"One of the major causes of marital breakups in the Christian community is the lack of protective hedges that spouses should plant around their marriages, their heads, their hearts, their eyes, and their hands" (Jerry Jenkins).
For this message though, we'd like to deal with infidelity in a preventative manner in working to guard our hearts BEFORE this tragedy strikes against us in our marriages. Below you'll find part of an article that we've featured on our web site entitled, "Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It". It comes from a great book, by the same title, written by Jerry Jenkins (published by Moody Press ISBN 0-8024-3492-4). We highly recommend for you to obtain a copy. First we have a few comments to make of our own & then we'll share what Jerry Jenkins has to say.
The Bible tells us to "Be alert" because the enemy of our faith wants to destroy us-which would especially involve destroying our "Christian" marriage! He knows that marriage is viewed by God as a living picture of Christ's love for the church (as the Bible talks all throughout it) and for that reason alone he seeks to undermine and destroy this message of the love of Christ that God wants our world to embrace. As the Bible says, our "enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith" (1 Peter 5:7).
We need to wake up to the subtle attacks aimed to destroy the testimony of Christ and our marriages and work to protect that which is dear to God and should always remain near and dear to our own hearts-our marriage. We can't be cautious enough because of what's at stake! You'll rarely meet a person who, having been caught up in an affair says, "Yes, I was looking for someone to help me destroy my commitment to my spouse." But you do hear repeatedly, "We never meant for it to happen; it just did." That needs to be a warning for us ALL to build up hedges BEFORE anything has even a CHANCE of "happening".
With that said, we'd like to share with you a few points contained in the book by Jerry Jenkins, "Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It":
The sad fact is that, "No one thinks he needs hedges until it's too late". Without being aware of the need to protect ourselves against it, we are vulnerable. Just as it's the "little foxes who spoil the vine", (see Song of Songs 2:15) so the seemingly small indiscretions add up to major traps.
One of the dangers we face today is that there's a new openness to interaction between the sexes in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in counseling-even in the church. Christians touch more, speak more intimately, & are closer to one another. There are advantages to this but also grave dangers. One potential danger is that it's not uncommon in the workplace to meet someone with whom there seems to be an immediate bonding. You like them, they like you; you hit it off.
Please, don't fool yourself into thinking that it can't happen to you. You can be married 10 years & still develop a crush on someone else. You think about them, find yourself talking about them, quoting them (even to your spouse), & generally becoming enamored with them. It can become a serious dilemma. This is the time to remind yourself that this is nothing more than an adult version of adolescent puppy love and it will pass. It really will. The person is off limits, and you should run from the situation as from a contagious disease.
You may still see the person in the work setting, and you may still enjoy proper interaction with them. But ground rules need to be set immediately. Never tell the person you are attracted to them. Talk about your spouse frequently in front of them. Tell your spouse about the person, but use your own judgment as to how fully to explain your dilemma.
When you first become aware of the impact the other person has on you, that is the time to move into action. Refrain from touching them, being alone with them, flirting with them (even in jest), or saying anything to them you wouldn't say if your spouse were there.
Call it what you will, but a man with as perfect a wife as he could ever want is still capable of lust, & of a senseless seeking of that which would destroy him & his family. If he doesn't fear his own potential and build a hedge around himself and his marriage, he could naively head for disaster.
A complex litany of events takes place between the vows and the adultery, and it behooves those of us who want to remain pure to examine those events, expose them for what they are, & either avoid letting them happen or avoid letting Satan use them to trick us into justifying our sin.
Once we've identified them, what will we do about them? Will we pray over them? Resolve to conquer them? Turn over new leaves? Ironically, the answer is easier than that. We are not to win, not to gain the victory, not to succeed by the sheer force of our wills, our consciences, or our determination. "Flee the evil desires of youth, & pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22, NIV). We are to run-to flee-to get out-and get away. Shall we all run scared? Yes! Fear is essential. "There are several good protections against temptation," Mark Twain said, "but the surest is cowardice."
So what is the solution when temptation rages? The only answer is to plan, to anticipate danger, to plot the way of escape, to build hedges before the enemy attacks. So, let's start planting some practical hedges. Here are some pragmatic ways to guard ourselves against our weaknesses:
Whenever I need to meet or dine or travel with an unrelated woman, I make it a threesome. I don't know why, but there's something very personal and even intimate about eating with someone. If that weren't true, why are so many dates centered on food? If an unavoidable last-minute complication makes this impossible, my wife hears it from me first.
Logic says that if I am following the biblical injunction to abstain from even the appearance of evil, I will also abstain from the evil itself. My philosophy is, if you take care of how things look, you take care of how they are.
I am careful about touching. While I might shake hands or squeeze an arm or a shoulder in greeting, I embrace only dear friends or relatives, and only in front of others.
I avoid flirtation or suggestive conversation, even in jest.
I remind my wife often-in writing and orally-that I remember my wedding vows: "Keeping you only unto me for as long as we both shall live." The sad fact is that there's simply not enough emphasis on wedding vows anymore.
Give kids a model of love and caring and interdependence. Show them what it means to make and keep a commitment with no wavering, no excuses, and no me-first philosophies. Make a decision. Set a course. Carve out the time it takes to devote to your wife and children, and plant a hedge that will protect you & her & them from the devastation of a broken home.
The important thing is to understand the dangers in the weak areas within yourself, and do something practical and concrete about them. Plant hedges wide and deep and tall against any weakness you may have. Remind yourself what price you'd have to pay for a brief season of carnal fun. We who have remained true to our spouses need to do something to ensure that we remain that way. That means working on our weaknesses, shoring up our strengths, pouring our lives into each other, and planting hedges. The time is long past for us to worry about people snickering at us for being prudish or puritanical. Treat this blight on marriage as the epidemic that it is. Flee! Plant a hedge. Do something-do anything. Don't become a sad statistic.
Something wonderful happens in a relationship when hedges begin to grow.
Because of Christ, Steve & Cindy Wright