The other day I was driving through town and passed a runner. Instead of doing what I would normally do, look over and check out their form and possibly see if they were good-looking (now now, you know you’ve done it), I looked in the opposite direction. At first thoughts of how ‘sheltered’ this was or how stupid I was being crossed my mind, but then I stopped myself. “No,” I thought “If my husband did that I would be so proud of him.”
Our culture has engrained in us that we are entitled to pleasure. We’re entitled to find pleasure in the people around us, we’re entitled to buy this or do that or watch this or think that. It’s so normal that when we do protect ourselves against thoughts that could lead us down the wrong road we feel judged and denied. Looking at the runner wasn’t a terrible thing, but then where do those looks lead to? Checking out another guy in the restaurant? And then what?
Independence and personal strength are so important to us. “I can check that guy out, it’s not like it will lead anywhere”. What’s the popular line? “You can look, you just can’t touch.” Do you honestly think that you are able to purposely expose yourself to satans temptations and then resist them before they cross the line?
“For as he thinks in his heart, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7).
Are you feeling an internal check?
I am. Big time.
But I’m also hearing a voice say “This is ridiculous, a little extreme don’t you think? Don’t be a prude.”
Why?! Why is it that we feel so stupid about defending ourselves and sheltering our minds from images or thoughts that will “lead us into temptation”?
I left my husband in March. In February I was in Vegas, celebrating and training with my business and keeping it as professional as I could. I was doing a pretty good job of it too, I hadn’t ever been one to party or drink much so that part wasn’t too hard. But on the last night, a friend and I decided to go out to a couple bars. Drinking wasn’t an issue, I had one drink, but the situation I was in was not appropriate. Why? I wasn’t drinking, really, I wasn’t dancing seductively, I wasn’t purposely attracting or pursuing other men. What was I doing ‘wrong’?
There was a guy at the first bar that ended up hanging out with my friend and I for the rest of the night. At the end of the night the proposition was put out there for me to return to his room with him and, although I was tempted, I refused. No physical touch occurred, no nothing except words. I returned to my room with my friend and we returned home the next day.
What was wrong with what I did? In a worldly view, nothing. I didn’t act on the temptation. I didn’t touch another man. But at the same time, everything was wrong with what I did. I allowed my mind to be lead down the path of “What If’s”. And because of that path, because of the grass seeming greener on the other side, because of the attraction I felt for a man other than the man I married, I went home and made the decision to leave my husband.
It obviously wasn’t just this circumstance that had lead to me leaving. It was years of these circumstances. Not Vegas, not bars, not other offers for hotel rooms. But looking at another guy in the grocery store, allowing myself to consider life outside my marriage, lusting after men in magazines and on movies, flirting with a guy at work, entertaining conversations with ex-boyfriends…you get the idea. One thought seems harmless, and really, if it was just one thought, it would be harmless. But where does that one thought lead? To more thoughts? To considering the many possibilities?
Yes, we’re human. These thoughts will occur. That is why the bible tells us to take every thought captive and make it obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
It’s a scientific fact that when we allow our brains to think certain thoughts over and over, it literally etches a path in our brains for those thoughts to follow. The thoughts become habitual, they become natural, they become part of who we are.
As Christians we need to form ourselves after Christ. We need to stop and capture our thoughts before they lead us down destructive roads. I am living proof that this happens and I’m not the only one. I’m not a one in a million case. One thought leads to another thought which leads to another and eventually leads to an action. It’s not being sheltered to take control of these thoughts, you’re not a prude for thinking this way. You’re smart. You’re thinking ahead. You’re protecting yourself, your marriage and your spouse.
And it’s great that by capturing your thoughts, being aware of them and not allowing them to get away on you, you’re protecting your marriage and spouse and your own mind. But it’s even better that by doing these things, you are being obedient to your Savior.
There’s a reason that we are asked to do these things. It’s not because God is controlling and aggressive. It’s because he loves us and wants us to enjoy our lives and make the most of them. He doesn’t want us to live destructive and unsatisfied lives where we are constantly wishing and dreaming for more. He knows that we will only be fully satisfied when we chase after him. So why bother chasing after the greener grass on the other side of the fence, whatever that may mean to us, when we can just case after him and be fully satisfied?