The Emptiness of Sexual Encounters


Society glamorizes sex.

Chris and Sabina's Wedding Cake
Polish Apple Cake

Why is this? Because it feels good? Because it’s entertaining? We assume that any remote attraction between a man and woman should result in a sexual encounter. Why is that? What are we really seeking?

Companies spend billions of dollars each year to promote an activity devoid of any value except a pleasurable experience. Some people feel bungee jumping is a titillating affair, but we don’t see ads telling us that if we wear the right clothes or perfume or even deodorant we will attract a bungee jumping adventure!

So why sex?

Recently, I was chatting with someone about dating online. Since she and I both met our guys on the internet, we had that common connection. The topic of older people looking for love online came up. She wanted to know if I had heard of a particular older woman who wanted sex so she used internet dating to find men.  Traveling all over, this woman encountered these online suitors and had a lot of sex. Apparently, she wrote a book about it.

My initial thought when I heard about this was “and then what?”

Was she satisfied? Left wanting more? What was the point? More sex? Don’t think for a moment that I don’t understand the enticement of the physical experience and outcome of the sexual act.  I’m fully aware! But sex without intimacy, love, and the commitment of two souls is like eating a scrumptious dessert; it may taste good at the time, but it will only last the night.

My husband and I have been reading the book Love and War by John and Stasi Eldrege. I’ve mentioned it before and can’t recommend it enough.  The past couple of weeks we’ve been digesting “The Chapter on Sex” (that’s the title).  The following is from p.178:

Marriage is the sanctuary God created for sex, and only there, in the refuge of covenantal love, will you find sex at its best. For a lifetime. The coming together of two bodies in the sensual fireworks of sex is meant to be a consummating act, the climactic event of two hearts and souls that have already been coming together outside the bedroom and can’t wait to complete the intimacy as deeply as they possibly can.

It doesn’t get better than that.

Truly, it doesn’t. Brendan and I experienced our hearts and souls melding together through our long distance relationship long before we met in person. And we’ve found that our choice to wait for our wedding night to complete the intimacy was one of the best we’ve ever made!

Unfortunately, the general public has bought the line (hook and sinker included) that sex is meant for one night stands or a couple of months of physical pleasure, but that type of encounter is a hollow counterfeit. It may feel good, even great in the moment, but believe me when I say that it’s settling for second best.

The Bible puts it like this:

I have seen something horrible: they commit adultery and live a lie.  Jeremiah 23:14

Adultery is simply any sexual encounter outside the “sanctuary of marriage.” Having sex like that, simply for the sake of a good feeling or entertainment, is living an empty lie. God made sex and made it great (read Song of Songs in the Bible for proof), so the “something horrible” isn’t sex. What’s horrible is the way we get ripped off when we settle for something less than the best God has.

Using the internet to find the love of your life—good idea. Using the internet to find sex—a poor second.

Have you ever taken part in anything you thought was great until you experienced the real thing?

A Really Good Fight


The tension in our home presses on me as if the ceiling and walls were inching closer, forcing out the air and leaving me suffocated.

Every task I put my hand to seems like dragging through mud with repeated interruptions and distractions. My phone will not stop ringing. We’re late to pick up our daughter from camp. Back issues make any position uncomfortable. Each word on the screen is a struggle…even if I get them down, the cursor jumps unbidden to another spot, inserting letters into the middle of a different word. Run! It urges me. Get out. Quit. Give up. Screaming or crying seem my only option for release.

But I get it. I know what’s happening.

For those of you who don’t believe in an enemy of our souls (Satan), or who relegate him to a comically sinister pitch forked demon dressed in a red unitard, I may challenge your theology with these next words.

The Bible says Satan is like a lion prowling around looking to devour us. (I Peter 5:8) It warns us to be alert to his schemes because he is out steal, kill and destroy us (John 10:10) or anything we put our hand to; especially if we have been following God’s lead in any particular direction.

This morning, as we do each Friday morning, Brendan and I spent time reading and discussing a book on marriage. I’ve mentioned the book in previous blogs. The title is Love and War by John and Stasi Eldrege. We’re on our second time through it in the past six months–it’s that helpful! The interesting thing is that we’ve been working on the same chapter for three weeks. Not that it’s so long, but because of the subject. The title of the chapter? How to Have a Really Good Fight (Chapter 6 in case you are headed there now).

What we both love about this chapter is the fact that it uncovers what goes on under the surface of a marriage. The prowling lion part. How can best friends who adore each other in every sense of the word be convinced at times that each one is the other’s worst enemy? Why do accusations jump to our minds at the innocuous words or actions of our spouse? What goes through our mind in the midst of a disagreement–our spouse’s pain or our point? For two hours, we battled through the end of this chapter, praying, discussing, crying, praying for each other. Yes, it was a battle. A well fought and well worth it one. But a battle nonetheless. And clearly, the battle rages on through our day.

Because we are on the right path and the enemy is squirming.

My feeling of running and screaming? It’s really Satan’s fear at losing his grip on areas of our life and marriage. He’s the one screaming as we stand together to have a really good fight–against him!

Other areas are threatening him as well. Brendan recently submitted an invention for a patent; I’m almost finished with the editing on our book. Our kids are growing each day in their understanding of God, his love for them and who he made them to be. Brendan and I are being healed and changed from past hurts. Each step we take following the direction God indicates (starting with Brendan deciding to contact me online) brings us more life, more freedom and more joy, individually and as a couple and family.

And each step threatens God’s enemy and ours. Especially when we tell people. Or write it in a blog or a song or a book. The stories we tell about God’s work in our lives strengthen us and others. Just like John and Stasi Eldrege have strengthened us with their story through their book.

The good news?

Peace has come while I’ve been writing this. The ceiling is in its rightful place, and I no longer feel like screaming.

So how’s your day going? Do you have a story to tell that puts fear in the heart of Satan because it brings life and rightness and gives glory to God? Will you share in the comments below?

 

 

Love, War and Sex


My husband and I celebrated our third year anniversary this week. We were fortunate to take off for a few days on an adventure of zip lining through the forest near our home (Mt. Hermon Redwood Canopy Tours), then on to Half Moon Bay where we enjoyed good food, window shopping, long conversations, watching airplanes land and a lot of laughing! We also took a book to read together.

I wrote a bit about this book in a post a couple of months ago titled Relationships. The book, Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge is the most helpful guideline we’ve discovered for our marriage. We’re reading through it a second time. That’s how good it is!

One of the challenges of dating online from two different continents was the sporadic, cyber life we inhabited. Writing emails and long Skype chats gave us the benefit of knowing so many details about each other; our emotional roots went deep. But we missed out on daily dating life which could have enlightened us about our dysfunctional ways of relating. Love and War is helping us understand our messed up perspectives, and what to do about them.

Like many couples, we’ve harbored messed up perspectives regarding sex. Negative childhood experiences, societal messages and lack of understanding this awesome God ordained ecstasy all contributed to our twisted perceptions. John and Stasi Eldredge offer some intriguing and fabulous insights about sex, why we end up with warped ideas and what to do about it. We’re learning a lot.

So at one point during our anniversary get away (sorry, no specific details here!), we discussed our intimacy while lying in each other’s arms. Part of the discourse went something like this:

“Honey, I’m thinking that sex can be analogous to two things,” I mused.

“What’s that, darling?”

“Well, I think it can be like a wedding feast. You know, like Chris and Sabina’s wedding (Chris is our son in Poland who just got married in November); hours of eating, dancing, drinking and toasting, fun and spending great time in relational celebration. Making love should be a celebration of intimacy, relationship and good things.”

“I think you’re right. What’s the other analogy?” Brendan asked. He loves analogies.

“Sex can also be like fast food. Quick, without substance or much thought and no intimacy. I mean they both satisfy a need; get the job done, but isn’t a feast better than a Big Mac?”

“Yeah,” he paused to kiss me. “It is.”

We shared another kiss and felt the promise of feasting stir our hunger.

“Brendan?” I murmured.

“Yes, darling?”

“You know I’m going to have to blog about this, right?”

“I reckoned you would,” he chuckled.

The weekend feast surpassed our expectations. Thank you John and Stasi.

 

 

 

 

Relationships


I confess that writing a blog while writing a book on the same topic is a little tricky especially when they aren’t exactly coinciding. My blog is ahead of my book, but I realize I’ve left parts out…crucial parts, and I tend to feel tempted to go back and fill in the blanks. For those of you following our online dating story, that may thrill you, and yet as in any good book or movie I don’t want to give away the ending.

Okay, so for those of you who know us, you know the ending already. Many of you were there at our wedding. So it’s a little like telling a story backwards. And as I’ve said, that’s a bit tricky.

In spite of the temptations and expectations, what I feel led to write today, while it may not seem pertinent to the ongoing story, is the bottom line of pertinence.

Relationships.

Relationships no matter with whom, are complicated and difficult. And amazingly wonderful. And we won’t grow without them.

Last night after hearing a bit of our story, a young woman posed a question to my husband and I that went something like “So do you still feel like you’re in the honeymoon stage? Is the romance still there?”

Very good questions. With multiple levels of answers. Which is why I think I feel drawn to the issue of relationship today.

The easy answer is yes and no. Our honeymoon introduced the “end” of the honeymoon “phase” (our first real fight), and yet we often gaze at each other with eyes and hearts of honeymooners. We feel the romance of our love, devotion and miracle story frequently and deeply, but we also sometimes look at each other and wonder (like all couples) “what the heck is going on, how did we get here and how do we do this?”

My husband and I just started reading Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge. It’s a book about marriage being a picture of God’s love story with us. Before we finished the introduction, I was crying and my husband was tearing up. It’s that powerful, honest, encouraging and hopeful. I’m so grateful that someone has the guts to talk about the struggles in their marriage, not with the shame and embarrassment that we all feel, but with the transparent truth that shouts out “the emperor has no clothes!” Aren’t we all sighing with relief when someone finally states  the obvious that no one else will dare utter? Marriage is hard, and we don’t get it. I’m crazy in love with this person that bewilders me and makes me want to punch them at times. By the way, is that okay? Are we doomed then to be a statistic or is there hope for us?

Sometimes it’s hard to admit that the fairy tale isn’t working out as we imagined it would, but what I’m learning is that the fairy tale is true and happily-ever-after IS possible, it just takes a little more hard work and perseverance  than movies ever have time for. It’s okay to struggle and to let people know we need help. It’s not only okay, it’s normal, typical and to be expected. The problem is that we just don’t expect it, and then panic when difficulty comes and we aren’t sure how to handle it.

One of the best (and most frequent) encouragements we have received from other further-along-in-marriage couples is the concept of being on the same team. We love each other; that’s a given. So instead of fighting each other and each other’s baggage, we want to learn to fight together on behalf of each other. How can I help my husband become all God intends for him to be? How does he do the same for me? We can apply this to relationships with siblings, friends and parents as well, not only spouses.

Next week maybe I’ll fill in some of the blanks of our story, though not so much as to keep you from wanting to read the book, but for now let’s just say that marriage is a fantasy, a reality, a dream worth pursuing and fighting for. And, we win in the end. Isn’t that what romance is all about?