A few years ago while I was still serving as Chief of Police, a sergeant entered my office. He folded himself into a leather chair and looked at me with his chin twisted sideways and his furrowed brow fixed across my desk. He asked a simple question.
“Why do cops cheat?”
I’d never been asked that before. I replied, “It’s the culture.”
It was the best I could offer. He left unfulfilled, and since then I wondered, why not only cops, but why do men cheat.
The first time I learned that male infidelity wasn’t only a sexual or moral issue, I balked. How could running around on your wife not involve wandering sexual desires, or that your morals left something to be desired.
The reality in most, but not all, cases of male infidelity is about medicating.
Men carry pain, shame and guilt much deeper and longer than we should because we refuse to be seen as weak. Needing to talk to someone or confide in another that we were hurt or shamed is something the Man Code strictly prohibits. You suck it up and deal with it in your own silence. Please understand this:
TIME DOES NOT HEAL WOUNDS. IT ONLY MAKES THEM WORSE.
Men carry pain for decades, and it’s noble to go to your grave with the secrets buried along with you. The problem is, that pain affects us all of the time. Whether men know it or even realize it, pain has got us in its grip and is destructively controlling us.
Men turn to sex to ease that hurt. They medicate life’s pain through physical, virtual or fantasy affairs. While it would seem the logical choice to confide in your wife, and seek her physical, emotional and spiritual care, that would require vulnerability.
The impersonal attachment to another woman, porn or texting/social media allows men to apply a temporary ointment to what deeply injures them. It also allows them to maintain the facade of being in control.
It’s Not Harmless Fun
This is serious business. James makes it very clear that temptation results from man’s lure of desire. Giving into that desire causes man to sin. The result of that sin is death.
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Will sexual sin kill you? Well, I guess it depends on the circumstances, but the death that James talks about may come in the forms of separation from God, loss of your wife, family, career, reputation, sense of self, and the many other tangible wages of sin.
Need more convincing? Check out what Paul says about what we excuse as “boys being boys.”
18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.1 Corinthians 6:18
Paul doesn’t say to stay away, or minimize or just take one peek. He says to FLEE. Forget about other sin, Paul warns that sexual sin is the only one that man sins against his own body.
It is so serious that it has been singled out. It’s believed that each time two people have intercourse, that they leave an imprint on each other. By engaging in an adulterous affair, the man now attaches that illegitimate imprint of his mistress onto his beloved wife. Is that fair to her?
Lets wrap this section up with Proverbs. It always goes straight to the point.
He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.
Willing To Look?
Do you have an issue with sexual sin? Most people scatter when the topic is brought up in public, or even in the church. Just the mention conjures up images of seedy alleyways or trench-coat creepers offering candy for van rides. Men are quick to say they’re not addicted to porn or tossed their stash of nude mags once the kids were born.
Would you be willing to take a quick test? The sexual addiction screening test is confidential, free and no one’s business but yours. If you have the slightest inclination that your actions are wrong, that you should stop but you’ve tried and seem to slip, or the pain, guilt or shame continue to grind at you, please take a moment to check this out.
“The darkness of sexual sin will never lead to healing.”
Satan uses the powerful ruse of secrets to bind men with the chains of hell. Men take stock in another’s ability to maintain confidentiality. Being trustworthy and loyal are characteristics men seek and value. But at what costs?
Men buy into the belief that the other woman is trustworthy, and she deeply understands him much better than his wife does. How can she not, he’s confided his past hurts to her, and they are still sleeping together. Surely, she truly understands him and he can trust her.
Adultery is a baited hook. Men don’t see the slimy worm on the barbed tip. They see the desirable allure of an easy escape from their past hurts and current problems. That first bite seals the deal. A man is now trapped by whether his mistress decides to tell his wife or not.
The man has surrendered the entirety of his life to someone he may have just met in a bar, at the gym or online. Guess what? Sometimes men are in such deep pain that they don’t even care about the disclosure. They see themselves as unworthy of having a happy, loving wife and family. Past pain can dwell that deep.
Binge – Purge Cycle
Men don’t have the willpower to simply say “I’ll quit.”
It’s deeper than will or surface-level decision-making. The root cause may lie buried in layers as far back as childhood, or as recent as last month. Either way, it requires more than a cursory assurance to his wife.
Men who cheat exist in a vicious cycle known as Binge – Purge. There may be days, weeks or even years between episodes, but until his pain, secrets and sin are confessed, he will continue to churn in that sexual storm.
Some men go years without clicking that website link late at night, but once the need to medicate his pain becomes too present, he may find himself consuming porn on the computer for hours, or days until he’s either confronted or consumed by guilt. He’ll make a sincere pledge to never do it again.
That’s only as effective as the next soul-splitting pain attack and all-night click baiting of deviant URL searches.It’s an unrelenting cycle where the medication to ease the hurt begins to cause pain through guilt greater than the initial wound.
While pornography was the example used above, it is equally applied to adultery, flirtations and social media communications. It all goes back to darkness. Keeping your pain in the dark, keeping your actions in the dark and keeping your freedom from sexual bondage in the dark will not heal anything.
The only way to heal is to bring it into the light.
I’m going to say this, and I know the risk of losing you, but men, we need HELP. It’s foolish to think it can be handled without it. I love this quote:
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Men need accountability partners. Other men who’ve been through and not only weathered the storms, but learned to construct barriers and protections from the threats and dangers.
Many churches offer small groups or online resources to provide unwilling egos with mentors to help men who struggle to weather the storms.
Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.
God equates light with goodness and healing. Confession, repentance and consistent sincere attention will help you find light, forgiveness and God’s grace.
Men can recover from sexual sin. They can even repair the destruction caused to their wife and family, but that will take an effort. A fantastic resource for men is the Conquer Series: The Battle Plan For Purity
“Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
We Can / We Can’t
I know what you’re thinking. This is lame, or I can stop when I want to, or I’m not some porn addicted freak, I don’t need counselling, or she meant nothing to me, or the hundreds of excuses I’ve heard men tell me once their law enforcement careers were crumbling because an illicit affair not only destroyed their family, but their profession.
There’s a warning I was given on my first day on the job by a senior officer who I still value. I’ll keep it appropriate for this article, but you understand, “Your badge will get you women, but women will get your badge.”
Now, since I’m not lecturing a police academy class of rookie cadets, I’ll expand this advice.
Whatever your realm may be – social media, website pornography, office romance or the clubs, the same principle applies.
The secrets of sexual sin lock you down into a bondage you cannot escape. Satan has got you by the “balls,” and unless you seek the help to bring your past pain and current sin to healing light, you will lose more than you can ever imagine.
Men, we can do better, but we can’t do it on our own.
Please know this article doesn’t come from a position of judgement. God has placed a burden for the souls of men on my heart. He’s had to also show me where I need light to heal, so I may speak to men in honesty and love.