“I would never cheat but, you know, I also realize that as a human being, a hormonal human being, I am capable of it – not saying that I would do it. I wouldn’t. It’s just that people act like they would never when really, everybody is capable of cheating. We can’t be cocky about it, it’s just such an equal possibility for everybody.”
After I say this, my boyfriend wrinkles his nose. “Please don’t cheat on me,” he says.
I’m always of the opinion that people are worse than they think they are. Except, admittedly, for me. I like to think I’m nicer, cooler, and far more spiritual than I perceive myself to be. But honestly, that’s not true either. I think we’d all be surprised by how much evil our human souls harbor. When it comes to something as untactful yet as easy as cheating, I would gamble that we’re more likely to succumb to that temptation than we would like to admit.
Now, real-talk: I would never cheat on my boyfriend.
But I have had experiences that have humbled me and made me realize that I can’t be thoughtless when it comes to watching my behavior.
Growing up, I was raised on the Ten Commandments. I found it useful to remember all of them except for the first 2:
“You shall have no other gods before me… You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Exodus 20:3-5).
The Bible repeatedly condemns idolatry but in this modern, Western culture, where can you accidently stumble across a god made of gold?
And then, of course, I vacationed in India and found myself before idols. Sometimes I bowed, sometimes I didn’t, but the whole time I was thinking inside my head, “This is LITERALLY idolatry,” and I still wasn’t being consistent with my Christian values.
For those of you who haven’t had this experience, life in general offers its own host of metaphorical gods, or things that we’re tempted to put above or in place of the God. Even the apostle Paul understood this: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).
For me, in this graduate transition into the adult world, money and success is what I crave over God. It sounds cliché and too obvious of a faulty line of thinking but it almost comes naturally to me. I desire something else over God, it’s like spiritual infidelity.
One night, my friend showed me a Ted Talk called ‘Rethinking Infidelity,’ presented by relationship therapist Esther Perel. We watched it together and what stuck with me was how Perel overturned a common understanding of infidelity:
“…when we seek the gaze of another, it isn’t always our partner that we are turning away from, but the person that we have ourselves become. And it isn’t so much that we’re looking for another person, as much as we are looking for another self.”
If I may dare to apply this to spiritual infidelity, might I theorize that it’s not Christ who dissatisfies me but the person that I am as a Christian, or Christ-follower.
Being a devout Christian means humbling yourself and realizing how much you need God and His forgiveness. As I quoted in one of my other posts, “Good Little Churchgirl,” “the more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it” (Romans 3:20). And the last thing I want to know as a self-loving human being is that I’m falling short of something as important and straight-forward as God’s law.
The person I am, or have to be, when I’m ‘with’ God is not my version of ideal. Because, ideally, I want to be my natural self. I want to obey my impulses and follow my human reasoning.
As Christians, we understand how humans are not the way that we were created to be. We were meant to be good (Genesis 1:31) but, because of the Fall, evil slipped into our nature and made us what we are today: imperfect, fallible, not good.
But because God forgives and because through Him all things are possible, there is a side of me that loves being a Christian. Because when my heart starts to wander and I look for “another self” or another person to be, I can still be called back into my relationship with God and be forgiven. That’s more than I could ever bargain for in human relationships. That’s what I call godly love.