Community Magazine


By Nina
Fair warning, this is a long post centered around my own struggles with relationships, but I think you'll still find something of worth, if you can make it to the end.
Let me start by admitting that today is a bad day. It's been a bad week, actually. On a scale of 1(no desire to self harm) to 10(gonna self harm right now), I've hovered around a 7 for the last few days, and am currently at about a 6. There are plenty of reasons I could give you for this escalation over what has become my typical rating of around 0-2. The one we're going to focus on today, though, is best described by my therapist (we'll call him Ned) as punishing myself for living in a house where I don't feel comfortable or safe and considering ending the relationship.
To combat this punishment, my therapist looked me square in the eyes and said, "Considering ending a relationship does not make you a bad person." I dropped my gaze. I didn't believe him. I'm still not sure I do. I argued that Matthew 5:21-30 (don't be impressed, I had to look up the reference) stated "that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (5:27), so even considering divorce is a sin.
So Ned asked me a question. "If a man is with his wife on the street and a pretty woman walks by, and he looks and thinks, 'Man, she's hot,' but stops himself from undressing her with his eyes, he's committing adultery?"
"No!" I was quick to reply. "He noticed her beauty, but he stopped himself from actually lusting after---" I cut myself off when I realized his point. Ned was asserting that there were different levels of thinking. That just thinking about divorce was not sinful the way noticing another woman's beauty was not sinful for a married man.
However, a married man undressing another woman with his eyes is sinful. And this is where the analogy falls apart for me: I'm not sure what the equivalent of undressing her with his eyes is for divorce. There is no intent on the man's part to actually physically cheat, only to fantasize. Yet, I don't think fantasizing about divorce is probably a realistic equivalent, on account of there's nothing lovely about it to fantasize about, at least from my perspective.
Still, I see Ned's point, at least in most cases. There are different levels of thinking about something, and thinking about sinning but choosing not to, is not a sin. So whatever you've been shaming yourself for that isn't a real sin - let it go. Please, if you haven't yet, don't let it lead you down a path of self-destructive shame, guilt, and perhaps self harm. And if you've already been down that path, know that there is redemption - there is always redemption.
There is always redemption. You are not beyond repair.

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