13 Feb 2015

Love, sex and The Marriage

In one conversation with a young adult about marriage, she was honest enough to say that while she wasn't crazy about settling down; she did wish to experience sex.

She is still single today; and I am glad she is living purposefully.

But society has made sex such a big deal, and such a cheap thrill.

Even while we still shift uncomfortably in our chairs and blush at this topic, the world has charged ahead to accuse us once again of being priggish, prudish and behind-the-times. Faith is for old ladies with knitting needles, not hot-blooded gals and guys. Not only that, our whole one man-one woman arrangement is outmoded and o so restrictive!

So today, we need to talk about sex, for these reasons:
1. sex has become synonymous with Love in our media.
2. sex is not properly wowed about

In our day of self-fulfillment at practically any cost, those of us who believe that sex is a holy thing properly handled in suitable places and ready hearts are made to feel backed into a corner and have to explain ourselves! We are the accused -- our broad and grand ways in Christ are made to be narrow and old-fashioned and we are labeled fear-mongers.

But I think my little parenting wisdom works here too: like I teach my kids, if you are right, you don't bother getting angry.

We work with our script and guard it. Not let some thief come in and rip it up.

Let's return to point 1: sex = Love. The equation is clearly flawed. Love is far more than sexual intimacy (& intimacy ala Hollywood's sizzle).
Ask the couple who struggles to consummate but have stayed married. 
Or the couple that no longer can due to illness, imprisonment or abandonment. 
Ask those who had a go but have since been let go because a wilder body walked by. 
See the unlikely couple who is now going to have a second boy. (this world-class guy-without-limb Nick V).
nick 's family last year

Sex is a gift so powerful we unwrap it too early and wrong to our peril. Ps Scott Sauls puts it this way:
God put guardrails around sex because sex is the most delightful, and also the most dangerous, of all human capacities. It is a transcendent, other-worldly experience. Sex works a lot like fire. On one hand, fire can warm and purify. On the other hand, if not contained properly and handled with care, it can burn, leave permanent scars, infect, and destroy. So it is with sex. I have seen this play out in scores of pastoral situations over the years. “There is a way that seems right to a man,” says the sacred Proverb, “but in the end it leads to death.”

The Bible describes sex as an interchange of two souls within the boundaries of a marriage between a man and a woman. It is meant to be a physical expression (and not the only expression) of our human longing and experience for love. And this particular expression is a fire that must be lit only when one is mature enough to be committed to handle the fire that it is: you do not walk from a fire as it can burn things down.

So, the larger thing is the Marriage. And that is the real Wow.

For those who fight for their right to marry whoever they love and want to commit to; their frame of reference is self, love and sex. The marriage arrangement is plagiarized in order to become mainstream.(and if we out ourselves in the shoes of those who have been the target of venom and deep prejudice, we would empathise). But it goes to show that --

Marriage is the real wow.  Whether arranged by elders or the outcome of a pursue-response of two who felt drawn to each other... or even the political outcomes of a lobby for reasons ideological and economic, marriage remains for many a state to be much desired.  So whether you entered it to become like the others, to escape, to grow up, to move on.... All married people soon hit a fog almost impenetrable. It is so much more and way too little at the same time. Yes it has taken us millennial to uncover this and we may never fully figure it out - because even Paul, enlightened by the Spirit only manages to say this much: it's a mystery folks.
We had paternalistic models that we balk at today. Thankfully many societies have moved beyond that and Jesus' treatment of women was most instructive and catalytic towards this huge sea change. Yes there are many marriages that do not shine or even survive. Yes, you and I may not have an easy go at it for many reasons including the intrinsic difference between the genders which can make union challenging.

But that the realities are broken shards does not mean the actual Vase did not exist before. It just means someone broke the Vase. And since we no longer have that pristine Vase, frankly, we're all a bit lost! But the answer is not to each grab a shard and cut ourselves till we bleed for our sense of mastery of the mystery. No, we take the shard we have and we imagine the Vase while we appreciate the shard!

This imagination is what we need.

a surprising rainbow and its glow on a dark evening - the whole rainhow is in your mind

What would happen if we could recover Love and Marriage for the grand vision that we glimpse from revelation? 

"What if we  shifted our emphasis toward THE MARRIAGE to which all other marriages are but a shadow—the mystical union between Jesus and his bride, the Church, which is inclusive of believing husbands and wives, as well as widows and widowers, divorcees, and other unmarried men and women? According to sacred Scripture, no matter what one’s marital status or sexual orientation, the first moment of trust in Jesus makes that person as married and complete as s/he will ever be. From our first moment of faith, Jesus is our Bridegroom and we are his Bride." (Scott Saul)

What if we thought and started to feel along these lines? Those of us married, longing to, unable to, not yet ready to... 

We would cultivate our hearts and coach our lives towards the purity, passion and purpose that Christ deserves.

The longings of our hearts and the yearning of our souls which are satisfied when we commune and unite with God is what this marriage picture is about. it is about lives reconciled and at peace with God. It is about hearts on fire with passion for God. It is about time, talent and tools all directed for the purposes of God. This is what lovers feel - the desire to join, and this is what the sex act does.

At the heart of all of life is our need to return to God, to be united with Him. We did not just go through a status change, much less a change in our habits or lifestyles alone. We underwent an essential change of DNA. The Western church with its rationalistic mindset is not so familiar with this way of seeing or saying things. But Paul talks about it from various ways:
But he who is joined to the LORD is one spirit with Him ~ 1 Corinthians 6v17 (NKJV)
...put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of is Creator ~ Colossians 3v10 (RSV)

The new DNA opens up our original need and longing for God. Some of us feel it more keenly in nature and beauty. Walking among the trees and feeling the wind gently on our cheeks awaken something in us and we come alive. Some of us gravitate towards ideals and strong causes and are energized as we pursue just actions. Others of us enjoy quietly making notes and marking our trails....behind it all is Love's creation of us and drawing us to His naturally inclusive, embracing reality. Our desire for love is a response to the call of Love. And it does not take marriage (and sex) to respond.

You are loved my friend. 

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