Laura writes in to ask, “Dear Pastor John, my husband and I were out shopping, and I saw him check out this very nice-looking woman who was rather scantily dressed. We are seniors and I thank God for the way I look at seventy, even though I am more concerned about how much I resemble my Savior and Lord. We walked out of the store and he practically ran with the cart to get a better look at this much younger woman. It broke my heart because I have no interest in anyone but him. My question is: how do I deal with this? I know in my heart he committed adultery according to God’s Word. Is this typical of older men? Will it get worse? Will he lose his desire for me? Is it just him? Is it me?” So Pastor John, what would you say to Laura, or to any wife who feels like she is competing with other women for her husband’s attention?
Well, Tony, I have got to say something to the man, first. I know you and she are asking for me to counsel her, and I will in just a minute, but I have got to address this man. I am 68. I know what she is talking about, and so let me say something to him. And here, in brief, is what I want to say to him.
To The Man
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus said if your eye causes you to sin or if your hand causes you to sin, gouge it out — cut it off? Like a man in a nursing home that reaches out and pets a behind of a nurse (I mean, yes, this sort of thing happens). Put the desire for the flesh of another woman, in sight or in hand, put that to death, man. By the Spirit as soon as it raises its head. Tear your eye out. Renounce the lure and turn away. Don’t dignify the bait of the flesh by biting on it. It is all shiny like a fishing lure, but it has got hooks in it and they will make you look stupid when they pull your jaw apart.
“Don’t dignify the bait of the flesh by biting on it. It has hooks.”
Another word to the husband. You are old enough, fella, to know that there are deeper, wider, longer, greater pleasures in life than the titillation of skin. Come on, this is adolescent of you. It is mere animal. A seventy-year-old man acting like a dog in heat is not only silly, it is tragic. It is a tragic witness to seventy wasted years for getting a wise heart.
One last word to Mr. Man. One aspect of that wisdom of old sage is the value of your wife. The seventy-something sage says, [okay, this is the sage, the real man who has learned seventy years’ worth of wisdom] he says:
“This is my woman. Saggy, blotchy-skin, grey-hair, wrinkled-face, decreased or absent libido, this is my woman, my treasure, my jewel, my gift from heaven, my covenant one, my intimate flesh, my own body, myself. To be faithful to her with my eyes and my hands is a satisfaction deeper, and higher, and sweeter than any glimpse, or any touch, of any other woman in the world.”
That is what the seventy something sage says.
To The Woman
Okay, now, Laura, you asked about your own heart and here is my word to you.
1. In a moment of solitude with your husband, [I mean, nobody else around] when things are good, it is permissible and fitting to say with affection something like this:
“Can I share my heart with you about something? I could be wrong in how seriously to take it, honey, but it seemed to me that you tried pretty hard to look at a young woman this morning who was kind of scantily clad. I know that such a sight will always catch a man’s eye. She knows it, too. That is her whole point. I don’t blame you for that glance. You are a man. But I think it was Billy Graham who said it is the second look that is the trouble. And whether he is right about that or not, it made me feel bad. It made me feel less loved, less valued. I know you didn’t mean that probably. I love you. I don’t want to feel like I am losing your heart or even your eyes.”
And then you pray that God will take that conversation in a healing direction. So I just want to give you permission to go ahead. That is not insubordination, or inappropriate at all, to go to him that way.
2. No, it is not inevitable that older men need to pursue younger women with their eyes, because their wives are aging. No, a man can mature and love his wife for all that she has been, and is, and will be, including delicious memories of young bodies and deep pleasures of present and seasoned faithfulness. If a man insists on being a playboy at age seventy he should realize that he, indeed, is playing the part of a boy and not a man. And he should be ashamed.
“Speak to him, and then pray for him, and hand him over to God.”
3. Don’t dwell on this to the point of imagining things that may not be true of him. You may be wrong. The longer you brood over it the more the devil will use it to sow seeds of distrust and anger. Speak to him, yes, and then pray for him and hand him over to God. God holds you accountable for your responses, not his sins.
4. Find your deepest joy in God’s presence and promises. He delights in the inner beauty of your faith, and fearlessness, and humility, and quiet peacefulness, and God gives himself to you for your fellowship and your enjoyment. “Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10). “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6). “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at might right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
5. Give your husband as much joy as you can every day. And know, that as Paul writes in another context, but I think it applies, that in doing so — in serving your husband — you are serving your heavenly husband who is infinitely worthy even when your earthly husband at any given moment may not be.