Is Your Marriage Shame-less?

The word shameless conjures up images of people saying or doing things they should not be saying or doing, typically involving sexuality. Think college Spring Break destinations.

Such people are displaying a calloused sense of shame, a calloused conscience, thus “shameless” or no shame, as in no sense of propriety, or a lack of high moral standards.

Western Civilization in Flames:  While Western Civilization seem hell-bent to abandon high moral standards to enjoy the shameless ride in the smoldering handbasket while ignoring the ever approaching combustion horizon, there is another sense of the word shameless to consider: shame-less: a state of being without shame due to propriety, i.e. lacking cause of shame.

[Caution! I am messing with your vocabulary: a “shameless” person commits “shameful” acts while I invented “shame-less” as the antonym meaning “without shame”; this is how my brain sometimes dissects words and starts exploring]

The Beginning: Adam and Eve were shame-less until they had sinned and realized they had acted shamefully and were now shameful.

What a shock it must have been, instantly transforming from innocence to seeing the world through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, thereby experiencing shame for the first time! No wonder they hid from God.

Our Struggle: We are all now born with this sin nature and grow up seeing the world through lust and pride, some of us fighting it as a corruption of God’s original design, and all too many assuming it is normal.

We all either retain a sense of shame by resisting shameless words or deeds, or we make our conscience callused by repeating shameless words or deeds.

Shame-less Impact On Marriage:

Positive: Avoiding shameless words and deeds frees your marriage from that kind of damage. If you were never intimate with anyone before your spouse, then your brain is not going to be playing comparison games, and more importantly, your spirit and soul will not be joined with those people (“the two shall become one flesh”) which causes ongoing issues that end only when God heals them.

Negative: Sadly, for all too many who follow Jesus’ morals this struggle against sin to keep their sense of shame functional has caused unintended damage in their marriages by inhibiting sexuality in marriage.

      “Were you a virgin till your wedding night?”    

                 “Yes!”    

                             “What did you do to achieve that? Has that impacted your marriage?” 

The strenuous interior task of fighting the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life has all too often carried over into marriage by not merely focusing sexuality to the context of marriage, but by trying to repress sexuality altogether.

Shame-Less: Between husband and wife there should be no shame. Not only in words and actions toward others, but also toward each other. What would cause shame to say or do toward others are the very things which the lack of causes shame toward each other: namely sexuality.

Flirting, seducing, foreplay, intercourse, and the whole gamut of sexuality are shameful when applied toward others, but vital to apply toward your spouse. It sounds odd to think about seducing your spouse, but once we look past negative connotations to the actual actions the topic becomes inspirational. Husband and wife should have no shame in their private intimacy. Generally, everything shameless in public toward others becomes shame-less in privacy between each other.

This reminds me of Charlie Rich singing “Behind Closed Doors”.

It’s Biblical: Sexuality is designed and given by God. Let every marriage strive to achieve what Adam and Eve had by God’s design at the beginning: they were naked and felt no shame.

Adam and Eve

If you doubt God intends husband and wife to deeply enjoy sexuality, think about God creating the nervous system’s sexual response: He thought about, designed, and created the spirit, soul, and body functions of intimacy for husband and wife’s oneness and enjoyment and called it good.

Next read Song of Songs out loud to your spouse and brainstorm what the euphemisms mean. Your Western-based thoughts will probably be conservative as you read ancient Middle Eastern passionate poetry (consider how passionate today’s Middle Easterners are). Regardless of your comprehension of the euphemisms, the emotion should come through and be inspiring. And God inspired that book to be written.

Then consider Paul’s instruction to Corinthian married couples to enjoy sex. Corinth was one of the sexual immorality capitals of the world, far more famous and open than Las Vegas and Amsterdam. Corinthians had seen the sinful side of sexuality so long they thought they had to give up sex for God–they did not understand the holy side of sexuality. Paul had to correct them by reinforcing sex is part of God’s design for a holy and healthy marriage! (1 Corinthians 7:2-5)

And remember the instruction of Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” The marriage bed is undefiled–it is a holy thing to come together with your spouse. God designed it and approves of it. “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18) And God told Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful, and multiply ….” (Genesis 1:28) Multiply means have kids, and kids only come from sex!

Physical intimacy is a gift from God for husband and wife. It is also part of the picture, an analogy, of God’s desire for relationship with us. (Ephesians 5) His desire for relationship will always be deeper, stronger, more passionate, more dedicated, than ours can be for Him.

Bottom line: with your spouse be without shame. It is practice for being without shame with God.

In this sense, is your marriage shame-less? Is your walk with God shame-less?

Personal Note: I am happy and blessed to say: Yes! Starting as virgins on our wedding night, we were naked and knew no shame. We praise God we both dedicated ourselves from a very young age to keep our sexuality focused on and reserved for our spouse. This dedication has sidestepped an immense amount of spiritual, emotional, and physical baggage, freeing us to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically naked together without shame, with tremendous results. Our major issues have been internal, in dealing with our sin natures, to bring every thought captive to Jesus. Those bring enough struggles; we are so thankful we have not had the baggage of past relationships. But all is healed at the foot of the cross.

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Is Your Wedding Dress Going to Shipwreck Your Marriage?

It’s going to happen. Something is going to wound your marriage’s unity. Your oneness, harmony, solidarity, fellowship, rapport, and togetherness can and will be wounded, ruptured, and torn.

You will be in-love soul-mates one minute and the next minute something will happen that will hurt you, something that makes you realize you are not on the same page. It hurts because you thought you were.

In the midst of the pain you will chose to unify or divide, grow closer or further apart, get on the same page or go your own ways. There are no other choices. Unify or divide. That’s it.

It may be extremely hard to unify. But it’s worth it. Dividing is actually harder.

In a sense it’s like porcupines making love; move slowly and carefully to come together without injuring each other. If you move fast and cause injuries, forgive, heal, and don’t repeat the mistake! Get better at coming together.

For me such a wound came at the wedding the moment I saw my bride’s wedding dress.

A Little History

While planning our wedding my wife wanted me, her best friend and audience of one, to be delighted with her wedding dress, so she asked what dress style I would enjoy seeing her in. To give her a little guidance and a lot of freedom I told her two things:

Wedding dress of Grace Kelly

Image via Wikipedia

  1. I do not like strapless dresses (personal cultural history), and
  2. I would really enjoy seeing her in something like the dresses in Lord of the Rings.

My emphasis was on the first point, the second point would be nice. She agreed, we were on the same page, she went to find the perfect dress, and my anticipation at seeing her in the wedding dress grew each day.

The Wedding Day

The wedding day arrived! I woke up and enjoyed the thought, “Today I marry my best friend — yay!” The sky was brilliant, the men were handsome, and the ladies beautiful. The music played and my wife appeared … in a strapless dress!

Anger flared up inside me, we were on two different pages!

Unity is wounded. What will I do?

Immediately I heard the still, small voice repeat the puzzling phrase He had been whispering to my soul the last few days, “Do not hurt her.” Instantly it made sense.

I pushed the anger down and locked my gaze onto my bride’s eyes, those radiant eyes, those pools of joy! I focused on this woman, my best friend, my bride! I felt the love and joy of the moment, purposely blind to the dress she wore. I wanted to be on the same page!

The wedding and honeymoon were wonderful, except the wound stole part of the fullness of joy those days are meant to bring.

Physical Intimacy

Over the next few months the wound prevented total heart-to-heart intimacy and detracted from physical intimacy. Everything you are is present in sex, and we had a heart issue holding us back from the fullness of what it could have been.

She could tell something was wrong and asked again and again. I said I was struggling with something deep I did not think was sin (on my part).

It wasn’t going away, instead it increasingly prevented unity of spirit, soul, and body, so I asked my other best friend, my dad, for advice. He counseled me to dive into God and let Him bring healing, and never tell my wife. Maybe after our 50 year anniversary.

I asked God for help with this wound.

Do Not Hurt Her

God did not remove it. Instead He directed me to unify with my wife and reminded me, “Do not hurt her.” How do you not wound your spouse while talking about their wounding you?

I thought and prayed for a few days. The time came. I lovingly and carefully told her when we make a decision and set an expectation about something big, it hurts me if she changes it without discussion. I want to be on the same page and it hurts when we plan to be and then find we are not.

We had a long, careful, loving and raw discussion which began forgiveness, healing, and progress in unity. I found out my wife could not find a dress that fit all the parameters (the two above and others unmentioned) in the short time schedule we chose, so her mother swayed her to get this strapless one. A lack of communication resulted in an important lesson in “leaving your parents and cleaving to your spouse.” Whose page are you going to be on, your parents’ page or your spouse’ page?

It ultimately and surprisingly took years for my heart to recover even though I, the wounded one, did not want it to impact our marriage at all! But the things that hit deep take time to recover. It seemed like a relatively small thing, but it just hit deep. You may be surprised at what hits deep; I sure have been.

It would have taken a lot longer and had worse consequences if I had followed my dad’s advice to never tell her. Keeping secrets from your spouse divides you, and that flies in the face of unity. Your spouse should be your best friend with no secrets. You should live in such a way so there is no need to keep secrets from them. Secrets are dangerous to unity.

What Do You Most Want? 

What will it be for you? Hopefully not the wedding dress! (please learn from our experience and be on the same page for everything at the wedding!)  It will be something where you thought you were on the same page and were surprised to find you are not.

Do not let anything get in the way of unity with your spouse. Consider Philippians 3:13 “… forget the things of the past and reach forward to the things ahead ….” Forgive, heal, do better in the future. Make their happiness the condition for your happiness; it is whether you realize it or not.

What kind of marriage do you most want? Do you want God’s power, passion, purity, and wisdom to fill your marriage? In Ephesians 5:22-33 God says our marriages are to model Christ and the Church. The husband is the leader in the marriage in the same way Jesus is the leader of the Church. Jesus proved His love by dying for the Church; the Church must follow Jesus. The husband must love his wife, and the wife respect her husband.

That is God’s definition and goal of a great marriage! That husband and wife will overcome all obstacles and protect their unity!