Till death do us … Divorce, Sex, and God

I don’t talk openly about my faith here for two reasons, first I’m not a seminary trained pastor turned rockstar or an enlightened theologian, and second those of us in the flock who try usually end up setting the faith back fifty years. But what I don’t write about online I do my best to live out in real life, my Christian belief fuels how I see and interact with the world around me, to my fallen son of Adam best.

I listen to several pastors. Most widely known have their own podcasts with one in particular being Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. While I don’t agree with all of his theological stands I know of few others with the ability to articulate the Word in more relevant terms. He’s my age, highly intelligent, with a brash in-your-face approach at the pulpit.

He and his wife are co-authors of a new book titled Real Marriage, The truth about friendship, sex, and life together, it’stheir take on how to live a biblical marriage. But unlike so many other Christian how-to manuals, this one tackles questions about one of the weightiest and uncomfortable topics in the Christian faith – sex.

•♦•

The Queen and I aren’t married. While this is a mere technicality we’ve decided that our current stage of life and the impact it could have on our children right now it’s best for all involved if we put our future life temporarily on hold. As parents we have more than just our own happiness to consider, and while our children aren’t the only reason we haven’t married they’re at the top and are also why we won’t ever live together, have family slumber parties, or move to an island in the Maldives.

They’re also the reason we’re not virgins.

•♦•

Being a divorced Christian is frustrating. When it comes to sex, the church has sent a clear message to me along with every middle school kid. As a father I get and appreciate what’s being done here. Regardless of what culture might say, sex is still a sacred act between two people and meaningless sex eventually leaves one hollow and numb. I’ve already been to that dark place where sex is treated like a sport and the players merely serve a purpose. I’ve known the emptiness that comes when sex is used solely for carnal pleasure absent any love and affection. They’re both places I never intend seeing again and I hope and pray my children never visit either. In our modern age, the church’s message about the sanctity of sex and it’s proper place in marriage has never been more relevant or necessary for the majority of singles.

But…

I’m not the typical single. I’m not a fifteen-year-old kid fighting bodily urges or the twenty-two-year old trying to save himself for Mrs. Right – yet I’m still thrown into the same bucket. As a 41-year-old divorced father why am I still associated with college freshmen and told that unless I’m married sex with anyone is strictly forbidden? Is it that absolute? Does God only bless the sex lives of married couples, no matter how unchristian their marriage may be, while punishing the unmarried regardless of how honorable and monogamous their bond? When it comes to showing love for another, why is this label of ‘marriage’ so significant when fifty percent end in divorce anyway? Am I unchristian if I show my love to the woman I’m no less committed to than the most devoted husband is to his wife all because we haven’t had a ceremony? That because we have chosen to sacrifice and put others before ourselves are we to remain barred from engaging in that most sacred of acts? Is the Christian message about abstinence to remain pointed as much in my direction as it is my 15-year-old nephew?

Could there be anything more virtuous than one man and one woman sharing a deep Godly love and affection for one another or can marriage only make that so? Is there anything more sincere or representative of this notion of marriage than complete and total commitment to one person? Or because our relationship hasn’t been sealed with a notary stamp and signed by two witnesses and a Justice of the Peace we’re not permitted to experience the love for each other as God intended? I know a couple who got married spur of the moment because of their guilt over sex, is that really what the Christian church is trying to get across? Or is the Bible’s message about premarital sex a warning to us all that when partaken outside a loving faithful bond – regardless of the label – sex will never provide the fulfillment, beauty, and joy it was originally intended for?

At this point where does my relationship with the Queen put me among the faithful? Because I’m not married am I a heretic, evildoer, and backslider even though I regard my relationship like a marriage? That while we haven’t stood before family and friends and said vows to honor and cherish each other till death do us part – but live as if we did – does this message of abstinence still apply? Should I go as far as to baptize myself in a swimming pool and surface as a ‘second virgin’ then act as if  my past marriage and the two blessings reaped from it never happened?

I believe the scriptures are giving us the warning that sex outside a honorable, monogamous, loving relationship only leads to pain and sorrow and that the gift of sex has been given by God to be shared between two people who love each other as Christ loves the church. And I’m not convinced that a  ceremony, nice cake, legal document, and a open bar can affirm what two people know in their hearts to be providence.

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18 responses to Till death do us … Divorce, Sex, and God

  1. Scott

    I like how Osho put it best: “Don’t be worried and don’t feel embarrassed. Why? If God has given you sex and the longing for it then it is perfectly right, it is divine. YOU have not created it — why do YOU feel embarrassed? It is instinctive.”

    I think I’ll post the whole thing on my FB wall. Thanks for the inspiration, uncle f___er. See you tomorrow at Piedmont!

  2. Lisa

    Yes, sex is instinctual, but that doesn’t really answer the questions posed in this article. Sex as instinct alone is hollow, dark, and empty as mentioned. It’s not a stretch to say that people who participate in sex as sport are broken and are really searching for deep connection and an end to the misery of human loneliness. Sex can’t fix that brokenness. Only love can.

    So perhaps it would be better put to say that the true instinct at work is really love. And then meaningless sex is a perversion of that sacred instinct, by which loving, intimate, connected sex is how we express and experience it.

    I believe that sexual instinct is present in human beings but not like it is in animals. I feel the true drive behind sexual desire is not physical pleasure, procreation, or whatever else some would like us to believe. The drive comes from a desire to connect and love and be wholly intimate with another human being. Babies without a touch-based bond often grow ill and die even with all their other needs being met. I think this is evidence of intimacy as a primary human instinct that outweighs even the instinct to breathe and eat.

    So, because you truly love your Queen, express that love physically, and commit your lives to each other, in the eyes of the Divine you are already married. Though I also think that your children will understand and want you to be happy, so perhaps making it legal won’t have to be put on hold for too long. I wish you the best that life and love have to offer!

  3. Karla S

    I love this post-I am more spiritual and have given these issues serious thought lately!!

  4. T

    I’m diggin’ Scott’s comment. I too love Osho.

    And I wholeheartedly agree with this post! I’ve recently begun attending a community non-denominational-but-Christian church with my children. I love that they are hearing a biblical message without the rules of the church I grew up in. Every sermon has been spot on and something we discuss after. Until… the dating and sex sermon. I’m with you, I agree that my daughters needed to hear about the sacredness of giving your body to another person. However, I also wondered if this would change their view point of how I am with my man because we’re not married.

    You’re right. Being divorced seems to skew things a bit. I suppose this is when we take our private relationship with God to determine what feels right in our lives.

  5. You are a grown up and entitled to make adult decisions. If you are in love with the person you are with then why not.

  6. Wonderful and insight post.

    “Could there be anything more virtuous than one man and one woman sharing a deep Godly love and affection for one another or can marriage only make that so?’

    An awful lot is open to interpritation. We’ve been given the right to make decisions on life, relationships and sex, as sensible adults. You’ve got a responsibility to be moral and look after your own well-being and that of a loving partner.

    As a far as sex outside a married relationship, do what is right for you – how could you be punished in any way for that.

    And have fun too.

  7. you have just have mentioned some of the reasons why i have abandoned the christian faith.

  8. Jeff

    I really like some of your posts. But this one sounds like a cop out. And I say that as a 50-year-old single father who, like you, has made similar excuses to justify having sex outside of marriage. You recently wrote, “A relationship is over when we begin to compromise our value system in order to stay.” I’d say that sums it up.

  9. Papa – Author

    Jeff, on the surface it seems you’ve called me out. But actually you proven my point. I don’t see the relationship I have with the Queen as going against my value system. In fact I see it supporting my principles. The whole point of the article is this generalization of every single person regardless of status when it comes to sex. There isn’t a husband on this planet, anywhere, who is any more committed to his wife as I am to her. Can it be possible that the lack of a legal document and 5 minute ceremony means that is unequivocally wrong? Is it possible that her and I running down to the courthouse and standing in front of a notary is all that is needed to affirm this relationship in the sight of God?

  10. Papa – Author

    Chly,

    The Christian faith has done more to turn people away from Jesus Christ than any other single act. In fact, I rarely even use the term “Christian”. Nowhere in the Bible does it describe that term.

    Find a church that relies on grace first and law second. There are many out there.

  11. Papa – Author

    Martin,

    “You’ve got a responsibility to be moral and look after your own well-being and that of a loving partner.”

    Unless you have some basis for your morality chaos will eventually ensue. If I relied on my own sense of morality there is no telling where I would end up. I’ve gone down that path, the results weren’t pretty and left me soulless.

    And what is may seem right for me, in the moment, usually isn’t right for me in the long term.

  12. Papa – Author

    T, how have you dealt, if at all, with that tension of you and GJ and your relationship with the kids?

  13. Karla S

    I have always felt that God has given me a “person” to whom I am accountable to. My parents live a thousand miles away, my friends are good at keeping me on the straight and narrow-not afraid to tell me when I’m veering off course, but my belief in God gives me strength to make the hard decisions about life, love and the way I want to raise my children. I recently ended a serious relationship that was one of the most important of my life. I did it because we got to a point where I was struggling with moving in, sharing kids, sharing bills, and we didn’t share as many values as I once thought. You once said, “A relationship is over when we begin to compromise our value system in order to stay.” I was compromising and it was time to go. I struggled with the message it was sending my children. It was a deep commitment, but not a deep Godly commitment. When I can (someday) say I’ve found that–I won’t struggle with whether God believes my actions are wrong. He will see into my heart and know they are right–with or without the piece of paper the government says we need to make it legal.

  14. mcravener

    I think it all boils down to: “Can you be a Christian without belonging to a Church?” In my point of view yes absolutely, and many times a better Christian at that since you are taking a personal stance and not following dogma without understanding. I wasn’t raised religiously in any way but can still appreciate a Christian who lives by and is defined by personal values that goes beyond superficial rote, outrage and superiority.

  15. Papa – Author

    mccravener,

    Interesting question and at one point in my life I would have told you immediately yes. But I don’t feel that way any longer. Clearly there are aspects of the church’s history and are circumspect and quite candidly have set the faith back decades if not centuries. However, I am of the conviction that doctrine is vital to our understanding of the precepts of Christianity or any religion for that matter.

    Without major Christian doctrines such as original sin or divinity of Christ each of us end up interpreting the faith as we see it based upon our limited understanding which could change depending on our mood.

    As most humans do, left to our own devices, we will conform the Word of God to meet our own values, behaviors, and judgements when it should be the other way around.

    Thanks for your input!

  16. mcravener

    I can appreciate that. Especially that you need to work within your faith – and that there is enough variation within Christianity to allow you to find an interpretation/group/chuch that works for you, but still retains its Christian core.

  17. Jennifer

    WOW…talking about sex & GOD…is truly a hard topic! I was not raised by the WORD of GOD, so I appreciate all that has been put into me these past 11 yrs. Sex outside of marriage is what GOD/JESUS says it is “fornication”, which will lead to eternal damnation if not repented of. I am raising boys & how do I even begin to talk to them about sex? All I can do is pray about it, because my oldest will be 13yrs old in a few months. He has to go to a public school & we all know how teenage boys talk (hence, me being raised with 3 brothers)… he has already been exposed to this topic in the 7th grade! At an early age my boys & I began this discussion. At the age of 8 yrs old my boys were “born again” & I took this step in my faith @ the age of 22 yrs old… Acts 2:38, John 3:3 (read the whole chapters to understand more). My faith has become who I am now & how I raise my boys. I told my boys that sex was created by GOD to bring pleasure & joy…only in the confines of marriage. The bible has given us examples of the results when its done outside of marriage. I don’t want (nor for my boys) the pain, emptiness, & heartache that sex outside of marriage brings. I know that MANY people don’t follow what the WORD of GOD says & chose to do their own thing…maybe even those that call themselves “Christian”. But the word “Christian” means to be “Christ-like”. Do people really know what it means to be “holy”? That’s what GOD calls us to be, because HE is! Yes, even us “Christians” will fail in our walk with GOD, but the grace of GOD will give another chance if we repent of our sins. These last few years has been really hard because of this topic “sex”. GOD knows me, knows my heart, knows my tears, knows my prayers, knows my desires… Any ways… you asked a lot of question & I wish I could answer all of them…but I can’t… I believe that GOD will honor your faithfulness to HIM. I believe that you & your “queen” will be blessed if you continue to walk according to HIS word. I know its hard, but HE truly blesses HIS people. As me being one of the only “young & single” women left in our church for a long time (because some of my friends have left the church over this)…my heart wants to settle, but I can’t & won’t! As I have been told by my Pastor & a prophet of GOD…”wait on the LORD”! I pray that this blesses you…sorry if I rambled on… :)

    Just some of my favorite quotes:

    “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.”
    ~Jim Elliot

    “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”
    ~Dwight L. Moody

    “Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of.”
    ~Charles Spurgeon

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