We have received several letters from women who have the same concern. I gave it some thought, but it was not until the problem sat down in our morning service this summer that I really appreciated the depth of its ugliness.
Every Sunday this summer we had up to about 15 families visiting the church and ministry. It is fascinating. Every family emits its own light. After viewing a family for just five seconds, I know so much about them. After being introduced to each member of the family, they are an open book. I don’t yet know the details, but I know the soul of the family. Most of the families that visited this summer were beautiful in so many ways—a great testimony to the redeeming and sanctifying work of Jesus Christ.
But one family was disturbing. Something was not right. The fortyish wife was retreating and subdued. She did not lean on her husband for comfort. She seemed to be a tagalong, with no more confidence than a scruffy dog just brought home from the pound. The 50-year-old husband was confident and smooth. Completing the family group was a plain young lady in her late twenties and a 19-year-old fellow.
The older man quickly volunteered that he had a ministry to cloistered children. Several years ago I coined the term “cloistered” in regard to homeschooled kids that were so sheltered as to lack a working knowledge of good and evil. But I have never heard of a “ministry” to the cloistered. I didn’t have time to inquire further, and there were others to meet, so I moved on.
Deb came in late with her 85-year-old Daddy and didn’t get around to meeting the guest. She knew none of what I had observed earlier.
The meeting was over and there was a long line at the dinner table under the white tent. As I looked over the 80 guests, my attention was drawn to a visiting couple. The man was about fifty, certainly not a looker. The one consuming his careful attention was young and plain—late twenties. How did an old dude like that end up married to such a young girl? The man was leaning over the dessert table sharing a slice of cake with Little Miss. It certainly appeared to be a tender moment. Little Miss was clearly enamored with him, as he was with her. But I was confused. Standing nearby, watching the same byplay, was a woman about the same age as the man. Her fixation on the doting couple and her tired, saddened countenance revealed that it was she who was his wife, not the young girl receiving all the tender attention. Right here, at our church, among all these righteous families! I stood amazed at the audacity of the human race.
I was not aware of Deb’s observation when the old dude, as Deb calls him, said he wanted to talk to me. With his wife and the two young people sitting in on the discussion, he again mentioned that he had a ministry to cloistered kids. It still sounded strange. He went on to explain that the young lady was his charge. He was helping her get over a bad experience at home where her father had been “emotionally abusive and controlling.” I tried to ask the girl questions to ascertain the cause of this odd arrangement, but he answered as if the questions were directed to him, and the young lady deferred to him as if he were her voice of conscience. I thought that unless her father had truly been abusive, she should return to her family, but I was making no progress engaging her to consider her options.
All of a sudden, Deb burst into the middle of the session filled with…knowing her, I am going to call it anger. She said to the young woman, “God told me that the situation you are in is not right and you need to change it right now.” The man, ignoring Deb, looked at me and asked, “Does she do this often?” Sometimes, I said. As quickly as she came, Deb vanished. I was wondering what was going on so I took the opportunity to go back for a refill of iced tea. Deb had disappeared into the crowd, so I didn’t get to inquire as to her concerns.
Later that afternoon, Little Miss and I sat down for a talk. Her story is that her large family was so controlling and confining, wrapped in religious manipulation, that she just had to get out. This nice old dude, a family acquaintance, had seen her plight and offered to help. His counseling led to her jumping ship at home and coming to live with Old Dude and his wife. Her 19-year-old brother, who had also left home but didn’t live with Old Dude, did not approve of her living with this family and had cautioned her against it. But given her circumstances, and not having the means to make it on her own, she believed it was the safest thing to do. She would have a more caring family to guide her and she would have oversight and protection.
It appears that Old Dude’s intentions toward Little Miss began honorably, and he still considered it a godly ministry. It could be that simple lack of wisdom put him in the place of playing savior to the young woman, rescuing her from an abusive situation. It was clear to me that Old Dude had unwisely reached out to a need and found his needs met. In this role as savior he found fulfillment.
It is possible that in the beginning the Old Wife wanted to help the desperate girl and encouraged her to move in. But things had changed. No doubt her husband still had physical intimacy with her, but his emotional intimacy was directed to the emotionally needy young girl.
Undoubtedly his relationship with his wife was already barren before the girl came along, but the old wife had now become the second woman. She knew it. It hurt her deeply. But she didn’t want to be the “unspiritual” one, expressing jealousy where there was no reason, suspecting evil of a wholesome ministry. Shouldn’t she be willing to sacrifice her life caring for others? She probably even feels guilty for having these secret doubts, for questioning her devoted husband. She stood alone and sad, suffering in martyred silence.
The many letters I have received from women just like this emotionally-spurned wife came to mind. It lit a fire in me. Mike was busy entertaining nearly a hundred people. I had to try to help Little Miss see the error of her ways. Marriage is sacred and she needed to understand this.
I suggested that the relationship she shared with her self-appointed mentor was not natural and certainly not good for the marriage. I felt the cold chill she emanated. She had something precious for the first time in her life and it felt so good. How could it be wrong?
I explained to her that young girls who are coming of age have a deep-seated need to be loved and appreciated by a man. I told her that all young women have a soul yearning to be tenderly understood by a man who listens to their deepest feelings and shares their hopes and longings. I explained that when young couples marry the girl has this profound need, but her young husband’s need for spiritual union has not yet been awakened. He is thrilled with the fulfillment of physical intimacy, and he might feel a touch of the emotional attachment, but almost none of the spiritual connection. The soul-bonding for which she yearns is not likely to be satisfied until the marriage has matured. To most young brides the husband appears clumsy and unfeeling. But as the wife continues to obey and reverence her young husband, he will grow in appreciation for her soul, and in time learn to care for her emotional and spiritual needs.
Adam knew his wife and she bare a son. The intimacy of marriage is viewed as knowledge. This soul bonding we are discussing is not knowledge of the intimate, but it is intimate knowledge—soul knowledge, which is the real essence of marriage. It is emotional and spiritual copulation, to be shared with that one special person to whom you are married. Anyone that has ever experienced this “knowledge” in their marital relationship knows why marriage is sacred, holy, honorable, and used by God as a picture of Christ and the church. God calls it a “great mystery.”
Marriage done according to God’s plan is glorious. Having known this glory firsthand, I wrote Created To Be His Help Meet, wanting other women to know it was within their grasp to have a glorious marriage. A man instinctively responds to a woman who reverences him, especially so if she honors him in the early years of their marriage, before time has polluted the waters with her bitterness.
I explained to Little Miss that having even a small part of this “mysterious relationship” with another woman’s husband, especially in her own home, in front of her, is exceedingly cruel and evil. To take any part of this intimacy away from the couple steals from the marriage the preciousness of the sacred. I told Little Miss I had observed her and Old Dude sharing this emotion/spiritual intimacy.
Little Miss said I didn’t understand. She explained that she did indeed have a deep spiritual and emotional intimacy with Old Dude and that he spent many hours alone with her, but that Mrs. Old Lady understood it was necessary for Little Miss’ healing since she (the girl) had been cruelly cloistered all her life.
Dear reader, do you believe the old wife appreciated the time and emotion her husband expended on the young girl? Well, I didn’t either, so I patted the empty seat beside me and asked the girl, “If the man’s wife sat here in this seat and told you that the intimacy you have with her husband was disturbing to her, that it was hurting their marriage, would you then move out?”
Already touching her spirit, I knew what the answer would be, but I wanted the girl to understand she was indeed not innocent. I wanted her to see she was willingly, even forcefully, going forward with a relationship that was hurting this marriage and this poor wife.
I was amazed that without the least bit of shamefacedness, the cold-hearted Little Miss looked me squarely in the eye and said, “I would have to think about it for a while, but I know that I would not let this woman’s problems get in the way of his ministry; besides, I have nowhere else to go.”
She was unrepentant and hiding it behind the excuse of having no other place to go. I can fix that. So I called over a single woman who works for NGJ and lives with another single girl in a four-bedroom house. I asked my friend if she would be willing to allow Little Miss to move in with them. My friend smiled and said, “Of course.”
“Now,” I happily told Little Miss, “you have a safe haven with two very fine Christian girls; you can get out of the compromising situation you are in.”
There was just the tiniest irritation that showed on her face as she replied, “I would need to think about it before making such a move. I would not make a snap decision. So, no, I would not move away from him at this time.”
I explained that by staying she was making a snap decision. She was choosing to stay with another woman’s husband. Her stare was unblinking as she coldly replied, “Are you finished? Because if you are, I will go now.”
I really had no choice. If there was ever going to be any change to this situation then she had to understand the full ugliness of her actions, so I drove home how depraved and self-centered she was to do such a thing as to interfere with the sacredness of marriage. Little Miss sat there as if I were complimenting her on her dress. The damage had already gone too deep for her to care. After all, Old Dude was an experienced man of knowledge.
Looking at her blank expression, I knew it was already too late to change her mind.
I reminded her that marriage is sacred and anything or anyone coming between that sacred union needs to be gone. Little Miss was clearly wedged in the crack that was obviously in an already shaky marriage. Being cloistered might have been bad for her, but now she was party to damaging the sacred.
When I saw she was not interested, I said, “I have learned an important thing about you today; King David, when rebuked by Nathan, fell on his face in confession of sin. The readiness to repent when confronted is the mark of a true believer in Jesus Christ. But,” I told her, “if you wait until sin is no longer convenient or pleasurable, you will end the relationship with regret, but not with repentance. Regret brings shame. Girlie, it will come to you soon enough, and you will need a place to flee. Don’t come here. The invitation for a place to stay is closed. I would not trust a ‘regret’ girl around this ministry.” I walked off amazed and saddened.
Sometime during the next hour, as I visited with other families, Little Miss found Old Dude and told him of her conversation with me.
Later that afternoon Old Dude challenged me.
When I tried to explain the problem he proudly admitted that he “was caressing her soul” to bring healing to her. He went on to explain that he was “highly skilled and trained in the art.” How sick. Neither he nor his massaged girlie admitted they were in sin. He is a spiritual rat. She has joined his rat club.
If the pattern holds and he doesn’t leave his wife for the younger woman, when Old Dude wearies of endless discussion with the Little Miss concerning her inner-self, he will try to arrange a quick marriage for her with some hapless, insecure young fellow, thus proving how spiritually right he was all along. I feel sorry for the poor young man who happens to marry Little Miss, because he will never be able to satisfy her heart. A young man will by nature lack Old Dude’s refined experience and will leave her feeling empty. She will yearn for Old Dude’s skillful caressing of soul and live in a “what if” haze of dissatisfaction the rest of her miserable life. Please warn your young men not to step into a situation with a girl who has been under the tutelage of another woman’s husband. Spiritual sin is doubly damning.
So that day my counsel fell on concrete, hard soil. Nothing I said was appreciated by any of the above. Old Wife was very apprehensive of Old Dude being angry, so what I said made her more fearful. Old Dude was full of prideful lust at his ability to soothe Little Miss, so what I said made him very angry indeed. Little Miss finally had someone to care about her. It didn’t matter that he was old. It didn’t matter that she was stealing from another. It didn’t matter that she was tramping with the sacred. I believe she would have signed a pact with the devil to keep things as they were.
My last hope was to inform her parents of her plight and make amends in order to save their daughter, but when I asked for names, they all refused. So parents reading this, if you recognize your son and daughter in this story, know that we do not support this ship jumping and have done all we can to stop it, but to no avail.
What did I learn from that terrible afternoon?
If you are a young woman:
I also learned about spiritual rats:
The Bible says in Ephesians 6:12–18, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of GOD, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, And having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of GOD: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints:”
Men, I have been in the ministry since I was seventeen years old. In my youth I saw several ministers whom I respected fall into sexual sin. I took it as a warning. When I was about 21 years old, I was called to pastor an Independent Baptist church, where I continued in a very successful ministry for the next four years, baptizing hundreds. I remained unmarried until I was 25. During that time I developed a reputation for not touching the ladies, young or old. I never went to a woman’s house alone. I never counseled a girl or woman alone and never in my office. I never hugged a female over four years old. Everybody laughed about it. I responded with a verse of Scripture, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Corinthians 7:1). After I was married I continued to be careful to “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). When any woman tried to tell me her marital troubles, I stopped the conversation and went to get my wife. We listened together. I have never allowed any kind of a personal relationship to develop with any female.
Why? To avoid fornication. It has worked. I have remained true to my wife in body and spirit for 40 years. Many haven’t because they trusted the flesh. And the Bible has taught me that all flesh is corrupt. There is no sanctified flesh, only dead flesh, and it continues to act dead when we don’t resurrect it, with sweet faces and vulnerable spirits finding their way into our hearts.
The man above, “caressing” the spirit of this young girl, is walking on slippery ground. It is an impossible situation. His wife knows it is not right. The girl’s brother knows it is not right. Only the two souls bonding in common think it wonderful. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). (The article Impotent Relationship further illustrates this important truth.)