My pastor friend, Roger, called me frantic one day. He had just gotten off the phone with another pastor named Alex whose marriage was on the rocks. Sherri, Alex’s wife, was threatening to leave him immediately. Roger asked Sherri to wait, then called me asking if I could see them immediately. He went on to say, “They are in such a bad situation, I don’t know if there is any help but you are their last hope.” In case you are wondering if I felt any pressure, I did not. Why? The pressure was on Jesus and at GLI we’ve seen Him restore plenty of messed up marriages.
Alex and Sherri were very serious about wanting help because they traveled 2,000 miles to see me for a 5 day intensive counseling session. As we sat down, Sherri’s face was full of anger and deep hurt. Alex was just plain scared and he had every reason to be. He had reconnected on Facebook with an old girlfriend named Naomi. He had told himself, “I am not feeling very loved by Sherri in our marriage. I just want to talk to another woman who understands me, but I don’t plan to do more than just talk.”
Once he found Naomi online, he began to send her private messages. Naomi was also struggling in her marriage. So she was glad to have the attention of another man, especially an old boyfriend.
Small talk quickly turned into sharing how unhappy they were in their marriages. The old girlfriend told the pastor how wonderful he was and how his wife just didn’t appreciate him. He told her how he wished his wife was like her.
Suddenly, Alex realized he was playing with fire. He knew this was not what God wanted for him. Yet, because Alex believed in two natures, he told himself, “I need to feed the new nature with Scripture and prayer and not let the old nature win this battle.” So he did just that. He spent hours each day in prayer and in reading Scripture in hopes that his growing attraction for Naomi would subside.
You see, Alex had believed and taught that all Christians have two natures. He had used a very famous illustration of the two dogs. The good dog represents the new nature. The bad dog represents the old nature. The story goes that whichever dog you feed the most determines whether you defeat sin in your life or lose that battle. That was why Alex was trying to feed his new nature with Scripture and prayer. But because this belief is not true, all of that “feeding” didn’t help him. If anything, it made him think about Naomi all the more.
After a few weeks, they began to talk by phone every day. As you can imagine, this was a perfect set-up for the temptation to commit adultery. When the opportunity occurred, they resisted at first. Eventually though, they succumbed, agreeing to rendezvous at a hotel miles away from their spouses. But, as God would have it, the pastor’s wife, Sherri, uncovered their entire plan just before he left. As you can imagine, she was devastated.
Sherri said to me, “I feel completely betrayed. I knew we were having some problems but I had no idea that he was considering hooking up with another woman. I’m not sure I can stay in this marriage.”
After they laid out their problem to me, I asked if they would be open to God’s solution. They replied “yes,” but with some skepticism. I asked them to give the counseling a chance and to stick with the process until we finished. They committed to that.
I spent a lot of time helping them uncover how they had gotten to this tragic place in their marriage. They began to realize that the core of their marital problem was an identity problem. But that was just the beginning. (continued next week)
© Mark Maulding