By Dick Blackford
(The following letter was written in September, 1981. Names and places have been changed to protect the family. This is the first in a series of three.)
This is a difficult letter to write. I have spent much time wondering what I could say to help. I want to assure you of my personal care. I regard you as a friend and I want to be the same to you. Jeanette did not ask me to write. It was my idea and I am doing it on my own. I have always thought a lot of both of you and you have been a source of encouragement to me. Several times when we were living in Dyersburg I remarked to Kathy about what a good family you had, how you had done so well raising your children and how I wished you lived there with us.
I can understand how such a situation arose. You are an understanding, compassionate person. Your neighbor was unhappy with family problems and needed someone to help shoulder her burdens. She was younger and you were mature. One thing led to another. With the boys away at school, you felt the need for a friend. A feeling was ignited that you felt when you were younger in your courting days. It was a good feeling that made you feel young again. She gave you compliments that would inflate the ego of any man (we all have egos and they can be difficult things to live with).
Sometimes it is hard to face the reality that we are growing older and to see the deceitful means through which Satan works. He tries to convince us that we can recapture our youth. But Satan is a liar (Jn. 8:44) and he often uses us for target practice by using others to capture us. We are both well over half way to the “threescore years and ten” that is generally allotted to man (Psa. 90:10). We cannot regain our youth, but those feelings that you are having can be recaptured again with the girl that you loved enough to snatch from the clutches of the Roman Catholic Church and make her your wife and the mother of your children.
I want to remind you that a knock down is not a knock out. You can still pick up the pieces and get it together again. Joe, God has wonderfully blessed you. He gave you a loving mother and father who have always had your best interest at heart and gave you a happy home life. He has given you a wife who cares for you, is a good homemaker, and who can be trusted. You were given four healthy children who are obedient and respectful and who love you. They didn’t go off the deep end of rebellion as many teenagers have done. You have been successful in business and financial matters and have enjoyed many of the pleasures of this life which some never have the opportunity to experience. You have enjoyed the respect of people throughout your community. But especially, you were fortunate enough to come in contact with the Christ, the Son of the living God, who loved you and went to the cross so you could have the greatest experience yet of spending eternity in heaven. How then can you turn your back on everything that has ever mattered and sin against the God who made it all possible without which you would be nothing?
Pentecostals often tell people to “silence your intellect and let your emotions take over.” It is easy to let one’s emotions rule rather than his knowledge of what is right. Don’t silence your intellect and allow your emotions to rule, God promises a way of escape in time of temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). He doesn’t promise that it will always be the easiest course to follow, but it is always there. It wasn’t easy for Joseph to leave his coat and flee from Potiphar’s wife, but he ran (Gen. 39:8,9)! Joe, I urge you to break off this situation and move completely away from it (1 Cor. 9:27). You are a man of like passions that must be controlled the same as Joseph was, and you can! “Can a man take fire in his bos9m, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbor’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent” (Prov. 6:27-29).
There are some other questions you need to ask yourself. Would you recommend this behavior to your children – Lee, Jimmy, Michael, and Linda? By your example, what are you recommending? Actions speak louder than words. Children will follow our example much easier than they will our advice. Statistics show that broken homes breed broken homes. I personally know a family that has three generations of divorce. It is very likely that you would become an occasion of stumbling to those who love you. “. . . But woe unto that man through whom the occasion cometh” (Mt. 18:7). Don’t squander the family fortune on someone who has done nothing to help you be the success you have been.
I can guarantee that should you marry your neighbor’s wife that those feelings that have been sparked and the novelty of it will be gone in a matter of months, if not sooner. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence because you don’t have to mow it. Both of you have been careful to put forth your best image to each other, but things will change as soon as you learn each other’s faults. Joe, have you considered the kind of woman you will be getting? You will be getting a woman who steps out on her husband when something more inviting comes along. In a short time you will be in your fifties and she will still be in her thirties. Neither her age nor your jogging will keep you from getting older. And, what kind of man will she be getting? A man who steps out on his wife when the situation is more inviting.
Have you considered the number of people you will hurt by your actions? Is your need for a friend at this point in your life worth the loss of her soul throughout eternity? What kind of comparison is that? Will your selfishness lead you to that extent? Can you really call that love? True love is when you seek only the best for another, including that person’s eternal welfare. If your love for her is any less than that, then it is only for what you can get out of it and you are deceiving yourself and her too – just for a few years of personal pleasure and enjoyment, if that long.
I won’t make a list of everyone you will be hurting. There are plenty, both in your family and hers, aside from your brothers and sisters in Christ and others who respect you. But above all, there is the loss of your soul! You have come too far to give up heaven now. I am reminded of a sermon I heard titled “Halfway to Heaven.” It was about people who devote most of their lives to the Lord but then blow the whole thing as they come into the home stretch.
I highly recommend that you and Jeanette take some time off – just the two of you – and make a trip and talk this thing out. Cumberland Lake is a nice place. Or you could come here. We will treat you so many ways you will surely like some of them. You and Jeanette are quality people and have a lot of talent. It would be good if you could be in a congregation where there are other couples your age. I know you have been an asset to the church there but I also know that it is easy to become discouraged in a small congregation in a small community, especially when there is hardly anyone your age and with your interests (we have been in those situations before). You are in the prime of your lives and need to get more involved in the Lord’s work. You have lived your lives for the children, now do something for yourselves. You owe it to each other and no one should fault you for it. Recapture those feelings with the one who bore your children and who knows you better than anyone ever could; who loves you in spite of your shortcomings and has stood by you and will stand by you and is willing to forgive. As I say this, I know you are saying Jeanette has her faults too. Well, we all do and so do our children because we are human. But we can love in spite of faults (1 Cor. 13). I promise you that a second marriage will have as many or more faults and problems in it. It will just take time for them to come to the surface, but they will.
Joe, I hope your conscience has not become seared to where it no longer feels the pangs of guilt or hears the cries of danger or the pleas of your loved ones to do what is right. You can be forgiven and I urge you to repent. Quit leading a double life. Remember, there are no loopholes in God’s law. Sin, like quicksand, always drags the sinner deeper. One cannot remain at a standstill once begun. He will go one way or the other. I am making a plea for your soul. Get hold of yourself and don’t let it happen! “For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world – and lose his own soul. . . ?”
Feel free to call on me if there is anything I can do.
Your friend and brother,
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 2, p. 7-8
January 7, 1988