the shape of leadership

Four Ways to Guard Against Affairs

Keep your marriage and your ministry healthy

Influence Magazine on July 19, 2018

Affairs are absolutely devastating for ministers. Not only can they damage a marital relationship, they will rock a church’s foundation as well. When leaders fail, followers are wounded. Here are four simple ways to guard against an affair in your marriage:

1. Guard Your Eyes

Pornography is a dangerous trap. And it’s an ancient lesson. Even Job, which most scholars consider to be the oldest book of the Bible, addressed the issue: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman” (Job 31:1).

Today, pornography is rampant. It is more prevalent than at any other time before. Be on guard against it at every turn, whether on a laptop, a smartphone or a TV channel. When you let yourself be taken in by pornography, it creates an expectation of sexuality that is contradictory to your marriage vows.

This problem is not exclusive to men. Today, women are also watching porn and becoming enticed by those images. And mainstream movies that portray extramarital affairs in a positive light reinforce the lie that sex outside of marriage is no big deal. Guard against these ideas by guarding your eyes first.

2. Guard Your Heart

Affairs can come in different forms. They usually do not begin as sexual in nature. Instead, an unhealthy emotional relationship develops between you and another person. The affair takes place in your heart long before it reaches the bedroom.

Commit your thought life to God, and walk away from temptation quickly.

Jesus understood this. That’s why He warns against looking at people other than your spouse with lust (Matthew 5:28). He explains to us that this is adultery of the heart.

Fantasizing about or flirting with someone other than your spouse opens the door to disaster. It may seem innocent in the beginning, but the outcome is often tragic. Commit your thought life to God, and walk away from temptation quickly.

3. Guard Your Time

How much time do you spend with your spouse? Would you consider it quality time? If you allow other responsibilities to pull you away from your relationship, you will begin to see cracks in your marriage.

Guard your time with your spouse. Regularly schedule dates and other special times together. You might believe that romance should be spontaneous, but if you can’t get control of your calendar, your relationship will suffer.

4. Guard Your Words

The first three may have seemed obvious to you, but this one is often a challenge. When you talk about your spouse to others, what kinds of words do you use? Are you elevating or tearing down your spouse?

When you speak harmful words about your spouse to someone else, it will affect the way you view him or her. Guard your speech, speaking only words of affection and love — even in your spouse’s absence. Especially when you’re with the opposite sex, never let a cross word about your spouse come out of your mouth.

The goal is always to affair-proof your marriage. You can accomplish this only by continually guarding against the damaging influences of the world. How are you taking up the charge to keep your marriage intact?


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