Category: Religion

Adultery Part II

I opened my Bible to Proverbs (my favorite book) a couple of nights ago, and I started reading at the beginning. I read the first seven chapters. A pattern emerged. I’ve probably read Proverbs 100 times in my life, and it never really jumped out at me before like it did this time. I got a little obsessed with it, and I kept reading to see how many references there were.

Apparently adultery is a really, really, really bad idea. Allow me to give you a sampling:

Proverbs 1:
16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God.
18 Surely her house leads down to death
and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return
or attain the paths of life.

Proverbs 5:
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
6 She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.
8 Keep to a path far from her,
do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you lose your honor to others
and your dignity to one who is cruel,
10 lest strangers feast on your wealth
and your toil enrich the house of another.
11 At the end of your life you will groan,
when your flesh and body are spent.

Proverbs 6:
26 For a prostitute can be had for a loaf of bread,
but another man’s wife preys on your very life.
27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap
without his clothes being burned?
28 Can a man walk on hot coals
without his feet being scorched?
29 So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife;
no one who touches her will go unpunished.
32 But a man who commits adultery has no sense;
whoever does so destroys himself.
33 Blows and disgrace are his lot,
and his shame will never be wiped away.

Proverbs 7:
25 Do not let your heart turn to [the adulterous woman’s] ways
or stray into her paths.
26 Many are the victims she has brought down;
her slain are a mighty throng.
27 Her house is a highway to the grave,
leading down to the chambers of death.

It appears to say, if I can boil it down, is that if you do this, you’re screwed. And this was written by King David, a guy who had a dude killed so he could sleep with said dude’s wife. So I’m thinking he would know…

Serendipity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what many people call fate, serendipity, coincidence…

I don’t believe in any of it anymore. There is a plan. There is a designer of that plan. It can only be God.

A woman trapped on a bridge, hanging over the edge in her car with 2 kids in the back seat – firefighters unable to get to her, but a US Army engineering corp caravan happened to be stuck on the highway going the other direction and happened to have a piece of equipment that could reach across the way to prop the car up… yeah right. That’s a “lucky” break.

Please.

That woman’s time had not come. She was meant to survive that accident.

In September of 2011, I was going through a very dark time. I was getting divorced, I’d just left my church of almost 5 years under less than ideal circumstances, and I felt like a failure. It seemed that everything I touched, no matter how much I put in, I never got anything back out. I didn’t know Nicole existed.

In September of 2011, Nicole was going through trials I wouldn’t with on anyone. She was clinging to her faith and her family, praying that things would get better. She didn’t know I existed.

With a houseful of guests, I left the night of December 30th to meet a girl I’d found on eHarmony. I came home 4 hours later and announced that I’d be marrying that girl.

That didn’t happen by accident. The timing wasn’t an accident.

I’d been forced to deal with a lot of the things that made my marriage fail and deal with the feelings I had about my departure from the church. She’d been searching for meaning in trials that are difficult to understand the “why”. And right at that moment, God said “hey, I think you two are finally ready to meet each other.” And Bazinga, there we were.

It hasn’t been hard. Not at all. It’s been the time of my life. Every day is an adventure. Every day brings new happiness and beauty.

Of course we bicker at times. I’m not saying that. I’m saying that our relationship, the family dynamic with Lu, the living situation, all of the details of our lives – it’s all just “fallen into place.” It’s worked, without us having to relearn a bunch of stuff. Because God made us for each other, and he refined us in the fire of life until he knew it was the right time.

We wouldn’t have clicked this way 5 years ago. We weren’t ready. Both of us were on eHarmony at the same time about that time, but we didn’t get matched. Hmmm.

God has a plan. God knows why every event happens, even the totally crappy stuff. When trials come, knowing that God has the steering wheel is, I expect, the best comfort I can have.

It doesn’t hurt to be riding in that car with Nicole and Lu. 🙂

What is Love?

Webster’s defines love as:

1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.

Urban Dictionary defines love as:

Giving someone the power to destroy you, and trusting them not to.

The Bible has several different words for love in the original Greek, but they all translate into “love” so it loses some of its nuance. There are four main types of love used in the Bible:

Agape — unconditional love
Philia — love that exists between close friends
Storge — love that grows between family members
Eros — “Erotic” or sexual connection

The love you feel for your spouse is different than the love you feel for a sibling, which is different from the love you feel for your child. Of course we would hope that all of them would be unconditional, but in my life I’ve rarely seen unconditional love exhibited.

In fact, I was taught that love is actually SUPPOSED to be conditional. After all, the theory went, God sends unrepentant sinners to hell. And if God is love, and God’s love is conditional upon repentance and acceptance, then our human love should also be conditional. Yes, that’s what I was taught.

But I disagree with that now. God is love. God loves every single human He has ever created in the history of the world. Unconditionally. He feels the pain of rejection when people opt to refuse His love, but He never stops loving them or wanting them to accept it. He grieves at having to allow people’s decision not to repent to cause them to go to hell. That’s not what He wants. We can debate all day long about how you can love someone and still discipline or punish them, but I think we all know that when we punish our children, we still friggin love them. I certainly hope so, at least.

That skewed notion of love translated into my human relationships. Since God’s love was conditional in my mind, then most certainly if a person loved me, it was conditional as well. The Bible doesn’t teach that. It says we should love our neighbor as ourselves. It doesn’t say “if our neighbor never hurts us, love them as ourselves.” Yet so many people act that way. I love you as long as there’s something in it for me… as long as you do what I want and don’t ever hurt my feelings, I’ll love you.

Real love isn’t like a light switch. It’s hard-wired.

I was also taught that forgiveness was conditional. The theory was that if we don’t repent and ask forgiveness, God sends us to hell. Same line of thought as the love thing. God has infinite capacity to forgive and forget, and our capacity is limited by our humanness. So if He doesn’t do it, we shouldn’t have to either.

I’ve come to my own conclusions about forgiveness, too. There have been two types of people in my life. People who hurt me and didn’t care, and people who hurt me and did care. It’s easy to forgive the people who genuinely felt remorse and asked for forgiveness. But I have two choices with the other folks… forgive and forget for my own well-being, or hold the grudge and resent them forever or until they have a change of heart. Which one do you think would give me more peace of mind?

My forgiving a person who hurt me and didn’t feel bad about it doesn’t have any affect on them… they are still a jerk. And eventually their actions, just like mine, will be judged. But carrying that anger and resentment around with me is like cancer. It grows and blackens your insides until all you have left is bitterness.

I’ve known a lot of people who can’t forgive for their own peace of mind. They hold the grudge and grow to hate those folks. And eventually, every human being you interact with closely will mess up and hurt you. So the end result is that people who can’t learn to forgive and forget end up isolated, bitter, and grumpy.

Here’s the Incredipete definition of love: Love is an unconditional care or passionate affection for someone for whom you would do anything, whose needs you put ahead of your own, and from whom you make no demands. If they love you, they will do the same. And that, my friends, is the beauty of mutuality. A phenomenon I’m experiencing for the first time with my lovely bride. That is what we call the good stuff.

Adultery

As most of you know, I was raised in a Christian home. I was taught a lot of things from a young age that I still believe today. It seems like everywhere you turn, spouses are cheating, even people who are “pillars” in the Christian community. Jimmy Swaggart famously cheated on his wife while running his gigantic TV ministry. Countless others did as well. It raises the question as to why this has become so common particularly when people in positions of power are involved.

US News ran a survey that estimates approximately 3-4% of men will cheat on their wife. Other surveys put the number at closer to 15%. According to one survey, 90% of Americans believe that cheating is morally wrong (which makes you wonder what’s wrong with the other 10%).

I believe that some people stray because they are unhappy and they “fall” into it. In other words, they weren’t sitting around thinking about cheating, but they were unhappy and when someone came along and offered them what they felt they were missing, they went for it. Some people stray because they simply don’t respect their spouse and feel they are entitled to do what they want.

People in positions of power or notability find it much easier to cheat. Not because they necessarily look to cheat, but because they attract people to them with their power and fame, whether they like it or not. I would imagine that being a famous professional athlete, for example, would make faithfulness difficult. Women throw themselves at these guys regularly. You’d need to have strong fences and boundaries built up around you to insure that you stayed on track. Most of these athletes that cheat probably actually love their wives. But easy opportunities and loneliness on the road make it too easy. Bill Clinton had things offered to him (icky things, but things nonetheless) and he must have felt that he’d never get caught or that he had enough power to keep people quiet.

I personally have a hard time understanding how you can rationalize cheating. If you really are unhappy, get a divorce. At least then the other person has a chance at finding someone else. It’s completely selfish and wrong to “have your cake and eat it too.”

The Bible is completely clear on adultery. Thou shalt not. It’s one of the stinking 10 commandments. It doesn’t get much more clear than that. It’s on the same list with “thou shalt not kill” and “thou shalt not steal.” In some states there are still laws making adultery a felony.

I’m not saying people should go to jail for it, just that it’s pretty obvious you shouldn’t do it.

The best way to prevent adultery is to love your spouse. Respect her. Care for her. See the beauty in her. Understand that her love and trust are irreplaceable.

When the opportunity to cheat knocks on your door, the Bible says to “FLEE”. Run away. In Proverbs it compares it to scooping hot coals into your lap. “No one who touches her will go unpunished.” That’s from Proverbs. The Bible also says to “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Yikes.

Sex

It’s always fun to talk about topics that are slightly taboo, which for most Christians, sex most certainly is. It’s not because Christians don’t have sex, it’s because they are taught from birth that sex is dirty and wrong, and then that when they get married it’s magically not dirty or wrong anymore. That leaves Christians feeling weird about sex and uncomfortable discussing it, especially with any frankness or detail. In the interest of stepping wildly all over your shoes and making you squirm, here goes!

Sex is not dirty or wrong. God invented it, intended for it to rock, and didn’t only create sex to make babies, although that’s a happy natural side effect. If the only point of sex was to make babies, he wouldn’t have given us the bonding chemicals in our brain that are released during and after sex. I’ve heard all SORTS of cockamamie stuff taught in churches and in Christian books about sex within marriage.

One of my favorites perpetrated by some of the more traditional churches is that “missionary” is the only acceptable position. The idea is that being face to face is the only appropriate way to have sex, and the man should be on top because he’s, well, “the man.” I’m not knocking missionary. Eye contact is not a trivial thing. But man, that’s leaving so much good stuff off the table. Some churches teach that birth control is wrong (and in some, even “rhythm” and “retraction” are considered birth control). That leaves couples to either hope for the best or just plan on having a jillion kids. Meaning that sex can’t be for bonding or as an expression of passion or for fun between playful lovers. It’s basically just something you do to make babies (all the while hoping you don’t get pregnant every single time).

Again, this is a completely stupid construct by the church. Abortion is wrong (killing a fertilized embryo). Birth control does nothing of the sort. And then there’s oral sex (yes, some churches teach this is wrong). Many Christians feel that this is something that isn’t “natural”. I recently read an article that made me laugh snot bubbles out of my nose. It said that within marriage, frequent “genital union” is required. Now, I’m not even disagreeing with that statement, but the phrase “genital union” has got to be the most hilarious thing I’ve ever heard.

But does that mean that oral sex isn’t natural? I don’t think so. And I certainly see no such restriction in the Bible. What about anal sex? Oh boy. I’m gonna get it from the Christian right-wing now. Is anal sex wrong between a husband and wife? Do both parties want to engage in it? If the answer is yes, then by all means, go right ahead. But Pete, that’s not natural….!!!! To that I say “… you’re retarded.” You find a place in the Bible that places ANY sexual restrictions on married couples. Go ahead, I’ll wait. What did you find?

WELL, if you’re being completely honest, you did find a restriction… No extra people. Sorry guys – you can’t invite another woman into the bed with your wife. Sorry wives – you can’t invite another guy (or gal) into bed with your husband. Not if you want to remain inside the bounds of a Christian marriage. Yes, I realize that this is the prevalent fantasy for most guys. Yes, I realize that some wives (even some Christian wives) are willing to allow this to make their husbands happy. But it’s wrong, so steer clear. What about other fetishes?

I have no idea what to say on this one. Here’s what I think. I’m sure you all will correct me if I’m wrong. Harming your lover is not in keeping with what God would have us do. On the other hand, some people (I hear) find that pain and other things I don’t understand increases their pleasure. Am I going to say that’s wrong? Nope. All I’d say about fetishes is that both partners should be totally on board, both partners should be open with communication, and neither partner should come out with an injury. I’m not talking about the accidental “I fell off you during sex” injury. I’m talking about – hmmm – don’t put out cigarettes on your partner. And don’t punch her in the face.

Some churches teach that a wife has “duties” which of course pretty much always means “sex.” I don’t agree with that line of thinking at all. The moment sex goes from being fun to be a job is the moment you’re in deep poop. I think that in a marriage, both partners should want to, and try to, give the other what they want and need. Often that means compromise, doing one thing when we’d rather do another, etc. That’s exactly how marriage should work. Give and take. <strong>HOWEVER</strong>, a husband demanding that his wife “perform her duties” is FAR different than a wife choosing to make love to her husband because she loves him and wants to fulfill his desires.

It is never appropriate to demand sex or insist on it. Not even if you’re married. The moment you are telling her to give you what you want when she doesn’t want to, you’ve crossed the line. Many wives, I’d imagine, would try to say yes to their husbands even in those circumstances. That doesn’t make it right, guys. She doesn’t owe you anything. You do your job (love her as Christ loves the church) and do your best to fulfill her emotional needs. If you do that, you won’t have to demand sex.

To summarize. If you and your lover absolutely adore missionary position and you’re perfectly content doing that every single time, by all means, carry on. If you and your lover are more adventurous, the go for it. God gave you to each other as lovers (assuming you’re married) and He wants that bond to be strong. He made it so that the sexual chemistry both in our hormones and in our brains would make us WANT each other and make us chemically bond when we make love. That’s not an accident. The Bible says that a husband and wife become one flesh. Think about how in tune you are with your own body, with your own thoughts, desires, fantasies, and emotions.

You should want (and try) to be just as in tune with your spouse… taking the time to understand her emotions, her thoughts, fantasies, desires, and yes, her body. That’s how you become one flesh. Ultimately whatever brings you closer to each other is what you should be doing together. That may mean you hardly ever have sex. If the way you bond and feel closer is through conversation, then you should do that. If it’s through doing activities together, then join a bowling league. And if it’s sex, then have sex. More than likely, it’s a combination of things.

So go grab your spouse and have some fun! I promise not to judge you.