I appreciate your comments about having been attracted to a woman not your wife as well as what you experienced regarding the artillery barrage landing ‘on’ troops in the field. My military service time was as a sailor in the Coast Guard. Pretty light duty compared to what you and others did and experienced during Vietnam and elsewhere. In ways, it’s difficult to counter one’s personal experience. And I won’t try to do so here. I respect what you’re saying even if I can’t entirely understand or relate to it. However, your earlier comments, though, reflect what is (I believe) something that is common to the overwhelming vast majority of men that I know – myself included. All of us guys are attracted to “the weaker vessels”. We are (I believe) designed by God to be visually keyed-in. To greater or lesser extents, all of us guys have had to deal with, well, the ‘wandering eye’ and must work (and choose!) to keep our focus on our brides. I wish gals were more attuned to their dress and mannerisms. But the problem isn’t with them. Rather, it’s with us.
I am hard pressed to believe, as I think you do, that God intentionally brings about temptation. I’m of the opinion that sexual temptation is something so prevalent that most of guys don’t even give it a second thought when an attractive woman passes in front of us. We rather like it. And our eyes linger. And our mind wanders. And our lustful feelings and desires build. I can imagine Satan, understanding what God had created in sex and knowing the potential pitfalls that would inevitably come about as much said, “Well, sure God, I think this is great and that your creation will thank you for it.”
Over the years, I’ve had opportunities to volunteer as a mentor for Teen Challenge and to work in Stephen’s Ministry. I’ve seen first hand the lives damaged by drug addiction. I’ve held the hand of a guy dying from aids. In my own life, I’m having to deal with the ramifications of rheumatoid arthritis and the consequences of poor financial choices made 20-30 years ago. Not one of these things do I attribute to God’s sovereign will. What I’ve come to understand is that if I focus my ‘behaviors’ to that which is clearly spelled out in the Bible, then so much heartache and misery can be avoided. I don’t understand the biology or pathology of diseases such as aids. But clearly, if this homosexual guy had not engaged in gay sex, I suspect that he never would have had to deal with dying in his early 30s as he did. I’ve seen so much pent up anger within people which has been manifested in many ways. Jobs lost, relationships destroyed. In the mid-70s I read a book entitled “None of These Diseases”. Fascinating look at understanding the frailty of the human body by a Christian medical doctor. One chapter talks about Proverbs 16:24 – Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. The author uses a lot of similar verses to show that high levels of stress from whatever reason have the propensity to release enzymes and hormones within the body that literally eat away at the calcium in the bones. On the other hand, a certain amount of stress is good if only because it helps to get me up and to work each day so that I can be responsible for the bills at the end of the month. I look forward to the day when, like you, I’m retired. I’m thankful for the relatively simple and effective ways of dealing with RA. And, over time, with some sound financial planning, we’re starting to seem some goals and opportunities that several years ago seemed out of the question.
Anyway, before this tome gets excessively long, my point is that God created us as he did and when we live within what I can only refer to as the biblical-design, then in general we should experience a much more – what the Bible refers to – an abundant life. And I know that when I turn my eye from that pretty girl and keep my focus on my bride, then I experience a sense of freedom and intimacy that can never be enjoyed in a one-night stand. But, it’s admittedly difficult sometimes. Yet, I sense one of the qualities of those who’re spiritually disciplined is to make more God-honoring decisions. And when they do, they experience more of the fruits of the spirit – the love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Not wanting to be harsh, but I sense within you, Jim, what I believe to be myopic perspective that you’re literally strapped down on the microscope slide and God is dripping out different acids and bases or otherwise messing with you in all kinds of ways just to watch you squirm. Or, at least that is the perspective I would see if I saw everything as God-ordained. As I see it, God has given me complete freedom to enjoy all that there is within the petri dish and so long as I remain in the petri dish there is little that can “get” to me. But when I try to climb up and over the sidewall and escape the God ordained boundaries, then I’ve essentially lost his protective umbrella and am exposed to things for which I’m ill prepared to deal with. And just like the prodigal son, when we return, he is there to forgive us and welcome us back. We may, unfortunately, have to carry the scars of our own dealings. And I trust that you understand that God can’t use those scars for his benefit and glory. Perhaps we can discus that in further detail later.