriage. How? I thought you’d never ask. Even if you are not married, these pointers will help you develop certain disciplines that will save your marriage even before it begins.
A friend of ours was surprised when my wife told her that the TV series and programs that were sensual when she was single are still a no-go-zone when she is married. Our friend was a bit surprised. In their train of thought, they figured that watching two people on TV having sex was okay if you were married because after all, well, you are married! Wrong. I say this over and over to my friends. Lust does not respect the fact that you are married! Lust does not give you space because you have a ring on your finger. Lust does not attack with less frequency and intensity because you walked down an aisle. Beloved, when God says in Ephesians 5:3 not even a hint of sexual immorality should be among Christians, he isn’t just talking to single people; he is talking to everyone! The Christian who thinks that because they are married, it is okay to watch kissing scenes on TV is greatly mistaken. The Word of God on the stand of purity will never be negated by your relationship status! You can watch half naked people in TV series while still married and lust after them. Surprised, single folk? Convicted, married folk? Even worse, you can despise your spouse because of the worldly standards that the media sets. Several scientific reports (let alone the Bible) show that frequent television viewing among couples raises chances of divorce and kills intimacy. Don’t throw away your TV, but here is a suggestion, watch it less and spend time more. My wife and I disconnected our TV over two months ago. Intimacy has never been sweeter. We will connect it soon, but we’re not in a hurry. We catch up on the news by reading newspapers and social media.
Your walk with God
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I have hidden your Word in my heart that I may not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9 and 11)
That Bible verse is frequently quoted to single people. Today I quote it to the married. You dear Believer can be married and be caught in the rut of watching pornography, masturbating and deriving sexual gratification outside your covenant marriage. The fact that you have not cheated with a literal person else is not testament of your faithfulness; it is testament of your pride. Even after falling, we still consider ourselves better than others- pride. I have heard of situations where both spouses watch porn. Engaging in sin together doesn’t make it right. They call it a weakness. Sin is not a weakness; sin is wickedness. Pornography’s effect on marriage is lethal! The stats are shocking. You read them on reports like covenanteyes.com and you shudder. You may be reading this and think only of the explicit porn that addicts are into but let me let you in on something else.
That sinful TV series qualifies as porn!
Even that TV series that you watch as a couple that has unmarried people committing adultery qualifies as porn. Why? Because God’s standard for purity are that high! Looking at eye candy is considered adultery by Jesus (Matt. 5:28). TV that glorifies sex outside marriage is TV that abuses God in the face by saying, “Your Holy matrimony is not that important!” The Christian believer who watches TV that glorifies sexual scandals is an enemy of Christ. James said it best in James 4:4 “You adulterous people, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” That part made you angry at me, didn’t it? Good. Cause it’s the truth, Beloved, and it is told in love (that makes you angrier). The excuse some Christians give at this point is something like, “It’s just entertainment.” “It happens, so there’s is no point in not watching it.” The married Christian who ignores the conviction of the Holy Spirit on purity about a relationship with someone not their spouse or even something as “small” as a TV series that influences their will to act like the world, will in little time, lose that very conviction and confuse it for “peace”. They may even come to the point where they believe that the lack of conviction signals God being okay with it. Lots of worldliness among Christ’s followers is evident in how their opinions and beliefs are placed above the Word of God. Our opinions may have facts, but remember, the truth is more important that the facts.Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wishing the adulterous couple in that TV series is not caught. You may say, “I would never say that!” but isn’t that how all denial starts? Let sin be sin.
Christians who think that spending time watching certain television series or movies that glorify sin has no significant effect always learn the hard way. Every cause has an effect. You may not have an overt purity struggle now because of the movies you watch with your spouse, but be assured, it is just a matter of time. And as you disregard purity in your marriage, most of that worldly sensual media results in struggles with doubt with your faith and worldliness that you so heavily defend with the proverbial unrepentant out-of-context, “don’t judge me.” Well, you are right, only God can judge you but then, prepare for that judgement.
The overt signs of sins such as adultery may be manifest in the physical in our world but they ravaged the spiritual a long time ago for those who entertained it with their eyes. Many emotional and mental affairs have taken place among married Christian couples because they disregarded sexual purity in their marriages. And sadly, many literal affairs among Christian couples have taken place for the same reason. Don’t be surprised when I say that many believers destroyed their marriages even before they walked down the aisle and exchanged their vows. Single folk, elevate purity now and it will be easier to elevate it in marriage. For the married people you know that it is possible to break your vows despite your physical faithfulness. Those lustful images still leave thoughts in husbands minds- they’re men! They also still create fantasies with wives- they’re women! People who don’t believe this must clearly assume getting married takes away your gender!
Beloved, your marriage holding together is not a sign that your individual walk with God is firm. The latter does have an positive effect on the former but the former is not a guarantee of a positive latter. Married Christian couples ought to spend time in the Word more than they spend time with the world. Repentance is needed and more time in the Word of God cultivated. I hereby quote the verse again to the married: How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I have hidden your Word in my heart that I may not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9 and 11) And yes, in the presence of an infinitely Holy, Holy, Holy Cosmic God who has lived before the beginning of time, we are all young, so that applies to all of us, not just the single. Practice your spiritual disciplines individually and as a couple. Fast together, pray together, study the word together. But also fast alone, read alone and pray alone.
Do the right thing!
Also, get creative in your marriage. Save for a romantic night in a local hotel. Walk hand in hand in malls. Take drives away from the city just the two of you. Hug more, kiss more, make love more, write each other letters, bowl together, swim together. Rekindle the fire in your marriage and purity will be upheld. Men, be obsessed with pleasing your wife. Date her! Wives, treat your man, esteem him! Say you love each other to each other aloud and in front of you kids. It’s not automatic; it’s intentional and the feelings will come even where they have died. One day, by God’s grace, you will be blessed with children. They will either obey you when you tell them not to watch the trash on TV or they will watch it anyway in their friends house because they know you watch it too. I pray they will see love and not lust in your marriage.
Beloved, if you are married, you should treat your spouse better that you treat your friends of the opposite sex. Women, if you respect your boss, see to it that that respect is magnified with your husband. It is not automatic; you need to choose to. Men, if you are gentle with your lady friends, see to it that you are gentler and only romantic with your wife. It is not automatic either! It is intentional. Purity begins with being intentional and it ends with being casual. For every lady that you compliment, compliment your wife 10 times. If you can only do 9, don’t do it with the other ladies. Make your marriage exclusive. Ladies, for every time that you affirm and encourage another man, affirm and encourage your own husband 10 times! 9.9 doesn’t cut it! If you are not intentional about you boundaries with the opposite sex in your marriage, you won’t hold firm.
Beloved, don’t be lax in your marriage. If you have, get up, get away and make it up together! Marriage after all, is not the finish line of dating and courting. Dating was training. Courting was warming up and marriage, dear Beloved, marriage is just the beginning of the race!