Welcome back, Heidi!
Jani: We’re so happy to be talking together again. Welcome back, Heidi. Because of all the chaos in the world around us today, we’ve had to record differently and you haven’t always been able to come to me and I haven’t always been able to come to you. I wonder if you could just catch our listeners up on how you’re doing since they haven’t heard your voice for a little while.
Heidi: That’s so kind of you, Jani. I’d be happy to. The Howertons are doing well. It’s a different world, isn’t it, Jani, navigating through so many decisions that are coming our way? What does our family do and what does our family not do?
Not all of you know that I struggle with some secondary health conditions from my thyroid cancer surgery. You wouldn’t know it, but I have a paralyzed vocal cord and so our family has been a little bit more cautious than other families because we want to make sure to protect my health. So we’ve been spending days at home with the kids swimming and playing and trying to find summer routines, but I’m so grateful that our hearts are happy. I thank the Lord every day when we end and our hearts are happy. I say that was a good day. Thank you, Lord.
Jani: I’ve admired you from a distance, and I thank you for all the extra work you’ve done to figure out how you and I can do a podcast together each from our own homes – it is wonderful.
Heidi: Yes, that’s something new for you guys as you know. Normally Jani and I are sitting around my farmhouse kitchen table recording together, but we both felt the best option was to record virtually. So this is a welcome change and I hope it goes well.
Jani: Yes, I think it will. So again, thank you, Heidi. I’m just so happy to see your face on my computer and your beautiful smile, and all that you mean to this podcast and her listeners. So thank you for your ministry here.
Responding to Our Cultural Chaos
You know, we’ve been in this series on the 10 Commandments: living the 10 Commandments and giving them to the children in your lives. But before we start on the Seventh Commandment today, which is where we are in our study, I wanted to say a few words about the challenging days in which we are living. Heidi, you just pipe in whenever you want to.
Perhaps like me, you have read about others throughout your lifetime—you’ve read biographies or stories of other believers who endured real hardship, physical or maybe great financial distress. Some have been imprisoned. Some have even suffered death. We call them our “heroes” in the faith. Have you ever put yourself in their place as I have, imagining how you would respond and courage and faith? I have. I wonder if you have, Heidi. But when the reality hits me, it’s not as easy as I thought and it’s not so clear. I get confused. I get discouraged and sometimes I even get fearful. I don’t know how to respond.
Dear Listener, now it’s our turn to think through the biblical response to worldwide unrest, to deep political and racial division, to a worldwide pandemic. How do we as Christians live out our faith in both wisdom and in courage during a worldwide pandemic that at the time of this recording, where Heidi and I are sitting here, it’s taken over 120,000 lives just in America? How do we, as Christ followers, respond in love and compassion to the racial tensions and the injustices swirling around us?
1. Stop & Listen…to God
Well, let me encourage you in ways that I’m helped. I find it most helpful just to stop and to listen; just to step back from the news and to stop and listen, first of all, to God. I need to go to him more than I go to the news. I need to spend time with him before I spend time speaking or posting or even protesting. Luke 6:45 says,
“…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”Luke 6:45
So I have to ask myself, “What am I filling my heart with these days?” Dear listener, what are you filling your heart with these days? Whatever you spend your intellectual and emotional and spiritual energy on, that is what will flow out of your mouth and your fingers as you type. So let’s stop and listen. Let’s listen to God. First of all, don’t neglect the Word of God during this time. I love how Psalm 84:5;7 puts it, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you…They go from strength to strength.” So let’s be women who listen and learn, first of all, from God.
2. Listen & Learn…from Others
Secondly, let’s listen and learn from others. There are so many people around us who want to speak into our lives. Choose carefully who you let in. Who do you want to listen to? I’ll give you a couple examples from my own life and Heidi, you feel free to enter in if you want to. During this Covid pandemic, I’ve had to listen to my children because they’ve loved me very much and I’m in that vulnerable age group. I’m 70, so you know if you’re over 65 years, you’re ancient these days and much more susceptible to this virus.
Quick Example from Jani
As some of you know, we have a lot of grandchildren. Our 15th grandchild was due the first week of May by C-section (so we knew her due date), and I was hoping to fly out and help as I have with all the grandchildren. Gavin, our youngest son is a pastor in California and his wife, Esther, was going to deliver their 4th baby by C-section. So they had three other children to care for on top of this all and before the pandemic, it was all set. We bought my tickets and I was going to fly out and be there for two weeks to help.
And then COVID hit, and Gavin didn’t want me to come. He called and said “Mom, you know, as I talked to the other kids in our family and think it through, I just don’t feel good about you flying out here.” He said, “For us, it would be hard work trying to figure out Esther being in the hospital for five days and the other three children may want it to be with her, and a new newborn that Esther’s not able to lift much after surgery, but for you, it would be more than hard work. It could be downright dangerous.”
I haven’t been very frightened with this virus and yet I want to be careful. So I asked our dear son, “Would you be willing to wait until a week before baby Miriam is due? Could we check back in the last week of April?” And he said, “Sure, Mom.”
Well, that dear son of ours called me the Sunday before I was due to fly out. He had called all his siblings and talked to each one of them, and they had all changed their mind to feeling good about me coming as long as I followed the precautions that a physician here in Nashville had talked to me about: making sure I was well, wearing my mask at all times, washing my hands frequently, you know, all of the things—just being extra super careful. And then our physician friend also requested that when I come back, that I lay low here at home for a few days to make sure that I didn’t catch anything on the plane.
Well, we worked it all together: we stopped, we listened to each other rather than one of us just forcing our ideas on the other. Let’s be women who can stop and listen to each other, our family members or friends.
“Will this help the racial tension in our country?”
Now what about the racial tension in our country? I’m trying to grow in this area. Actually, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but it’s true. So I will. I know much less than I think I know about these things. I wish I knew more. I wish I could understand more. And so I’m trying to listen, I’m going online, I’m listening to different people talk about it, our African American friends.
Another thing that I have found very helpful is this, I asked if I could join an online discussion with three other Christian friends. One is a white lady a little bit younger than me, and the other two are young African American women. They were in a WhatsApp group and I wanted to join in. So I just boldly said, “I need to learn from you. Would you be willing to let me join your group?” I found it a safe place to ask questions and I can share my opinion without being afraid of hurting people if I put it out in public. I’ve been able to share my experiences and listen to theirs. I’m finding it takes time, but they are really patient, and I’m listening and learning.
I believe that when we stop listening to each other, even those with whom we may disagree, we stop growing. We stagnate and we just turn inward. Let’s be women who listen and learn first from God, and then from those whom God has called us to live among. He is the one who planned each one of our days. He says in Psalm 139, that “each day has been written in his book before one of them has even come to be.” He specifically planned for each one of us to be born into this period of history. He wants us to live through it and he wants us to live for Him in it.
do the next thing. take the next step.
So what should our response be? Well, I think it’s just simple: do the next thing, take the next step. Make sure to be in the Word and listen to other respected people around you. In a recent episode with Ray called “How to be Christians in the Midst of National Chaos” we called this “act small”. Pray big, act small.
Finally, I would encourage you to go to Ephesians 4:25-32. I’ve been camping on that paragraph in how to respond to all of this. There’s that wonderful phrase in there, “be angry and do not sin,” and then he goes on later to talk about putting all anger away. So there’s a contrast there that you might want to really camp on and think through, “How can I respond?” And then just do the next thing. Maybe it’s work for you, or taking care of your family. Maybe it’s fixing lunch for your kids. Maybe it’s exercising, taking care of your body, making sure that you’re eating properly so you can be strong to serve Him. For Heidi and me, well, our next step is to record a new podcast (virtually!), so, here we are. We’re trying to do the next thing in obedience to Christ. Surely he sees that.
Heidi: Oh, Jani, I think those are such wise words. I especially love how you taught us to stop and listen. I’m finding that in my marriage, too, really to navigate, “What can our family do? What do we feel comfortable with? What do we not feel comfortable with? What do we feel like the Lord is calling us to?” Mike and I are having to do that a lot these days: stop and listen. The Lord is teaching me to do more listening to Mike. “Mike, how do you think we should respond? What do you think we should do?” and even to give him the opportunity to speak into it first before I share my heart with him.
Jani: That’s good Heidi. So Heidi and I were just going to do the next thing and our prayer is that God would restore your souls, the souls of our listeners, as you listen and learn and take your next step with him. I love how Ephesians 5:10 encourages us in this way,
“Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”Ephesians 5:10
Heidi knows that’s the verse I’ve been meditating on lately. Try, just try, you don’t have to be perfect. Just try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord and take the next step.
Our next step? Back to Our Study on the 10 Commandments. ??
Well, for us, our next step is the study of the 10 Commandments and we hope you’re enjoying it. We hope you’re using it to teach the children in your lives. We hope you’re taking time to learn these commandments with your family.
Have you made a big red heart? If not, it’s not too late. Next time you’re out, get a big piece of red tag board and cut a red heart out of it and tape a small mirror in the middle to show how the commandments reflect what the human heart is like. And then go over the first six commandments and write them on the heart. Learn them as a family.
Our Topic for Today: Adultery, Romance & Marriage
Now today we’re going to talk about the Seventh Commandment. But before we do, please do review the other six. You might remember that the Seventh Commandment says, “You shall not commit adultery.”
Now, if you’re playing this in your car and you’re driving children around, there might be some words we use in this podcast that might be a little mature for some ears. You decide as a mother. I just wanted to give you a little heads up there because we are going to be talking about adultery and romance and marriage.
The Seventh Commandment does say, “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14). How is God loving us by giving us this commandment?
Well, Heidi and I believe that every marriage should be a love story. No one enters a marriage thinking, “How can I ruin this? How can I bring pain and despair and ugliness and misery to all the people closest to me?” And yet, it’s so hard to say this but over half of our marriages end in divorce. I wonder dear listener, do you even know anyone who has not been touched through family or friends by the devastation of marital chaos? How loving and kind God is to us in this command. He shows us the way to romantic, happy marriages and solid, secure families.
Let’s listen to some scripture to help support this commandment. Heidi, would you read Ephesians 5:8-10 for our listeners?
“Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”Ephesians 5:8-10
Jani: I like that, there’s that verse that I love, “..try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”
the Bible is unashamedly “pro-romance”
I want you to know, listener, that the Bible is unashamedly pro-romance. Think of all the love stories in it. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel, Ruth and Boaz and many others we could name. Think of the passages that are erotic, like the Song of Solomon, or Proverbs 5:15-19. You see, God celebrates love and sex in marriage. God values our sexuality, and he invites us to enjoy this beautiful gift within the security of a marital commitment. This is where faithful devotion and life-long love can best protect the joy of a one flesh relationship.
The Blessings of Marriage
Think of the blessings of marriage. You belong somewhere and with someone, someone has chosen you and you have had the chance to say yes or no. You enter into a relationship of trust and comfort and hopefully joy. You write your own shared history together. You see, marriage makes two people into what they could never be alone. God, in His great mercy and love for us, has given us the seventh commandment to safeguard the joy and love and pleasure and security that only a biblical marriage can offer.
From the beginning, God has placed a high value on our sexuality. He made us male and female as part of his “very good” creation — we see that in Genesis 1. In Genesis 2, we see how God led Eve to the man to be his partner in the challenge of life. Think of Jesus, a single man, who honored marriage when he said, “What God has joined together, let not man separate.” He also honored marriage by going to a wedding and performing his first miracle there. He thought it was worth his time. The Bible teaches that marriage is to be sacred, consecrated, hallowed. It is a bond between a man and a woman for the whole of their life on Earth. The Bible also teaches that everyone else is to honor marriage, whether you’re single or married. Heidi, can you read Hebrews 13:4 for us?
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed is undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”Hebrews 13:4
The Devastation of Adultery
Jani: Let’s talk for just a minute about the devastation of adultery. This commandment prohibits any and all sexual activity outside of marriage. This is God’s loving way. He loves us by prohibiting that. This is for our protection and the protection of those around us, especially the children in our lives. Why is adultery so bad? Because it takes a unique and rare treasure. The very mystery of two human beings building a one-flesh relationship and smashes this mystical union with the hammer of reckless selfishness.
Adultery, when you think about it, brings misery into so many relationships. It harms the adulterer with disgust, self-hatred and sometimes even disease. It can introduce a nagging betrayal into a marriage. It shows our children that our personal pleasure is more important than honor and that our satisfaction is more important than their security. It undercuts the two greatest joys that can thrive within a family: love and peace.
“I’m not guilty of breaking this commandment!”
Now, lest you be thinking, “Well, Jani, I get off on this commandment, I’ve obeyed a perfectly. I have not committed adultery. I’m single and I haven’t slept with anyone or I’m married and I’ve only known my marriage partner.” But let me talk to you about that for just a minute, because I believe that God confronts all sexual sin in this commandment.
You see, the seventh commandment not only forbids adultery, it forbids everything that leads up to adultery. God is confronting all sexual sin right down to our inmost thoughts. Now over the next few podcasts we’re going to be referencing Matthew 5:27-30 where Jesus teaches us about this commandment. Heidi, I think it’d be great if you would read that for us. Matthew 5:27-30.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members, then that your whole body go into hell.”Matthew 5:27-30
“What, exactly, Does this verse Forbid?”
Jani: Now we’re going to be talking more about these verses, but let me say this as we bring this podcast to a close. Jesus is not talking about sexual curiosity, nor is he talking about an invasive sexual thought that someone resists and cries out to God for help over. What Jesus IS talking about is fantasizing, sustaining and cultivating a little sexual experience in your imagination, and then guarding this mental habit from repentance.
You see, this commandment forbids our looking at another and imagining the sexual possibilities. It forbids lusting after the attention of a man who is not my husband. I believe it forbids flirting with a man who is not my husband. It forbids cultivating my primary emotional support structure with a man who is not my husband. Somehow, I think we have a higher tolerance for our inward sins than our outward. But we cannot caress a secret world of lust and fantasy without breaking this commandment. Do you hear that, dear friend? God is very clear about this area of our lives. He takes sexual sins very seriously. Shouldn’t we? Cultivating a life of sexual sin means we are prizing our secret world of pleasure more than Christ. God says that those who evidence sexual immorality, impurity and sensuality will not inherit the kingdom of God. That’s in Galatians 5:19-21.
“How can we guard against adultery in all its various forms?”
So let’s think for a minute as we come to the end of this podcast: “How can we guard against adultery in all its various forms?”
1. Keep Our Promises in the Small Things
Well, first of all, let’s be women who learn to keep our promises day by day in the smaller things, then it will be harder for us to break the most sacred oath we’ve ever taken, our marriage vow.
2. Avoid Difficult or Tempting Situations (RUN from them!)
Let’s be women who learn to avoid difficult or even tempting situations. Are you asking God not to let you get burnt while you continue to run your finger through the candle flame? You see, your body is the very temple of the Holy Spirit whom God has given you at great cost to himself.
Heidi: I think that’s such a great point, Jani. One of the things that Mike and I tried to do to protect our marriage is we always say, “Look out for those red flags.” You know, sometimes you’re just talking to someone or different things come in your path and all of a sudden there’s something in my spirit that thinks “Red flag!” We really make the commitment to each other that when we see those little red flags and they’re small, to try to run the opposite way, just go in the opposite direction because you really want to safeguard your marriage and protect it. I think when we find those little red flags when they’re small, and we run in the opposite direction, that guards us from letting it get bigger and bigger and bigger.
Yes, that’s so good, Heidi. RUN from that red flag before it trips you up.
3. Keep “Good” Company
Jani: You know, some questions we can all ask ourselves, are these: “What kind of people do we admire and long to be with? What kind of people do we want to be like?” The Bible does tell us that sin is a very “catching” disease. 1 Corinthians 15:33 puts it this way, “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” So what kind of people do we admire and longing to be with?
4. Guard your eyes (and time!)
Another question is, “Am I guarding my eyes and my time?” Remember David and Bathsheba? I was just reading in my quiet time this morning from Psalm 119:37, where it says,
“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things.”Psalm 119:37
So let’s guard our eyes and our time.
5. Find your Soul’s Satisfaction in Jesus Christ ALONE
But you know, the very best guard against adultery is a deep love and satisfaction in Jesus Christ alone. Psalm 62:1,
“My soul finds rest in God alone.”Psalm 62:1
You can visit our very first Series called “Soul Rest” to learn more about this. This is true for both married and singles. The soul that is drinking deeply from God’s fountain of life is not going crave drinks from lesser fountains.
What is it about Christ that is unsatisfying to me? You see, his loving kindness is not only better than sex, it’s better than life itself (Psalm 63:3). The question for each one of us should never be, “I wonder how far I could go in this relationship before it becomes an actual sin?” Oh, let’s not go there. The question should always be, “How can I go so deep with Jesus Christ that sexual purity is the glad overflowing, the outpouring of my joyful satisfaction in him?”
Ultimately, adultery, like every sin, is a heart issue. This is where it begins and the only one in the universe who can satisfy the desires of my heart and of your heart is God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Even the best of men, and Heidi and I are sure married to winners, aren’t we?
Heidi: We are.
Jani: But even our men will fail us and we will fail them. The reason people seek after sinful pleasure is that they have not experienced real pleasure in Christ.
Oh, may he restore our souls so that we welcome this seventh commandment into our hearts and minds and behaviors. May God bless you according to his word today.