Integrity and Texting: You’ve Been Warned!

Integrity and Texting: You’ve Been Warned!

In recent years I think it would be safe to say that 100% of the affair cases involving sexuality I’ve seen in my office have involved texting in one form or another. Certainly they all included some kind of electronic communication: emailing, chatting, cell phone calls and texting being the primary vehicles of choice. Clients sometimes scoff at me when I say these kinds of things. I’m sure these folk are thinking I’m a prude. I probably come off like the kidney doctor I knew who would bring out a kidney donation card whenever he met a motorcyclist to have him sign it so, he’d say, when he was killed driving a motorcycle someone would benefit from his kidney! I’m still driving my motorcycle. I figure, despite my warning, many of my clients still text with abandon. They are all borrowing trouble.

A recent Iowa Supreme Court case from Fort Dodge that has reached national news has emphasized my point, however. You can read the report here. Basically, a female employee was fired from a dentist office because the dentist’s wife was threatened by the employee that her husband, the dentist, was having an affair with her. The employee sued for wrongful firing and lost because of her text records indicated the relationship she had with her boss went beyond employee-employer and far over into the personal arena. They had both texted each other outside of work and neither had objected to the texting.

She didn’t sue for sexual harassment, though I believe her boss was completely out of line and fully responsible for his actions and as her boss he had no business texting her about personal things. The court ruled the relationship was consensual and he had good reasons to fire her…because of the mutual texts.

I personally think the decision is unfair because in a top-down relationship (boss/employee), we always and rightly hold the boss, teacher, president responsible for crossing boundaries with their employee, student, intern….well, maybe not, but we certainly should.

My point here is the idea of integrity and texting and if you are going to keep your integrity you had better limit your texting to colleagues to professional matters. Anything you text can and could be used against you in the court of law for decades to come and you can get your butt in a ringer. But, more likely, you’ll call your own integrity into question if you start texting other people beyond the professional area. I’ve seen it lead to sexual affairs over and over again. If you are willing to cross the line in your texts from the professional to the personal, it won’t be long before other boundaries are crossed. And then you’ll come see me and ask, “What happened? I didn’t intend to have an affair.”

We all know it didn’t “just happen.” Boundaries were crossed, secrets were kept and before long a person is sliding down the slide of an affair not able (and often not willing) to stop. If the person hadn’t crossed the line of professional on the texting thing in the first place, the affair business would have never occurred. As I tell my clients, “You don’t play frisbee next to the Grand Canyon!”

If a colleague texts you beyond “the meeting is at 3 in room 112” you need to do two things: 1) tell your spouse and 2) tell the person you only use texting for professional reasons. If the person refuses to stop you may have to take it to his superior. If he owns the company you may have to take it to the professional state board he answers to (Don’t worry he’ll listen to them!) or find another job. Working in an environment where it is accepted to cross boundaries and tempt people to break their own integrity simply isn’t worth it.

You’ve been warned!

Integrity, Defined by Whom? The Death of Conscience

Integrity, Defined by Whom? The Death of Conscience

In our last blog in this Integrity Series I wrote about integrity in your WHOLE life and suggested it’s not enough to have integrity at work.  You need it at home, too.

-If you do an awesome job at work and come home and neglect your wife, you’ve missed the boat (to mix metaphors) and don’t have integrity.

-If you love on your kids and ignore your husband, something is amiss.

-If you convey to your wife you are an honest bloke and you call your boss and lie and say you are sick so you can take the day off to go fishing, but really you are doing perfectly fine, your wife will wonder if you lie to her sometimes because you are willing to lie to your boss and even brag about it and smile and mock your boss behind his back and she won’t know when you are lying and when you are telling the truth and she’ll doubt you and question you and then you can be mad at her for being upset and not trusting you, when you are the one that planted the seeds of doubt in the first place.

It just takes one lie to set this series of events into place. If you’d never lied in the first place you wouldn’t be having these arguments, these accusations, this feeling of insecurity and fear and worry, for months, even years, on end.

Integrity Is Not Just Not Lying:

But integrity is not just not lying.  It’s about your whole life (see the previous blogs in this series).  However, it’s been redefined to only include lying in our modern world.  We live in a society that is changing morality and common sense and integrity and then expecting all of us to accept the new mores and if you don’t you very well might not get your promotion or even accepted into the university in the first place or your name will be scorned as a perverse phrase so you can be mocked for questioning the “loving” practice.  You might not even be welcome at Starbucks or you can’t open a new store in Chicago, all in the name of integrity for those who think certain perversions aren’t perverse and if you don’t agree with the totalitarian view we will mock you and humiliate you and take your rights away and accuse you of not having integrity.  And while we’re taking your rights away we’ll boast that you are the one that’s intolerant!  And no one will protest, because everyone fears us.

The Same-Sex Apologetic Redefines Integrity:

I’m writing about how men-who-want-to-and-or-do-perverse-things-with-men (MWWTAODPTWM) have redefined good and evil to the point where evil is good and a blessing and good is viewed as bullying.  If I wrote that MWWTAODPTWM is perverse and is risky behavior and can lead to death of the individual, death of the person who’s on the other end (to say it gently) and death to a society and that Satan would be perfectly fine if we were all MWWTAODPTWM because then the human race as we know it would cease to exist and he would have won, if I wrote that I’d be subjecting myself to ridicule, public humiliation and charges of insensitivity, meanness, unprofessionalism and, someday, no doubt, I could lose my license and professional liability insurance or my landlord may kick me out.

This is the direction we are heading and I won’t even be surprised when the day comes.  Evil and good do not mix.  You don’t put sand in the gasoline. You don’t want cancer in your body.  You don’t want a wound to get infected.  We can’t have it both ways.

Either the thief has rights or the victim has rights.  Which is it?  We still mostly agree stealing is wrong, right?  The murderer and murder victim both can’t have rights.  We don’t want terrorists having the right to blow up marathons.  We will take the terrorists right to blow up marathons or shopping malls or football games or farmers’ markets away.  Sorry.  No.  You can’t blow up the baby nursery in the hospital, even if you really want to be famous and it’s part of your identity and how you see yourself, just this blowing-up-marathons kind of guy.

Open Marriage and BDSM Redefines Integrity:

We can’t bless immorality and morality at the same time.  Which is it?  I’m going to honor my marriage and go out and sleep with whomever because my wife and I agree we have an open marriage?  This stuff is just nuts.  Open means open.  Marriage means there’s a boundary between the two of us for the rest of our lives.  Which is it?  A boundary or not a boundary?  You can’t have it both ways.

Tying you up is totally fine.  Having a room with chains and whips and handcuffs and you being submissive and me bringing you just to the point of asphyxiation and then backing off is exciting.  Whoopee!  Wow, was that hot or what?  We need excitement in our marriage.  Forget the security piece.  Isn’t this fun?!

Either I protect you or I defraud and use you.  There’s not this middle ground where we skirt to the edge and I pretend to hurt you, but not really, and then you trust me that I really not going to hurt you.

Anything Goes Means There’s Nothing Of Value:

As someone else has said, in our society we can’t tell the difference between an egg and chicken crap.  When he said it he probably didn’t use the word crap.  We think just because they both come out of the back end of a chicken they are the same thing.

Or, as I read somewhere President Lincoln said, a donkey isn’t a horse just because it has 4 legs.

We’ve been fed a lot of chicken crap, folks.  And if you eat that stuff very long you will die.  Literally.  You and everyone else.

The definition of Integrity has been changed to the point where it doesn’t mean anything.

If You Have No Choice You Lose Your Humanity:

The new view is: If I have urges to unite perversely with someone of the same sex, rather than fight those desires, I need to embrace those temptations, normalize those temptations, not even call them temptations, redefine them as normal and blame God for it by saying He made me this way.  I’m not even human anymore.  I don’t have a choice.  I just do what my animal instincts tell me.  Then I need to act upon these thoughts and tell my family and friends and employer and the world that I have and love these propensities and I not only have these propensities, but I act upon them or let others humiliate me by subjecting myself to others abusing me willingly or I abuse others with their consent, for as long as we all consent it’s totally fine, and then get mad if others are upset about it in any way, because if they are upset that means that they are mean and bigoted and not loving, even though this behavior can ruin my life, ruin my loved ones and literally end in my early death and the downfall of our society as we know it.

Integrity has been redefined to mean I need to be true to my inner perversity and brag to the world that I am not going to listen to my conscience or God’s Word or common sense and I’m going to rejoice in whatever debauchery I can imagine and that is what I am going to do and I need to be honest and tell you all about it and if you convey any emotion other than hearty approval I can sue you for discrimination.  My rights supersede yours.

And this lie is being accepted not just by our handsome and beautiful Hollywood stars and starlets and, now, even by our robust sports idols, but by politicians and judges and writers and reporters and educators and school administrators and, quickly and sadly, by our churches and theologians and ministers and by the public at large.

Once our President boast he believed MWWTAODPTWM was fine and should be blessed by our Federal Government, Hillary couldn’t get on the bandwagon fast enough and then the lesser politicians lined up like little robots all nodding their heads to keep the beat.

We’ve Dismissed A Long-Held View To Our Peril:

MWWTAODPTWM used to be seen as the ultimate form of sexual perversion.  The judgment on it goes back thousands of years.  It’s listed right there in the Bible in Leviticus 18 along with child sacrifice, incest, adultery and bestiality.  You say, well, we no longer listen to Leviticus because it has all the other rules in there about not eating pork and we eat pork today, right?  Careful. Read the text.  At the beginning of the chapter it says God was going to punish the people of Canaan because they did these things (bestiality, incest, child abuse, child sacrifice, homosexuality and adultery) and you, as My people (the Israelites), should not do these things.  And then He lists the things they were prohibited from doing (bestiality, incest, child abuse, child sacrifice, homosexuality and adultery) and at the end of the list once again He says don’t do these things that the people of Canaan have done.  Because the people of Canaan did these things God was bringing judgment to them.  The people of Canaan should have known better.  Their consciences should have told them these things were wrong.  These folk didn’t have the Levitical law.  God witnessed to their consciences that it was wrong for hundred’s of years prior and they totally ignored it.

As another example, Sodom was punished 500 years before God gave Moses the Ten Commandments or the Holiness Code in Leviticus 18-19.  No one that we know went to Sodom and preached to them that what they were doing and desiring was wrong.  God had witnessed to their consciences it was wrong.  Today MWWTAODPTWM advocates say this passage isn’t talking about “Loving MWWTAODPTWM relationships” but about gang rape.   Gang rape?  They never gang raped anyone.  The text says the Sodomites wanted to “know” these two visitors.  Lot calls their desire “wickedness”.  God strikes the men with blindness and they still “groped for the door”!  Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for having MWWTAODPTWM DESIRE!

So, from a biblical perspective there’s no such thing as “loving MWWTAODPTWM relationships.”  Even to say so would be a mockery of the entire created order where God created male and female and he declared it was very good.

To say otherwise is putting your feelings before how God created you.  The biblical word for this is idolatry.  We are commanded over and over again in both the New and Old Testaments to avoid idolatry: it hurts us; it insults God.

Feelings Kill The Conscience:

In our day, any kind of of desire is to be encouraged and is totally fine as long as everyone agrees and as long as you are honest about it.  So when a famous basketball player announces he does not try to control his sexual urges of whatever kind at all and lets them run rampant to the point where he’s actively seeking sexual encounters with men and he shouts from the mountaintops that he not only desires this but this is in fact his personal identity and his preferred lifestyle, he is praised by everyone except for a few Christians who dare to suggest these kind of temptations should be resisted and not embraced, these Christian types who say this are mocked and derided and denounced as oppressive.

The argument that good oppresses evil is as old as the Serpent in the Garden calling God’s command not to eat of the tree of Good and Evil a devious plot to take Eve’s wisdom and jollies away.   This is nothing new.  Either good oppresses evil or evil oppresses good.  You can’t have it both ways.

To summarize my point: even if you’ve never read the Bible or heard of the Bible, God witnesses in your heart that these behaviors (bestiality, incest, child sexual abuse, adultery and MWWTAODPTWM) are wrong, hurtful, and destructive.  You have to break your conscience to do them.

You may not be aware that the Bible only condemns child sexual abuse and incest in these chapters in Leviticus, so don’t be so quick to say Leviticus doesn’t apply to us anymore.  Thankfully, we, as a society, still believe these things are wrong.*   However, MWWTAODPTWM is not only condemned in this passage in Leviticus, but in other places in both the Old and New Testaments.  Yet somehow we’ve convinced ourselves MWWTAODPTWM is fine even though the Bible says the practice is an “abomination”, “wicked”, an “outcry”, “poison”, “cruel venom”, “corrupt”, and “ungodly”.  Other phrases and statements in the Bible about the practice include: “lawless deeds”, “indulge in the lust of defiling passion”, “insatiable for sin”, “waterless springs”, “pursued unnatural desire” “great sinners against the LORD”, “do not act so wickedly”, “wore themselves out”, “they proclaim their sin and do not hide it.  Woe to them for they brought evil on themselves”, “sexual conduct of the wicked”, and “I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil”, to name just a few.**

But now integrity means, if you have these urges for MWWTAODPTWM, having integrity is being forthright and honest about the fact that you are acting upon them and living in them and hanging out with others who do them and admitting to everyone in public that, yes, you not only have these desires, but you do them and you glory in them and embrace them as your identity, and you rejoice in them and you flaunt them and you encourage others to do them and think about them and forget your conscience.

If you ignore your conscience long enough you can justify anything.

Now integrity means I’m authentic about all these secretly perverse desires I have and I make no effort whatsoever to control them or redirect them or to stop them and I glory in them and do them willingly and openly and because I admit this, I am being genuine and upfront and, therefore, have integrity.  In fact, these thoughts are not perverse.  They are normal.  God made me this way.  I’m just admitting it.  I’m being open and real and sincere.

And as long as I’m open and real and sincere and authentic and genuine and upfront I can fantasize anything my heart desires, thank you very much.  Who needs a conscience?  It only spoils a party.

In other words, integrity means nothing.

And if it means nothing to you and your behavior becomes blessed by the state, following your conscience will no longer be an accepted way to live and if you can imagine the worst possible perverse thoughts and act upon them then so can I.  No one needs to listen to their conscience.  No one needs to honor boundaries.  There is no morality except for saying there is a morality.  Evil will have triumphed and the warning of David, written 3000 years ago will be the epitaph of our society:

“The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.” Psalm 12:8

We can’t have it both ways: Are the wicked going to freely strut about or are those who are good?

If feelings are the only “law” of the land, then we shouldn’t be surprised when a young man “feels” like blowing up a marathon or a baby ward because feelings, if you aren’t self aware, can be pretty perverse and self- and other-defeating.  If the law of the land is doing whatever you feel, then we’re pretty messed up.

I didn’t make this up.  Check out this Proverb, 3000 years old:

Proverbs 28:26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.

Why?  Because ALL OF OUR HEARTS ARE RIPE WITH EVIL.  That’s why Jesus commanded us to pray, “Deliver us from evil.”  Most of the evil we need delivering from is in our own hearts!

The Transgender Apologetic Redefines Integrity:

You think I’m speaking only hypothetically?  You think I’m over-exaggerating?  Are we going to let feelings or simple biology help us in determining public propriety?  Who has rights?

We’ve let “rights” play with our brains and because “rights” are the measure of all things in our current culture, and because we refuse to believe that God created anything, let alone male and female, we have no idea how to handle “rights” when one individual’s rights overshadow an entire school!

The so-called “transgendered girl” who’s “assigned” (Ha!  Assigned by whom?  God, anyone?) “she’s” a boy at birth but now feels “she’s” a “woman” (and what kind of woman might he be, I wonder since every cell in his body testifies to reality that he’s a boy?) and “she” (as he defines himself, not as God has defined him) has the right to go to the girls’ bathroom and the girls, who may be a tad uncomfortable with that are “taught” (the formal word in the Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity”  July 1, 2012, is “pedagogical”) to ignore their better judgment and agree with God, that yes, this “girl” is really a boy, do NOT have rights.  Their rights are taken away.  To quote:

Some students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sex segregated restroom, locker room or changing facility. This discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student. School administrators and counseling staff should work with students to address the discomfort and to foster understanding of gender identity, to create a school culture that respects and values all students (bold added).

BUT: the values of the students who don’t believe the way the school administrators and counseling staff believe will not be respected.  The problem with this policy is it only “respects and values” the student who thinks he’s something he’s not and the other children have to be brainwashed against their better judgment that their feelings of discomfort in being in the bathroom with a guy are inappropriate and discriminatory and public decency no longer exists.  What’s to stop a female who thinks she’s a male from swimming topless at the beach?  I’ve already heard a first hand account of this happening at a family reunion of the extended family of a relative of mine!  Public decency is gone.  If you believe in public decency you are discriminatory.

There’s nothing good anymore.  We’ve got feces in with the eggs and you have to eat it all and if you don’t you are going the principal’s office where he will scold you and brainwash you to ignore your conscience, all with the blessing of the judges and legislatures and the other false prophets and priests of our day.  You will be commanded to lie and call John Jane and while you are lying you will smile and not convey any discomfort whatsoever.  We want you to mock God’s creation and we are going to train you to submit to this kind of re-education so you can completely ignore your inner conscience and cease to be able to discern the difference between right and wrong.  And you will be happy about it and not complain!  Or we will kick you out of school!

So much for “rights.”

The Law Educates.  These Laws Promote and Normalize Perversion:

But more than the public scandal of all this is that the nature of law is to educate the public.  For example, the 70 MPH speed limit educates the public to keep their speed moderated and fight the temptation to drive like a banshee.  These new public proclamations and standards and laws and policies and procedures are teaching children and the public at large to ignore feelings of propriety and conscience and, I believe, the Holy Spirit, who convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.

You ignore your conscience to your own peril.

We’re teaching everyone to ignore their consciences as a matter of public policy.

We’re Supposed To Fight The Evil In Our Hearts, NOT Embrace IT!

I’ll go on record here that if you have the propensity to think of men’s butts and you are a man and you want me to sanction it as normal I’ll say I’ll help you fight the temptation to fantasize about that or act on those temptations, but I won’t help you embrace it.

Or, like the guy who told me, “What’s the difference?  Women wear jeans.  Why can’t I wear a bra?”  And I said, the difference is a woman who wears jeans isn’t thinking “OOOOH, I’m a man” when she’s doing whatever.  She’s thinking about whatever it is she’s doing.  She’s living her life.  But when you wear a bra you are thinking “OOOOOH, I’m a woman and no one’s the wiser” instead of thinking about whatever it is you are supposed to be doing.  So it makes me wonder why you are willing to frit your life away with your mind in the gutter instead of living your life?”

And I won’t rejoice when you publicly declare yourself “MWWTAODPTWM.”  On the contrary, like the Psalmist wrote “streams of water run down mine eyes, because they do not observe your law” (Psalm 119:134), because I sorrow you would find your identity in a behavior that will only hurt you and your loved one’s around you and you’ve given up any battle against temptation that wages war against your soul.  I sorrow because I know what happens to my heart and my life and my loved ones when I embrace evil in my heart instead of fighting it…and folks, it ain’t pretty.  It’s a good thing Jesus died on the cross for me because when it comes to lust I’d be lustaholic for sure if I hadn’t been rescued from that cesspool.  It’s definitely my own sin of choice.

And now I help people escape that cesspool for a living.  And people come to see me because they are tired of swimming in the sewer.  It stinks.  The warning of Proverbs 22:8 is still relevant today:

He who sows iniquity shall reap calamity.

I guess you’d have to believe your urges are actually iniquity if you want to fight them, eh?

And no, if your name is John, I won’t call you Jane, even if you think you are, because God created you a male and I believe I would be disobeying God to call you a woman when God clearly made you a male and said it was very good.  And I think you are very good the way God made you and it saddens me you’d waste your life going against God’s created order just to get a buzz and you’ve set yourself up in your own little private world of idolatry that escapes the world of reality around you and, no, I won’t fall for your little guilt trip.  And you can lock me up in jail for discrimination if you want.  That’d be fine.  At least I’d could take my integrity with me.

Then we’d have integrity in jail instead of in the schools.


*Sadly this is rapidly changing.  There are those who are advocating for “intergenerational love”, the new name for child abuse and incest.  Not coincidentally, the same argument that is used to justify MWWTAODPTWM (this is who I am, this is how I feel) is used to justify child sexual abuse (and for abortion, sadomasochism, swinging, pornography, cohabitation and polygamy).

**Leviticus 18-19, Genesis 13:13, 18:20, 19:7, 11; Deut 32:32-33; Isaiah 3:9; Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16: 7; 2 Peter 2.  All these passages refer to the judgment of Sodom and anyone else throughout history who acts and thinks and feels in kind.

The Wholeness of Integrity in Marriage VS The Lack of Integrity in Cohabitation

The Wholeness of Integrity in Marriage VS The Lack of Integrity in Cohabitation

Oftentimes we think of integrity as having to do with morality, like not having an affair, but it’s much more than not doing bad or immoral things. Dr. Cloud’s definition in the title of his book on integrity seeks to get at this idea of how all encompassing integrity is.

Dr. Cloud’s subtitle is “The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality”.  What does he mean by that?  Reality can be fun and exciting or drab and depressing.  It can be good.  It can be bad.  No matter what goes on, the person of integrity rises to the occasion.  They don’t fold when the going gets tough.

Dr. Cloud gives an example of what he means by suggesting integrity is like the wake of a boat.  When you look at the wake of a boat, the wake tells you what kind of boat it is.  There’s two sides to the wake.  He writes the one side of the wake represents your work and the kind of job you do there.  The other side of the wake represents your relationships.  Since the word “integrity” means “wholeness” (as in whole number.  See the first blog in this series.), when it comes to looking at your own integrity, you want to look at the results of your life.  What kind of wake are you leaving?

You may do awesome in your career.  Your colleagues think you are wonderful.  The results you leave there are impressive.  But what kind of trail are you leaving at home?  If everywhere you go, there are hurt people, the results you have at work won’t mean much.

Dr. Cloud’s book primarily addresses integrity in the business world, but we could easily apply the principles to married life.  Couples often do fine when they are dating.  They have a lot of fun together and think they will make a great match.  Too often in our society, couples become sexual before they are married and the sexuality is hot…at least for awhile. They might even move in together.  Everything is great.  Everything is fine.

Or so it seems.  Or as long as everything is fine.  Cohabiting couples are like little children not wanting to grow up.  They fear marriage maybe because they’ve seen other marriages crash and burn.   They associate marriage with pain.  Well, duh.

Marriage, like integrity, is about wholeness: your whole life.  It includes the good and the bad.  Fifty, sixty years?  Yes.  In these many decades together a lot of good and bad things are going to happen.  You face them both together.  Some of these problems are of our own doing; others of them are imposed upon us from the outside.

In both cohabitation and divorce, we are saying we only want the good part and we’ll run away from the bad.  I’ll stay with you as long as everything’s fine, but as soon as reality sinks in, as soon as the problems start, I’m done.  This isn’t reality.  This isn’t realistic. This isn’t integrity.

In divorce people run from the bad.  They can’t learn to rise above the bad or set an example of how to not let the bad get you down.  Cohabitation says I only will love you as long as everything is fine.  If it’s not, I’m outta here!  Marriage says: sickness and health, rich or poor, good and bad, for the rest of our whole life.  Marriage is actually the proving ground of integrity.  I think of marriage as God’s gentle way to knock the selfishness out of us.  You can’t really enjoy marriage if you are selfish.

Cohabiting is a couple of adults acting as children playing house.  If you don’t play the way I want, I’m gonna leave.  Cohabiting is more akin to two two-year olds, both playing their own separate version of house, each doing their own thing.  Each paying their own bills.  A couple of roommates pretending to be mature.  They smile, wipe their mouths and say they didn’t do anything wrong!

There’s no integrity here, people!   You say marriage is just a piece of paper?  This is insulting.  Marriage is like buying a car.  Yes, you sign a piece of paper.  But it’s not just a piece of paper.  It’s the exchange of ownership. It’s now your car.  You paid for it.  Cohabiting is stealing the car.  Yes, you are driving a car.  But it’s NOT YOUR CAR.  You not only didn’t sign the purchase order, you didn’t pay for it!  It’s NOT JUST A PIECE OF PAPER.  And because you didn’t sign that piece of paper AND pay for it you are inviting the police to come after you.  When you cohabit you are saying you won’t sign that marriage license because you won’t give your life away.  When you marry, yes, you sign a marriage license.  But in marriage you give your life away to start a new family.  It’s called “The Marriage Altar!” for a reason.  You sacrifice yourself.  FREELY.

And everyone knows this and your relatives and friends come from near and far to help you celebrate the birth of this new family at your wedding.  The sharing of two wills and two lives and the union of a man with a woman is a big deal worthy of speeches and accolades and high fives and toasts and tears and gifts and laughter and dancing and flowers and the most beautiful dress you’ve ever seen and the exchange of rings and kneeling and prayer and blessing and vows and dignity and the giving of your life for the making of a new family.

Cohabitation says, NO WAY.  I just want the fun, adrenaline part.  Any problems?  That’s it, man.

Or as many young people (sadly) have told me, “It’s just a lot easier to break up if we’re not married.”

You want problems?  Try stealing someone else’s life away without giving your own.  Then look at your trail of tears, the bodies of those you’ve strewn aside when you were done with them.

Cohabiting couples have no integrity from the get-go.  They are both stealing from each other, using each other for their own ends.  If you are sexual with me without marriage, how do I know you won’t be sexual with someone else later when you are not married to her, just like you did with me?  Sexuality is so tender, it needs the promise and security of a life and marriage to protect it.

Cohabitation used to be called “living in sin” and “fornication.”    May I be so bold as to say IT STILL IS!

Cohabitation is the complete lack of integrity.  Integrity means whole.  Cohabitation means part:  I’ll take all of you but I’ll just give you part of myself.  The “will” part?  I’ll only marry if you jump through all these hoops and do this and that and this and that.  Here.  Let me use you for my own ends and you should be happy about it.  If you complain about it, of course, I could never marry you…

Sexuality, marriage, wholeness, integrity, blessing…they all go together.

Selfishness, abuse, control, feeling used, cohabitation, fornication, sin and did I mention selfishness?  They all go together.  Just a couple of 2-year olds playing house.  Pretending.

The Definition of Integrity

The Definition of Integrity

Integrity Is Looked Down Upon

Recently I completed a four session adult education class at my church (First Evangelical Free Church in Ames, Iowa) on the topic of Integrity.  Since it’s been awhile since I’ve had a series on my blog I thought I’d share a few of the insights I gleaned from my study and from comments from the class members.

The class was well received, this being the first time I’ve shared this information in public.  The topic is relevant to all of us, because we live in a hypocritical age that criticizes anyone that falters on the one hand and brags about our binges and sexual exploits on the other hand.  A basic theme in our media is: live life on the edge and we’ll mock and disparage you when you do.

Which is it?

Why Integrity Is So Important

Integrity says neither!  Integrity is the very thing our society lacks and longs for.  It’s the missing ingredient hurting marriages need.  It’s the aching in every child of divorce, every spouse who’s dumping the other or being dumped, every cohabiting single person, and every sexually active youth.

Our motto could be “Give me integrity or give me death” because without integrity promises become void, certainty becomes uncertainty, confidence becomes a lie, trust becomes a joke, reliance a figment of our imagination and confusion reigns.

Welcome to modern America.

I used four resources for my material: 1) The Bible; 2) Dr. Henry Cloud’s book Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality (Which I highly recommend); 3) Examples from the news; 4) My clinical experience.  This blog series will also draw upon some of the comments from the class members.  A thanks goes out to them for their insights and lighthearted spirit.

Integrity is the fundamental need in marriages today and timely for blogs on the topic.  I’m convinced if everyone had integrity, I’d be out of a job.  If you had integrity and your parents had integrity and their parents had integrity and we multiplied this throughout the world, our world would be a vastly different place.

What Does Integrity Mean

Dr. Cloud wrote in the book referred to above that the word “integrity” comes from the word integer, meaning whole number.  You remember this from your 8th grade math classes, right? One is a whole number.  Two is a whole number. Three is a whole number.  One, two and three are all integers.  2.2 is not a whole number or integer.  2.2 is partly an integer, but not really.

When we say someone has integrity we mean they are whole.  They are not a fake.  Their word is good.  What they are in the dark, they are in the light.  They keep their promises.  Their heart does not wander.

Integrity means there’s no holes in the boat.  A boat needs to be 100% hole-less.  100% solid. How big of a hole will it take to cause the boat to sink?  You say, “Well, it’s a perfectly fine boat. See?  The hull is 99% whole.  We’re fine!”

No.  We want a boat with no holes.

I’d thought of standing in the front of the class and having a clear glass of water in one hand and a jar of urine in the other and then ask the class to tell me how much urine I could pour into the glass of water before they wouldn’t drink it.  Someone commented, “You know, if you are dying of thirst you could survive on your urine.”  Someone else piped in, “You know, if you drive your boat fast enough, the water will get sucked out of the hole.”  And someone else said, “Stay away from the urine examples.”  And everyone laughed.  They were killing me!

But you get the point.

On Shopping For a Mate

On Shopping For a Mate

Good for them.  Not good for them that they broke up or can’t find the spouse of their dreams.  Good for them that they are seeking help.  One of the great problems of single people is that they don’t have someone to bounce ideas off of like married people do.  Actually, a lot of married people don’t take advantage of this either!  One of the great advantages of marriage is the built in checks and balance system.  You have another person there to challenge your sacred cows and to tell you that that is stupid or shortsighted or ignorant or damaging or immature or rude.  It’s not fun having someone poke holes in your little idols, and to find out that it only works for you, and others might find whatever downright appalling.  So some folk get downright mad when confronted with their shortcomings and get downright stubborn and if they are not careful they may get downright divorced along with their pride, also.

But, look: Don’t get married if you don’t want a regular source of opinions that differ from yours.  If you are right all the time, then you should stay single.

So hats off to the single people that go to counseling with a marriage guy, because they are demonstrating a propensity for a very important ingredient in being a good spouse and that is the ability to seek counsel and to challenge their own beliefs and to grow and expand their horizons and to be a better person.  Pride and being right all the time don’t make for characteristics of spouses in very happy marriages.  A little humility goes a long way.

A little second-guessing isn’t bad either, as long as your second guessing doesn’t turn into fear and self-pity.  If you are so self-critical and scared and shy that you can’t look the Target checkout lady in the eye, then you probably aren’t going to make a winsome spouse someday either.

My number one advice for singles seeking a spouse is to invest their lives in something other than seeking a spouse.  Invest their lives, not in finding a mate, but in finding a calling. Singles that spend their lives investing in finding a mate make pathetic spouses.  They are waaaaaay tooooooooo neeeeeeeedy.  If you do this you are looking for someone to make you happy.  That person doesn’t exist.  And when you think you’ve found this dream person that makes you happy he or she will turn out to be a nightmare, because you don’t find happiness in finding the right person.  No person is big enough for that.  That would make your spouse your idol, and that’s God’s place.  Idols don’t deliver.   Sorry.  But, no.

And when I say invest your lives I don’t mean spend hours and hours on or Yahoo personals or whatever dream website you can find.  This is flushing your life down the toilet.  This is wasting your life on a fantasy that doesn’t exist and doesn’t deliver.  It’s addictive behavior.

You think you can shop for a spouse online and it not affect you?  Consider some observations I’ve made about couples who meet online:

The number one issue for couples that come to see me who meet online?  Trust. They come to see me after a few months together, and one of them is back online looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right again!  These folk already miss the buzz and thrill of the hunt and the adrenaline of total strangers saying all kinds of nice things to them.  After few months of marriage they realize their new dream spouses from heaven lived just down the block from Hell and they are already thinking about Plan B.  I must have found the wrong one!  The perfect person must still be out there.  The hunt is a trill and dicey.  Turns out the thing that got them off wasn’t MEETING Mr. or Mrs. Right.  It was the fantasy of FINDING Mr. or Mrs. Right.  The titillation.  Bunch of crap.  This stuff feeds unrealistic expectations.  I’ve got news for you: fantasies are just that: fantasies.  They go Poof! and they are gone in a flash.

The second most common problem of these people is angry outbursts. These couples are really volatile.  Huge explosions.  No one can live up to their romantic ideals.  They’ve spent hours and hours and hours fantasizing on what they WANT rather than INVESTING IN THEIR GIFTS AND BECOMING WHO THEY SHOULD BE.  Did you catch the difference?  These are vastly different viewpoints that will yield very different results.  Turns out their new spouses have feet of clay and don’t spend every waking moment thinking of ways to make their new spouses happy!  They spend every waking moment thinking of how their new fantasies should be making them happy!  And when they don’t?  Watch out.  The wrath doth fly!  If you met your soul mate online, runaway!  Runaway.  Very, very, very, far away, indeed.  They do not make the stuff of  viable, long-term mature spouses.  They are more concerned that their new spouses do that!  Great.  Just what you need:  someone to make you in his or her image.

The third most common problem I see from couples who meet online is a propensity of porn and other deviant behavior.  If the person you found shopped for spouses online (Look.  Be realistic.  Doesn’t that even SOUND creepy?) he isn’t far away from shopping for whatever else online, either.  Neither are you for that matter!  This stuff is also addictive and sets desire patterns for life.  Don’t fool yourself that you can shut this desire mechanism off just because you got married.  Porn and chatting and whatever else fits your fantasy, doesn’t demand anything of you, but your soul and your dignity and your integrity, too, as long as you are willing to pay the bill.  The bill will be paid.  The question is by whom?  I hope it’s not your future wife or husband, who doesn’t discover your secret life in the closet until after you’ve been married for three years and even have a kid or two and all of a sudden she stumbles upon this skeleton that has the look and feel of a live demon from Hell and she freaks, as she should, at the thought of it, let alone the reality of it, that she’s been sleeping with an absolute monster, who has the moral turpitude of an Amy Winehouse on crack and the facade comes crumbling down.

That won’t be a pretty day.  So do us all a favor and kick this kinky stuff out of your life while you are single and have some time to reform your brain and train your synopses to get their grove on with something positive instead of sewers and perversion and darkness and wantonness.  Just a thought.  Do this BEFORE.  WAAAAAAY before you get married.   Don’t just try to reform yourself after you find Mr. or Mrs. Right.  Please.  Habits die hard.  Marriage doesn’t make bad habits go away.  Marriage will take your bad habits and put a magnifying glass on them and hook them up to a loudspeaker. So if you don’t want the embarrassment of having to confess all this stuff to your future spouse, find a way to get this stuff out of your life altogether.  Better yet, don’t start it up in the first place.

That’s why it’s so important to INVEST your life.  Don’t tell me your life doesn’t matter unless you are married or unless you have kids.  I won’t let you get away with that.  Just stop it.  If you aren’t happy single you won’t be happy married.  PERIOD.  Did you read that?  The only way to have a happy married life is if both parties are happy in and of themselves.  The only way to be happy is to do the things that God called you on this earth to do.  God called you to be a blessing to others.  He didn’t call you to seek happiness.  He didn’t call you to seek marriage.  He called you to develop use your gifts.  As you find and develop your calling you will be happy.  This will make you the kind of person that someone else will find attractive.  Someone else with some spunk and drive and purpose, too!  That’d be good.

Read the parable that Jesus told of the ten talents (Matthew 25: 14-30).  Those that developed the investment their master gave them were rewarded up to ten-fold.  The person that squandered it?  Ahhhh….not a pretty sight.*

We have a whole generation of young people that are squandering their talents.  They PRETEND to have talents.  Playing Guitar Hero, PRETENDING to have talent!  More fantasy!  How about developing your talent!  God gave you more talent than you can possibly develop in 10 lifetimes.  I’m guessing we’ll have eternity to do that.  But meanwhile, you’ve only got so much time here to do it.  Facebook is NOT developing your talent.  Video gaming is NOT a wise investment.  Neither is surfing the net.  Just stop it, already.  It’s time to get a life.

Here’s a recipe disaster:  Look for happiness in getting married.  Make yourself attractive and go party-hardy and meet someone else at the bar who is a party animal and have great sex and live the New Jersey Shore life (are you kidding me?) complete with drunkenness and hot tubs.  Great.  This is NOT the stuff that makes for a faithful, loving partner for life.  You can bet that one of you will get pregnant and one of you will grow up and one of you won’t or neither of you will.  The odds of both of these party animals growing up at the same time are slim to none.  I wouldn’t advise you to marry a party animal.  Being one isn’t they way to go either.  It all gets very old.  Good old nature catches up with you and pretty soon your face is all wrinkled and you entered geezer land and you didn’t even know it.  You think you can do this stuff and not get burned?

Keith Richards

I wouldn’t advise you to marry someone who is looking for a husband or a wife.  You won’t ever be able to live up to those expectations.  Marry someone who has a vision for his or her life.   Someone who has a mission.  Someone who has a destiny.  Someone who knows why he is here.

Don’t marry anyone until you figure this out yourself or you are at least on the journey to figure it out.

That’s an investment worth making.  If you find a spouse while you are on that journey, fine.  If not, fine.  Either way you are fine and your life mattered.  In whatever stage you are NOW grow, stretch, learn, invest, give, and develop.  Make your life count NOW.  NOW is all you have.


*The direct quote is actually: “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  (vs. 30 NASB)

Part Three: The Highway to an Affair or Abuse: Courtship and Impatience: Handmaidens of Disaster

Part Three: The Highway to an Affair or Abuse: Courtship and Impatience: Handmaidens of Disaster

After my blog on how affairs and abusive relationships start on my blog , a reader suggested I continue with the topic and discuss how these relationships develop.  I gave that a go here, but I thought I’d take another crack at it today from a different angle.

The literature on abusive relationships blames the perpetrator, but in my view, you’d better be careful making yourself out to be a victim when you dated so and so willingly and freely.  A better question would be how did you get into this mess in the first place and how do you figure out a way to not go down that road again.

This is one of the great dangers of courting in our society.  We’ve eliminated the arranged marriage.  We’re all too proud and sophisticated for that.  While the arranged marriage has it’s downsides, the advantage is that the bride or groom had two entire families in on the vetting process.  Instead of two people trying to figure out if they were meant for each other there were a minimum of 6, and probably in many cases, a lot more than that.  They were doing research and praying and discussing and hoping and dreaming all together.  Certainly there are abuses in this system but a lot of people checking out your future spouse and vouching for their veracity is a good thing.

When people so-called “fall in love” they are absolutely crazy people.  Their ability to think and make rational decisions is in the toilet.  If this method of picking a spouse based upon “feelings” was so great, why in the world do we have a divorce rate hovering around 50%?  I’d say a failure rate like that goes wanting.  You don’t only need your feelings involved.  You need your brain, too, and your family and close confidants opinions and if you have family members or close friends who think your new found love is creep you’d better open your eyes instead of thinking they are all a bunch of control freaks.  Careful.

Here’s a warning sign straight from the Gates of Hell: Do not pass go.  Go directly to Hell:  Your new found love is in a hurry to get married.  YIKES!  RED FLAG!  RED FLAG!  Run, run, run away.  There is no hurry.  Love is patient.  So if he tells you he loves you, but he wants to get married NOW and you don’t even know who this guy (or gal) is, someone is on the fast track to pull someone’s wool over someone’s eyes.  Not everyone who smiles at you is to be trusted!  Beware the smiley face.  At church or work or anywhere else.  A smile is cheap.  Character runs deep.  You HAVE to know the person long enough to see if the smile is connected to character, or it’s all a show.  Anyone can be nice…for a time.  It’s time, times and time again where you really figure out what’s going on.  There’s no hurry.

But what do we do?  We give someone our heart just because they are nice and reach out to us.  So we tell him or her all our problems and he’s so understanding and it feels so good (I’m going to puke).  We’re sooooo needy.  We’re so lonely that anyone with a heartbeat and a smile will do.

No.  Folks.  This isn’t how it works.  Give your heart to this nice person when you don’t even know them?

And here’s a sure way to ruin your life without even skipping a beat: Have sex with them!  A whole bunch!  Grovel in each other’s underwear.  Now try making a rational decision.

You won’t and you’ll keep me busy for years to come.

Our romantic relationships today are based upon just two people’s impressions and given our penchant for being deceived and deceiving ourselves, it is too easy to fall into a trap.  The old saying, “it can’t be wrong, because it feels so right” is a load of crap.  You better have something better leading your life than your feelings or you will leave a trail of tears wherever you go, in your life and in everyone else’s around you.

This is why online and cohabiting relationships are so insidious and harmful.  They have as their birthplace, their foundation and beginning, two people using each other for their own benefit.  You go online to find someone to bless you?  Folks, this is just creepy.  It turns marriage on it’s head and makes marriage out to be a relationship for two selfish people who are each wanting the other to perform certain things to make the other happy.  Marriage is NOT about you finding the right person to make you happy.  This makes your spouse out to be an idol, and I don’t know if you’ve read the Bible much, or not, but thou shalt not have any graven images before Me is like, ah, one of the Ten Commandments.  Graven means carving out, making something to be like something else, and when you insist that your spouse make you happy you are carving him into something he cannot be nor should be and then when he doesn’t perform these miraculous works to make you “feel love” you will dump his sorry butt and go looking for another idol to fill your empty soul.

No.  Marriage is about two selfless people (of the opposite sex!  Our society is so perverted, I have to explain this?) each seeking to be a blessing to each other and developing a life together.  It’s not two people wanting the other to bless them.  It’s two people seeking to be a blessing to the other.

Cohabiting, same-sex, online dating, affairs and abusive relationships are all people looking for someone else to make them happy.  Relationships become your drug of choice.  And they last about as long, too.  If you insist your spouse make you happy, you put your spouse in prison and he will be screaming to get out.   As Proverbs 7 warns “Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.”

We have a whole culture that is trying to ruin marriage for everyone by spreading the myth that marriage is about making you happy.  No wonder same-sex relationships are all the rage.  Those relationships are the king of seeking pleasure at someone else’s expense.  So are affairs.  No one has any patience.  Everyone wants everything right now.  No sense waiting for God’s leading.  I’ll just take the bull by the horns and squeeze out of all these desperate people online (if you are looking for a spouse or a lover online you are by definition, desperate) someone who will make me happy.  We’ll just cohabit with each other right now today.  No sense waiting.  We can be happy now:  A couple of leeches sucking blood out of each other.  They are both taking advantage of each other for their own benefit.  Weddings cost too much.  Sacrifice and patience are not in our vocabulary.  We’ll live for the now.  Right now.  For now.  Look at all the money we’ll save!  Free love!  All we need is each other.  We’re committed…as long as you make me happy.

Of course, if my feelings change, watch out!  I don’t have any control over my feelings, right (another load of crap)?  I have to do what my feelings tell me.  And my feelings tell me you are not the one for me any more because you no longer make me feel good.  It’s all about my feelings, see.  I made you my god, but when you didn’t deliver, I switched my god to my feelings.  Actually, my god was my feelings all along.  My smiley face to you was all a ruse!  I’m not really a nice person after all!  HA!  My bad.  Too bad for you.  I’m just a victim of my g0d-feelings and I must worship my navel.  It doesn’t matter if kids are involved.  Just so I’m happy.  And if I’m not happy divorced, I’ll just look online and find another part-time god to make me feel good long enough to leave a trail of bodies in the another ditch on another trail.

If you see me comin’ you better step aside.  A lotta men didn’t and a lotta men died.+

Marriage is worth waiting for.  Marriage is worth saving for.  Marriage is worth fighting for.  If Jacob worked 7 years for Rachel, no 14 years*, certainly you can wait until your wedding day.  But, you say, I don’t have anyone yet?  Have?  Have?  Isn’t that the whole problem?  It’s not “have.”  Let’s worry about being the right person instead of finding the right person.

Then, maybe a little patience might mean something.  Do something about something you have control over.  If you are married, you don’t have control over whether or not your spouse makes you happy.  You DO have control over whether or not you are a loving spouse.  He who would be greatest among you shall be your servant.

If you are single you need to stop LOOKING and start BEING.  Be content in and of yourself, so you don’t NEED someone else other than God to make you whole.  Develop you gifts.  Develop your talents.  Pursue your dreams.  Find a way to be a blessing to others beyond your work.  Learn.  Stretch.  Grow.  And pray.

And in the journey of living your life in obedience to God’s call on your life, sooner or later, for most of us, someone will find us who will be a person of character who is looking for a person of character.

Sooner or later.  God knows best right?  You’ve put yourself at His feet, right?  So let Him take care of it while you major on being a blessing to others.

But if the looking becomes your mission?

Welcome to a life of misery.

+Tennessee Earnie Ford, “Sixteen Tons”

*Genesis 29