If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.
It is easy to judge other people. Judgmentalism and blame come naturally to us. Other people's faults and failures are not difficult to identify. Many of us can remember a time in our lives when throwing the first stone was not just easy - it was what we thought good Christians were supposed to do.
One of the most dramatic changes which takes place early in the recovery process is an increase in self-awareness. We begin to see patterns in our own lives that need changing. We see our own self destructive tendencies. We see how we have brought pain to others. As these insights dawn on us, we begin to lay down our stones.
Of course, as our self-awareness increases, many of us attempt to refocus the blame and judgmentalism from others onto ourselves. We can blame and judge ourselves as ruthlessly as we may once have blamed and judged others. But it's not really progress in recovery to give up throwing stones. . and then start banging our heads against a stone wall.
Judgmentalism and blame are not helpful in recovery. What makes recovery possible is when increased self-awareness leads to an increased capacity to experience forgiveness. Gradually we learn to accept forgiveness from God and others. We receive mercy. As a result, we begin to treat ourselves and others with mercy.
It is increased self-awareness and the humility which self-awareness makes possible that are the soil in which true community can grow. When we accept ourselves as humans even though we struggle and sometimes fail, we can become far more gentle with ourselves and with others.
Lord, you know how quick I have been to throw stones.
Thank you for the self awareness that has allowed me to see more clearly that
I am not without sin.
I know that I am in need of forgiveness.
Give me the courage to accept your forgiveness and mercy
and in this way begin to live in true community
Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan
National Association for Christian Recovery
I know a guy who cheats on his wife. He cheats on her every day. He cheats on her multiple times a day. He’s a husband and a father and a serial adulterer.
I shouldn’t know this fact about him, but it came up in conversation a few days ago. We were talking about the divorce rate; both of us gave our theories as to why the statistics are so high. I mentioned in my diagnosis a few studies that show pornography to be a root cause in over 50 percent of divorces annually.
He laughed. “People don’t get divorced over porn.” He went on to explain that porn isn’t a “big deal” to most people. It’s not “like it’s cheating or something.” He told me that he looks at it multiple times daily. His wife, he insisted, might be a little peeved if she knew the extent of it, but only because women overreact about “that kind of thing.”
What kind of thing? Their husbands spending all day obsessively plunging through the darkest regions of the internet for graphic sexual images of rape, abuse, perversion, exploitation and other forms of filthy depravity previously unknown to mankind?
Yeah. That kind of thing. No reason why any wife should be too upset about that, apparently.
Listen guys, I know this is an uncomfortable conversation. But it’s time we man up and get real about pornography. First things first: if you’re married and you look at porn, you are cheating. Period. From a Christian perspective, this can’t be debated. Christ laid it out very clearly: if you lust after another woman, you have committed adultery. When we look at porn we are choosing to succumb to that lust; we are indulging it, fertilizing it, giving it respite in our minds. We are diving into it headfirst and soaking in it like a sponge. We are lessening ourselves, betraying our wives and participating in the violent exploitation of women (and girls). Or minds and our bodies belong to the Lord and to our wives; pornography, therefore, intrudes on their domain. If we look at porn, we are adulterers. We are adulterers in all the worst ways.
We don’t even need to refer to Scripture to figure out the simple equation that porn equals adultery.
Why wouldn’t it?
Because you aren’t physically in contact with another woman?
So what? That’s merely a matter of semantics and circumstance. The absence of physical touch doesn’t automatically free you of the scarlet letter — if it did, ‘sexting’ with other women would be fair game, I suppose. How would you feel if you looked through your wife’s phone and found racy, sexually graphic text messages she’d sent to a man at her office? Would you be alright with it as long as she could prove she never had any physical contact with him? Or is that totally different because she knows the guy, whereas porn is anonymous and impersonal? See, we find ourselves constructing many arbitrary lines of distiniction when we are deteremined to rationalize behavior we instinctively know to be immoral and wrong.
But, OK, what if she didn’t know the guy? What if she was engaging in “fantasies” with men she never met? Imagine that, in your cyber travels, you stumbled upon a porn site featuring pictures and videos of a particularly alluring young female: your wife. How would that sit with you? Your wife selling digital sex all over the internet — how would you like that? It might cause a bit of a marital dispute, wouldn’t you say?
If you wouldn’t want your wife being a porn provider, you ought to understand why she wouldn’t want you to be a porn consumer. If you wouldn’t want her to invite and encourage other men to violate her in their minds, you ought to understand why she wouldn’t want you to accept the invitation to violate other women in your mind.
I don’t mean to concentrate only on married men. Porn is poison for everyone, married or not. And I’m not here to castigate you if you’ve stumbled. We live in a society that preys upon a man’s weaknesses, shoving sex into his face at hyper speed every day, all day, all of the time. This isn’t an excuse; just an attempt to put things into context. I won’t yell at a guy who fights a porn addiction anymore than I’d yell at a guy who fights a crack addiction. But at least the crack addict likely won’t encounter very many people (besides his dealer) who will tell him that it’s actually healthy to smoke crack. If he ventures outside of the abandoned shack where he scores his dope, he probably won’t find any respectable people who will say, “hey, crack isn’t a big deal — it’s totally natural to smoke crack, man!” In that way, the crack smoker has a leg up on the porn addict. The porn addict, by contrast, has to fight both the compulsion itself and the myriad of creeps who will try to convince him that it’s all just a bit of innocent fun.
That’s a lie, of course. It’s not innocent. It’s not fun.
I could cite for you the mounds of psychiatric research proving the detrimental effects of pornography on the brain. But you can do that research yourself.
I could tell you about sex slavery, human trafficking, drug abuse, and child molestation, and I could explain how the porn industry wouldn’t exist without these necessary ingredients. But these are conclusions you can draw on your own, if ever you take even a moment to think about it.
I could remind you that these women you find on your porn sites might not be women at all — they could be children — and there’s no way for you to know for sure. I could then point out that any avid porn customer has most likely at some point been a child porn customer, whether he knew it or not. But this is, indeed, an obvious and inescapable reality.
I could tell you that many children view graphic porn for the first time before the age of 12. I could tell you that we haven’t even begun to reap the atrocious fruits that will come from an entire generation raised on the heinous perversions of internet pornography. But it’s probably too late for these warnings.
So what is left? Perhaps nothing, really. Pornography is evil, empty, deadening, dirty — this is something we all know. That’s why, unless you are either psychotic or utterly despicable, you wouldn’t want your daughter to get into the porn business. That’s why most people hide their porn habits. That’s why it still isn’t considered acceptable to browse “adult” websites at your desk at work or at a table in Starbucks (although people still do, in both scenarios). That’s why you only find porn shops and strip clubs in the slummy, rundown parts of town. No matter how hedonistic and “open minded” we become, we still recognize porn as something that ought to be stowed away in the dank, dark corners of our lives. This is Natural Law, and we can’t escape it. We have an innate understanding of right and wrong, whether we want it or not.
Married men: I think we should be spending our free time with our families, or reading interesting books so that we can sharpen our minds, or building things, or exercising, or doing anything else that will make us better men. Porn will not make you a better man. It will make you smaller. It will make you a liar. It will kill that instinct inside you that calls you to protect and honor women. It will turn you into something you never wanted to be. It will turn you into a sneaky, shameful pervert. It will turn you into an adulterer.
Real men don’t look at pornography.This post was written by Matt Walsh. To find his original post with comments, go here: http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/11/25/married-men-your-porn-habit-is-an-adultery-habit/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, Hebrews 10:24 (NKJV)
As a whole this community is suffering for their faith in Jesus. This doesn’t take into consideration what other kinds of suffering may be going on. In this community there may have been wives who had been abandoned by their husbands and husband who had been abandoned by their wives. In this community there may have been parents who were dealing with the loss of a child.
In this community there may have been people struggling financially because of the loss of a job. In this community there may have been people grieving over the loss of a loved one. In this community there may have been people that were stressed out because of all that was going on in their lives. Yet in the midst of this community that was going through hardships the inspired author tells them not to turn their focus inward.
How many of us know how easy it is during hard times to let our focus turn inward and begin to only think about ourselves and our problems? I think this is one of the easiest things in the world to do. Most of us are naturally selfish and self-centered anyway. Let problems come into our lives and watch us take our selfishness and self-centeredness to a whole nutha level.
Here we are told not to become self-centered and self-focused but to consider one another.The picture here seems to be that a church should be filled with people who care enough about one another that we lovingly watch over one another so that when a brother or sister becomes discouraged or begins to drift in their commitment to Jesus we go to one another with the sole purpose of stirring each other up to love and good works. What beautiful picture of what the church should be.
I want to point out here that this isn’t just speaking to the pastor. The inspired author doesn’t lay the responsibility to do this at the pastor’s feet. The other doesn’t say, “Consider one another so that you may go tell the pastor to stir one another up to love and good works
.” God lays the responsibility to consider one another and to stir one another up at all of our feet. If you see someone that is discouraged, hurting or drifting in their commitment to Jesus, YOU
have a responsibility to go to them in love and seek to stir them back up to love and good works.
This, in my opinion, is one of the greatest failures of the modern church. We see no responsibility for anyone outside of ourselves. Here is what is tragically sad. It’s not that we don’t see one another become discouraged or begin to drift. It is that instead of going and trying to stir one another back up, we either callously turn a blind eye to it, or wickedly use it as an opportunity to talk about one another. If we are guilty of doing either of these we should repent and ask God to forgive us for this sin.
Not only should we consider one another to encourage one another, but as we gather together we should be encouraged to serve Jesus. Our time together shouldn’t motivate us to complacency. What we do together shouldn’t end in the church building. As you read Scripture you see that what we do in together should motivate us to serve Jesus out in the world. Too many times we think of coming to church as our service to Jesus but that’s really not true, at least not entirely. Coming to church isn’t our service to Jesus as much as it is a service station that prepares us to go and serve Jesus. So a part of what the church does in encouraging our commitment to Jesus is to encourage us to be faithful in serving Jesus.
We do this through singing songs that remind us of our need to serve Jesus.
We do this through giving people opportunities to use their spiritual gifts.
We do this through encouraging people to see the needs in the world around us and then take the initiative to do what they can to help.
We do this through studying what the Bible says about our need to serve Jesus.
This means at times we will study about our need to take up our cross and follow Jesus. This means at times we will study about our need to share the Gospel.
This means at times we will study about our need to help the help the poor and visit the shut-ins.
This means at times we will study about our need to find and use our spiritual gifts.
This means at times we will study about our need to be salt and light in the world.
The church encourages us in our commitment to Jesus by challenging us and encouraging us to serve Jesus.
For further study read Ephesians 4:11-16.
What is the pastor to do?
What are the people to do?
What is the purpose for the pastor and the people each doing what they are supposed to do?
This post was written by Rev Ross. For the original post, go to: http://stacyjross.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/the-church-encourages-me-to-serve-jesus/
Perhaps one of the most defining features of humanity is our capacity for empathy -- the ability to put ourselves in others' shoes. A new University of Virginia study strongly suggests that we are hardwired to empathize because we closely associate people who are close to us -- friends, spouses, lovers -- with our very selves.
"With familiarity, other people become part of ourselves," said James Coan, a psychology professor in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences who used functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans to find that people closely correlate people to whom they are attached to themselves. The study appears in the August issue of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
"Our self comes to include the people we feel close to," Coan said.
In other words, our self-identity is largely based on whom we know and empathize with. Coan and his U.Va. colleagues conducted the study with 22 young adult participants who underwent fMRI scans of their brains during experiments to monitor brain activity while under threat of receiving mild electrical shocks to themselves or to a friend or stranger. The researchers found, as they expected, that regions of the brain responsible for threat response -- the anterior insula, putamen and supramarginal gyrus -- became active under threat of shock to the self. In the case of threat of shock to a stranger, the brain in those regions displayed little activity. However when the threat of shock was to a friend, the brain activity of the participant became essentially identical to the activity displayed under threat to the self.
"The correlation between self and friend was remarkably similar," Coan said. "The finding shows the brain's remarkable capacity to model self to others; that people close to us become a part of ourselves, and that is not just metaphor or poetry, it's very real. Literally we are under threat when a friend is under threat. But not so when a stranger is under threat."
Coan said this likely is because humans need to have friends and allies who they can side with and see as being the same as themselves. And as people spend more time together, they become more similar.
"It's essentially a breakdown of self and other; our self comes to include the people we become close to," Coan said. "If a friend is under threat, it becomes the same as if we ourselves are under threat. We can understand the pain or difficulty they may be going through in the same way we understand our own pain."
This likely is the source of empathy, and part of the evolutionary process, Coan reasons. "A threat to ourselves is a threat to our resources," he said. "Threats can take things away from us. But when we develop friendships, people we can trust and rely on who in essence become we, then our resources are expanded, we gain. Your goal becomes my goal. It's a part of our survivability."
People need friends, Coan added, like "one hand needs another to clap."The original article for today's post can be found at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130822085804.htm
BE A MAN.
Many awful things have been done with the doctrine of hell. "You'll go to hell for that" has been used to condemn all sorts of things that God does not condemn. You know… "Don't smoke, don't chew, don't go with girls who do." Furthermore, those who have swung the idea of hell around like a club give you the impression that they'll be glad to see you sent there. But not our God, who "is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). The Lover of our souls, the One who has pursued us down through space and time, who gave his own life to rescue us from the Kingdom of Darkness, has made it clear: He does not want to lose us. He longs for us to be with him forever.
Nonetheless, simply because certain people have abused the concept of hell doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
First, you must understand that hell was created not for mankind, but for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). I'm sure you'll remember with relish the stories where the evil one is destroyed in the end. Commodus being slain with his own knife in the arena. Darth Maul falling to the saber of Obi-Wan Kenobi. A great chasm opening in the earth to swallow Sauron and his army of Orcs so that Middle Earth might be free at last.
Hell is not God's intention for mankind.
But remember—he gave us free will.
He gave us a choice.
We seem to forget—perhaps more truthfully, we refuse to remember—that we are the ones who betrayed him, not vice versa. We are the ones who listened to the lies of the Evil One in the Garden; we chose to mistrust the heart of God. In breaking the one command he gave us, we set in motion a life of breaking his commands. The final act of self-centeredness is seen in those who refuse to come to the wedding banquet of God (Matthew 22:2-3). They do not want God. They reject his offer of forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus. What is he to do? The universe has only two options. If they insist, God will grant to them what they have wanted—to be left to themselves.This post is taken from the book Epic by John EldredgeBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
When I first started attending recovery groups in 1991, I met a guy who told me he’d had 2 years of freedom from sexual sin, and then fallen. I wondered how someone who’d gone that long could blow it. It wouldn’t be long before I would learn from experience.
I jumped into the recovery program, achieved 18 months of sobriety, and lost it.
I bounced back, gained another three years of sobriety, and lost it again. The bad news was that for the next three years I averaged a precarious 3 months of freedom with plenty of small compromises in between.
So what happened? Why do guys go so long and then lose it? Here are five reasons why:
This is number one, by far. A guy gets a few years under his belt, then the others in his recovery circle start looking up to him as the “one with the answers.” He enters the danger is if he starts buying into this and thinking he’s arrived... “Yo church, lemme show you how it’s done.” A guy in pride-mode is living in his flesh-strength, and fighting the lust of the flesh with the flesh never works. It won’t be long before he falls flat on his face.
2. They’re not grounded in humility. All of us are stuck with the evil, wicked nature the Bible calls the flesh until the day we die. Then there is the battle with the god of this world, who smells our weaknesses from miles away. Past freedom from sin is never a guarantee for future victory; we’re always one or two bad decisions away from a nosedive off the cliff. Pride blinds a man to the truth and causes him to rely on himself and his past. When I’m grounded in humility, I realize that I need God every day for the rest of my life to stay free from sexual sin. There’s nothing good inside of me apart from the Lord and I can’t do it without Him. This isn’t going to change until death parts me from my flesh.
3. They start making small compromises.
After a stretch of freedom, most men don’t fall instantly. What often happens is that they make little compromises that chip away at their resistance. They start allowing sexual fantasy to play in their mind, or they expose themselves to movies or other media they know is dangerous. “Hey, I can handle this; I’ve been sober for two years now.” Over time these little compromises strip down his resistance, and the next thing he knows he’s flat on his face wondering what happened. Never give lust an inch. If you give it an inch, it will jam its foot in the door and try to gain more ground.
4. They isolate themselves.
It’s easy to get too busy and stop attending support groups or back off from an accountability partner “because we’ve got this licked.” Yeah right. Guys who haven’t walked on water don’t have anything on sin. We need other godly men around us until our time on this earth ends. If you make a small compromise with lust, the easiest and quickest way to douse the sparks of temptation and compromise is to expose it to a friend as soon as you are able. This keeps the door slammed tight on lust and stiffens your resolve to say “no.”
5. They don’t stay alert.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Last summer, a day before I was to leave for a three day business trip, the Lord gave me several verses about Him “walking with me through the shadow of death.” I have to confess to being dense and not getting it. The first night, the pull to turn on the TV was consistent but not more than I could deal with. The second night, at another hotel, the battle got a little hotter. Then the third night, it was if the enemy pulled off the gloves and went for it. There were banging noises in the hotel room above late at night, and the pull to turn on the TV went red-hot. I flipped the TV on. Once I crossed that line, the temptation to rent a porn movie increased to bonfire proportions. By God’s grace alone I shut the TV off before it went any further.
I didn’t get God’s warnings before the trip, and it could have cost me dearly. Who knows how far I might have fallen if I’d have rented a porn movie? What I should have done was spend more time on my knees in prayer every night to shore up my defenses and ask for spiritual reinforcements from above. Bible reading and praying Scripture out loud would have helped. I got hit by an onslaught of the enemy and was in a battle zone wearing pajamas. Not smart.
We need to stay prayed up, sober, and on the alert; we won’t see what’s coming at us around the corner until it’s in our face.
This post was written by Mike Genung. Mike struggled with sexual addiction for 20 years before God set him free in 1999. He is the founder of Blazing Grace, and the author of The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction, available at www.roadtograce.net. For the original post, go to: http://www.xxxchurch.com/men/how-do-i-live-in-freedom.html
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Let me tell you a tale of three pastors. All successes in their own right. I would be pleased to be a member of their congregations. They are good men, godly men, holy men. They have the same Holy Spirit working in their lives.... yet, they are different. And sometimes, they rub me wrong. At least two of them do...
One pastor was talking about how the Military creates dependency. "In the military, you don't have to make any decisions, all decisions are made for you, you just obey orders. They feed you, house you, raise you into a fighting machine. They tell you where to live and who to make friends with." (Just in case you're wondering, no, this pastor has never served in the military, although he has had numerous military folks in his congregation.) Yet, when I think about this pastor, he went straight from high school, to college, to seminary, to his first church. He serves in a denomination where the pastor is a professional. The churches in which he has served have always providing housing, paid his expenses, and given him a nice salary. (He is well within the top 1% of financial earners in his church. To his credit he does tithe his salary.) His denomination tells him when to move to another church. Does that sound independent to you?
Another pastor was talking about how the new generation of churches will be smaller and transient with bi-vocational pastors. This pastor is a good scholar. He has researched trends in the church and realizes that is what he needs to be training the next generation of pastors to do. Yet, when I think about this pastor, he went straight from high school, to college, to seminary, to his church. He serves in a denomination where the pastor is a professional. The churches in which he has served have always providing housing, paid his expenses, and given him a nice salary. His church isn't a mega-church by any standards but it is a good sized, medium church. He remarked the other day, "I haven't mowed a yard in years. People from the church come over and mow my yard (actually the yard of the parsonage where he lives that the church provides for him as part of his salary package)." Does that sound bi-vocational to you?
Another pastor, now at the end of his ministry due to his age, reflected with me regarding his life as a minister. He never had a church of over 250. He accepted meager salaries in spite of having seven children. He told me stories about God's provision: coats for his children that suddenly appeared on the doorstep one frigid winter morning, receiving "blue milk" and cheese from the local dairy, having an abundance of fresh farms eggs from an unnamed person in the community, working side-by-side with parishioners in painting and refurbishing the church (and telling of the wonderful theological truths and friendships that occurred during these times), caring for the church building by cleaning toilets, mowing the yard, taking out the trash, etc. Also, he never had a parsonage. Every home he lived in he either rented or owned (ironically, now at a ripe old age, on his meager salary, he owns several homes and they are rented by pastors or parishioners of his former churches). Each of these homes, he cared for in painting, refurbishing, caring for the lawn and shoveling snow. (Oh, that reminds me, he shoveled the snow at his churches. He wanted his church to be welcoming even during bad weather.) He stated he would never cancel church. "What if someone found their way to the church during bad weather only to find the doors locked? What if that was the time that they decided they needed Jesus? If even only one person showed up, I still had church." He NEVER wanted to count on the church to take care of him. He told me that he knew that he was called to be a pastor and in doing a pastor's work, he KNEW that God would take care of him. His salary was just to pay what expenses that he had as he never went into debt, owing no man anything.
Like I said in the first paragraph, three pastors: All successes in their own right. I would be pleased to be a member of their congregations. They are good men, godly men, holy men. They have the same Holy Spirit working in their lives.... yet, they are different. And sometimes, they rub me wrong. At least two of them do...
BE A MAN.
"Dear Lord, in case you didn't know, he's right upstairs! You need to do something about him! My daughter says she loves him. Can't she see how mean and abusive he is? He does drugs and is going to take her with him! God, you've gotta do something!" The pastor sharing this part of his life in his sermon was being transparent. I really, really, like it when pastors share real stories. This pastor was talking about being in his basement while his daughter and her boyfriend were upstairs watching TV. He was fuming! His daughter didn't see the dangers of dating such a man. He was praying that God would take care of this man.
Another pastor was sharing his personal story. He has a brother who was hopelessly lost, doing drugs, living on the streets, homeless, dejected and rejected. He told about how much he was praying for his brother and was wanting to help him without enabling his choices.
Another pastor told about his son and how his son had become hopelessly lost. He had showed promise as a child, going to church, accepting Jesus as his Savior but like the other two, drugs, sinfulness, hopelessness had set in. This pastor endured 30+ years of his son's lascivious and selfish living.
In the first situation, the pastor was praying that his daughter would wake up and leave the young man. He was praying that God would have this boy leave his daughter alone. You know what happened? God DID do something to this boy. God changed him. He ended up marrying this pastor's daughter and became an upright man, being a terrific father, husband and son-in-law.
In the third situation, after 30+ years of praying, the result of the pastor's prayers became a reality. His son returned to God, cleaned up his act and became a preacher. He is now a pastor of three years and sharing with people in his congregation whom the church had previously ignored, given up on or discarded. His ministry is seeing fruit among the dregs of society.
So, for the second pastor, we don't know where his brother is going. Prayers are going up for this man, desires that he will open up and let God bring him to Him. Please pray for this pastor and his brother. It is agonizing to have someone you love destroy himself.
The point of today's post is "do you REALLY believe that people can change?"
When you pray for people, do you pray that God will remove them, kill them, get rid of them.... or do you pray that God will CHANGE them? It's easy to say, "Oh, I pray that God will change them." But I ask you, look deep inside yourself when you are praying for these individuals, "Do you really want them to change and become part of God's Kingdom or do you just don't want to hear about them anymore, to not be troubled by them anymore?"
Lord, help us to see people and love people the way you do.
BE A MAN.
Yesterday, we discussed how an affair progresses thru predictable stages. However, the consequences of such behavior are profound.
Dr. Dobson states, "the grass may be greener on the other side of the fence but it still has to be mowed." Once the excitement of the early stages of the affair wear off, the new couple is forced to live real life again, life in the common place. The man and woman suddenly have to face work thru personality adjustments. They discover spiritual, emotional and physical imperfections in each other they have never noticed before. Someone has to fix the cars, cook the meals, clean the house, run errands, mow the lawn, struggle with the finances.
There is also a layer of distrust in the new relationship. "If he cheated before, he can do it again..." The trail of pain eats away at the new relationship. Kids have been hurt. A wife and a husband have been abandoned. The complex and difficult relational network is hard to manage.
Like wide-eyed children we enter into extra-marital affair. Our eyes are wide open but for some reason we are blind to many of the realities that will become devastatingly apparent later when the glitter fades. It is OK to be childlike in some of the areas of our lives. But we have to live in the real world. Yes, we desperately want for the new relationship to work, to give us pleasure, the romance, the affirmation we felt was lacking in our former marriage. But we have bought the lie, the hype, the brightly lit illusion, the propaganda that says we can gave everything we want simply by changing partners mid-stream. It is very American to seek the quick fix; we are looking for the easy road to the real thing.
It is truly a tragedy. Men and women change partners again and again chasing the illusion. Many die lonely, empty people, lacking the love that they chased all their lives.
Tomorrow, we will look at how to fight the temptation to stray...
The information from this post is taken from TEMPTATIONS MEN FACE
BE A MAN.
There are twelve common steps that usually occur in sequence as a relationship moves toward an adulterous affair. These steps often occur over a long period of time, but a man and a woman can move thru these stages of an affair in a single evening. Becoming aware of the steps helps us to recognize what might be happening to us so we can stop the process before we are in over our heads.
Our two main enemies are rationalization and denial. We rationalize when we give acceptable reasons for unacceptable thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Denial is our often intense refusal to recognize the truth about our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Sin can harden our hearts and darken our understanding, turning us away from God. "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."
For example, a woman rationalizes that God understood and accepted her numerous affairs because, after all, it was He who created within her this "need for other men." A man lives in denial about his affair, "it's OK, because each time we have sex we end by praying together."
I will briefly list the 12 steps here and in the subsequent post. For a more complete understanding, you will need to read the book, TEMPTATIONS MEN FACE, from which this information is taken.
1. Readiness - The first step is emotional readiness. Something is occurring in a man's life that has him leaning away from the marriage. This is a vulnerable time. He needs to learn to recognize this and turn his energy toward regaining the full health of his marital relationship.
2. Alertness - The second stage in the affair process is a growing awareness of a particular person in our web of relationships. He begins simply by thinking occasionally about the other person. The innocent thoughts turn to fantasy. As she becomes more present in his conscious thoughts, she may begin to appear in dreams and the dreams are often filled with sexual fantasy. Masturbating while fantasizing about her is common.
3. Innocent meeting - Truly innocent, chance meetings, often legitimate business contacts can potentially build the relationship. This is the stage where some flirtations can develop, prolonged eye contact, harmless sounding sexual innuendo, enticing body language, etc.
4. Intentional meeting - Meetings occur frequently which appear to be by chance when in reality one person has acted in such a way as to increase the likelihood of the meeting. He will hang out for extended periods of time hoping for the chance to "surprisingly" meet her. The excitement of sexual attraction overpowers his rational side. At this point, he has entered a real danger zone.
5. Public lingering - The man & the woman now spend time together while in group settings. They will tend to shut others out by turning away from the group and avoiding eye contact with others. Observers know something is happening. However, they would still deny any suggestion that this was more than normal adult relating. The public setting help them to rationalize: "It's fine to focus on her. Nothing can happen. We are with others."
6. Private lingering - Soon the man & the woman find that they are still together long after the others have left. Conversation shifts from ideas to feelings. Caring is shared. Conversation drifts into private and personal areas. They still feel fine about the relationship because the meetings begin in public.
7. Purposeful isolating - Now the man & the woman begin to plan times alone for "legitimate" purposes. They may request the other to work on special projects at work that require them being alone or work late together. He may ask her to help him sort out his marital problems. They still deny any suggestions that their relationship is not completely appropriate. At home, his wife notices a decrease in verbal & nonverbal communication. He seems suddenly detached, cool, almost formal in his relating. There may be uncompleted phone calls.
8. Pleasurable isolating - Now the man & the woman are planning times alone with each other for the sheer enjoyment of being together. The relationship takes on a youthful euphoria. There is a shared experience of excitement and adventure with more intimacy occurring. There is more touching. His spouse notices that there are long blocks of time that are unaccounted for. There is a noticeable decrease in pleasurable times in the marriage. The relationship is still rationalized: "It's OK to have good friends of the opposite sex, there is nothing wrong with being close friends. After all, she understands me better than my wife."
9. Affectionate embracing - There is embracing without letting go. There is increased touching and playful caressing. Childish games like tickling and wrestling are often played at this stage to increase physical contact. The rationalization is that there is nothing wrong with physically expressing support for one another. At the same time, affectionate embracing and physical contact decreases with his wife.
10. Passionate embracing - Affectionate touching and embracing lead to passionate interchanges. The couple will still rationalize and say that it is fine to get aroused because it is innocent and unplanned, "Besides, my wife no longer makes me feel this way."
11. Capitulation - The couple gives in to sexual intercourse. Denial is eliminated at this stage. There is no way to deny the reality of what they have done.
12. Acceptance - Here they finally admit to themselves that they are in the throes of an affair. If they continue, it is definitely a conscious choice. The emotional investment in the affair is at its peak and the emotional investment in the marriage is at its lowest. The man may find creative ways for his wife to discover the affair. The tension of living a double life is usually too much for someone to bear for very long.
Is this the end of the story? Do the man and woman live happily ever after? Nope. The story of an affair is not a comedy. It is a huge tragedy with unbelievable fallout and consequences.
Tomorrow, we will discuss some of these consequences.
Much of this information is taken from the book, TEMPTATIONS MEN FACE
BE A MAN.