Monday, July 7, 2008

Sex & The Lord's Prayer

I stumbled upon a couple of things that got me thinking. The first one was about The Lord's Prayer.

"When we say 'Hallowed be Thy name,' we are praying,

'May the whole of my life be a source of delight to You and may it be an honor to the name which I bear, which is Your name. Hallowed be your name.'

The trouble is that we so frequently know there are great areas of our lives that are not hallowed." (Jesus Teaches on Prayer by Ray C. Stedman)

Throughout the Bible, you will notice that every area of life becomes eligible for being lived God's way, for being hallowed: Work, family, recreation, time, talents, power, government, entertainment, stressful, creative areas, money,...and sex. All of life finds its fulfillment within the intended purposes of the God who created us.

After I read Stedman's words, my mind went back to another thing I had read recently.

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul writes extensively about marriage.

Now, we often use 1 Corinthians 13 at weddings ("Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.")

You've probably heard it. It is a great passage, a poetic passage; a passage I've used at many ceremonies. But it's not the passage I'm talking about.

If you turn back just six chapters in that same letter, you see a very different type of instruction on marriage.

I Corinthians 7 is apparently in response to a letter the Corinthians sent Paul. "Now for the matters you wrote about," is the way Paul begins. And what follows may surprise you. Take a look. Paul's going to talk to us about the birds and the bees.

"The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband." (v4)

Did you hear that? The Apostle is telling the husband and wife that they need to be together. That intimacy is a part of our "marital duty" to our spouse.

Does that shock you? When's the last time you heard the Church instructing people to have sex?

The Church often gets the reputation that we're trying to keep people from being intimate and enjoying each other. Not necessarily. Read on:

"Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer." (v8a)

Think about that for a moment. The only reason Paul lists for not being with our husband or wife on a regular basis is to PRAY. How many couples have been so committed to prayer that they fail to take time to "fulfill their marital duty"?!

I know praying is important but I don't know too many people who want to pray THAT badly!

No, I'm guessing that most of us have other reasons we're not spending time together.

Maybe he's thoughtless.
Maybe she nags.
Maybe we think the other is only interested in selfish desires.

Those problems and a truckload of others keeps us from fulfilling our marital responsibility.

And I don't simply mean the animal, physical act.

I mean the emotional acts of playing, laughing, or hugging.

The social acts of talking and listening.

The affectionate, creative act of finding ways to let your husband or wife know they are THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE WORLD TO YOU.

I think all of that is wrapped up in Paul's instructions to "fulfill our marital duty".

How often could we avoid extra-marital affairs if we faithfully, tenderly fulfilled our marital duty?

How many TV's would be turned off or internet sites have to go out of business if there was a healthy, mutually-enjoyed relationship in the marriage?

Ask yourself, "How am I doing at hallowing my marriage?"

You may never say The Lord's Prayer the same way again. I hope you don't.

Grace & peace

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