Marriage Anchor 8: Establish and enforce strong moral fences.

Battle Casualty
The following story is fictitious but similar destruction of good families occurs regularly in America. The Devil is the enemy of your soul and he seeks to determine the outcome of your character and your witness for Christ. Be on the alert!
Pastor Dave was a good man. He loved Lynn, his wife, very much. He also loved their two children, Mike and Kelly. He pastored a small church and for the most part, the church people got along well.
In addition to preaching and teaching, he also counseled a growing number of people at church. He knew that many people were hurting and struggling with issues and problems. Both he and his wife cared deeply for them. Because of the needs and demands of ministry, Dave found himself working longer hours. With meetings, discipleship and evening counseling, he found himself only two nights a week home alone with his family. He was a pastor and he cared. He felt that he needed to be "on call" even during his nights off. He grew to hate the phone.
Lynn, his wife, began to resent all the meetings that took her husband and the kid's father away all the time. She began to wonder if Dave was married to the church more than to her.
They did not talk much about it. When they did, they were both so tired that the tension between them was never properly dealt with. They buried their anger.
Even though they wore their "smiles" at church, at home their jaws tightened. Dave and Lynn began to isolate themselves. They really had no one to pour their hearts out to. Who can a pastor and his wife go to anyway?
Everybody in their home, especially the kids, found themselves walking on egg shells. The invisible tension was growing. Yet, it was as if there was some kind of unwritten rule that stated:
"We are hurting. But because we are a pastor's family and are to set a good example, we will not talk about our problems. We will ignore the tension. We'll rise above it. It will go away someday."
Both Lynn and Dave tried to cover up or medicate their pain by getting more involved in the church and other people's lives. After all, isn't that what Jesus wants?
Satan and his legion of dark angels assigned to bringing down this family unit crouched in the corner of the church- plotting, planning, grinning, with eyes wide open. One particularly intelligent and crafty demon turned to his master and softly whispered:
"Oh Prince of Darkness, we praise you for your ability to blind and destroy. This miserable pastor's family is slowly falling. Soon they will be ours. Much damage. Much pain. Look! Ha! No one is praying for them. No one is looking out for them. They are busy, tired, isolated. There is much tension, denial. Yes! No accountability! No encouragement! They've lost perspective. This married couple is not praying out loud regularly together. Now, in for the kill!"
Karen, an attractive and gifted divorced mother of three small children visited Dave's church today. After the service, Dave introduced himself to her and welcomed her. She was gracious and stated that she was looking for a good church home. She also inquired if she could help further develop a children's church program.
Dave thought he had died and gone to Heaven!
"Yes!” he said, fumbling for the right words. They set up a meeting for Tuesday at noon at the church to discuss these possibilities.
Dave found himself rather looking forward to this meeting. He wasn't sure why. When Tuesday noon arrived, he and Karen met in his office with the door closed. The part time church secretary had left for lunch.
All was innocent. Plans were made for Children’s Church. They closed in prayer.
Dave suddenly found himself not quite as depressed as before. He felt hopefull again. Ministry was no longer the drag that it had been.
They met each Tuesday noon in the church-alone. All was innocent. Intentions were good and godly. Good plans and prayer developed. But more than that developed.
At the end of their fourth meeting, Karen, looking a little needy, asked Pastor Dave, "Do you have a minute, Pastor?"
“Sure!”, Dave said.
She proceeded cautiously but kindly. She began to open up about the struggles she was having with her youngest daughter. She said that she valued his wisdom. Dave felt good. He felt respected, appreciated.
He listened to her. After she shared, for some strange reason, he felt the urge to share with her how tired and busy he has been lately. He even shared that he thought he needed to cut back on some ministry to preserve his family and his sanity.
She listened intently. She fully agreed with him. She smiled at him and told him how blessed the church was to have him for a pastor. He soaked this up!
Over the next few months, not much changed. Dave and Lynn were cordial but found themselves squabbling more and more over the littlest things.
One Tuesday, Dave called Karen at her office and said, "Hey, Karen, what do you say we try that new restaurant over on Third Avenue instead of meeting here in this stuffy office?"
"Good idea!” she laughed. "I'll see ya there at noon." It seemed harmless, fun and a nice break.
Dave and Karen met for lunch at least once a month. Dave never bothered to tell his wife about it. Intentions were good. No crime there.
Six months later, Karen met him at the restaurant. When she sat down, she started to cry quietly. Dave's heart went out to her. His loving compassion swelled. With God's love, he calmly reached over and held her hand.
“What’s wrong, Karen?”
She poured her heart out and told him that she just got word that her father had passed away. After lunch, they went back to his office and prayed and talked some more. Much more.
After an hour, as Karen got up to leave, she looked into her beloved friend's eyes and asked, "Could I just give you a hug-in the Lord?"
They calmly embraced. Funny, how could something as spiritual as this feel so good? He held her for a rather long time, comforting her in her grief. She felt safe in his arms, her pastor's loving arms, almost like Jesus holding her.
A month later they began holding hands regularly at prayer times. They were on the same ministry sheet of music. Lynn was not. What was wrong with Lynn anyway?
“Lord, thank you for Karen. What a fine sister.”, Dave thought.
At the end of one of their brother-sister hugs, Karen gave Dave a tender, loving kiss on the cheek.
Dave never felt so good, so manly, so needed. Deep in his heart, he almost wished that his wife could be more like Karen.
One Tuesday when Lynn was visiting her parents one hundred miles away, Pastor Dave invited Karen over to his home for coffee and prayer.
That day was bright and sunny. A cool breeze filtered the air. Dave could not get over how nice she looked. Her perfume was just right. They looked at each other with a long look. They embraced each other, kissed, then tenderly and expectantly walked toward the bedroom...
God was forgotten for awhile.
They met secretly like this three more times over the next few weeks.
Being with Karen was wonderful! Yet the guilt became crushing. Dave began to wish that he would die in a car crash or that lightening would somehow strike him. He felt dead inside. He felt tortured by his sin. How could he have let Lynn, his wonderful children, and the Lord down?
This was inexcusable! He felt he was worthy of death! He would confess this to God, break it off with Karen, and then put it behind him.
Plans Didn’t work.
Two weeks later, Lynn received an anonymous phone call. She learned of the betrayal. She could not believe it. Her life would be destroyed. "No, it is not true.” she cried.
She gently, firmly confronted Dave that night with tears forming in her eyes. Dave at first denied it, his eyes glancing quickly to the right. Then, about an hour later, he could no longer live with himself. He broke down and confessed his sin. He cried and cried. Lynn felt raped by his sin. She felt dead inside. Perhaps she could forgive him, but she just knew their marriage was over.
Counseling did not work. The church asked Dave to leave. Lynn and Dave got a divorce. It was worse than death. The children were devastated. They felt to blame. Three months later, Dave was working two part time jobs: 25 hours at a hardware store, and 25 hours at a grocery store. The house sold. Lynn and the kids moved into a very small apartment. Dave had already moved into one a while back. They were broke. Someone from church gave her a job as a receptionist for a small company.
Both Dave, with child support and alimony payments, and Lynn, with her meager salary, could barely make ends meet. Some helped Lynn. Few helped Dave. God forgives. People often do not. The divorce cost $28,000 dollars. No more savings. No more piano lessons. Forget vacations. The dog had to go.
The children cry often. Their rage grows…
Pastor Dave did not win. A lot of people lost with him.
Anchor 8 Principles:

·     1.   Be wise in your weakness. Since you are always weak, your choice is to either be wise or foolish in your weakness. Unfortunately, the great majority of people are deceived by the Devil. Because of their self-sufficient pride, they actually think they will not fall.
     2.  Trust  yourself less. Godly wisdom is learning to trust yourself less and less everyday and entrust yourself to God, to your mate, and to a few good men / women (same gender)
     3.  Seek regular, affirming accountability. One of the marks of the man or woman who experiences, brokenness over their pride and self-sufficiency is desperate hunger and thirst for God and His Word. He or she willingly seeks godly encouragement, inspection, and then confession results. You dare not trust in your own strength or ability to walk uprightly with the Lord. If you do, you are a sitting duck for the Devil.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says:  “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” 

Godly accountability is gracious, and affirming. Mutual confession and the bearing of one’s soul can take place with confidentiality and freedom.

James 5:16 says:  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” 
4.  Guard your heart; Guard your marriage. Each person’s plan will be different. With your mate, establish agreed upon moral fences for each of you. Some we have established are the following: 
  • Never stay in hotel rooms alone.
  • If in a hotel room with my wife, she has full control over the TV remote. I never touch it. I do not trust myself!
  • We never mentor or meet alone with a person of the opposite sex. We want to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
  • If either of us senses in our heart any “danger signals” that there are any emotional fireworks or red flags from any person, we share it and take guarding action.
  • Barbara and I both seek and have one or two people (same gender) who can share at the “gut, temptation, weakness, and sin” level.
  • We have Covenant Eyes “guard your eyes and heart” protection on our computer and cell phones. We would not have a computer without it!  Purchase it at:   Men, be sure your wife is the password keeping administrator, never you!

In light of all of this, do you see the vital importance of establishing and enforcing moral fences? Please join us so that your marriage will make an eternal difference!

“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” 2 Corinthians 11:30
© Jim and Barbara Grunseth, Campus Crusade for Christ, 2010

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