I have got to get this off my chest. At this point, I don’t care if every person who reads this blog never reads it again. There comes a point when one can’t be silent anymore.
I came across an article today while doing a search for something completely unrelated. It appeared in Christianity Today. It used phrases like “emotional purity” and “emotional fornication”. I was taken aback. My eyes began to water. Who put these phrases together? Here’s a tidbit:
In her book Get Married, for example, Candice Watters recalls “… sitting in class learning about all the ways our country was slipping from its constitutional foundations. And in a moment of exasperation, I raised my hand and called out, ‘So what’s the solution?’ … Dr. Hubert Morken didn’t disappoint. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and let his grenade fly: ‘Get married, make babies, and do government. That’s how we win.’ ” In other words, lie back and think of America. Just go out and get married. And if you’re not in love, get over it and get married anyway…Author and psychologist Stephen Simpson, quoted at Crosswalk.com, argues, “Falling in love before you got married or engaged was a twentieth-century concept.” Blogger “arlemagne1” at the Ruth Institute Blog: “So, what’s romantic love? Essentially, it’s an addiction. … And like so many drugs of addiction, everybody would be better off attributing much less importance to it.” In her book The Way of a Man with a Maid, Robin Phillips gives several examples of young Christian adults who were expected to maintain “emotional purity” (i.e., not to fall in love) until they reached the very altar. For instance: “I have a friend named Emily who had always accepted the teaching about emotional purity and believed that to have a crush on a boy amounted to nurturing an idol in her heart. However, when Emily actually found herself being attracted to a young man, she was helpless to know how to handle it. Nor were matters helped when friends began to come up to Emily and say, ‘Don’t you know that you are committing emotional fornication? You’re being promiscuous and I think you should be careful to save yourself totally for your future husband.'” (Christianity Today)
I was sick to my stomach. Since when did having a crush on a boy become a sin? Since when did hoping for a love match become a starry-eyed fantasy? Has anyone read their Bible? I’m serious here. Have these so-called Christians truly developed a relationship with God? Do they know Him? Have they read the Song of Songs? It’s erotica for Pete’s sake! You can call it an allegory if that makes you more comfortable, but at the end of the day it’s still a man singing about a woman who he is in love with! And, it’s a woman singing back to him. If it’s God Himself beckoning the Bride of Christ to Himself, then shouldn’t we model the spirit of that all the more in our most intimate relationship?
The song opens with, “Kiss me tenderly! Your love is better than wine, and you smell so sweet.” How’s that for an invitation? Solomon sings to his lover, “Earrings add to your beauty, and you wear a necklace of precious stones. Let’s make you some jewelry of gold woven with silver.” She replies to him, “My king, while you were on your couch, my love was a magic charm. My darling, you are perfume between my breasts; you are flower blossoms from the gardens of En-Gedi…I am hungry for love! Put your left hand under my head and embrace me with your right arm.” Her lover responds, “My darling, you are lovely, so very lovely—as you look through your veil, your eyes are those of a dove. Your hair tosses about as gracefully as goats coming down from Gilead. Your teeth are whiter than sheep freshly washed, they match perfectly, not one is missing. Your lips are crimson cords, your mouth is shapely, behind your veil are hidden beautiful rosy cheeks. Your neck is more graceful than the tower of David decorated with thousands of warriors’ shields. Your breasts are perfect; they are twin deer feeding among lilies. I will hasten to those hills sprinkled with sweet perfume and stay there till sunrise.” Clearly, this is sexy stuff, and this is a song for lovers–not two married people. Does that seem scandalous to you? Ruth seduced Boaz when he was drunk. They were not married. Read your Bible if you don’t believe me!
Going even further, during the time of the Old Testament and into the New Testament, sex was permitted under three circumstances–under contract of marriage, contract of betrothal, and in a concubine relationship. A concubine relationship is essentially a longterm relationship with a woman that will end at some point in the future. It’s not just relating to harems.
We’ve certainly come a long way. NOT. Do you know what this is? This is fear. This is a group of people who have lost their way and who do not know the Gospel. It’s also a revisitation to the Middle Ages in a renaissance of The Cult of The Virgin. The Cult of The Virgin is not a new thing. It shows its face in many eras throughout history and in many forms. It looks pretty sometimes, but religious fervor and fear are at its helm. Rather than become emotionally mature humans who develop social skills, empathy, and wisdom appropriate for the times, people go straight for a frontal lobotomy in the form of judgmentalism, fear mongering, negativity, and hatred. This latest teaching on emotional purity, emotional fornication, and the abandonment of love and sexual passion in longterm relationships is merely a reaction to the experience of feeling a loss of control and relevance in the culture. It is also the Church defining herself entirely in the negative.
Let me describe it like this. If I wanted to draw Michelangelo’s masterpiece David, what is the best way to do it? Should I fly to Florence, sit in front of the sculpture during the day when the lighting is the best, and sketch the sculpture in person? Or, should I find a photograph and attempt to reproduce an image by only drawing the negative space? If I only focus on the negative space of the sculpture what will my resultant sketch resemble? Will it look like Michelangelo’s David? No. Negative space provides guidelines for aspect, shape, and perspective when we draw. That’s it. We cannot capture the richness of details, contrast, depth, or anything else when looking at negative space. We must look at the object itself if we want to reproduce it. It seems to me that the Church has been looking entirely and only at the negative to define her responses to it. How else can you explain the emergence of something like “emotional fornication”? It is absurd, and it has no place in an empowered life.
That is not to say that people don’t participate in emotional promiscuity, but that is an altogether different thing. Emotional promiscuity is when a person causes another to believe that they are safe and trustworthy, thus, forcing an intimacy on an emotional level. Once the other person has exposed themselves to the other person in sometimes very profound ways, the other person, feeling powerful and full up on met needs, ends the relationship abruptly. It’s the emotional form of “hitting it and quitting it”, and the person left often feels exposed and used. There is a definite vulnerability hangover as well as profound regret for having shared too much. This is actually a very common behavior in Christian circles; it’s related to serial monogamy. People want the emotional hit that comes from the oxytocin dump associated with deep, intimate bonding. Humans release oxytocin during orgasm, and I do wonder if there isn’t an oxytocin dump when people share profound things on an emotional level, too. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone that mothers’ bodies release after giving birth. It bonds mothers to their newborn infants. This is one reason sex is so powerful. It bonds humans together on a chemical level.
Now, I’m sure someone is going to quote a scripture at me talking about salt and preserving the culture. Well, the Church as it is now isn’t relevant. Tell me how pointing a cold, bony finger at some poor soul and shouting, “Fornicator! Emotional fornicator! If only you’d kept your heart pure and not had a crush on that girl at your office!” is relevant to the ills of society. If you want to be relevant, then look at Jesus. Did Jesus ever press the SEX button? Nope. There’s a concept. What did His Father do? Well, if you read Zephaniah 3, you’ll find out that God sings songs of love over us. LOVE. Did you know that the Bible talks about three different kinds of love? There’s brotherly, or friendly, love (philia). There’s erotic love (eros). Then, there’s God’s love as described in 1 Corinthians 13 (agape). Apparently, we’re created to experience all three.
It’s time that we stop defining ourselves by negatives and begin looking at what is true. There is no formula. We will love others, and we will be betrayed. Jesus was. There is no guarantee that we will marry with success. Divorces happen to the best people. It’s even allowed for in the Bible. To be human is to try and fail. To be human is also to try again. Decide for yourself today if you will focus on who you want to be completely free of fear or if you will fall victim to dangerous religion because that’s what this latest teaching is. As Jesus Himself put it in Matthew 23–“They crush people with unbearable religious demands.” The truth is, life is messy and ambiguous with few guarantees. Me? I will not be following this latest religious fad. Instead, I think I shall stay the course and agree with C.S. Lewis…
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis