He Said-She Said: Involvement with Married People
- Thursday, March 31, 2011
EDITOR'S NOTE: Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
This month we decided to group together four different questions that all deal with attraction to or involvement with married (or engaged) people. Please see the questions and our responses below.
I met this guy in my late teens. Then we were just friends, but very close. We shared a lot with each other but never crossed the “just friends” line. Now, eight years later, he's back in my life. We've just realized that we have very strong feelings for each other. But there are two main problems with this. First he's Catholic, and I'm Pentecostal. I do not believe in many of the Catholic teachings, and I have told him so. But he says he is ready to become Pentecostal for us to be together, as in marriage. Secondly, he's engaged! We reunited a couple of months after his engagement, and now he wants to be with me, as in breaking up with his fiancée! I have two questions: 1. How did I get here? 2. What am I doing? I've been in a real relationship with Jesus for over ten years. I should know what to do but I don't!!
I have a question and desire advice about something that is heavy on my heart. I would like to share (before I talk about my problem) that I love the Lord, and I am very well aware that I am struggling with sin. My heart is just to seek practical ways to get out of this bind that I am in. I've been blessed by the church I attend. However, when I first started attending this church, there was a man who caught my attention. I don't think there was much to it at the time. Because I am naturally introverted, I just thought it was shyness because he is male and I did not know him very well. However, a few months ago, I realized that I am actually attracted to this man. The problem with my attraction to him is that he is married. I am in no way thinking that it’s okay to be attracted to a married man, nor am I trying to attract his attention. When I realized that I was attracted to him, I was horrified and prayed and prayed. I believe this man is godly with a wonderful wife and great family, and the reason why I try to avoid him and avoid any contact with him is to avoid dishonoring him or his marriage in any way. My problem though is that because our church is so small, it’s hard to avoid him. And because he truly is kind, he tries to initiate contact with everyone, including me. I believe that he may have noticed that I'm not particularly warm (which is my way of keeping myself in check), and I think he may have realized that I try to avoid eye contact, etc. I'm not really sure what to do. I've considered leaving the church, but there are different reasons why this would be difficult. I have no intention of pursuing him or flirting with him or anything like that. I struggle though with getting over the fact that I am attracted to him. I thought at one point that I was the only one who struggled with this, until I talked to another believer who mentioned that she too had once been attracted to a married man. What do singles do when they are attracted to someone who they should not be attracted to?
I am in love with a married man. He just recently married, and I still feel there is something between us. Before he selected his wife, he was battling with whether he should be with me. There is almost a ten-year age gap between us (he being the older person) that he says held him back from choosing me. I do not pursue him, of course, because he is married and I know it's wrong. I can't help but think he made the wrong decision, and I think he feels the same from our conversations. I've prayed about this, and I hear nothing from God. What should I do?
- Someone I worked for 27 years ago, who was married at the time and with whom I had only a working relationship, popped up in my life last year. He and his wife are separated and have decided to get divorced, but the division of assets is an issue. My question: can I as a Christian date someone who is separated, the divorce proceedings in progress, but still not through?
HE SAID: Let me first begin by saying as a brother in Christ and a fellow single, I struggle with my desire to be married and have a family, along with moments of self-doubt from being single. These are natural and common emotions.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him” (Gen. 2:18).
If God knows this to be true, why are there so many singles in the world without a companion?
I don’t know.
However, what I do know is to look into God’s Word and not into the arms of someone already spoken for.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14).
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Cor. 10:13).
Since they (the couple) are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together (Matt. 19:6).
I tell you this, a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful (Matt. 19:9).
Most of us are familiar with these passages, heard numerous teachings on each and should be well versed in them and their meaning; however, some of us still struggle with accepting them as God’s direct command for our lives.
If you read these verses and immediately think, “Yes, but …” and try to insert a reason why it does not apply in your situation, you probably haven’t fully accepted them as the truth and better go back and look at them again.
It’s been said, “Love is blind,” however I believe it is more precise to say, “The desire for love can be blinding.” Whenever we focus on something or somebody above all else, including God and the voice of the Holy Spirit, we become blind to him, his Word, wise counsel and to common sense.
The first person said, “I should know what to do, but I don’t.” I believe she does know what to do, but just doesn’t like the answer she hears; otherwise there would be no “main problems.” When God joins two people together, there won’t be a feeling of doing something wrong.
Most of us know the stories of Joseph and of King David.
Joseph was “well-built and handsome” and his master’s wife said, “Come to bed with me!” (Gen. 39:6-7) Joseph was a single guy and probably had typical male urges, but his godly response was to run away, and God blessed him for his faithfulness.
King David on the other hand allowed himself to be transfixed by Bathsheba bathing nearby and overlook what he knew was right and summoned for her in order to sleep with her (2 Sam. 11:2-4). That wrong choice was followed up by many more, which eventually led to the death of Bathsheba’s husband. King David gave into temptation and failed to walk away.
Most of us know what is right and wrong, just like Joseph and David, but as a testament to our amazing (God-given) creative abilities, we reason and justify why “this time” is okay because our situation is “different.” We can easily lose sight of right and wrong and the consequences of our actions when we allow our emotions to get the better of us.
I’m reminded of the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indiana and his father search for the Holy Grail (the cup Jesus supposedly drank out of at the Last Supper). After they find the grail and the healing power of it, it falls into a crevasse. One of their nemeses chooses to reach for it rather than accept their help and she falls to her death. Indiana faces the same decision as he goes after the grail, but his father says, “Indiana, let it go.” When Indiana realizes his father cares more about him than the grail (and wasn’t meant to have it), Indiana accepts his father’s help to safety.
Many of us face similar decisions. We come across things in our lives that perk our interest, like a close relationship with people who are not like-minded or who are in a relationship with someone else, and we are tempted to reach for something we shouldn’t have (or at least not at that moment).
With every temptation or compromising situation we face, God’s Word says, “He will provide a way out,” but it’s up to us to look for and choose to accept his way out. Sometimes we don’t find one because we don’t bother to look for one.
My question to each of you and to anyone else in a similar circumstance is, “How would you feel about your significant other carrying on with another person in the same way they’re speaking to you?” If you think it would be inappropriate, then it probably is.
Regardless of how much you want someone to change or change something, don’t allow them to do it for you or because of you. Remove yourself from the situation. If they go ahead and decide on their own to end a relationship or change their faith, then so be it, otherwise you will always be held responsible and blamed for any negative result of that decision.
Suppose this “relationship” did happen to work out (unbelievers became believers, engagements broke off and marriages and separations ended in divorce), could you honestly trust this person not to carry on a relationship with someone else while together with you?
Avoid situations where you find yourself attracted to someone in a covenant with another person, and leave married, separated and engaged couples alone.
SHE SAID: Attraction to and involvement with married people seems to be a growing problem amongst singles as of late.
In my response to these questions, I would ask those who have written the questions to place yourselves in the position of the spouse or fiancée who is linked to the person you are attracted to or are conversing with (each of these situations has its own distinctions). And then ask yourself how you would feel if your spouse was communicating with someone (or still communicating with someone) that he or she had been involved with before marriage (or engagement)?
Then, ask yourself—especially for those who are currently conversing with married people—if your doings or your conversations are being made known to the other spouse. For example, if you’re communicating with a man who you are in love with or are attracted to, does his wife know about this? Is your communication open for her to read or to hear or to know about? Why or why not? If it is hidden and being done “in secret,” then that should tell you something.
When I first read through all of these questions, my initial reaction was to say “Run!” You are playing with fire when you flirt with someone who is married or have more intimate type of communication with them. It is not honorable and it is not done so with respect for and in consideration of their spouses. Again, put yourself in the position of the spouse.
In the first question, the man is engaged. Therefore, he is already promised to someone else. This is not a decision that was made lightly—like checking “yes” or “no” in a grade-school note that asks “Do you like so-and-so? Check yes or no.” No, this is a grown-up decision. But if this man can turn on a dime and change his feelings and affections toward someone else to whom he has committed himself in an engagement, should that not give you pause and make you think he could easily do that to you someday (should he break off his engagement and you two get together and eventually marry?). You must consider this perspective. And you must respect the fact that he is already in a relationship with someone else. If your feelings are still strong and unrelenting, then cease communication and any contact with one another for a period of time (perhaps three to six months?). Allow time for each of you to hear clearly from the Lord in this matter—without the confusion of feelings getting in the way which can certainly cloud judgment. And then reassess. As a Christ follower, you should also ask yourself the question you may be tired of hearing: What would Jesus do? Really and truly consider the answer from that perspective. Wouldn’t he do what would be uplifting and edifying and honoring to the Father? (Jn. 6:38) Ponder on what that might look like.
In the second question, I understand that your situation presents the challenge of a small setting. I know that I, too, have been attracted to someone who is married, but in my case it was in an office setting. I’m sure it’s probably more common than we know (or than people are willing to admit). But I also don’t think there is anything wrong with appreciating and admiring God’s creation—whether that be in regards to beauty or the character of another. It’s how we act on it that is of utmost importance. So in my situation, what did I do? I made sure that I was never alone with this individual, either in an office or in the kitchen or in a conference room or on a lunch outing. I didn’t seek out this person for conversation either. I was pleasant, but I set up a boundary to protect myself and to honor his status as a married individual. You simply MUST set up boundaries in your situation as well, if you do not want to be tempted to do something you should not. Potential danger calls for sometimes drastic, protective measures ("Get behind me, Satan!"—Matt. 16:23). So protect yourself. Ask a trusted friend to always sit with you at church or to always walk beside you in the hallways so that you are not alone. You can still be cordial; just don’t invite extra communication or time together (even in a group setting such as a church service).
In the third question, you simply must walk away. Now. Do you want to be a part of an emotional affair? You are either very close to one or may even be in the middle of one right now. If you are, then you are robbing this man’s wife of the conversations and the emotional exchanges that he should be having with her. Not with someone who is not his spouse. Period. He has made his decision. And it was not you. If he loved you as he should in order to marry you, then wouldn’t he have chosen you? I am sorry to sound harsh, but you must be very strict with yourself if you don’t want to fall into sin. It’s as simple as that. And should God desire you to marry one day, then he will work in that man’s heart to choose you boldly and without reservation.
In the fourth question, the man is still married. You would be dating a married man if you went out with him. That is adultery. Also, if you went ahead and began dating this man, you are in essence saying (or assuming) that God cannot repair and revive and resuscitate this marriage and that it is too late (by your estimation). But there is still hope! The divorce is not yet final. Could not God work a miracle in this situation? Would you not want this marriage to be saved so that these two individuals might glorify God with their union and be a testimony of what God can do in a relationship that seems doomed? I think you know the answer.
Seeing this many questions (and this is only a sampling of what we’ve received) related to married or “already taken” individuals is very troubling. Marriage and commitments are to be respected and honored. We are to love one another sacrificially (Jn. 13:34) and to honor one another above ourselves (Rom. 12:10). We are not designed to break up marriages or relationships, cause disunity or draw others away from Christ by careless words, actions or decisions.
So today, before you initiate or have any further contact, before you engage in or respond to any communication, before you are in the same room or face to face with the individual in question, consider your thoughts and your desires and your actions in light of the kingdom. Is it true? Is it noble? Is it right? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it admirable, excellent or praiseworthy? Think about such things (Phil. 4:8).
HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … Laura MacCorkle, Senior Editor at Crosswalk.com. She loves God, her family and her friends. Singleness has taught her patience, deepened her walk with the Lord and afforded her countless (who's counting anyway?) opportunities to whip up an amazing three-course meal for one.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the 21st century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!).
GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that this column will be an encouragement to you.
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