Friday, August 21, 2015

What I Told My Wife Last Night

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I grieved yesterday when the story broke that the Ashley Madison website had been hacked and the list of its users had been published. I did not grieve because my name would be on the list; I grieved for the millions of lives it affects. This website was launched as a tool for married people to find opportunities to pursue the company's tagline: "Life is short. Have an affair." Obviously the exposure of these users is not the worst part; the worst part is that anyone was pursuing the website's services at all. But setting that website and any specific cases aside for a moment, let me respond personally and pastorally to the bigger issue here that affects all of us.

What this whole ordeal provoked in me is a more pressing personal need for purity and to be above reproach. I am not above any sin, so if I think _________ cannot happen to me then I am deceiving myself and setting myself up for failure. It also prompted me to say some things to my wife last night, and I want to share them with you here in the hope that it will spur similar discussions and transformations.

After a few minutes of chatting with sadness over the many difficult conversations going on that evening, as we went to bed I looked my wife square in the eyes and said these words: "You won't find my name on that list. You don't have to worry that I have a secret girlfriend. I'm not looking at anything on the internet. I don't want to go to Vegas by myself. I want you."

Now, thankfully I could say all of those things truthfully (if you can't, let's talk!). But clearly that is not the case for millions of people right now, and I am not naive to think that it is not inside the church body as well. And as a side note, my internet history is not spotless so I am not coming at this from a holier-than-thou angle. I have been broken in the war, but I am fighting the war! It has not been easy, it has taken a long time, and it is not over. But I am much further along the path than I was fifteen years ago, by God's empowering grace in me and accountability with my wife and others. Plus, I recognize the platform I have been given, one which all of us as Christians have to some degree, one that shows people what it looks like to pursue Jesus in every area of life--especially marriage, in the perilous times in which we live.

So here's my hope: I want our church and any person in my circle of influence to join me, to live a life of distinction--not for our own glory but to point to the glory of the Savior who has saved and transformed a broken sinner like me and you. I long for Christian men to be men, to pursue their wives (or future wife) with the same energy that they may have poured into hiding their sin. I long for Christian men to lead out in holiness, in warring together for the Holy Spirit's victory over temptation in their lives. I long for Christian men to not have any reason to worry that their sin will find them out. And I long for Christian women to set the example of true beauty that radiates from inside of them. I long for Christian women to find their joy in a husband who pursues them as Christ loves the Church. I long for Christian women to live freely inside the life God has given them--not a fantasy world.

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Most of all, I long for Jesus to reign in every heart and marriage. My story is not impossible nor unique. When you give Jesus the door to invade, everything changes. And that is possible for you today, no matter your history. Maybe, like we did, you need to have that conversation tonight. Husbands, I know your wife needs to hear something similar to what I told my wife. And wives, don't give your husband any reason for him to question your commitment to him. Then just think, when both of you do that, what joy and intimacy that creates in a marriage.

But for all of us, if you are trapped in sin's tentacles, get help. Walk with brothers and sisters who will point you to both truth and grace in Jesus. We are willing. Because listen: it is worth it to fight.