November 18, 2013

Duplicity, Desire, and Fear

Gary Thomas — 

One of the great marital traps is duplicity. Duplicity can do more than just wreck our intimacy and our marriages—it can wreck our souls.

What does duplicity come from, and what is it?

Duplicity exists in the intersection of desire and fear. When we desire something that isn’t appropriate and so fear the consequences, duplicity presents itself as the “solution.” The godly response to fearing the consequences of evil is to surrender the desire and let fear guide us back into righteousness. There is nothing to fear when we have done nothing wrong. But when we are intent on following through on an ungodly desire, duplicity presents itself as a “friend,” saying, “Here’s the way to fulfill your desire: do it, but lie about it. You can enjoy the desire, and avoid the consequences.”

Here’s the truth: we can choose our actions, but we don’t get to choose the consequences.

Duplicity, when embraced, takes us away from ourselves (we deceive ourselves and can’t grow when we become blind to our own heart), it takes us away from our spouse (you can’t be intimate with a falsehood, with something that doesn’t exist), and it takes us away from our God (in the sense of making His voice more distant, and our hearts more callous to His gentle touch). We have to deaden ourselves (a horrific thought) to the loving voice of God’s Holy Spirit who warns us. More intent on fulfilling the desire than walking in truth, we have to (ouch) train ourselves to shut out God’s passionate and loving warnings. This can’t be done without severe consequences. Once we start falling from God, we lose touch with how far we have fallen (the less sensitive we are to His voice, the less aware we are of His presence). It is a treacherous place to live.

It should go without saying that duplicity is the enemy of intimacy. How can I be intimate with a wife I am lying to? And why do I lie? Because I want to do something I know I shouldn’t. I fear the consequences if she finds out (her hurt, her accusations, her response, her “telling on me”). Rather than taking all that as a good reason to crucify my desire, I think I can have it all, give in to the desire, and use duplicity as a cover-up.

Marriage serves us only when we reject duplicity.

Duplicity offers itself as a way out of the accountability of marriage, of the sanctifying cleansing of marriage, but the avenue it leads to is far worse: estrangement from self, estrangement from our spouse, estrangement from our God.

If you are living in duplicity about anything in your marriage: your sexual desires, your eating habits, your spending habits, your recreational habits, your drinking habits—just know that you are paying a high cost. Duplicity never solves the problem of inappropriate desire and fear; it just exacerbates the problem, lets it grow, and the end game is alienation from all that is holy and true and good.

Reject duplicity. Whenever you find yourself hiding anything from your spouse and duplicity whispers, “You can still do it without him/her knowing about it,” remind yourself: that’s living in the darkness. That’s becoming alienated from your spouse. That’s killing intimacy in your marriage. That’s training you to reject the Holy Spirit’s conviction and warning.

Why get married only to hide?

Why make such a high commitment, only to run from it? Why trade “naked and unashamed” for “hiding and fearful?” What do you gain, really, by running from your spouse? Does it solve any problems? Does it make you feel any closer? Does it truly solve the issue that is making you thirsty for this temptation?

Let duplicity be damned in your life and marriage. Resolve today, you’ll have no more of it. You’ll let holy fear (God’s loving warning) overcome your desires, rather than lead you to a place of compromise that is in actuality a place of ruin.

[photo: Daniele Villa, Creative Commons]

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