Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

An Emotional Affair to Remember….or Forget

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“We didn’t do anything so it’s no big deal.”

“It was never physical.”

“It’s not cheating if it’s just a crush.”

“There’s nothing wrong with looking if there’s no touching.”

.…..lies…lies…more lies.

Christians and non-Christians alike will almost always universally agree that committing a physical act of adultery is wrong. Cheating on one’s spouse is not acceptable in most social circles, and yet there seems to be this false line of thinking that deems it okay to have an emotional “fling” with someone other than one’s spouse. As Christians we know this isn’t right. Jesus set the boundaries in place when He said this:

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

No, it’s not okay to have a crush. It’s not okay to fantasize about someone other than your husband (or wife). It’s not okay to look. Jesus said those who follow Him will not look with lustful eyes. It may be in the heart but the consequences usually leave the heart and become much more “real”. We see it in the world. We sense it in the church. Oftentimes the internal, invisible evidences of an emotional affair allow it to go unnoticed for a long time, but not forever. A person can keep an emotional affair well-hidden from their brothers and sisters in the Lord, and even from their spouse for a long while. Then, in what seems like a sudden tragedy, the dam bursts open and sin floods into families, homes and the church.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:14-15

Sin begins in the heart folks. It begins in the deep, recesses of the heart where desire and longing simmer until they start to boil over. It becomes a stronghold for the enemy. It is adultery of the heart and it is sin. Make no mistake about it.

While statistics show men are usually more likely to commit physical adultery, women tend to be more prone to affairs of the heart. Call it what you will: a crush, attraction, a connection, a very close friendship taken too far, a fantasy….women who may feel less than fulfilled or satisfied at home may find their hearts straying, even if they are physically faithful to their husbands. It can start with a few flirting smiles, confiding in someone who seems more attentive and interested than the husband, or even just a strong attraction that leads you to fantasizing about being intimately acquainted with that person. It can start out so innocently and end up so tragically.

Guilty as Charged

It may sound like I’m being harsh. Well, there’s a reason. You see, I had an emotional affair once. Yes, I committed adultery of the heart, and it led me through a time of greater pain than I can even express. I can tell you that this sinful desire of the heart and strong emotions for a man that was not my husband brought me to a place of devastation as a Christian, a wife, a mother and in my calling in ministry. No, it never was physical. Yes, it was sin. Wicked, depraved, selfish, disgusting sin. As I look back, I see that the sin started in my heart but it seemed to build and build until I began to manifest it in other sinful actions. I began to become the “old” me…the person who had been freed from the chains of sin when I accepted Christ. While I loved my husband and my family, I found myself pushing them away. I saw myself changing into someone I barely knew. My desires overtook me and I fell back into the miry pit I had escaped by the grace of God so long ago.

No, it never was physical. It was adultery of the heart and it broke me and my husband. Praise be to God that He pulled me out again. He brought me to forgiveness. He empowered my husband to forgive me fully. I repented and was granted grace and mercy unspeakable! I am SO grateful! So thankful for this amazing grace. I praise my God with all that is in me that my family was not destroyed. God restored us to fullness and we are stronger now in Him than ever before. He has done amazing work here and has overcome in our hearts, our lives and our marriage. Hallelujah!

I want to make it clear, since this is a sensitive and personal issue, that my husband is a wonderful man whom I love dearly. I want to honor him, because he stuck by my side and forgave me for my offense against him. It killed me to see how much I had hurt him. I never wanted to hurt him, but sin hurts people. It hurts us and those around us. My husband is an amazing man and I just want to say here that I will never, ever stop thanking God for him and how he has forgiven and loved me!

A Warning

When I think of all I could have lost, it leaves me breathless. My husband could have chosen not to forgive me. My daughter could have experienced the pain of divorce that so many children go through. We could have destroyed our testimony forever and been unfit to minister. Oh, I shudder to think what might have happened because my heart allowed sin to enter in. God has been so good to us and so now I warn my sisters in the Lord not to allow emotional adultery into your heart. Flee from it with every fiber of strength! It is not innocent! It is not okay! It will destroy you like sin does!

I want to warn and admonish you, my sisters, to use caution and boundaries in your relationships outside of marriage. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Be cautious about building close friendships with men who are not your husband. You may think there’s nothing wrong with men and women being “best friends”, but the truth is that best friends share confidences and intimate details about their lives, and this can build feelings that you didn’t anticipate. Don’t confide in other men. Confide in your husband, your God and in Christian women you respect.
  2. Take sinful thoughts captive. When a thought enters your mind and heart that causes you to feel lustful or feelings of a romantic sort, immediately go to God for help. Cry out and ask God to help you capture and remove those thoughts and feelings. Read scripture. Sing worship. Talk to the Father. He will help you. If you need to, call a friend. Don’t allow those thoughts to simmer.
  3. Sometimes we need to break off unhealthy relationships. If you have a friend in your life that you find yourself attracted to, physically, emotionally or spiritually, it is sometimes necessary to stop seeing that person. You don’t have to be cruel about it. You don’t even have to tell them why. Your marriage and your walk with the Lord are more important. Be wise and be committed.
  4. Set up good boundaries. Make your own rules about what you should or shouldn’t do. For example, make a rule about not being alone in a private place with a man. Don’t confide your private feelings or emotions with a man other than your husband. Pray about it and make your own set of boundaries, and discuss them with your husband. It’d be wise for him to do the same.
  5. Don’t justify your sin. If you are having an emotional affair, a crush, or whatever you want to call it, don’t justify it. It’s sin. The Bible says it’s sin. Stop putting the words “innocent” and “crush” together. There’s no such thing for a married woman. You are cheating on your husband and it is sin in the eyes of the Lord. You need to repent and turn.
  6. Seek discipleship if this is an ongoing problem for you. If you are finding your heart straying often and you feel out of control, seek the counsel of a mature woman in the Lord who can disciple you in marriage and in what the Word says about matters of the heart. As you grow in the Lord, you will be more able to withstand and flee from these temptations.
  7. Work on your marriage. Let’s face it, if you’re having an emotional affair it’s likely that your marriage isn’t going well. Marriage is hard. It takes work and commitment. I’m married to the most wonderful, God-fearing man and yet we had problems. Thanks to God we were able to work through our issues and have grown tremendously in love and respect for one another. God has worked mightily in our marriage and we are happy. If you are struggling with an emotional longing for something else, what you really need to do is focus your heart on strengthening your marriage. Get help through your church if need be.
  8. If you are in a very bad marriage, where you are being mistreated and unloved, I understand complete why your heart would wander. My husband treats me wonderfully, but my parents had an awful marriage that ended in divorce. I’ve seen how hard marriage to an unloving and even abusive man can be. I want to encourage you that just because your husband is not treating you like he ought to or loving you the way you deserve doesn’t give you the right to have an emotional affair with someone else. I’m not saying this flippantly. I know it’s hard, but as long as you are married, having thoughts of intimacy or romantic love for another man is adultery of the heart, and God sees it as sin. It’s not ok. Seek help dear sister and be encouraged that God can work miracles.

I had an emotional affair. It was painful and horrific. It was sin that I have since repented of and been forgiven for. My incredible husband has shown me grace and love that is beyond what I could have hoped for and I am committed to never again betraying him or my Lord Jesus in this manner. I learned my lesson the hard way. I saw first hand the destruction that sins of the heart can bring. So now I have boundaries. Now I take my thoughts captive. Now I am willing not to have close relationships with people who may tempt me to stumble. What about you? How committed are you to your marriage? Your God? Your children?

Emotional adultery is sin. Repent. Flee.

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Fleeing from Temptation or Flirting with it?

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Sergey Sus via photopin cc

He’s just a friend. We get together and have coffee from time to time, but just as friends. We just have a lot in common. He’s fun to be with. We’re both married so it’s fine. He has been having some problems in  his marriage so he just needs someone to talk to. He’s a good listener so I feel like I can tell him anything. We’re just friends. What’s the big deal?

As married Christian women, we need to be very careful when it comes to having close relationships with men who are not family (same goes for Christian, married men). Some people blow this off as legalism or simply an old-fashioned concept, but there are many good reasons to avoid these kinds of close friendships with the opposite sex when we are married. This is an important issue and here is why:

  1. Adultery is on the rise.

Adultery is on the rise in America and throughout the world. While it’s always been a problem, it was far less a problem in the days of our grandparents, where some researchers estimate only 9% of spouses under the age of 25 in the 1950’s admitted to having affairs. In 1983 a similar study showed that number to have gone up to 29% of spouses under the age of 25 having had an affair. Today it is estimated that a third of all men and a quarter of all women cheat on their spouses, with more than 50% of marriages being touched somehow by adultery. We shake our heads and say, “ the world is going nuts” and surely it is! What about the Christians?

A study conducted by Christianity Today indicates that some 45% of Christians admitted to having done something that was sexually inappropriate and an astounding 23% confess to having had an extramarital affair. It’s hard to read those numbers. It’s difficult to understand how a man or a woman who love the Lord can sin against Him and their spouse like this. Then again…it’s not so difficult to understand it. Let’s try looking at it from another perspective:

A man and woman have been married for twelve years. They have four children. Both are Christians. For the past two years the man has had a difficult time, losing his job and falling into a bit of a depression. He spends his days searching the internet for a job and usually wants to be alone, because he (like many men) view their self-worth based on how their provide for their family. The wife feels shut out. They aren’t communicating well. She is dealing with the kids all day alone and feeling worn, lonely and frightened about the future. One day at the market she runs into an old friend from high school. He is funny, sweet and they have a lot of fun memories together. They decide to meet up for coffee and when they do they both open up to each other about struggles in their marriages and how they long for something different. These coffee dates become more frequent and the conversation more deep. Suddenly this woman realizes she is having an emotional affair with this man. They both feel the connection and attraction. One day, after she has had an argument with her husband and is feeling rotten, she meets the other man for coffee and, despite their convictions, they give in to their wicked desires. That’s it.

Adultery is something we should never accept or view as anything but evil and wickedness. It destroys families and people. It is a sin that is committed against one’s own body and God hates it. We should hate it too. Yet, we can see, if we are being honest, how it happens. We need to avoid close friendships with the opposite sex. No matter how strong we think we are, we are still weak human beings and sin is a temptress.

  1. Emotional Affairs Damage Marriage Too

We women usually are far more emotional than the men in our lives. We are emotional beings! That’s just how God made us! That’s why we are prone to love romantic comedies and novels that have romance in them. We love the whole emotional side of falling in love and being close with someone. This is why we are more likely to jump head first into an emotional affair if we allow ourselves to be tempted in this way.

What is an emotional affair? It’s when we form romantic feelings for someone who is not our spouse and allow ourselves to engage in a relationship with that person. Now, this doesn’t mean you are dating. The other person might not even realize you have an emotional, romantic attachment. Still, you are living it out by seeking to spend time with the person, opening up and sharing more than you ought to, and fantasizing about more. As women, we can be so overcome by our emotions. These types of emotional affairs can go on for ages. They can be easily hidden. So, is it wrong to engage in this type of relationship? Yes!

Ladies, it may seem like a harmless crush, but it’s anything but harmless. First off all, remember that Jesus warned that as Christians even the thought of adultery is akin to committing adultery. You are committing adultery in your heart and mind. Secondly, you may have no idea how an emotional affair takes a toll on the marriage. While you are madly in love with another man, you are most likely neglecting your husband at home. Instead of meeting his needs for companionship, relationship and sex, you are off fantasizing about someone else. Instead of praying for God to renew your love for your husband and working on drawing closer to him, this emotional affair is pulling away. Your kids will notice. Your friends will too. Your husband will definitely notice. Your marriage will be weakening by the moment. This is serious stuff my friends. Close relationships to the opposite sex is playing with temptation and you have to be careful to guard your heart.

  1. It Doesn’t Look Good

Whether or not you and your friend have any attraction or feelings for each other, a married, Christian woman meeting up regularly and engaging in a close relationship can look like something…even if it’s nothing. In other words, it can appear to be just the tip of the iceberg to strangers, your friends, family, your spouse, the other person’s spouse or maybe even to that other person. Your husband, while trusting and faithful, may start to have concerns about what’s going on or struggle with jealousy. After all, he should be your best friend right? A husband may come to feel replaced or displaces, as it were. It is not loving or respectful to put him in that position. Not only that, but what if your friend has misconceptions about what’s going on?

Let’s say, for example, that you have a good friend whom you have no attraction to whatsoever. You are in love with your husband and in a happy marriage. You would never in a million years struggle with feelings for this friend. He, on the other hand, hasn’t told you that he finds you attractive, is forming romantic emotions towards you, and is considering divorcing his wife because his feelings for you have grown so deep. You may not realize it or see the signs, but to have a very close friendship with a man who isn’t your husband is always a dangerous game…one that’s not worth playing.

1 Thess. 5:22 says we are to abstain from the appearance of evil. It’s not just doing evil that matters. God wants us to avoid even appearing like we are doing or considering doing evil.

“We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:8-13

Anyone who thinks he stand, lest he falls….wow. Think you are strong enough in your faith not to fall? You’ve got a big problem when you think that. No temptation comes that isn’t common to man. Many men and women thought they were strong enough only to fall hard. It isn’t worth it friends. We need to stand solid on the rock and not go for runs in the quick sand. We need to stand firm and not flirt with temptation. It’s just wise. It’s just prudent. It just makes sense.

I exhort my sisters in the Lord (and brothers accordingly) to not be wishy washy on this issue. Make your spouse your best friend. I encourage you to caution and to avoid close friendships with a person of the opposite gender. Let us not fall into the trap of justifications and carelessness. Perhaps nothing bad will happen, but what if it did? If we allow our hearts to be open without guarding them, someone may come in an snatch them away.

Let’s stand for emotional and sexual purity. Let’s stand for no compromise. Let’s be on guard. I pray that husband and wives would find emotional and sexual fulfillment in one another alone and not to look to anyone else to meet those needs. May we ever be willing to make sacrifices in order to abstain from temptation and keep our minds and bodies pure.

Thank you for reading! Also, make sure to enter my free giveaway that’s going on right now until Nov. 10th. Click HERE to enter.

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