Part Two: Fifty Shades of Grey: Sexual Abuse All Grown Up

Part Two: Fifty Shades of Grey: Sexual Abuse All Grown Up

I suggested there’s a good reason she felt uncomfortable.  Your actions speak louder than words.  The actions proposed in Fifty Shades of Grey imitate imprisonment and death.  I called this the Sexuality of Death and contrasted it with the Sexuality of Life.  Marriage creates an environment where the Sexuality of Life can flourish, but if you aren’t careful, you can easily introduce the Sexuality of Death into your marriage.  Marriage is a boundary that provides a safe place for the connection of sexuality between a husband and wife to grow.  The message behind BDSM is NOT protection and is anything, but.  If you flirt with these behaviors your can literally traumatize your spouse, which can leave your spouse terrorized and fearful of you.

Gina Ogden, the modern priestess that anything sexual is fine as long as there’s a spiritual element (the spiritual she’s preaching about is not with the LORD Almighty.  Her sexual cocktail includes any gender, even alone, as long as it’s “spiritual”), was interviewed about her view of this Fifty Shades series and why (some!) women over 40 are so (supposedly!) interested in it and she is quoted on Yahoo as saying,

An extremely titillating book like this slows you down and gives you a fantasy from the reality of your life, from taking care of the kids, parents, working…Because of physiological changes and the fact that our focus has shifted to all these other responsibilities, it takes longer to warm up to sex. We need to be led into it, whether it’s through reading erotica, a massage from your partner, or being romanced.

It’s difficult to read Ogden because you have to sift out the truth from error. Some of her advice is very helpful.  Yet, she says “partner,” not husband or wife or spouse.  She includes reading erotica in the same category as a massage or being romanced.  Just as there are not too many women out there who appreciate their husbands getting off on naked, nubile 20-year olds in pornography, there are not too many husbands, who are thrilled if their wives need to fantasize about someone else to be sexual with them.  For Ogden sexuality is not the connection between a husband and a wife; it’s the sexual spiritual experience in any context apart from abuse.

But I would argue that BDSM IS ABUSE, child abuse all grown up.  With the clients I’ve seen on this issue there is one partner (usually a husband steeped in porn.  If it’s the wife, she was usually sexually abused as a child) who is trying to talk his wife into this type of behavior.  He uses all manner of persuasion, including quoting the Bible (Satan is really good at quoting the Bible.  He used it on Jesus in the temptations in the wilderness. He’s still using it.  Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.).  The same arguments Uncle Bob+ uses to convince little Billy or Sally that it is fine and honorable and good for little girls and/or boys to do these fun little acts with Uncle Bob (“See how happy the little girl is when she does this to her uncle?” as he shows her pictures or videos of smiling children being tormented by some self-worshipping adult), so, too, Uncle Bob comes to his wife or her husband with pictures of smiling, happy people assaulting, asphyxiating, tying up, humiliating, choking, or imprisoning other seemingly happy people:  “See the pretty knots?  See how happy they all are?  You want to make me happy, don’t you?”

That’s the trick.  The perpetrator makes it the victim’s fault.  It’s called “grooming” amongst those who work with sex-offenders.  The sex-offender grooms the child to think it is the child’s idea and the child’s desire to be vandalized by this perp.  Of course, the child doesn’t know the child is being preyed upon and Uncle Bob is a sleazy, selfish criminal about to destroy this child’s life for years to come.  Which plays, of course, on the victim’s brain.  It wasn’t all pain, right?  The plumbing works, right?  So we have terror mixed with pleasure.  The child thinks, “It can’t be wrong, because Uncle Bob is such a nice guy and he loves me and he says it’s fine and it feels good.  But I’m confused.  It feels wrong, too.  I’m think I’m going crazy.”

This is the BDMS cocktail: pain and pleasure and I’ll take you right up to the edge until you say “Red” and when you say “Red” I know to stop and everything will be fine.  Of course, if you say, “Red” it makes it your fault if we quit and you won’t make me happy, but I’ll never say that.  It’s really important you make ME happy and do what I want and if you don’t, I’ll subtly make you feel like you are a prude and Miss Goody Two-Shoes and a puritan and a fundamentalist Christian and a naysayer and fun killer.  You’ll just have to figure that out with your therapist five years from now.

It’s not fine and people are hurt and traumatized and devastated and feel violated because “they defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves.”**  The potential victim should have said “Red” the minute her boyfriend, or whoever, started bringing out his little pictures (or in the case of Christian Grey in Fifty Shades, his titillating comments of Anastasia Steel “biting” her “lip” or the tease he gives her of his “secret” room and the tempting signing of his forbidden contract or his phony deprecation that he needs to initiate her to real love-making first, because she’s a virgin, before he totally humiliates her with his hardware store) of imprisoned, smiling, glamorous models all tied-up like they are being offered for sacrifice to Baal, which if you think of it, is just what is going on.

Perpetrators, who sexually abuse children, use secrets and very subtle manipulation to make their victims think the victim wants what the abuser wants (“It’s our little secret.”).  The Bible says Satan comes as an angel of light** and sexual predators do the same thing.  On the surface it seems fine, but there’s just something creepy about the whole thing.  This is the allure of temptation: “Ignore the bad side; look at all the benefits of selling your soul to the devil.  Mooheehee.”  Christian Grey comes across as all glamorous and handsome and winsome and mysterious and tempting and alluring (and, of course, he’s RICH!).  Anastasia Steel can’t resist.  And, porn being porn, everyone’s happy and gets happier the more perverted their behavior becomes.  There’s always a happy ending in porn.  Everyone’s always smiling.  It can’t be wrong if they’re smiling, right?***

Just because a victim is 24-years old instead of 8, does that make it any less abusive?  Just because your victim is your spouse, does that make it any less wrong?  You can’t abuse your date if she’s over 17-years old?  You can’t violate your wife because she’s your wife and she’s an adult and she says it’s Okay?  You’ve told her your lies about everything’s fine and we’ll stop when “you” want to?

Stop when you want to?  All sexual predators have said that phrase to their victims from time immemorial.  Let me count the ways I’ve heard that phrase dressed up as a delectable feast only to discover its excrement with a caviar pate.

Perps go so far as to even say its a way for spiritual enlightenment.  Isn’t that what the Serpent said to Eve?****  And today, Gina Ogden is saying it, and Christian Grey is saying it and, sadly, too many folks are saying it to themselves or their spouses only to wake up to discover they’ve been playing with fire and someone was burned.  Uncle Bob is everywhere.

There is some spiritual crap going on, alright.  If you change the “f” in “defiled” to a “v” you get “deviled,” which is not far off.

The wise can tell the egg that nourishes from the imposter feces that kills.  Just because they both come out of the back-end of a chicken, doesn’t make them the same thing.

_____

+ I’ve used the “Uncle Bob” metaphor before.  Check out Uncle Bob in two podcasts here.

*Psalm 106:39

**2 Corinthians 11:14

***On a very curious side note, my wife told me last night she wasn’t reading these blogs on this subject because they were “creepy” and then she told me her first patient on the psych floor for her nursing rotation during her nursing school was a swinging adult male who’d flipped out and gone crazy.  Hmmm.  The perp perping on himself?  You not only run the risk of traumatizing your spouse, but traumatizing yourself.  It would be funny, if it weren’t so tragic.

****Check it our for yourself in Genesis 3.

Part Two: Fifty Shades of Grey: Sexual Abuse All Grown Up

Fighting the Vampires of the Sexuality of Death

I’ve discussed it in other blogs and podcasts, but briefly:

-if a child is molested, the child thinks he’s going to die

-if a lady is raped, she thinks she’s going to die

-if a baby is unwanted he is too often aborted and he dies

-masturbating to porn, a guy’s seed (life, you know) is spilled onto the ground or spilled into a kleenex and flushed down the toilet: death

-the pornography itself: turn off the electricity and it’s gone.  Poof.

-two men expose themselves to excrement, which the body is trying to extricate so you don’t die

-two men or two women can never make life, despite governmental or public sanction.  In our society it doesn’t matter.  As long as you FEEL like you love the person you are doing the rituals of death with.  Feelings become the god of the age.  Still: not life.  Smiles, maybe.  But underneath?

-a man and a woman who are not married, but are cohabiting and pretending to be married.  They have the guise of marriage.  It looks like marriages, but it isn’t.  They are only fooling themselves.  They are posers.  Then they wonder why they have problems.  Then they think I can’t be with a person who’s so selfish, little realizing they themselves are selfish for thinking you can have a marriage without sacrificing yourself and your life and your future and the relationship ends up in death.  Cohabiting couples are more likely to break up, have abortions and sexual abuse, both child and partnership violence and breakups.  They are fraught with conflict, sexual problems (duh?) and money problems.  But see?  We’re smiling, so everything must be Okay.  Little do they know the vampire has struck and they are, in fact, dying.

-BDSM roleplays sacrificial rituals of death that go back at least to the Biblical Canaanites, if not further.  Here: let’s romanticize me taking away your soul with your permission.  See?  Isn’t that fun?  Now let’s dress it up and tout it as the new female erotica.  Who can we seduce now?  Isn’t being manipulated fun?  Let’s make movies about this and seduce our whole society that sex between a husband and wife is boring and we need these things from Ace Hardware to spruce up our love life (Ace Hardware?  What does Ace Hardware have to do with love?).  We just wanna have fun.

Death is fun?

At least in China they do their Sexuality of Death without all the glamour.   Yesterday it was reported Chinese family planning officials forced a woman to abort her daughter when she was seven months pregnant.  Her crime?  She already had a child:

According to reports, Jianmei was beaten and dragged into vehicle on June 2 by family planning officials while her husband, Deng Jiyuan, was at work. Jiyuan told Ling of All Girls Allowed that five men had abducted his wife and taken her to a hospital where they held her down.

“They covered her head with a pillowcase. She couldn’t do anything because they were restraining her,” the husband stated.

The officials asked her to pay fines worth more than $6,000 but when the money wasn’t given, they forced Jianmei to sign an abortion “consent” form. They inked her thumb and pressed it forcibly against the form.

Toxins were then injected into the brain of her unborn daughter.

“I could feel the baby jumping around inside me all the time, but then she went still,” the mother recounted to Ling.

The forced abortion took place on June 3. After enduring painful contractions, she gave birth on June 4 to her deceased child.

Still, occasionally, in our society, the hurt of the Sexuality of Death can be seen.  There’s evidence.  But it’s getting scarcer and rarer.  You can see it in the report of what the 18-year old man testified yesterday day in the Penn State Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.  CBS reported:

“I spaced,” the alleged victim said. “I didn’t know what to do with all the thoughts running through my head, I just kind of blacked out and didn’t want it to happen. I froze.”

He testified that after he broke off contact with Sandusky, the former coach came to his home and yelled at him for not spending more time with him. He told the court that the argument got heated and that eventually hid behind a bush to avoid Sandusky.

“I got extremely, extremely scared,” testified the man. “With all the connections he had if he really thought I would say what happened that he could hurt me or someone close to me.”

Hid behind a bush?  Good for him.  At least someone is getting it.

-Your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to move in with you?  Run away.

-A same-sex friend want’s to do what?  Run away.

-The porn vampires come out at night and say “click here,”  “click here.”  Run away.

-Your partner wants to tie you up?  Are you kidding me?  Tie me up?  And then he’s showing you porn pictures of happy women with dog collars around their necks and says, see all the happy faces?  Run.  Run away.

Somehow in our culture we still identify child abuse as something sick and dirty and wrong and hurtful and deserving of punishment so that we do not promote it in the public sphere.  But everywhere else, the Sexuality of Death is just fine.

This day, chose life, the Bible says, over and over. But no.  We like our death, all dressed up, with celebratory parades and dances and loud, pulsing music, and beautiful gowns and bodies and grinning faces, ear to ear on the celebrity pages giving the pretense of life, but imposters all.

We don’t like our Christians pointing these things out.  You can be a Christian as long as you smile and either keep your mouth shut or agree that indeed, death is to be preferred to life.  Christians are judgmental, you know.  You don’t want mommy or daddy telling you to not put your hand on the stove or to drink that poison.  So let’s shut them up.  Eventually it’ll be lock them up.  See how tolerant we are?  Or we could throw them to the lions like the Roman’s did.  At least get some entertainment out of the deal.

Rome: Hey, there’s a society steeped in death.  We’ve been down this road before?

Part Two: Fifty Shades of Grey: Sexual Abuse All Grown Up

Rihanna and the Sexuality of Death

It doesn’t look like we humans, mankind and all, have learned much, even after God destroyed with world with a flood.  You’d think we’d have taken that as a warning.  But, no.  We’ve figured out how to take the most wonderful thing in the world, the expression of sexual love between a man and a wife, and totally rob it of anything meaningful, or anything to do with life, or anything to do with mutual connection and tenderness and make it a symbol of punishment and death instead.  Ouch.

Recently, I made the mistake of watching Rihanna’s new music video, S&M, on YouTube during a lull between clients (Sorry, no.  I’m not going to link you to it.).   Her video is a graphic lesson how far we’ve come in taking away all the joy in marital sexuality.  Sexuality outside of marriage is what I call the “Sexuality of Death.”  Her video is a lesson in death where she and others are depicted in degrading positions (Well, duh, Dr. Wall, it’s S and M.) including asphyxiation, which is where sexuality takes you if you don’t have the boundary of marriage around it to protect it and keep it holy: degradation, humiliation, loneliness, despair, bondage, punishment and death.  Curiously, there was a complete lack of smiling faces, that anyone was having fun, and NO ONE was connecting in any conceivable sense of love and tenderness with anyone else.  Yes, it was group sex.  A group of people.  A group of disconnected, self-absorbed, migrating planets of nameless bodies, except for Rihanna, and she’s taped to a wall behind a clear plastic sheet, giving us the impression she was prohibited from breathing, role playing death scenarios.  Sexuality for Rihanna, as here depicted, is a form of punishment, used by everyone to separate us from everyone else.  I think that is imagery similar to how the Bible describes Hell.  She’s spot on.

Pretty scary.  At least when Madonna went down this path 20 years ago she had a smirk, like she was pulling the wool over our eyes.  No smirk here, folks.  Just raw disconnect, hopelessness, wretchedness, gloom and dejection.  With lyrics like “the pain is my pleasure,” “sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me,” “the affliction of the feeling leaves me wanting more” and with an invitation to hurt her even more, she exclaims, “Come on, come on, come on I like it-like it” you’ll need an antidepressant afterwards.  Oh, the word “Love” does occur: “sex is in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it” and “I love the feeling you bring to me, oh, you turn me on.”

Me.  Me.  Me.

Welcome to sex twenty-first century style.

“I love the feeling you bring to me.”  That about sums up our view of love, too.  Sex is about me.  Love is about me.  I don’t love you…I love the feeling.  Great.  Try building a marriage and a life on that as a philosophy.

There’s nothing here about love that involves another human soul or tenderness and sharing a life and connection and looking into your spouse’s eyes or maybe having a baby and having a family together.  I hope for Rihanna’s sake this is just entertainment and a way to make a buck and that her heart is not really into all this stuff.  She’s only 23 and already she’s bored with sex and needs all of this to kick it up?  She’ll make a sad case history down the road if this is her lifestyle of choice.  This stuff isn’t something you mess around with.  Darkness and doom are not your friends.

Whether she believes all of this or not, sadly, some of her many admirers will embrace these morbid views of sexuality and go down these dark tunnels only to discover emptiness, grief, horror and sorrow.

Believe me.  I’ve talked to a few who have tried these activities on for size and found them wanting.  Self-imposed trauma isn’t exactly the way to bring blessing into your life.  This stuff sticks with you a long time.  It ain’t all fun and games.  Later, when you are married and interested in having children, how are you now, all of a sudden, going to associate sexuality in your marriage with love and tenderness and connection and life, when you’ve spent all this time and energy and lust and thought and desire and uncontrollable urges playacting scenes from Medieval paintings of Hell?  What does that have to do with anything meaningful and mutual and life giving?

If you are married and telling your spouse we need to do these punishing activities to shake up our sex life and add some variety to the mix, you are telling her sex is about you, not the two of you.  In case you haven’t figure this out, that would mean sex to you is a selfish act for your benefit.  It’s important for you to get off, it matters not with whom.  If your spouse has half a brain, she’ll figure out it doesn’t even matter if she’s in the room.  It only matters if YOU are getting what YOU want.  In marriage sexuality is there to infuse life into our love and relationship.  It’s supposed to be about connection with each other.  Bring in someone else and we’ve got another animal altogether.  It’s no longer about life.  It’s taking the beauty of marital sexuality and running it through the gutter.  Marriage is supposed to be a boundary of protection from perversion and evil.  Introduce pain and punishment or someone else into your holy marriage bed and you turn it into the complete opposite.  What does a dungeon have to do with the privacy, sanctity, tenderness and the life giving nature of marital sexual love?   This behavior turns meaningful, mutual, life-giving, marital sexual love between a husband and a wife and turns it into abuse and  punishment and death.

Believe me.  I’ve heard the stories of people who have tried these paths and have burned their dignity and seared their consciences and baptized their spouses in a cesspool and now they ask me to help put their marriages back together and do you know what I hear?  I hear, you were supposed to protect me as my husband and you threw me to the dogs instead?  That doesn’t sound too exciting and fun and invigorating to me.

By the way, if you are married and your spouse suggests this kind of craziness,  you need to put your foot down and insist that marital, sexual love between the two of you is supposed to be about the two of you, not anyone else or anything else, and it is suppose to be about reaching out to each other and connecting, not about hurting.  I am not one of these types that believes you should nurture wild sexual fantasies, that fantasies are innocent and fun and add spice to your marriage, and since you are married you can do whatever you want sexually and everything will be fine.  I believe you can take a perfectly beautiful and wonderful thing and destroy it without hardly even trying.  Anyone can ruin marital sexuality in a moment.  It takes real skill to keep marital sexuality meaningful and tender for 50-60 years.  You do that by keeping it special and private and just about we-two and keeping the gutter out of the bedroom.  Clean sheets would be good.  Keep the porn out.  Keep the objects out.  Keep others out.  Keep the perverted fantasies out.  If you don’t it’s like drinking out of the toilet after it’s been used and before it’s been flushed.  Yes, there’s water in there, but that doesn’t mean it’s a drink you want to take.  Refreshing?  Ah, no.

Don’t be too self-righteous.  You can ruin your later marital sexuality pretty easily before you are married if you are not careful without ever going the S & M route.  Sexuality outside of marriage with whatever gender, or, in the case of pornography, your navel, is addictive, compulsive and, as Rihanna has so graphically conveyed, meaningless and hurtful.  We’ve got a whole generation and now going on two generations, who believe you can be sexual with anyone regardless of gender and there are no consequences.  I’m here to tell you that sexuality outside of a husband and a wife and the sanctity of marriage is a sea of misery and heartache and you can tell yourself there are no consequences all you want, but that doesn’t mean there are no consequences.  Self-delusion is a surefire way to ruin your life without even being aware.  At least when same-sex behavior and premarital sex was morally wrong people had consciences.  I pity you if yours has died.  God gave you a conscience to help you make appropriate decisions.  Ignore His still small voice and you enter the land of the dead and dying, without even trying.

That’s the problem.  Nobody’s trying.

At least Rihanna in honest.  She’s right.  Sexuality outside the confines of marital sexuality between a husband and a wife is meaningless, hurtful and degrading.  She’s taken the romance out of sexuality outside marriage altogether.

I wonder if anyone will listen?

Part Two: Fifty Shades of Grey: Sexual Abuse All Grown Up

A Valentine’s Day Meditation

The verse quoted above is an example of something in the Bible that isn’t true. It isn’t true that if you persist in going your own way you’ll be fine. Moses is quoting selfish Israelites and what they will say in their hearts to destroy their lives. It is true that people, not just ancient Israelites, say these things to themselves. We say things like this all the time. You may be saying it to yourself right now. Well, good for you. But that doesn’t make it true! You can tell yourself what you want whenever you want to, but just because you tell yourself something doesn’t make it true. Go ahead. Delude yourself.

Say to yourself, I can divorce my spouse and since I am happy, the kids will know I didn’t settle and they will learn not to settle either (i.e. keep their promises) and everything will be fine.

Say to yourself, I can look at this porn stuff and think about thousands of other breasts and butts (or worse) all day and night and it won’t negatively affect me at all or my loved ones or my career or my character and everything will be fine.

Say to yourself, I can play video games or interactive games online till all hours of the night or party hardy with the best of them or drink myself into a stupor or Facebook all my friends day in and day out and everything will be fine.

Say to yourself, I can ignore speaking to my spouse and live in another part of the house and everything will be fine.

Say to yourself, I don’t have to sleep with my spouse for whatever reason and our marriage will be fine.

Say to yourself, I can work all day and into the night and all weekend, week in and week out and never spend time alone with my spouse and children and everything will be fine.

Say to yourself, I can borrow all this money and borrow away my future and pay it back someday (nothing bad will ever happen to me so I’ll be able to pay it back) and be a slave to my lenders and everything will be fine.

Say to yourself, I can say mean things to my husband and put him down regularly and make may point clear in no uncertain terms and point out to him how and in particular what he does to irritate me and bother me, and everything will be fine.

Say to yourself, I just don’t want to fight so I won’t respond to her when she says these things and just stare off into space and leave the room and tell yourself you don’t want to fight and she’s just a crazy woman, but at least I’ll be fine. It won’t be my fault.

Say to yourself, I can go on strike and test my spouse and see how long it takes him to get a clue and everything will be fine.

Say to yourself, I can ignore affectionate and sexual connection with my spouse and everything will be fine.

Say to yourself, I can ignore marrying my girlfriend or boyfriend and we can live together and/or be sexual without paying any consequences. Everything will be fine. In fact if we got married, everything would be worse!

Let’s be clear about this. Marriage doesn’t make you whole. It is not the gospel. There certainly are terrible marriages out there. But let’s also understand that marriage in and of itself, as an institution, isn’t bad; it’s the people in them. God instituted marriage prior to Adam and Eve’s rebellion against Him. God knew full well we’d rebel against Him. Nevertheless, He said, for this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall be come one flesh. In a world filled with sin and selfishness and death, marriage would act as a protection for children, women and men. Children would grow up knowing both their biological parents (i.e. a female wife and a male husband) and having the marvelous complimentary of the genders: male and female. And God said, Behold it is very good.

Very good indeed.

But when sin reigns in the human heart, marriage itself can be perceived as the demon that caused the pain.

Maybe you grew up in a home where mom and dad were hurtful to each other: mean things being said, anger expressed by terror or violence, to you, your siblings, your mom, fidelity being scourged, pornography rampant with lurid stares from dad or worse, bankruptcy, gambling and horrid financial problems, evictions, affairs by mom or dad or both, perhaps you were abused by another family member, male or female right in what was supposed to be the safety of your own home.

There’s no end to the evils that can be done within the home. But that doesn’t make marriage in and of itself a bad institution. Even in an imperfect home, marriage has an amazing capacity to enlarge the human heart over time. Many people figure out, some early in their marriage, some later in their marriages, some altogether too late, that the only way marriage works is if both parties are servants and practice the Golden Rule. You don’t even have to go to church to learn this.

Marriage is a crucible to teach you how to grow up, to expand your heart, to enlarge your capacity for love and tenderness.

How can you not love your beautiful young bride who makes so many sacrifices for you?

How can you not reach back to the husband who works so hard to make your life pleasant and enjoyable?

How can you lay there on the couch week after week, year after year, while your spouse scurries around and picks up after you?

If your heart has any goodness in it at all, over time, you’d think for most of us our consciences would kick in and we’d see we’re being selfish and pick up the ball and learn to harness our own propensity to be totally self absorbed.

How can you observe the birth of your son or daughter and hold him or her in your arms moments after your child’s birth and your heart just be cold and you could care less? The Bible says that after Enoch’s son was born, Enoch walked with God for 300 years and then God took him. He and Elijah were the only two persons to never die because both were taken away by God to Heaven before that occurred, and the reason God took Enoch away was because after the birth of his son, a little light bulb went off in Enoch’s head and he walked with God the rest of his life. There are marriages all over the world, where just the wonder of marriage and childbirth and child rearing and growing old together and sharing finances and dreams and hopes and aspirations and sexual wonder and joy and friendship and camaraderie and mutually shared goals and moments of tenderness and private jokes and secret nods and names and laughter beyond imagination and mutual regard and admiration create, over time, people with bigger hearts, some big enough that even God finds a path to their spirits. They learn, some by trial and error, that if they are nice to their spouses, their spouses are nice back. Well I’ll be. Dang. There are folk out there who learned solely by mistake that if they are sacrificial to their spouses, their spouses relax and are more giving and fun to be around. Well, imagine that.

And, of course, there are people who do not learn from anything even though marriage is a club over their heads and they deny, deny, deny the silent witness of the Spirit in their lives, gently prodding them that selfishness is not the way to go and they continually act selfishly and refuse to serve and demand to be served, and nag and yell and scream or shut down and stare off into space (You know, of course, if you do this that you are communicating very well that your spouse is a complete idiot? You know this, right?) and throw things including their fists, even, sometimes, to get their points across or they abuse their children instead of teach them the way of the Lord and they mock the God who put them in charge of their families to protect them and instead become a scourge to their loved ones.

But this isn’t marriage’s fault. Marriage as an institution wasn’t the shortcoming here. It was the selfish human in the marriage that was the problem.

Divorce really isn’t the answer to a bad marriage, either. We’re exchanging one group of problems for another. Divorce introduces another whole set of problems and animosities too numerous to count. Divorce freezes your emotional maturity and except for the grace of God, for most of us, it locks our resentments in our spirits and sets the ceiling for the rest of our lives, beyond a point for which we cannot grow. This can happen to you whether you were the one who sought the divorce or your spouse dumped you and spit you out or disappeared unknowingly and never returned. Unless you seek some serious healing from the God of Heaven, the bar will be set as to how far you can mature. Divorced people are amazing unable to learn from their mistakes. How do I know this? Well, I’ve talked to thousands of them for one. The bitterness in many of their spirits is pretty scary. For most divorce sure didn’t make their hearts larger. For another, second marriages break up at higher rates than first marriages and third marriages break up at higher rates than second or first marriages. So where is all the lesson learning here? Maybe you did? Well, good for you, because most people are too busy being hurt and nursing their wounds and, particularly if children or monthly checks are involved, will find plenty to be resentful about for the rest of their lives. Every week, sometimes more than once a week, you’ll have the opportunity to hate your spouses all over again when he or she comes by and takes your kids away for the night or the weekend or for Christmas or Thanksgiving. How are you supposed to be generous in spirit to someone who takes your children away? And then he or she remarried and that spouse hates your kids? AHHHHH! Or your stupid X never pays his child support on time or maybe not at all? Resentments, in case you haven’t figured this out, are not the stuff that makes folk fun to be around and it’ll make your heart smaller and smaller and your heart is connected to your face and your face broadcasts your spirit for all to see and you will be less and less the kind of person anyone will want to be around. Throw in some stepchildren who hate your guts and watch you lose your dignity altogether. And make sure you blame everyone else for all of your problems.

There’s only one program for personal expansion of your life in a situation like that and that is to humble yourself before God, to find a way to be an example of a servant, to forgive seventy times seven and to treat everyone else in the family like you want to be treated (Ahhh…that would be like, you know, the Golden Rule.). This isn’t easy. For all of us it is unobtainable without the movement of God in our hearts. The morsels of resentment and bitterness taste very sweet, even though they turn putrid in out stomachs.

A better way is to let marriage teach you the lessons your stubborn heart has been too proud to learn. A better way is to learn to forgive and to reach out even when your partner can’t or won’t reach out to you. Someone has to warm up the room. If both of you have cold hearts the room’s gonna stay pretty cold. One is better than none. If you are nice to your spouse and reach out to your spouse and love your spouse sooner or later, more than likely, your spouse will “get it” that your spouse is being selfish and start reaching out to you in return. And even if your spouse doesn’t get it, always remember, on Judgment Day God isn’t going to ask you if your spouse was everything to you your spouse needed to be. No, He’s going to ask you if you were the spouse you could be. Everyone will die for his own sins. Your laundry list of complaints will look pretty shallow then. I don’t even think it will occur to you to bring it out. Cool it with the lectures and explanations of your “feelings.” Quit worrying about if he or she loves you and start love-ing. You have control of that. You have no control over whether or not your spouse reaches out to you.

And for Heaven’s Sake, reach out to your spouse beyond Valentine’s Day. Make love on other days beyond Valentine’s Day. Give gifts and tenderness and affection beyond Valentine’s Day. Make it a habit. You are going to have habits no matter what.

Your habits may as well be good ones while you are at it.

Part Two: Fifty Shades of Grey: Sexual Abuse All Grown Up

Part Three: The Highway to an Affair or Abuse: Courtship and Impatience: Handmaidens of Disaster

After my blog on how affairs and abusive relationships start on my thrivingcouples.com blog , a reader suggested I continue with the topic and discuss how these relationships develop.  I gave that a go here, but I thought I’d take another crack at it today from a different angle.

The literature on abusive relationships blames the perpetrator, but in my view, you’d better be careful making yourself out to be a victim when you dated so and so willingly and freely.  A better question would be how did you get into this mess in the first place and how do you figure out a way to not go down that road again.

This is one of the great dangers of courting in our society.  We’ve eliminated the arranged marriage.  We’re all too proud and sophisticated for that.  While the arranged marriage has it’s downsides, the advantage is that the bride or groom had two entire families in on the vetting process.  Instead of two people trying to figure out if they were meant for each other there were a minimum of 6, and probably in many cases, a lot more than that.  They were doing research and praying and discussing and hoping and dreaming all together.  Certainly there are abuses in this system but a lot of people checking out your future spouse and vouching for their veracity is a good thing.

When people so-called “fall in love” they are absolutely crazy people.  Their ability to think and make rational decisions is in the toilet.  If this method of picking a spouse based upon “feelings” was so great, why in the world do we have a divorce rate hovering around 50%?  I’d say a failure rate like that goes wanting.  You don’t only need your feelings involved.  You need your brain, too, and your family and close confidants opinions and if you have family members or close friends who think your new found love is creep you’d better open your eyes instead of thinking they are all a bunch of control freaks.  Careful.

Here’s a warning sign straight from the Gates of Hell: Do not pass go.  Go directly to Hell:  Your new found love is in a hurry to get married.  YIKES!  RED FLAG!  RED FLAG!  Run, run, run away.  There is no hurry.  Love is patient.  So if he tells you he loves you, but he wants to get married NOW and you don’t even know who this guy (or gal) is, someone is on the fast track to pull someone’s wool over someone’s eyes.  Not everyone who smiles at you is to be trusted!  Beware the smiley face.  At church or work or anywhere else.  A smile is cheap.  Character runs deep.  You HAVE to know the person long enough to see if the smile is connected to character, or it’s all a show.  Anyone can be nice…for a time.  It’s time, times and time again where you really figure out what’s going on.  There’s no hurry.

But what do we do?  We give someone our heart just because they are nice and reach out to us.  So we tell him or her all our problems and he’s so understanding and it feels so good (I’m going to puke).  We’re sooooo needy.  We’re so lonely that anyone with a heartbeat and a smile will do.

No.  Folks.  This isn’t how it works.  Give your heart to this nice person when you don’t even know them?

And here’s a sure way to ruin your life without even skipping a beat: Have sex with them!  A whole bunch!  Grovel in each other’s underwear.  Now try making a rational decision.

You won’t and you’ll keep me busy for years to come.

Our romantic relationships today are based upon just two people’s impressions and given our penchant for being deceived and deceiving ourselves, it is too easy to fall into a trap.  The old saying, “it can’t be wrong, because it feels so right” is a load of crap.  You better have something better leading your life than your feelings or you will leave a trail of tears wherever you go, in your life and in everyone else’s around you.

This is why online and cohabiting relationships are so insidious and harmful.  They have as their birthplace, their foundation and beginning, two people using each other for their own benefit.  You go online to find someone to bless you?  Folks, this is just creepy.  It turns marriage on it’s head and makes marriage out to be a relationship for two selfish people who are each wanting the other to perform certain things to make the other happy.  Marriage is NOT about you finding the right person to make you happy.  This makes your spouse out to be an idol, and I don’t know if you’ve read the Bible much, or not, but thou shalt not have any graven images before Me is like, ah, one of the Ten Commandments.  Graven means carving out, making something to be like something else, and when you insist that your spouse make you happy you are carving him into something he cannot be nor should be and then when he doesn’t perform these miraculous works to make you “feel love” you will dump his sorry butt and go looking for another idol to fill your empty soul.

No.  Marriage is about two selfless people (of the opposite sex!  Our society is so perverted, I have to explain this?) each seeking to be a blessing to each other and developing a life together.  It’s not two people wanting the other to bless them.  It’s two people seeking to be a blessing to the other.

Cohabiting, same-sex, online dating, affairs and abusive relationships are all people looking for someone else to make them happy.  Relationships become your drug of choice.  And they last about as long, too.  If you insist your spouse make you happy, you put your spouse in prison and he will be screaming to get out.   As Proverbs 7 warns “Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.”

We have a whole culture that is trying to ruin marriage for everyone by spreading the myth that marriage is about making you happy.  No wonder same-sex relationships are all the rage.  Those relationships are the king of seeking pleasure at someone else’s expense.  So are affairs.  No one has any patience.  Everyone wants everything right now.  No sense waiting for God’s leading.  I’ll just take the bull by the horns and squeeze out of all these desperate people online (if you are looking for a spouse or a lover online you are by definition, desperate) someone who will make me happy.  We’ll just cohabit with each other right now today.  No sense waiting.  We can be happy now:  A couple of leeches sucking blood out of each other.  They are both taking advantage of each other for their own benefit.  Weddings cost too much.  Sacrifice and patience are not in our vocabulary.  We’ll live for the now.  Right now.  For now.  Look at all the money we’ll save!  Free love!  All we need is each other.  We’re committed…as long as you make me happy.

Of course, if my feelings change, watch out!  I don’t have any control over my feelings, right (another load of crap)?  I have to do what my feelings tell me.  And my feelings tell me you are not the one for me any more because you no longer make me feel good.  It’s all about my feelings, see.  I made you my god, but when you didn’t deliver, I switched my god to my feelings.  Actually, my god was my feelings all along.  My smiley face to you was all a ruse!  I’m not really a nice person after all!  HA!  My bad.  Too bad for you.  I’m just a victim of my g0d-feelings and I must worship my navel.  It doesn’t matter if kids are involved.  Just so I’m happy.  And if I’m not happy divorced, I’ll just look online and find another part-time god to make me feel good long enough to leave a trail of bodies in the another ditch on another trail.

If you see me comin’ you better step aside.  A lotta men didn’t and a lotta men died.+

Marriage is worth waiting for.  Marriage is worth saving for.  Marriage is worth fighting for.  If Jacob worked 7 years for Rachel, no 14 years*, certainly you can wait until your wedding day.  But, you say, I don’t have anyone yet?  Have?  Have?  Isn’t that the whole problem?  It’s not “have.”  Let’s worry about being the right person instead of finding the right person.

Then, maybe a little patience might mean something.  Do something about something you have control over.  If you are married, you don’t have control over whether or not your spouse makes you happy.  You DO have control over whether or not you are a loving spouse.  He who would be greatest among you shall be your servant.

If you are single you need to stop LOOKING and start BEING.  Be content in and of yourself, so you don’t NEED someone else other than God to make you whole.  Develop you gifts.  Develop your talents.  Pursue your dreams.  Find a way to be a blessing to others beyond your work.  Learn.  Stretch.  Grow.  And pray.

And in the journey of living your life in obedience to God’s call on your life, sooner or later, for most of us, someone will find us who will be a person of character who is looking for a person of character.

Sooner or later.  God knows best right?  You’ve put yourself at His feet, right?  So let Him take care of it while you major on being a blessing to others.

But if the looking becomes your mission?

Welcome to a life of misery.

+Tennessee Earnie Ford, “Sixteen Tons”

*Genesis 29

Part Two: Fifty Shades of Grey: Sexual Abuse All Grown Up

Part Two: The Highway to an Affair or Abuse: The Slippery Slide

One of my readers suggested to me that I expand upon my last blog and discuss how an affair develops. You’ll remember in that blog I presented how affairs start, using Proverbs 7 as a template, where Solomon tells a story of how a young, naïve man (who becomes a fool that night) is tempted to succumb to a prostitute. He tempts himself by going near where she hangs out and then in a matter of moments she seduces him by her flattering looks, her flattering words, her touch, her reference to spiritual things (yes, spiritual!), her promise that she will be there for him (you’ve got to be kidding me!) and that everything has happened to prepare for this moment (The spiritual again: Happenstance? No. NO. NOOOO. Providence!!): My Husband just happens to be gone. He took lots of money for a business trip and we have all this time on our hands. The implication is even God wants us to PARTY! Careful about praying about having an affair. God won’t answer that prayer, but you can bet the other guy will happy to oblige!

You’ll note that I also suggested that abusive relationships and affairs use the same behavior patterns. An abusive male or female uses the same technique as a seductress or seducer. The only difference is that in affairs, they are BOTH using each other for their own ends, making each other abusers of the other. In a strictly abusive relationship, one can take advantage of the other, but more often than not, they are both abusing and using the other for their own ends.

You’ll note, also, that instead of discussing a young man I turned the story around and discussed how it would look if it was a young woman being tempted, not just in one day but over a period of time.

That story of Solomon’s gives us the nature of a one-night stand with a woman of the street, but the temptation can happen over time for either gender and it certainly doesn’t have to be prostitute, nor married, to qualify for selling your soul to the devil. That hot co-worker two cubicles across or two classrooms down or two doors down or two pews over will work just fine. No money need change hands. Both parties are trying to get something for nothing and both parties tempt each other. Yeah, yeah, yeah, in the story, she’s the one that seduces him, but she doesn’t have a literal affair that night without a willing partner. What’s he doing out looking? He had no business being there in the first place.

You’ll remember from my story that a seducer or seductress uses words to entice.In the King James Version the verse specifically says, “With her much fair speech she caused him to yield (vs. 21).”That is pretty instructive. It’s the words that entice (curiously, not attraction).Combine that with the look and the touch and the vague references to God and then boom:“all at once he followed her.”

All at once.

Affairs are subtle. The example in Solomon’s story occurs in a few minutes. For most of us, if we’re going to break the 7th Commandment (Thou shalt not commit adultery), we prefer the subtle, slow cooking, frog in a pot method. You put a frog in a pot of cold water and it’s groovin’, swimming around and have a grand old time. Unbeknownst to the frog, we put the pot on the stove and turn on the heat and while the frog is groovin’ and a chillin’ it boils to death and it never knows the difference. Affairs are subtle. If you think you can play with fire and not be burned you are sadly mistaken.

A single person getting into an abusive relationship operates the same way. They may or may not be sexual before marriage (more often than not they ARE). Their emotions got involved before their brain. If they are sexual, this is double blindness (Triple? Sex combines them physically and spiritually, and then add the emotional?). This is why it is so important to go slow in courtship and to meet someone through your loving friends and relatives and coworkers whom you trust. This is why online relationships are fraught with danger. There’s NO ONE vouching for your potential spouse’s veracity. You go into it blind. Wait. Wait. Wait to open up emotionally until you know the other person shares your hopes and dreams and values and is a person of integrity. If you get involved emotionally before you know these things you may get too close to break it off when you discover deal breakers. Your emotions get ahead of your brain. Keep in mind that love is patient and the person you have to be most patient with is yourself! You don’t want to be married at ANY cost. It’s better to remain single than to marry the WRONG person. Don’t frog-in-the-pot yourself.

Cohabiting couples end up with the same risk. They move in together before they’ve learned enough about each other to see if they other really fits in with their respective life goals and aspirations and by getting sexually and emotionally involved BEFORE this information is on the table, they end up deluded and in the zone. Then they find all this crap out about each other that they hate and now they want to change each other and they fight, but now they are pregnant or have bought a house together or who knows what and their lives are filled with chaos. Love is patient. Cohabiting is selfishness on demand. What a mess.

Here’s a true story: A man and women meet each other in the bar while drinking and getting drunk. They have sex the night they meet. She gets pregnant. They get married right away. Their life is a disaster. Marriage isn’t going to fix this mess. Patience people.

Shirley Glass, in her classic study of affairs, calls this “the slippery slope.” In my office I draw a slide from a playground and call it “the slippery slide.” I tell my clients you have to stay off the slide altogether. Every step up the ladder you become more deluded and emotionally fooled and it becomes harder and harder to say no until you get to the top and you are ready to take the plunge and once you let go, you are a goner. Some people dance around on top of this slide on a regular basis and wonder why their lives are in chaos. It’s not a wonder to me. At all.

In answer to my reader’s question: What happens after the affair starts, the point in my story last time, where she opens up her heart and tells this wonderful, interesting and caring serpent, who comes as an angel of light, her problems?What happens then?All at once she follows him.All at once.

There’s a decisive moment in every affair, where a person reaches a point where he crosses the Rubicon. People who work with those who struggle with habitual substance use call this “the zone.” Believe me: affairs and abusive relationships are addictive. When you are in “the zone” you are totally deluded and lose all track of time and reality. If you happen to come see me when you are in the zone and I mention it or try to rattle your cage enough to help you get out of it, most of the time you will chide me (or even yell at me!) for not seeing your wisdom and delight and all the joys of your little zone. I just don’t understand and I’m being so judgmental. You’ll describe it to me in such glowing terms that it sounds like nirvana. It’s enough to make me puke, but you’ll think the vomit is the wellspring of life and there’s no talking you out of it, for most, until the whole delusion comes crashing down and then you’ll be all repentant and everything, but meanwhile you’ll have already destroyed your integrity, reputation, loved ones and oftentimes your career all in one fell swoop. Some of this behavior is downright illegal and you can also get your sorry butt arrested. You won’t be seeing me then. You’ll be visiting with the prison chaplain or social worker. I’m sure he’s a nice guy.

This decisive moment for most is the moment they open up their hearts to this wonderfully kind and generous co-worker. Or that person from church (yes, church!). Or that understanding neighbor. He seemed so genuine! The word here is “seemed.” Every seducer knows if he gets you to open up and the rest is a highway. They can tell you are lonely or hurting or resentful of your husband. You wear it on your sleeve. You talk down about your husband. You make a caustic remark about your wife or fail to compliment her when you have the opportunity. You come across as needy. And here is the vulture, all pretty or handsome and engaging and interesting and kind and loving, asking you all these personal questions (My husband never asks me these questions any more!) and it’s so flattering to be listened to, to be heard. And he doesn’t insult you, or scoff or roll his eyes, and I haven’t felt like this in, who knows how long, and so you open up more and more and then you start to feel a bit sheepish that this relationship is so one sided, with you talking about all your problems all the time, so you start to ask about his relationships and all of a sudden the seduced becomes the seducer and unbeknownst to you, you are now the temptress and he knows he shouldn’t be telling you his problems either, but you are so nice and you laugh at his jokes and you tease him and you don’t roll your eyes at him either and pretty soon the two of you are dancing on the top of the slide and the both of you plunge down it together and you wake up at the bottom and asked, “wa happened?”

But now, it’s not just your emotions that are involved. You had your heart in the mix and your feeeeeelings (you know how important your feelings are!!! Let them lead you all the way to hell.), but now your bodies have intertwined and you’ve dined on each other’s private delights and dang, it’s new and it’s exciting, and it’s dirty and dang, and dang, I’ve never had sex like that………………….EVER, so this is another one of those God leading me to break one of the Ten Commandments kind of spiritual moments where your pleasure just makes some sort of believer out of you (not sure what church that is). Sex was a spiritual experience! (Well, duh!). And now you are really hooked. And you have to lie to cover it up. But it doesn’t seem like lying, because you are in the “zone” and to you your feeeeeeelings are what’s most important. And of course his feeeeelings and as long as your and his feeeeeelings are so wonderful you’ll be in the clouds. Whoopee!!!

But the strange part is: When anyone else finds out about your little cult that you and your affairee have started, they will fail to be converted. You’ll know that what you are doing is WRONG, when your loved ones find out about it, they are appalled, hurt, frustrated, and angry (By the way, this is a good test of whether porn is right or not. If you can’t do it front of your wife or kids, it’s not right. Right? Well, I guess for a child pornographer that wouldn’t be a test. He’d be in the zone and totally deluded that showing a kid porn is cool. But for most of us….). But that won’t matter to you, at least while you are in the zone. You’ll justify it. You’ll explain it away. If you are really crazy, you and your affairee and fellow worshipper will dump your respective spouses and go off together, leaving a trail of tears and never be the wiser. You’ll blame everyone else for not sharing in your delusion and cut off your loved ones. They’re all crazy anyway, you’ll think.

A sad, sad, state of affairs, no pun intended.

“Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chamber of death.” (Proverbs 7: 25-17 KJV)