Friday, March 23, 2012

Happiness and Purity

My husband and I recently began attending Mars Hill Church in Portland. It was good timing, because the Driscoll's had just launched their new New York Times bestseller Real Marriage, and the church is currently finishing up a topical sermon series based on the book (though, as always, Christ and the Bible are still centric to the series). This has been really great for us, God is working through everything we are learning to refine us and to improve the overall health of our marriage. It has also been very enlightening for me to watch the various interviews that the Driscolls, have had on television and see the reactions of the people who interview him.

One interview that has received a great deal of comment, is the one they had on The View. The reaction of the women on that show to the idea that sex is created by God as a gift for marriage alone, was very interesting and while not overtly hostile, they did have quite a negative reaction to the idea. I realized something that, as a married woman, I had momentarily forgotten. The world interprets sex as being an "ultimate thing" as though there is no real experience of love and affection outside of a sexual relationship. In our western society, we also tend to have our own, personal, happiness as our greatest goal. These two idols clash together to become the focus of our lives. Sexual relationship has now become viewed an ultimate activity that is necessary in order to pursue what we have established as our final goal, personal happiness.

The Bible, however, has very different and somewhat surprising things to say about what our ultimate goal is and what we need to do in order to achieve it. Biblically, our ultimate goal for this life is not personal happiness, but a relationship with God in Christ. The Bible does not even promise that we will be happy, what it does promise is that as we trust and serve our God we will find joy in Christ. It also promises suffering and persecution for those who desire to live a godly life. II Timothy 3:12 says "Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..." Matthew 5:11-12 goes even farther, saying that persecution that comes because of Christ is a sign of blessing and should bring us joy: "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven..." Persecution will come, suffering will come, and joy is promised. What is not promised is happiness.

Additionally, the Bible shows sex to be a gift from God to those who are married, as an important part of married life (evident in creation and in the book of Song of Solomon). It does not say that sex will bring happiness in marriage, just that it is a gift to be enjoyed within marriage. And it definitely does not say that sex is necessary in order to obtain fulfillment. Ultimately, true fulfillment is only found in Christ alone, not in sex or relationships. This can be seen throughout the Bible in the lives of Paul and of Christ. No one can say that Christ did not live a full life and was not fulfilled while he was on earth, and yet he never married, he never had sex, and he was persecuted to the point of severe, traumatic, horrific death on the Cross. No one can say that Paul was not fulfilled, and yet he also suffered terribly, never married, and was not sexually active. 

I use these examples because it is very easy to write-off what I, as a married woman, have to say on this subject. But, let me assure you, that I have found it to be very true in my own life. I did not marry until right before I turned 27, and I only had one boyfriend (apart from the man I married) during my time as a single woman. There were times when I felt lonely, frightened, scared, tired and unloved, and though I never actual had sex, I did make some mistakes in my physical relationship with guys during that time. But ultimately God did show me how I was fulfilled in him. I found that sex was not necessary to fulfillment as a Christian, Christ and Christ alone (solo Christo), was and is necessary. As a married woman, I find that, despite being married to a wonderful man of God who truly loves me, there are times that I feel lonely, tired, fearful, and even unloved. During those times if I try to find my fulfillment in my husband, I find no fulfillment. But, when I turn to Christ and seek fulfillment in Him, fulfillment and peace are found. My husband and I are more fulfilled and and more at rest and peace with each other when we both do this than we are when we look to each other and our relationship.