“One day I was visited by a young man in his thirties, who had a personal problem. He told his story somewhat like this: ‘I work for such -and-such a company, and I have a private office. Several months ago my secretary was absent and I had to use another girl.”
“One day she brought papers for my perusal; she got too close, and when she leaned over the desk, she let her hair trail across my face. I fought it down, but after all, I am a man, and toward the end of the day I put my hand on her and she came right back to be kissed. Even while kissing her, I was visualizing my two children running to meet me, and my wife standing in the door. I hated what I was doing, but I kept on. I had the greatest desire to push her from me, but I kept pulling her to me; my body was doing one thing and my mind was doing another.’
‘When I got home that night, I hugged my children so hard that one of them cried, and when we got him to laughing, I told them it was because I loved them so much. I had tears in my eyes and my wife’s eyes were shining. We all clung together in one of those moments that are indescribable. My wife was supremely happy, because I walked around the house that evening, touching familiar things that we had scrimped to buy, expressing my love for the home and for her, and before God I was never more true. Next day, the office intrigue began all over again. I was never more miserable in my life.’
‘Before a month had gone by I realized that my lust and my love were in a terrible battle. When I came home, there was everything that I wanted in life. When I went to the office, the machine of my body seemed geared to something terrible that was purely mechanical, and which I wanted to get out of more than any fly ever wanted to get off fly-paper. I heard my wife tell someone that I was becoming more and more of a homebody, and that all I wanted to do was stay at home. And it is true. I follow her around the house, talk with her in the kitchen where she is working, and watch her as she puts the children to bed.’
‘This morning, when I left the house, she told me that she thought she was the happiest woman in the world, because I showed so much that I loved her alone. I could hardly talk. In fact tears came to my eyes, and when I lifted a lock of her hair to dry them, I said to her, ‘I love you more than life itself.’ She cried and I crushed her to me until she screamed and smiled at the same time. Then I ran off to my train. But now what shall I do?’”
This man’s agonizing question, “But now what shall I do?” has been asked many times. Sexual temptation is both powerful and deceptive. This story, as retold by the late Donald Grey Barnhouse, offers a sobering warning about the possibility of risking the most important things of life for temporary pleasures.
Since the so-called sexual revolution, people have tried to re-write God’s standards for sexual conduct. Sadly, however, many have done so only to be painfully reminded of the scripture, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). Actions have consequences. If you are flirting with sexual temptation let this man’s experience serve as a wake-up call. Think before you act! Are you willing to sacrifice what is lasting and valuable for moments of personal pleasure?
“A man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32). Although God is willing to forgive the guilt of confessed sin, he does not promise to remove all the consequences. Some sins, like adultery, inflict deep wounds. These wounds can take years to heal, and thankfully, God does give healing grace (see: Hebrews 4:16). Such grace, however, is not offered to those who hide their sin. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).