Most of us tend to demonize temptations. We usually associate them with the devil and eternal damnation. But actually, the temptation is a neutral thing. It is neither sacred nor sinister. It is neither good nor bad. What has moral color is your reaction to it.
Temptations come in different forms. Access to public funds. Political power. However, let’s focus on temptations related to romantic, sexual relationships. Homesickness. Incompatibility. The desire for attention and affection. Monotonous marriages. These are breeding grounds for illicit affairs.
You’re far away from your wife and you’re lonely. Then, you meet this pretty woman who seems interested in you. What do you do? Or, your husband keeps on disappointing you with his meager income and unromantic ways. Then, this guy in the office compliments you every morning and leaves chocolates on your desk. He asks for a date. What do you do?
These are temptations. Depending on how you react, you will come out either whole or broken.
Temptations can help you build your character. It is said that the great Mohandas Gandhi of India intentionally put himself in tempting situations in order to strengthen his resolve. One that was controversially involved surrounding himself with young beautiful women in the privacy of his room. Through this, he was able to discipline and control his sexual urges.
Gandhi chose to confront worldly temptations and defeat them face to face. He went on to become one of the greatest men who ever lived. You may never become a Gandhi, but you can learn from him.
Every time you confront a flirtatious woman and refuse her gestures, you build your moral strength. Every time you show her that you will not risk losing your family for her, you gain greater willpower. Every time you tell that guy to stop sending you chocolates — and every time you turn down his invitation, you become a more loyal person.
Once you have shown other people that you can not be seduced — they would voluntarily keep their distance from you. You may lose their attention — but for sure, you would earn their respect. Or you may earn their ire, but you would nourish your family’s love. There is a high degree of wisdom and pride that comes with overcoming a strong temptation. You become fully aware of your strengths and capabilities. You come out whole. Future temptations become easier to handle.
On the other hand, temptations can enslave you. They can break you and all that you have. When you start giving in to temptations, you are opening the door to a flood of conflicts and scandals. The thing is, dishonest relationships don’t develop in a snap of a finger. It is not like suddenly jumping off a cliff. Rather, it is a gradual act — moving slowly, inch by inch — to the edge of a cliff —- and falling at the last moment of realization.
Many adulterous affairs start with harmless conversations. A little flirting follows. Then, you start dating and seeing each other more often. Before you know it, you are already sleeping with that person in some cheap motels. Every time you flirt, every time you respond to that person’s call, every time you touch the wrong person — you are chipping away, slowly but surely, your wall of defenses.
You justify your actions as a “friendly date” or as a ” business matter”, but everyone knows that’s not the case. By the time you realize your mistake, things are already beyond repair. Your life is already in shambles. Your mistress is now pregnant. The neighbors’ tongues are wagging.
Your spouse has discovered the affair and is hell-bent on revenge. Your children, on the other hand, feel abandoned and hate you so much that they start telling people that you’re dead. You are forced to resign from your job because of the scandal. You’re now guilty, miserable, and broke.
There is the story of a frog that was put by some scientists in water with normal temperature. In a very gradual manner, the experimenters increased the temperature until the water became hot. Interestingly, the frog did not show any unusual reaction. No indication of discomfort or pain. It turned out, because of the very gradual increase in the temperature, the frog did not realize right away that it was already boiling to death. The realization actually came too late.
The same holds true with sin. When so much is at stake, there is wisdom in avoiding the enemy. Don’t join the battle of temptations if you’re not sure you’d win. If you think the temptation will overpower you, don’t meet it eye to eye. Take the other road. Don’t show interest in other people’s seductive gestures. Flaunt your wedding ring and family pictures.
Limit your attendance to not-so-wholesome parties and gatherings. There’s nothing shameful and cowardly in protecting your family by acknowledging your weakness. But remember, running away will not prepare you for greater trials. As the saying goes, “Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.”
Also, if you do avoid the battlefield, you could be nagged by some unanswered questions. Would I have stayed faithful to my wife or to my husband, had I met my ex at that party? Would that gorgeous babe have accepted my invitation for a date? Would I have stayed strong? Would I have passed that temptation? These questions will recur in your mind. But so what? Sometimes, it’s better not to have answers to these questions than to expose yourself to seduction — and gamble with the future of your family. These questions will be blurred by the joy that an honest conscience and a happy family bring to your life.
So, how will you deal with temptations? Will you challenge them head-on — like what Gandhi did, and fight them with all your strength? Or will you avoid them and keep them at bay as long as you can — and face them only when you’ve been cornered at a cul-de-sac? Know thyself, my friend, and make your choice.
Marily Sasota Gayeta is currently an English lecturer in Salalah City, Oman . She has held this job since September 2013. Before coming to Oman, she was also an English lecturer in Sebha City, Libya for three years. Marily studied Bachelor of Secondary Education major in English at Tomas Del Rosario College in Balanga, Bataan ( her hometown ), and earned her MA in English Language Teaching from the Philippine Normal University. Her career, which spans more than 20 years, also includes teaching Vietnamese refugees in a training camp in Bataan and teaching collegiate English in three private colleges in the same province. She enjoys watching action movies, listening to rock songs, reading and writing. Her articles and poems are available on www.gardenerofthoughts.blogspot.com and mgatulamulasamalayo.blogspot.com. Marily is married and has two children.