Friday, February 13, 2015

50 Charades----part 2

charade: (n) an absurd pretense intended to create a pleasant or respectable appearance.

In 2011, author E.L. James unleashed a firestorm with the first book in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy.   Selling over 60 million copies, the book was #1 on the New York Times’ bestseller list. 
These books have been met with both support and criticism.  Supporters claim that this is a harmless way to explore new territory for women and is liberating.  Supporters also insinuate that critics are prudes and are denying their own sense of lust.  Critics are often “Church Lady” types, disgusted and pointing a finger at those who partake in the reading of this book as unclean lepers, decrying the sinful degree to which one must stoop to read it. 

I quite frankly am weary of hearing both of those points.  For me, I see this a little bit differently. 
If you haven’t read “50 Charades, part 1”, you will probably find it helpful to stop now and read, as you will need the vignettes found there to understand my explanation.
So what was I trying to say with the vignette of Couple One and Couple Two?

In the examples of Couple One and Couple Two, they are each eating a meal.  And that meal is representative of. . . . 

Intimacy.  Defined as, “close familiarity or fellowship; nearness in friendship”, and in this context, also including a physically intimate relationship.

Couple One is a marriage that has been touched by pornography first brought in by the husband. 

Pornography is EVERYWHERE.  It is at the grocery checkout and on the highway billboard and in the advertisements for clothes.  It is in the box scores of the paper.  It is online, anonymous, and plentiful.  It is on TV commercials.  We are all bombarded by images of pornography.
When a woman has a husband who chooses to view pornography, she is like the wife in Couple One.  She has prepared and adorned herself to the best of her ability to provide intimacy.  She is sure that she isn’t the best thing out there and she is often times keenly aware she is no supermodel, but she looks at herself as a gift to her husband.  And she is.

Pornography is a charade.  

When a man brings pornography into his family, the charade says that it doesn’t hurt anyone and that it can spice up your marriage, thereby improving it, and that it is OK.  In reality it hurts both of you and is the enemy of intimacy.  It wounds your wife by bringing a competitor into the most private, vulnerable, and least confident of areas, and results in bitterness:  she is powerless to fight against a nameless, ever changing, virtual enemy.  She feels unloved, disrespected, and uncherished.  It pushes her away to a place where she begins to feel her own need for external intimacy.

Which brings me to the book.

In response, the wife runs to her own pornography:  literature.  Literature differs in that it is relational and the reader is sharing an experience with the character, which is why it is a successful tool against women, who are by design more relational. 

God created Eve to be the helper of Adam, and after their sin He stated of Eve, and all subsequent women; “her desire shall be unto her husband”. Women want the approval of their husbands.  The reward of the Virtuous Woman spoken of in Proverbs 31 is that she would be rewarded in this manner:  “give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.” She has a desire to be well spoken of by her husband.  We may not want to do things his way all the time or even MOST of the time, but we all seek and need his approval, much like as children, and sometimes adults, we seek and need our father’s approval. 

When a man sets the tone that, in order to have intimacy, you must seek the need for yourself in other things------well, he is leading his wife to do the same.

Why are we so surprised at this phenomenon of women wanting to read books like this?  We shouldn’t be.  They depict a relationship where a man is fiercely, and abusively, engaged with his lover in all aspects of her existence.  This book is male attention on steroids. 

Do you know how many husbands I have met whose week consists of going to work (maybe), drinking with the guys, and playing video games into the wee hours of the morning, and viewing pornography?    That is just the icing on the great big old cake of loneliness that his wife is eating each and every day.  Finally she gives up the fight, and starts following his lead:  by having that need for intimacy met elsewhere.  

She finds it in friends and social time and books that provoke the senses.  She shuts down to her husband, and they lose intimacy----not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too.  When they do come together-----physically or otherwise-----they may both be engaged, but are partaking as separate. 
But dear reader, oh it was never ever intended to be like that!  God never designed marriage to be two lonely people coexisting, scrambling in an unintended selfishness to get needs met.  God is love-----He is true, patient, longsuffering, promise keeping, unfailing, head-over-heels, know you to the very number of hairs on your head, LOVE.  Marriage is to be a reflection of that love.   

He gave us the gift of intimacy to be fully enjoyed in that capacity, in the context of a promise as husband and wife, mutually; physically and otherwise.  This is why His word speaks against fornication, adultery, and homosexuality---they are self-serving types of love.  A selfless type of love, where each person seeks only the best for each other to a great degree of sacrifice-----to the point of daily laying down each desire, big and small, to the benefit of the other---- is what marriage should look like.  

The Song of Solomon in the Old Testament is a book that makes people squirm in church when the preacher says to turn to it.  It is a very descriptive narrative of the love that Christ has for His church, but it is written as woman speaking of “my beloved” and the husband speaking of her.  It is very descriptive in the love each has for the other, but two things I love about it----

The bride calls her beloved, among other things, “my friend”.
The espoused husband calls his bride, “my sister, my spouse”. 

 They love each other way beyond physical intimacy.

Now-----what a lot of the bestsellers in Christian bookstores say is, “there is hope for your marriage.  Look at how awesome it can be!  It can be all fulfilling and perfect!”

Which is a big, fat half-truth.

Is there hope for your marriage?  Absolutely, in Jesus there is, and in doing things His way.  But is there ultimate fulfillment in marriage?

Nope. Not by a long shot.

But there IS ultimate fulfillment in Jesus! Listen to the bride describing how she met “her Beloved”:      

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.  The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?  It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.-----Song of Solomon 3:1-4

Oh dear reader, I too have found Him whom my soul loveth!  In June of 1995 I sought for Him by my bedside too.  I had tried for years to find Him in the broad ways of works, and religion, and a profession of the mouth.  But I found Him not----until I heard some watchmen who pointed me to repentance.  When I humbled myself before Him and abased my pride and confessed my utter wretchedness before my King of Kings-----oh, then I FOUND Him whom my soul loveth!  And I would not let Him go, and I have feebly and very poorly tried to take the message of My Beloved to those I love.  

Because my Beloved loved me enough to make me His----I can love my husband like He does me.  I don’t love as I should most of the time, but I AM able because HE is able, and when I rely on Him I do.

Which is what is on my heart.

Those who profess Christianity may or may not really know this Beloved.  I can say I know who LeBron James is but this is useless if he doesn’t know me.  But a true child of God, who Jesus  knows through true salvation----should realize that we are not above ANY TEMPTATION.  I want to educate, not hate.  I want to speak God’s truth in full----not just in judgment, but in love, so that my friends might be pointed to JESUS, the “author and finisher of our faith”. It isn’t in my own strength that I avoid temptation, but in HIS.  I realized a long time ago that I myself am, as they say, “a hot mess”.  

Friends, if I could give you anything, I would give you a taste of Jesus.  My heart’s desire is that you come to intimately be loved by Jesus, who knows you and created you. I long for you to know Him, to have your delight in Him.  To be deeply known and loved in the soul----not your mind or heart, but your soul-- a place that lies dormant until Jesus passes through.  I pray your desire is to find Him, that He may be your beloved.   

Love to you all this fine day----

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

50 Charades------part 1

Couple One:
The table was set in the very best she had; matching plates registered for eight months before, stylish yet sensible.  The glasses had only been used twice since their wedding day and now elegantly stood tall, proudly showing off a wonderful hand squeezed lemonade.  Atop the table was a loaf of homemade bread, not particularly Amish smooth but soft and warm none the less.  She could still feel a slight strain in her forearms as it took her quite some time to knead, and a slow, sly smile came to her lips.  She couldn’t wait until he finally arrived home from work. 

She pulled the ribs off the grill, and while they were tender they bore a few charred lines here and there, which disappointed her greatly.  She started to despair inside like a little child who had been denied, but then heard tires in the gravel.  She quickly removed her apron, and looking at her reflection in the patio door tucked a stray wheat-colored lock behind her ear.  Slightly nervous, she went to the door.

She opened it, and her heart sank.  Her husband came home with BBQ stains on his mouth, carrying a Styrofoam take-out box.

“Hey honey, wow did I have a day!  We were super busy, and I know you called me, but. .. “

Finally stopping to look at her, he was perplexed by the expression on her face. 

“Oh, yeah. . . yeah I know we were supposed to have a nice dinner in tonight.  But you’ll never BELIEVE my luck!  I got the chance to eat at the new BBQ place in town, and it was just awesome.  And I know that you made ribs tonight, and they’re always pretty decent, you know----- but these. . . . these just do something crazy to me.  They are the absolute best I have ever tasted. I’ll probably be hungry later----can you just heat them up for me in a few hours?”

Week after week, her hard worked dinners were met with a Styrofoam take out box.  First it was the new BBQ place, then a burger joint, then a pizza place; then any new place in town.  And week after week, her meal was consumed in a mirthless quiet, until that gave way to a deep bitterness.


One evening her husband had come home early, and in an effort to surprise his wife he had picked up dinner from the only place they usually went to together.  He set the table and read the news until she came home. 

“Hey honey!  Hey I wanted to surprise you tonight with our favorite place!  So I picked it up on the way home-----“

“Oh.  Thanks.  I’m not hungry.”

“Really?  Why?  I figured you would love this. . . .”

“Well, to be honest, I am kind of tired of that.  So I stopped in for a spicy sushi roll from the new place in town.  You wouldn’t believe how awesome it is!  The atmosphere is really a lot of fun----my friends and I have been meeting there a lot.  It is the best fun I have had in ages!  We dance and laugh and just talk and have a great time together.”

Sometimes the couple would eat together-----he would eat his meal and she would eat hers, in the same room together, but never the same meal.  The rift grew a little bigger each week.

Couple Two:

Wiping the sweaty, sticky hair from her forehead, Allyson put the firmly frozen pizza in the oven.  “It’s amazing how long these suckers take to bake!”, she said, consulting the box.  She had spent most of the day dealing with sick children in this summer heat, and she surely didn’t have much to show for it. 

She managed to pick up the living room a bit because she knew that Will would be home soon.  She knew that was important to him.  He worked such long hours at the machine shop to make a way for her and the kids that he deserved a little order and peace when he came home.  She went to the door and opened it, mustering up all the cheerfulness she could find.

Will saw his sweet wife in the doorway.  “My goodness, she looks like she’s had a day”, he thought to himself.  Allyson was such a hard worker, so thoughtful toward him and the children and to others. She deserved a little rest when he came home, so he intended to read books to his sick little ones so she could have some time of her own. 

After quick kisses Will asked about dinner. She apologetically told him that it was just a frozen pizza----nothing fancy, and certainly not what she wanted to serve.  She knew there were so many better pizzas out there to be eating, but she gave the very best she had that day. 

Will was so happy to have that pizza with his wife.  There were many other places to get a better tasting pizza, but no one in the world had made a pizza just for him.  .  .except Allyson.  And no man had worked hard for her that day . . . except Will.  They were thankful for the meal they shared together, which could have just as well been filet mignon, for the companionship was the true delight.  They ate side by side, enjoying the pizza, fully engaged with one another, eyes sparkling and both laughing and sharing about their day, the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me.----Solomon 7: 10
I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.----Solomon 6:3
His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.-----Solomon 5:16
Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.-----Solomon 4:7
Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. 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!-------Solomon 4:9-10