Tag Archives: Adultery

Dear Men, I Do Not Exist For You

[I really think I’m going to have to start issuing ruffle warnings.  As in, your feathers are about to be ruffled.  Consider yourself warned.  Ruffle, ruffle.]

Dear Men,

I do not exist for you.  I do not exist to satisfy your desires or to cater to your whims.  I am not obligated to respect you,  like you, befriend you, be attracted to you, date you, marry you or sleep with you.  There is nothing wrong with me if I am not drawn to you (and not necessarily anything wrong with you, either, I must add);  I am just not here – living this life at this point in time and space – for you.

As the Westminster Confession of Faith says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” That is, the divinely-appointed purpose of humanity, of any life, of my life “is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever.”

My life is not now and never will be about your needs.

Yet I’m told it should be.  And I’m not just hearing it from secular culture, I hear it from the Church.

I will never forget a conversation I had with a godly, older married friend a number of years ago.  We were discussing whether or not it was right or okay to have something you would leave your husband over when entering marriage.  She maintained that it was not right or okay, that a woman who had such a contingency was not fully committed.  I admitted that I felt I would leave my husband if he was ever unfaithful to me, because I didn’t think I could recover from that.  She returned with, “If a man’s needs are being met in marriage, he won’t ever go outside of it to fulfill them.”

That scared me off of marriage for a long time after that, because what the mess kind of standard is that?  I’ve been asked many times about my singleness: did I struggle with my sexuality? Was I a commitment-phobe? Was it because I had a front row seat to a messy divorce? Nope.  It was because for many years I was deathly afraid of marrying the wrong man; I mean, the really wrong man.  I was afraid I’d end up loving and marrying a black hole of need that I would never be able to satisfy.  Maybe I’d be sick, or upset, or otherwise just not feel like “it” and he’d take his needs somewhere else.  And of course, because for whatever reason I wasn’t up to giving him what he needed (forget my needs), his infidelity would be my fault.

I reject that now.  I reject that my actions ever FORCE someone to sin.  I reject it because I am not now and never will be held accountable for someone else’s sin.  God is never, ever, EVER going to ask me if it ever happens, “Lydia, why was your husband unfaithful?” In my feelings of betrayal, should I ever encounter infidelity in my marriage, God’s not going to say, “Okay, but Lydia, what could YOU have done better?”  That is NOT how God operates: “A bruised reed He shall not break” (Isaiah 42:3a).

And in case you’re wondering, I now also desire a healthy, Christ-focused (not husband- or wife-focused) marriage.

Where I am now in my attitude is unfortunately not the point, however; the fact that I was ever terrified of marriage because of being blamed for someone else’s sin is a problem.  And it’s not a problem because my attitude toward marriage was wrong; it’s a problem because someone placed (or at any rate, tried to place) a burden on me that God never intended.

This burden is not rare in the church; in fact, it’s all over the place, anytime a husband is unfaithful to his wife.  And it all boils down to this: the wife is spending too much time on things other than her husband.

Every time I encounter this attitude, the old fear in me rises up, and I spend days and weeks vanquishing it again.  I have to re-remember that I am not living this life for the pleasure of any man; I’m living to glorify and enjoy God.  I have to re-remember that any man who stands in the way of that is not worthy of my respect, good feelings, friendship, attraction, time, commitment, or body.  And since I am having to re-remember it, I am re-reminding you, dear men: I do not exist for you.

It’s ironic.  The Field contains this sort of romantic subplot, and I was really conflicted about whether to leave it in or take it out.  I left it in because it’s so personal, but until today I hadn’t been able to formulate why it was so personal.  It’s only sort of romantic because the heroine doesn’t choose her love interest; she chooses her purpose.  And that’s what I’ve had to do a time or two.

Because I don’t exist for men.

 

 

 

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Nobody Goes to Hell Because They’re Gay

Nobody goes to hell because they’re gay.

This is going to ruffle some feathers, but that’s okay.  More and more, I seem to be in the business of ruffling feathers.

I just want to be incredibly clear.

Nobody goes to hell because they’re gay.

Just as nobody goes to hell because they’ve committed adultery, or murdered, or committed suicide, or molested a child, or violated an adult, or lied, or been arrogant, or whatever sin you deem as heinous or innocent.

If that were the case, we are all going to hell, because we have all sinned – we are all sinners. I don’t care how good or moral we think we are, sin is a part of our DNA from the time we are conceived, and we have all violated God’s perfect standards at one time or another.

There is one thing that separates those who are going to hell from those who are not, and that is Jesus Christ.  He is the only One who met God’s perfect standards, the only One who did not sin.  And He is the only Way anybody can access God, the only Way anybody can have victory over sin, the only way to eternal life.

In order to understand why we even need Jesus, we have to acknowledge the existence of a God who is not us.  He is completely perfect, and therefore, He is completely other from us.  He does not operate the way we do, or the way we think he should.  He cannot tolerate sin and requires a payment for it.

In order to understand why we need Jesus, we have to acknowledge that we are all sinners, no matter how good or moral we deem ourselves to be.  As sinners, none of us can hope to live perfect lives, and therefore, we are disqualified from ever being able to pay for our own sin.

That’s why we need Jesus, because God is perfect and we are not and cannot hope to be.  We need Jesus because He is God’s perfect Son and the only One qualified to pay for our sin, the only One able to bring about a new way of life – which He did, by being crucified and rising from the dead!

It’s so simple, and yet, the way I’ve come to see it is that two things stand as roadblocks to accepting Jesus in our human thinking:

1.  We have a construct of God that makes Him like us when He is not.  We have this idea that He thinks and acts the way we do when He does not.

2.  We don’t like to think of ourselves as sinners, unworthy to approach a God who is entirely other from us.  We are all about ourselves, our strengths, our worth, our independence, and we can’t stand being told that however good and moral we may be, we are not good enough for God.  We can’t stand being told that our lifestyle choices condemn us in God’s eyes, but they do.

While the sins of homosexuality, or adultery, or murder, or suicide, or molestation, or rape, or deception, or pride, or any other sin you can name absolutely keeps you from God, only one sin dooms you to hell: rejecting Jesus and your need for Him.

Without Him and His payment for sin, we are all hell-bound sinners.

In Him and with Him and only because of Him, we have the power to change lifestyles that violate God’s perfect standards. I’m not saying we don’t still struggle with sin or stumble in sin, but we do have power in and with and because of Christ to overcome!

These aren’t my rules.  These aren’t Phil Robertson’s rules, little as I care for his approach.  And as a sinner myself, I’m not judging you for how you choose to live your life, or what you believe about God, or what you believe about yourself.  I just want you to be aware that there is a Judge, He is perfect, and at some point we will all answer to Him, and we will all be evaluated by His standards, not the standards we’ve created for ourselves.

When I come to the point where God holds me accountable for my life and the sinful choices I’ve made, I’m not going to be able to say, “But look, God, I did this, this, and this right,” not because I haven’t done good things, but because those good things simply don’t make up for my sin.  Only Jesus does.  He is my only plea in God’s court.

Jesus is the ONLY plea in God’s court, and if you think you’re not going to hell because you’re good enough on your own or because the god you’ve formed in your mind wouldn’t send you there, I don’t care how you’ve lived, you’ve got another thing coming.

 

 

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Victory and Redemption

Today is where the subject of broken sexuality gets sticky.  Like, really sticky.  I know what I believe about this topic, but I also know what others (on both sides of the debate) believe. Like everything else I write about, I want to handle this with grace and compassion AND truth and authority.

I believe broken sexuality was introduced to the world because of the fall, like every other form of brokenness.  (Examples of broken sexuality can include, but are not limited to sexual abuse of children, rape, adultery, sexual immorality, homosexuality, feminism, manosphere, viewing pornography, and masturbation in that they fall outside of God’s original design for sexual relationships being shared between one man and one woman).  We know that sin produces a distance from God, and I think rampant broken sexuality in our culture is the direct result of our collective distance from God as human beings.

After the fall, God introduced the law to His people, the Israelites.  The law can be viewed as God’s code of expected behavior for His people, and it contains MANY laws concerning sexual conduct. I believe the purpose of the law was to keep His people close to Him.  The problem was that nobody could obey the entire law, and they were stuck in a cycle of punishment and animal sacrifice.  Keeping the law was impossible for broken people. So God sent His Son, Jesus to bear the punishment for the sin of the human race.  He was perfect in that He did not sin and was able to keep God’s law perfectly.  His death and resurrection opened the door to a relationship with God for broken people who accept His work on their behalf: it was a redemptive act, an act of buying back, or restoring something to its intended position. Not only that, but  Jesus took away the power and the penalty of sin for those who believe in Him (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

How does this good news about Jesus apply to the broken sexuality we see all around us?

Let me be clear: as a believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior from sin, I am not sinless.  Not even close.  However, I am no longer obligated, or enslaved to sin (see Romans 6, I truly cannot pick one verse from that chapter).  Since I am a believer, I have the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 16:7-11), I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and His indwelling presence (Galatians 2:20), and I have at my disposal everything needed for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

This means as a believing single woman, I do not have to seek to satisfy my sexual needs outside of a covenant relationship, although I may be tempted to.  It means that a Christian lesbian does not have to enter a relationship (committed or otherwise) with another woman, although she may struggle with same sex attraction. It means that a Christian man married to a woman who for whatever reason is not meeting his sexual needs does not have to take his needs to another woman, although he may be tempted to.

You see, temptation is not a sin.  It is when we act on our temptation that we sin.  Acting on temptation is usually a result of either dwelling too much on the temptation or trying to deal with it ourselves.  We need to go to God with our temptation!  I think there are places and situations that make us more vulnerable to temptation, and we should know our own triggers and avoid them, but temptation is going to come whether we make ourselves vulnerable or not. The good news is we can have victory over temptation because of the resources we have in Christ.

Knowing Jesus has changed A LOT in my life over the course of MANY years, but nothing has changed about the fact that I am a sexual being and that I desire sexual intimacy. (Too much information?)  I pray (pretty much every day, haha) for God to bring me a husband or to minimize this desire.  Two years in, He hasn’t answered either prayer in the affirmative, and He’s certainly not obligated to any time in the future.  I talk to God in great detail about this desire, and even if He never satisfies it the way I want it satisfied, it still will have drawn me closer to and made me far more dependent on Him.  In no way am I to take this matter into my own hands.

And so I have to come back to homosexuality for a minute.  I don’t think homosexuality is any more broken or sinful than any other expression of fallen sexuality.  I really don’t.  (If I did think of one on my list as most broken, it would undoubtedly be sexual abuse of children, but I can’t say authoritatively that God sees that the way I do).

I hear many stories in evangelical Christianity of homosexuals coming to Christ, and how He transforms their sexuality, and I love hearing those stories.  I think, however, as evangelical Christians, we need to acknowledge that this is not every gay person’s testimony. Some gay people come to Christ, and still deal day in and day out with same sex attraction, and because of this, they may fall into sin. Some people were Christians before they realized/acknowledged they struggled with same sex attraction and/or homosexual expression.

These people have my sympathy and compassion, but I cannot condone homosexual marriages or relationships, just as I cannot condone a pornography or masturbation habit, sexual immorality, or adultery. All of these things fall outside of God’s original design for sexuality, regardless of where our feelings, desires, or temptations lie.  It goes back to my earlier point: no matter how much we surrender to God, sometimes He does not take our desires away.  It’s not because He is okay with us acting on our desires, but because not acting on our desires draws us closer to Him, makes us depend on Him in times of great weakness.

I want to tell you and I want to tell myself that hey, it’s okay:  God doesn’t really expect us to live according to His standards for sexuality.  He doesn’t really think we can, because we’re all just broken people anyway.  But that wouldn’t be truthful, because He is clear that in Him we have everything we need. We cannot sacrifice His standards for our feelings, desires, or temptations.

I acknowledge it is not easy; in fact, most days, it’s very hard.  I acknowledge that these are legitimate struggles, not to be squashed down and ignored.  I get it, and I’m with you (all of you) on this journey.  I want us all to have safe people with whom to talk and pray about our sexual brokenness, people who won’t make us feel bad about ourselves, but I also acknowledge that in God’s presence is the safest place to be in this struggle.

If you’re a believer in Jesus as Savior from sin, your identity is not founded in brokenness anymore, it’s founded in redemption and victory.  God wants to use your brokenness for His glory, and don’t ever let anyone trick you into thinking He can’t or He won’t.  And God gives you everything you need for victory over sin; just haul those feelings, desires and temptations before Him every single time, and great things will happen.

 

 

 

 

 

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We’re All Broken

Yesterday I posed a question: What are some examples of broken or fallen sexuality you see in our culture today? (Read: how is sexuality misused or has fallen away from God’s design since the fall?)

This is a question I’ve been pondering lately because of two things: a news article about a child sex offender and the testimony of a gay Christian man.

I read this article two days ago: “John Burbine, 50, was arrested in September 2012, and faces 100 criminal counts related to sexual assault of children, ranging in age from 8 days to 3-1/2 years, to whom he gained access through his wife’s unlicensed day-care business” (MSN).  To be sure, this is disturbing by itself, but I was most unsettled by this comment from his lawyer: “His inability to conform his desires, or his behavior, is all oriented towards sex, and so what we said is: ‘What about treatment?’ We would put forth a bilateral orchiectomy.”  That’s right, this man cannot change his desires, which in turn affect his behavior, and so his lawyer has proposed castration in order to lessen his prison time.  I was disgusted by this man’s excuse that he simply can’t rewire his desires, his refusal to take responsibility for his own actions.  What kind of pervert desires children sexually?

But what I think produced the most turmoil within me was the fact that I use this argument frequently when speaking on behalf of gay people, particularly those gay people within the church: they cannot help what they are attracted to.  And I use this argument because I know I cannot help what I am attracted to (speaking on a purely physical level here).  I don’t remember a time when I sat down and had a conversation with myself where I said, “Okay, Lydia, you are attracted to men, and not just any men, but men who exhibit these physical qualities.”  Some girls look at what physically attracts me, and they raise their eyebrows, because it’s not the same as what attracts them.

For a separate research project, later that evening I began to do some research on testimonies of Christians who struggle or have struggled with same sex attraction, and I came across Matthew Vines’ testimony and exegesis on Bible passages concerning homosexuality.  Although I disagree greatly with his interpretation of the New Testament passages, I greatly sympathize with his struggle as a gay man in the Church.  Well, I say I sympathize, but I’m reasonably certain I can’t even begin to imagine, although I’m trying to – I really am.

In his argument, he brings up the term “broken sexuality,” and by it I believe he refers to what evangelical Christians see as anything outside of God’s design before sin entered the world; that is, anything outside of the one-man-one-woman sexual design.  Even the most sympathetic evangelical Christian sees homosexuality as broken or fallen sexuality – sexuality directly related to the entrance of sin into the world, a fact that causes Mr. Vines and other gay brothers and sisters in Christ a great deal of pain.  Understandably so: none of us like to acknowledge the brokenness and fallenness in ourselves.

I would agree with the prevailing evangelical Christian view that homosexuality is one example of broken or fallen sexuality, but it is not the only example of broken or fallen sexuality, nor would I say it is the most broken or most fallen example.  I think that to some degree or another, all of us have something broken in our sexuality, and none of us are 100% living out God’s intended design.

So what are some other examples of broken or fallen sexuality?  And you know what, yesterday I asked about our culture, but I’m going to narrow it down to the Church.

  • Sexual abuse of children.  Something is broken or fallen in a person who sexually abuses a child.
  • Rape.  Something is broken or fallen in a person who sexually forces themselves on another.
  • Adultery.  Something is broken or fallen in people who fulfill their sexual desires outside of their covenant relationship with their spouses and God.
  • Feminism and the Manosphere.  Something is broken or fallen in people who think it is their role to dominate in a relationship.

It’s not exclusive to gay people: brokenness and fallenness exist in all of us.

So what is the answer?  Stick with me and you’ll find out!

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