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Saturday, 22 August 2015

O Come All Ye Faithless...

Of all the decisions I have made throughout life, there are three which I have made without ever regretting, for these three were the very best decisions I could have made. They were:

1. Turning to Jesus for salvation, 
2. World backpacking,
3. Marrying Alex.

And these three are arranged not by priority but in chronological order. And not even flying the nest is included, as there were times when I realised that by staying at home for a few years longer, I could have traveled far more extensively. That is, instead of working just to buy food, pay the rent, and seeing to all the bills, I would have given an agreed portion of my income to Mum, and saved up the rest, then kept on making my way to the airport while holding a long-haul air ticket. Instead what has happened has happened.

Then I could have asked: How could I have gotten the weeks off full time work in order to fulfill such wishes? No doubt, if an employee is not that committed to his company, it's tatty-bye from them and he would have been sent packing. On the other hand, a professional who wanted to take a sabbatical has been known to make a planned agreement with his employer for his later return to his desk. Or for a graduate allowed to take a gap year before commencing employment. As for me, such long term arrangements would have been far less likely. So remaining at home under my parent's roof would have involved leaving one job altogether, go on my travels, then return and look for a new job. Not so difficult for a qualified and experienced pro, but for someone scarcely above the status of unskilled labourer, such constant changing would have ended with holding a very unimpressive Curriculum Vitae.

So self-employment was the perfect answer for such a dilemma. As it was, I was able to take as much time off to travel as I wanted. I worked hard, saved up hard, and by golly, I played hard! Such was the life of an unmarried male who lived alone at a rented apartment. But during those days, as I gradually watched myself losing the freshness of youth, there were times I felt lonely and pondered over old age. Would I die a lonely old man, with no family relatives nearby, in the very apartment I would have rented for decades on end? Such was quite a point. After flying around the world in 1997, then in 1998, hosteled in New York, and then at Boston Massachusetts, I was already laying plans to fly to Cape Town, scheduled for the year 2000, and then from there to Perth (Western Australia) - when I crossed paths with Alex. In the weeks to come, indeed I arrived at the crossroads of life. Travel or marry? After careful prayer and self-analysis on how I felt towards her, I chose marriage. And that had turned out to be the better of the two options.  

From a lifetime of travel, by the end of the day, all I would have had to show was a fatter photo album library, which would have been of no use to anyone after my demise. But life as a married man is very different in the sense that I am not living just for myself anymore. Instead, the purpose of living is to give all to my spouse. All, not merely fifty percent. And I have come to learn by experience that giving all result in greater fulfillment and happiness.

Like all other marriages, ours had high points and low points. One of our highs was when Alex suspected that she might be pregnant, so she bought a home test strip. One morning she submitted herself to the test, and came up positive. I nearly went through the roof with excitement! Then, when she was eighteen weeks pregnant, we went on our trip to the Holy Land to celebrate our first anniversary. As we rented out a room with a marriage bed at a small backpackers hostel in the heart of the medieval Old City of Jerusalem, I watched her kneel and give thanks to God on just about every Christian holy site we visited. Then the lowest of the low, a few years later, when both our daughters were taken away from our home by the State, and given for adoption, due to our mild autism. The emotional distress, eventually followed by physical illness and partial disabilities had made some people in authority rather surprised that I did not walk away from the marriage to re-start a new life as a divorcee. Our first social worker, perhaps the nastiest female I had ever come across, had expressed her astonishment at our insistence that my wife and I will remain together.

And our marriage had blossomed ever since. I made sure that our union was founded upon the Rock, from which we could never be moved. Without trying to sound too spiritual, all I can say is daily devotion to God by morning reads of the Bible has given us both the love and the will to be devoted to each other. I would never dream of looking at another woman, let alone court her, and likewise Alex would never look on another man for the same reason. Like a stamp on an envelope, so we stick together through and through.

So it came as a surprise that the Internet features a website which is designed for adulterous affairs behind the spouse's back. Known as the Ashley Madison website, this facility has around 37,000,000 profiles from all around the world. Of these, the site boasts 1,200,000 Britons, of which 179,129 are Londoners. Of British people, 1,176 are university students, 124 email addresses are from British Government officials, 92 are from the Ministry of Defense, 65 works for the local education authority, while a further 56 email addresses are from N.H.S. staff. Profiles from other professions include bankers, civil servants, United Nation peacekeepers, firefighters, BBC journalists, police officers, even Vatican employees.

World distribution map of Ashley Madison site members

The map above shows the global distribution of Ashley Madison website members. Leaving out other adultery sites, along with many more who had affairs but are not on any Internet site, this looks to be just a small proportion of those who indulge in extra-marital affairs without the spouse knowing. The statistics also says that the website members are predominantly male, and judging by the list of professions listed above, mainly middle class. Also the chart shows the preponderance of offenders live in richer countries, such as the USA and Western Europe, with the east coast of South America following close behind.

Italy looks to be almost entirely covered in orange. And what is so ironic about this is that the Vatican is located on this peninsula. Vatican City, which is an independent State in its own right, is the head of the largest Christian denomination in the world, but even within its boundaries, it's employees don't seem to be free from having affairs. Even history reveals this can of worms, including at least two medieval Popes who were both murdered in bed by furious husbands when caught sleeping with their wives. Not to mention the numerous occasions when cardinals, bishops, and priests were caught in someone else's bed over the centuries. How true this may be, I can't say, but is there an indication here that the teaching of salvation by works rather than faith in Jesus Christ alone encourages sin?

And sin it is, even though it's taken lightly by quite a high percentage of Western society. Sometimes the offender is seen as something of a hero, a Lothario whose power over women would delight a theatre audience, or make good TV drama, stirring admiration among the females, and most likely envy among the men. Then to add to this, social status seem to play a huge role in affairs. Is there something alluring about an executive, dressed in suit and tie, which speaks a great deal about success? I once read a story in a newspaper about a very handsome and physically fit London barman complaining about how one customer - considerably older, overweight, and balding, attracting a number of women who were keen to strike a conversation with him. It was then explained to the curious barman that this fellow was a senior executive of a large corporation, and took home a very respectable income. This seems to collaborate with a conversation I once had with a graduate who came to my apartment for coffee.

As a bachelor, particularly in the 1980's, when travel was limited due to a small income earned from a fledgling business, there were times I felt despondent over my bachelor status whilst already in my thirties. My friend gave an illustration of a window cleaner and a computer programmer, both standing a few metres apart from each other. He imagined a group of young women who were told to pick one of the two whom they prefer to marry. All of them went straight for the computer programmer, with the other left standing alone. That is, until just one female went straight for the cleaner. It was a good illustration. Because being a singleton in a church with a high percentage of graduates, I had to watch one graduate after another getting hitched, while I remained on the shelf, not just into my thirties, but right up to my late forties. But as my friend predicted, Alex came along at the right time - years after my guest, himself a computer programmer, had met and married his wife.

Then as I have already mentioned, we are devoted to each other as husband and wife. Yet from outside come stories of adultery and affairs. This, along with a plethora of divorce cases, with the celebrity world looking to be the hardest hit. I suppose with high status comes power, to prove his virility, his youthfulness, and his red-bloodiness. Then, after the act, unable to understand his underlying sense of guilt, a lacking of satisfaction  or achievement, along with constant secrecy which will eventually lead to massive rows, betrayal and separations. As the TV soap operas portray so well. And those who profess a Christian faith don't seem to be exempt, as I knew of two different pastors who were disrobed because of adultery. And I have heard of stories of unfaithful Christians and their divorce cases. Indeed, sin is the great destroyer of happiness.

According to our experiences, drawing upon God for his love and strength is the real basis for a happy marriage, along with being filled with the Holy Spirit. One of the secrets we have come to learn over the years is to see my wife and to love her in the same way as Christ loves the church. If the Lord loves his church so much that laying down his life for it was a necessity, why can't I be the same?

Our natural sin natures will keep on rearing their heads on a daily basis, and therefore making our marriage less than perfect. And that is another reason why I'm an advocate of Once Saved Always Saved. If salvation was secured only by our performance, there would be no hope of eternal life for any believer, for we all fall short of the mark. Without eternal security, there would not be a single person in Heaven right now. But instead, our experience in this concept has been the bedrock on which to build a happy marriage, incorporating apologising and forgiveness.

Wonderful virtues which Ashley Madison could well learn about. 


  1. Regardless of what people think they can hide from their spouses, as in the adultery site, nothing is hidden from God. Calling oneself a 'Christian' means nothing if we continue what we know is wilful sin.
    Jesus says in Matthew ch. 7 vs. 21 - 23 :-

    'Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
    Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."

    To 'know' a person in the original scriptures has a more 'intimate' suggestion than what is commonly thought, just like we would get to know our spouse, and as you state Frank regarding your lovely relationship with Alex.

    We are encouraged in many scriptures to 'abide', and remain, in Jesus, as stated in John ch. 15 v. 5 and 6:-

    '"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned'

    and that means that we too have a responsibility.'

    I always look at the Lord's instruction as a loving encouragement, not a condemnation because Jesus says 'If you love me, keep my commands'

    That is not the ten commandments, which no one could keep, that is the word that is enlightened to us through the Holy Spirit, which enables us to become like Him. It is a journey, and 2 Corinthians ch. 3 v. 18 states the purpose of our journey:-

    'But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit'

    God bless you and Alex.

  2. Dear Frank,
    Thank you for the wonderful post, filled with great advice on marriage, your own example of self-sacrificing love for Alex, and your commentary on the tragic situation of the Ashley Madison, site, which, as you say, no doubt is only the tip of the iceberg. I believe it is yet another example of evil increasing in the End Times, which should encourage us to keep looking up for His swift return.
    God bless you both,