While there have been some very useful insights posted to this message thread, I nonetheless feel compelled to amplify my initial response above in view of some of the comments made by SmokedSalmon, Jack17, and FormerCatholic.
I am reminded here of that wonderful story in the Gospel of Matthew where Peter walks on the water towards Jesus (cf. Mt 14:30). Peter’s exclusive focus on Christ is what enables him to do what would be otherwise impossible. As the story continues, the winds pick up and the waves become more intense. Peter begins to shift his focus from Jesus to his surroundings, and at that very moment he begins to sink into the sea and he must cry out to the Lord to save him. This is, I think, a very poignant illustration of our need to keep Christ at the center of our attention. When we don’t, we lose sight of the only one who can keep us from sinking into the proverbial abyss. We are meant to see ourselves and our lives though the lens of Peter’s experience. With that in mind, I think any discussion of adultery and sexual fantasies that does not focus squarely upon Jesus and his teachings is doomed at the outset.
First of all, let’s consider Jesus’ treatment of the woman caught in the act of adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11). If we read the passage closely, we find that Jesus does not condemn her, but rather he sends her on her way with the admonishment to go and sin no more. Thus, we have no right to condemn twhite (Taylor) for what she is struggling with, for who among us is in a position to cast the first stone? Who among us has not entertained sexual fantasies from time to time? But notice the second half of Jesus’ admonishment, to go and sin no more. We are all of us set free by Christ, but we are obligated to make every effort to stop the thoughts, actions, and omissions that got us into trouble in the first place. Thus, it is not simply a matter of going out to nightclubs with one’s spouse, or cruises to the Bahamas, or spicing things up in the bedroom as Jack17 proposes above, nor is it a matter of adopting some twisted, Orwellian police state, with sixty-hour workweeks and bread lines as SmokedSalmon suggests. Both of these “solutions” miss the point entirely because they completely ignore the underlying issue, which is that our sexuality, while good, and God-given, needs to be properly ordered so that we might be happy. That, after all, is the whole point. God wants us to be happy. Go back and read Taylor’s initial post; she’s not happy. The fantasies she is dealing with are tearing her up inside, and that’s not what God wants for her, or any of us.
Secondly, let’s consider what Jesus had to say about sexual fantasies (cf. Mt 5:28). As above, read the passage and its surrounding context carefully. Notice that he makes no distinction between looking at someone in lust (which is a condition of the mind and heart) and actual physical adultery (which is a condition of the body). That’s because the two are essentially the same in spirit.
Now, one might say that fantasies are a harmless means of introducing some imagination into a relationship, as FormerCatholic has done above. Certainly that’s what the larger culture would have us do. There is a distinction to be made, though, between simply noticing the beauty of another person while out in public, and finding that person attractive, and fantasizing about that person intensely in private. Again, read the tenor or Taylor’s initial post. For her, this isn’t a passing thought like some guy she happened to see at the zoo, but rather an intense and profound longing that is being nurtured through sexually-charged imagination and, if you read her other posts elsewhere on this site, persistent masturbation. I’m not condemning her; I understand the struggle. I’m simply trying to counter some of the really ****** advice that’s been offered by some above. Taylor is really struggling and trying to save her marriage, and all some people want to do is tell her to put on some sexy underwear (Jack17).
Even worse, some, like FormerCatholic, seem to be encouraging the very sin Jesus warned against:
In the words of an extremely hard-core-Catholic, devotedly monogamous neighbor man who is a father and grandfather, and whom we observed watching the pretty girls walk by through the park on a Sunday afternoon:
“It doesn’t matter where you work up an appetite, as long as you only eat at home!”
Well, frankly, yes…
The thing about fantasy is that it is exactly fantasy… and a little fantasy, a little imagination, is what it takes to keep the home fires burning.
Well, frankly, no….
No matter how “hard-core-Catholic” the man in question may be, ultimately it is Christ’s opinion that matters the most. The origins of our appetites do matter. Imagination is fine when it is ordered to the good of the spouse and I would agree that married couples should introduce a healthy sense of variety and playfulness into their sex life together, but when imagination and fantasy are ordered to the sexual infatuation with another person outside the marriage then that’s a problem. More often than not, such fantasies lead to other things. Most extramarital affairs get started with, as FormerCatholic puts it, “a little imagination.”
Consider instead Christ’s words in Mark 7:20-22. Here, Jesus tells us that what comes from within (i.e., fantasies) do matter because they lead to all kinds of evils. Now, Mr. “hard-core” says, “It doesn’t matter where you work up an appetite, as long as you only eat at home!” Oh really? Has he thought the matter through? If it really doesn’t matter where our desires come from, then that covers a lot of ground doesn’t it? Surely he wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that if a man gets aroused by images of child pornography, that it’s all okay as long as he has sex with his wife afterwards. Nope. The origins of our appetites do matter, and they matter a great deal because they can lead to all sorts of problems.
Again, God wants us to be happy, and we can only be truly happy when we order our desires and appetites to His divine plan. May God bless Taylor and all of us with the grace to so order our lives.