While there are many things that men can inadvertently give away to other women, there are things women can give away as well. Just as I should not look at any other woman with desire, women should not set themselves up as the object of any other man’s desire. In many ways, provocative dress is the female counterpart to a man’s lustful look. There is no one who hasn’t walked down a street and seen a woman displaying aspects of her person that should only have been shown to her husband! I am not advocating that women be fully covered as they are in expressions of Islam, but I am encouraging women to reflect on their appearance. Some aspects of a woman’s physical beauty do not need to be shown to other men.
As we look at our own thoughts and attitudes about marital intimacy and how they impact the way we see the world we realize just how important our thoughts are. All of the commandments thus far emphasize the importance of how we think. God cares about how we think about sexuality and marriage. God knows that evil actions always begin with evil thoughts and wrong attitudes. The beauty and oneness of marriage can be easily damaged if we do not consciously work to protect it. We live in a world filled with easily accessed pornography, and where casual sex is the order of the day. With the foundation of intimacy under such attack it is not surprising that infidelity, divorce, and single-parent families are so common.
Given the prevalence of sexual immorality in our culture, intentional effort is required if we are to protect our families. Christians need to be vigilant in what we allow into our homes and into our minds. We need to be especially careful in our consumption of media. So much of what’s on television and on the internet threatens our families.
I have taken practical steps to protect my family. With my children, we review together the content of movies before we go. If there is questionable content, we don’t go. When my children were younger, I decided where the lines were drawn and what they could see. As my children have matured, they have been able to apply biblical principles and make good decisions on their own. If a television show is inappropriate we turn it off. When my daughter was in middle school she watched the Disney Channel, a lot. When I noticed that a show aimed at “tween” girls was encouraging casual attitudes about dating, we decided it would no longer be watched in our home. My twelve-year-old daughter was in total agreement with the decision. She had been taught the importance of morality.
I have worked to teach my children morality in their personal lives as well. When it comes to my daughter, I am the “outfit police.” I help her understand that there are things a young woman does not need to reveal to others or draw attention to. So much of girls’ and women’s clothing is designed to be provocative that it can be easy (especially by adding peer pressure) to grow comfortable wearing inappropriate clothing. As a man I can identify provocative clothing better than my wife can, so I make it a point to help my daughter understand what her clothes say about her.
With all of the tangible lessons I try to teach my children about modesty, I have learned that the best way to instruct them about sexual morality is through my relationship with my wife. There is no more powerful example than the one they see every day. I make sure to express my love for my wife in front of my kids. They hear me praise her and tell her she is beautiful. (And they don’t hear me praise other women!) I make it clear to her and to them that she is absolutely everything to me, and that no other woman has any chance at all of gaining my affection. Through all of this I teach them what it means to be faithful.
As with all of God’s commandments, His imperative against adultery is not punitive. I have seen in my own life the incredible blessing of a healthy marriage. I have experienced the beauty of the intimacy that God desires. A love for God and an appreciation of His gift in marriage drives me to work hard at thinking and acting as faithfully as I can. When God had Moses proclaim, “You shall not commit adultery,” He was showing us how to save our families and experience His blessings.
This is the 8th and post on adultery excerpted from my book Life Medicine, available on Amazon A recent message on the topic is available on my vimeo page, click here to view. Comments or questions on this, or any post, are always welcome. If you are interested in having me speak to your church or community group, contact me through this site. Those who wish to subscribe to the blog and have posts delivered to their inbox need only click on the subscribe link, and posts will magically appear!