Monday, August 09, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Sexless Affairs

The Pastor’s Perspective
“Sexless Affairs”
First Published: August 19, 2010

Derek’s words of challenge to the men and women of First Church this past Sunday evening were sobering. He asked us to look at how we conduct ourselves with our co-workers, and to see whether we were placing ourselves in situations where we might fall prey to temptation. Interestingly, even the secular media and cultural-pundits are registering confirmation of the warnings he gave about crossing boundaries of appropriate male-female behavior in our work-places. Gannett News Service recently ran a report on “The New Infidelity: Affairs Without Sex” by Karen S. Peterson.

It went like this: “Beware the workplace! It could be hazardous to your marriage. Those wonderful friendships that make going to the office such fun can turn into a very romantic ‘emotional affair’ when three elements are present–and not one of them is sex, Baltimore psychologist and marital researcher Shirley P. Glass told Gannett News Service.”

The article goes on to describe these three elements: “The signs of an emotional affair are: (1) Emotional Intimacy, When you share more about who you are--your hopes and dreams, frustrations and failures--with the other person than you do with your spouse, you are emotionally intimate; (2) Secrecy and Deception, Are you telling your spouse you’re meeting that wonderful colleague for lunch in the cafeteria every day? Lying reduces intimacy in a marriage; (3) Sexual Chemistry, If there is sexual chemistry between you, then at the very least there is an unacknowledged sexual attraction–even if you never act on it.”

In the article, Gannett News Service reporter Karen S. Peterson warns “there’s a crisis of infidelity brewing in the cubicles of America’s offices. For the most part, the people who are involved are good folks in good marriages. They aren’t thrill seekers. But long hours working together and the bond of close friendship have created temptations. ‘The new infidelity is between people who unwittingly form deep, passionate connections before realizing that they’ve crossed the line from platonic friendship into romantic love,’ marital counselor Shirley Glass told Gannett. ‘Sometimes the greatest betrayals happen without touching. Infidelity is any emotional or sexual intimacy that violates trust.’ Glass is the author of the just-published book, ‘Not “Just Friends”: Protect Your Relationship from Infidelity and Heal the Trauma of Betrayal.’”

“‘This is the essence of the new crisis of infidelity: Friendships, work relationships, and Internet liaisons have become the latest threat to marriages,’ Glass explained to Gannett. A classic example of emotional infidelity is an affair in an Internet chat room. Why do we stray? Because we can. There is attraction. There is proximity. There is opportunity. If you wonder whether or not you're part of an emotional affair, ask yourself this question: Would you be comfortable if your spouse could hear your conversations with your new friend or could view a videotape of your meetings? The answer pretty much says it all.” (This article appeared in CompuServe’s News Digest)

There is much common sense here. Ah, sometimes the sons of this age are wiser than the sons of the next. Christian men and women, if we are going to maintain Christ-honoring, Gospel-adorning sexual purity, we are going to have to be careful in the workplace, in our use of email, in our web-surfing on the internet and in all our interactions with the opposite sex (and I suppose that I have to add, in our day and age, in our interactions with those of our own gender). Let’s pray for God to give us a grace-derived desire to honor him in all our social relations and to honor our spouses in the way we relate to everyone else. And then let’s pray that he’ll give us the grace to persevere in that desire. “Give what you command, and command what you will.”

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan


Anonymous said...

This is very informative but doesn't cover the issue of married people surfing personal ads on Craigslist. To me this is also a form of emotional affairs. What is your opinion of this?

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