The September Ensign ran an article warning of the marital danger when one spouse has a close friend of the opposite sex. First Thessalonians 5:22 was cited to caution LDS members to avoid the appearance of evil. Even though the footnotes in the LDS NT identify the Greek word for “appearance” as actually “kinds,” the KJV mistranslation is regularly quoted in conference addresses and offical Church publications. I object to citing this mistranslation as doctrine—not because I’m interested in cheating on George—even assuming I could find someone willing to accommodate my indiscretion—but because that erroneous message creates rather than resolves problems of human relationships.
One-dimensional thinking about male/female relationships results in a constipated fear that married persons should never interact with a member of the opposite sex alone. Unless a person works for a unisex business, this mindset makes the workplace difficult or at least inconvenient. One morning George left for work without noticing the flat tire on my car. When I rushed out the door to head for school and saw the tire, I knew I didn’t have time to try my hand at fixing the flat and I was too late to catch a colleague who lived nearby. My principal lived about a mile north of our house and didn’t arrive as early as we teachers. I called to ask him to swing by and pick me up. He hemmed. He hawed. He asked if I couldn’t call one of the teachers already at school to drive back and pick me up. What was his problem? My house wasn’t more than a couple of minutes out of his way. Finally, he agreed to stop for me. Later, it occurred to me that since he was the bishop of his ward, he must have thought it improper to pick up a teacher for a two-mile ride to school even though the teacher was 20 years his senior and resembled his mother more than a potential girl friend. Maybe I should have been flattered that he feared somebody might mistake me for a cougar.
But back to the Ensign article. I think the author missed the point. Cross-gender friendships don’t threaten a marriage. Lack of friendship between husband and wife threatens a marriage. Spouses who are happy at home seldom stray no matter how green the surrounding pastures. And even the most saintly Saint may attach romantic feelings to another party if her own marriage isn’t satisfying. A Relief Society president in my former ward confessed to having been attracted to a married man with whom she worked. Only the thought of the devastation she would cause her children brought her back from the brink of transgression. While I don’t normally condone marital infidelity, I would have made an exception for Sherry—because she’s married to Lamar—the kind of guy who walks around like he’s just keistered the iron rod—all of it. For the sake of their children, I’m glad Sherry didn’t cheat on Lamar. But for her sake, I hope he dies first and leaves her a little time for a fling with a fun guy.