The Cheating Church at Work
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A minister once wrote anonymously requesting prayer from me. He had been having an affair for many years, meeting a woman in a hotel about halfway between their two cities. He used the Scripture, “like a dog returns to its vomit” to describe their relationship and lamented that, to make the matter known as a matter of prayer could cost him his job, his reputation and his marriage. He added that the two “have grown to hate each other.”
A woman was married to a politician in her city. She was cheating on him. About her lover she told me, “I don’t love this guy… I hate him… I just feel like I’m under a spell…”
I could go on and on.
According to an online article “Adultery: Statistics on Cheating Spouses,” “60-70 percent of adultery victims are women” while “30-40 percent of adultery victims are men.”
Dr. Holly Hein, author of the book “Sexual Detours: Infidelity and Intimacy at the Crossroads,” wrote, “In the history of mankind, sexual intimacy did not begin with fidelity. Male and female met, mated, and separated in the same manner as almost all other animals.” So, according to Hein, there was no such thing as infidelity. Men weren’t the “bread winners;” they were the “meat conquerors.” Perhaps they traded beef for bodies? Why not? It’s still happening that way today only, in many instances, it’s greenbacks for bodies.
For those who say “Marriage was God’s idea,” actually, there’s no biblical proof of that sacred institution being sacred at all. In the Old Testament of the Bible there is no mention of a formal exchange of vows or of a preacher or priest being present at this union. Up until the ninth century marriages were not even church involved. Until the twelfth century there were blessings and prayers during a wedding ceremony with the couple offering their own prayers. In time, Catholic priests requested that these marriages take place in their presence. Soon, the priests began officiating these marriage ceremonies. English weddings in the thirteenth century among the upper class became religious events but the church only blessed the marriage and did not want a legal commitment. In 1563 the Council of Trent required that Catholic marriages be celebrated at a Catholic church by a priest and before two witnesses. By the eighteenth century the wedding was a religious event in all countries of Europe.
At any rate, before marriage ceremonies, religious involvement and civil magistrates got into the act, Hein said, women “gathered together in groups in order to better ensure the survival of their young,” hence, “the evolution of cultivation and storage.” Men were lured by sex and eventually communities developed and so did marriage. Marriage was no more than a means of survival. “Marriage existed in the context of procreation.” Infidelity was not an issue. According to Hein, only until “the Holy Roman Empire and canonical law were at their peak did marriage become a holy sacrament.” Love was not a major concern in a marriage. Marriage way back when was about keeping or adding wealth in or to a family.
Remember Sinatra’s song, “Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage.”
Hein wrote, “Love in the context of romantic love did not enter society’s vocabulary until the twelfth century.” So, what she’s saying is that marrying for love is not innate in human beings; doing so is something that has evolved over time. It’s true that humans have always wed for many various reasons… regular sex, pregnancy, a desire to leave home, financial security, protection, empowering unions of tribes and nations.
Some would say that we are in the midst of yet another revolution. I call it: The Era of the Adulterous Generation…”Generation A.”
Dr. John Gray explains in his book “Men, Women and Relationships: Making Peace with the Opposite Sex,” that when a woman gives something – anything – to a man, regardless of what it is, the man will perceive it as his entitlement. Gray implies that this is because most men cannot fathom the thought of giving when he is not receiving. He says, “Often a man assumes that the score is even because a woman continues to give when she is not getting.”
Women are, by nature, givers. In today’s environment, are they getting too tired to give? Are they giving up? Has the energy a wife once spent nurturing a husband and children been reallocated to her work? Are more and more women seeing less and less call for a man in their lives?
According to the Population Reference Bureau, “In 1990, about 22 percent of woman in dual-income households earned more than their husbands; by 2002, this percentage increased to 28 percent.” Also, “Between 1975 and 2002, the share of Americans who had never married increased from about 24 percent to 29 percent.” Romance, love, passionate sex, and intimacy – can a woman get it all from just one man, a guy whose mind is bombarded with images of the female form, promiscuous sex and the desire to prove himself the lover-boy he once was? With more and more women experiencing the need for intimacy as the Romance Novel-type flings take on a greater appeal, and more and more men are losing – or have never attained – the ability to romance their fair lady, is Satan taking advantage of this culture, an accident waiting to happen?
It appears so.
“Affairs are reflections of how we isolate ourselves from our marriage partner,” Hein stated. Those who isolate themselves from their partner will eventually crave intimacy in some form from someone somewhere. I was guilty of emotional infidelity. As a workaholic in the AdBiz, I was intimate with many of my clients and coworkers. I spent every day creating soul-ties with women leaving me with nothing to offer by the time I got home. I never had a sexual affair – though workplace opportunities were everywhere. However, I did as much damage through the soul-ties I was part of. My lack of attention at home led to my wife’s affair, resulting in an illegitimate birth and a divorce that left four kids in its wake and all the personal issues – emotional bondages – that came with it.
Let’s get one thing straight: Infidelity is quite often NOT about sex.
YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART
According to Dave Carder in his article entitled “Torn Asunder, “some reports suggest an astounding 50-65 percent of husbands and 45-55 percent of wives have had extramarital affairs by the time they are 40.” (Journal of Psychology & Christianity 8, no. 4 (Winter 1989), pg. 26).
Peggy Vaughn, is the author of “The Monogamy Myth” and founder of a secular support system for spouses in adultery recovery. She has worked in this area for over 30 years: She cites 60% of marriages will experience adultery.
Dr. Shirley Glass, author of “Not Just Friends” and recognized expert on infidelity having hundreds of clinical cases and more than 2 decades of research writes, “after reviewing 25 studies – 25% of wives and 44% of husbands have had extramarital intercourse.” (Not Just Friends, Shirley P. Glass, Ph.D., 2003, pg 3). Comparable findings in a number of studies suggest that a reasonable estimate for lifetime incidence of extramarital intercourse is 25% women and 50% men. Increase that by 15% if you include sexual intimacies and emotional involvements. In a therapist survey (1992-2001) by Dr. Glass of 465 therapists at 13 conferences “very little consensus among couple therapists about why infidelity happens and how people should be treated in its aftermath.” (Not Just Friends, Shirley P. Glass, Ph.D., pg 5). She adds, “According to therapists who treat couples, infidelity is the second most difficult relationship problem, surpassed only by domestic violence.”
Christian Sociologist/Researcher/Writer/Speaker George Barna reported in 2004 that born again Christians are just as likely to divorce as the non-Christians. By 1970 “no fault” divorce was in place. Prior to that, adultery was one of the top three reasons cited for obtaining a divorce. There’s no reason to believe the numbers have changed just because we no longer keep records.
In addition, adultery is one of the “accepted” reasons for divorce within The Church. Minister who has long preached AGAINST divorce will suddenly back-pedal when their little girl’s husband is caught having an affair. Far too many Christians won’t hesitate to play that card while fewer and fewer are using the phrase “stand for your marriage.”
In my own life, my first wife cheated, became pregnant as a result, and even though I chose to stay with her, forgive and raise the child as my own, she divorced me any way. In my second marriage, although we were Assistant Pastors of a 300-Member church, my wife divorced me and, within 6 months, married her hairdresser and left town, tearing that church to pieces. After nearly 10 years of being single, doing much soul-searching and seeking healing as I tried hard to follow my own advice to singles and “become what I wanted to marry,” I met Barbara who had been single more than 10 years after a bad marriage to an alcoholic. It was during that marriage that she met and fell in love with another, Jesus Christ, who rescued her. Coincidentally, Jesus was restoring and healing me as well.
MINISTERS CHEAT, TOO
In his 2007 study of pastors, Carder revealed that 21% of the ministers surveyed had admitted being sexually indiscreet while married and in ministry. Of those surveyed, 14% admitted to lying on the survey which leads one to surmise that an estimated 40% of pastors had been unfaithful while in ministry.
Carder adds, “A study of pastors sponsored by Christianity Today found that 23% of 300 pastors admitted some form of sexually inappropriate behavior with someone other than their wives while in the ministry.”
This shouldn’t surprise any of us when you recognize the intimate connection between our spirituality and our sexuality. We are made in God’s image; three-in-one – Body, Soul and Spirit. Our essential essence is our spirituality and the kind of spirituality we have is determined by our relationship with God. By the same token, our spirituality is expressed through our relationships. We cannot help but relate through our sexuality, males relating as males and females relating as females. It’s who we are. During the course of human interactions, attractions can develop.
A Spirit-led person who exercises wisdom and self-control can win that battle. Too often, we push the envelope, living on the ragged edge, leading ourselves into temptation and compromising situations.
Next thing we know…BAM! Some 90% of those ministers admitting unfaithfulness felt “blindsided” by the affair. They simply did not recognize the signs. They didn’t see the trap unfolding before their eyes. They took the bait and, in many cases, set their lives off course as well as their families and congregations.
Through our sexuality, Satan has direct access to our spirituality. Notice how often in Scripture, where lists of sins are given, sexual sins top the charts. Satan impacts our spiritual effectiveness by attacking us through our sexuality. Look at your naked self in the mirror; everything about your body screams that you were created to procreate. Now, think like the devil for just a moment: how would you pervert this noble purpose?
Most ministerial infidelity appears to take place between ministers and ministry assistants while Internet porn usage among ministers is estimated at 50% presently. According to Carder, the younger generation of ministers appear to view pornography as “a little bit won’t hurt, just don’t get addicted.”
A critical area for ministers to be aware of is that of emotions. Expressing emotions to a female other than their wife or other family member can be fatal to a marriage. It seems that it is healthier for a woman to express her emotions to a male minister. Nevertheless, I advise that, whenever possible, counseling between a woman and her male Pastor is best conducted with another female minister present. It is in this area that most ministers who have fallen have failed. Other affair-factors included a minister who is feeling stressed out or “burnt out.”
Sadly, most ministers have never been taught how to handle their emotions in a healthy manner. If those “at the top” have this problem, what about the rest of us?
THE WORKPLACE IS NOT PAYTON PLACE
Coworkers often are required to work on projects or solve problems together. The resulting closeness can build teamwork – but it can also build a feeling of intimacy. Be honest with yourself. If you’re dressing to please someone at work or lingering in the parking lot hoping that person will ask you to lunch, stop now, before you’ve gone too far.
If you feel an attraction to someone in your office and have romantic or sexual thoughts about them, consider a transfer to a different department, a different site, or maybe you should quit. No job is more valuable than your marriage.
As a young married father, I heard that an employee for a printing vendor of ours found me attractive. Truth is, she was very sweet and quite pretty. I spoke about this with my boss and requested that he try and limit my trips to her company. He respected that request. The last time I saw her was when I asked her to print two Christmas love poems I had written – one for my wife and one for my baby boy.
Many Christian companies have codes of conduct that are safeguards against the temptations of emotional or physical affairs with coworkers. If yours does not, or you aren’t working for a Christian organization, you must have your OWN codes.
Here are some examples from Nancy C. Anderson, Contributing Writer for Crosswalk.com
1. People of the opposite sex should not ride in a car together without a third party present.
2. Don’t make personal (non-work related) phone calls to a coworker of the opposite sex.
3. Don’t have lunch with the same person every day. Move around the lunchroom or break-room and if you go out to a restaurant, go in a group.
4. Make sure that your e-mails and other correspondence are not suggestive, inappropriate, or flirtatious.
5. Talk about your spouse in positive terms, making it clear that you’re married and intend to stay that way.
6. Be careful not to make any lingering eye contact.
7. The only appropriate touch between business associates of the opposite sex is a handshake.
And here are a few guarding hedges to plant around your business travel:
1. If your job requires traveling with another employee of the opposite sex, do not get adjoining hotel rooms. If possible, request a room on a different floor.
2. If you have to meet with that person, offer to get together in the coffee shop or the lobby.
3. Call your spouse every night at a designated time and give him or her full permission to call your cell phone – anytime.
4. Ask the hotel clerk to block out all adult TV channels.
AFFAIR-PROOFING YOUR MARRIAGE
Penny R. Tupy is a professional marriage coach specializing in infidelity addiction and abuse. In her book “Overcoming Infidelity: Intervention and Protection Phases,” she writes, “Affairs almost always occur between friends and coworkers. These are the people that have the greatest chance to create the conditions for love and passion to flourish…Time, honesty, creating compatibility, romance. The elements that make up a fabulous marriage are the same elements that go into breeding an affair.
“Love takes time. In these hectic days we spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our families.
“Sometimes it even seems that we spend more time with our children’s sports coaches than we do with our families! And it is in that time spent together that affairs find a place to take root. It begins with a conversation, laughter, shared experiences and shared fun.
“Men and women who have grown apart from their partners suddenly realize how good it feels to connect with another human being. They lap up the attention, the conversation, the camaraderie, the admiring exchanges, the way a hungry animal consumes a meal left in its path.
“At first it is entirely innocent. It is nothing more than a conversation that leaves us with a good impression of the person we shared it with. It is when we have not maintained the proper boundaries on outside relationships, and one conversation turns into a regular event, followed by coffee, lunch and deepening feelings that the trouble becomes apparent. From here it is a short step to declarations of those feelings and to moving beyond an emotional attachment to a full blown physical affair.”
She adds, “Men typically deny a strong need for conversation. Most don’t seem to have an inner drive to talk the way women do. (Yesterday I heard a statistic on the radio that said men speak 2000 words a day on average, and women speak an amazing 7000.) And yet, it is safe to say that without conversation many of men’s intimate needs go unmet.
“The statistics tell us that men are still more likely to be unfaithful in their marriages than women. It’s tempting to simply chalk that up to a greater need for sex or sexual excitement, but the women I talk to whose husbands are having affairs tell me differently. They tell me their husbands are wildly in love with women who spend time talking to and listening to them. They crave the connection and the validation that conversation offers.
“It is the good feelings generated by those needs being met in conversation: admiration, respect, attention, a feeling of importance, that lead to the next step, that of physical intimacy. Conversation is an aphrodisiac; it is a form of foreplay.”
Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D., is co-author of “Keep Your Marriage: What to do when your spouse says “I don’t love you anymore!” She offers these 12 tips for affair-proofing your marriage.
1. Make your relationship with your spouse your top priority in the hierarchy involving family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others.
Make a real commitment of time, energy, and effort to your marriage. You can end up pulled in so many different directions and over-extended that your most valuable and precious relationship can end up at the bottom of the list unless you make it a top priority.
2. Nurture the emotional intimacy in your marriage.
Make time to talk each day, not just about the events that have happened, but also about your feelings. Share on an emotional level-your fears, your frustrations, your joys, your disappointments, and your challenges. Let your partner know how much you value being able to talk to him or her about anything and to connect on a deep level.
3. Show appreciation on a regular basis.
Be generous with compliments and thank you’s. Tell your spouse at least once a week how much you appreciate him or her and list the qualities that you love, admire, and respect. Don’t worry that you’ve said these things before-no one gets tired of hearing their good traits praised!
4. Spend time together doing fun things and just “hanging out.”
Bonding can deepen when you and your spouse have unstructured time to just relax and hang out together. If every minute of your time together is tightly scheduled and rushed, you’ll miss out on opportunities to be spontaneous.
Look for fun things to do-a picnic in the park, a hike, trying a new restaurant, going out dancing, or going swimming
5. Keep your sex life active.
Sometimes being sick or fatigued gets in the way of sexual desire, as does family stress like caring for an ill or aging parent. Certainly the energy and time required to raise children can leave parents drained and “on empty.” In spite of these challenges, it’s essential to make time for sex. The sobering reality is that most spouses are more vulnerable to flirtations and sexual advances from others when their sex life is unhappy at home.
6. Discuss and resolve issues as they come up.
Don’t just bury them or neglect trying to resolve them. Learn how to disagree without being disagreeable and causing long-term damage to your relationship. Above all-communicate, communicate, communicate. Keep the communication door wide open at all times.
7. Talk about the problem of infidelity and know that it can strike any marriage.
Bring the subject out into the open and express your feelings and deepest fears. Brainstorm with your spouse about how you can keep your marriage strong and what the two of you think would be helpful in preventing an affair from happening. Commit to telling your spouse if you feel vulnerable or if things start getting out of control in any situation.
8. Share goals for the present and future that inspire you.
When you and your spouse share common goals that you’re passionate about, you will feel closer to each other and more connected. It helps you to feel like a real team. The feeling of partnership is important in deepening commitment to each other. Whatever your mutual dream is, the passion you bring to pursuing it can draw you closer together.
9. Make wise decisions about contact with the opposite sex at work and other settings.
You may encounter special situations and temptations on business trips or at business parties or in your work setting.
Talk frankly with your spouse and agree on what you both feel comfortable with. If your spouse is on a business trip and the group goes out dancing, will you be upset if your spouse participates? Plan ahead and head off potential problems.
10. Know the danger signals.
Many affairs have started with individuals sharing intimate personal information with each other on a regular basis while not confiding in their respective spouses. Intimacy can mushroom quickly when secrecy is involved and a feeling of connection develops. Other danger signals are having increased sexual excitement about seeing someone in particular, being in settings with lots of alcohol and drinking when your spouse isn’t present, and being more vulnerable than usual due to feelings of loneliness, rejection, or anger at your spouse.
11. Celebrate your love, anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions.
Value your marriage and take advantage of every opportunity to celebrate, such as your wedding anniversary, the date that you met, your spouse’s birthday, and any other special days that the two of you share. This helps to keep the romance alive and also to keep your connection strong. Celebrate your love, your time together, your plans for the future, and the priceless present moment.
12. Support each other’s goals.
Make a commitment to help your spouse be all that he or she is capable of being. Your marriage is only strengthened when each of you is happy and fulfilled with your life. It’s to your advantage to help your spouse reach goals that are important to him or her, even if they aren’t your particular goals. Be positive and encouraging of your spouse’s desires to live up to his or her potential.
CHEATERS NEVER PROSPER
Are YOU being set-up for a fall right now? Ask yourself if there is anyone you know whose company you appreciate, or even look forward to, more than you do your own spouse’s. When the phone rings or you get an eMail from that individual, does your heart skip a beat?
Cheaters never prosper. We reap as we sow. Doing the right thing is difficult, at first, but reaps long-term dividends.
Following through with sin, is easy at first with long-term consequences.
My suggestion? Build hedges around your marriage. Years ago, I read a book called “Hedges” and it helped me immensely. I made a list of things that I would and would not do where women were concerned in my life in the work and ministry context. These guidelines have served me well and I’ve followed them religiously. They are my own convictions. They might help someone:
1. I made up my mind that I wouldn’t “do lunch” with married women or lunch with single women after I was married. If it could not be helped, such a lunch would include my wife or another friend and would take place at a restaurant where I would be sure to encounter friends – no cozy, out-of-the way places. Any friends I encountered would be invited over and introduced.
2. I would do my best to make myself accountable to others. I would not live a secret life but would check-in with regularity.
3. I determined that I would NOT be a “buddy” to married woman, or to single woman when I was married. Many men I’ve talked to have argued that they thought they could handle a female friend.
My response? It’s not worth the risk, guys. I recall one office-mate who, after leaving the firm, stopped by to visit us one day. While sitting in my office, she asked, “Why don’t you ever call me? I thought we were friends…” It was a tough thing to say but I told her that I tried not to be close friends with other men’s wives. It’s been over 10 years. I think we both survived my decision.
4. Any counseling I did with a woman I would do in the presence of another woman, preferably my wife. NEVER in seclusion.
5. No female prayer partners, thank you. In several instances, women have approached me saying that God has told them we are to be prayer partners. Friends, prayer breeds intimacy with he one we pray WITH, the one we pray FOR and the One we pray TO.
6. I would try my best to bless all the women I know…to be an effective part of their Christian maturity…to be able to look into their husband’s eyes with a clear conscience, knowing I have done nothing but help his wife to grow closer and stronger in her relationship with Jesus. You see, the way I look at it, all I have that any women REALLY needs – or any man or child, for that matter – is Christ in me, the hope of glory. If I sense something “flesh-related,” it is up to me to nip that in the bud, and I have, on many occasions. Me, the stronger Christian, have the power to re-direct the relationship. It’s a choice we must ALL make…and we have been given all the power we need to do so. It’s spiritual warfare. Nothing less.
7. Love is a choice. CHOOSE to love your spouse. Make a conscious decision to do so. As my wife can attest, hardly a day goes by that I don’t tell her that I love her. Rarely do I start the day without a hug, a kiss and “I love you today” before ever getting out of bed. Make that choice to love your spouse while making the decision NOT to share your love with anyone else.
As with most spiritual warfare, the battle is for our minds. That’s why we are encouraged to, “…destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ,” 2 Cor 10:5, NLT.
For the sake of the King and the Kingdom, a higher level of gender interaction is something the Body of Christ must practice, master and model.