We don’t automatically choose faithfulness to God in the face of insurmountable temptation simply because we are Christians. I suspect making the difficult choice is possible after a lifelong habit of yielding to the Spirit in smaller decisions. Then, when more challenging decisions come our way, we are prepared.
Would you say you are faithful to Christ? When it comes to doing something you desperately want—but is biblically immoral—do you still do it? This isn’t a question only for you. I ask it of myself, too. I’d like to think I’d remain faithful even when it’s not convenient or expedient to do so. This weekend I was reminded of the fictional story of Jane Eyre, and it made me wonder whether I have the moral fortitude to always do what is right.
Nineteenth century author Charlotte Brontë weaves a romantic rags-to-riches tale of an orphan girl who becomes the governess at Mr. Rochester’s home and eventually falls in love with him. Her dreams come true when they pledge to wed each other, but she’s surprised when—at the altar—someone reports Mr. Rochester is already married. It turns out his wife is still alive but has become mentally ill, self-destructive, and insane. Mr. Rochester justified marrying Jane because he no longer considered himself married to his first wife.
Jane, of course, is devastated to discover this news. Being a faithful Christian, she can’t in good conscience marry Mr. Rochester. She holds him accountable to the sacred vows he pledged to his wife.
Not to let a charming and intelligent woman escape him, Mr. Rochester attempts to win Jane back. He does everything to persuade her to live with him. Jane could be his mistress and they could live happily ever after.
Jane describes the crushing temptation to give in to Mr. Rochester’s plea:
I was experiencing an ordeal: a hand of fiery iron grasped my vitals…. Not a human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better than I was loved; and him who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped.
You can feel Jane’s grief and pain. Marrying Mr. Rochester is everything that she could ever want at that moment.
Jane continues to express her turmoil:
My very conscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. They spoke almost as loud as Feeling: and that clamored wildly. “Oh, comply!” it said…. “Soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?”