We should be able to call our brothers and sisters in the Christian community when we are lonely. We should be able to say like Matt Jenson, “hey, I am feeling particularly lonely tonight, can I come over to your house (talking to a dear friend couple).” Matt adds that we really have no business, no right to preach gospel to others unless we are willing to be brother and sister to them, a community, a family to them.
When a man becomes unfaithful, what is going on? if he is a pastor, a godly man, what can turn him around, from God to sex? most pastors or missionaries who become unfaithful to their wives feel justified when they do it. justified is a feeling of being vindicated and feeling justified can cover and nullify the sense of wrongness of sin such as adultery.
A husband who longs for his wife’s attention or sympathy and over a long time never gets it, a hard-working pastor who helps so many people and does so many good works, but never gets sympathy, may feel justified when he commits adultery. he thinks he is being short-changed and he believes he deserves better, he deserves more. feeling justified is a sense of demandingness that says i wont be short-changed!
There is also the element of revenge, getting even. he might think, i have always asked my wife to come to my aid, to my side, i have always asked her to listen to what is going on inside of me, but she never did, so when i do this, when i go to another woman, its her fault. this is blaming that happens when people feel justified. the sin of adultery does not have any effect that sin usually has on people, because the blame finger is pointed the other way, to the wife, not to himself. justified is a way to become impervious to guilt, guilt of adultery.
When a pastor works so hard and gets so lonely and his wife becomes even irritable or becomes a nagger or continually opposes him, gets into a fight with him, the husband becomes even more lonely. this estrangement from the wife going on for months or years can drive and deepen that loneliness to the point of being justified. justified in looking for another woman to fill that void.
Most men will sexualize their loneliness and emptiness and instead of going to God to find intimacy, they look for sex outside of marriage. pornography or prostitute or adultery can give him that quick fix he is looking for. he does not know he is lonely, he does not know he is looking for intimacy. instead he sexualizes the desire and thinks what he is looking for is sex.
It’s uncanny that false intimacies, which is why they are called false, always feel the same or closely similar to the real thing. and easier. prostitutes do not come with obligations as a wife would. pornography is even easier, there is nobody there, so no absolutely no relationship, no complications. you can turn it off when you get tired which you absolutely can’t with a wife. the wife will always want to talk about a problem or talk about the last fight. which drives men more desperate, not of course the fault of the wife.
Even if the wife is nasty or feisty or a nagger, even if she drives him to deeper loneliness, a pastor or missionary needs to hang on to something more solid than just a commitment to his wife. we all need to live for something higher and bigger than ourselves, bigger than our marriages. we need to hang on to our marriages because we love Jesus. we will keep our marriage because we love Jesus even if we don’t love our wives anymore.
In the end, what an unfaithful husband who feels justified, will regret so much is that he has thrown away not only his wife or his marriage, but also his family, his beloved kids and all his ministries, his church, and his career. most of all, he will regret having thrown God away out of revenge.
What husbands need to always do is look at their own hearts constantly. when they are tempted to go to pornography or seek a relationship with another woman, is to ask if they are lonely and if they are sexualizing their desire. ask, “why is this so powerful over me?” why is pornography so powerful over me?” “why does this (other) woman have so much power over me?” (from CS Lewis)
Men need to become mature in handling this part of their lives like children need to grow up and get over their need for instant gratification. to apply self-control and to look to the future instead of just the moment.
Usually midlife can cause a man to become unfaithful. it’s a time of great instability and depression also accompanies it. he seem to have arrived at a dead-end in his career, marriage and faith. it is not just sexualizing desire anymore but a desperate need to feel alive, to have a sense of purpose. midlife can feel like a computer desktop whose cables have all been unplugged. there is no drive, no desire to work, no interest in anything, he cannot read, cannot sleep, don’t enjoy his food. what we take for granted all our life, the beautiful sunset, the smell of baby’s breathe, a flower in bloom by the sidewalk, laughter, smiles, a friend, all these seem lost, and there is no capacity anymore for beauty and delight. the sense of being alive is no more.
And we scramble for life. but it eludes us. no one will even journey with us. we are depressed and depressed people are cranky and moody. no one enjoys them. we walk alone.usually by that time our wife is already tired with our groaning and whining.
It is so easy for a depressed person to commit suicide because the sense of being alive is gone. death only means that this zombie existence will finally come to an end.
It is a time to embrace darkness. one wise elder told me, don’t hurry it up. you need it, Rain. i was shocked when i heard that but later on i realized it was true. the more you hurry to get well the longer the depression lasts. you have to ride the wave. one lady spiritual director said, in the past spirituality was about you doing something but now, spirituality will mean others doing things to you.
It’s like jesus telling one of his disciples, a day is coming when people will tie your hands and take you where you don’t want to go. midlife is a spirituality of having things done to you, a worship they made on their own without asking you, sing music they like, not what you like, have sermons preached to you, sermons you don’t even care for.
What will hold us up during the time of crisis, when we are in the middle of a storm and we are so helpless? it is a time to tame our desires, our passions. faith will just simply be believing, and we continue driving forward through the fog believing the road is still under us and we are not driving into a cliff. most of the time, it is someone else driving and in that moment, not even the peace of God, that has throughout our lives guided us, will be in our hearts. nothing will be in our hearts except the memory of Jesus, a long time ago, memories of times when God was faithful, and so good. we only hang on to those memories and grit our teeth and believe we will get through this somehow. maybe this is the dark nights of our soul?
This is faith, that God holds us and all that we cherished, our marriage, our family, our kids, our career, our passions and desires, God will hold them for us, even the sense of being alive will come back, all will be well.
And yet, around the corner, after the fog has cleared, all will is not be the same. God is not the same. its like a new chapter of our life has begun. CS Lewis tells us that God is in the business of constantly destroying our idols of him, he is the incurable iconoclast. out of the fog we emerge, with new eyes, new hearts, like a snake that has shed off all its skin, we shed off all that we were before, and sees the sunrise with new eyes and loves with new hearts.
The world seems quieter, and passions seem less upbeat. life seems on slow mo. we appreciate things better deeper, our marriage, our life, our very breath. we eat our food with a certain gladness, like one just released from a 20 year prison sentence.
We have another chance at life and we need to take it, do well with it, and be more grateful. we may never have another chance like it again.