Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Where helmets don't make sense





There's a lot to be said for going the extra mile with "being above reproach." Does it take work? Is it sometimes inconvenient? Oh yes. A lot of times I am tempted to get sloppy with it. I'm sure Larry is too. Ensuring that we aren't alone with the opposite sex (even when it's a good friend who we trust), is a real commitment that you have to determine to keep in order to safeguard your marriage.

It's not that I am tempted to be sloppy because I have an attraction to anyone. I am tempted to be sloppy because at times I am just so convinced nothing would ever happen. I begin to feel a little bit invincible. Since I have stayed true to my marriage for 20 years I just take for granted I'm exempt from failing in this area sometimes. I start to think..."oh, nothing would ever happen, what's the big deal..?" And I begin to trust in myself too much.

That is one of the first signs of trouble...when we trust in ourselves...in the arm of the flesh, instead of the hand of the Lord. In order to keep his protective hand over me, I need to do my part in being above reproach.

Years ago during our workday, Larry and I were having lunch together and in the restaurant we chose to eat at we saw another pastor we know. He was not sitting with his wife but with another woman. We were a little puzzled by it. Larry is not a person who likes confrontation on these type of things and saying something about it is the LAST thing he wanted to do, but he really felt compelled to ask this brother about it, in love. He didn't accuse him of anything, just went up to him and said, "Hey, good to see you Mark (not his real name)...how are you? Hey...where's Jane?" (his wife - not her real name either).

Mark said that Jane wasn't with him on this particular day and so Larry said, "oh, who's this with you?" He answered that it was his Missionette leader and they were having a meeting about the Missionette ministry of the church. Larry took him aside for a moment and very gently said, "Hey bro, I just wanted to say that I'm just a little concerned about you. I only tell you this because I care. We pastors really have to be careful with stuff like this and I wouldn't want anything to happen to you. It's a good idea to bring your wife along on stuff like this."

Instead of being grateful for Larry's care for him, the pastor was miffed and said, "Look Larry...my wife and I have an open relationship. We trust each other. I don't need my wife all "up in my business" like yours is, in order to run the church. (yes, that miffed me that he said that!) So, just mind your own business, and I will mind mine..."

Larry didn't argue with him, just said that he cared about him as a fellow brother, and minister and was trying to help. He never said anything else to him about it. Not even a year later, that pastor was caught in a moral failure and the scandal rocked not only his marriage but his church, and basically everything in his life came crumbling down around him. I guess he should have had his wife a little more "up in his business". :-)

I'm sure he read the Bible. I'm sure he prayed. I'm sure he worshipped. But unfortunately those "helmets" were not enough when he kept putting himself right on the edge of danger constantly.

Sis. Coker sent me these photos today and I thought they were pretty amazing. She said the pictures indicated a situation in which bike helmets make no sense. I agree. These guys have used this precaution but they have put themselves so far in the danger zone, these helmets might as well not be on their heads. Makes me think of many in marriage relationships that figuratively play with fire constantly, yet keep a droplet of water nearby. What good does it do? There are Christian husbands and wives who spend lots of time alone with the opposite sex in person, on the phone, on the internet or whatever, yet they may (take your pick) do a devotional, read a few scriptures, pray a prayer, attend a church service. Yet with all the danger they have willingly put themselves in, these things will spare them of a moral failure until they remove themselves from the edge.

Larry and I have always made a practice of living as far from the edge in our marriage as we can get. We might risks on other things but not this. It's why he doesn't counsel women alone, nor I men. It's why we are never alone in our office with the door shut with someone of the opposite sex. It's why we have each other's internet passwords. It's why we get porn channels removed from our hotel rooms as soon as we arrive at a hotel. It's why we don't have certain channels at our house. We have other safeguards too, these are just a few.

Even with these safeguards, the enemy is ruthless in creating circumstances to try to circumvent them. Larry has had several women blatantly offer themselves to him, right in a public setting - around many people. Being a minister of the gospel you are a real target and therefore must seriously have a plan of action to win. You've got to "stay all up in each other's business." It's not a matter of lack of trust, it's a matter of wisdom.

I don't want to live as close as I can to the edge in my marriage without going over. I want to walk as protectively as I can and ensure victory.

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