Sunday, September 21, 2008

Are we ministering or being ministered to by "sloppy agape" in our marriage?

While reading on a marriage forum recently I found this thought-provoking comment that caused me to ponder. The poster stated:

"..... there seem to be many spouses who are also not giving anything sexual (even the non PIV things) even at the end of the day. This is a time that is traditionally thought of as "bed time is sex time." So when a spouse sees bedtime approaching I think it is reasonable to expect him/her to start preparing his/her mind and emotions for intimacy, or at least to respond to intimate requests."

The more I thought about this, the more I began to think that there are waaaaay too many young folks getting married and older folks who have been married a while, who are clueless about the fact that sexual intimacy is a major portion of what sets the marriage relationship apart from mere friendships. [And please, I'm not even getting into the idea that so many singles are engaging in sex these days.]

Some friends are very physically affectionate depending on their cultural upbringing. You may see them walking along holding hands, or arms wrapped around each other, or touching/kissing in non-sexual ways, etc. Friends do these things if they are of the affectionate variety. However, when we cross over from a friendship to a marriage, what is it that sets marriage apart from mere friendship? Why, it's the sex, of course.

Now what goes through the mind of an individual when he/she is preparing for marriage? Are they doing anything to prepare themselves for the level of spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy that a healthy Christian marriage requires? I don't think so! It seems to me that for many who are in the premarital/engagement stage and older married folks, their perception of married life is extremely skewed. It's like they want their fiance to be affectionate and loving in the marriage... kissing, hugging, cuddling... you can do those things with a stuffed, teddy bear... and they look forward to "playing house" after the wedding but... where is the ambition, the goal to work towards developing a sexually passionate relationship once they marry?

Think about this-- How many of you talked to your fiance about marital sex during your engagement as you waited in anticipation to begin enjoying sex after the wedding? Can you now look back and see that perhaps your spouse was nodding his/her head "yes" in agreement when in their heart of hearts, they may have been only agreeing to live together as friends? How many of you now, today, see your spouse enjoying the benefits of being "roomies" only with the addition of getting pregnant and raising kids together? Yet they are overwhelmingly ignoring their God-given, sexual calling to fulfill their spouse's sexual needs and desires.

How many can say their spouse enthusiastically enjoyed sex while attempting pregnancy but most other times, preferred giving excuses? [I've heard that story a million times over.] OK, let's assume that they are of low or no-SD; many people are. What about their spiritual calling to unselfishly give in sexual abundance... not leftovers, ABUNDANCE??? Does Christ give us His leftovers? Of course not and neither should we.

Do we only love God when we feel like it, only when we are in the mood? Is spirituality based on feelings? I think not. Where do we, as Christians, find it acceptable to base our sex life on feelings? I'm speaking to the choir here, folks. This mixed up view of married life is part of what entrapped me into living the life of a refuser for so many years. So you say, "But my spouse isn't a refuser. He/she is just not enthused and sometimes makes excuses." OK, but are they USUALLY giving of themselves in sexual abundance? If not then they are basing their sex life on feelings.

What are "feelings"? Merriam-Webster defines it as such:

1. an emotional state or reaction
2. the undifferentiated background of one's awareness considered apart from any identifiable sensation, perception, or thought
3. often unreasoned opinion or belief

Compare that with Merriam-Webster's definition of a "calling":

1. a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence
2. the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages
3. the characteristic cry of a female cat in heat ; also : the period of heat

So when we marry and also throughout our marriage do we view sex as something we only do when we feel like it or do we give in joyful abundance because we are called to do so? We are called to love God. We are also called to keep our spouse sexually satisfied? Can you see what is wrong with viewing sexuality from a "feelings-based" POV rather than from a higher "calling-based" view? Are we ministering "sloppy agape" in our marriage? Comments?

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Phil.3.13 NKJV)

4 comments:

job29man said...

Gemma,

Good comments. In our own marriage, as we get older we get closer. And as we get more comfortable we also get more humble with each other.

I am so much more open to my lovely bride's admonishments. Because after 30 years now I know she is not scolding, just sharing her heart. It is so much easier to "go deep" in our conversations now because there is no "threat" to my pride. I understand that we are fellow travelers in this life and marriage.

So when DW or I ask the other for more affection or intimacy we take it seriously. Funny how now in our 50s it is me "the macho man" asking for hugs and handholding, and little kisses. She is responding well.

So now we seem to have the expectation that we should both expect for there to be "intimate" acts (non-sexual) numerous times throughout the day, and some kind of sexual bonding virtually every day. It is how we connect.

The sex need not always be PIV IC. Sometimes that doesn't work out. It could be that we agree to meet sexually over some "shower nozzle play" or MB, or OS, or MS. But there is some kind of sexual connection pretty much daily.

It's funny how we kind of see this as an "obligation" but definitely not as a "burden". It's more like a celebration of the privilege that God has given to us.

When we view a daily sexual connection (of these acts of "eros" or erotic love) as simply a free-will expression of our marital love, it feels like "agape" (the Koine Greek for unreserved, selfless love).

Love in Christ,

Job

Gemma said...

Job said:
"It's funny how we kind of see this as an "obligation" but definitely not as a "burden". It's more like a celebration of the privilege that God has given to us."

I think I know what you mean, here, Job. It's not a duty but we see it as a serious obligation. However, it's a delightful obligation to fulfill.

midwestman said...

Good post Gemma. When we were going through our pre-marital counseling, which, looking back, was minimal at best, we never touched on much of anything substantial such as committments we needed to make to each other about many areas. I wholeheartedly wish we would have had counsel on all of these aspects, especially the sexual arena. Our churches to a large extent are also mute on teaching sexual and other committments in marriage - such things are left to chance in seminars that may come to the area. If I could find a good cirriculum to reccomend to our church, I would do it and offer to teach it.

mwm

Gemma said...

mwm, I'd just bet that you would be a good teacher for that.

GR and I were married by a judge so we had absolutely no premarital counseling. We thought we were mature enough to deal with anything that came our way but, man, were we wrong.