Freedom. Truth. Marriage.

My thoughts on these things. Feel free to leave feedback.

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

“Forgive and forget.”

We know we’re supposed to forgive someone that hurt us. That’s not easy to do. Some of the difficulty is because the one who’s been hurt thinks that to forgive means “forgive and forget.” They don’t think they can, or don’t want to, “forgive and forget.”

Who can forget being severely harmed? I was  abused growing up. I remember pretty much all of it. I even wrote about one of the spiritual lies I was beat down with here. But a few years ago I chose to forgive. While I remember, I don’t hold it against the abuser.

In Hebrews 8:12 it says God does not “remember” our wickedness. God is all knowing. Yet since He forgave us, He treats us as if the sin never happened.

This is what forgiveness is. It’s letting them off our hook, and treating them accordingly. This does not mean we allow ourselves to be subject to continued abuse and hurt. This does not mean we become their doormat or beating post. They are off our hook, and on God’s hook. We just choose not to hold on to the bitterness, anger, and resentment their hurt caused us. We’re mandated to forgive (Eph. 4:32), since God also forgave us. This includes forgiving ourselves sometimes.

Truth takeaway: Forgiveness doesn’t require forgetting.

What’s a hurt or wrong you’ve held on to because you thought that to forgive someone you had to forget about it as well?

forgive

 

 

(Image courtesy of here)

 

Advertisements

Sexual compabitility. What is it, really? Part 3

In our last 2 posts we read that:

  • In these days, two people can bring a varying amount of sexual experience, knowledge about sex, and exposure to sex into a relationship. The combination of all these is what we’ll call “sexual information.”
  • Vulnerability is extremely important. There will be no spiritual, emotional, or good sexual intimacy without vulnerability.

A couple that has different ideas, experiences, knowledge, desires, and beliefs about anything are not compatible, generally. In a God-centered marriage the idea is to take what incompatibilities there are and make them complement each other. Of course the more compatible a couple is overall the easier and less work it’ll take. What is going to make them compatible is “two becoming one” (Eph. 5:31).

So how do we actually live out all of this, particularly in regards to sex?

While, stereotypically, it’s the husband who is the one who is ready to do whatever/whenever/however with his new bride, that’s not always the case. There are women out there that come into a marriage with a lot more sexual information than their husbands. For the sake of this article I’m going to call the spouse with more sexual information “Mentor” and the one with less sexual information the “Protege.”

It’s the mentor’s responsibility to be as sexually active (frequency and ecstasy) as the protege feels comfortable.  It’s the protege’s responsibility to let the mentor show them how it all should work; being taught to have sex at the mentor’s level. The idea is the more “educated” spouse gently teaches and encourages the spouse with less sexual information. The goal, in time, is the Protege becoming as sexually informed as the Mentor-spouse. Vulnerability, gentleness, selflessness, and transparent communication are key in this.

  • Do a lot of stuff you both like.
  • Try something new the other suggests, in small doses if necessary.
  • Do something you don’t care about but the other person likes. Start doing it every now and then and building up in frequency as you get used to it.

Like exercise, it’s the heavy lifting that causes the biggest muscle growth. Simply put, you’ll grow more by really stretching your limits. “What if I don’t get used to that activity or don’t like it?” Developing compatibility – and marriage in general – is about them, not you. If a sexual act is really a problem, talk about it respectfully and be mindful of their feelings.

One disclaimer: There should be no manipulation, badgering, guilting, or shaming by either the Mentor or Protege. None of those actions speak or show love. Also, neither should ask or expect the other to commit a sinful act (extra participant, illegal act, public display of nudity).

Such compatibility isn’t something you’re going to accomplish in a week. Expect it to take a long time. Maybe even years. What’s more important than sexual quality or quantity is the intimate connection between you two.

Marriage compatibility, overall, should take precedence over sexual compatibility. If you are concerned sexual compatibility is or will be an issue, consider the steps I mentioned to help close the compatibility gap.

Hopefully this series helps shed some light on the lies behind what sexual compatibility is not. Most of all I hope it draws you closer to your spouse in your whole marriage.

What can you do to become more compatible with your spouse? What three things (sex or otherwise) do you despise doing that you know they would love for you to?

“Follow your heart.”

Popular advice says to “Follow your heart.”  The idea is that if you follow what your heart wants to do, you won’t make a bad decision and everything will go well for you. Can the heart be trusted? Can we let ourselves be led by it?

“The heart isdon't follow your heart more deceitful than anything else, and incurable — who can understand it?” Jer. 17:9

“For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts,  [and a whole list of bad things].  All these evil things come from within and defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23. Broken hearts just aren’t found in failed love and romance. Hearts truly broken bring out the worst in people.

“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool but he who walks wisely will be delivered” Prov. 28:26. Okay, now I’m not so sure I want to be following my heart around.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Prov 4:23. It seems hard to guard something when you’re following it. These next two passages convey the idea that we are responsible for taking care of our heart, not letting it take care of us:

“Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am cleansed from my sin?'” Prov. 20:9. “Don’t gloat when your enemy falls, and don’t let your heart rejoice when he stumbles,” Prov 24:17.

Perhaps we’re supposed to lead our heart, rather than follow it. What we put ourselves into our heart will follow. “…guide your heart on the right way” (Prov 23:19).

Truth takeaway: Don’t follow your heart. Lead your heart. Guard it and protect it.

Freedom takeaway: When we’re following our heart – our misguided heart – we’re basically giving it control of how we live, decide, and feel. By leading it, we’re taking back direction of our heart. This frees us from the entanglements a fickle heart brings.

Would you rather be a leader to your heart, or a follower of it?

(Images courtesy of here)

Sexual compatibility: What is it? Part 2

On the last post about sexual compatibility I ended with the question, “How do two Christians, with varying degrees of sexual information, approach the differences in their sex life?”

In J.M. Smiths’ Blog (and here), he quotes a friend who wrote about sexual compatibility. [I cannot find the link to Olatunde Howard’s article on his blogsite so I’ll just link to the site]. Mr. Howard suggests the key to sexual intimacy and compatibility is vulnerability. Not a word that most people want to hear, especially with such a sensitive and personal aspect of their being. Here’s what Mr. Howard said about it:
“God created the sexes, and thus created “sexual compatibility.” This is sexual compatibility: ‘Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.'(Gen 2:5). Sexual compatibility is the intimacy of vulnerability, physically, soulically, and spiritually. It means the man and woman are perfectly complimentary…
Not from Mars and Venus…
Not “opposite sexes”…
Not at war, even after the fall of humanity.
They are not each others enemies, not in competition or opposition. They don’t need to ‘perform’ in or out of bed.”

He goes on to say, “Relationships, even the best relationships, will take work. To understand another mind takes effort. Good effort, but effort none the less. The same is true with marital sex. Joining two distinct bodies will take sensitivity, time, and love. Husbands and wives can’t be more compatible than they are, but they can truly and intimately know each other, or not know each other very well at all. We are the images of [God], the One who can’t be known without revelation. Sex in marriage is a revelation. Spouses can’t experience sexual compatibility automatically any more than they can read each others minds. The core issue of sexual compatibility is vulnerability – of being naked and not ashamed.”

“But the truth is this: unlike in the movies, you will have to talk to find out what is sexually pleasing to your spouse.”

I agree with that last line. Not only will you need to find out what is pleasing, but displeasing as well. Also, what do they like more than something else? Is it about physical pleasure with them, or emotional connection? What are the deal breakers – things that will cause hurt feelings if done or not done? What differences do we have?

“So whether we’re dealing with sexual abuse, differences in sex drive, erectile dysfunction, or just plain fear, the key to sexual intimacy and sexual compatibility is vulnerability.

…Which is not something that must be learned by getting naked before marriage. It is learned by transparency and vulnerability both before and after the wedding.

“Being as frank, direct, and graphic as possible with the spouse. This kind of openness encompasses the Biblical idea of the husband “knowing” (Hebrew: yada’) his wife…All of will have some of these issues to lesser or greater extremes”

…Both need to be – actually, they need get – comfortable talking about sex openly. Sex between a married couple is God’s design and a physical symbol of the relationship between the church and Christ. It’s not bad or naughty. If it helps, write fantasies, dreams, and likes in a story format (with only you two as the subjects) then hand them for the other to read so that they get a descriptive mental picture.

“Talking about these things and responding sensitively, based on the vulnerability it takes to speak about these issues, will be the most important thing a couple can do to be sexually compatible. What it boils down to is this: Compatibility, sexually, spiritually, or emotionally, is a fluid and relational experience, not a state that either exists or does not. It is a kind of sensitive yielding, not an innate sexual ability.”

Vulnerability is necessary for real sexual compatibility. No matter how much sexual information someone brings to the relationship. Hopefully we’ve discarded the myth the sexual compatibility is something that does or doesn’t exist and must be “test driven” to be determined.

Next, some practical steps to achieving more compatibility (vulnerability) in the bedroom.

“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

I must confess that when I read this misquote I cringe. Not because it’s a distortion of the scripture and Biblically untrue. It has the potential to be hurtful to the recipient.
3272214020_f0448931d0_z
1 Corinthians 10:13 is where this comes from and it says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” (HCSB)

This verse is talking about being tempted with sin, specifically. Not life struggles in general. We all have awful struggles in life. God is there when we can’t handle it anymore. I’m not saying He gives or  allows such things to happen, but when they do happen He is there to turn to. He’s our rock in the storm.

How is it potentially hurtful?
Imagine believing there is truth in this saying, then getting hit with a mind-blowing struggle that just leaves you reeling. You recall this passage and think:
1) God is a liar and is giving me too much,
2) I must be a weakling who can’t handle much,
3) Since God’s given me this, He’s testing me to see how strong I am or to make me stronger. I must hold on with all my might.

None of these points are true about you or anyone else. The idea that “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” is a lie. If anything He’s there for you when you can’t handle it.

Truth takeaway: We will be faced with more than we can handle. We can then turn to God for strength and grace. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Freedom takeaway: When you realize you can’t handle it, that’s okay. Confess it, “God I need help! I can’t handle this!”

(Images courtesy of here)

Sexual Compatibility: What is it? Is it real? Part 1

(This is part 1 of a 3 part series. I’ll release the other 2 parts on the next 2 Sundays).

It seems like the subject of “sexual compatibility” has been coming up a lot lately. You see it on TV and the internet. People – including Christians – use it as a reason to have premarital sex. They also use it as a reason to divorce. What does the Bible say about sexual compatibility? Traditionally most couples, particularly Christian, never had sex until they were married. They only knew what someone told them. Both were comparatively ignorant about sex and sexuality when they reached that first night.

Now we learn about sexual specifics in a much more fluid and informed society than in times past. We know more about all manner of sexual activity than our grandparents knew at that age. I don’t have statistics but I think we can all agree that by the time people are getting married (20s-30s) they have a lot of sexual exposure, knowledge, and/or experience (we’ll call these “sexual information”) – even among professed Christ-followers. With years of sexual information behind them, the levels of sexual information between a couple can be night and day.

In the present day we have people entering in relationships and being as concerned with sexual compatibility as any other aspect of marriage. A Relevant magazine article states that “80 percent of Christians in the 18-29 age range…have had sex before marriage.” In a survey of Christian married couples done by The Marriage Bed only 21% of those couples did not have sex before their wedding. 49% of those surveyed had intercourse (“Wedding Night Survey”). Some of those are having intercourse after participating in “purity” programs such as True Love Waits. Is sexual compatibility that important in a marriage?

This blog post by Hafeez Baoku on The Gospel Coalition’s website, addresses sexual compatibility:

“The primary problem with this notion of sexual chemistry is that it focuses sex on pleasure and performance… God gave sex as a gift to be exclusively enjoyed by a husband and wife as a means of loving, caring, serving, honoring, and enjoying each other in marriage. So sexual compatibility between a married couple comes neither from ecstasy (how good the sex is) nor frequency (how often you have it) but mainly from intimacy, which occurs as love, trust, security, and respect deepen through the longevity of a monogamous, self-giving, covenant relationship.

From the many conversations I’ve had with those who are happily married with healthy, God-honoring sex lives, I’ve learned that true sexual compatibility, if we must call it that, happens when two people commit themselves first to God, and then to each other. This covenant commitment affords an opportunity for a husband and wife to unconditionally serve and love the way Jesus loves his bride, the church (Eph. 5:22-33). Marriage is a journey in which two incompatible, selfish sinners learn to become one. There will thus be multiple things — including sex — that both parties will have to figure out together along the way.

…Therefore, I’m willing to trust God and wait, not because I want to have the most euphoric wedding night with someone I’m perfectly sexually compatible with, but because I want a healthy, God-honoring marriage after the wedding night with the person to whom I’ve just committed my life.”

This article by Mr. Baoku hits the nail on the head. If there’s one thing I have learned in 16 years of marriage: it isn’t about sex, physical pleasure, and being compatible in the bedroom. It really is about a whole God-honoring marriage.

Hopefully this sets the stage for the next part of this discussion. Ideally, physical aspects of sexual compatibility shouldn’t be an issue. But an issue it is. So how do to two Christians, with varying degrees of premarital sexual exposure and/or experience (i.e. sexual information), approach the differences in their sex life? Next time we’ll look at how vulnerability ties into compatibility. Then I’ll suggest some ideas to actually walk that out.

Stuck in a Rut

“Don’t you remember what you used to be like? Why, back then you habitually walked around trapped and unable to get off the track you were stuck on — totally unaware that you were being dominated and manipulated by the constantly fluctuating thinking of the day, by the whims of the times, and by whatever society was giving its approval to at that moment….” Ephesians 2:2 (from “Sparkling Gems From the Greek,” Rick Renner)

Who feels like this? Like they’re being influenced and flowing along by the ideas of society, pop culture, political fights, news media, and what ever else seems good at the time? Who feels like they are filling that hollow, numb spot in their heart with… anything?

How would it feel to be free from that? The feeling of being full of life, firmly established, so that no matter what craziness our culture comes up with next, we know we’re okay.

By God’s grace we were lifted up out of those ruts and through Him can walk through this life fully alive and stable (Eph 2:4-10). stuck-in-a-rut

(Image courtesy of here)

Post Navigation

Cloudy with a Chance of Susan

Inside the Mind of Susan Cloud

Everyone Loves Sex: So Why Wait?

Just another WordPress.com site

Do Not Disturb

Practical Steps for Friendship, Unity and Intimacy in Your Marriage

The Forgiven Wife

Learning to Dance with Desire

Duct Tape and Denim

Thrift store makeovers~Upcycled Jewelry~Living a Repurposed Life~DIY Crafts

Mark and Lauren

in Asia-Pacific

changedbygrace.net

Thoughts along the journey

Freedom-Truth-Marriage

Freedom... Truth... Marriage...