Each time I watch the documentary, March of the Penguins, I find myself lulled into a state of awe and amazement. This French film masterfully captures the beauty and tenacity of the Emperor Penguins as they journey to their traditional breeding grounds, find a mate, hatch an egg and spend months overcoming the harshest of obstacles to keep their new family unit strong and survive.
Makes me wonder, what if anything, can we learn from these hardy creatures to also have such a strong family unit (marriage) that survives even the cruelest elements?
Observation shows us that these remarkable creatures have learned over time the importance of unity and the importance of knowing how to fight their number one enemy - 76 degree below zero temperatures!
They have learned all too well that survival is serious business.
Tragically, humans seem to have lost this survival instinct, and successful marriages in this modern world seem to be on the endangered species list.
Does it have to be this way?
Could we change our marital fate by taking a cue from the Emperor Penguins?
The penguin understands its root enemy…. THE COLD. They recognize it instantly and know how to fight it.
What about us? Do we really know the arch enemy of our marriage?
The Bible tells us the clear answer…… LUST.
Just like the cold, lust creeps in, settles and then expands leaving hearts frozen and families destroyed.
Jesus himself speaks to us in Matthew 5:27-32 about marriage and paints the picture of marital failure by highlighting the progressive stages of lust, adultery and divorce:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Jesus focuses directly on the beginning, that the very first step to marital destruction begins with lust. It commences in your heart and puts events into motion. Let’s face it, before you ever commit a physical act of sexual immorality you’ve already committed it in your heart and mind long ago! It is a gradual path and one that has serious consequences.
So severe, that Jesus uses the imagery of gouging out eyes and cutting off hands to make a point. (Now, Jesus isn't talking about really gouging out eyes and cutting off hands- because lust is a heart thing.) What Jesus is saying is that this is so serious that we must take extreme steps to quickly address these initial seeds of desire before they are allowed to grow. Stamp them out before they consume us and destroy our relationships.
Jesus purposely tells us to focus on two main categories – eyes and hands.
Eyes- What We See:
What are you viewing? Jesus isn't talking about a passing glance. We were designed to be sexual creatures and will find other people attractive. What Jesus is talking about is the in-depth look of lust that involves desire, a passion that feeds a sensual appetite that explores fantasy.
Sexual sin begins with this first choice – choosing to lust.
You don't have to visit the local strip club or adult store to find a cornucopia of sexual amusements. All you need to do is pull out your cell phone, iPad or computer and in the secrecy of your home have endless avenues to inflame your cravings.
The $97 billion industry of pornography makes lust lucrative.
Studies show porn conditions viewers to sexualize every person and relationship they encounter. According to a 2004 study, in Social Science Quarterly, “People who admit to having extramarital affairs were over 300% more likely to admit consuming porn than those who have never had an affair.”
Jesus knew our eyes would lead us astray. Pornography masterfully warps our view of sexuality and distorts it into a grotesque picture hollow of real intimacy and devoid of God's original design. It is false advertising of the highest order and make no mistake it undermines our marriages!
How can you protect your marriage by guarding what you see?
1. Take what you are viewing seriously and be accountable to what you allow in your vision especially on social media. Consider getting an accountability partner with a trusted person. Great resources out there to get assistance: xxxchurch.com, covenanteyes.com or Victory app.
2. Choose to not frequent places, clubs or establishments that promote the sexualization of women or men.
Hands- What We Do:
Examine your actions- the work of your hands - how do you order your life to either protect your marriage or leave it vulnerable?
Ask yourself the following and see how you do:
Are you a flirt?
Do you dress to be attractive or to attract?
Girls or Guys Night Out- what does that look like?
Do you watch how and when you are alone with someone of the opposite sex?
How do you handle yourself on long business trips?
What about long lunches with someone of the opposite sex?
What about after-work drinks?
Staying late to work together on a project?
Talking poorly about your marriage to others (outside of a professional setting?)
Negatively comparing your spouse to others?
Taking vacations with friends/others besides your spouse?
Infidelity is one of the top reasons couples give for deciding to divorce.
So, how important is protecting your marriage to you?
Are you willing to do the drastic; to look different than the rest of the world by taking extreme protective measures?
Marriage is a commitment- a choice- an action.
If we choose, we have the power to actively “lust-proof” our marriages.
Don’t let the icy grasp of lust creep into your heart. Know your enemy, develop safeguards and do whatever is necessary to keep your marriage from freezing and dying!
Father, you are the author of marriage and created us to be sexual creatures. Help us to understand your design for intimacy, to know the enemy of our soul and to be wise enough to know how and when to fight for our marriages. Keep us from temptations and help us to recognize when lust develops in our heart, so that with your help we can remove it from our lives before it has a chance to destroy.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. ~James 1:13-15