In a former life, I spent 13 years as an engineer for NASA. Yes, I was a girl in a guy’s world. I was one of only 3 female managers in the entire Aeronautics Directorate, which had about 900 people. I was fairly well known, at least by site and name, if not in person.
I worked in a close-knit group with about 8 men. We were tight. Every Friday, we had a longstanding tradition of going to the mall food court for lunch. In fact, many other groups at NASA had the same idea. Almost every Friday, the mall food court seemed to turn into the NASA cafeteria, as it was filled with NASA employees.
One particular Friday at about 11:15, Tom, one of my workmates made his way around the office to find out who was going to lunch. By the time he got to me, he said “Well, Maureen, everyone else is too busy, so it looks like lunch today is just you and me. Let’s go. I’ll drive.”
I felt awkward. I liked Tom. I liked everyone in my group. We were like a family. But this was a dilemma for me. I thought to myself, “Tom and me…hmmm. What will people think when they see the two of us alone together at lunch?” You know how people can jump to conclusions, right?
And I continued to process this. At the time, I was not married. Tom was. In fact, his wife Lynn also worked at NASA. I knew her well too, and I really liked her. I thought “What will people think? Lots of people know me, and they know I’m single. What will they think when they see me with a man? A man wearing a wedding ring? And what if people from Lynn’s office see Tom with a good looking woman who’s NOT wearing a wedding ring? What if someone who knows Tom & Lynn and doesn’t know me jumps to a conclusion and without checking through on facts, and immediately starts to wonder about the state of Tom & Lynn’s marriage?
I was concerned about reputations. Mine. Tom’s. Lynn’s. Their marriage.
So, all this thinking is swirling around in my head and I blurt out, “Tom, I can’t go alone with you! I feel funny about that! Let’s just skip it today.”
He said “Sure, whatever.” That was that.
Now, I know some people would think I was over-reacting, and being over-zealous, or over-cautious. Tom and Lynn had a wonderful marriage. People probably wouldn’t have thought twice about seeing the two of us together. But in my heart of hearts, I was wanting to help put a hedge up to keep Satan from slipping in his influence.
So, while this story doesn’t speak directly to the topic of adultery, I know it speaks to the prevention of adultery. Putting a hedge around a relationship is critical, even if it’s extreme and a little off on the fringe of mainstream culture. I am now married now, and I see the wisdom of doing that. Satan can and will take even the smallest or least likely opportunity to chip away at the foundation of a marriage. It’s a slippery slope that can initially seem harmless, but could be devastating, or at least supremely difficult to resist. I’m a pretty cute woman, and I know that men find me attractive. And I will admit I have met a few men who turn my head or speak to my heart. It scares me, but it also somewhat appeals to me, and I can see how affairs can start. But I also know that to follow through on that temptation is sin, and has so many consequences for my family, my ministry, my own peace of mind. Plus, more than anything, it dishonors and breaks the heart of God, the one I love more than anything!
That price is simply too high to pay.