The following is an excerpt from the book, Courage to Flee, by Dr. Jeffrey Klick.
This excerpt will be featured in two parts.
I do not believe that someone wakes up one morning and says, “I think I will become addicted to pornography or commit adultery today.” What typically happens is a much slower, more gradual process, involving a series of bad decisions. After the pastor I mentioned in the introduction left his wife and church, many asked me, “How could this happen?” My answer was, “The pastor made a series of small, wrong choices that took him where he should not have gone.” Most of us are just one or two seemingly inconsequential compromises from ending up in a place we really do not want to be! I remember as a youth encountering a person who was looking for trouble. I would draw a line in the sand or on the sidewalk and tell that person, “Do not cross this line if you know what is good for you.” What I was telling that person was that if he or she crossed that line, there would be consequences! The reality was that many times the person would cross the line, and little happened, but crossing moral lines is dangerous. God has drawn numerous lines and the person who ends up in moral failure has crossed a large number of them, ignoring God’s provision for an escape. The scripture clearly states:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
When we say, “He fell into adultery,” or, “She was overtaken by this affair,” these are not altogether true statements according to the scripture. Upon a deeper examination of any immoral relationship, it becomes readily apparent that there were many opportunities to cut it off, or flee from it, but these were ignored or rejected. What really happened was that a series of “lines” were crossed or compromised, and this ultimately led to the immoral relationship. Line after line was crossed, and deception was invited in and, ultimately, accepted. Rationalization soon followed, allowing the mind to be extremely creative in providing justifications, excuses, and blaming others for its own sin. In a later chapter, I will spell out some very clear boundaries that are necessary to survive in our culture, but for now let me touch on some of the issues that precede moral failure.
I heard a young, successful pastor proclaim to a large audience after an older pastor committed adultery, “I would never do such a thing,” and a chill went up my spine. The arrogance of this statement was astounding and I have prayed that this young man would be able to live up to his boasting. There are certain things that we should have a healthy fear of, and moral failure is one of them. To think we are immune or unable to fall is naïve at best and extremely dangerous at worst. Of all the sins listed in the scripture, this type is the only one that we are told to run from.
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)
To flee is defined as “to seek safety in flight,” “to run away,” and “to escape.” What this means, in simple everyday language, is that a godly person needs to run for cover whenever he or she senses even a hint of sexual immorality arising in his or her life. Long before someone ends up in a motel room or back seat of a car, many opportunities were provided to run away, but were suppressed or ignored. Addictions do not begin if they are never allowed to start. Addictions begin with repeated feedings. There is a time to raise our shields of faith and boldly proclaim, “We will not move.” Yet again, there is a time to know that we cannot win if we stay, and therefore we must run! The scripture tells us to run for our lives in the face of sexual immorality, and a wise person will heed this warning.
Humans tend to think that the problems or challenges we face are new or unique. The truth is that many in history have been trapped in marriages that were less than satisfactory, and young people have always faced sexual challenges as they have matured. Sexual temptation has been around since almost the beginning of time and even prostitution is glibly known as “the world’s oldest profession.” The struggles faced are real and often painful, but they are not unique, and our Heavenly Father knows them all. God loves us, and if we seek Him, He will provide what is lacking in our lives. He will provide a way out or through the dark, painful places we may be in. People seek relationships with others for a variety of reasons, and many are righteous and valid, but all have an associated risk. Humans often attempt to substitute pleasure and human relationships for what only God can give. Since the beginning of recorded history, adultery and sexual perversions have been attempts to satisfy the need for love, acceptance, and self-worth. Ultimately, all have failed to satisfy, and all will continue to fall short, because the need can be met only in a personal relationship with our Creator. The freedoms demanded and the quest for acceptance in our day from the sexually militant fringes of our society were present in Sodom thousands of years ago, and there are stories sprinkled throughout the pages of scripture dealing with immorality of all types. The issues that drive such behavior are real; they are just not new. The problem of immorality is ancient and so is the solution.
Compromise is defined in most dictionaries as “a concession to something detrimental.” Another way to say it would be, “giving in to something that we know will eventually harm us.” I entitled this chapter “The Slippery Slope of Compromise,” and, in my mind, I have a picture of a hill covered with oil and someone sliding down it head first. We must use extreme care, for it is so easy to get into a lot of trouble in this area very quickly. Walking along the top edge with our eyes closed is foolish, and a slip is very likely, often leading to disastrous results. Many seem unaware of how slippery this slope is and how quickly one can slide into a mess. One or two “concessions” can speedily take us down the hill. We must be aware of where we are, and what we are doing at all times, to avoid a painful spill. Not recognizing the danger, or being ignorant of our potential to fall, places us in the category of being “simple.”
Part 2 of this chapter will be posted soon.