By Dick Blackford
(Names and places have been changed to protect the family. This is the last letter.)
I talked with Jeanette recently and she told me where things presently stand regarding your problems. Of course, I was disappointed. I haven’t given up on you yet and I wanted to make another effort to change the course on which you are headed. Again, it is my decision to write. Jeanette did not ask me to.
It has been over 7 months since I wrote the first time. You will remember that I closed the letter by reminding you that sin is like quicksand; it always drags the sinner deeper. Sure enough, that is what it is doing to you, for you are now contemplating divorce. The wise man describes the man who falls into an adulterous situation. “With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver, as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life” (Prov. 7:21-23).
After giving exhortation on fidelity in marriage, he said: “And wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction,- and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray” (Prov. 5:20-23).
I know the kind of teaching you received from your parents. Look at what sin is doing to you. You are trampling under foot everything you know to be right. “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother. bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck . . . to keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart, neither let her take thee with her eyelids” (Prov. 6:20-25).
Joe, Jeanette has some good books which I recommended, particularly the book Men in Mid-Life Crises, by Dr. Jim Conway. But you refuse to read it. Why, Joe? What are you afraid of? “Show thyself a man!” instead of being wrapped up in your own ego and using your neighbor’s wife to feed it. Even if you marry her, she will still be your neighbor’s wife. God won’t recognize it.
You have gotten so involved that an attachment has developed and you are getting too weak to say “No” and mean it. How many times have you threatened to break off the relationship and then didn’t stick with it? Remember, all of those youthful feelings that she seems to be reviving are artificial. They’re not real. You are not recapturing your youth.
I realize I have dealt strongly in this letter and it may affect our friendship. I thought long and hard before saying some of these things but I then decided it was needed. I am willing to risk the friendship. What do I have to lose if you get a divorce and marry another man’s wife? You have become like a man running headlong over a cliff who ignores all of the caution signs and the warnings of friends and loved ones. When Paul wrote the Corinthians, he asked, “What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Cor. 4:21) I have tried to reach you through the spirit of gentleness. It may appear that now I have used a rod in this attempt to “snatch you out of the fire.”
Staying with Jeanette “for the sake of the kids” while continuing your adultery won’t get it. For one thing, it is hypocrisy. For another, Jeanette won’t put up with it and I don’t blame her. She shouldn’t. She deserves better. Anyone who becomes that wrapped up in his own selfish pursuits and has such little regard for others does not deserve the kindness you have been shown. The audacity and the gall to even suggest such a thing is beyond imagination!
Joe, “not divorcing” is not God’s goal. Just to have the same residence is not what he wants. If you no longer love Jeanette, you can learn to. Love can be learned. In many Oriental countries the parents choose the mates for their children. They learn to love, and divorce is minimal. God commands a husband to love his wife (Eph. 5:22-32). He never commands the impossible, therefore love can be learned. We learned to love our children after they were born. But marriage is neutral. It can neither succeed nor fail. It is as the persons who make it up. Great persons make great marriages. Bad persons make bad marriages. Marriage cannot be better than the people in it. A marriage must be maintained – daily!
Part of the joy of growing old is thinking about fond memories of years gone by. If you marry another man’s wife, what fond memories will you be able to share about the past 25 years of your life? A mate whom you betrayed? Loving children who begged you not to do it? Grandchildren who will never know the joy of going home to Grandma and Grandpa? It will never be the same again.
Your friend and brother,
P.S. I have been teaching a men’s class on the role of husbands and fathers. I am including two of the lessons. I challenge you to read them. Call me if you need me for anything. I’ll come.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 3, p. 74
February 4, 1988