Marines.Together We Served

Monday, June 12, 2006

Las Vegas Lament

Commercials are designed to sell the public on something they probably do not need in the first place. When it comes to the recent string of television commercials touting the many pleasures that await in Las Vegas, well, your imagination can get the better of you. It’s tantalizing stuff.

The Las Vegas theme says, “What happens here stays here.” Interpretation: Come and play to your hearts delight and nobody ever needs to know. No doubt you’ve seen some of these advertisements. The most recent one shows a woman unpacking her suitcase. Her husband sheepishly ventures into the bedroom and says something like, “So you and your girlfriends had a good time?” Looking panicked, she grabs several items from her bag and says how much fun they had shopping, holding them up for her husband to see. He seems to accept this remark, and walks back out of the room. His tone of voice and body language suggest he’s not convinced. The camera is now on his wife. She sighs with relief, obviously having dodged telling the truth about her Las Vegas escapades. A soothing male voice-over intones the mantra, “What happens here stays here.”

This is all a very clever advertising campaign, but it is utterly destructive to any relationship. Every relationship in life is based upon the premise of trust. It is the cornerstone for a relationship between people, businesses, nations and God. Without trust nothing of significance would ever be accomplished or attained.

During my time as a Navy chaplain, one command I served with was a ship that was always underway. Of the twenty-seven months I was ship’s chaplain, our ship was gone from home port for twenty of those months. It was common to hear sailors talk about the various ports we were likely to visit. Most ports cater to man’s baser nature. Prostitution, alcohol, and an endless array of deviant activities are right there for the taking. The standard explanation from a married sailor for engaging in such behavior was passed off with a flippant comment that went like this: “What my wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” Sounds like the Las Vegas lament to me!

My wife, Isaura, told me that when the ship would sail out of home port, many of the wives would head right for the base club to hook up with some sailor who wasn’t deployed. I saw many marriages disintegrate during these times. Then there were those who were found out, either because rumors got around that so-and-so was seen visiting a place that a married man should not be visiting, or because their consciences wouldn’t let them rest, or because they brought home a sexually transmitted disease that they then passed on to their spouse. Such surprises do not make for happy homes. I can tell you, it was no fun sitting down with a man who realized the tragic mistake he’d made in believing he could play around and not be caught. “Chaplain, what do I do now?” is the Las Vegas lament. I remember the smug look on that same face when we pulled into a foreign port. Sitting across from me after having been found out, the smugness is gone now.

In an attempt to battle the forces of temptation, I used to invite the men to go on liberty with me. I assured them they would have a good time, that they’d remember what they did, and that it was something they could tell their wives and children about when they got home. Many accepted the invitation. I only wish more had done so.

It’s important to remember that such misbehavior does not go unnoticed. It causes a strain in the relationship even if neither spouse knows of the other’s unfaithfulness. It creates an atmosphere of distrust which will inevitably bring pressure on the marriage to the point where it will simply implode.

The Bible says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction.”

The number of marriages that are destroyed because of the deceptive thinking that you can get away with being unfaithful is known to God alone. Just as God is faithful in his love for us, we are to be faithful in our love for our spouse. Such commitment and trust makes for a solid marriage that is capable of weathering the worst storms of life. It’s also the kind of relationship everyone longs for.

Don’t be deceived by the Las Vegas lament. It’s not worth the moment of pleasure, and the price is too costly. But, then again, the perpetrators of sin in Las Vegas really don’t care what happens to you. They don’t have to go home with you!

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