Friday, March 26, 2010

Children ...

To experience how it is that God can love you, simply look to how you feel about your own children. Imagine with me for a minute that your two-year-old toddler comes to you, smiling, with arms outstretched desperate to feel the warmth of your embrace. Now imagine with me, that your smiling two-year-old is covered in feces and smells like something south of a chemical factory. Yuk! But this is still your child. He needs to be cleaned, and He may not even know how badly He needs to be cleaned, but you do. You want only to love your child. You want only what is best for your child. You know more than your child knows. You have seen more, fallen more, been dirty yourself more, in short you know if your child will trust you, His life will be better than if he does not. Welcome to the lessons of parenthood.

We parade around content in the accumulated knowledge of human wisdom, and to God, we look like adorable two-year-olds speaking in baby talk, making almost no sense at all. Cute, but wise? We think we know facts, and truth, and philosophy, but we know very little. What is common between us and God is our ability and need to love and be loved. God would have us learn this from the raising of our own children. He would have us see that as precious as they are to us, so are we to Him. He would have us see our foolishness with Him, in their foolishness with us. A parent’s ‘curse’ - may you have children just like you are … was designed to illustrate our relationship with God to us first hand. How often we go blind to the lessons.

Children need much. The younger they are, the more they need. But with that need, the younger they are, the more they are taken care of by the parents, and less by themselves. So it is with us and God. The more we realize our needs, and realize that only God can meet them, the more we trust Him to do so. And the more God takes care of us, the more we can rely on Him to do so, without fear, regret, or remorse. We do not torture our children for their ignorance. We try to educate them. We do not stop loving our children when they misbehave. We try to correct them in love, so as to help them avoid the pain we would have them avoid. Children are an object lesson in salvation itself.

The analogy does break down in one area; we are more like Peter Pan in that compared to God, we never seem to grow up. We are perpetually stuck in the 3 year old phase. We do not like this idea of ourselves. We rebel against the concept that our best knowledge and accumulated truths only amount to the comparative wisdom of a toddler, but there you are. Our problem is that our imaginations make us think we control aspects of our lives, when in fact we control nothing. We think we can earn our living, when in fact we are dependent on God for the job and the income in the first place. We think we can be a better person, when in fact, our ideas of better person continue to allow us to achieve personal gain at the expense of others. Control exists only in our imagination and in the hands of God. We remain in desperate need. We remain toddlers.

It is said to “spare the rod” is to spoil the child. I would add “if you can’t reach it, don’t spank it”. The younger the child is, the more they seem to understand misbehavior has physical consequences. Spanking seems to lose all effect at age 30 (at least all disciplinary effect). But what lesson in discipline would we rather our children learn? Perhaps better to show them that REAL harm does not always come right away from what we do, but the longer it is delayed, the larger the impact it has on our lives and the lives of those we love. I am not convinced that spanking is required to maintain authority with a child. But I am convinced that maintaining authority is important. It is more important the younger they are.

As our children mature we must mature along with them. We must learn to allow them more and more freedom, freedom to fail as well as succeed. If we shelter them from all failure, we do them a disservice. So it is with our God. It is hard to sit back and let a child experience firsthand, what we know to be inevitable consequences of their decisions. So it is with our God and us. It is particularly difficult to see them experience pain first hand, when we know it could be avoided. But it must be so in order for them to learn. We do our jobs as parents well, if we teach them the values behind the rules. We honor our children if we teach them to think for themselves as God would have us do. We give our children a gift if we teach them to question authority, as God does with us. For our Lord is not afraid of questions. He is able to answer them all. For He is perfect love. Questioning authority only poses a threat to those who do not really have it, or perhaps should not really have it.

We wish our children to be thinkers, and leaders, not followers and sheep. It is good to be a thinker, but only if we realize our relative position to Christ. It is good to be a leader, but only if we humble ourselves before Christ and realize our own unworthiness. We must teach our children the balance between self-examination or humility and using the talents God has richly given us. We are safe to employ His gifts, and His talents, especially when we acknowledge they come from Him. It is vanity to direct attention away from His gifts, and on to self. It is arrogance to assume that our accomplishments belong to us alone. It is pride to believe we rule ourselves and our worlds. And vanity, arrogance, pride, are all internal sins of distraction designed to keep us from submitting our wills to Christ.

In terms of leadership we look first to our fathers. This is natural and there is no harm in it. But leadership carries with it many additional burdens and responsibilities. As fathers we must demonstrate what it means to lead while striving always to please our partners. We must learn how to demonstrate justice tempered by mercy. We must learn to demonstrate forgiveness, not just within our family circle, but outside of it, when things do not go our way. We must consistently demonstrate courtesy to all regardless of age, gender, race, religion, or political views. And we must be the primary example of how to humble ourselves before God and submit our wills to Him. This lesson will have the longest and most lasting impact upon the lives of our children.

When seeking our place in the world, we look first to our mothers for a sense of belonging. This is natural and there is no harm in it. In homes where there is no father to play his own role, mothers must do their best to take on the additional mantle of leadership. But while they try to teach lessons they may not be well suited for, they should not neglect the areas they are strongest suited for. In order for us to be brave enough to go out and face the world, we begin by having confidence that our mom’s will always have a place for us under their wings. We are nurtured, comforted, and find healing in the protection of a mother’s arms. We can bathe in the deep care and concern a mother has for her young. Her daily practical lessons on the care and maintenance of a family unit should not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Adults who enter a home without a blood based relationship with the children now a part of their family unit, should do so with great deference to the existing parent, and their “style” of parenthood. But marriages where both parties submit their wills before Christ, will grow, alter, or morph over time into what He designs. This means as time passes the relationship between the children and their step-parents will grow and deepen. In these cases respect and authority must be earned by a consistent demonstration of love and service. It is not enough to speak the words, it must be demonstrated by the behavior and actions of the new parent. Love seeks out its own. Love responds to love. When love is shown in a home, it will gain respect and authority.

As children become adults their need of parents is greatly reduced, but their need of friendship and counselors on which they can rely for advice will not ever diminish. Parents can best fill a role of consiglieri for their children as they know them better than anyone else is likely to until they find marriage for themselves. We must respect the entrance of our children into the responsibility of adulthood, without abandoning them to their own devices. Though grown our worries for them transition from their physical needs and status, to their spiritual needs and status. We wonder if they walk with the Lord, or are distracted away from Him. We pray to the only God who can save them , to do so with them as He has and is with us. This has always been our greatest prayer, to save us, but to save those we love as well. We can have faith in our God’s ability and desire to grant that prayer.

When our children become parents themselves they will look to their past and imitate what they have experienced firsthand. This will be the test of success for our efforts with them. Grandchildren are yet another blessing as is the ability to have an older generation directly impact the newest one. A new parent can benefit from the experience of a grandparent, and can sometimes simply benefit from any kind of outside help. Grandparents are known for “spoiling” their grandchildren. I wonder if this comes from the wisdom of age that places a higher value on love than we did in our youth. It seems the older we become, the more we realize what is truly important, and what is fleeting. Grandparents recognize the supreme treasure of youth and love in the form of their trusting as yet untainted grandchildren. Soon enough the world will tempt them, exhaust them, and attempt to destroy their spirit. But for a while, a Grandparent can hold them, teach them, tell them stories, and enrich the culture of an entire family in so doing.

For those parents with small children who have no living Grandparents, it is worth adopting another set or two. Find an older couple in your church who may have less contact than they would like with their own families, or a couple confined to a nursing home, and visit them. Let them interact with your children. Involve them in your life and let your lives be enriched in the process. Older members of our families, whether by blood or by choice, add a dimension to our development that cannot be substituted in any other way. They add a richness to our lives. They add depth to our understanding. The wisdom that comes with age is wisdom we all need.

Protecting children is a universal desire. To be effective at it, is to begin with knowing your children, knowing their routines, patterns, interests, and behaviors. Sudden or dramatic changes in patterns you are familiar with generally indicate issues that must be discovered and addressed. An “A” student whose grades suddenly tank may be wrestling with a number of issues. It could be a new girl/boy-friend. It could be something more sinister like chemical stimulants. It could be even worse as they struggle with being victimized by a predatory adult. Not all changes in patterns of behaviors originate for negative reasons, but some do. Thus all must be investigated if protecting them remains the goal. Children rarely bring issues like these to their parent’s attention unprompted. It takes active observation, and a degree of prodding to help them open up to the truth. A sympathetic ear, and non-threatening environment will aid greatly in the process. Because of the level of evil in our world, predators have learned to conceal themselves in our nation, in our churches, and even in our families. Our best defense against predators, or paranoia, is to remain submitted to God, and alert to changes we see in our kids.

Finally, children pose an interesting question to us all – when can a person truly “know” God? What I “know” of Him now is far more than what I “knew” at 20 years of age. But this does not negate my “knowledge” at 20. The same is true even when I was only five years old. It appears that “knowing” God is more of a process than a destination. We will never be done learning about God, learning about how to Love, or appreciating our salvation from evil. Given this, do not belittle or decry, the relationship little children exhibit towards God. If they choose to participate in church traditions, let them. If they wish to be baptized at any age, let them. As Christ said … “suffer the little children to come unto me.” He did not discriminate against them for their “age”. He welcomes them all at any age. And He went further to remind us that we all look like children from His perspective, and we all really need Him. Let us not lose this important lesson as long as we live.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Divorce ...

To understand divorce one must first understand marriage. Marriage as we have redefined it, is no longer a union of merely two people, but of two people and our Lord. The priority of marriage is not just about what pleases us, but about how intimate a relationship can and should be with our Lord. As Christ becomes the real leader of our marriages and our wills become fully submitted to His will, divorce becomes a thing of the past, an antiquated idea, a concept no longer required. But this takes the commitment of two to submit themselves to our Lord, or divorce becomes viable again.

Divorce, like death itself, is a by-product of the effects of evil and selfishness in our realities. It occurs because both parties are not committed to the submission of their wills to Christ inside of our marriages. Many things can get in the way of this. Other priorities such as chemical addiction, unresolved emotional childhood trauma, even plain old greed in treating people like acquisitions can cloud the mind and keep us from submission to Christ. A life lived under these strong influences becomes impossible to change within human strength. It is the very reason why submission is SO important. We must be willing to change who WE are, before we can achieve real intimacy in our marriages. It is self-deception to believe only our partners must change, or commit to Christ, before our marriages are healed. It is the soul in the mirror who must submit and be willing to accept the concept they are wrong, ignorant, mistaken, and require change.

Many have debated the technical reasons why a divorce might be permitted under Biblical guidelines. The common philosophy is that only adultery by a spouse can somehow justify divorce, if the faithful spouse chooses it. And that remarriage is only possible after one spouse has been unfaithful to the other. This is a works-centric view of both divorce and marriage. It ignores the gospel completely and misunderstands the nature of marriage itself. First, if our marriages are of 3 including our Lord, then when does forgiveness become a relevant concept – only for smaller infractions? How does the infidelity of one spouse to the marriage, somehow justify the other one to follow suit? Do we only measure intimacy based on physical sexual expression, nothing else matters? This line of reasoning is based on the mistaken interpretation of council Christ gave to Pharisees bent on trapping him in a no-win question on marital law. It is not the complete picture by any means.

Fidelity to Christ must exist before fidelity to man can. My marital bond, my promise, my commitment to being faithful must be based upon the strength of my Lord, and my submission to Him, in order to be valid in the first place. My human “strength” has already been demonstrated to be worthless. My

“promises” are worth little if anything. The only commitments I am capable of making MUST by nature be based on strength that comes from outside of myself; strength that comes from Christ Himself. It is the reason we need a third leg in our marriages and in our lives. So then being unfaithful (the human condition) must occur to Christ, before it can ever be measured against my fellow man, including my spouse.

It is when I reject forgiveness, when I reject reform, when I reject divine truth that God has led me to, that I risk everything that is of value in my life, including my marriage and family. It is when I walk away from forgiveness, that forgiveness is unable to heal me. It is when I reject change, that I make a human pledge to continue to hurt those I am supposed to be demonstrating love to. It is when I reject truth that requires my recreation, my rethinking, my reevaluation of myself that I doom myself to a life alone of misery. It is not my partner who causes my divorce, it is me when I walk away from love itself.

There is nothing short of death that is so painful to witness, than a soul who walks away from the source of love, to pursue a course of misery and death. There is nothing so debilitating as offering love to partner who we intend to share eternity with, who at some point decides eternity is not what they want. Witnessing the premeditated embrace of pain, and knowing its consequence will be to attempt to consume all around us, is almost too much to bare. But Christ does it. He is forced to all the time. We have put Him in that position ourselves from time to time. Oh how Great His forgiveness to take us back after such a debacle, and how He mourns with all of heaven when we refuse to ever embrace Him again.

Divorce is a defacto result of losing our commitment to Christ. We cannot claim to be bound within a marriage while not wishing to be bound in the will of Christ. When we consciously separate ourselves from the source of love, the pain we embrace includes the destruction of the intimacy we have built with Him at the core of our marriage. As we separate from Christ, we simultaneously separate from our partners. This is divorce. A recognition of the effects of sin. Physical fidelity is nowhere nearly enough a standard to measure it by. It goes far deeper than that. A man who beats his wife, or belittles his wife, or treats his wife like another acquisition and refuses to be molded by submitting his will to Christ, is in effect divorcing his wife – no matter what the state of paperwork. A wife may not have filed for divorce in the courts, but when she humiliates her husband, runs him into the ground, nags him to the point of insanity, or is consumed by other higher priorities and refuses to submit her own will to Christ; she is in effect divorcing her husband already.

Our marital commitment and bond is tied directly to our dependence on Christ. When we throw ourselves at His feet for mercy; Mercy is ALWAYS given. When we harden our hearts and believe we need no forgiveness, none can be accepted. A marriage can forgive the most heinous of acts, the worst behavior known to man, the breaking of any vow or pledge, if the partners are still willing to humble themselves before the source of all love and forgiveness. Sexual promiscuity can damage a partner and strike a wound into their very soul, but if we humble ourselves to the master healer, He is capable of reaching into our very souls to effect a change and a healing. It is our connection to Christ alone that keeps us married, or sees us divorced from the lack of it.

This is a deeper understanding of both marriage and divorce than what has traditionally been offered within Christian teachings. So study it for yourself if you choose. But I maintain that marriage is a reflection of the trinity of heaven, it is a study of the intimacy that Christ desires to have with each of us, and it is a practical lesson on the break-down of self in order to build unity with another. These concepts are not possible based on human will and weakness. They are only possible through an intimate experimental knowledge of Christ. Like our salvation itself, our marriages require real interaction with Christ in order to survive. We must build trust in Him, before we can hope to have trust in each other. We must base unity on Him, before we can expect divergent opinions to meld into one. We must submit self on His alter, before service can be born in our hearts. True marriage is a reflection of all of these ideas. Divorce stands in opposition to them.

There are those who find themselves divorced already, or perhaps remarried already. The process may have occurred several times in their lives. For these hurting souls, there is the offer of infinite hope, from the one who is alone capable of offering a new beginning. Divorce may result from walking away from Christ, but this errant condition need not last a lifetime. We need not doom ourselves to be forever lost, because we made the HUGE mistake of leaving mercy for a while. We need not believe we are beyond redemption because we have left a massive wake of pain behind us given our actions that led us to this point. We may well have caused massive pain to many people, this is after all only the truthful results of embracing evil by choice. It is real. But love is greater than pain, and healing greater than destruction. Like the prodigal sons who walked before us, we can return from dining with pigs, to the feast our Father would offer us, if we are only willing to do so.

Returning to Christ can allow us to consider returning to marriage once again. Having rediscovered the source of unfailing love; can give us hope that divorce no more waits in our future. If we are willing to submit our wills once again to Christ, He is willing to take our lives and refashion them to something we could not even conceive of. Divorce drops off the radar along the way, like an old idea, or expression in language that just seems to lose relevance with the times. This is the secret to our future success, walking ever closer behind our Lord, depending on His wisdom instead of our own, submitting our will to Him to learn His desires instead of our own. It means rebirth is viable. It means healing can come no matter what our past. And more importantly, it means our new beginning can have no end. We can move our marriages beyond the possibility of divorce by committing our wills into submission to His. Praise God that He is willing to be such an integral part of our lives and marriages.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Widows & Orphans ...

The keenest loss in human history is felt when a marital partner of many years succumbs to the death we all dread. We were not designed for such an occurrence. It is the pure cause and effect of sin, a byproduct of evil itself, that death or non-existence must enter our realm. We were created with the idea of living in perfection forever. Our marriages were intended to last forever. Thus a union of three should never be taken lightly. The phrase “until death” is a recognition of our earthly condition, and the weakness of our loneliness upon losing a beloved spouse. It was not ever intended in the schema of heaven or perfection. Adam and Eve our original parents will one day be united in heaven to live for eternity as husband and wife. There is no reason for them to live otherwise.

What is permitted for us due to our weakened condition in sin, and the horrific environment of evil we reside in, is not necessarily what was intended for us in the light of perfection. For instance, evil brings death upon us, and there are those who are truly emotionally unable to continue the remainder of their lives alone. They need, crave, and must have companionship. So the idea of remarriage is permitted to satisfy this basic human need. It is only even considered because of the effects of evil, but because evil is part of our reality, so is death, and therefore remarriage. Evil can cause divorce as well, we will focus on that idea in a later section. For those who require a remarriage after the loss of a spouse there is neither condemnation nor judgment. But there should be a recognition that healing will be required in the world to come. Marriages remain based on the idea of 2 people and Christ uniting as one. Should a husband or wife encounter two or more former partners upon entering heaven, it will take our Lord to alter the feelings of our hearts as He sees fit to enable us to continue to live in harmony there without pain or regret or jealousy.

I believe some couples may be reunited, some redirected, some perhaps allowed to be single, there is no one answer for every person. However, the one consistent item among all those who enter heaven with cloudy prospects or commitments with multiple partners is that a healing solution from Christ will be the only way to sort out what must be sorted. Those who enter single may still find a mate, and will have the added blessing of not having to consider widowhood or divorce. Unions aligned in the perfection of heaven will remain so as it was originally intended, forever and ever, amen.

It is particularly difficult to lose a part of yourself. When facing the loss of a beloved partner, particularly when the wills have been submitted to God, and the marital relationship is richly blessed with His favor, it can be emotionally debilitating. The surviving spouse is deeply weakened by the loss. It is not for doubt of the eternal status of the missing partner. They may have every assurance that our God is faithful to save His children from their well deserved fates. The survivor may KNOW with certainty that upon the morning of resurrection their fallen spouse will rise to greet our savior face to face, and spend eternity in the perfection of heaven. This knowledge is comforting, but may not be enough to heal the keen loss that is felt in the mean time between now and that day. Widows therefore should be considered a “protected class” within the church (our community of believers).

It is our responsibility to lend aid, comfort, and love to those who have lost so precious a resource. It is our honor to help protect them from the wolves-of-the-world who would use their weakened condition to prey upon them. The sudden loss of intimacy can devastate the human soul. Again it is the reason why having Christ in the marriage is so utterly important. Only He will fully understand the loss that has been incurred. Only He has been privy to the private moments and shared experiences of the couple now parted for a while by death. Only He can offer real comfort, but only if we have learned to allow Him access to our marriages while still within them. There is great healing that Christ can offer us, when we know we can trust Him to do so. We can take comfort under His wing. We can rest and let Him do the work of protecting the survivor, and comforting those that remain after the fallen. As brothers and sisters of the widows and orphans we should take extra special care in how we deal with them.

In older less developed days, society was unkind to surviving women after their husbands passed away. Without a male provider, a female may even be left to starve. Property rights were not well developed, nor did they reflect the intentions of fairness God would have required. Selfish men made selfish laws, and as such women suffered greatly. Under this time of great duress the church was given special instructions NOT to ignore the plight of widows or orphans. Second only to the keen loss a spouse feels, is the loss a child feels upon losing a parent. Even fully grown mature adults, mourn the loss of aged parents, it is something none of us truly outgrow, prepared or not. And the closer a parent is to the source of Infinite love, the keener the loss felt by those who remain. As church family, we must remain on guard to go beyond what is expected, beyond the normal, beyond even what we may believe we are capable of, and reach out to these precious hurting souls. While we can never replace the love they have lost, we can do our best to shower our love upon them. At the very least, the hurting can know from our demonstrations, they are truly NOT alone. Christ remains with them. And as His servants, we remain at their side as well.

For those who have suffered this loss and wish to try again with another spouse, it is important to allow enough time to pass by so that not every waking thought is consumed by the lost love. That spouse can never be replaced so the goals in finding another should not be so. As each of us is unique, each relationship will be unique as well. Your loss may one day be erased in the comfort of another person, but cannot be duplicated, nor should that ever be the expectation. The valuation of people, and dating practices we have already described must be re-employed to find another mate to join the precious union of three. Love is resilient in this way. Love is healing in this way. And one day, love will be resolved as only Christ could resolve it. We can have faith and trust in Him in matters that transcend the boundaries of our lifetimes. This is the point of faith itself.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Physical Expression ...

While procreation is the natural result of physical intimacy between married couples, this was not the sole purpose for the creation of this function. The ability to bring each other joy in a way that fosters deep levels of intimacy and vulnerability and reminds us of the union which our Lord wishes to become one with us, is the primary intent of sexual expression. We were not created in order that we have sex. Rather, sex was created to make our existence and our ability to serve another in a special tri-union with God unique and special. Physical expression was designed to take us beyond the normal boundaries of unity and literally illustrate two bodies becoming one; thus the text referring to … “two becoming one flesh”.

Timing and location of our physical intimacy are two key factors in keeping romance alive and well. When the will is submitted to Christ love grows over time, satisfaction grows over time, things do not become dull, but they become invigorated. Before children become part of the equation, there is much more time available for a couple’s intimacy than afterwards. This opportunity should not be lost on things of a far lesser concern like the logistical concerns of maintaining a house, work that could be postponed, or entertainment that can be delayed. Placing proper priority on each other first, and insuring all needs are met within the relationship is important. Physical sexual expression need not always be intercourse to be rewarding, but should not be ignored in favor of lesser things either. The most important factor is to keep the goal of finding pleasure in pleasing your mate. Try not to be distracted by less important things that would subvert your goal and weaken your relationship.

After children enter a family the time available for two to become one is substantially reduced from pure logistics. Often tired parents worn out from a long day at work, and then further exhausted from efforts at home, leave both craving sleep more than contact. To avoid falling into a routine of this nature that never seems to change, it is good to take effort to schedule a break. Get a sitter, a mother-in-law, or whoever you need to and schedule a weekly date-night for your spouse. Take active steps to schedule a break in the routine. Do not let the normal demands of children, home, and work overcome a key need in the marital relationship. This takes effort and prioritization to accomplish, it will almost never “just happen”. But it is worth the effort you put forth, and it will again demonstrate to your partner that you care about their emotional needs as much as the physical and spiritual.

Sabbath becomes a most important factor in maintaining a growing marriage. It is the one day when the third part of our union is physically remembered, honored, and included in our activities. Physical intimacy is far more likely on Sabbath as time is in far more supply. Ignoring the normal demands of maintaining the home, or working, or commercial concerns frees one up to pursue what has real meaning in our lives. Physical intimacy is NOT about having one’s own pleasure, it is about creating pleasure for our mate. It is about service, not self-gratification, and as such is a wonderful way to spend Sabbath hours. On Sabbath in particular God can be brought into the mind and conversations. Talking about the source of all love tends to lead to demonstrations of love between two people. This can extend to all members of the family, but it is important to insure mom-and-dad take private time away to nurture the tri-union properly.

Satan uses every tool at his disposal to keep us focused on the wrong things, and our priorities out of whack with what would benefit us. It is easy for a parent to adopt a priority of children first, spouse second, others last. This sounds reasonable, especially as the children are younger. But in truth, the family is weakened by this kind of prioritization. A loving parent will always tend to defer priority to the needs of the children first, but that does not negate the needs of their partner. It is important not to lose focus on insuring a partner’s needs are met even though the demands of dependent children can seem overwhelming. It does not take much time to offer a caring word, alleviate a mundane task by doing it yourself, or perhaps just a quick and simple gesture of affection. When your partner knows they have not been abandoned even for those you share a common blood bond with, it makes the strength of the unions stronger, and enables both to help the children even more than originally thought.

What the mind focuses on during physical expression is important as well. Couples who have been married for a while often resort to fantasy role playing, or mental fantasizing to “keep things new”. But focusing the mind outside of your partner during physical expression is tantamount to adultery and betrayal. It does not ennoble the mind, or help you love your partner more. It has the opposite effect. It is easy for the mind to become dependent on these kinds of mental distractions in order to maintain arousal. The reason for this is that self once again becomes the centerpiece of sexual experience, rather than service. If you suffer from a history of this kind of thinking, transition from focusing on other people, to focusing on other locations. Picture your spouse in exotic locales or faraway places, keeping the mental distraction focused on your partner while creating fantasy only in the circumstances.

This is where location is also important in physical expression. Finding inventive places for physical expression can help you create memories that occupy the mind well into your future. The younger you are, the more adventurous you will tend to be in picking locations and perhaps risking exposure over privacy. But finding each other in nature can be very compelling if you can find a secluded enough location. Different cities, different geographies, even friend’s homes can provide memories to last for a lifetime. Special clothing can enhance the experience, a favorite night gown, or under clothing, can often create memories as well. Being creative can occur through a number of ways. Appreciating youth while you have it makes sense, developing creativity can and should occur at every age.

Intimacy does require a degree of privacy. Unneeded risks should be avoided. It is incredibly unwise to risk children who are nowhere near ready to encounter physical intimacy to accidently stumble across it. It is also illegal to conduct sexual activity in public places, even in your own car (unless it is parked in your closed garage at the time). Location matters, but should not precede common sense.

The biggest difficulty couples face today is the history of lies we have been fed to believe. Romance, physical interest, and stimulation need not decline over time with same partner. This happens when both parties drift away from the source of all love. The reason we need Christ in our marriages is to keep us renewed, refreshed and resilient to face what life brings us. We find peace in the togetherness. We find comfort in spite of adversity, because there is love that lives between us. The strength of our union’s from the Garden of Eden until today has not diminished. It is more than our bodies that meld together over time. Our desires begin to merge, our hobbies, interests, and entertainment choices begin to align over time. Even the most opposite individuals who have entered a marriage can find common ground that grows over time when Christ remains at their center. We must unlearn what we have learned [G. Lucas]. It is time to be led again. It is time to be recreated again. It is time we took the focus off of self in our marriages and placed it back on the Author of love. It is time we looked first to Christ and submitted our wills to Him to discover an entirely new world of possibilities in our marriages, as it should have been all along.