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6 Ways to Guard Your Marriage in Ministry
By Nelson Fernandez

Today, I want to focus on one of the most important aspects that a successful marriage requires: marital fidelity. Now, I’m no relationship guru by any means. My wife and I have been married less than five years, but what makes a successful marriage is knowledge and follow-through combined – practical skills like we recently picked up from a weekend class with Dr. John Nixon.
Sexual sin is not morally worse than other sins, but because it has such a powerful effect on the whole person, it is more devastating. Sex is dangerous when it is misused; it can destroy us, body and soul. Recently, I have seen pastors inside and outside of Adventism resign from their churches because of moral falls. How can we prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening in our own churches and families? Here are a few tips to guard your marriage in ministry.
1.   Speak highly of your spouse to others. Never share your marital problems with someone of the opposite sex, unless it is in a professional therapeutic setting. It is a trap of Satan to get us to complain about our spouses to “understanding” coworkers and friends so that through their sympathy we may be led to sin.
2.   Monitor your personal spiritual life. Conduct an inventory of your habits of prayer, Bible study, meditation, etc. It is easy to neglect the spiritual disciplines, not intentionally, but simply though business. 
3.   Make yourself accountable to someone trustworthy. Here one pastor shares a personal story on this point. “Once I was undergoing a time of strong sexual temptation and finally I called a friend with whom I was having breakfast the next day. I said, ‘Please pray for me, and ask me tomorrow morning what I did last night.’ He agreed, and the moment I put down the phone, my temptation was gone. Why? I’d like to say it was because I’m so spiritual, but the truth is there was no way that I was going to face my friend the next morning and have to tell him I had sinned.”
4.   Regularly evaluate your marriage. Watch for signs of boredom and routine, lack of affection, poor communication, poor sex life and discontentment. Read Christian marriage books together, perhaps a worship devotional. Remember, marriages go through stages of development and each new stage is an opportunity to grow in your relationship. Don’t take anything for granted. Remember Proverbs 5:15-19.
5.   Make no provision for sin. Read Romans 13:14. Know the things that trigger impure thoughts and be intentional about rooting them out. Guard the avenues of the soul. Watch the things that you permit to enter your mind though the senses. In this way, you guard your mind. Impure thoughts have a cumulative effect on the soul when we permit them to have entry. They eat away at the integrity of our spirit like the ocean eroding the shoreline. Immoral acts come from gradual steps.
      “A relationship can be sexual long before it becomes erotic. Just because I’m not touching a woman, or just because I’m not envisioning specific erotic encounters, does not mean I’m not becoming sexually involved with her. The erotic is usually not the beginning but the culmination of sexual attraction.”
6.   Back off early. As soon as you sense inappropriate feelings towards another person, face it and back away from it right away.
“When meeting a woman for our third counseling appointment, I became aware that she was interested in me personally. What was more frightening to me was the fact that I realized I had subconsciously sensed this before but enjoyed her attraction too much to address the problem. Though I wasn’t yet emotionally involved or giving her inappropriate attention, I wasn’t deflecting hers towards me, either, and was thereby inviting it.”
Do you know what is the most erotic organ of the body? The brain. You can be alone and project yourself into arousal just by the thoughts of your mind. Our minds belong to God also. And when our thoughts are stayed on Jesus, we have the power of His Spirit to live for God’s glory no matter where we are.
”Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” – Philippians 4:8
Nelson Fernandez Jr. is the Lead Pastor for the Clemson Seventh-day Adventist Church in South Carolina