June 2, 2009
“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)
Earlier this spring a friend contacted me needing to share something going on in her life. She is a Christian who suddenly found herself in desperate need of clarity and support. She was falling into an emotional affair.
A former boyfriend contacted her out of the blue. At first it was a fun blast from the past to hear his voice and find out what he was up to. But it didn’t take long before he confessed he had been thinking about her, missing her. She is single and has been at peace with that …until his words stirred up feelings of loneliness and longings for affection. He is married with children.
He told her his marriage wasn’t doing well, and hinted that he longed to be with her again. Sure enough, feelings of attraction bubbled to the surface of her heart. My friend said she and this man had not reconnected face-to-face, but they were reconnecting voice-to-voice, mind-to-mind, and heart-to-heart with the computer or phone.
Have you ever had the feeling someone else is really meant to be your soul mate? That “soul mate” notion can cause a lot of damage, because once someone pledges themselves to another in marriage before God, they essentially become soul mates. “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together” (Mark 10:7b-9, NLT).
Christians may be more likely to engage in emotional affairs, thinking that it doesn’t really count as sin if there is no skin. “The defining characteristic of an affair is not whether there is sex involved, but the concealment that surrounds it and the fact that someone is being betrayed,” says Dr. Jill Hubbard in her book The Secrets Women Keep.
Years ago I witnessed a woman begin an emotional affair with a man she “had more in common with” than her husband. Never mind the fact that she had her school-aged children in common with her husband. She was eventually confronted by members of her church, but did not end the relationship. She is divorced today.
Listen, we have to be honest with ourselves and with God. Jesus said we can commit adultery in our minds (Matthew 5:28); we can also commit an affair in our hearts. Plus, an emotional affair is often just the beginning stages of a physical one.
My friend struggling with this is single, but the man she’s falling for is not. This isn’t just a “married women’s issue.” We all have to guard our hearts. The Bible says they are the wellspring of our lives.
If you are in some type of affair now, I urge you to end it. Stop feeding that addiction. Run quickly from sexual immorality. Change your phone number, your email address and your daily routine if necessary to avoid him. Thankfully, my friend stopped speaking with her temptation.
If you are not entangled in this presently, guard yourself from falling into the trap. Be alert to slippery slopes. Don’t go trolling the internet to check on past loves. Beware confiding anything too personal, especially your marriage woes, to members of the opposite sex - find a female friend or counselor to talk to instead. Have an accountability partner periodically ask you how you’re doing in this area. And if you are married, invest in your marriage.
Finally, let’s turn our attention to the One who is Love (1 John 4:8) and who knows our hearts better than anyone else can. Let’s draw near to Christ who is truly our souls’ mate. We can safely satisfy our hearts in His.
Dear Lord, strengthen my friends to do what is right. And help me keep pure - mind, heart, body and soul. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
confessions of an adulterous woman: lies that got me there, truths that brought me back by Lyndell Hetrick Holtz
torn asunder: recovering from an extramartial affair by Dave Carder
For more on the topic of emotional affairs, visit rachel’s blog today.
Read Jesus’ words to a woman caught in adultery in john 8:1-11.
Invest in your marriage – the love dare is a helpful resource for this.
Am I guarding my heart?
What is the current intimacy level in my marriage? In my relationship with God?
Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (NIV)
Hebrews 10:22, “Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” (NLT)
© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Tuesday, 02 June 2009.