As a committed Southern Baptist, president Jimmy Carter was often questioned by reporters on a variety of moral issues. One day, a reporter asked, “How would you feel if you were told that your daughter was having an affair?” “Shocked and overwhelmed,” Carter responded, “but then, she’s only seven years old.”
Stuart Strachan Jr.
An Eye for an Eye
Zaleusus flourished as king of the ancient Greek Locrians in about 500 B.C. His government over the Locrians was severe but just. In one of his decrees he forbade the use of wine unless it were prescribed as medicine; and in another he ordered that all adulterers should be punished with the loss of both their eyes.
When his own son became subject to this penalty, the father, in order to maintain the authority of the laws, but to show parental leniency, shared the penalty with his son by ordering one of his own eyes to be thrust out along with one of his offending son. In this way, the majesty of his government was maintained, and his own character as a just and righteous sovereign was magnified in the eyes of his subjects.
James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, p. 39.
Disregarding God’s Prohibitions
Some years ago I had a pastoral relationship with a couple of people who were deeply in love with each other. They believed that God wanted them to get married so they could consummate their love. There was a problem with this plan, however, since they were each married to someone else. Their relationship was an adulterous one, something clearly forbidden in Scripture.
Yet, they were truly convinced that God was bringing them together, so they acted on this conviction. Later, after they were married, they confided in me that the pain they had brought upon themselves and their loved ones was so great that, knowing what they knew then, they would not have pursued the course they chose.
Had they taken seriously God’s prohibition of adultery in the first place, they might have spared themselves and their loved ones much hurt. Of course, God’s grace is wide and God’s redemptive ability is immense. Yet, it is wrong to disregard God’s prohibitions of sin because God’s grace is abundant (Romans 6:1-2). If we wish to live our lives as worship to God, and if we desire to live abundantly, then we will receive God’s prohibitions as gracious guidance that point us toward the positives of kingdom living.
Make A List
Years ago, a friend gave me this counsel: “Make a list of all the lives you would affect by your sexual immorality.” I did. Every so often I reread it. “Denalyn. My three daughters. My son-in-law. My yet-to-be-born grandchildren. Every person who has ever read one of my books or heard one of my sermons. My publishing team. Our church staff.”
The list reminds me: one act of carnality is a poor exchange for a lifetime of lost legacy. Dads, would you intentionally break the arm of your child? Of course not. Such an action would violate every fiber of your moral being. Yet if you engage in sexual activity outside of your marriage, you will bring much more pain into the life of your child than would a broken bone.
What If Satan Told The Truth When He Tempted Us? [Part 1 of 2]
Think for a second what it would be like if Satan were to tell the truth when he tempted people? Could you picture what that would look like? Imagine if Satan tried to tempt us honestly; it might go something like this:
SATAN: You should cheat on your wife with that good-looking girl in the office.
PERSON: I don’t think so. It’s wrong, and it would hurt my wife.
SATAN: Fair enough; you make a good point. But look, I’ve run a cost-benefit analysis for you. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- A few moments of physical (if perhaps awkward) pleasure.
- Erode your communion with God.
- Ruin, or possibly even end, your marriage.
- Humiliate your wife.
- Mess up your kids’ lives.
- Public humiliation and exposure.
- Might cost you your job.
- Might mess up your coworker’s life.
- Unwanted pregnancy?
- Dishonor and disgrace on your church.
- Wreck your witness to others.
The Devils Logic [Part 2 of 2]
If I were making a list of benefits like the one Mike McKinley imagines, only this time using the devil’s actual logic, it might look more like this:
- Experience the excitement of new romance.
- Get the kind of satisfaction my wife isn’t willing to give or interested in giving anymore.
- Find someone who listens to me and actually understands.
- Relieve this stress and boredom.
- Feel attractive and desired.
- Feel loved.
Those are the lines we follow when we ponder affairs. We give an inch at a time, compromise after compromise, not in the explicit interest of disobeying God and dishonoring our marriage vows, but in the interest of fulfillment, beauty, and enlightenment. Sin makes an emotional kind of sense to us that defies biblical reason, and the devil is more than happy to help us with that too. After all, God forgives anything, right?
When Scandales Become Blasé
In his thoughtful book, Our Good Crisis: Overcoming Moral Chaos with the Beatitudes, Jonathan K. Dodson describes what has become a reality of modern-day life-scandals happen every day, and no-one seems to even notice:
After settling into my tech-savvy dining booth at JFK international airport, I heard “breaking news” in stereo. News blaring–flat screens scattered throughout the terminal announced CNN had obtained a tape of a conversation between Donald Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen discussing how they planned to buy the rights to a Playboy model’s story of an alleged affair.
I looked around the terminal, scanning gates and bars filled with TVs. No one paid attention. Not a single person seemed to be concerned that evidence had surfaced indicting an American president of an extramarital affair, with a Playmate, which he tried to cover up by paying her off. Irrespective of political affiliations, this news should grab our attention.
Not a head turned. Why? Perhaps it’s because we’ve become so accustomed to public crises. Just this week I came across the vicious ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s Rohingya, the massacre of six American women and three children in Mexico, an impudent religious leader hurling racial insults, impeachment hearings in DC, and a college admission scandal. If I’m honest, I’m kind of overloaded, even numb to these atrocities.
Taken from Our Good Crisis: Overcoming Moral Chaos with the Beatitudes by Jonathan K. Dodson Copyright (c) 2020 by Jonathan K. Dodson. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com