Category Archives: Marriage

Return to Respect for the Marriage Bed

I am appalled when I hear of a young married man and woman being asked to spend nights apart because of ministry duties.

God created human society. At humanity’s core is the intimate relationship between man and wife.  It is the nucleus of the relationship between man and woman; it is the Big Bang which creates the family; it is the center of all human relationship. Church, village, nation, world–all human society springs concentrically from the source of this physical/spiritual union between man and wife.

God designed the marriage relationship as a human mirror of His most intimate, unconditional and expressive love. His love for His Bride.

The marriage bed is respected and set apart — or made sacred — by God the Creator. Have we bought into the world’s evaluation of married sexual relationships? The newly married couple–wink wink–now can have some legal fun. No big deal if they have to put other priorities before this bit of self-indulgence.

No, no, no. This is what God has to say in His Word about married sex:

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Hebrews 13:4

Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Proverbs 5:15

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. Malachi 2:15

God designed the first years of marriage as a special time when a couple nurtures and builds their love. He knows that physical expression binds the two together in a connection so close that we can hardly comprehend. It is a mystical union meant to reflect the faith, constancy and intense affection that He has for us. It is how we seal the ownership of one another, heart, body and soul. It is a time to develop a new wordless language unique to each relationship. It takes time, intentional effort, and self-sacrifice.

But I’m in a struggling ministry and I’m needed, you say. If you are married, you will never have another ministry which supersedes your marriage. It is your Number One Ministry Priority. The cultivation of your marriage as an expression of God’s gift, and its maintenance as a representative of God’s unbounded love, far surpasses any other ministry goals over time.

We are here to represent God to a world which needs Him. We are here to love God through loving (verb) His other human creations. How better to do that than to live out a marriage as He designed, since your marriage is an example of how God loves each of us?

The marriage bed is not to de slighted. It is the far more important than the world knows. Let’s be the ones who respect the marriage bed. The freedom of the married man and woman, particularly the newly married couple, to cultivate this most vital foundation—unhurried, unhampered, undistracted—should not be infringed by anyone. No one should tempt a newly married man or woman away from the marriage bed, from the right to spend private time together overnight in their own home. The marriage bed takes precedence over other relationships. The marriage bed comes far before any other ministry responsibilities.

And no man, and no woman, having recently married, should submit to a request to spend an overnight apart from his or her spouse. To do so is to slight the other, and the marriage, and the Lord who sealed your union.

How do I know? This is what God has to say on the subject of young marriage:

“When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken.” Deuteronomy 24:5

God is not winking and nudging at honeymoons. He does not think the man and wife self-indulgent who enjoy their new intimacy. Even our Creator respects the marriage bed and tells us that it is of first priority over virtually all others.

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Who Will Stand?

We are lost in an unfamiliar town. We are–all–looking for familiar reference points. But in our search for home, we are only getting more lost.

The world where we grew up is long gone. The world we felt we had mastered as adults is past. The world we recognized as changing quickly–but still secure–is quickly vanishing. The world you depended on just last year, obliterated by a furious need for quixotic social micromanagement, gone.

The culture of the left is imploding. Hollywood, no longer content with lecturing the Man and its audience, has turned its newfound strident sanctimony inward and is cannibalizing itself.

And the sanctimony will not be satisfied until every molecule of what we called culture–sports, entertainment, social media–is policed, weighed, and certainly found wanting. According to whose scale no one really knows.

Many commenters left and right have observed that progressive culture is eating itself as well. Upholding unexamined faith in a hundred contradictory premises is exhausting. The political left is splitting into increasingly smaller and increasingly self-important factions. Substitute tribes for families, congregations, and communities–and you get war.

Washington culture is sick and highly contagious. The political right is ineffectual because it is complicit.

Some on the right may cheer the downfall of the culture of the left. But let’s think about this for just a minute. What will replace it?

If it is true that our progressive elites are going down, if we are about to enter a new paradigm…what will that be? If it is true that the chickens have come home to roost, that the world that the change agents worked for is unsustainable, that the practically-atheist context is about to collapse under its own weight of illogic and to vanish in its thin moral vapor…

Are we who watched and shook our heads and abstained, we who prayed and criticized from the margins, we who talked good games about the world we would prefer…are we prepared to come into the vacuum and be what we were meant to be?

We gratefully accepted those margins because that little space gave us cover. It’s much easier to feel righteous when you can shake your heads at the unrighteous from the CCM-approved safe space.

Are we, the faithful, ready to take dominion over the earth, not in any political or socially-engineered sense, but as living representatives of the Creator? The people whom He has redeemed and called His own, the people who are called by His name, the people who He has commanded to represent who He is to an uncomprehending world—we have a calling. And it may be that, instead of hiding our lights under bushels in our contemporary Christian ghetto, we will soon have an opportunity to refresh the culture with His presence.

Are we ready?

 

 

Wife Receiver, Part 2

Wife Receiver

Men. You like football! You think about sports all the time. Maybe you should think about your wife a little. Think of her as a football. Don’t leave her laying on the Astroturf; hold her next to your ribs on one side.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of creature is making editorial decisions. If my husband uses “porcupine” and “pigskin” in one sentence in which I’m the subject, and then sends out the video for all the world to see, I’m filing for divorce.

How did we get here? You start walking down a hall to get to some place. The hall goes on and on, it turns and meanders. You lose sight of your destination. You vaguely forget where you came from. You keep adjusting your context. Eventually you’re creating a pseudo-reality almost completely disconnected from where you began, or from the reality outside the hall.

The Christian media culture is desperately irrelevant. This is cultural dementia. A piece of video like this actually speaks to almost no one. But the tropes are so deeply etched in the unexamined narrative that they take on a kitschy facsimile of reality. Something once real was conformed to the trendiest version of popular culture, stylized again and again, frozen in trope and repeated for a couple decades until it seemed like truth.

Dementia creates its own narrative, tenuously connected to reality. Hunks of memory are lost, the blanks are desperately filled in with invented content, accommodations are made to the newly invented parts. This cultural narrative is deconstructed and postmodern at its core.

We could study the regression of the sitcom husband over the last 60 years from all wise father to dumb self-absorbed fratboy-in-recovery (recovery supplied by long-suffering bitchy wife). Sometime in the 90’s, translate that caricature to the Christian media culture. Plunk that boy down in “teaching” videos and  use him as a don’t-be example. Then have famous sports figures and media-culture leaders themselves assume the caricature in confession sessions meant to relate and instruct all their bros, who are assumed to have the same issues that swollen-headed celebrities do.

How many times am I to be “taught” how to be married by someone who nearly wrecked his marriage? I was an adult responsible for my actions but I chose to be a complete jerk to my wife for 25 years. But then I suddenly understood something obvious. Learn from me.

Those are your problems, buddy. My husband never fell for such stupidity. Why don’t we hear from people who’ve had good marriages all along? Might they not have some wisdom?

I think the essence of marriage is that you do not “come at” one another. My husband is the one person in all the world whom I can expect will be with me, on my side. If, in your marriage, someone is still coming at someone, you have not earned the right to instruct me on marriage.

The Christian media culture requires little any more but a very, very simple analogy to go to the presses or the cameras. When this one appeared in my Facebook newsfeed I knew I had to speak up. They’re getting worse– insultingly dumb, almost completely lacking substance, and in this case, difficult to find useful.

What can this analogy mean? How is one to apply this piece of wisdom? Should you compare your wife to a tightly stretched pigskin filled with air? Should you express your love by running up a field with her, forcefully knocking people over if they come close? Should you pass her to another receiver so he can get her over the goal?

Is there some mystical knowledge about “receiving” the ball that only your sportball brotherhood understands?

My husband suggests: Finally! Now I can be a wife receiver! I can’t wait to tuck you under my arm and cross the goal line, then watch the place kicker boot you through the uprights for the extra point! YAY!!!

Football is pretend war. It’s a game; it is not designed to reflect real life. As such, it does not seem a fitting place to find analogies for marriage.

But the worst thing about the marriage support media stuff is that it has bought into the unbelieving world’s premises. It teaches compromise and patching-up for a relationship seen as intrinsically combative. God has made married men and women one flesh, uniquely united in a way no other human relationship is.  The ideas promoted here serve to  sustain division where we ought to be promoting unity.

 

 

 

Simple Advice

Be honest about what you ultimately want from your life. This is tricky because we’re dishonest with ourselves about this. And when we’re young we think there’s endless time and endless opportunity to change direction.

But time passes so quickly, along with opportunity.

If you want to look back at your life from the end and see a happy home and family of your creation in partnership with a person of the opposite sex, do not pussyfoot around with politically-correct posturing through your twenties and thirties. Stop trying to impress your peers and social media contacts. Get to work looking for that partner and developing yourself into a person who can create that home.

Decide what you really want from life. Shut out all the other voices around you and think about what you would regret not having done when it’s too late. Too late comes much faster than you expect.

If that’s the career of your dreams, go for it. If it’s public significance and gravitas, go for it. If it’s purpose without recognition, go for it.

If it’s a lifetime working together, shoulder to shoulder, with the person you admire and respect most in the whole world, go for it. Get to work.

Is there a person in your life who is kind, dependable, willing to commit to you? Do you think this person will support you through life’s rocky road? What more do you need?

If it’s you standing at a sink of dishes with a toddler or two roaming around wrecking havoc, go for it. If it’s watching your kids become unique and valuable human beings who better the world by their presence, go for it.

None of the options will just happen. You have to be intentional about what you pursue. Yes, sometimes things mysteriously fall into place, and God does drop things in our laps. But we must be able to discern those things as gifts, and not devalue them and throw them away.

I’m afraid we throw away gifts like garbage all the time.

Do we imagine that God’s methods, the ways he designed us to actualize those chances, are too outmoded for our enlightened times? What pride.

We are made for relationship. There is not one thing on earth more significant than building good relationships. The question is: what kind of relationships do you want as you walk through your life? How deep, how lasting? What will you have when it’s too late to change direction?

 

Marriage is Enormously Beneficial No Matter How You Come to It

It’s Possible: Gays and Lesbians Can Have Happy Marriages by Doug Mainwaring

Striking down man-woman marriage laws on the basis of constitutional discrimination would thus send a message to the same-sex attracted that there is only one choice for them, that man-woman marriage is unattainable, that they are acting against their nature for desiring it, and that pursuing it will be dangerous for them, their spouses, and their children.

But the opposite is true. The man-woman definition of marriage is not an insult; it is an ensign, beckoning to anyone—regardless of sexual orientation—that the union of a man and a woman is of unique significance in light of its procreative power and complementary capacity.

The man-woman definition of marriage—conjugal, complementary marriage—is an ensign not because it is just a good idea, or the best among many. It is a bright ensign because it is the truth, undeniably displayed in nature and in each of our physical beings. We are made male and female, as complements to each other. And when male and female come together, they unite as one flesh. When two males or two females attempt to join together sexually, they remain two males or two females. To base marriage solely on romantic or sexual interests requires averting our minds from easily discernible truth.

Equality is a Quality of God’s Design for Marriage

If God-designed marriage’s nucleus is the unique one flesh relationship, then God designed marriage to be a relationship of equals. Here is my proof-text:

 …Each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband.

In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  I Cor 7: 2-5:

Here we see total equality and parity. Both people are equally accountable to render to the other (nothing less than) his/her body, and it is to be done freely and consensually. Both benefit equally.

(I like these two definitions of parity: 1. the quality or state of being equal or equivalent. 2. the symmetry of behavior in an interaction of a physical entity (as a subatomic particle) with that of its mirror image…)

And please notice: here the roles are exactly the same.

What else do we see?  Clear suggestions of ownership. Like this:

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;

for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.

It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.

If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love,

it would be utterly scorned. 

Song of Solomon 8: 6-7

Yes please, that kind of ownership. My seal on your heart is a sign that your heart is mine, and only I may break that seal to open. My seal on your arm is a sign to the world that you belong to me. And your seal on my heart means my heart is yours, and only you may break that seal to open. Your seal on my arm is a sign to the world that I belong to you.

This ownership is irrevocable. This love is absolute. It is not a love which is measured in quantity, as in how much do you love? Do you love enough? It is a love that either is or is not. It is as absolute as death and the grave, as inevitable, as unyielding, as eternal.

We also see words like authority and duty. But the authority is mutual; don’t we owe one another something real in such a relationship?

What does our culture’s wisdom tell us?  That even here, especially here in traditional or Biblical marriage, is a negotiation of an intrinsically unequal relationship. Man: patriarch/oppressor, woman: victim/subservient. We must resign ourselves to an inevitable power struggle. And that God invented patriarchy and subservience!

Nonsense. The Corinthians passage was written to first-century A.D. believers in Jesus Christ, long after the fall of man. As such, it confirms God’s original intent for marriage and tells us that we may still possess that graceful, perfect union that He made for us.  In the midst of a fallen and broken world we can live in real equality and true harmony.

What do we make, then, of these passages?

…and you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.
 Genesis 3:16

The husband is the head of the wife. Ephesians 5:23

From Ephesians 5:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—  for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

The passage containing “For the husband is the head of the wife” begins with “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The first appears to be an expression of inequality and submission, but the topic sentence is an expectation of equal submission, mutual deference, mutual humility. There is no contradiction, only context.

Then in Genesis 3, we see God the Father explaining to Adam and Eve that their choice to sin will result in a chronic power struggle as each one contends for his own interest instead of living for the other. This was not a command; it was a prediction.

God’s predictions: men will raise crops successfully but they will have to sweat and strive for the increase. Women will bear babies in joy, but first will come pain and anguish. The spiritual death you have chosen must manifest in physical death, else humans’ destructiveness to one another will be endless.

I’ve invented for you a mutually loving, mysteriously interdependent, incomparably intimate relationship, but instead you will choose to strive, alone, against one another.

Women will selfishly try to control their husbands, and men will selfishly assert their power over their wives. Each will contend against the other for his and her own desires at the other’s expense, instead of living in the sublime harmony He planned for them.

We always, always do exactly what God predicted. It’s like he knows.

More testaments in the Word of God suggest that mutuality and equity are His ideal.  Many of these passages are directed to all in the community of believers. Wouldn’t they necessarily apply to those within that community who have committed to marriage?

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15: 12-13

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 12:8

Here also we see mutuality and equality.

Do we buy into our culture’s misinterpretation? In the evangelical church, we often substitute media-marketed counsel for true personal guidance and we find no end of this sort of stuff: Look at the dopey man; he just doesn’t “get” it. He’s just like clueless Adam, am I right? Men-just don’t be like him. Husbands, taking out the trash counts as foreplay!

And women, the most important thing you can do for your husband is show him respect by forcing yourself to have sex with him when you don’t feel like it!

These “Christian” marriage seminars, courses and books repeat the shallow lie that marriage is a constant struggle for compromise between two people who can never understand each other. They offer only a band-aid, a self-help guide for navigation through the unequal status quo, an eternal negotiation between doomed competitors– rather than two creatures of the same flesh, one created out of the other, who find their fulfillment in belonging together.

Grace upon grace! Even though the world is fallen, even though we are fallen, we still have access to that ideal that God designed.

 

 

Extinguishing Everything

Rendering the Sexed Body Legally Invisible: How Transgender Law Hurts Women

Nothing surprises me more than today’s feminists allowing males to appropriate woman-hood via transgenderism.

Who suffers most when we erase male and female? Those who want us to stop acknowledging the distinction between the genders have not played out in their minds the world that they would create.

One obvious recipient of change is marriage.

So God created mankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them. Genesis 1

Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. ’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10

“In His image” meant male and female, two beings different yet part of one another; in His image meant in a very particular kind of relationship wherein two complementary and very distinct beings are intimate and interdependent.

If we erase the concept of two distinct yet necessary sexes, we lose a premise which allows us to conceptualize the marriage relationship. When we erase marriage as it was designed and intended, we erase marriage. But that’s not all we erase.

The unique sexual union which is the big bang for a marriage relationship creates family, church, community, society, government, nation, world.

Remove that unique relationship, and you remove the nucleus around which everything spins. Remove the foundation, the structure collapses into a chaotic mess. And chaotic messes are no place for love, justice, equality, rights, peace, stability or the building of a society. When we lose that most fundamental thing, we disintegrate and descend into chaos.

For starters: reality-denial. Insanity. Total subjectivity. Disconnectedness, loss of community, relentless self-absorption. Instead of oneness, we get alone-ness.

I said it here: Manifesto: The Primal Creation

Can there be a substitute for male or for female? Can there be an equivalent to the complementary union in marriage? A parent which is nether a mother nor a father?  A substitute for the true family?

In today’s brave new world, marriage means a legal union of two people, gender orientation irrelevant, based on the subjective feelings of the pair. Adopted children can be given over to the stewardship of two persons, gender orientation irrelevant; the need and the right of a child to an ideal consisting of a mother and a father is negated. Transgender bathrooms mandated throughout the land from on high. Urgent social effort to make gender orientation a continuum rather than one which acknowledges reality. And again from on high, the creation ex nilio of gender orientation special rights.

Now we read  here of some of the repercussions when we make male and female a state of mind disconnected from bodies.

Lo and behold! The result for women is that we disappear. We are erased.

The progressive-secular paradigm is cannibalizing itself, and what a surprise: it’s the women who get eaten first.

Gender