When Robin Williams committed suicide, figures were released on the skyrocketing numbers of middle-aged men taking their lives. Unexpected health problems, derailed careers, financial implosions and exposure of sexual dalliances were some of the factors.
In the past few years there seems to be an epidemic of adulterous and sexually inappropriate relationships coming to light on a regular basis. Let's be honest: It's alarming to many of us onlookers, plus it causes much fear and trepidation among spouses who ponder the question, "Are we going to be next?"
And it's not just marrieds who are scratching their heads. Religious authorities are struggling watching the chilling increase of moral failures in their ranks.
Vatican City just released the news that a 63-year-old respected Catholic bishop in Brighton, England, resigned due to an immoral relationship with a woman. It had nothing to do with an underage female or child-sex abuse. Bishop Kieran Conry simply got entangled in a sexual relationship with an attractive woman, and the scandal has rocked the Vatican.
Two weeks ago I sat with a pastor of a megachurch who explained the unraveling of his former assistant's deceptive adulterous involvement with numerous women in numerous cities over the past few years. A married man with children and set to be the future senior pastor, yet he threw it all away for the "temporary pleasures of sin for a season."
Derek Prince, deceased Bible teacher with a global ministry, made this statement: "I've been in ministry for over 60 years, and I am well aware that in a matter of minutes I can throw everything away that I have built."
Here's the deal: It's time to step back and engage in a realistic assessment of what's happening and hopefully learn from others' mistakes to avert disaster in our own lives—especially if we find ourselves in the middle season of life.
The Challenge of Living Chaste in a Decadent Culture
Erotic stimuli bombard us from everywhere today. There's also the elimination of restraints and sexual taboos. Add to this lethal mix the pervasive encouragement to indulge in sexual permissiveness via TV, films, magazines and the Internet.
Ted Roberts is trying to combat the avalanche of pornography flooding our churches with a DVD series advertised with provocative statements like "68 percent of Christian men view pornography" and "50 percent of pastors view porn regularly." He bases this on a five-year national survey conducted by Pure Desire Ministries entitled "Porn Usage in the Evangelical Church."
Paul Coelho, one of the most influential writers of our time, just released his latest book called Adultery, dealing with this theme in our society today.
In case you haven't heard, the latest cultural trend being pushed is something called "Sugar Dating," where primarily younger women trade sexual companionship for money given by older, wealthy men. The documentary Daddies Date Babies surveys this development and explains how many millennial young women engage in this activity to get quick cash and pay off their debts.
A new movie that released Oct. 1 called Men, Women and Children portrays how sex is pulling at us from every side in today's digital age. USA Today reviewed it and stated: "What's happening to us in the process? With porn at the ready on 'incognito' tabs, BDSM a jarring go-to for teens and Ashley Madison ads winking over one-click affairs, where are we headed?"
Several weeks ago in an article in The Christian Post entitled "The Defining Moment Between Attraction and Sexual Sin," the author confessed that, "After living 19 years free from dealing with sexual attraction outside my marriage, I find myself experiencing those old familiar triggers once again. YIKES!"
Gordon McDonald, author of Magnificent Marriage, Effective Father, and former president of InterVarsity Press, relates how he once was asked by a businessman if Satan was to "blow him out of the water" how would he do it? Gordon responded, "He'd never get me in the area of morality. I'm just too strong there. It would have to be somewhere else."
Subsequently, McDonald acknowledged falling into adultery and stated he neglected to heed the counsel of Oswald Chambers, who said in his classic My Utmost for His Highest: "An unguarded strength is a double weakness." (The good news is that McDonald humbled himself and went through a lengthy process of restoration, so he is functioning fruitfully in ministry once again.)
It would do us all good to regularly meditate on the Scripture, "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it" (1 Cor. 10:12-13, NIV).
This is the first installment of a two-part series on this topic. Click here for Part 2.
Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author and cultural commentator with 42 years of trusted ministry experience. His passion is to bring perspective, analysis and insight from a biblical worldview. He loves awakening people to today's cultural realities and responses needed for a restored, influential church. Please visit LarryTomczak.com and follow him on Facebook or at @larrytomczak on Twitter.
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