October 18, 2010
A Slow Boil
"Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex."
Hebrews 13:4 (MSG)
There's a familiar story about the best way to boil a frog - not something I can imagine needing to know, but it offers a good lesson. The story goes that if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, his survival instincts will cause him immediately to detect the danger and he'll quickly jump out. On the other hand, if you put a frog in a pot of cool water and gradually turn the heat up to a boil, he won't recognize the threat until it's too late.
The lesson here for marriage is to be aware of gradual temperature increases. I've heard people say that an affair "just happened." That may be true in the sense that sexual sin often does not start with a blatantly willful act. A more accurate portrayal of marital infidelity would be to say that the attraction and "temperature" gradually increases the more you are around that person. In other words, affairs develop little by little.
A friendly conversation with a workmate moves to flirtatious comments. Perhaps you find yourself wondering if he finds you attractive. You look forward to your next conversation. Your talks move from chit-chat to more intimate emotional matters. The next step might be secret emails, texts, Facebook messages or phone calls. Then, like the boiling frog, you find yourself in the scalding waters of marital infidelity.
What are some safeguards you can establish to protect your marriage from gradual temperature increases? What can help you avoid being in situations that might cause you or your spouse to be tempted to be unfaithful? Here are a few suggestions:
· Avoid one-on-one time with someone of the opposite sex. If work or ministry put you in this situation, limit the amount of time spent with the other person. Keep in public places. Keep your office door open.
· Avoid friendships with other men, unless the friendship includes your husband. Be aware that many affairs begin as emotionally as a connection of the heart.
· Be careful how you talk about your spouse and with whom you talk. Aim to always present your spouse in the best light. Be careful not to vent about him, especially to another man.
· Give your spouse free access to your "technology." "No secrets" is a good rule of thumb when it comes to Facebook, texts, and emails.
Truthfully, I probably would have thought this devotion was pretty extreme when I had been married only a short time. So if you're thinking that, I understand. However, after nineteen years of marriage, after researching and writing about marriage for years, and after I've seen many Christian marriages fall apart because couples failed to take preventative measures, I assure you, this is wise.
Consider the ideas presented here, pray about this issue, talk to your spouse, and establish healthy safeguards for your marriage. And I pray you never find your relationship in the boiling pot of infidelity or divorce.
Dear Lord, deliver me from temptation. Make me wise in these matters. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Today's devotion is adapted from What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood.
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Discuss with your spouse the safeguards suggested here to protect your marriage. Are there any you both want to agree to follow?
Consider being accountability partners with a friend concerning your marriage. Choose someone you trust, someone you can be honest with, and someone who is willing to hold you to God's principles in your marriage.
Do you think the safeguards discussed in this devotion are too extreme?
What safeguards do you have in place?
Do you pray daily for your spouse and marriage?
1 Corinthians 6:18, "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." (NIV)
Matthew 19:6, "'So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.'" (NIV)
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Originally published Monday, 18 October 2010.