COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)–While marriages are failing at epidemic proportions among both Christians and non-Christians, couples can protect their relationships from ruin by implementing safeguards of accountability, says Bob Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board and author of the newly published book, “Beneath The Surface — Steering Clear of The Dangers that Could Leave You Shipwrecked.”
But accountability, Reccord said, cannot be forced on someone. “People don’t just come up and take accountability on your behalf, you have to grant it,” Reccord said May 6-7, on the internationally syndicated radio program, “Focus On The Family.” “You have to say I need you to help me be accountable.”
Reccord said it is important to have someone who can ask you the tough personal questions regarding your private life, such as your thoughts or what you’ve been viewing on the Internet.
“Accountability is ‘I want the very best in your life. I want you to succeed. Therefore, I’m willing to do whatever it takes for you to succeed in your walk.’ If that’s my view of you, then out of love, I have no choice but to go to you.”
Reccord and his wife, Cheryl, spoke candidly with James Dobson, founder and host of “Focus On The Family,” about how they’ve been able to avoid temptations to be unfaithful during their 30-year marriage.
The Reccords shared how the demands of work schedules and parenting put a strain on their relationship early in their marriage.
“I can remember sitting on the couch one night, and our second child, our son, was less than a year old at that point, and it suddenly dawned on me as I sat there by myself for another night, that it was more natural for Bob to be gone than it was for him to be home,” Cheryl said. “He had really become kind of an interruption in our lives.”
At the time, Bob’s ministry had him traveling around the country 33 weeks a year.
“It was a crisis point,” Cheryl recalled. “People would ask our oldest daughter, ‘what does your daddy do?’ and she would say he works on an airplane.”
Cheryl said she knew something had to change when her feelings of loneliness were magnified when their pastor would call to check on her or compliment her about how she looked when Bob was out of town.
That’s when Cheryl confided in her husband.
“It was a wake-up call to me,” Reccord said. “It changed my life of understanding that as the husband, I’m responsible for more than just providing the house and finances. I’m responsible for making her feel secure and making her feel loved.”
Reccord subsequently stepped down from his ministry position and began pastoring bi-vocationally.
Meanwhile, the Reccords learned later that their pastor had affairs with nine other women in their church, all of whose husbands traveled a lot in their jobs.
“It wasn’t that we were on the verge of divorce,” Cheryl recalled. “We weren’t anywhere close. It wasn’t like one of us had an affair. We’d never had that happened. We knew that if we didn’t make some major changes in our life at that point we could head there.”
While the Reccords heeded the warning signals and changed their lifestyle, statistics show that an alarming number of married couples, including those in full-time Christian ministry, ignore the danger signs, and like the infamous Titanic, sink into destruction.
“If you look back and study the history, they got six warnings of icebergs, and what sunk the Titanic wasn’t what was above the surface, it was what was below it,” Reccord said. “It’s not the big stuff that brings us down, it’s the culmination of the little stuff.”
Citing 2000 census statistics that showed the number of single-parent households increased by 72 percent in the decade of the 90’s, while the total number of original two-parent homes dropped below 25 percent for the first time, Reccord said the American family faces a crisis situation.
Although the cause of the problem, Reccord said, is obvious, it takes courage and discipline to implement the biblical principles necessary to protect husbands and wives from the lure of sexual infidelity.
“In the Book of James in the Bible, it says every man is drawn away by his own evil desires,” Reccord said. “We can say the devil made me do it all we want, but Scripture is clear that we have a sin nature deep down in us.”
Reccord identified three different stages of a marriage when couples are especially vulnerable to the temptation of marital unfaithfulness: about 2 years into the marriage; at the height of career success; and after the children are grown and out of the house.
“Cheryl and I have learned the value of dating weekly, finding something to celebrate monthly, escaping quarterly, and in my book we put in questions that we think every husband and wife ought to ask themselves at least once a year in a retreat,” Reccord said.
“Beneath The Surface — Steering Clear of the Dangers That Could Leave You Shipwrecked,” is now in its third printing, since its debut in mid-January, by the Broadman & Holman Publishers division of LifeWay Christian Resources. The book identifies biblical principles for dealing with sexual temptation by comparing the Old Testament accounts of how David and Joseph responded when tempted sexually.
While David committed adultery with Bathsheba, Joseph fled the seductive grasp of his boss’ wife. “(Joseph) said, ‘How can I commit such a great sin against my God?'” Reccord recounted. “He understood that he was not only accountable to God, but to his own master, Potiphar.”
Reccord concluded by saying that while consequences remain, anyone who has succumbed to sexual temptation, like David, can be completely restored by God’s mercy and grace.
“If there is someone out there who is falling, it’s not hopeless,” Reccord said. “You can be put back together, but you’ve got to want to be, and you’ve got to say, ‘I was wrong,’ and then you’ve got to say, ‘I need help and I want to be cleaned from the inside out,’ and then ‘I’m willing to turn 180 degrees and walk God’s way, not mine.’ ”
To order the cassette tapes of the Reccords’ interview with Dobson on “Focus on the Family” call toll-free 1-800-232-6459 or go online at www.family.org.
During the broadcast, “Focus On The Family” promoted its Pastoral Care Hotline for ministers struggling with marital infidelity or other sexual temptation. The toll-free number, 1-877-233-4455 is operational each weekday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mountain Time.