Yesterday in Friends of the female persuasion I suggested that “avoiding the appearance of evil” is not biblically valid, much less commanded. The comments, both on the blog and in my email, require a follow up, but today I want to look at the “female friends are an affair waiting to happen” line of thought.
Certainly being friends with a woman makes it easier to end up in bed with her, but I think cheating is more about our hearts than it is about circumstance and opportunity. If most men were the sex crazed monsters some think we are, then avoiding any hint of friendship with a woman might be a wise, but completely useless precaution. Let’s face it, if most men were as given to sex with any woman, any time, there would be no need to form a friendship to end up in adultery!
Are there men who will have sex with just about any woman they can get? Yes. There are also men who are so afraid of germs they will not go outside their own homes. Neither group is the norm, and neither group should be used to decide how the majority should act. Despite the bad press the male sex drive has gotten the last few decades, most men do not think primarily with their penises! What’s more, despite the fact that some men excuse their affair or porn use on a lack of sex with their wife, most men will not commit adultery simply because they are “not getting enough” at home. (They may well do it because of anger or frustration over a callous lack of caring for their sexual needs, that is about love and respect, not sex.)
My view, and some will argue with me strongly on this, is that adultery is not something one “falls into”. It does not happen because of an unfortunate set of circumstances. Adultery is an action that follows a choice or series of choices made days, weeks, or months before the sex happens. Adultery is not about a sexual attraction to another person, but about trying desperately to fill a need that is not being filled. While I cannot say that need is never sexual, I am confident it is rare that the real need is sexual. Sure sex feels good, but most folks who cheat are looking for something other than an orgasm.
Yes, having a female friend might make it easier for some men to get up the courage to commit adultery, but the friendship is not what causes the affair. The reality is anyone who wants to cheat is going to find it sadly easy to do so. Thinking that not having female friends keeps one safe from an affair is like thinking closing your home’s windows will prevent you from being robbed when your front door is standing ajar!
To me this is about knowing yourself and being wise. If you are sexually satisfied, you are not at risk. If you are sexually frustrated, then you need to be more careful, but the real issue is more about your relationship, why you are sexually frustrated, and how you feel about that. If your wife is chronically ill, or dealing with being molested as a child, you may not be having any sex, but you understand that and you are not mad at her about it. If she is just saying no, or a legitimate reason has gone on for a long time with her refusing to deal with it, then you are mad about it, and that anger can easily be used to justify adultery. Adultery is not a result of men not having sex, but it is often a result of men being angry about not having sex.
Another thing to consider is attraction – if you know you are attracted to a woman, then be wise and do not give any opportunity for inappropriate feelings to grow. The tricky thing about this is it means we have to be honest with ourselves. If we just deny all our feelings about all women, then we are blind to potential problems. If we admit what we think and feel, then we can deal with those things in a wise and godly manner. While many men commit adultery with women they are not at all attracted to, there is certainly wisdom in not putting yourself where you are going to feel things you should not feel about a woman other than your wife.
The bottom line: Hungry people are far more likely to steal food than those who are well fed. Yes, the sexually starved are probably at a bit more risk, but what really drives adultery is being emotionally malnourished, relationally hungry, or starved for respect. These hungers are the hook that opens a man to adultery. If you have any of these, you are at risk, and you should know that and take precautions. If you are not hungry in any of these ways, you really are not at risk unless your penis actually rules you.
Tomorrow: Dealing with sexual anger. (A post requested because I just reran Angry about sex?, and a great fit with where this post went).