Tag Archives: marriage

Reflections: Love, Respect, and Sex

Standard

http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/voiceofhope/

Okay, I skipped a few weeks on responding to these 700 club episodes. I’ll admit, it is no coincidence that I procrastinated on this specific episode. For one thing, I’ve written a lot about sex recently. I kind of wanted a break. Bur another reason I avoided this one is because I’m simply not sure how to respond.

I agree with parts of the teacher’s philosophy. I’m not so sure about other parts. I agree that sex within marriage is God’s plan and that it is absolutely the best way to go. I don’t suggest sex outside of marriage. However, his words leave me wondering how a couple will readily embrace the sexual union inside of marriage after training themselves to stay so far away from it.

That is always my issue when I look at the church’s approach to sex. I feel like this “Bad, bad, bad, stay away!” approach immediately followed by “You’re married now! Everything goes!” is just a disaster waiting to happen. I’m not necessarily sure what else to suggest, however.

Purity isn’t the part I struggle with. Single purity that leads into married purity is the issue I struggle with – if that makes sense. I think the sky high divorce rates within the church are a decent indication that whatever the church is teaching about sex and marriage right now isn’t very effective. I still feel as if the church uses the words “lust” and “attraction” synonymously. And I don’t think they should be interchangeable. I believe there is an important line that separates the two. I’m just not sure if I could point out that line.

Your thoughts?

Advertisements

Yoke or Burn

Standard

Okay – I don’t talk about sex on this blog very often… or in great detail. Mainly because I find it awkward to write about the subject. But it is important.

DISCLAIMER: Do not take this post as personal dating advice. I am not offering advice. I am simply bringing up a point – a point which may be slightly controversial in the modern church community.

Mr. UnpaidTherapist called me into his office this week.

“Sarah,” he said. “I know that you already know this. But I feel the need to tell you again. Do not marry someone who isn’t Christian…”

He continued by describing the failing marriage of a couple he counsels. Wife is Christian. Hubby’s not. Marriage is falling to pieces. He then listed three women we both know who struggle in marriages with non-Christian men. He doesn’t want to see me face the same trials.

I listened to his lecture and chose not to respond. I’m not terribly comfortable sharing what I am going to post on this blog with a 45 year-old man at work. Nope.

But I’ve really been pondering this whole dating/marrying non-Christians topic lately. The entire basis for this advice against marrying someone with no faith or a different faith is that verse in 2 Corinthians, chapter 6. Verse 14 declares, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”

Now before anyone who doesn’t follow the Bible gets offended, let me explain that this is not saying that Christians should cut off all contact with people who do not agree with us. I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ’s entire lifestyle would argue that concept. He hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors [who were infamous for cheating people].

“Yoked” essentially means joined, united, or brought together to accomplish a specific task or purpose. A yoke pulls two animals together to push a plow. Harnessed together, they create a more powerful force.

Okay, so when Christians quote this verse, they often continue to the “joining” of a married couple. They say that a believer and unbeliever should not be unequally yoked. Mr. UnpaidTherapist did not quote the verse. But this is the sentiment he was getting at. Believers and unbelievers should not unite in marriage… it will only cause problems…

Here’s my problem: If you read that verse in context, Paul was not writing to the Corinthians about marriage. Instead, he was discussing teachers. He was telling them not to become involved with false prophets and idols. Not once in this chapter does he mention marriage or anything closely related to marriage. If Paul intended to advise believers not to marry unbelievers, why didn’t he bring it up in one of the chapters that actually talked about marriage?

On the other hand, in passages like 1 Corinthians 7, where it would make a lot of sense for Paul to give advice about whether or not Christians should marry non-Christians, Paul gives no such command. Instead verses 12-16 indicate that an unbeliever who remains in such a relationship is sanctified by his or her believing spouse and that their children are made holy rather than unclean. As a whole, I do not believe Paul encourages believers to unite with unbelievers, but I do not see where he actually says it is wrong.

Apparently I like to go backwards… so if we jump back in Chapter 7 to verse 9 we see the reference I made in a different post recently. “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am, but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

Glance over 1 Corinthians and you will quickly realize that Paul warns these people up and down to flee from sexual immorality because it is so detrimental to their bodies and their spiritual health. Over and over again he tells them to avoid it. If you can’t keep it in your pants, get married!

If you will notice, he did not say that if you are struggling to control your sexual appetite you should wait until you find the godliest person alive and then get married. He did not say that you should only get married to someone who will accentuate and empower your ministry. He did not even say you should at least hold out for someone of the same faith. All Paul said was that if you really want to have sex you should get married. Period.

If a believer marries an unbeliever, they will naturally disagree at times. And yet, every married couple disagrees about some things. Mr. UnpaidTherapist is right, I’m sure, about the trials that come with these types of marriages. However, my question is this: Are those potential trials easier or harder to face than the desire for sex while I am still single?

The church community teaches that Christians should not date or marry non-Christians as a general rule. However, the church community also has a sucky divorce rate and a lot of extramarital sex scandals. I don’t buy this sentiment that all non-Christian men are skunks (and yes, that sentiment is rampant in the church realm). I also don’t buy the idea that all Christian men will make good husbands (don’t even get me started on that one…).

If we place two scenarios side by side, which one wins?

Scenario 1 shows a girl who is holding out for the right Christian man to come sweep her off her feet. This guy is hard to find. Therefore she remains single until she is about 36. Needless to say, a typical woman in her twenties and thirties has some significant sexual hunger. These are her most fertile years; she was created to desire sex. Although she waited to marry until she found Mr. Right at age 36, she was sexually active on a number of occasions prior. From ages 18 to 35 she slept with 9 different men. Each sexual encounter left a mark.

Scenario 2 displays a young lady who married her high school sweetheart at age 19. Although she was always a church-girl, he never showed much interest in the things of God. He gets irritated at how she “lives” at the church and how she always wants to give away their money to those dumb missionaries. But he loves her and he is loyal. They have their struggles, but he would never dream of leaving her. He is her one and only and she has made a choice never to leave him either.

Well? Who appears to be better off? I’m not telling anyone to lower their standards. I’m not advising anyone to marry the next jerk that asks them out just because they’re feeling kind of horny. But I raise the question: Is being “unequally yoked” in marriage really such a big deal? Is the common advice of “wait for Mr. Right – no matter how long it takes” really such a good idea in this sexually charged world? Is this ever-popular Bible lesson about believers only marrying believers actually biblical? What do you think?

Reflections: Satisfied in Singleness

Standard

http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/voiceofhope/

I enjoyed this one particularly. I have to admit, the very first point that the primary speaker makes is one that I have also thought to myself time and time again. I cannot stand it when someone hears how long I’ve been single and responds with shock because I’m “so pretty”. I always think what she thinks immediately – that there are lots of ugly married people. And then I  turn to the obvious point that pretty does not necessarily make a woman into a wife, let alone a good wife. Yes, attraction matters. But it’s not just about being pretty.

After loving her sentiment on that point, I kind of hated a different point she made. I disagree with her comment about wanting to be married for the “wrong reasons”. Sex has a bad rap in the Christian community. The Bible soooo clearly says that if you “burn with passion” – get married! In other words, it is okay to desire a spouse in order to fulfill your sexual desires! That being said, the church has turned things all around and seems to teach that singles should want to be married for every other reason on the face of the planet and that sex is just a nice little side thing that comes along with marriage. I’ve been told that I should be so wrapped up in ministry that one day I will just happen to bump into someone else who is absorbed by ministry and we will get married and have an even more powerful ministry together. Sounds good – right? And yet, I don’t see that philosophy in scripture. I never found the verse telling singles only to marry in an effort to further ministry. Nope. Bible says instead that you should get married if you want sex. Sex is not a “wrong reason”. I could continue on this point… but I’ll shut up.

Finally, I like that she pointed out that some of our most influential and foundational leaders in the faith were single. I agree wholeheartedly. Paul made excellent points when he wrote about singles being able to fully devote themselves to God without the distraction of family or spouses. However, I would not go so far as to say that we are the “pillars”. I mean, Jesus was single, and He is quite obviously “the” Pillar. But besides that – I don’t think singles are any more or less important than married people in the church. We are all important. We all have different roles. Let’s make an effort to act out our roles to the best of our abilities – single or married.

Reflections: Are You a Leader?

Standard

http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/voiceofhope/

Episode 2 was more primarily aimed toward men. That being said, I’m still going to respond.

First of all, I feel the need to emphasize that more than any other thing – what I want from a man if I am to get married – is godly leadership. I can probably count on one hand the number of men I know that are still single and within my age range whom I can truly view as potential spiritual leaders.

With that in mind, I would like to voice a dilemma. Many of my Christian female friends and I have noticed a devastating truth in the Christian dating scene. Godly men are not pursuing. It’s past the point of “maybe this guy isn’t pursuing me because he simply isn’t interested in me”. It’s quite obvious that these guys aren’t pursuing any women. The ones we find most desirable happen to be the ones who haven’t, to our knowledge, asked a girl out in the last 3 years. The reasoning? They are just “so” into God right now that they don’t want to be distracted by women. I get it. I’ve used the same argument. Here’s the thing: God never said that all dedicated Christians should be single. Yes, there were some very influential singles in the Bible. Yes, Jesus was single. But no where does my Bible say that all the decent Christian men in this world should stop pursuing Christian women. Although I believe the man in the video had the best of intentions, I kind of want to tell him “SHUT UP!!!!!” when he said that men should work harder on “being the right one” than “finding the right one”. He said that becoming the right one will attract Christian women. As a Christian woman who has been “attracted” by these kinds of guys, I want to argue with him and say, “Do one without neglecting the other. Work on becoming the right kind of guy while you find the right kind of girl.” As a Christian girl does not want to have to completely throw herself at you to earn your attention, you are going to have to pursue in order to marry one of us. There is nothing wrong with wanting a wife.  Find one, would you!

Final thought: I kind of didn’t like when he said that non-Christian men will view women as nothing more than trinkets or toys. I think he has a serious point, and that in some cases he may be correct. But I don’t believe that the secular world is completely void of men who value and respect women. That was an overstatement.

Guys, as this video was aimed toward you: What did you think?

Baggage Claim

Standard

There are two common analogies referenced in the dating scene. The first one involves “test-driving the car” and the second involves “baggage”. Both analogies piss me off beyond belief.

I’m not even going to start on the car analogy. Another day perhaps.

Singles, raise your hand if you have ever been asked, “Do you really want to date someone with all that baggage?”, or worse if you have ever been asked, “Do you really think that person would want to date you – with all your baggage?”

Why do these questions make me mad? Let me tell you.

1)      Everyone has baggage. Everyone. I don’t care if you’ve been married and divorced five times. I don’t care if you are like me – and have managed to dodge committed relationships for some time. Everyone has baggage. Different types, different sizes, shapes, colors, and so on. But baggage, nonetheless.

2)      Baggage is very vague. If I am going on a trip, a person cannot tell how equipped I am for the journey simply by eyeing my baggage. (We’ll say it’s a hiking trip. Something where a lot of heavy baggage does not seem preferable – as most people indicate a relationship is better without a lot of heavy baggage.) Without knowing what’s inside all of those suitcases – a person cannot say whether or not I’m prepared. They also cannot guess how heavy my baggage is. For instance, I may set a large piece of luggage directly next to a small piece of luggage. To the bare eye, it would appear that the larger bag is going to be heavier, and thus more burdensome. In all reality, however, that black bag may be full of cotton balls while the red bag is full of bricks. (I plan to build a house or something out of bricks and cotton balls on my hiking trip… obviously.) The person lugging around that black bag may appear to have “more emotional baggage”, but the person carrying that red bag may actually bring the larger burden to the relationship.

Just because the black one’s bigger, doesn’t mean it’s a heavier burden!

3)      Children are often called baggage. This is the big one – the one that really makes me seethe. How dare you compare a child [an emotional, valuable, vulnerable, and significant human being] to a carry-on at the airport! The reference is completely inappropriate. And yet, I hear it all the time. “You’re interested in a man with kids? Do you really want to date a guy with all that baggage?” It’s all I can do not to flip out at people who ask me these kinds of questions.

Ben and Benny: This is an old picture, but it is one of my favorites!

Instead I have to maintain my self-control and explain to them, “Parental skills are an important thing to consider in a serious relationship, and if the man does not already have kids, it’s really just a guessing game as to what kind of father he may turn out to be. To be honest, it’s kind of a turn-on to see that a man who already has a child seems to be a good daddy. Plus, just because I don’t have any children, that doesn’t mean I don’t have baggage. He would have to put up with mine as well.”

Just to add weight to my argument, I often reference my brother. Ben, I’m sorry if you don’t want to be referenced, but I often describe your relationship with Benny to others when we begin to discuss “baggage”. You are a great father! If anyone ever refers to Benny as “baggage”, they will have to suffer the wrath of his Aunt Sarah!!

Those are the primary reasons this subject angers me. There are a few other minor reasons. But I think those are the most important. Do me a favor, people:

  • Quit referring to children as baggage. It is never an okay analogy.
  • Stop calling divorce baggage. Ask the real question, “Are you okay with dating someone who has been divorced?”
  • Don’t forget that those are not the only two forms of baggage. Non-marriage relationships, family problems, and abuse, to name a few, could all be classified as “baggage” also. But don’t call them baggage.
  • Don’t ever use the “test-drive the car” analogy with me either. I may slap you.

And the Fears Emerge

Standard

I can think of at least four men who would help me complete this challenge this very week. And although I’ve been told not to think, just to act – I can’t turn off my mind.

#4. I have no doubts that he is out to use me. He is completely gorgeous. But he’s also a total loser. He’s hit on me several times – but he seems to think that I won’t go out with him because I am a lesbian. I’m not. But I really haven’t argued with him about it because it’s so much easier not to like him when he believes that. And I don’t want to like him. Because he’s a loser. If I hit on him, I’m fairly certain he’d jump at the chance to date me. But I really think he’d be dating me in an effort to take everything from me that he possibly could. Drugs have eliminated his soul and I’d rather not mess around with a guy who has no soul.

#3. He’s rather unreliable, so it might take more than a week to get a date. But I am positive he would make it happen by the end of the month. Probably by the end of the week – because I’ve refused him the last three times and I think he’s getting eager to see me. So if I made a move, I think he’d take the bait right now. He seems like a pretty decent guy, but I can’t count on him for much of anything. I don’t think he knows how to put a relationship first. And he’s made clear that he does not want to get married. I’m not going to stay in any kind of long-term relationship that isn’t geared toward marriage. So I feel like any effort put into dating this guy would just lead to exhaustion, pain, and heartache in the long run. Why bother?

#2. This one also does drugs. But I’m confident that he still has a soul and that he actually cares about me. However, his addiction hinders his life from going forward. He can’t make much more than minimum wage where he works. But he’s told me he won’t really look for another job because other workplaces drug-test. I get along with him quite well. He’s a fabulous person to talk with. But it’s obvious that as long as his life is going nowhere, our relationship would go nowhere. I’d probably enjoy a few dates. But I would dump him quickly. He is the sensitive type. I would feel terrible afterward.

#1. He would follow me to the ends of the earth and do everything humanly possible to please me. I have never met a man quite so determined to be with me. One or two have come close. But he takes the cake. Nonetheless, we do not relate on an intellectual level. He is another one that I know I would dump.

I ran into a guy recently who asked me out months ago. When he asked me out, I tried to explain to him in the kindest way possible why we would not fit well together, and I rejected his offer. He is the type of guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. I knew for some time that he liked me. His face lit up when I entered the room. He went out of his way to do things for me. I knew that eventually he would ask me out and I would have to explain my feelings of disinterest. Unfortunately, after that whole scenario played out, he did not miraculously change into a man who is difficult to read. He still wears his heart on his sleeve. Although it has been months, I hate running into him. When I see him, he looks so miserable. I feel like all he thinks when he sees me is, “There she is. There’s the girl who broke my heart.”

To sum this all up – I am pointing out the two primary reasons I do not date.

A)     I am afraid of being hurt or being used. (This is the issue with #4 and #3.)

B)      I am afraid of hurting or using someone else. (This is the issue with #2 and #1.)

I have a feeling that blog posts to follow over the next few weeks will get more serious than they have been for awhile… I am going to delve into fear.

Free-Spirited Singleness

Standard

I’m not a rebellious person. But I am a free spirit. Others often get the two mixed up.

I didn’t like to go to school. It’s natural to neglect that which you do not like… School was often neglected. My teachers told me if I did not show up to school, I would never show up to work and I would never hold down a real job. They mistook me for a rebel. A rebel does not show up because she is told to show up. A rebel is looking for someone or something to defy. A free spirit, on the other hand, is looking for a choice. A free spirit does not show up because she did not feel like showing up. A rebel can’t hold down a job because she cannot fight the compulsion to go against that which she is told. A free spirit can hold down a job, because she realizes choices have consequences, and those consequences help her decide how to make those choices she values so much.

I often skipped school to prove that I had a choice. I did not have to be there – although I was always told that I did. I went when I so desired. Many of my teachers viewed me as a rebel – acting out. In all reality, I was exercizing my love for freedom by escaping the prison I envisioned school to be.

I will always be a freedom-lover. It shows up in every aspect of my life. 90% I would choose to wear my seatbelt. No matter what. It’s a natural instinct to reach for the strap and stretch it across my body. But I resent the fact that wearing a seatbelt is forced upon me. If I don’t feel like wearing my seatbelt, I choose to flip off the government by hopping on my motorcycle instead. I equally resent that in New York it is mandatory to wear a helmet on a motorcycle. If I lived in another state, a state where riding without a helmet is legal, I would still choose to wear a helmet. Why? Because I appreciate my face. But I hate that I don’t have a choice where I live. I hate that my freedom is limited.

My free spirit, by nature, runs from boundaries. I felt as if my teeth were being pulled when a man asked me to commit to work for his company for at least a year during an interview. It took me at least three minutes to agree that I could commit for a year. I’m now approaching my fifth year with that same company. When I signed a year-long lease for my apartment, I nearly panicked. What if I want to move? What if I have the opportunity to live in another country before my lease is up? I sucked it up and signed the lease. My year has passed. Two months after my lease ended, my landlord and landlady brought before me a new lease. I told them that as long as I had a choice, I’d rather not sign a new one. I assured them I had no plans to move (because I don’t), but as long as I have access to that freedom – why give it up?

It’s this love for freedom that leads to my hesitation toward commitment. Hesitation? Okay, fear of commitment. Fear? Fine, terror.

I see a cage. It’s not that I do not want to get married. I want a choice. As long as I am single, I have a choice. If ever I get married, I will give up that freedom. It’s not that marriage is bad. It’s not that marriage should be compared to bondage. But it’s a commitment that eliminates the freedom I so enjoy. I imagine if I ever enter that covenant, it will be similar to my job or my lease. Despite my concerns, it will last and I will appreciate it until the end. But for my lease and for my job I promised a year. In marriage I will promise a lifetime. Anyone else feel intimidated by that?

Friends?

Standard

Boy likes girl. Boy says sweet things. Boy buys nice gifts. Boy spouts deep dreams. Boy opens car doors. Boy is sooo handsome. Boy is sooo charming. Boy is sooo respectful.

Boy, it feels good to have all this attention. Boy, it feels good to be on top of his world. Boy, it feels good to be treated like a princess. Boy MUST be Mr. Right.

Boy gets girl. Boy abandons friends. Boy ignores acquaintances. Boy only talks to girl, only thinks about girl, only spends time with girl, only cares about girl.

Boy, it feels good to be the most important aspect of boy’s life.

Why does boy care about girl? Because he is in love? No… Boy cares about girl because girl makes boy feel good. Once girl stops making boy feel good, boy will stop caring about girl.

We’ve all seen it. We’ve all been stung by it. Our friend enters a relationship… and we lose said friendship. It is completely unhealthy. And it happens way too often.

Unfortunately, people seem to think that two people who shun the rest of the world so that they can spend every waking minute together are in a healthy relationship. They say the couple is “in love” and move on. They mistake this kind of obsession for devotion.

In all reality, at the core of any healthy romantic relationship is a strong friendship. A person who walks away from all other friends to “devote” himself or herself to his/her love interest does not know how to be a good friend. If a person does not know how to be a good friend, s/he cannot be a good boy/girlfriend. My example above showed a man interested in a woman. It can go opposite ways just as easily. This isn’t a dig against men.

If he cannot be a loyal friend, he cannot be a loyal spouse. If she cannot be trusted around other men while you are dating, she cannot be trusted once you are married. If she cannot keep a friend’s secret, she cannot keep her boyfriend’s secret. If he lies to his friends, he will lie to his wife. If she interrupts her friend during arguments, she will interrupt her husband during arguments. If he blames his friends for his problems, he will blame his wife for his future problems. If she twists others’ words, she will twist her husband’s words. If he doesn’t listen to others while he is mad at them, he won’t listen to his wife when he gets mad at her. If she walks away from friends without explanation, she will walk away from her husband without any explanations. If he walked away from a perfect God whom he claimed to love, he will walk away from his imperfect wife whom he claimed to love.

It’s how relationships work. If you want to know if the person you are dating has what it takes to enter a healthy marriage, take a look at how s/he treats friends.

For the Love of a Motorcycle

Standard

http://youtu.be/OJDCtFMV16s

There is something about it. Wind in your face. Sunshine on your back and shoulders. Power at your fingertips. Someone who doesn’t ride cannot possibly understand. There is nothing quite like the love of a motorcycle.

My bike is named Arthur, after the Fonz whom I idolized as a teenager. I shared this clip (unfortunately it’s kind of fuzzy) because Fonzie demonstrates the love and devotion a true biker has to his/her bike so wondrously.

Fellow bikers, have you ever tried to describe the loyal affection you feel toward your motorcycle to a person who shows no interest in the hobby? It’s one thing to describe the relationship you have with your bike to an aspiring biker or to another motorcycle enthusiast… But to pour your heart and soul out to a person who thinks that riding motorcycle is foolish? Perhaps this person briefly considered the sport, but waved away the fleeting desire due to its potential dangers. The response you receive may be devastating. This person looks you in the eye and declares that your love is silly. That the motorcycle which contributes such joy to your life is nothing more than a hunk of machinery which will probably get you killed.

I have learned not to describe my love for Arthur with such critics. I do not blame them for their insensitivity. The reason Mr. Cunningham has the nerve to refer to Fonzie’s love as “just a motorcycle” is because he cannot possibly comprehend the impact that beautiful bike has upon Fonzie’s satisfaction with life. Rather than try to convince these people of my motorcycle’s true worth, I choose instead to share my own joy and leave it at that. If a person shows interest in joining me in my hobby, I offer more information. But I will not cast my pearl before swine – I will not push my love for motorcycles on a person who has little or no interest.

If I were to try to force a love for motorcycles and in interest in biking etiquette upon such a person, we would both walk away from the conversation feeling frustrated and perhaps embittered. I do not even try. I understand the futility. This person may never share my reasoning, nor may s/he care to. That is okay. It is perfectly acceptable for this person to have different life interests.

How does all of this tie into singleness? Marrieds often come to me describing a passion toward marriage which correlates my passion toward motorcycles. They tell me how much they enjoy being married, how they always looked forward to being married when they were young, how they love raising children, and how they will leave a legacy through their children. They gloat over every detail of their married relationship, hoping to persuade me to ditch singleness and enter wedded bliss.

Unfortunately, my interest is limited. I cannot say I’ve never considered marriage, nor can I say that I will never get married. However, currently I am not terribly interested. In the same way a person tells me that motorcycles can be extremely dangerous, I note that marriage can be very painful and can inhibit many freedoms. It just doesn’t call to me. The desire to be married is fleeting at best right now. Conversations in which others try to force their love of wedded bliss upon me leave me frustrated. I am disgusted by these persons’ lack of understanding that my interests differ from their own. Rather than nudge me toward desire, these discussions leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

If you want to see me marry, do me a favor. Don’t offer your input about my life and marriage possibilities unless I ask for it. Otherwise, you work against your own motives.