Shepherd’s Pie -- By: Tim Bayly

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 04:1 (Spring 1999)
Article: Shepherd’s Pie
Author: Tim Bayly

Shepherd’s Pie

Fleeing Adultery: Friendships Are Never Sexless And Rarely Platonic

Tim Bayly

Among my circle of friends in late teenage years it was not uncommon for a couple known to be spending time together to be asked, “Are you guys going steady?”

One answer, though having an appearance of sophistication, was sure to be met with hoots of derision: “No, our relationship is purely platonic.”

While we knew there were, in fact, friendships between members of the opposite sex lacking any romantic component, we also knew such claims normally served to hide the truth. Shortly after, it was usual for such couples to put aside such affectations and admit they were in love.

Such high-minded ploys are cute in courtship, but lethal later in life when the stakes are infinitely higher. Later in life the man and woman claiming to be in pursuit of the platonic ideal are married and have vows to keep. If they fail in their attempts to keep their extra-marital friendship sexless, it will result in the shipwreck of marriages, households, and lives. And the fact is, relationships between men and women are never really sexless because, from the womb, God made us male and female and we relate to one another of necessity from our God-given personhood—including masculinity and femininity.

It is a foolish man or woman who tries to cultivate one form of intimacy with a member of the opposite sex while refusing to acknowledge the sexual currents which, so often, race beneath the surface.

Unfaithfulness in marriage is not just a physical act; it’s a way of life. It begins innocently enough—sidelong glances, the light brush of a shoulder, an offer to help put up the storm windows—all little things. But little things quickly grow until we discover we’re in a prison built by our own hands. Seemingly without warning, we find that our wife or husband is no longer at the center of our heart; someone has taken their place.

As a pastor I have seen how easy it is for us to convince ourselves that there is nothing dangerous about developing a close personal friendship with a member of the opposite sex outside our marriage.

Some time ago I was talking with a young mother. She told me her husband was threatening to leave her. She wanted him to stay, but she knew she might not be able to convince him. He was ready to walk out on her and on their children.

My initial question brought out the usual reasons people give for breakdown: “We were married young,” “We fight all the time,” and “He says he doesn’t love me anymore.” As we continued talking, though, it became clear that unfaithfulness was at the center of their breakdown.

I’m afraid...

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