I hesitate to say this and hope it is not misunderstood or taken out of context, but there are times I don’t trust my husband. This has nothing to do with anything he says or does. It happens when a respected male community member turns out to be a pervert or when an esteemed pastor is caught in an act of lewdness or a revered rabbi is discovered to have a hoard of pornography. It happens when a neighbor, relative or friend betrays his wife and has an affair. Simply based on a shared gender with the scoundrels above, my confidence in my spouse gets shaky.
Does my husband likewise not trust me? The statistics for vulgar, sinful (and often illegal) behavior aren’t gender neutral. On the rare occasion that an abused wife kills her husband, I honestly don’t think my husband lies in the dark trembling. There is no equivalence with our marriage or me. The only similar concern would be if a female we love and cherish was discovered having an affair, and that hasn’t happened. Unfortunately, the reverse has.
My husband has never given me any reason to doubt his loyalty, fidelity or honor. Still, it shakes my trust when I hear a woman sobbing as she says about her spouse, “I can’t believe he would do this. I had no idea.” It makes me question if I am stupid or blind, even though I rationally know that her experience bears no relationship to mine.
In his oft-quoted poem, “No Man Is an Island,” English poet John Donne said, “… any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” He could as well have said, “…any man’s sin diminishes me.”
Just as physical diseases are often contagious, spiritual diseases are as well. In the camp of the ancient Israelites, certain sinners were isolated so that they would not affect others. They were threatening society’s bonds and as such needed to be sent away. It is untrue that what one does in the privacy of his home or what consenting adults do is their own business. Second hand smoke may or may not be a danger. Second hand immorality most certainly is. This is not only because of the danger of contagion, but also because it causes good people to look at one another warily.
In a world that is exceedingly judgmental about the type of light bulbs we use or the car we drive, the shattering of traditional moral values seem to be the one thing people aren’t allowed to condemn. It is completely unfair for my husband to suffer from “guilt by association” with 50% of the world’s inhabitants or for a young woman to approach my son with suspicion for the same reason. Yet, that is the reality. They swim against the tide to be trusted. Not only must their own behavior be faultless but they must hold the men in their circles to a high standard as well. In today’s sad world, like Caesar’s wife, they must not only be honorable, they must also be above suspicion.
Time to start thinking of a hostess gift for Thanksgiving? Take advantage of the 24 hours
remaining on our Buried Treasure sale.
(The chapter on the Hebrew word for dinner tables will be most appreciated)
6 thoughts on “Breaking Trust”
Lynn, not being alone with a member of the opposite sex (except wives, children…) is a rule in the Orthodox Jewish community. My husband and I spoke about this at length in a marriage program we ran last year.
We are all susceptible to sinning. One of the first things I thought of after reading your piece was Billy Graham. He set in place for himself and all who worked with him a set of standards that were to be followed. They were based on God’s Word. One of them was that they were never alone with a women other than their wives. We need to establish for ourselves checkpoints so that our behavior may always be a sweet aroma to God. I’ve been betrayed in marriage. Trusting is never easy from that point on. But I also know Im not sinless. Thankful to a forgiving God.
Interesting Ustinov quote, James. I need to think about it.
We humans live complex lives, and many of us are subject to complex situations and likewise to complex needs or temptations that inspire regrettable decisions. It is frightening to discover radical new facets of people we thought we knew. Perhaps the element of shock above all causes us to reject and to judge them. While not sanctioning or condoning certain behaviors, there are usually grim reasons, happenings, events, or cruel factors in their lives that made these folks the way they turned out. Like sin being handed down to the seventh generation, this stuff has been brewing in families, in the world for a long, long time.
In this connection I think of Christ, who happened upon a crowd about to stone a woman caught in adultery. He said to the executioners:”Let him among you who is without sin cast the first stone.” He shifted their perspective: examine yourselves first and leave judgment to God. For so oft the judges are just as guilty, but did not get caught. This method is grounded in astute psychology: in judging the woman they are symbolically rejecting and chastising the faults they despise in themselves. Likewise we must examine our own selves. For who among us has led a totally blameless life? Who among us has done nothing to be ashamed of? Who among us has not fallen short of the glory of God? Who among us does not need forgiveness?
Yet your criticism of today’s draconian judgment and skewed moral standards is spot on. In his autobiography Peter Ustinov said: “Today it matters not what virtues a man has, but rather the absence of vices,” or words to that effect.
Jonathan, so many we used to consider trustworthy – scientists, teachers, journalists and others are too frequently exposed as biased frauds. The whole atmosphere leads to a society of mistrust.
For a man to be above suspicion in the eyes of all the women he knows, whose trust he would like, is a special challenge when speaking of his own moral stance on common foibles he still attempts modesty. It is not every man who is tested (and proven) by his circumstances. To whom can the moral man boast “I am above such vain and immoral acts”? Identifying the trustworthy is a challenge for us all.
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