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Recently, my incredible wife turned sixty. She’s a year older than I am (I think that makes her a cougar!), and even more beautiful to me than the day I first met her in Ms. Nute’s high school choir class in 1973. We’ve been a couple for over forty-two years and celebrate our forty-first wedding anniversary in just a few weeks.
If you’re young, like under thirty, you think sixty years of life and forty-plus years of marriage is a looooong time. In reality, it’s just a grain of sand on the beach of eternity.
If you’re old(er), like over fifty, you know how weird it is to look at the face in the mirror and wonder, when did I become a senior citizen?
Let me make some observations about age for both the young and the not-so-young.
If you’re young . . .
Live in the present. Months turn into decades before you know it, so savor the moments you have right now. Don’t waste the great gift of time. In fact, don’t wait until you’re old to live on purpose. “Bucket lists” are common among the elderly primarily because they’ve waited too long to take risks and to make every moment count.
Plan for the future. Living an abundant life of purpose and living fully in the moment, don’t mean you live without a view to the future. Just the opposite, in fact. Yes, be present today, but live prepared for the future because it will be here sooner than you think.
Stop throwing boomers under the bus. Sure, you may be better educated, and you have more facts and information jammed into your skull than your parents or grandparents do. Yup, you are hip (is that word still used?), and technologically savvy, and you have nice hair. However, there is no substitute for experience. The seniors in your life have learned a lot of lessons, some the hard way; glean from their knowledge. Listen more, and ask for their wisdom when you need it even if you don’t think you do.
If you’re old(er) . . .
Stop living in the past. Okay, you’ve lived a long and productive life, but it’s kind of sad if the only thing you ever celebrate are your past experiences. Nobody under thirty cares about the impressive risk you took that paid off back in 1970 if you’re not taking any risks today. The problem with being old is that we stop being active (and we watch too much reality TV). Don’t go there. In fact, people will care far more about your past when they see you’re doing far more than just talking about the good ‘ole days from the comfort of your Lazy-Boy. Engage. Live. Take some new risks. You ain’t dead yet!
Accept your limitations. You’re never going to run a four-minute mile (or maybe even a ten-minute mile!). Your memory might be fuzzy at times. You’ve got a potbelly, and you sag. So what? Wasting time and energy worrying about the inevitable is . . . well, it’s a waste, and you don’t have time to squander. Things change, our bodies change; in fact, little stays the same over the years. It’s okay. Take a deep breath and get over it.
Stop throwing millennials under the bus. Yes, they’re cocky at times, but so were you at their age. Yup, they think they know more about life than they do; so did you once upon a time. Sure, they were raised in a world in which everybody has an equally correct opinion (which is silly because everybody can’t be right). But millennials can teach you a thing or two about compassion. They are famous for selfless service to those in need. And the young do know more than we sometimes give them credit for, so listen more and ask for their advice even if you don’t think you need it—because you do.
As a pastor, I value both the old and the young (and all those in between). I want my church to be multi-generational because we are incomplete without all generations at the table.
Even when it’s challenging, we need each other, so let’s learn from each other and play nice.
The glory of young men is their strength,
gray hair the splendor of the old.
Proverbs 20:29 (NIV)
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Dale (not his real name) was in my office, and through sobs of despair and shame, he said, “I don’t know what happened or why, but I cheated on my wife, and now she’s found out and is leaving me.”
I wish I could tell you confessions like that are rare. They’re not.
The question I want you to consider with me is this: Is illicit sex worth it?
In particular, are adultery and pornography worth the cost?
On a regular basis, I teach that sex is a gift from God, and it is. Regardless of the current level of satisfaction in your marriage, sex is a blessing from the Creator. He wants you to experience loving, creative, and exciting sex with your spouse. That’s God’s plan, and after over forty years of marriage, I can tell you from firsthand experience—it’s awesome when His plan comes together.
Few want to hear this, and even fewer believe it nowadays, but illicit sex outside of your marriage, including adultery and pornography, are costly. Tragically, we humans tend to focus on the “fringe benefits” of immorality rather than the high cost of our infidelities.
41% of marriages include either physical or emotional infidelity by one or both spouses.
22% of married men and 14% of married women have strayed at least once during their married lives.
74% of men and 68% of women say they would have an affair if they knew they would never be caught.
Over 30,000 people are viewing porn every second of every day.
Apparently, unfaithfulness is a relatively common issue, and immorality is far too widespread.
I’ve written about this topic before (find the article here at Charisma News), but let’s take a deeper look.
Why do so many fail?
There are many reasons, but here are some:
Sexual boredom (we think the grass is greener elsewhere, and that sex outside of our marriage will be better).
Unmet sexual and emotional needs in our current relationship.
The love of the chase.
The thrill of conquest.
Insecurities about our physical and sexual desirability.
The pleasure of sin (though momentary and fleeting).
Addiction to a feeling rather than commitment to a covenant.
Fantasies that we believe are better than our reality.
There may be additional reasons why some spouses wander, but perhaps the biggest reason is that we haven’t considered the high cost of our forbidden sexual exploits.
The costs of an affair that we forget or choose to ignore:
Damaged or lost relationships with your friends, children, and extended family.
Severe financial impact due to divorce.
Loss of your God-given mission and purpose in life.
Emotional damage and lost joy.
Loss of respect for yourself and by others.
Potential physical illnesses (STDs are still rampant).
A strong motivator toward moral purity is weighing the costs of moral failure. Ask anyone who’s been down that disastrous road and they will tell you, “It’s not worth it.”
In fact, many years ago, I had one guy tell me quite bluntly, “When it’s all said and done, an orgasm is just an orgasm, and my moral failure cost me just about everything I truly value.”
We all know that drinking poison will kill us; we are aware of the cost of that irrational act. However, we foolishly toy with adultery or pornography thinking no harm will come, but it does.
Someone recently asked me, “Do you ever struggle with temptation?”
Without hesitation, I said, “I’m a male and I’m breathing. Of course, I’m tempted. But temptation isn’t the problem. Jesus was tempted in every way I am. The sin occurs if and when I stop resisting and give in.”
So what can we do?
As a husband or a wife, what steps can you take to help you delight in the spouse of your youth and to help you stay true?
Flee sexual immorality. Don’t linger or dawdle. Run from temptation! Stop reading the trashy romance novels. Turn off the TV programs that stir unholy desires.
Have the long view. What will your failure or unfaithfulness mean to you and your family in the years and decades to come?
Install accountability software and filters on your computer and smartphone.
Count the cost and imagine the worst not the best if you fail. (This should be sobering.)
Ask godly friends to support you in the battle and to hold you accountable.
Establish and maintain wise and holy boundaries. (For example, never be completely alone with an unrelated member of the opposite sex. It’s impossible to commit adultery if you practice this one relationship rule.)
In hundreds (and maybe thousands) of conversations over my many years of life, it’s become clear to me that we all wrestle with the flesh. Frankly, every one of us is just one bad decision away from disaster. You’re kidding yourself if you think you’re beyond the potential for a moral fiasco.
Not now. Not in this corrupt world. Not on this side of eternity.
But the good news is God is faithful, and He will always make a way of escape for you.
You just have to take the God-given off ramp.
“No temptation has overtaken you
except what is common to mankind.
And God is faithful;
he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
But when you are tempted,
he will also provide a way out
so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
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