A Thought on Relationships, of late

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

  • 1 Peter 3:1-7

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command.

  • 1 Corinthians 7:1-6

Over the past few months, my fiction writing has touched upon a sexual theme, relationship theme, intimacy theme, or something of that type.  Then you add some of the other subjects that I have written about, and you might wonder if something is going on.

To a great degree, it is the lack of something going on, as the Apostle Paul speaks of in the Corinthian letter above.  With my wife’s variety of illnesses, she does not have the desire of intimacy nor the ability anymore.  But, if you really understand what these two Scriptures are really saying, the past few years have been the most intimate of our married lives although we have not hugged as much or kissed as much and I will go no further than that.  When we do those things, we linger more.  We have talked about not wasting the time that we have left, and my wife has lamented that she should simply pass on so that I can have more time to write.

Yet, she has become my muse in many cases without even knowing it.  As the Peter letter states, I respect her and do not wish to waste a moment of this precious gift that God has granted me, a life with my wife.

My wife claims that when we were first married that I was “in lust” more than I was “in love.”  Maybe, my actions betrayed me.  I adored her because she was so self-sufficient.  She did the housecleaning and the cooking and the grocery shopping.  Later, it was taking care of the first child.  All of that while making good grades in college.  She had gone off to war, never leaving the US during Vietnam, but she did that instead of college.  Then we married, and she started making up for lost time.

I got into the habit of knowing all those things got taken care of.  I had my chores, but they paled in comparison as well as how often I cooked.  Years later, she would joke that the “gas fairy” had topped off the fuel tank in my vehicle while I was away doing something “important.”

When we returned from Germany and I got out of the army, I worked extremely long hours.  My wife worked off and on and still did the household things.  We both taught our boys how to do the household things.  I even had them helping with home repairs when needed.  Today, both boys do most of that stuff in their homes.  For one reason, they know how and why.  My wife and I started doing a lot of volunteer work on top of maintaining a family.  Neither of us rested much.

Then, as my wife’s health showed a couple of signs of vulnerability, I was slow in response.  She had always been there before, but some undiagnosed thyroid problems and the onset of type 2 diabetes happened together almost on her 40th birthday.  Her first thyroid storm with a hot flash to end all hot flashes happened in a snowstorm – okay, in South Carolina terms, a snowstorm, a heavy flurry in northern terms, melting on contact unless you had the air conditioner running in the van.  She turned on the air conditioning in the van, and I switched it to heat.  My point was that it was unsafe to drive the vehicle with ice forming on the windshield unable to see two car lengths in front of us.  I suggested that she get in the back of the van, third row, away from the defrosting of the windshield, but she refused – one of our worst fights.  I simply did not want to have a wreck.

And my wife now says that she is unworthy of me basically acting like an in-home nurse.  I check her blood pressure each morning and record all her medical data.  The doctors do not schedule an appointment with her.  I keep all that straight, and as I wrote that last line, I stopped to remind my wife to check the thinning of her blood with our home meter (too low to be therapeutic) – alas, too late to get the information to the doctor’s office today, so we wait for the nurse to call in a couple of days to say ‘take another half pill today above the normal dose and recheck in a week.’  I am there when she walks, in case she stumbles.  I push the wheelchair lately at church and at the dialysis center.  When she wants to appear self-sufficient, I let her walk alone with a cane with me a few paces away, but I know when the tap-tap-tap of the cane is out of rhythm and I hobble quickly to her side, knowing that one rhythm means dizziness and another rhythm means weakness.

I reply to my wife’s worries of unworthiness to tell her that there is no way that I could ever return to her what she had done for me and the boys all those years.

But that is just preamble.

In a recent short story, I had Jemima complain that her father, a preacher, was taking a slow, plodding look at all relationships in the Bible.  Jemima complained that she thought it was her father’s way of delaying when Easter Yeggs would propose to her, now that they were about to each graduate from high school.

But the idea has been in my head many times over the past thirty years.  I might be mature enough to write about it now.  It might make a great book.  From Adam and Eve to John and the vision with Jesus in Revelation.  The relationships need not involve sex.  David and Jonathan were close friends, not lovers as a certain community tries to imply.  In fact, sex gets in the way at times.  Like I say, between my wife and I, we rely on each other in a Biblical way today with no controversy in this house about the Scriptures above.  Those ideas from Paul and Peter work when there is a love of Jesus and a true love for each other, even while the physical intimacy is not there.  Our relationship is stronger than ever – in large part, now that I am holding up my end of the bargain.

I have heard many sermons on how to meet yourselves halfway in a marriage.  It involves going all the way to them.  The logic in the sermon is that we never really realize where center is, and when we go what we think is halfway, there is something like the Grand Canyon or even the Atlantic Ocean between us and how far they have gone toward us.  We never had that issue, because my wife was a gap filler, and now I am the gap filler – a poor substitute at times.

Another thing is that some of my fiction has become a bit more explicit.  As I have thought about the evil ways that men have distorted sexual intimacy over the years, I felt a need to weave those stories into the fiction.  Men should never think that since the wife is supposed to “obey” that they then “own.”  That does not work, and I even weaved a woman being purchased as a bride for that reason. When a sexual act gives satisfaction to the man, but the woman finds it disgusting at best or demeaning, and without full cooperation humiliating, then does this advance a relationship at all? And while keeping everything in hushed tones to be polite, can a dialogue ever be started to address the issue?

We take something beautiful like the two passages of Scripture above and we create a controversy.  The bride refuses to say “obey” and, in most wedding ceremony scripts from various denominations, the word has been expunged.  Yet, the word is implied or clearly stated in the Scriptures.  Why does it not work?  Our sin nature.  The wife does not obey, and the husband does not respect and love.  Even in intimacy and vows that claim a life-long commitment, we do not trust our spouse.  We know the spouse’s potential when it comes to their sin nature.

So, a story about a bus driver who skips a stop so that he can rape a fourteen-year-old girl?  Those things happen.  And the participants are changed for the rest of their lives.  In a fictional story, the harmed woman finds a dear friend who, almost accidentally, helps point her to Jesus.  In real life it often gets messier.

So, tell me what you think.  Should I refrain from the grittier stories weaved into the light-hearted fiction?  Or should I continue, not that I have anything of that nature in mind at the moment? And on this, I am leaning away from continuing it. I had some old experiences that I wished to weave into a fictional story, and that may have come to an end. BUT…  Should I start the Bible Study Series as Rev. C.S.L. is fictionally doing with his daughter and the elder son of Deviled Yeggs?  Do we need to learn more about relationships?

We are being told often these days that God does not worry about us as law-followers as much as He desires an intimate relationship.  When people, who do not know what we mean by that, hear “intimate” these days, they think of sex, and it gets weird in a hurry.

Maybe we do need to define what “relationship” means by looking at good and bad relationships in the Bible.  What do you think?

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. atimetoshare.me April 23, 2022 — 3:47 pm

    Finding a balance is what I’m discovering. I had an editor read my novel who said it was more like a series of case studies than a story. As an actor I always try to learn as much about my character as I can. Maybe that Carrie’s over to my writing. I also have discovered that writing a novel is totally different than writing a theatrical piece. I was told that the characters should be telling the story and not me. I tend to lace my stories with too much description at times to create a visual image for the reader, but apparently that isn’t necessarily the way to go either. So my advice to you is to try writing a few different ways and decide what’s best for you.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Would anybody in their right minds call rape “intimate?” A rapist might delude himself into believing that, that is not in “his right mind.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • agreed. While speaking of rape and sexually inappropriate behavior, that has nothing to do with intimacy. This topic can go both ways when dealing with good and bad relationships. Yet, the old folks when I was young had a much different idea about the marriage vows than we have today. They may have read their Bibles more than we do, but they read it with their own prejudices and biases. That is why I want to delve into the Biblical relationships, good and bad, and hopefully discover where people who I looked up to as a youth, may have gotten it wrong. But yes, there is a difference in intimacy and the ugliness of sexual aggression, if that phrase works.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi Mark, I appreciate your honesty. I’ve never been inclined to write a novel so I haven’t experienced much about what you write of, when it comes to the style and delivery of writing a novel.

    My wife needs a hip replacement that has been postponed because of Covid, so she uses a walker and I do just about everything that is done where standing is required now, including assisting her to get around. She also has dementia which is very challenging for both of us, but God’s grace has been steadfast throughout. I tell you this because I want you to know I can identify with the demands and also the realities of when I am sure, my wife carried a heavier load that I did, when I also was in the military. I owe her, not because I have to but because I love her and she really deserves all that I can do for her.

    With regard to the leaning into or following the character in a novel, as a Christian who is a writer, I would think that whatever we do, it should honour Jesus. Showing affection would be welcome I would think, but the rest, maybe imply without violating the privacy aspect. No real experience there with novel writing, but I would think that could be difficult to navigate. If I was pressed I would probably recommend prayer and ask how Jesus would have me word it. Hope this helps, Mark. Blessings brother.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Maria Ott Tatham April 24, 2022 — 8:02 pm

    Mark, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your wife. My husband Tom just turned 80 last weekend, so I understand a bit.

    As a fiction writer, I’m so happy that you love writing, too. It is a joy we share.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brother this is a good post. Very real. Intimacy is more than sex; sex is intimate but there’s more to it than that. Powerful stuff. And contrary to our sex driven age sex can sometime interfere such as with David and Jonathan; our world today think closeness must always have sex and that’s tragic because improper sex can ruin relationships

    Liked by 1 person

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