Rated R: The Mystery of Marriage

The word “mystery” in the Bible does not mean what most people seem to think.  The first definition of the word is anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown.”  However, other definitions are more fitting: “an event that remains unsettled until the very end,” or specifically, “any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation.”  I.e., a mystery is not something about which we are still in dark; it is something that is being or has been revealed, though it was once hidden.

Now to the singles reading this, I will offer very little to aid you in your sexuality, other than to note that Jesus was a young adult single.  I can offer (in another blog sometime) advice on this matter, but only as an observer and student of Scripture, because I am “the marrying kind.”  Jesus, the apostle Paul and others, both men and women, were not, and they lived fulfilled and purposeful lives without spouses, and with complimentary relationships without sex.

As for the MPA Rating, the R is a slight overstatement.  Spoiler: there is no lewdity, nudity, or excessive foul language or violence, but the subject matter IS something which you probably don’t want children to read without parental input.  If you have come here for the R rating, please stick around for a few minutes and read about the mystery of a marriage.  Regarding Same-Sex marriage, I refer you to an earlier blog.

Consider for a moment what most modern American marriage relationships look like.  Now this a VERRRY broad generalization and not to be taken as a model for how a marriage must work, but just an observation of how most in our nation work.
He mows the lawn, maintains the vehicles, does minor repairs around the house, works outside the home, and sometimes shares some of the housekeeping or cooking.  He maintains the checkbook, figures their taxes and spends some time with the children.
She does most of the cooking and housekeeping, organizes vacations, makes reservations and is primarily responsible for raising the children even though she may also work outside the home.
And he shows love to his wife and she shows respect to him, and they satisfy each other sexually.

If they are more affluent they may hire a landscaper to maintain their lawn, and they will take their autos in regularly for maintenance.  If anything in the house needs attention they just call a repairman.  They may hire a CPA to do their taxes and may even have a personal financial manager to pay their bills, and tell them how much they can spend on amenities each week. 
Perhaps they will employ a cook and a housekeeper or order meals from a service that provides on time delivery.  The cook may do the grocery shopping and the housekeeper maintains their cleaning supplies.  They may sign up for a cruise or tour group and leave the travel arrangements entirely to the tour company.  A nanny could be hired to come in daily, or an au pair may live with them and share meals with the family.

All of these services can be hired without incurring any personal guilt or judgement from society.

However, if they indulge in sexual infidelity, there will be consequences.  These may involve separation, legal actions, social stigmatism, and maybe divorce.  There will be changes in family relationships beyond the couple, including children, in-laws, shirt-tail relatives and family friends.  There may be job losses or changes, housing rearrangements, financial hardships, and a complete reorienting of their lives.  All because of violating one feature of the marriage relationship.

This suggests that there is something unique about the sexual relationship in a marriage that makes it apart from all of the other intimacies and details of the “normal” marriage.  The Bible supports this idea in 1 Corinthians  6:18: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” 

The husband who does not tend to his wife’s sexual desires risks pushing her away, either into the arms of another or into volunteerism or vocational obsessions.  The wife who does not tend to her husband’s sexual desires may find him falling for promiscuity, prostitution or pornography to gratify them.  The unique thing which elevates their marriage above every other relationship a husband or wife may have is their sexuality, specifically their sexual fidelity.

Every marriage is as unique as the couple involved.  No two are exactly alike, but there are certain commonalities that can be recognized in any successful and pleasant marriage. 

The first is a common faith, a recognition that the marriage is not just for their happiness, but is a “mystery,” a reflection of Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5:31-33)

Let’s reveal this “mystery!”  Jesus said the pattern for marriage was laid down by God at the creation: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh.”  (Matthew 19:4-6)

Problems in marriages come because none of us is completely sinless as Jesus was (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15).  So when you put two fallible people together and tell them to love and respect each other (Ephesians 5:33), there will inevitably be conflicts, as each of them needs the other to discover where their selfishness lies.  It is in the curing of that selfishness that married couples become a model of Christ and the Church.

2021-04-17 Marital FidelityThe second is a developing intimacy that will increase and expand as they live together.  Sexual expression will likely be a part of that intimacy even when age or illness deteriorates the actual sex act of consummation.  An acceptance of a spouse’s body in the same way one sees his or her own body will grow in this intimacy (Ephesians 5:29).  Just as one looks at his or her reflection in a mirror and tolerates developing wrinkles or extra body fat or minor defects, loving and respectful husbands and wives will become more comfortable with each others’ bodies, and can enjoy physical intimacy that reflects what the Scripture means when it says “the two shall become one flesh.”  (Genesis 2:24)

Note the inclusivity and exclusivity of this expectation:  Nothing is forbidden in the marriage sexual relationship as long as it is mutually agreed and not harmful.  However, it is ONLY for the two committed to the marriage.  (See for more about this.)

As books have been written on these subject, I will simply refer you to some of best I have encountered and encourage you to explore this wonderful subject of what makes cohabitation a marriage by reading a couple of these references:
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman
The Gift of Sex by Dr. Clifford and Mrs. Joyce Penner
The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick
His Needs, Her Needs by Dr. William Harley

See https://www.marriagebuilders.com/ for an excellent online resource from Dr. Harley.

Mystery solved.  Revelation resolved.

 

Three Weeks of Sex

If you have come here hoping to find lurid script or lewd pictures, please do not leave frustrated.  Stick around and read the following blog about what marriage is supposed to be and you may find you did not come here by accident simply because of the title, but destined by a Divine appointment.  These are important ideas anyone considering marriage should know.  This is not comprehensive as there are many good books covering this material, but my 1000-word blog might get you started on a good path.  Next week I will discuss issues for satisfying sex and the third week will describe the difference between lust and temptation to lust.

Consider that most of what married couples do for each other can be hired out without serious consequences and without judgment from God.  I hire a young man to do my lawn mowing and paid someone to replace my gutters.  A couple could hire a maid to fix meals or a housekeeper to clean.  Professional ‘organizers’ can come to your home to do everything from sorting your library to setting your computer files in order.  Nannies can take over most, if not all, of the discipline and raising of children.  A man and woman not married to each other can take a necessary road trip and even sleep in the same hotel room without sinning.  Not that I am recommending any of these options!  Just laying them out there to show what makes a marriage relationship different from the one you have with your landscaper, nanny, or business associate.

There is only one function of a husband or wife that is not a payable one without incurring significant problems: sex.  The problems come even in so-called “open marriages,” where trust is defeated, security destroyed, and personalities are warped.  The Designer of marriage knew what He was doing.

Sex was not attached to Adam’s and Eve’s sin; it was not why they were expelled nor is it part of the punishment.  It was not even their idea!  The God Who Is There came up with the idea and gave the command and description of sexual union in marriage before the fall (Genesis 2:21-25).  The two dimensions of marriage were evident right then:
1. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother . . .” – social and legal dimensions.
2. . . . “and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – personal and relational dimensions.

The social and legal implications are complex but can be summarized to say that every society has held certain regulations for marriage, whether it was as simple as Isaac bringing Rebekah into his mother’s tent (Genesis 24:67) or as complicated as the negotiations between European countries to marry their royals.  There is a social side which is to say that the couple is recognized as an exclusive relationship by the society in which they live.  This has usually been supported by legal constraints that rewarded marriage with special rights and privileges and penalized violations of whatever vows were promised in the ceremony.

The personal and relational implications begin with a husband and wife entering an exclusive physical relationship.  No society has endured more than a few years that allowed any man or woman to share any member of the opposite sex he or she wished.  The sex act has always been recognized as the epitome of the marriage relationship, i.e. what makes the marriage a marriage.

Adultery (sex with someone who is married to another) and fornication (sex with someone who is not married) are both condemned as abnormal behavior which the Designer did not plan.  Yet the drive for sexual satisfaction has been at the root of innumerable conflicts between husbands and wives as well as the cause of wars and plagues.

The Bible is very clear that sexual immorality should not have any part of the life of a Christ-follower (Proverbs 6:20-35; Romans 13:13; Colossians 3:5).  At the same time, it elevates the sexual act to more than just a physical experience (1 Corinthians 6:16-20; Ephesians 5:31-32).  The Holy Spirit is somehow present in the physical union of two people even if they do not want Him to be.  The result of immorality is to twist something that is supposed to be a human representation of spiritual realities into a defiled temple.  There is no case for having sex and not having consequences, even if no child results from the union, even if they do not know each other’s names and never see each other again!  The damage to God’s temple is done in a way that no other sin effects!

James brings an equality to sins that we have a difficult time understanding.  He says “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law” (James 2:10-11).  The focus of James is on Who the offended party is when we sin, as we tend to rank sins by offensiveness to our senses.  But there is definitely a difference in the characteristics of sins and their consequences (See John 19:11 and Mark 3:29).  Sexual immorality is thus condemned by the Bible and immoral practitioners are in serious danger of missing eternal life (Revelation 22:15).

Sexual union is recognized in the Bible as the plan for married couples whether procreation is part of the package or not (Proverbs 18:22; Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:25-33).  The Ephesians passage is the basis of Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ excellent book, Love and Respect, to which I will refer more fully next week.  The essence of it is that a husband is to unconditionally love his wife and a wife is to unconditionally respect her husband.

Part of the Good News is the redemption of marriages that changes them into models of Christ and His Church, just as much as it is about His redemption of all the evil we do before we become Christ-followers.  Many believers have noted, after deciding to follow Jesus, how events of their past without Christ were woven into their lives so that the very sins that the devil wanted to use to destroy them became the leverage to turn them to the Lord.  He can redeem your marriage as well and bring you to a place of peace and satisfaction that you have not known before.

Next week, in our Second Week of Sex we will discuss Love and Respect in more detail from Dr. Eggerichs’ book.

Just A Weaver
by Benjamin Malacia Franklin

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;

And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.