Don’t Say It Looks Like a Vagina or They’ll Give You an Extra Week…

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.

~Romans 12:1

I should have listened…

The dorms in which I lived while going to college were really more like apartment suites than what you might typically think of when you picture a dorm in your mind.  Each suite had a common living room, kitchen and bathroom and then 3 or 4 bedrooms in which 2 to 3 students would reside.  On any given night, you could be fairly certain that in one suite or another, somewhere in that dorm, there was a party going on.

I attended one such party one night and met a girl.  Very pretty, red curly hair, green eyes, physically fit…  Now I’ve never thought of myself as God’s gift to women or anything, but I’m also not his punishment to them.  I’m ok looking I guess, but no movie star, so I was a bit surprised, given how beautiful she was, that she decided to come sit next to me on the couch.  She said that she had seen me practicing in the gym (I played volleyball in college and she was on the swim team – their practice ended shortly after ours began.) for a while and always wanted to talk to me.  We drank beer and talked and flirted as the night drew on and I was really starting to get over my mistrust of the situation and beginning to enjoy myself.  Then my roommate came up to me and whispered in my ear that he needed to talk to me privately.  We went back by the communal bathroom where he said “Look man, I’m not going to tell you what to do, but that girl’s crazy!”

“What are you talking about” I objected indignantly, “we’ve been talking all night.  She’s pretty nice”.  I was certain that he wanted me to back off so that he could have a shot himself.

“Like I said”, he said “I’m not going to tell you what to do”.

When I returned to the living room, she was gone.

Two nights later I was returning from practice to find that unbeknownst to myself, that there was to be a party in my suite that night.  As I walked down the hallway which approached my apartment I could hear the loud music; “We don’t have to take our clothes off, to have a good time, yeah, yeah” as well as the people in my apartment singing loudly “we don’t have to have a good time, to take our clothes off, yeah, yeah” – it was a common joke in those days.  I opened the door and can remember being greeted by the smell of cigarette and marijuana smoke and the sight of liquor bottles, beer cans and people doing other drugs (which I had never been particularly interested in nor understood much about) at the dining room table.

My eyes strained to scan the smoke filled living room, in order to see if I recognized everyone there and as they did I noticed the same red-headed girl walking down the hallway from the bathroom.  She noticed me and smiled.  We talked for a while and then she said “let’s go someplace more quiet”

“Oh, well this is my apartment” I said “I’ll just tell my roommates to leave us be and we can hang out in my room”.  I did so and we did so and as we were walking back to my room, I can remember thinking that I was the luckiest guy in the world.

Well, I think that it was obvious to both of us that we weren’t going back there to talk, because as soon as I had closed my door we were kissing and taking each other’s clothes off next to my bed.  I closed my eyes and tried to ignore all the dissonance of the party just outside my door.  Wham!  Something slams into my chest and I’m falling through the air into the bed.  Upon landing, I looked up to see that she had pushed me and was now standing over me, still on the side of the bed grinning.  “Why are you grinning like that” I asked as the words of my roommate from two nights prior began playing on an infinite loop inside my head; “that girl’s crazy – that girl’s crazy – that girl’s crazy…”

“Have you ever been tied up”? she asked.

“No” I replied.

“Do you want to be”? she grinned even wider.

“No not really”? I answered hesitantly.

“Well then I’m leaving” she threatened.

“Wait a minute”

At that time girls carried pocketbooks which were kind of like these big floppy leather bags about the size of a small pillow case.  She opened hers and pulled out these smooth ropes.  I’m gonna tell you what, either that girl grew up in a rodeo (which I doubted) or she had done this kind of thing before, because in just a manner of a minute or two she had me strapped to that bed post and I wasn’t either going to get myself unstrapped.  She sat on top of me and began kissing me again, but only for a short while before getting up and going back into the bag – “that girl’s crazy – that girl’s crazy – that girl’s crazy…”; like he was standing right next to me.  “Lord” I thought “what now a gun, a knife”?  My mind began searching for ways to escape this situation which was increasingly feeling out of control.  She dropped the bag revealing what was certain to be my implements of destruction.  I probably would have fared better against a knife or a gun, but instead of these things when the bag dropped she was left holding a giant cloth diaper, safety pins and a bottle of baby oil.  At that point I really wasn’t in any position to object and I was really just so relieved that it wasn’t a gun she pulled out that I just sort of let my body relax.

She put that diaper on me, squirted that oil all over me and then sat on top of me again, kind of rubbing herself up and down and making baby talk to me.  If I had thought I had a choice at that point, I probably would have just wanted for it to end, but as I didn’t see where I had a choice, I decided to just try to relax and wait for it to be over.  It wasn’t, after all, all that bad.  Weird?  Certainly! But at least I was having sex , it didn’t seem as if I was to be killed and it would eventually be over.  Just have to wait it out…

“The cops are here”! I hear one voice rising louder than the others in the next room.  My apartment was on the sixth floor, but when I looked up at the window I could see the reflections of the police car’s lights flashing there.  Everyone in the apartment gets up and leaves.  The red-headed girl gets up, grabs her clothes and her bag and leaves and I am left in the somewhat undesirable state of being strapped to my bed, covered in baby oil and nekid except for a now very disheveled and loosely fitting diaper.  I wasn’t saved then, but I prayed “Please let them be here for a party in another apartment”, then I hear the heavy fire door from the hallway to my apartment open.  “Please let that be one of my roommates” I hear the static noise that police radios make. “Please let him look around and see there’s no one here and just leave”.  The door to my room begins to open and in walks not my roommate, not a police man, but the dean of residential services – an about sixty year old woman who always prominently wore a cross.  She entered the room and began to scan it from one side to the other.  About halfway through this scan her eyes met mine.  A quick look up and down to survey my situation and then she turned silently and left the room without ever saying a word.  A police man then came in, untied me and told me to get dressed, which I did while trying to prepare an excuse for my condition.  After I did and as I left the room the police man stopped me by putting his hand on my chest and said “The dean wants to see you in her office tomorrow at 9:00am.  She doesn’t care if you have class or not”.

Now believe it or not, I was already, even before this incident, not the dean’s favorite student.  I had gotten in trouble for underage drinking, my grades stunk, there had been a fire in my dorm which my roommate had lit after drinking too much and wanting to learn how to light hairspray on fire.  So as I walked to her office that next morning, I simply couldn’t feel confident about any story that I was able to come up with.  I decided to try a new strategy; I would just tell her the truth, maybe that way I could fool her with my sincerity.  I was just going to tell her about the red-headed girl.  How pretty I thought she was.  How proud I thought it would make me with my roommates that I was the one she choose.  And that she was crazy!

The dean didn’t want to hear about the red-headed girl or my roommates or my pride.  The issue at hand was the immeasurable amount of alcohol which was left behind in the suite and that I as well as all of my roommates were underage.  I didn’t take a sip that night, but someone would have to take the fall.  My choice was expulsion or a 28 day rehab program.

The rehab was nice.  We played a lot of sports.  Ate well.  Learned Yoga and other stress coping mechanisms to deal with our addictions.  I was about the youngest person there and way over my head when it came to the stories these people were sharing.  Hard core drug addicts, people who had been abusing alcohol for years, housewives who were outside their minds because they no longer had the pills and the booze to help them through their day.   I can remember at one meeting one such housewife, a tiny wispy woman weeping softly as she spoke and saying “I just don’t think I’ll be able to do it” then suddenly the large black man sitting across the table from her stood up so fast that his chair flew across the room from the back of his legs hitting it.  His very large muscular arms tapered  just to a pointed finger in her face  and he screamed “Then hit the streets and die Mother Fucker”!  I’ll never forget that.

Part of that program was that during your first week there you had to take a psychological screen, I guess to see if you were a drunk because you were crazy or crazy because you were a drunk.  They would take us away from the group, four or five at a time and the rest of us waited on a couch outside the psychologist’s office as each went in.  I was the second to go in for my screening, which I didn’t know at the time would include a Rorschach inkblot test.  As the door opened and the person who was screened before me exited the psychologists office he said to me “don’t tell him it looks like a vagina or they’ll give you and extra week”!

OK, so why am I (over) sharing this story?  Well, to a certain extent because I want you to see that I get that sex is fun.  I wasn’t always a Christian husband and a father, there was a time for me too where sex was, well, just sex.  I’m not particularly proud of it, but I understand the value that “just sex” represents to folks.  The real reason however, that I decided to write about this very embarrassing event is to make this point; what if the story didn’t include sex?  Would it have been as interesting, as entertaining, as humorous?

There is something singularly engaging to us as humans when it comes to sex.  Why?  Why does this funny little tingling in our genitals mean so much to us?  Why are we so much more interested in stories that include sex?  Why does Hollywood try to work at least one scene with sex into every movie?  Why does it predominate our thoughts, permeate our self-values, and influence our decisions so greatly?  Monkeys, who are what like a handful of chromosomes away from us, will do it in the zoo right in front of their monkey parents and grandparents.  They don’t worry about how big their monkey penis is or if their monkey boobies are not as perky as they used to be.  They do it just the same as eating, sleeping or breathing.   What is it about those extra few chromosomes that makes it such a big deal to us?

Why is it that this particular thing about my wife’s affair  hurts me so much?  What is it that she received from this man in the hotel, or the woods where they would meet or his home or my home that was of so much value to her that she would be willing to destroy our entire family to get it?  If she had eaten with another guy, talked to, had a drink with or about anything else with him, I’m certain I would be over this by now, but the image of them in that hotel lying together, her opening her legs for him, kissing and rolling around the bed, still torments me.  I’m not sure that I ever will.  Why?

The answer to a Christian is easy; because God said so is why!  You become a man and wife and you share the same flesh.  You belong to one and other.

Mark 10:8 (ESV)

And the two shall become one flesh.  So they are no longer two but one flesh.

However, this still leaves one with the haunting question of why.  Why sex?  Why not eating or going to church or any one of the innumerable other things that could be reserved for couples in love.  Even in the non Christian sense;  I’m sure that there will be more liberal readers who will look at this and say “well yeah!  You’re right.  It’s really not a big deal.  It’s just sex and society has made it a bigger deal than it is” – to which I would respond : “if it’s not a big deal, then why would my wife, along with countless other adulterers throughout history, be willing to throw away everything for it?”

The truth is that sex is a big deal to us, because it really is a big deal.  The difference between me and a monkey is that I know the consequence, good and bad, of sex.  I’ve seen my baby being born and known that it was the ultimate result of that act.  I’ve seen my family be torn apart and known that it was the result of that exact same act – just a different actor.  We know to revere sex, because we know what the results, good and bad, of it will be, even when we pretend that we don’t.  I’ve often heard that as humans we confuse the concepts of sex and making love.  And that’s true.  I’d like to spend the rest of this chapter speaking to the difference between the two.

Let’s Dance!…

In the 1984 movie Footloose staring Kevin Bacon.  Bacon’s character (Ren McCormack) moves to the fictional small mid-western town of Beaumont to live with his mother.  Shortly after arriving, Ren (an avid dancer back in Chicago) discovers that act of dancing is illegal in the town of Beaumont and had been since the preacher’s son had been killed in an automobile wreck returning from a dance.

Later in the film, in an attempt to persuade the town leadership to allow his high school class to hold a prom, Ren reads several verses from scripture before the city council on which the preacher sits.

2 Samuel 6:14

And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.

2 Samuel 6:16

And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

Psalm 30:11

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

The preacher is moved by Ren’s references, but he council votes to keep the ban.  Later the preacher has a change of heart when he witnesses the public burning of books they decide may be dangerous, in a similar way to dancing to the youth of their community.  They have their dance, the bully kids get their asses kicked and all is right by the end of the film.

Two inescapable truths may be gleamed from watching the film. First, always make sure you’re shoelaces are tied before playing chicken with your uncle’s tractor and secondly, and perhaps more important to what I am writing now, when we try to sanction evil by limiting the ways by which it reveals itself instead of examining the source of the evil itself, it will always find collateral ways to manifest, sometimes through the very means by which we tried to control it in the first place.

Doin the Squishy Dance…

Perhaps it is less coincidental than I thought that I often will refer to the act of making love (still using the terms interchangeable) as doing the “Squishy Dance”.  Like the vertical type of dancing discussed in Footloose, the squishy dance has gotten a bad rep as it has been misused in so many ways of expressing evil, that we sometimes confuse it for something dirty, sinful or lewd.  In fact God tells us time and time again in scripture that he wants married couples to have sex – often:

1 Corinthians 7 (ESV)

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Nice!  That sounds like Paul is telling us to have sex all the time, non-stop, except for short, mutually agreed upon breaks, to pray.  If this were true, I think that eventually I’d very much look forward to the prayer breaks – just to catch a breath!  Of course, it’s not what he’s saying.  Like so much in the bible we have to look at the greater context in which it was written.  I want to write about that in a moment, but first I want to write about the squishy dance in my marriage.

My therapist said once that when it comes to sex and intimacy; women are like a slow cooker and men are like a microwave.  To which I responded “just so long as I get something for supper!”  but I got her point.  I’ve thought a lot about that since her saying so and I’m not so sure that I agree.  I mean, my wife wasn’t so much the slow cooker when she was running off to meet this man in the woods each day.  Or leaving my bed after making love and driving to his to do the same with him.  She was the microwave and there has been times when I have been the slow cooker.

It’s funny how in my own marriage we’ve come full circle when it comes to making love.  When we were first married (OK, even before we were married) we made love all the time, nary a night would go by where we didn’t.  Good stuff!  Roll around on top of each other, making out in corners, falling off the bed good stuff!  Then marriage and it was still good, now we had my young stepson around but we still found opportunities here and there.  Then we became pregnant and money got tight.  I was out of work, my wife just had the job at the bakery and we were hurting money wise.  By the grace of God, I was able to find work shortly after the baby was born as a construction inspector, but we were several months behind our mortgage and car payments.

I remember discussing with my wife this very concern.  I had the opportunity to work a lot of overtime that summer and wanted badly to bring us up out of that hole, but I didn’t want to do so if it meant jeopardizing our marriage or our family.   She agreed that it was important for me to do so and promised that she wouldn’t let it affect our marriage.  I worked 80 to 100 hours a week that summer and subsequent fall and we were able to pull ourselves out of that hole, but her promise went unremembered  as to date she still sites this as the biggest reason for the affair.

At the time that she began the affair we were making love infrequently, maybe once a month or less.  I’d like to blame it on just being tired from working so much, but I know it was more.  It was something going on inside of me.  The birth of our son coupled with my sudden assumption of the responsibility of Christian head of household, husband and father came only shortly after my own becoming a Christian.  Not only was I learning what it meant to be a Christian by myself, but now I was also concurrently trying to learn what it meant to be a Christian husband and father.  Central to all of this was the notion of the loving Christian husband with respect to the difference between sex and making love.  I know, if you google it there is like 1000 pages; making love is about forever, screwing is about tonight, making love is about the “us”, screwing is about “me”, making love is about love, screwing is about lust.   I had heard the comparisons a thousand times sex/making love and to be honest, although like most guys I imitated that I understood, I really, also like most guys , was just pretending to in order to impress girls with my sensitivity.

Now, learning to be more like Jesus, I thought back on what sex used to mean to me – it was all tied up in pride and conquering, control, ownership and my own pleasure.  It sickened me that I could ever think of it like that and I simply couldn’t bring myself to desire that with my wife.  I’m not sure that it will make any sense, but I was afraid to make love to my wife for fear of finding myself just “screwing “ my wife.  I was aware of the biblical instruction not to deny my wife sexual pleasure, but this conflict was always forefront to me.  Nagging me.  I wanted desperately to correct it, but I didn’t know how.  The notion of treating my wife in this way literally made me sick to my stomach and although on the nights that we did make love, everything was fine, I would keep slipping back into that fear and night after night it just seemed so easy to make an excuse and push it off one more day.

It was about the time that the affair started that I began to pull myself out of this.  Through prayer and reading the bible and speaking to other Christian men, I finally began to see the difference between making love and just screwing.  That it was ok to want to make love to your wife, desire her, want to be with her in that way and that you weren’t degrading her or doing something to her by doing so, but by then it was too late.  The affair had started and although she would have intercourse with me about as often as I would initiate it, her heart just wasn’t in it like it was before.  It was routine for her, quick, she rarely expressed pleasure during it or affection afterwards.  Her body was there but her heart was somewhere else.  She allowed me to screw her, but wouldn’t make love to me.

When she came home from the hospital and again when I came home from the hospital, it was almost every night.  I remember being surprised, I didn’t think that I would be able to, but it just meant so much that she wanted me, it seemed so controllable – we weren’t making love before, but now we are, we must be ok, that I was able to get past the “I wonder if she’s thinking about him” and the “Once you go black…” stuff.  She was with me and that was enough.  But then, what may be surprising, is that her interest faded not mine.  Now it’s not as bad as all that, but my favorite joke these days is if my wife wants to have sex, I know it’s time to change the oil in my truck – if it’s oral sex, I renew my license!

She frames it as if it’s just circumstances, but how many headaches, upset stomachs, toothaches, and other symptoms can you have before you become your own episode of “house”?  The truth is, and I know it, that she’s in the exact same place as I was last year.  The act of intercourse for her, had become something dirty, risky, taboo, and animalistic that she’s now afraid that to do so with me would represent some sort of perversion.  Furthermore, she’s afraid that shes that she has perverted the act of making love to such an extent to herself that she will be unable to become excited about doing so without that danger, that lewdness, the excitement that she is doing something wrong and just doesn’t care.  I suppose that I should take consolation that my wife doesn’t want to lie down until she can be certain that she can do so without “screwing” me, but still, I miss the intimacy.

This is complexed, of course, by my own ego and low self-esteem – “well, she was about to give up everything last year, for a little piece of drug dealer nigger ass, what’s so bad about me”?  I saw the texts!  I know how much she wanted that singular encounter.  But when it comes to me… excuse after excuse, to the point where I don’t even think she realizes how obvious it’s become.  She must know by now, that this is the singular most way by which she can show me that she’s on board now.  If we could roll around like we used to, fall out the bed every once and a while, would show me that it wasn’t a “once you go black…” sort of thing. You’d think that, if she really wanted forgiveness, she’d take every opportunity to show me how important I am to her, but still, night after night; a toothache, cramps, tired, you snored too much last night, I’m worried about this or that, “ We can if you want to, but…” – OH, the kiss of death – “we can if you want to”!  I’d rather just a “No”!, “we can if you want to” – there’s a whole communication there that says; “I don’t want to, but if you’re gonna force me?  I know the bible says…  I know the therapist says… I know if I really want to show you I’ll…, but no matter what anyone says, I really would just go to sleep”!

That sucks!  Because it’s not the “willing to” that I’m really after, it’s the “want to”.  It’s the “I can’t control myself any more”, not the “ok, just do what you want, I’ll lie here an endure it to prove something to you”.  I want the, can’t keep my hands off you, totally under the influence of love, don’t care if the kids walk in or not, take me now, kind of, let’s get it on! And I don’t want any kind of make you feel guilty, the bible says so, wifely obligation, thing about it!  I want my wife to want me, not because the bible says so, not because she’s undertaking some penance, but because she wants me and nothing else!  But what does that really mean?

Remember Paul?…

I said I was going to get back to it, so now I am; what the heck was Paul talking about in Corinthians anyway?  Here it is again:

1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (ESV)

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

I think what’s important to understand when reading this is that Paul is speaking to the leaders of the church in Corinth, a community about which Paul has concerns may be going astray.  They had become fragmented and were beginning to develop their own separate theologies and would therefore bicker amongst each other often.  Some of them write Paul, saying something like “Hey!  Check us out; we’re so holy that we’re not even going to get married if we’re not already, or won’t even have sex with our wives if we are!”  They knew Paul himself was celibate and likely thought they were impressing him by deciding to do so as well.

Paul is basically telling them that there idiots.  “Why in the world would you want to put yourself in the way of temptation just to say that you can resist temptation” he is saying.  “It works for me” he says, “but that’s me, not everyone.  It lets me devote myself solely to Godly pursuits, but if someone is going to burn themselves up with lust from abstaining – it’s better that you permit yourself this diversion with your wife then end up being with some hooker somewhere!” – I’m paraphrasing.

But what is Paul actually talking about.  Surly he must be referring to a very orderly and respectful, missionary only type, only to make babies sex and even then we probably shouldn’t let ourselves enjoy it.  No way he’s talking about the fun can’t keep your hands off each other, fall off the bed, roll around the floor, mind blowing, earth shattering, pleasurable sex like we see in literature and the movies!  Right?

Y’all check out this steamy erotic poetry:

How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!

Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,

Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:

A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.

I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.

I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.

I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

Hey now!  That’s some good times right there!  You got to pay extra to see stuff like that on cable right? It’s from the bible!  It’s from the Song of Solomon 4:9 – 5:6.  The book documents the journey from courtship to consummation of two young lovers and is also thought to be a parable of the relationship of God and Israel.  My point is that God gets that we dig sex – he wired us that way!  What God wants if for us to have sex in a way that is glorifying to him.  Serves his will for us.  Like the town folk in Footloose had to rethink how they felt about dancing and the evil it represented, we (I) have to rethink God’s and my own feelings about sex.  I need to find a way to make sex in my marriage glorifying to God.

Here, I must confess that I’ve always had a feeling like I’ve been a little bit jolted by the bible.  We’re told as Christians that the model to follow for our marriages is that of Christ and the Church.  He is the head of the church just as I am the head of my family.  We align ourselves under him just as my family is to align themselves under me.  Our allegiance to other gods, whether they be gods made out of golden statues, or drugs or money or beer, is akin to marital infidelity etc. – but Jesus never had to find a date to the prom.  Jesus never had to talk to a girl for the first time with that cacophony of nonsense streaming through his mind:

“Oh, she’s pretty!  Should I talk to her?  She probably wouldn’t want me anyway.  Don’t stare.  Don’t look like you’re trying not to look.  What’s the score of that game on the TV behind her?  She looked at me!  She looked for just the right amount of time – not too short like she had to look away in disgust and not to long like I’m standing here with my zipper open – just right!  Was that a smile?  She’s coming over.  What should I say?  How’s my posture?  How’s my breath?  Remember to look at her face.  Her face!  Don’t look down, that looks unconfident.  Don’t look at any other girls – they hate that!  For Goodness sake’s don’t look at the ball game on the TV, she’ll think your disinterested.  Her eyes!  I’m looking at her eyes.  Ok I’ve been looking at her eyes for a while now, it’s getting a little creepy.  I should look away for a couple of seconds.  Where should I look?  Not the floor, not the game, not at other girls…Oh my God, I’m staring at her boobs!  Her Boobs!  How many times have I told myself not to stare at their boobs?  Now, here I am, just meeting this girl & I’m staring right into her strike zone!!!”

There’s no biblical example for that.  Jesus didn’t have to worry about helping the church out with housework, or the chruch’s time of the month, or squeezing in a love life with the church in-between homework, supper and the baby getting up at night.  Jesus never experience the issues of closeness and validation that you associate with sex after an affair like I have, the issue of trust and violation after being molested and learning to trust that level of closeness again like my wife has.  Jesus never had sex, so how am I supposed to model my sex life after him?

So what am I missing?  There should and probably is a model for this aspect of Christianity that I’m just not seeing.  If I know that God wants me to have sex and to do so in a way that is glorifying to him, then I need to find an aspect of Jesus’ relationship with the church which parallels this.  When I think about glorifying God, I think of worship.  To most folks the term “worship” refers to that first 1/3 to 1/2 of Sunday service where we sing songs in order to connect with God, but that’s not really all it means.  When the bible talks about worship, it usually speaks of it in the context of one of three categories.

Repentance & Humbling:

Psalm 8 (NASB)

3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Thanksgiving and Praise:

Ephesians 5 (NASB)

19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

and Service:

Philippians 2 (NASB)

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom youappear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18 You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.

I think that there is a parallel to be made between marital sex and the Christian notion of worship. i.e. sex is worship.  Y’all catch the epigraph (anyone even slightly impressed that I know what “epigraph” means?) to this chapter?:

Romans 12:1(NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.

In fact, in researching this post, I discovered that the expression “I worship you with my body”, used to be part of the Anglican wedding vows.  Sex is worship.  It’s worship in the sense that we are spiritually connecting to someone far more importantly than physically connecting with them.  It’s worship in that when done as it is intended it serves not to serve our own pleasures, but rather to glorify the person we are with and the relationship before God.  It’s worship in that it should reflect this same cycle of humbling ourselves, celebrating each other and serving one and other.  That it requires us to come to one and other with pure intentions, love in our hearts and a willingness to attend to one and other.  Sex is worship.  If we’re not using it to worship God then who are we using it to worship?

I’ve heard this cycle of worship described as a kitchen sponge.  That is before the sponge may be used to do anything productive, you need to squeeze out any of the filth that may be trapped inside (repentance), only then will the sponge be able to soak up more clear water (Praise) and be used to clean something which needs cleaning (service).  You cannot skip any of these steps as to do so would render your sponge useless.  If you refuse to squeeze out the filth, the sponge will not be able to clean anything and will begin to rot from the inside out.  If you do not submerge it in clean water, it will quickly dry and the open pores within it produce a void inside of us.  It will remain a painful reminder of how empty we are inside without God’s love.  We may begin to try to fill the pores with other things, money, work, drugs, alcohol, sex, pride, anger… but the toxicity of these things will eventually destroy us as well.  Finally we can squeeze the sponge and soak it in clean water, but if we refuse to use it to clean something, well there’s really no point to buying the sponge to begin with.

Sex is like that too, but now you have two people with two sponges and you may not always be in sync.  One may be ready to wipe the stove, while the other is trying to squeeze the filth out of itself.  It requires patients, timing and understanding.  One sponge may require cleaning more frequently.  One may require more time to soak up the clean water, but their pursuit is one and the same (to clean the stove) and when they are able to sync, able to work together, able to understand each other’s limitations and strengths and needs, when they learn the ways in which they might complement each other, compensate for each other and satisfy each other’s needs, they are also able to accomplish that task together in a far better way than either could do alone.

I think that’s really it; sex should not be used as a proof of love or evidence of this or that in a marriage.  It should be used as a way to celebrate one and other.  A way to help each other meet our needs.  Complement and complete one and other.  It shouldn’t be about he we did it five times this week, so we must be doing ok.  It should be hey let’s celebrate that we’re doing ok by coming together in this way, by opening ourselves to each other in this way, by allowing our love to manifest itself the way that God intended it to.  Good sex is not about tying each other to the bed, it’s not about feeling good about yourself by getting the prettiest girl to go home with you, it’s not about making yourself feel valuable by devaluing someone else.  It is, above all else, glorifying yourself, your spouse and God. It’s about connecting with them not just on a physical, but a spiritual level.  It’s about celebrating the love God had given you in a way that satisfies not only yourself and your wife, but God such that you all will become closer to one and other.