the third temptation


I saw a funny quote the other day suggesting that before we marry someone, we should observe their reaction when they’re forced to use a computer with ridiculously slow Internet. Not a bad test of character, right? But it’s sad how the rise of technology has caused our society to lose every ounce of patience we didn’t even know we had. Back before “live-stream” entered the picture, I thought dial-up was for high rollers. I even danced to the beat of the dial-up tone like it was techno music. But that was when I happily waited ten seconds for a web page to load. Now… heaven forbid. 

Quick is good. Immediate is best. And people have found a way to make money out of making things hyper-convenient. And so as a result, our patience has plummeted and our laziness has skyrocketed. Did you know that the smartphones we toss around like Skittles are actually more powerful than the collective room-full of refrigerator-sized computers NASA used to get Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin onto the moon? Yeah, that’s standard technology for toddlers now. One iPhone might have taken Apollo 11 to Jupiter.

This trend isn’t contained within the walls of economics and technology. The effects have leaked over to the way we view and approach relationships as well. Maybe I’m naive and it’s always been this way. I can’t speak for previous generational habits, but it seems like now more than ever, the pace of our daily lives are so focused on immediate gratification that we don’t know how to wait and work for things like genuine friendships and pure romance. We refuse to let our desires operate on someone else’s time frame. We’re taught that we should have what we want, when we want it. If we can’t, we lose interest and deem that it’s not worth the extra effort and time.

But within the delicate context of a relationship… where it’s not just food or information, but rather another person’s life at stake, that immediate gratification mentality does some serious damage. I would venture to say that most relational baggage we collect was originally given its weight (its power) from a certain emotional and physical connection that was shared before it was meant to be shared. Without that connection, our hearts might bruise or even break when things go wrong, but they wouldn’t shatter so easily.

You can give every excuse in the book for why it’s okay to have premarital sex or why it doesn’t really matter (I’ve been on that side of the picket line), but the practical reality is that if for some reason you and that person you’re with don’t end up married (the world be crazy ya’ll), that intoxicating connection you thought was awesome is now a potential assassin to your relationship with the person you will marry.

It’s funny because several years ago, I would have tried arguing anyone into the ground with the same type of practical examples for why premarital sex was okay. I couldn’t see how it was such a big deal. But as I’ve matured (and picked up baggage), I’ve found it’s not practical at all. It’s selfish and inconsiderate. It has nothing to do with God and everything to do with myself… the very definition of sin.

I’m finally at a point of maturity where I also understand that God doesn’t call sexual promiscuity a sin in order to test my self-control or make me suffer. The waiting period is not a hazing ritual or a right of passage. Just like you don’t hand a chainsaw to a toddler, God is trying to protect me until I’m mature enough to understand how to let its power benefit me rather than cut off my foot. And just like you wouldn’t let your kid eat all the chocolate intended for s’mores around the campfire later that night, it’s how He’s trying to protect and save my marriage before it even begins. There was a time when I had no idea why my parents wouldn’t let me eat an entire tube of raw cookie dough in one sitting. I thought they were stupid and cruel, but they were actually protecting me from a lot of (let’s call it “digestive”) pain. I figured that one out the hard way as well.

If we’re not willing to wait for the gift and use it as it was intended, it doesn’t matter how sweet it tastes, it will become a source of pain. 

I might be losing some of you now. But let me explain one idea you might not have considered before:

At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus went out into the wilderness to be tested by Satan. Jesus’ third temptation was to receive immediate glorification from all the kingdoms of the world with the simple “have it your way” shtick of worshiping Satan instead of God. He was offered kingdoms right as He was beginning three years of nomadic poverty. He was offered convenience that was surely more appealing to His flesh than the betrayal and pain he was about to endure. Jesus considered it. It wouldn’t have been a temptation if He didn’t. But Jesus knew that what Satan was offering Him would be His eventually anyway. Satan was just hoping to get Jesus to bite, basically saying, “Does it really matter? Why not have it now?” But Jesus knew there was a really good reason God was setting Him down a path toward a crucifix and an open tomb. More difficult… yes. But He knew there was work to be done and there were lives at stake.

I don’t know about you, but I sure am glad Jesus didn’t take the easy out. Him going according to God’s purpose has allowed us to have a genuine relationship with Him. And if the inconvenience Jesus had to endure was being nailed to a cross, I’m certainly willing to go out of my way and fight my immediate desires to keep my life and relationships pure.


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