“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”-Gen 2:25
A very popular preacher who is downloaded frequently, wears MMA shirts and whom I’m sure can do more pushups than me now, introduces a series of posts about intimate topics with this Scripture
passage. What ensues is a marriage free-for-all. The premise is simple: the marriage bed is “undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4) and thus what happens in there between two consenting spouses, stays in there.
Or does it?
Let’s take a closer look:
“Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”-Hebrews 13:4
There is a reason why Adam and Eve were not ashamed. We discover the reason in the moment when they lose this innocence. We, too, know the feeling; and it is a feeling. Disorder breaks the rhythm of nature, the smooth cadence of our existence, and the feeling we have when we sin is the breaking of the bond of peace. The angel has declared goodwill to men and yet we turn around and flail about, in what Julian of Norwich describes as an ignorance of love that blinds us to the muddy hole in which our soul is captured.
On the one hand, marriage is meant to be undefiled and truly Adam and Eve experienced “no shame” in their relationship. However, on the other hand, when one does defile the marriage bed there should be shame because it is God’s way of bringing us to repentance. Repeat: there should be shame.
Notice: Adam and Eve did not cheat on each other. They cheated on God, and it was that adultery that defiled their innocence. It was that fornication that turned the bliss of the garden into an viagra awkward peep show.
Marriage is not a free-for-all. Marriage is the opportunity to express ordered love. In fact, there is no such thing as disordered love. The moment one begins to express love in a disordered fashion, he or she is no longer expressing love. It’s a chart that has lost its bars, and thus a symphony constantly coursing to chaos. The dissonance is palpable but what we do to assuage the cutting at our soul is even worse.
Under the banner of religion, even the Cross of Christ, we declare, “We are free!” As if the declaration somehow smokes out the demons or bars the conscience from sensing a lurking malady. Yet it does play tricks on the mind. St. Paul warns us to not conform to the pattern of the world–the pattern of self and instant-gratification, materialism, the objectification of the human person, lust, disordered desires and so forth–but to be transformed through the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2). Loud noise has as way of breaking the intellect’s proper function. It disorients us, and so too the war cry “freedom!” has a way of drowning out evil in an innocuous soup of shamelessness.
Love is an integrated response to the other in such a way that I put the entirety of their good as my #1 goal (1 Cor 10:24). The moment that my perceived “good” comes first–inaugurated by the low-chime of the MP3 of freedom I have recorded and ready to play on my ipod–love ceases to exist and shame should emerge. That’s right. Shames comes before pain. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, and sometimes shame is that gentle tug of the Holy Spirit to keep us from the cliff of self-mutilation, or as the band Nazareth say, “Love hurts.” C.S. Lewis talks about the problem of pain, but the problem of shame is always lurking 10 minutes before the charley-horse.
I’ve got no lists of do’s and don’ts. However, what I do reject is that the marriage bed cannot be defiled.
What do you think?
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(image is PD-US)
Category: Married Life