Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Whispers of Lucifer: The lips of a PhD, part II

I can say anything. Whether or not anyone harkens to what I say depends upon whether or not it jives with reality. I can say it, but can I support it.

About a month ago, I began to look at a train-wreck of an essay by Dr. Keith Ablow of Fox News (essay here and my two-cents here) where he announces that marriage in America is terminal. We've gotten to a point in our national discourse where, when we disagree with another man's position, we just roll our eyes and move on. I would love to do that here, but considering the tires on my car will last longer than most American marriages, we must assess the merits of his argument.

In this section of his essay, Dr. Ablow points to the erosion of pleasure in a long term relationship as a key reason that a marriage cannot last.:
Once human beings understood that they could express themselves emotionally, romantically and sexually without necessarily creating multiple families and perilously dividing their assets, the psychological pain of living without sexual passion (even by choice) was significantly intensified. And, make no mistake about it, marriage that includes cohabitation is a really tough environment in which to preserve such passion. The vast, vast majority of men and women, in fact, are no longer physically attracted to their spouses after five or ten years (that’s being kind), if they have seen one another most of that time. Human beings just are not built to desire one another once we have flossed in the same room a hundred times and shared a laundry basket for thousands of days.
In a nutshell, passion makes the marriage.

He goes on to describe how familiarity not only lets the air out of the ardor, but it also sets us at odds with one another:
Very few normal people who live together for long enough want to keep on doing it. Roommates tire of each other. Sons and daughters grow up and move out. Siblings end up at each other’s throats.
If you want to find a more shallow foundation upon which to anchor your marriage, look no further than passion or pleasure.  Solomon had all he could have and cried, "Meaningless!" (Ecclesiastes)  Louis Jourdan in his role as Gaston in "Gigi" had everything a man could ask for from dollars to dames.  His conclusion?  "It's a bore."

The high octane kinematics that makes up an early relationship soon fades. What will replace it? This is where love comes in, not Hollywood's version of "ooh, what a feeling" love, but commitment--heart, soul, and body--to the good of another person. Does God's love cease for us? NEVER! Neither should our seeking of the good cease for our spouse.

Here's another thing, an embarrassment, really, to us as Americans. We can never know all there is to know about our bride. She is a person as deep and dynamic as you. She has nooks and crannies in her heart and mind that you have never discovered. You may have made your bed with her for a quarter century, but you do not know--nor can you know--all there is to know about the sweet treasure beside you.  That's why Peter tells us to "dwell with our wives in an understanding way" (ESV) or "according to knowledge" (KJV) in 1 Peter 3:7. We are to know our wives better than a PhD knows his thesis, better than Phil Mickelson knows the greens at Augusta. Even then, we should be stoked because there is so much more about her that we do not know.

And that takes me to excitement.  Ablow is right; the passion does fade, but that does NOT mean that it has to end. When eros (nitro-glycerin, sexual love) fades, it fades because we let it fade. To have a lasting marriage, we must kindle romance. Some thoughts:

  • What lights your woman's fire? LIGHT IT!! You don't know? Dwell with her with understanding--i.e. find out.
  • Get away. One of the surest ways to lose that loving feeling is to not date your woman. You find the sitter. You pick the place (not a sports bar unless she REALLY likes the food there). Have a rose pre-positioned on her plate.
  • Get AWAY. Ask the grandparents or some close friends to watch the kids for an overnight, a weekend, or longer.  If you haven't gotten away alone with your woman on an overnight or more, sir, you are missing out on some of the best time to have with your best friend and lover.
  • Talk. Yep, talk. Turn off the tube. Push away from the computer and talk to the filly that stole your heart years ago.
Is marriage doomed because we're now aware of one another's bodily functions? For many in the church and in our nation, the answer is yes, because we're shallower than a kiddie pool. But if we understand that passion and pleasure are byproducts of a marriage that is functioning properly, most especially where the man is loving his woman as Christ loved the church, it can last until you go home to be with the Lord.

The choice is yours!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A quickie

Did that get your attention?

Been up to my armpits on one hand and enjoying twenty-six years with my woman on the other but wanted to let you know that I hope soon to get back to looking at "The Whispers of Lucifer" regarding marriage.

A kick of encouragement that I picked up from God's word this morning (if you're ever at a loss for where to read in God's word, pick a gospel or the Proverbs; I'm currently in the latter):
"Rejoice in the wife of your youth."  Proverbs 5:18b
That brought a couple things to mind.  First, and most obvious, you're still married!  Praise God.  Marriage is for life. You know, 'til death do us part, and what God has joined together let no man separate. For those of you still in your youth, you can look upon the wife of your youth. For those of us longer in the tooth, our woman remains the same woman with which we walked the aisle; she's just got a bit more seasoning. Despite the years, she still is the wife of our youth. This is one of the reasons I love to call Tracy "my bride." One small nickname immediately spans our twenty-six years together and all the goodness therein.

The other thing it brought to mind is equally simple. Rejoice in her. A thousand-ish years later Paul told the Philippians to rejoice in all things (all means all and that's all all means). By definition, your wife is one of those all things. Solomon drives home the specific to his sons and thereby to us, too. Rejoice in your wife. Rejoice!

If you can't rejoice, that's a sin-entangled lie. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God's word, you can (and must) rejoice in the wife of your youth. Confess your sin to God and give him thanks for the woman who remains by your side. Seek his strength and his word and rejoice in the wife of your youth!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

You know

Gents, in the last twenty-four hours, my heart has been burdened by two things.

First, Satan hasn't changed. He remains a liar, a murderer, and a destroyer (John 8:44). Not my opinion. Jesus said that. He said it about the devil's nature, the very essence of who and what he is. There is no good in him. He is irredeemable. His end is certain.

At the same time, this one masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He looks great.  The bill of goods he sells looks great. Tantalizing and tasty going down, but in the end, it morphs into death. Peter warned us to be on our guard (1 Peter 5:8) for this villain is even now seeking whom he may devour.

Husband, be on your guard because he wants to destroy you and your marriage (1 Corinthians 7:5). What a coup for the evil one to take those who profess to be part of the body of Christ and to turn their marriage before God to ash. Tracy and I continue to witness the devastation of marriages of those who declare themselves to be part of the body of Christ, and the ruin in the wake is horrifying.

This brings me to the second thing, a thing I read this morning. John wrote,
"And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him."  ~ 1 John 2:3-4
If I am his, not only will I keep his commandments, but I will keep on keeping his commandments. I will persevere. I will not quit because she has become cool. I will not quit because her tongue pierces like an adder's fang. I will not quit because she has rejected my leadership. I must keep on.

A bit later, he says, "I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it..." (2:21a). Gents, those of us who name the name of Christ are without excuse. We have the word so readily available. The soldier who blatantly disobeys his commander will be court martialed and if it's on the field of battle, he may face a firing squad. An ambassador who disgraces his nation will lose his position. We are created in his image. We have been bought with a price, the priceless life and blood of God the Son.

Brothers, Satan wants to wreck you and your woman, but you know what to do.  Do that thing.

Love your wife.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pray for me

I'll get back to "Whispers of Lucifer" here in a bit. Dr. Ablow's article still has some things we need to be able to handle, but this morning I was impressed by something different.

I need your prayer.

My heart has been burdened to pray for my brothers in the church, brothers I know whose marriages are amidst tough times and brothers whose marriages seem to be thriving. Paul petitioned his people to be in prayer for him and his ministry (Romans 15:30, Ephesians 6:18-19, Colossians 4:2-3), and quite frankly, one of the largest ministries we have as husbands is to love our wives.

I just noticed on FB that a couple of friends of mine just celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary.  The wife posted, "Twenty-eight years ago today, I married my best friend. I love you, Dave! My how time flies!" That doesn't have to be an aberration. In our church this week, a wonderful couple who loves each other and loves the Lord just crested 44-years in one another's arms. When I see and hear stuff like that, my heart soars!

At the same time, we are warned that if we stand we should take heed lest we fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). Paul himself was concerned with being disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27) and even spoke of men who had done just that (2 Timothy 3:8). Some will turn away from the truth and wander off to myths (2 Timothy 4:4). Let this not be us!

To know the wonder of 10 years, 20 years, 28 years or 44 years, we need to know the wonder of today. If today is hard, press on through today loving your wife as Christ loved the Church because you know gents that in due season you will reap a bountiful reward if you do not lose heart (Galatians 6:9).

So back to the beginning, pray for me. Life's great right now, but I bet it will get hard some day in the future. As soldiers on the same line, watch my back as I watch yours. Pray for me and my woman as I pray for you and yours.

How to do this? A couple ways:
  • AD HOC - As God brings a man to your mind, offer up a prayer to God on behalf of him and his wife. Pray what you know about God's word regarding husbands and marriage (Ephesians 5:25-33 and 1 Peter 3:7 for two, in case you'd forgotten).

  • INTENTIONAL - Pray purposefully each day for husbands you know, especially those in your close circle.  Consider those in your church especially your pastors and their wives. Pray for those at work. If your a Facebook fiend (no, I didn't forget the 'r'), pray for your married friends as you come across them on FB. You get the idea.
Build up your own marriage today--on your knees.  And help another brother while your down there by taking his name before the throne of grace.  He needs your prayer.  And so do I.