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Archive for the tag “people in our life”

“Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

In our society and cultural debates these days, this one comes up often. I’ve used it a lot myself. To me, it just sounds “right.” But what sounds right to us and what the Bible declares as truth isn’t always the same. I was really eager to look into this saying to determine its truthfulness. The phrase itself is actually a quote from Mahatma Ghandi. So is it Biblical?

A lot of the time I’ll find one of these sayings. As I’m looking into the history of it and comparing it with the Bible I’ll find what others have said about it. This is one of those where I feel like someone has already explained it, and has provided good Scripture to support their explanation.

This link explains the truth behind “Hate the sin; love the sinner.” While this article is simply their interpretation and opinion, it’s one I agree with.

Truth takeaway: We tend to treat people based on what they’ve done wrong. This is wrong in itself. No matter how heinous the offense they’ve committed they are loved by God. The same God that loves you and me. Their actions/behaviors that are incited by the Evil One are to be hated, but not the people.

Freedom takeaway: If we could remember to see people the way God does – as children needing loved – how would we deal with those we’d normally shun? What would it be like to be able to deal with people without having disgust for their actions cloud our dealing with them or praying for them?

ThingsWeSaw

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“They’re my rock”

Crumbled RockI’ve heard people say “so-and-so is my rock” all my life. Lately it has made me think about what they meant. I looked it up on an online slang dictionary and it said the “rock” is someone who’s supportive to a person or helped them through a difficult time.

It reminds me of that Bible story about the house built on the rock and the house built on the sand. What happened to the house not built on the rock? It fell. Yet so often when I’ve heard people say this, they’re talking about another person. People who are made up of dirt (sand) and will return to being dirt (sand). The house built on the real rock, Jesus, stood through the storm.

What’s wrong with another human being – mom, dad, preacher – being a rock for someone? They die. They move away. They falter. They make mistakes. They fall.

Maybe I’ve been let down by people too much. Perhaps that’s why I can’t understand why someone would want to make “their rock” another person. Especially when I hear other believers say this. What kind of personal relationship do they have with God their Creator that they see it better to trust in another person, rather than the all-powerful source of love?

There’s only one person I know I can talk to and hear back from knowing that He’s not going to lead me astray, make mistakes, or leave me. The character of God is one of a friend, counselor, and one who walks beside us. This isn’t idealistic or out of reach. It’s Biblical truth.

Psalms 146:3-5 “Do not trust in nobles, in man, who cannot save. When his breath leaves him, he returns to the ground; on that day his plans die. Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,”

Truth takeaway: No person can ever function as our “rock.” There’s only one Rock. If it seems strange to call on God to be a Rock, I encourage anyone to try. He’ll be there when all the dirt-rocks have crumbled away.

Who is your “rock” and why?

(Top image courtesy of here)ThingsWeSaw

Give her Everything!

I noticed I haven’t been posting a lot about marriage so I decided to do that today.

Ephesians 5:22-33 is one of God’s most direct guidelines about marriage. Yet it seems like most emphasis is given to the wife’s roles (vs 22-24) – especially from men. That’s strange because those verses are to/for women. If you count them up, there’s 3 verses written to women and 9 written to men. I wonder which verses us husbands and men of the church need to be focusing on.

Men definitely have the bigger role. We are responsible for giving up ourselves for her, taking care of her, pouring into her spiritual growth, loving her more than we do ourselves, and according to verse 21, submit to her too!

Some of the marriage books and seminars I’ve read/gone to are often about how to take care of her so that she takes care of me and vice versa. This, in turn, takes care of our marriage. But this passage in Ephesians reads to me like this:

It’s not about me and it’s not about us. It’s about her. It’s not about meeting her needs and speaking her love language so she will reciprocate. It’s about doing it because I have been told to give my life up for her. This means pouring into her whatever she wants or needs and expecting nothing back. Doing this means I am (even currently) having to give up on things I’d like to see in our marriage.

Honestly, it’s been painful and disappointing. Do I really trust God enough to say, “I’ll let go of my wants/needs because trying to get her to meet them causes us more pain and strife. Meanwhile, every day I’m her husband, my goal will be to give her whatever she needs and wants.”

I’m not sure what the takeaways are. Us men need to take a hard look at what this passage is about. From the pulpit to each man, we need to be focusing on what we’re not doing and be doing it.

How do you think your spouse would feel if you never denied them what they needed or wanted?

 

“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)

 

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?

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.

Infinite Forgiveness

FathersonforgivenessI was in 4th grade when I was baptized. The church I went to was very legalistic so I read the Bible and developed an interest in how to understand it. My problem was – as it is with most kids – living it out. There was an adult male who, technically, had authority over me. He went to the same church until he grew up, then he quit attending. I don’t know what he was taught back then but something got distorted along the way. Quite often he would use Bible verses to make me feel guilty or ashamed of something I did.

There’s one of those talks that really sticks out to me. I had done something I had been told not to do again. He said something like “What does God think when you keep doing ____?”
I replied, “I’ll just ask him for forgiveness.”
He spoke as if he had knowledge of the Bible when he responded, “Do you think God will just keep forgiving you over and over?”
“No.” I answered. I think my answer was more out of fear of him. Because I know that’s the answer he was looking for.

When retelling this to a counselor years later, I told them that deep down I believed that lie I responded to. They showed me the truth of what God’s Word actually says about infinite forgiveness and prayed with me. I haven’t believed that lie since.

Here’s only a few verses that talks about Gods forgiveness versus condemnation:

Nehemiah 9:17 “But You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in faithful love, and You did not abandon them.”

Psalm 86:5 “For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You.” …He’s ready to forgive all who call on him. Ready. To forgive!

Psalm 103:3 “He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases.” …All means all. Not a limited number of times.

John 3:18 “Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.” …I never was condemned, even back then. Likewise…

John 5:24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.”

Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” …No condemnation. None. None means none!

Romans 8:34 “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.” …Whether an authority figure, parent, church leader, age, size – no one can condemn those in Christ.

Hebrews 8:12 “For I [God] will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins.” …By remembering it means God won’t hold them against us.

It can’t get more plain than this: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. …No stipulations. No use limits.

Truth takeaway: God forgives. He’s ready to forgive, not reluctant to. There’s no limits to his mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

Freedom takeaway: If you feel God can’t or won’t forgive you because of something you’ve done; or if you feel like you’ve just done too much – He will. He can. As often as you need it.

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