Is there a hedge around your marriage protecting it from predators?
In the Old Testament times, there were different types of barriers built around cities that protected them from unwelcome visitors from enemy armies to wild animals. Building stone walls was a lengthy endeavor, and trees were not always available in large enough quantities to build a wall around an entire city.
So quite often the inhabitants of the city encouraged a hedge of bushes to grow around their town. The bushes were dense and filled with thorns. No one could crawl through them, chew through them, or jump over them.
Not only did the hedges keep enemies and predators out, but it also kept the sheep and goats in so they wouldn’t wander away only to be eaten by a lion.
The Bible compares Satan to a lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He’s prowling for marriages and using whatever temptations he can to destroy them.
For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:16)
If you treasure your marriage commitment above all except your relationship with God, it’s crucial that you place a protective hedge around it. This hedge is obviously not a literal one, but a spiritual one.
Boundaries in Marriage
Boundaries are lines or limits that are set in place to protect something. They keep the good things in and the bad things out. These limits you set on what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior prevent you and your spouse from being exploited or manipulated by outside, worldly influences.
Boundaries to protect your marriage are not just magically created the day you marry. You cannot trust your flesh to decide where your limitations are going to be. You also cannot leave the formation of boundaries to chance. Both spouses have to agree on the bounds you both will live by and create a plan to make them stick.
There are plenty of different boundaries that you can place on your marriage, including things concerning finances, communication, and forgiveness. Today, though, let’s focus on hedges that will help you avoid falling into a trap that leads to adultery.
Why Boundaries are Necessary
We need boundaries in every relationship in our lives to make sure that we are not being taken advantage of or hurt by the actions of others. However, people who set boundaries and stick to them are often perceived as control freaks. If you insist on having boundaries in your marriage, some people will see this as you “telling your spouse what to do.”
But when a couple works together to set these boundaries, each of them commits himself to the same standards. No one is ruling over the other. Boundaries force you to take responsibility for your own actions keeping you from going beyond the agreed limits and putting your marriage at risk.
Affairs usually begin with one spouse letting their guard down. Someone who is not your spouse starts saying and doing things that make you feel good. Sometimes the other person lies to you directly, or maybe you’re just a little naive, thinking everyone has good intentions. Satan tries to bypass the hedge by sneaking some thoughts into your mind that make you question your marriage relationship. And suddenly, you’re in a position you never imagined you would be.
For example, one evening, while browsing Facebook, you find a message from someone on your husband’s friends list. You don’t know him personally, but you know who he is. He’s asking you questions about your family, your husband, but most importantly, you. Maybe he even compliments you on your appearance.
What do you do? Do you respond? Or do you ignore the message? You may not see any harm in replying to the message because, after all, he and your husband are friends, so he must be a good guy.
One simple response to someone of the opposite sex that you don’t know today could be the downfall of your marriage tomorrow. Maybe you don’t think it could happen to you, but if David, a man after God’s own heart in the Bible, could sin with his beautiful neighbor Bathsheba, it can happen to anyone.
Boundaries in the Bible
Throughout the Bible, there are references to setting boundaries. Setting boundaries for yourself and sticking to them requires self-control.
(A) man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Proverbs 25:28
If you don’t practice restraint in your own life, you are opening the gates to all kinds of evil and negativity that can change the path of your marriage.
If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. Proverbs 23:14
Sheol is the Hebrew word for the “grave of the dead” and is also associated with Hell. Discipline keeps all of God’s children from an eternity without Him. Discipline will help create self-control in a child, but as an adult, you are responsible for disciplining yourself. When you do, you save yourself from death.
Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. Proverbs 24:11
Boundaries also keep us within a safe place in marriage. The Bible tells us to pull those who are falling into sin back to safety, whether it’s someone else or yourself.
Examples of Useful Boundaries
Here are some examples of boundaries you and your spouse may find useful in creating limitations for one another that will protect your marriage from adultery. These boundaries require that you both be faithful, honest, and loving to your spouse ahead of your own desires. They require you to think of yourselves as one flesh.
- Avoid being alone with people of the opposite gender. Vice President Mike Pence gets ridiculed for following this rule, but it is the reason why no one has ever been able to accuse him of anything inappropriate. If you don’t want your spouse to worry, make sure there is always at least a third person present.
- Keep all messages, phone calls and other communication with the opposite gender open to the other–even business ones. Instead of retiring to another room, sit on the couch next to your spouse while you talk.
- Keep a reasonable distance from the opposite sex. When you are talking with someone, make sure you are not in one another’s personal space. Keep these conversations quick and polite so that no one can make any inaccurate assumptions about your relationship.
- Include your spouse in conversations with the opposite gender. You can pull them into the situation by asking them what they think. Keeping that connection with your spouse can reassert that you are devoted to them.
- Don’t have friendships with the opposite sex. There’s always a debate about this. So many people think this is fine, but it opens a path through the hedge, and too often, romantic feelings replace the closeness of friendship. Just don’t do it.
- Don’t travel alone with the opposite sex. Seriously. Don’t. Even if you need to for business.
- If they want advice or counsel, send them to your spouse. It will protect your marriage and probably gives the other person better information anyway since it’s coming from someone of the same sex.
Protect Marriage with Boundaries
Put God first in your own life. If you are actively improving your relationship with Him, the idea of doing anything that will jeopardize your marriage will be less likely to tempt you.
Spend some time together creating a plan for boundaries that will keep you focused on one another and avoid any temptation. If you need help with this, it is something that we could address together in one of our Intensive Marriage Coaching sessions. Click here to get more information about how we can help you do that!
Invest effort in your marriage. Spend time together every day, reconnecting, planning, and dreaming. Plan a date night each week, and go away alone at least one weekend a year. If you are close, no one can get between you.
Use discernment to protect yourself from passing through the hedge you have built around your relationship. Read this verse and think about how it applies to your marriage.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
Finally, do whatever you can do to protect your marriage. Pray that your boundaries will keep Satan from trying to crawl through, chew on, or jump over the hedge that you build around your marriage. Protect your marriage at all costs and God will bless what you do.
- Are there any specific boundaries that you and your spouse need to set?
- Does either of you have unspoken boundaries that you are upset with your spouse for not adhering to?
- What beliefs from false prophets in the world may be affecting your marriage?