catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 4 :: 2004.02.13 — 2004.02.26


It takes 'two to tango' and I'm a willing partner

I am living my own “it feels too good to be wrong” paradox. When I am with my friend Alex, I feel for him a complete attraction that is hard to reconcile with my faith and my marriage and leaves me asking myself some tough questions.

The past six months have been rough. I have been bored. I have been hurting. My faith has been stretched. I am frustrated by a mundane, thankless job that leaves me restless and frustrated; a marriage that comforts and enfolds me but does not excite me; a weekly routine that leaves me little time for myself, and a loneliness of spirit and yearning for something more. I see little hope for change. God seems silent and distant to me as I cry out to him for answers. I cling to the scriptures full of promises that God will bless those who wait patiently upon him. I know the truth of waiting for God’s timing in my head, but I’m trying to get it to stick in my heart.

My friendship with Alex began several months ago. He quickly became my sounding board as a neutral person not involved in any other part of my life. He makes me laugh. He has great eyes and a strong personality. Being around him makes me forget about the drabness of my life. It is an addictive cycle. I want to eke out whatever time I can with him, and I find myself entertaining all kinds of non-godly visions involving Alex. At first I told myself “it’s okay to be tempted, I just can’t act on temptation.” But I realize now that if given the opportunity, I would consider compromising everything. And therefore my longing for Alex, and everything that relationship represents in my life, is a deeper issue that I do indeed need to address. But where do I start? What does it mean for me that I continue to warm the pew at church every Sunday while deliberately wanting and hoping to sin? What do we do as Christians and committed-for-life spouses when we are tempted to have an affair? What holds us back? What do we do when our marriages fall into a dull routine that lacks enthusiasm and spark? How can we develop and maintain strong marriages that meet our sexual and emotional needs? Society gives us its answe: divorce rates and sexual diseases continue to climb in amazing numbers. But what can we do to answer these questions as a people “set apart by God”? I am very much enmeshed in the middle of this struggle right now. My heart is raw and aching and I don’t yet have the answers to these questions, but I do know that I’m committed to the struggle toward healing to find them out. I also think that discussing some of these questions in Christian community is vital, and I encourage you, the reader, to come up with creative ideas for building up your own and/or others’ marriages in order to “safeguard” them against potential opportunities for temptation.

I have been schooled in the Christian faith my entire life so I know that “committing adultery” (or even thinking about it) is breaking all core values. I remember the deep-rooted anger and disgust I felt against a man in my church a few years ago after hearing the whispered rumors that he had cheated on his wife. This is just not a sin with wiggle room. And it is absolutely not a temptation that I have heard discussed openly in our Christian communities and friendships. I feel that our churches sometimes hover dangerously on the border of being places where we gather to maintain our godly images and laud each other for good works rather than being houses of worship where fellow members experience true repentance and openness with one another. But despite this fallen reality, I do believe that God continues to call and prod us to develop community, and in that spirit, my first step toward letting go of my very-real feelings of discouragement and temptation is to humble myself and share my struggle with a fellow Christian woman who can hold me accountable. Without someone holding me accountable, my mind might continue to threaten to justify and act on my feelings.

My next step should be a very-real self-evaluation. Alex, who knows how I feel, asked me the other day what I was going to do if I felt this way again for someone else in the future. I was struck by the reality of that question and scared by its implications! Instead of freely daydreaming, I need to start setting boundaries for my thoughts and safeguard my marriage so that this does not become an option to explore whenever I face times of trial. I know that my feelings for Alex do not stem so much from the temptation of “forbidden fruit” but rather from the desire to quell my restless spirit with freedom and excitement (regardless of my head knowledge that an affair would ultimately be unfulfilling). The temptation to believe that I am fulfilled when I am accepted by a man.

I am poignantly aware of my own weaknesses and sinful nature right now. I accept that most importantly, it is time for me to fall on my knees and give myself over to God, however difficult that is going to be. I have been holding oh-so-tightly to my attraction for Alex: whether or not I was going to act on my feelings, I like this level of excitement and mystery in my life. I am honestly, truly struggling to give up my selfish desires and trust that God will provide and bless me in his perfect timing with all the desires of my heart. I know that the choices I make today will affect my character and shape how I may respond the next time around.

My larger goal is to cultivate my heart for God, no matter what temptations I face each day. I can’t overcome my sin and temptation on my own, but I can start strengthening my relationship with God and with my husband by being more open with my support system, spending more time in prayer, having an open conversation with my husband about our relationship, and continuing to open myself to reflection about what God wants to do in my life. It is easier to tell myself that I will do these things than to actually do them, but I have faith that Christ has brought me this far and will continue to work in my heart. The beautiful comfort I have is that even when I disregard the blessings God has given me and come close to hurting many people around me, He does not give up on me and freely pours His forgiveness upon me as soon as I ask.

For the time being, I’ll still probably imagine Alex taking me into his arms, kissing me passionately, and telling me I am a beautiful woman both inside and out. And for the time being, it will be God’s grace alone that gives me the strength to make it through each day with integrity.

Discussion topic: Church and sex

Over and over again, believers find that in their struggles with sexual issues, the Church lacks the structures and dialogue to help them resist temptation, express repentance, and feel truly redeemed. What should the Church be doing to address this problem? How can we shape our local churches to embody strong standards and equally strong forgiveness?

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