Let me clarify before I move on
I usually don’t make clarification based on comments for a couple of reasons. First, I know those with an axe to grind are far more likely to comment than those who agree, making the comments a skewed measure of what most think. Second, I assume most who read something I didn’t say are reading through their own filters. I’m not putting anyone down; we all do it. I do it all the time, despite my best efforts to avoid it. It’s all but impossible to change someone’s mind when they are filtering what you are saying.
That said, there have been many comments on a couple of recent posts, and enough people seem not to understand what I was saying that I probably should clarify. One fellow summed it up by saying he thought my advice for being a generous husband was to “have more women friends, and masturbate more.” I suggested he was not reading what I was writing and then another fellow said, “I think that’s kind of what most of us are getting from your writings…”, and then someone came to my defence. And so it goes.
So, one last attempt to say what I mean in a way others can hear. If you don’t care, come back tomorrow, or skip to the bottom where I’m throwing out one more somewhat related issue that’s bound to get me some negative comments. (My wife says it’s a gift. I can’t find the receipt, so I can’t return it. Oh well.)
In an email I got about this, someone said they just didn’t think it wise to have a deep, intimate friendship with a woman other than one’s wife. I completely agree with this, but I got the feeling the gentleman writing to me thought I was all for such a relationship. As discussed in the comments, part of the confusion here is the word “friend”. For some, this includes people I would call “acquaintances” while others seem to have assumed I was talking about the full range of friendship from acquaintance to deeply intimate. I should have defined it at the start; could’ve saved a lot of trouble.
To me the word friend covers a wide group of people. I have casual friends, friends, good friends, close friends, and intimate friends. I don’t have any female friends who in the fifth category, nor do I think I ever will. I don’t currently have any female friends in the fourth category, and when I did, they were also Lori’s close friend. I can’t say that’s a hard and fast rule, but I doubt I would ever do otherwise. Bottom line: I have boundaries. By the way, I would never have a friendship with a woman if my wife felt uncomfortable with the relationship – period.
As to the idea of more female friends, my feeling is most men need more and better/closer male friends. Given the limits on our time and energy, I would suggest working on the male friends.
I’ve never said men need to masturbate more. I think the vast majority of married men need to masturbate a far less. In fact, I think most should not be doing it at all. However, I can’t find any way to make it sin without doing harm to the integrity of God’s Word, and if it’s not sin I’m not qualified to say it is wrong. Additionally, if it’s not sin, it might be acceptable in some situations.
Personally, I see masturbation as being like eating slugs and worms – if you’re lost in the wilderness without food, it might be a good idea, but otherwise why would you do it? I haven’t masturbated in years – even when I am away from my bride long enough to feel a strong need. I could do it because I don’t think it would be wrong, and I know my wife would be fine with it. I just don’t want to do it. Yeah, before marriage I thought it was great, but since I’ve experienced real sex, with all of its depth, wonder, and blessings, masturbation does nothing for me. I don’t understand men who masturbate when they have a wife willing to have sex – it completely baffles me. I wonder if those guys just have never experienced sex as God intended it. (No offence intended!)
Adultery is not a temptation for me. I know, I know, the man who says that is setting himself up, pride goes before the fall, and all that. First, I’m not saying I am without sin – far from it. Neither am I trying to put myself above anyone else. I am certainly tempted in many ways (I mentioned in a recent comment that if we had broadcast TV I doubt I would control my viewing time well). I’m human; many things tempt me, and I sin far too often.
However, I know what tempts me and what doesn’t. Having sex with another woman is not a temptation for me – never has been. Even when we had many problems, even when we had very little sex, I was not at all tempted. Some will say I am self-deceived, but I think God wants us to know ourselves and know where we are weak and where we are not. I think we can know where we are likely to be tempted so we can take extra precautions, and also know where we’re not going to be tempted.
Why am I unable to commit adultery? My best guess is because I understand the consequences, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt they can’t be avoided. For me adultery it like cutting off my arm – beyond comprehension and certainly not something I could willingly do. Why this sin (and some others) is so clear to me when so many are not I don’t know. I wish I were as clear on other sins, so I could be free of them as well.