Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The One Flesh Relationship: Loving each other with heart, soul, mind and strength

Those of you who visit my blog regularly know that I write often about marriage.  The subject of marriage is one that I am passionate about because I have met so many men and women whose marriages are at best mediocre, and so many more who are barely hanging on.  Christians are absolutely not immune to marital problems, and I see Satan use marriage as a battleground on which to wage war against our faith.  I am determined to help Christian couples stand up to the enemy and fight for their marriages, and so I continue to write and teach the truths that God reveals to me.

Sometimes that means I have to deal with some issues that are a little uncomfortable to talk about.  It means I have to talk about things like sex and porn and infidelity.  Because if we leave these things in the dark -- and Christians in the dark about these things -- we can never bring them into full submission to God.  But when we bring them into the light, we can start to deal with them and bring healing to broken and hurting people.

One issue that I often talk with women about is how hard it is for wives to give themselves fully and freely to their husbands.  Somehow we've gotten this idea that we can have successful and fulfilling marriages without being willing to reach out to our husbands physically.  We expect to stay committed to him -- and he to us -- emotionally and mentally and spiritually without that physical interaction.  And it just doesn't work. 

We are told in Mark 12:30 to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  We as humans are made up of four different aspects: heart (emotional); soul (spiritual); mind (cognitive); and strength (physical).  Wives, these four aspects are woven together to create in you a unique person, unlike anyone else in the world.  Your husband is also uniquely made up of these four things; he is emotional, spiritual, cognitive and physical.   You are each your own person, created in the image of God, who is also emotional, spiritual, cognitive and physical (in the person of Jesus).  When you enter into a one-flesh marriage relationship these two beautifully unique people give themselves to be intertwined with the other.  Your spirit wraps itself with his, your heart and your mind become interwoven with his, and yes, your physical bodies meet in a very special way.  And as these four aspects of each one of you weave themselves together, they become a new, beautiful creation.  If you look closely, you can still see the individual strands of both husband and wife, but they have mingled together to create this new design, this new entity…this one flesh.  Man and woman united as one, together reflecting the perfect image of the One who created them.  THIS is what it means to become “One Flesh.”

My heart breaks when women share with me how this beautiful one-flesh tapestry has been damaged in their marriage.  Too many times they share how Satan has distorted sexuality, either through abuse earlier in their life, or more often through their husband's addiction to pornography.  Satan has lured too many husbands into thinking that they can have the pleasure of a sexual experience outside of the emotional and spiritual relationship with their wives.  I have seen the addiction wrap itself around the hearts of men and hold them in shackles, convincing them that they have a right to this experience.  And I have seen the spirits of their wives being crushed underneath feelings of rejection and inadequacy.

The root of both problems -- women not wanting to participate in sex and men being consumed by it -- is the removal of sexuality from the context of the one-flesh relationship that God designed.  We’ve got to recognize that all four of these aspects are so woven around each other that you cannot change one without changing the others.  You cannot just decide that you don’t want to stay connected physically the way he needs you to and still expect to have the emotional and spiritual connection that YOU want.  And he cannot seek out sexual satisfaction without the spiritual and emotional aspects of marriage and expect to find the gratification he's looking for.  When we try to remove any one strand of this beautifully woven creation, we either cause untold damage to the other three, or we undo the entire thing and remove ourselves completely.  Either choice leaves both spouses hurting and the marriage broken.

Consider this: when a woman decides that she wants to unwind the physical aspect of her marriage, she also begins to unravel herself emotionally, mentally and spiritually from her husband.  The result is a hole in her marriage relationship, a door per-say, through which Satan gains entry and begins to entice her husband.  As he battles with his body's God-given need for sex, he also has to fight to silence Satan's whispers that he can find satisfaction through other means than his wife.  As he begins to dabble with porn or masturbation or even sexual involvement with another woman, his wife feels rejected and begins to unwind herself even more from her husband.  Don't get me wrong, an unmet sexual need in NO way justifies ANY form of infidelity, and a husband is absolutely responsible for his own choices.  But you can see how the cycle continues to unravel the entire marriage relationship.  (And sometimes the cycle begins with the husband's choices instead of the wife's.)

Sexuality is something that God designed to be a beautiful and intimate experience.  It requires both husband and wife to completely trust one another and allow themselves to be absolutely vulnerable with each other.  It is an expression of the deep love and commitment they have for one another.  But somehow, Satan has convinced men and women otherwise.  In his smooth, deceitful tongue, he has convinced us that sex is for physical pleasure only, and he has distorted the truth until it bears but a glimmer of what God intended it to be.

We don't like to talk about this much in our churches and Bible studies.  It's not comfortable and it's too personal.  But if we as God's people want to see marriages, thrive...then we've got to stop ignoring this issue and stop pretending it doesn't exist.  We've got to bring it out into the light and let God bring restoration and redemption into our marriages.

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God." ~ John 3:19-21

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