Wise Boundaries with the Opposite Sex in Ministry Part 1

Affairs and infidelity are occurring often in the Church. Not just among the congregants, but also among the staff and pastors. How many great and influential pastors have fallen into sexual or emotional affairs in the last several years? If infidelity can happen to them, it can happen to us. We must be diligent to guard our hearts and our interactions with the opposite sex. Dr. Zack Carter joins us to talk about setting up wise boundaries with the opposite sex in ministry. Dr. Carter is a researcher and professor at Taylor University and has studied hundreds of affairs. He teaches on marital preservation, attraction, and non-verbal and online communication with the opposite sex. If you are serious about being faithful to your ministry and your spouse for the long haul, you would be wise to listen to this important episode. You can also listen to Part 2 of this series HERE.

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Quotables:


When you admit that you’re capable of having an affair, that’s when you can actually protect yourself.  – Tweet That!

Our spouse should get the best of us, and everyone else should get the rest of us.  – Tweet That!

The church is a holy place, but it’s prideful to say that we can’t fall into sin there. – Tweet That!

There will always be a disconnect between you and your spouse until you can disconnect from the sin you are in. – Tweet That!


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Transcript

Alex Enfiedjian 00:11 This episode could save your marriage. Welcome to the worship leader training podcast. My name is Alex Enfiedjian. And today we are talking about the vital topic of wise boundaries with the opposite sex in ministry. We’ve all heard of pastors or worship leaders who have run off with someone in their ministry, leaving their family and their church in total disarray. And maybe sadly, it even happened to you. And unfortunately, infidelity happens all the time in the church, whether it’s the congregants, but oftentimes even the staff, and over the years, especially lately, this topic has become increasingly important to me because I really, really want to be faithful to my family, to my wife, and to the Lord’s calling on my life. And I’m sure you do, too. But the topic of wise boundaries with the opposite gender is not something that’s frequently discussed in the church. It’s not taught in our seminaries. It’s not trained to pastors when they first arrive at their ministry. But it is such an important topic, and I really believe that it will save marriages to talk about it. So I’ve decided to dedicate two episodes to this topic. So this month, we’re going to be talking to Dr. Zack Carter, a professor at Taylor University, who studies and teaches on the topic of marriage preservation, communication, and attraction between genders. And next month, we will have a roundtable discussion with six worship leaders from across the country, on how they maintain wise boundaries in their interactions with the opposite sex. So we’ll get into that interview in just a minute. If you remember, a few months ago, we started sharing sponsored products on our podcast. And I promised you that I would only bring you products that I loved that I personally use, and that I really, truly felt would benefit you and your ministry. And that is the exact case with this month’s sponsor, which is Planning Center. Most of you know about Planning Center, but if you don’t, it’s the most robust, easiest to use, highly effective tool that you could ever implement, to plan and manage your worship services. I honestly don’t know how I could function as a worship leader without it. I use Planning Center to schedule my team’s plan my worship sets communicate with my team members, transpose songs, transpose chord charts, and house mp3 is for my teams to reference. And something new that I recently discovered in Planning Center is that if you enter your chord charts in Planning Center specific chord section, Planning Center will automatically transpose those chords to any key with one click. And that saves me so much time. So as I’ve been working with smaller churches and training smaller worship teams, I’m surprised how few of them are using Planning Center, it’s free to try for 30 days with no you don’t have to enter a credit card or anything. And so I would encourage you if you’re not using Planning Center, use it. Plan start at $14 a month you can check all of this out at planning dot Center planning dot center. Alright, so that’s my recommended product for the month. Let’s get into this incredible interview with Dr. Zack Carter. Alright, Hey, everybody, I am here with Zack Carter. Thank you, Zach, so much for being on the podcast today. Great to be here, Alex. Thanks for having me. Yeah. Hey, Zach, tell us in our listeners exactly what it is that you research and teach at the university.

Dr. Zack Carter 03:36 Sure. I’m out here in snowy Indiana, in the middle of a cornfield University called Taylor University. I teach in relationship communication, specifically relationship development, relationship management, relationship formation, all the all the how tos all the models of that. And primarily I focus a lot of my research on the development of relationships that and to good healthy marriages. And a lot of members just up until now has examined married men and married women who unfortunately did not steward well. Social media communication, they didn’t store well text communication, cell phone, and unfortunately harm their marriage oftentimes ending in divorce. So I have a passion for this looking at communication, not just online, not just in social media. But I’ve just I’ve just found that in our pervasive world of social media and digital technology that they go hand in hand. And so I do a lot of research of verbal and nonverbal communication. So I look at different types of communication that we should do, and the things that we should not do in order to preserve the sanctity of a marriage relationship, emotionally relationally spiritually, and that’s pretty much in a nutshell what I do with a registered research.

Alex Enfiedjian 04:52 That’s so fascinating, and it’s so vital in this day and age where everyone is connected, and I can I can ping anybody. I want Male or Female at any time of the day, I can look at photos of people on my team. It’s just what you’re doing is so important right now. So I’m super thrilled to have you on the podcast to talk about wise boundaries with the opposite sex. So let me ask you, Zack, what are some of the core findings that you’re discovering in your research when it comes to the topic of attraction and technology? Sure, well, I

Dr. Zack Carter 05:25 would first start off with the addiction characteristic, we’re seeing just this transfer of relationships communication to online. And we’re seeing that though, we’re seeing people that are being addicted, that are addicted, similar to let’s say, those who are alcoholics are those addicted to drugs, I think I looked the other day, and it said, over 50% of society checks their phone over 900 times a day, you know, including social media, tweets, texts, and so forth. That’s just looking, you know, your home screen just to see if you have any, any notification. So and by doing so, there’s this illusion of intimacy that’s occurring online. And that is, people feel so connected, that it’s taking the place of real world face to face interactions. That is when people sit, people spend so much time online, that when they go out to a coffee shop with friends or family or a restaurant, they’re feeling alone. And this illusion of intimacy is leading oftentimes to what we’re seeing now is affairs that are happening, and not necessarily not all the time, sexual face to face, but more so emotional. Because what’s happening is people are developing these attachments online, that have equal strength as face to face attachments. Though it takes longer to build those attachments online, it’s very dangerous. So for instance, somebody is on Facebook, private chats with somebody the opposite sex, let’s say both of them are married. Over time, they usually start with trivial topics of conversation, this usually start talking about emotional topics. If one or both are having issues with their marriage, they’ll talk about those issues. And then slowly it’ll it’ll it’ll transition to typically sexual topics. And oftentimes, it doesn’t lead eventually to face to face, face to face sexual affair. But what’s very surprising is that detachment that’s occurring whenever these affairs are happening is very interesting. I mean, good, interesting, or bad, interesting, in that they are detaching from their families, their spouses whenever they build these attachments in social media context. And it’s very alarming. And this is another finding that when people are confronted with their interactions, and social media, not just social media with his cell cell phone, text messaging, this is apps that people are going on these dating apps now that are called dating apps. And they’re, they’re hardly dating apps, they’re more of you know, as they, as they say, hookup apps, unfortunately, and people are alarmed that when they’re confronted, and they’re confronted the interactions that they’re having the emotional, the sexual dialogue, these married people, people who’ve taken vows, and they’re confronted by their spouses saying, hey, what you’re doing is wrong. Or they’re confronted by a friend, hey, what you’re doing is wrong. They, there’s so much pushback. And it’s because they’re creating these attachments with these numbers of the opposite sex that overpower at times their relationships that they have with their spouses. Another finding is, you know, we can look at social media, like a grocery store, that is you have endless piles of options to peruse. So your endless profiles to look at pictures and status updates and comments and tweets and so forth, that you’ll basically pick up a litter. So let’s say you’re having issues at home, and you go online, and you start seeing pictures from an x from 10 years ago, and you see their their, their pictures with their spouse and their kids. And they’re just they just look so happy. And they have the status updates to say I love my wife, I love my husband. That right there is the theory of the the grass is greener The grass is you’re looking online, you’re looking at these pictures, you’re reading these posts, and you’re thinking their life is perfect. And you think back to your life and what you’re going through in your day to day basis. And once again is detaching you from your spouse, because you’re constantly bombarded with these positive messages, from your your friends on on social media. So those are just a few surprising conclusions. But

Alex Enfiedjian 09:10 yeah, you know, that’s covering a lot of the online aspect. But you know, this, this risk of attraction happens online and in real life. And I wanted to hear some of your thoughts, because this is a podcast for worship leaders. I wanted to hear some of your thoughts as to how ministers are particularly at risk to become attracted to the opposite sex, like where are our danger zones? Why is it? Is it more dangerous for ministers, and if so, why?

Dr. Zack Carter 09:37 I would say much more dangerous. I would say a pastor is in this position of authority that no other man has at any other institution or the corporation. They have a position that they hold this this great influence over over their flock and let’s say the opposite sex is out in the congregation. I’m just gonna use an example of a pastor. I’d heard of Back in Virginia, where I came from, there was a woman out in the congregation and she would go there weekly, without her husband might do without her husband and hear this pastor speak on topics of relationships and good stewarding of the gospel and good stewards of serving in the church. And he had actually spoken on relationships for about three weeks and talked about what it means to be a good man of stewarding like your family student or your wife or children. And she’s sitting there week in and week out, hearing him and she began to fall for him, she began to fall for this man who’s standing behind a podium, who seems as though he has it all together, he knows everything about relationships that she’s not getting from home, she’s not getting from home from her husband, her husband’s not attending church. And she is seeing it as a grass is greener theory. And so she is beginning to fall for for him. And she actually looked him up on social media, and it became social media friends, it was, it was Facebook. And I remember looking at his count, and he had, you know, maybe 400 or so friends, it wasn’t, you know, over abundance. It was a large church. So he could have had 1000s. But it seemed like he was very strategic and how many friends he had. And they basically, it started off from what I heard after the affair had happened, it was a sexual affair. But it started off as just trivial topics, topics of you know how your day how’s your day going? That was a great sermon on Sunday, how’s your week has the kids to, you know, how can I help you, you know, what’s going on at home? how, you know, how’s your husband, and she would say, you know, my husband’s not doing this, my husband not doing that. And he started to fill this void of hers, by communicating through text on Facebook, which seemed innocent enough, the pastor thought the entire time what he was doing was was right, and that he was shepherding her? Well, he was, you know, he was helping her emotionally, spiritually, you would say he’s praying for her, he would actually they would pray through text, and send these messages back and forth. And this went on for about four and a half weeks. And then they met up face to face. And from there, it spiraled downhill, because they met up one on one, and it became more of a one on one relationship, more so than, than in a steward ship of sorts. So you have this great ingredient, this great responsibility to teach and preach the gospel to both men and women. And oftentimes, I think pastors feel as though they can treat both men and women the same equally. I remember one pastor who once told me, he said, he said he had, he had this one woman from church who kept friend requesting them on Facebook, over and over again, and she started sending private messages. And finally, he just confronted her at church, and was very forward with her and said, out of respect to my wife, I don’t think it’s appropriate that, you know, we, we friends on Facebook, based on some of the messages you sent me based on some of the dialogue you’ve sent to me. And so he was harsh with it, but he said something very profound. He said, I’m going to offend her before I offend my spouse, it is impossible interpersonally to give of ourselves 100% to our wife, and 100% to another woman, at some point, there’s going to be a sacrifice. So if you start giving to another woman relationally emotionally talking to her on social media, thinking as though you’re being a good shepherd and, and leading her and discipling her at some point, if you do that consistently, you know, with with either her or multiple women, there will be some disconnect with your wife. So it’s it’s a tricky, it’s, it’s a very tricky line to walk as, especially a pastor who is there as is a counselor is one who is supposed to take scripture and apply it to their congregations, respective lives, and to help lead them and love them and guide them. And though I don’t think it is wrong, or inappropriate if a pastor is to meet with a member of the opposite sex than her husband, that is a completely different dynamic. There are opportunities to shepherd Well, the opposite sex, but one on one, I have seen in the research numerous times, especially by Christian researchers, that one on one opposite sex friendships are never appropriate.

Alex Enfiedjian 14:19 That’s so really helpful. So I was gonna ask you this later, but I’d like to, I’d like you to answer it. Now. If we have to be very careful in pastoring and shepherding the opposite sex. what ways do you think are appropriate for worship leaders to show care for the females on their team?

Dr. Zack Carter 14:38 Sure. I think it’s imperative that there is a constant dialogue going on between the pastor and those the opposite sex. I don’t feel that you know, interacting one on one is a bad thing. And I don’t want that to be the the message I’m saying here. I know. I know a pastor specifically who went to a new church, the church has been built and he went into the the office and there was no windows on the door, and he’s said if I’m going to work here, we’re going to put windows on the door. And they put windows on the door. And so when he interacts one on one with members of the opposite sex, like from his team, like the worship leader, who’s who’s a female, there was that transparency, that visual transparency of the conversation going on. And so there are oftentimes discussions, though, that are all business related, that is of the church. And that is where it could become a slippery slope. And that often times people can feel this false sense of security that, okay, you’re the pastor and nothing bad’s gonna happen. You’re not gonna say anything inappropriate. I’m not gonna say anything appropriate. But that’s just not true. There’s many things that can go awry, unfortunately. And there are so many verbal or nonverbal nuances that can happen that you just cannot control. It’s impossible to control us as a human being. And so back to my notion that, you know, you can’t have one on one opposite sex friendships. That is why, but back to the question, there are many opportunities for the pastor to interact in group settings, I think that’s imperative to keep conversation with members of his team with some type of group elements. may that be designated maybe a room where there’s a roundtable and the pastor meets in there with, at least other to other people, I just, I, I’m a firm believer in living above reproach. I think as Christians, we have that responsibility to live above reproach, to go above and beyond what maybe society is doing to protect their relationships. And especially in the church context, where there’s oftentimes a false sense of security, we have to be on our guard. There was there was another pastor, Virginia, I’m like bashing Virginia now. And I don’t mean to do that. But there’s another pastor in Virginia, he got a new brand new motorcycle, and he brought it to church. And right after a church service, there was a large group outside and a woman asked a pastor, Can I ride on the back and she got on the back. They wrote around the block, he brought her back, she got off. And it was found out about two months later that they had had an affair. And they asked the pastor, like, when did you know? You know, when did you know that you were going to have an affair because he opened up about this. He’s very transparent. He said, Well, there were two moments. The first moment was the moment she touched me. That touch was electric, and just electrified me. And I knew that I would pursue an affair with her. And the second moment was when I went home and added her on Facebook, when I added her to social media, and started communicating with her, and that woman was actually a member of his staff, was actually a member of staff, that actually working in the children’s department, at that church. And so there’s just this line, there’s this you, we have to live by reproach, and we can’t fall into this false sense of security that a church is such, you know, it is a holy place. It is a holy place to worship God. But we are fallen men and women. And it is prideful to say that any places is a quote unquote, sanctuary from the inappropriate dealings of men and women, just as much evil can happen inside a church, as outside of church with regards to not stewarding well communication with the opposite sex.

Alex Enfiedjian 17:58 Should we suggest that the women have our teams be shepherded by another woman? If they have issues or need help? Should we point them to our spouses, or how should we Shepherd a woman on our team, point them to other females, once again, live above reproach, before an issue even arises, I would just, I would say, assign somebody, a mentor that is a female

Dr. Zack Carter 18:19 to have as a counselor, and that can be the mediator between the one young woman and the pastor. So for instance, you would have one woman of the staff and she would have a mentor, and then there would be a pastor in there. So if you’d ever have to meet with Pastor, you would meet with the mentor as well, so there’d be at least two women with the pastor meeting. And then that woman that’s mentoring the other woman, she would have a mentor of herself. It depends on the size of the church, obviously, of how well we could do this. But for a smaller church, I would definitely just direct issues, relational issues, spiritual issues, social issues to the husband, and if they’re single, if it’s such a small church, that small of a church, their friend and outside, opposite sex know you. There can never be a circumstance where it’s like, oh, there’s not enough women here. I think the pastor is just going to act as her mentor their one on one, they’re going to go out to breakfast or go out to lunch to talk things over. They’re gonna talk in their office, because affairs don’t just happen. There’s an alternate eight 910 steps in between people think you know, is that step one, it’s not as that step 10. It’s how you guard between steps one and 10. And how you protect your marriage, how you establish guidelines for interacting with opposite sex. That’s how you protect the marriage from it happening at step 10.

Alex Enfiedjian 19:30 That’s really good. Why don’t you talk a little bit about those defensive tactics? How do we defend our marriage? What boundaries should we have in place to guard ourselves from attractions and affairs

Dr. Zack Carter 19:39 or established firm guidelines with your spouse sit down have a face to face conversation. This cannot be assumed guidelines because one spouse may be thinking, what’s appropriate communication face to face and online and through texts, they may think differently than than their partner. It’s very important for the husband and wife to sit down to establish these ideas. Encouraged creating a Word document, something that you can reference down the road. Because this needs to be revisited from time to time. Now you don’t want to become so obsessed with it that you place obviously your spouse is an idol and become so possessive over other interactions. But if you know what you’re supposed to do to respect your spouse what the other one is expecting, you’re more likely for that relationship to be protected. And this needs to be revisited though at least, I’d say two to three times a year. So if you create a Word document, if you create these guidelines in a journal somewhere, sit down, if new expectations or new guidelines come up, if you have some issues that you see, maybe you moved, you’re in a new setting of some sort in your church, new school, or there’s a new person in your life or somebody making advances online, or if you want to create a new guideline that needs to be added to that. So it’s a living, breathing document that you want to establish,

Alex Enfiedjian 20:52 what are some of the guidelines, what would they be?

Dr. Zack Carter 20:55 Well, transparency, transparency, transparency, so with technology with phones, and having locks on our iPhones and androids, and so forth, have access to husband and wife should have access should know the code, share code, have the same code with regards to your phone, have the same passwords for your emails, for your social media. If you have separate accounts, which, in my humble opinion, there should not be separate social media accounts. That’s the drastic end of the spectrum. And I don’t think it’s wrong if you steward Well, if you can store it. Well, if you are very cognizant of the friends you have on social media to have separate accounts, it is possible to do that. But it’s when you have separate accounts and you have over 1000 friends and you’re friends with people from your past. Now, that’s when things go wrong. It’s when you have a strategic amount of friends on your list you’re not friends with past exes, you’re not friends with people at work, who are you know, maybe interested in you, it’s not people that maybe you know, you might be interested in, it’s being friends with very close quote unquote, face to face, friends and family when you’re on social media if you have separate accounts. Also when having interactions, let’s say through a text message or through an email and let’s say you have a separate email account, which I do encourage you know, joint private email accounts and oftentimes we can’t do that. I know my university account, it’s for privacy, I cannot see see my spouse but she does have access to my email accounts on my private computer at home. But when I do send emails from my private email, she is to see seed every time she is cc in those correspondences. And so she it that transparency isn’t just for her, but it’s for me, I know that every word I’m speaking, she is witnessing as well, providing her that transparency online then for me in trust. Personally, as I say, know myself, the way I perceive the world, it influences the way I interact face to face with women. So the more cognizant I am online, of seeing her allowing her to be see things on my phone, see things my email, my social media, etc, etc. The more cognizant I am, of when I’m away from her, when I’m at work, when I’m at the gym, when I’m at church, when at when, when I’m apart from her in any situation, when I’m at Starbucks, I have her more quote unquote, by my side, because I’m more cognizant of her in the digital world, it’s when we’re not cognizant of our spouse online, when things can go awry face to face, because we get online we can get a false sense of security of this is my space, this is my venue, my spouse does not need to be a part of it. That’s when we can disconnect from our spouse, and then it will, it will be seen in our face to face relationships with others. There’s something called a backdoor situation is when things happen. thing you tell your spouse, something that happened maybe two, two weeks ago, let’s say somebody advanced you at the gym, and they asked you out right? They bypassed your wedding ring, and they just went straight straight for and you waited to tell your spouse that’s a backdoor scenario and that you’re you didn’t tell them right away, you weren’t transparent with them. You didn’t come in the front door, the front door would have been telling them two weeks ago, five minutes after this opposites x person asked you out or had an advance or did something inappropriate same thing online, we get into a false sense of security with our online conversations that they have no face to face implications. And that’s false. That if somebody says something inappropriate to us on social media, somebody tries to talk to us emotionally or sexually or we do talk to somebody emotionally or sexually and you’re married, that we look at it as as fake as it’s just, it’s, we can delete the conversation and the conversation never happened. And that’s false because you’re harming your relationship or your spouse may never find out but you are detaching yourself from your spouse each time you have one of those conversations and it’s it’s it’s alarming and that I do have a theory because based on statistics based on divorce court readings, for instance, 75% of divorce courts today 75% state the word Facebook and the transcripts, the word Facebook, whether it was addiction to it or whether it was a lot of most of the time it’s affairs that came forth from it. I do have a theory that In our congregations out there in the church you look across on Sunday morning at all the couples out there, that’s, I say a large majority, I don’t say a statistic, but a large majority has had some type of inappropriate conversation through text or social media. May it be the extreme of sexual sexually explicit conversation, which there’s more the minority. What I’m talking about is the emotional, the emotional conversations that are happening online, that are happening through text that are happening between congregation to congregation member or congregation member to pastor from Pastor, the congregation member. And they’re not feeling as though it’s infidelity. They’re married, and they’re talking about the same topics with people, they’re not married with that they talk with their spouses, or they should talk to their spouses about,

Alex Enfiedjian 25:47 that’s really helpful. So there should be a differentiation between what we talked to our spouses with, and what we feel free to talk with others about, like our spouses should get the best of us and everyone else should get the rest of us. Amen. That’s, that’s the kind of cool little coin that you should take it and use it for your classes. I like it. Hey, so that’s the defensive side. And and I love what Craig Rochelle says about the defense, he says, We face a temptation tomorrow when you can eliminate it today. So now talk a little bit about the offensive side, like what are some I don’t know, the top three things that we can do to build into our marriages and protect them.

Dr. Zack Carter 26:30 You know, I first say as maybe cliche as it sounds, but invest in your spouse that is, invest in your spouse, communication. They say one of the number one reason people divorce today is lack of communication. People just aren’t talking, we’re not talking face to face. We’re sitting on our phones at home, we’re sitting on our iPads before we go to sleep. And we’re not kissing our spouses again, and we’re not praying over them. It’s invest it’s just talk is communicate. It’s making guidelines for when you you’re on your phone, when you’re on iPad, maybe not having your iPad or your phone in your room, you plug him in downstairs and you have an old fashioned alarm clock, you take these drastic steps to invest in your spouse, and that causes you to be more cognizant of your spouse when you’re apart from them when you’re interacting with the opposite sex in turn helping to protect your relationship from a defensive perspective. But another way is date night. I’m not just date night, I’m a firm believer with you know, once a week I know with me and my we, we have once a week, just her and I just on a Saturday, no matter what. But during the week, that’s when people forget I think the concept of day night is wonderful is terrific. Especially in the Christian community. It’s it’s catching on people like Okay, once a week no matter what. Whereas a Saturday or Monday we we set out some time. Every day there should be date time, you know a time where it’s just you and your spouse, where you sit down, there’s no technology, there’s no children, maybe it’s after they go to bed, if you do have children, just a time where you just reflect with one another love each other, hold each other love each other according to each other’s love language. A daily I mean, this can be 20 minutes, I mean, I’m all for longer than that. But it may just be at 20 minutes of just communicating, talking, you know, words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, whatever the love language is focus on that daily. Because I that’s definitely what we’re missing. I’d like to add that to that too. Like during the day. I think oftentimes I tell this to my students, I’m like youth, like I just hate social media and text messaging, but it’s just not true. I, I had the blessing of meeting my love of my life through eHarmony. So I have great admiration for online technology and the good it can have so manipulate technology for good with your spouse, that is bombard her with texts and bombard her with pictures. And bombard him attacks and bombard him with pictures on a daily basis when you can’t communicate vocally over the phone, social media as well. If you have separate accounts, communicate with them, only communicate with them privately, on social media or emails, just let them know that a lot daily, not just once a week, but daily so that you can show them that they’re loved. But also it keeps you cognizant of them psychologically. And that’s not that you’re gonna forget about your spouse. But the more that you are, the more you’re focusing on them, the less you’re focusing on that on the opposite sex that you’re talking to. We want to love them and interact with them and listen to what they say. But the less likely you will be thinking about Wow, they’re attractive. Wow, I would love to be alone with him to talk with them. Wow, I would love to become their Facebook friend or soldier because a lot of times we do that today, people when they first meet somebody, they think oh, how can I become friends with them on social media so that I can send them a private message. If that’s your first thought and you’re not investing your spouse you’re not going on the offensive of bombarding her or him throughout the day with love and affirmation.

Alex Enfiedjian 30:00 That’s good. It’s kind of like you really only have attention for one. So pick, pick the spouse. So a couple more questions here. What is the one common theme that you see in all affairs,

Dr. Zack Carter 30:11 one common thing I see in all affairs is that they all indicate. And I mean, all that I’ve ever seen in my research, at least, and in a lot of other research, but mine specifically is that they indicated that it could not happen to them before it happened. So that is, they always saw people who committed adultery, or committed infidelity, or talk appropriately on social media through texts, they always said that that would never be them. And I’ve looked at a significant amount of folks and the lie that people believe before they do it, it’s pride that is that that would never happen to them. Because it can happen to me. I could get online right now and talk to somebody and appropriately I can do it, we have to acknowledge that we can be these monsters, we can cheat on our spouse, when you acknowledge the truth. That is when you can set up guards, that is when you can inoculate yourself, right? It’s like giving a flu shot to someone to prevent against the flu. You tell yourself, this gonna happen to me. You’re going to set up parameters, you’re going to go on the defensive, you’re going to go on the offensive to protect your marriage. So the common theme across the board consistently, is that folks, men and women, young and old, feels that can’t happen to them, and thus, they don’t set up necessary safeguards before it happens to prevent.

Alex Enfiedjian 31:34 That’s awesome. Wow. Take note, everybody. The people who thought it couldn’t happen are the ones who did it. So we should have a humble heart. You know, I think about that, because people you and I, we got attracted to others many times before we were married, and putting a ring on our finger does not magically stop that process. Right? It’s not a ring is just a ring. And so I don’t know why we think it can’t happen. It can happen and it does. And so we have to set up guardrails. So what are some warning signs of potential attraction that people should be aware of? If they’re starting to like, notice certain feelings? What are some of the warning signs?

Dr. Zack Carter 32:12 Sure. Nonverbal communication nonverbals. Some people would call me an alarmist by saying what I’m about to say. But this is what we do unconsciously I gaze, touch, body language. All three of these nonverbals communicates desire can communicate desire. And we’ve all used them to our advantage, and to our disadvantage or advantage with regards to let’s say, the opposite sex, when you’re younger, and you’re trying to court someone, you may have done this with your spouse, you catch eye contact with them, right, and you look away, and then you look back back to see if she’s looking or he’s looking and then you catch our eye contact. Again, and you go and talk I mean, eye contact, the reason that we are such good communicators and God designed us physiologically like that white in our eyes that white celerra most animals don’t have that, right. They’re predators, their prey, they are not meant to communicate visually, but we are and so when we catch this wide solera we seek communication. So when you’re at work when your gym, eye contact is the first line of either Hey, come talk to me or Hey, stay away. And be mindful of that being mindful not to flirt with our eyes, be mindful of, of touch, touches electric, as I indicated that pastor who number of staff on the back of motorcycle and right when she touched him, she he knew that he would commit an affair, not to say that every person you touch, you’re gonna have an affair. But it’s that consistent touch. It’s that subtle touch, right? It’s it’s why babies, they say babies must be touched when they’re at a certain age in order to grow, literally grow. And many of us are leveling, which is tough. So if you’re leveling, which is touch, and you’re being touched often at work, and you’re finding yourself being attracted to that person touching you, you need to do find a larger proximity between you and them each time you speak.

Alex Enfiedjian 33:55 Yeah, and even like high fives and fist bumps are kind of what I try to do with the females on my team. You know, like,

Dr. Zack Carter 34:02 I like that. Yeah, I like that. That’s brilliant. It’s brilliant. It communicates Hey, we’re part of a team. Hey, you know I love you as a sister in Christ, but I’m not going any further than that. And it doesn’t only guard your heart but a guards their heart nonverbals are key online there’s a lack of nonverbals that’s why its text is so dangerous. There are two feather two types of nonverbals online and that is time and emoticon. So mo G’s were created to help convey part of the message all those smiley faces you received the chocolate server that looks like poop I don’t know which one it is though. different type of emojis that communicate with created but also time and that the more you spend talking to somebody online on social media, if you find yourself talking for 234 hours with the opposite sex on Facebook, that’s a red flag. I mean, the the nuclear power plant is about to self destruct and you need to get out. I mean that is that is time you are creating a moment You’re creating feelings inside either yourself or the other, you may be sitting there perfectly content on the other side of that computer interaction and feeling the whole I’m helping them, you know, have any attachment whatsoever. But what are they feeling? Right? You can’t speak to their heart, you can’t speak to what how they are attaching. So the time you spend in talking to somebody on social media can communicate desires emotionally and sexually.

Alex Enfiedjian 35:25 That gives a good point of like, we really need to be careful of the encouragement that we give to the females. Or if you’re a female listener to the opposite to like, especially though, like females take encouragement and care differently, I think then guys do and so if you’re texting encouragement, or emailing encouragement to a female team member, I guess I’m trying to say a couple things. One is we have to be very sensitive to our nonverbal communication to like really be have borders and guards up. Like, I don’t care if girls who want my wife think I’m a little bit stiff. I don’t care like they should. But But yeah, so the nonverbal thing we have to be aware of, but also, because texting and emails you can’t read into that we have, we probably shouldn’t encourage the opposite gender via those channels, because they can be misconstrued. Oh, no,

Dr. Zack Carter 36:17 I agree with you. 100%. And definitely in a in a church setting, you have staff under you, and they’re the opposite sex, and they may be communicating with you, if you’re a pastor, to some degree through text, I would immediately cut bait. If you want to communicate to the opposite sex, that you’re only available through a phone call. If somebody texts you have the opposite sex, pick up the phone and call them immediately. You don’t need to acknowledge, hey, I’m not going to text you because it’s not right. And you’re welcome to say, hey, out of respect to my spouse, I’m just going to talk to you on the phone, you won’t say that. But indirectly, if you do that, that’s gonna communicate to them, hey, we’re going to keep this relationship between us, or just over the phone or face to face. Because when you take things to text, when you take things too slowly, email or Facebook, you are basically you can look at social media text messaging as locking yourself in a private room with no windows locks on either side of the door. You’re basically you’re you’re asking for trouble.

Alex Enfiedjian 37:20 Yeah. So let’s go to the person who maybe is really listening, and they’re realizing that they’re in dangerous territory, or worse that they’ve crossed the line. Whether it’s an emotional affair or a physical affair, what advice would you give to someone who has realized that they’re in that space,

Dr. Zack Carter 37:40 cut bait, cut bait and run. More so than that, we owe responsibility to our to our spouses, to be transparent. We have responsibility to ask forgiveness to repent from our sin. Regarding I don’t care if it’s if it’s an emotional text messaging back and forth, or if you’re having sex with them, at your house when your spouse is gone. Either way, you need to ask, obviously, forgiveness from the Lord. First you need to repent and go to your spouse don’t have an honest dialogue. Because even if you haven’t committed sexual adultery, you committed adultery, the heart by disclosing communication on Facebook that typically are meant for your spouse. And you may feel as though I don’t need to tell my spouse because I think it’s just going to hurt them. That that’s selfish. That’s, that’s a selfish reason to not want to go before or your spouse to tell them what you’ve done wrong. The inner issues, though, of the self that can happen are just as damaging. That is, if you continue in your sin, you continue having these types of conversation, you say, Oh, I’m not hurting my spouse, I’m, I’m you know, they’re not going to find out, you’re hurting them because you’re disconnecting yourself from them. And so if you’re, if you’re having one on one, private text messaging with somebody, let’s say on on your church staff or somebody in your congregation, or if you’re on social media, and he’s not hurting my spouse, as I said, in the beginning, it’s impossible to keep up that emotional affair that you’re having, and be able to go home at night and look at your wife the same way that you did when you first married them. It’s impossible to disconnect mentally. When you are connecting with multiple people.

Alex Enfiedjian 39:26 Yeah, so cut the other person out. Basically unfriend them on Facebook, tell them you can’t text them anymore. You can’t talk to them anymore. You might even have to get a different job or move to a different church if it’s if it’s at that level. But you’re saying cut bait like,

Dr. Zack Carter 39:41 cut cut the cord? Yes, there’s nothing you shouldn’t be willing to do to preserve the sanctity of your marriage. any of that quitting your job, getting off social media unfriending people in the grand scheme of things in the grand scheme of eternity you unfriending somebody Not even a drop in the pot. I mean, I’d recommend blocking people to people that you can see if you’re one of those people that can break down abstraction are really good. And let’s say somebody from your past add you on Facebook, and it’s somebody that you are really interested in. block them Amelie block just blocked, because then it’s out of sight out of mind. They can’t send you a private message saying, hey, why didn’t you accept my friend request? And it discourages any conversation from beginning?

Alex Enfiedjian 40:29 The only the only way that somebody would be fighting? What we’re telling them to do right now is if they wanted to continue in sin, yes, that’s, that’s precisely, which would be sad. And I pray that none of our listeners are in that spot. Gosh, Zack, this has been, I feel like I could talk to you for two hours. But do you have any final words for our listeners?

Dr. Zack Carter 40:54 I think it would be just what just what you said, if you are currently, if you’re just a regular nine to five, or if you’re a pastor, if you’re a person in the congregation, you don’t go to church. If you’re having communication with the opposite sex, if you’re in, you’re married, and you’re doing this on Facebook, on text, and you’re feeling emotionally connected to them, similarly to how you work once connected with your spouse, trust me when I say there is devastation on the horizon, it may not be your marriage may not end, but you’re not going to have a happy marriage. Because even though your spouse may never find out, you will never be fully satisfied. Internally, you will there will always be a disconnect. You and your spouse that you can disconnect from the sin that you’re in

Alex Enfiedjian 41:37 fact, this has probably struck a chord with many people. And if they want to stay in touch with you, or reach out to you what would be some ways online that they can they can get to you?

Dr. Zack Carter 41:49 Well, not surprisingly, I’m actually currently not on social media. Um, and that’s something my, my fiance and I are still trying to work out what type of social media we’re going to have. If we’re going to have it, I would say university email probably would be the most appropriate.

Alex Enfiedjian 42:06 So they can go they can go to Taylor university.edu and find your professor bio there.

Dr. Zack Carter 42:12 Yep. On the Communication Department, faculty page. Yep. I have big old smiling goofy picture, or in my email right below. It’s

Alex Enfiedjian 42:20 awesome. Zach, thank you so much for your time, we treasure it. And it has been a blessing to many people. Thank you for the opportunity, Alex, I appreciate it.

Alex Enfiedjian 42:33 Wow, I hope you will take action on the content of this episode. I hope it won’t just leave your playlist and not make a difference. But I would encourage you send it to your spouse, listen to it with your spouse, sit down and talk to your spouse, and send it to every ministry leader that you know because we’re all in danger of this. Send it also to someone who you think may be on the edge of an inappropriate relationship. I just pray that God would use this content in a really powerful way in your life. So thanks for listening. Again, be sure to check out our recommended product Planning Center at planning dot center. And I’ll see you next month for our worship leader roundtable discussion of wise boundaries with the opposite sex. God bless you guys. Talk to you.