Dealing Treacherously with your Wife
. . . the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion, and your wife by covenant. [Malachi 2:14]
Every Christian man knows pornography is sinful and that it will rob his soul of vitality, destroying his marriage and family. Any pastor will tell them that. Yet, most of you reading this have dabbled in pornography to some degree, but I doubt that many men reading this are enslaved to it. But I bet you have taken a look at the Sports Illustrated annual swim suit issue, and I bet you occasionally cast your eyes on magazine and website layouts of celebrities in swim suits or other revealing attire. You may say, ‘What’s wrong with that. I don’t think it is lust. I just like to look at women from a distance. No harm, no foul. Men are sexually aroused by sight. I can’t help it.’
The prophet Malachi is taking the post-exilic covenant people of Yahweh to task for a number of violations of his covenant with them. They are offering blemished sacrifices. They are robbing him by not tithing. And they are dealing treacherously with the wives of their youth. The context of this indictment, along with the use of the Hebrew word for treachery in Jeremiah 3:20, makes clear that treachery with one’s wife is adultery. Treachery with God is spiritual adultery.
Malachi uses covenantal language, reminding Judah of God’s covenant with them, that he is a God to them, and they are a people to him, that they are married. Breaking the covenant has resulted in Judah’s long exile to Babylon, and though they have been graciously restored to the land by Yahweh, they are back at it again. Malachi points out that God is no longer regarding their sacrifices, that he no longer regards them with favour, though they weep and groan in making them. The Lord sees through their lascivious charade. Have you considered that God may be resisting you in ministry, in your work, in your finances because you are dealing treacherously with your wife? You may want to look at that.
But what harm is there in looking at the SI swim suit issue or something akin to it? Think about this from your wife’s perspective. She is thinking, ‘My husband no longer finds me attractive. I guess the ravages of time and bearing children have taken their toll on me.’ You may still think this is nothing, that all men do it, that you would not dream of actually engaging in a sexual liasion with another woman. First, your wife does not know that, but secondly, how can you be so sure you will not succumb to it at some point? Never forget the deceitfulness of sin and the power of indwelling sin. Your lascivious look at other women at the gym or office, your long or repeated gaze at a woman on a plane is like a battering ram used by ancient warriors seeking to break down the gate of a fortress during a siege. One or two hits by the battering ram does not seem to weaken the gate at all. However it is weakening and by the time numerous hits have been made, the gate begins to give way, eventually falling, bringing destruction from the hordes which rush in to destroy. That’s the way it is with repeated looks at other women. You become emboldened and one of these days, you will say some things you ought not to say which will lead to the physical act of adultery, which very likely will cause you to lose all you have. Proverbs 25:28 says, ‘Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.’ Undisciplined eyes can destroy you.
A well known preacher a number of years ago found himself on a plane, sitting next to an attractive woman and he was flirting with her, and she with him. Upon landing in Chicago, his next flight was cancelled due to a snow storm and when she suggested that he spend the night with her at her apartment, he agreed. His one time fling cost him the respect of the evangelical world. He has said that this did not simply come out of nowhere. He now realizes that he was filled with pride, that he had long been dealing treacherously with his wife in his thought life. The time was ripe and he fell into grievous sin.
What ought you do to protect yourself against dealing treacherously with your wife? Here’s what won’t work. Simply praying about it, asking your friends to hold you accountable, thinking about all you will lose if you persist in gazing at other women, won’t get it done. Your bent toward sensuality is far too strong to stand against such paltry efforts. I am not saying that you should not pray or have accountability or think on the dire consequences of such action; but I am saying these are not enough. These are not your best weapons. What, then, should you do?
You need to understand the root of such sin. It is idolatry. You are looking for the creation (another woman) to meet your deepest needs. And why is that? Because you are forgetting who you are. You are forgetting the grace of God given to you in Christ. You are still looking to your job, your position, status, money, or children to fill a need which only God can fill. You are looking to the creation rather than the Creator Redeemer. Here’s the truth, if you are in Christ – God loves you, really loves you. He will not forsake you or condemn you. He is never ashamed to call you his brother. There is nothing you can do to warrant his condemnation or judgment. And because your salvation is so rich and free, because you did nothing to merit it, you are able and willing to give your life totally to God. If you earned your salvation through some effort on your part, then you would be justified in saying to God, ‘I have done my part. Now, keep your end of the bargain.’ But since God is the only author of your salvation, you cannot stop by giving him only part of yourself. He gets it all, and therein lies your freedom. You can unreservedly, unhesitatingly, unequivocably give yourself body, soul, and spirit to the One who loves you, who will never let you go. I promise you this – when you truly live out who you are, when you find your deepest needs met in the lover of your soul, then you will find that you don’t have a need to look at other women. And the more you find victory here, then the greater your love and attraction to your wife, the greater your faith, the greater your holiness, the greater your peace.
Rev. Allen M Baker is Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in West Hartford, Connecticut.
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