The Sex Cafe
This is the title of Anne Jackson’s post today. Anne writes regarding her trip to Moldova and what she is learning about sex trafficking.
I read this post about what she heard and witnessed in a local cafe. As the father of two daughters, I found this moving, disturbing, and heart breaking.
What she is writing about is very important.
Please read this. You can find her post here.
The following are some reflections on marriage. Maybe you will find these useful. I would love to hear your comments regarding these. Please include in your comment what you would add to this list. (If you missed part one you can find it here.)
11. Many women have a low view of their body image. Today, in many ways they are being bombarded with the message that their bodies do not measure up. Television, movies, magazines all portray a certain type of body to be desired. These bodies tend to be tanned, very well proportioned and beautiful. Far too many women look at these images and see the flaws in their body. Too heavy. Too small. Too large.
12. Wonderful, satisfying sex in marriage is not based on performance. Rather, it is based on seeing sex as an outgrowth of an intimate relationship with one another. Far too many couples put tremendous pressure on one another because of the performance view of sex. Pornography feeds such a view. Beware! When one person is using pornography, there will often be an unrealistic, performance oriented view of marriage.
13. Many married couples have no idea how to handle their discretionary spending. Consequently, if the kids want something at the store and the parents know the money is in the bank, the kids get it. Meanwhile, the amount of credit card debt being accumulated by some couples is astounding.
14. Husbands and wives need to think about practical ways to give their mates pleasurable moments in the relationship. Such pleasure does not begin in the bedroom, but in small thoughtful moments. Great pleasure can be found in marriage.
15. Some men and women are very angry people. This unresolved anger may be the result of unresolved issues with parents, friends, or others that may go back many years but now this anger has deeply impacted their marriage.
16. Sex in marriage is enhanced by honesty and trust. It is difficult to let yourself go with complete abandon (sexually) when you or your mate has a pattern of deception.
17. Many people say they wish to have a “Christian” marriage. Yet, ultimately, this should mean that a husband and wife are allowing Christ to shape who they are both individually and as a couple.
18. Husbands who are too passive drive their wives nuts! Many guys are not mean, rude, obnoxious, etc. However, they are silent. These passive men put their wives in the position of always having to take the initiative. This can leave their wives feeling very much alone.
19. Husbands and wives need to take the long view of things. This vision takes much persistence and prayer. A spouse might reflect on the question: “What kind of married person do I wish to be in ten years?”
20. Decide that you will put positive energy into your marriage instead of draining the energy from your marriage.
What would you add to this list?
Recently, one of my daughters sent this video to me. This pressure is very real.
We live in a time of great confusion about the body. Think about what we talk about or experience in this culture. We have conversations about:
- Breast Augmentation
- Cosmetic surgery
- Starving, gorging, and purging ourselves
- Body image
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Cosmetics, diets, clothes
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder (imagined ugliness)
What should Christians be saying about the body? What other body issues would you add to this list? What stress do people face today because of the culture’s view of the body?
You might read the paragraph below:
“. . . It is important to discover the emotions and feelings that underlie your negative body image. The statement ‘I feel fat’ is never really about fat, even if you are overweight. Each time a woman looks at herself in the mirror and says ‘Gross, I’m fat and disgusting,’ she is really saying ‘There is something wrong with me or with what I’m feeling.’ When we do not know how to deal with our feelings we turn to our bodies and blame our bodies for our feelings. Every time you say ‘I’m fat’ you are betraying your body, and you are betraying and ignoring your underlying feelings. Remember that ‘fat’ is never a feeling, it’s avoidance of feelings. Learn to discover your emotions and feelings and realize that focusing on your body is only distracting you from what is ‘really’ bothering you.” Nicole Hawkins, Eating Disorder Referral Information Center
The following are some reflections on behaviors which I have seen dampen, harm, and even destroy a marriage. Charlotte and I both have had a front row seat in watching many marriages through the years. We also know what it is to live together for many years as two human beings who need one another’s love and forgiveness.
By listing these 13 behaviors, I am not suggesting that one particular behavior will destroy a marriage. Rather, I am saying that these are the behaviors which do harm to a marriage. They can quickly become a part of a destructive lifestyle which only hurts the relationship.
To hurt your marriage, do the following:
1. Be unsafe. If she is particularly sensitive about her weight or some other aspect of her body, use this against her when you are angry. During an emotional explosion, come back at her with some name calling that highlights her vulnerabilities. Use a few expletives for an added punch. When marriage is unsafe, spouses will build their own cocoon or they will find someone else who is safe.
2. Be passive in your relationship. Have no opinion, preference, or desire. Take no initiative. Just sit back and wait for life to happen (or for her to get it done). This passivity can bring on the slow death of a marriage.
3. Use your children against their dad or mom. Do you think your husband is stupid? Talk to your children about him and the many ways that he has proven that he is a stupid. Create these emotional triangles within your family. He will eventually see that he has lost the respect of his family and is alone emotionally.
4. Use porn. The women are perfect. They are alluring, seductive, and plentiful. And–you don’t have to relate to them as an adult. You don’t have to love, give, serve, or make love with someone with whom you are sharing life. No, porn allows you to remain just the way you are. You can be selfish, lustful, and you can have power. Just touch the keyboard and the images appear. Touch the keyboard again and they disappear. The dirty little secret? Porn is EXTREMELY addictive and will lock you in the prison of your own immaturity for years. For many, many people this has been a marriage killer.
5. Be critical. Focus on his/her shortcomings and keep bringing them up. Provide an atmosphere at home where the evenings are spent cutting one another down. Soon you will each dread coming home.
6. Let yourself go. Don’t worry about your weight, your appearance, your hygiene, etc. Just let yourself go. As one person said, “We just got real comfortable with one another and we no longer took care of ourselves.” Quite often it is one spouse or the other who no longer takes care of themselves. Meanwhile, the other spouse may become critical, resentful, and angry.
7. Harbor secret affections and connections. Now maybe you have never been unfaithful to your wife (or husband). You tell yourself this. Yet, at the same time, you have developed a special relationship with a person at work. You look for any reason you can to be in her presence. You find that when you are with her, your heart races and you feel alive. You have a connection with her that is deep. Nothing physical–yet. However, this intimate bond has the makings of a emotional bomb just waiting to explode and do untold damage.
8. Demonstrate little co-operation in financial matters. Spend money and don’t let your spouse know where it is going. You don’t want to explain those expensive green fees at the golf course. You don’t want to explain the cost of those shoes. So, you work hard to not let him/her know where the money is going. Or perhaps you run up a huge Visa bill due to your impulsive spending. Maybe you are in the habit of making making major purchases that are not in the budget or haven’t even been agreed upon by your spouse. This has a way of eating away at the trust in your relationship.
9. Never say “thank you.” Just take her for granted. Take him for granted. I have heard it too many times. “Why should I thank her/him? I don’t get any thanks.” So, each person just takes one another for granted. Any sense of graciousness toward the other is no more. This gets compounded as a spouse never hears any gratitude but only complaints.
10. Surround yourself with friends who do not value marriage. Listen as these friends speak of cheating on their spouses. Quietly envy the life and thrill they describe. Listen as they talk to you about how much fun you are missing. Compare their stories with the boredom you feel. Instead of re-investing in your marriage, spend your energy fantasizing about living as these friends live.
11. Don’t forgive. Continue to remind your spouse of his/her faults. It is sort of like putting your garbage in large container but never emptying it. The smelly, nasty garbage from the past remains in the container until you need to refer to it again. Then, in the middle of a heated argument, you open the can, pour the old garbage onto the floor and remind your spouse of ways that he/she failed in the past. Of course, holding on to this garbage has a way of poisoning the atmosphere of your relationship.
12. Stop having fun with one another. After awhile, fun will become something that you experience with someone else but not your spouse. Healthy, joyful laughter will become less and less frequent in your home.
13. Stop investing in your relationship with one another. Your relationship will often dry up and become stale. Yes, your sexual relationship will often become boring, predictable, and lifeless. Or, it may become non-existent.
What other behaviors would you add to this list?
What do you think?
How should the church be addressing the subject of sex?
Think for a moment about our context:
1. We live in a highly sexualized culture. Sexual images are everywhere (advertising, various forms of entertainment, etc.). News in pop culture ranges from “wardrobe malfunctions” at the half time of a Super Bowl show to celebrities who have become well known for their sexual exploits. Scandals have involved politicians, ministers, public school teachers, and other public figures. It has only been a few years ago a number of priests were named for their involvement with minors. On and on it goes. So what does the church say regarding sex in such a culture?
2. We live in a time in which many, many people are getting married who have never witnessed a healthy marriage anywhere at anytime. Couples in premarital counseling may have read a book regarding marital sex or they may have had conversations with a counselor. Far too many people, however, get married with only the information they got off the street. What does the church say regarding sex that might help and bless these couples?
3. Many people have much information about sex. Information is readily available everywhere. However, (and this is huge) so many people have no idea about the meaning, function, and purpose of sex within a marriage. Consequently, this becomes just one more expression of self-centeredness within a marriage. What does the church say regarding the meaning of sex?
How is the Church to Talk About Sex? How are these issues best addressed? How is sexuality from a biblical perspective best addressed?