Question:

God teaches us lessons in many ways. The new one He is teaching me is when I stand on something I need to be innocent in the situation myself. Such as the situation with the people who are married and living with someone other than their husband or wife.

Recently I have been tempted in this area. There is a woman here who is beyond a wonderful person with two kids, I have developed a good relationship with her and I talk about faith, theology, and life in general with her and have a good time. She's married but separated from her husband because he left her for another woman. He is seeking a divorce from her.

But at the same time I find myself being tempted. I have become very close to the woman, not because of beauty, though she is a pretty woman, but I spend time with her and I tend to relax and find I feel safe around her. That is where I think I made my mistake. The people in this area are very physical, to say the least. Every one hugs, puts their arms around each other, and the like. I have been tempted since I got here by a woman God has blessed me with. I keep wondering, "Why now?"

I am realizing I am enjoying my time with a married woman too much. I don't wish to be selfish, I wish to be love my sister in Christ. Love is patient, love is kind, not self seeking etc. and I know if I dig deeper into the friendship all I will do is be self seeking in such a thing. I just need prayer. She's a wonderful woman, I just have fallen in this area. I have yet to really do anything, but I need prayer. I let down my guard because I was so stressed out and so down. I found comfort where I shouldn't. I haven't done anything with her, but my intentions aren't as they should be and that alone eats at me day by day.

I am trying to take a step back and avoid seeing her, only at church if it is possible and small group. I haven't done anything, but I know me, and how when I like a person, which is rare for me, it's hard to steer clear. Be in prayer for me, as I turn to God constantly in everything.

Last night I prayed to God to love this woman as Christ would. To me sin is in my heart in this area. Some advice would be awesome, but at the same time prayer would be beyond helpful. I need prayer for strength in this area -- a lot of strength -- and may God's glory be my main focus and that I may let God work and not be hindered by my selfish desires in this area, but also that God may keep me busy with His work.


Answer:

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you" (I Peter 5:6-10).

So often Satan attacks just when we think we have a problem beat. It is a period of time when we are weakest because while recognize that we have a problem, we haven't had time yet to establish strong habits toward doing what is right. And because we think we have it conquered (because it hasn't bothered us in a while) we lower our guard. In speaking of the various sins that caused Israel to stray, Paul said, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:11-12). The point is that we are always vulnerable to sin. There isn't a sin that can't overtake us. And it is so easy to get trapped by it.

As the Hebrews writer said, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1). The only way we will win out is if we approach life as "We're in it for the long haul." We can't toy with sin because it will pull us in faster and tighter than we expect.

When I was a young preacher I remember a story told to me by an older preacher. He mentioned a fellow preacher he knew who had foolishly claimed that he would never be tempted by sexual sin. It wasn't a year later before he was caught involved in adultery with man's wife. Because he thought it couldn't happen to him, he didn't take any precautions and was trapped. In a sense, his declaration was a challenge to Satan and in this duel he lost.

I'm glad you recognized the danger. Next, you must put reasonable restrictions on yourself: the rule is that there will always be another responsible adult with you when you are in her presence. No more visiting her at her house. Keep your interactions on a business level.

I'm fairly sure you are not yet ready to settle done, and you're definitely aren't prepared to become the father of two little ones. Nor would you want the extra headaches of sharing the children with another man. But what is going to pull you is your pride. Men especially want to be wanted. Their ego is stroked when they can be the knight in shining armor to rescue the damsel in distress. In fact, that is what has drawn you together. You both are experiencing high-stress situations that involve rejection and cutting ties. The commonality pulls you together to share experiences and sympathy. In one sense that is great because we are to "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15), but Satan is using this as a weapon to tempt you with sin. I know this is a particular avenue of danger for you because you love people and want to help wherever you can.

The second thing I want you to do is to tell her in simple, kind words that you are pulling back because you are finding her attractive and it isn't proper or timely. Let her know the precautions you are taking, and ask that she be understanding. It might be that she hasn't noticed the attraction or hasn't taken it seriously, so don't let your ego be bruised if she thinks your efforts are "cute." But the reason I want you to tell her what the problem is because she has been rejected by her husband. She may be clinging to someone else just for some semblance of stability in her life and you happened to come along. Your pulling back without explanation would leave her wondering why men are rejecting her. You admission will be a small ego bust to her, at a time when she is down, and assuming she is a decent Christian she will go out of her way to make the situation less awkward.

If you seriously think that you might want a future with this woman, then I strongly urge you to not consider it until after her divorce has been final for at least six months, preferably a year. The reason is simple, her emotions are in a tangle and you don't want the foundation of your relationship built on the foundation of her rebounding for the next nearest available man. Let things settle. Let her find her way for a little bit. Then if you and she are still interested in each other you can talk about the possibility of dating. Waiting would be hard, but it would give time for a true friendship to develop first. The problem is that lust is rearing its ugly head at the moment and it is warping your sensible thinking.