You tell me that you’re nowhere near the path of adultery. You and he are just friends. You both love the Lord and desire to walk in obedience to his word. In fact, it was your shared commitment to Jesus that connected you.
As you served at the Christian conference, chatting over the course of long days and boxed lunches, your conversation was filled with Christ and a zeal for the faith. A group of you got connected on social media, so once the conference was over, moving your dialogue to the inbox was easy. And from there, text messaging made more sense. Now, months later, you’re in touch every couple weeks, with an occasional phone call.
“But nothing about our conversation is improper,” you added quickly. “We talk about our families and ministries. We might touch on something we read in our devotions that morning. He’ll even listen to thoughts about my upcoming blog posts. If anything, at the end of our calls, I’m encouraged and edified in what God has called me to do.”
“Does your husband listen to your thoughts about upcoming blog posts?” I asked.
“Oh, he’s got so much going on,” you said. “I don’t mind that he doesn’t have time.”
“What about spiritual growth?” I asked. “Do you and your husband share what you’re learning as well?”
“Again, it’s just a time issue,” you said. “His job is demanding.”
Friend, I know you’ve said that the mere thought of adultery is repulsive to you, and that you could never see yourself taking that path. But it is my hope and prayer that you see the truth: you are already on the path.
You think you can determine the boundaries of your heart — “This far I will go and no more.” And you attribute goodwill to your heart — “This is only a friendship, and an edifying one at that.”
But you know I love you, and I need to remind you that sin is deceitful, and your heart is susceptible. Scripture says,
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12–13)
Can we break that down? Sin is deceitful — it leads you to believe things that are not true. Who does it deceive? You. It would have you think that you are in control, that you can set the course of your emotions and even confine them at will. It would have you believe that your intentions are perfectly pure. Sin would tout the “good” in having “godly conversations” with this man, while suppressing the truth — that your heart is being drawn to him. You’re taken with the time and attention he gives you. Wooed by the shared attraction to spiritual things.
Sin can make the heart sick. And not a “slight fever” sick, but desperately sick. It treats nothing as sacred. It would use even your love of Christ to lure you into infidelity. While you insist you’re not on the path to adultery, your feet are mired in emotional infidelity. A man who’s not your husband is the one to whom you turn for support and encouragement. He’s the one with whom you seem to be growing spiritually. Far from “edifying,” your communications with this man are leading you headlong into full-blown unfaithfulness.
You cannot begin to understand all that’s happening in your heart, but God knows. Ask him to search your heart, to expose every evil longing that lurks within. And then, ask for forgiveness and for strength to end this “friendship.”
Yes, my friend — you have to end it. We cannot fully understand or control the goings-on in our hearts, but God tells us what we can do — guard it. In his infinite wisdom, he says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NASB).
Every text message heightens your interest. Every conversation engages your affections. Every sighting on social media consumes your mind. You must disentangle yourself. Put a complete end to communication. Block him on your phone and on social media.
“But that’s so extreme,” you say. “Does it really require all that?”
My friend, your measures have to be extreme. The nature of sin and the devices of the enemy require no less. The goal is your destruction. While the gift of eternal life is yours in Christ, you stand to lose your marriage and family, your ministry and witness, and so much more.
Lesser measures leave the door open. You may think it’s enough to decide that you simply won’t reply to his text messages or answer his calls. But Jesus, knowing our makeup intimately, warned, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). This warning was given as he spoke of temptation.
We must recognize not only the weakness of our flesh, but that it bends toward evil (Romans 7:18). “Make no provision” for it (Romans 13:14). Practically speaking, that’s tantamount to telling your flesh, “No, you won’t even get the occasional gander at his Facebook page.”
Being entangled in sin causes you to lose the sweet fellowship of the Savior. I know you don’t want that, my friend. Whatever fellowship you are seeking in this other man, whatever need you think he fills, seek it in Jesus. He is your portion. He is your Friend. He listens and understands, and he is able to minister to your every need — and the needs in your marriage. Cling to him.
Kim Cash Tate (@kimcashtate) is a wife, mom, YouTuber, and author of several books, including, most recently, Cling: Choosing a Lifestyle of Intimacy with God. She and her husband, Bill, live in Saint Louis.