Posts Tagged ‘cohabitation’

older couple's handsWe are witnessing the deconstruction of marriage. But, how did it happen and why? Can we place the blame on those who advocate same-sex “marriage”?  Are they the only ones  chipping away at the institution of marriage?

Long before society began to tolerate the “marriage” of two men or two women, it accepted cohabitation, adultery, and no-fault divorce. It accepted the lie that we are, first and foremost, sexual beings who have the “right” to love, be loved, and have our needs met. Society, however, would not be left in such darkness if we in the Church had trusted the Light and resisted the sexualization of marriage.

What does this mean? In 1961, Mary Calderone, the co-founder of SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S.) and former medical director of Planned Parenthood, lectured on the role of churches in sex education to 500 delegates from 38 Protestant denominations. Calderone worked her way into churches and homes because she feared that parents did a poor job of teaching their children about “sexuality.” She wanted parents to teach children the “yeses” of sex instead of so many “thou shalt nots.” She wanted boundaries and inhibitions removed. Calderone wanted children to experience the “wow” factor of sex. There were those in the Church who embraced this thinking. It was their hope that talking about sex with children beginning at an early age would help boys and girls grow up to be husbands and wives who would experience the “wow” factor of sex.

And so, for half a century and from kindergarten on, children hear: “God created sex to be beautiful within marriage.” “Sex in marriage is the best thing ever.” “Sex is worth waiting for.” “Sex within marriage is when we are the closest to God.” “Sex is so amazing, my dear child, that we are going to talk about it a lot.”

Because sin permeates all relationships, including marriage, is it possible that years of fantasizing on the ecstasy of sex might have an impact on a husband and wife? Might sexual expectations be so high that when marriage is put to the everyday challenges of real life, husbands and wives are disappointed? Might they be so disappointed that they are tempted to believe that sex with someone else might be better, maybe even with someone of the same gender who might better understand their partner’s needs?
Has marriage been sexualized?

Consider the husband and wife who desire to bring new life into the world, but are barren. Rebecca Mayes writes, “One of the aspects of barrenness that is so awkward is the fact that the ‘success’ of your marital relations (more modernly called your ‘sex life’) with your spouse is often scrutinized by those around you, either privately in their own minds, or quite publicly to your face. The joining of two fleshes into one in the bonds of holy matrimony used to be treated with such modesty and respect. No one would dare ask you whether you’re ‘doing it’ right or if you’ve tried such-and-such a method. But the sexual revolution has changed all that, and in numerous Christian publications we read that the act is a beautiful, natural part of marriage and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We should celebrate our ‘gift of sexuality’ and teach children in our Church all they need to know to be prepared for utilizing this ‘gift.’ But is this what the Bible says? When we blush at the questions about what’s wrong with our reproductive organs, is that for a good reason, or are we just prudes?” (He Remembers the Barren, 6-15-2014)

Sex matters, but marriage matters more. Some pastors take care during pre-marital instruction not to overemphasize sexuality because they believe that it could threaten the hierarchy of values in marriage and assume too predominant a place in terms of producing a well-grounded and joyful marriage. The “wow” factor of sex can be wonderful, but it is the friendship, trusted companionship, communication, and agape love of a husband and wife that carries them through good times and bad, sickness and health. With an identity that is primarily “sexual,” we are limited in the ways we can serve others. Not so with our holy identity; for indeed, when we see ourselves as “uncommon” and set apart for use not just by anyone but by God, our opportunities to serve are multiplied.

Instead of detailed sex talk, parents do better—with the support of the Church—to help boys understand the vocation of manhood and girls to understand the vocation of womanhood. Boys need to know how they, as the stewards and defenders of life, should regard women, most especially their someday wives. Girls need to know how they, as the co-stewards and nurturers of life, should regard men, most especially their someday husbands. Parents go a long way in preparing sons and daughters for marriage by mentoring respect, patience, selflessness, and forgiveness. Parents also do well in preparing young men and women for the realities of married life. Because of the Fall, marriage is hard work. It requires appreciation of our differences as male and female, the commitment to work together, trust, friendship, and more agape than eros love. Marriage can be a beautiful relationship, not just because of the sexual union, but sometimes even in spite of it.

It is God’s design that the marital union of man and woman become the nest for new life; the foundation for home and family. Sin has distorted God’s perfect design but, even in disappointment and difficulty, a faithful marriage is the bedrock of a finely-tuned and healthy society. Marriage is the amazing teamwork of male and female; indeed, the two eyes of the human race. Both eyes are needed for a proper perspective on all matters of life. Biblical marriage is the only pairing that allows a man formed from the dust of the ground to welcome the help of a woman made from his rib. The world is better for it.

Intimacy in marriage is not all about the sexual act. It is the most perfect trust, companionship and loving faithfulness this side of heaven. It is the unity of two spirits in this life—male and female, each encouraging the other to journey well to a sure and certain destination.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.com
Linda Bartlett strives to help mentor
biblical womanhood through Titus 2 for Life .
She is the author of The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (Amazon.com)
Visit: Our Identity Matters

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bride & groom at altarDefenders of marriage at the Family Research Council recently posted a blog entitled “Why Marriage Should Be Privileged in Public Policy.”  What follows is a brief excerpt.

Marriage is the most important social act, one that involves much more than just the married couple. To begin with, extended families are merged and renewed through a wedding. It is also through marriage that the community and the nation are renewed. A new home is formed when a couple marries, one open to the creation of new life. These children are the future. Marriage also has beneficial social and health effects for both adults and children, and these gifts benefit the community and the whole society. Conversely, it is through the breakdown of marriage that society is gravely harmed. The future of the nation depends on the creation of good marriages and good homes for children.

Among marriage’s many benefits to society is an increased respect for and protection of human life, since married women are less likely to abort their children than are unmarried women. Married-parent families contribute to safer and better communities with less substance abuse and crime among young people, as well as less poverty and welfare dependency. Also, married parents help prevent young people from engaging in premarital sex and having out-of-wedlock births; they are also likely to produce young adults who view marriage positively and maintain life-long marriages. Marriage brings many health and economic benefits to society and helps citizens to be more involved in communities.

Because marriage serves a public purpose–namely, procreation and the benefit of children and society–government can legitimately privilege marriage and seek to strengthen it in its policies. Other relationships such as cohabitation and homosexuality do not benefit children and society, and, therefore, should not be supported by government. There is no evidence showing that these relationships have the same positive effects as marriage. In fact, there is considerable evidence that they have detrimental effects on both children and adults.

Please read the entire post on FRC’s blog.  There are a great many reasons for the government to guard marriage.  All of them have to do with the health, welfare and defense of our nation and civilization as a whole.

(Thanks, Bob, for being part of the FRC team!)

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make abortion legal rallyI’m perplexed.  Can you help?

When I speak up against abortion and for the rights of unborn children and the well-being of women, I’m told: “What happens in the privacy of a bedroom is none of your business.”

Well, if that’s true, then why should I be forced to pay for what happens there?

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My friend, Allie, has made an investment.  The cost is too great, she thinks, to disconnect from that investment.

Am I speaking about Allie’s financial affairs?  No.  I’m referring to matters of her heart and soul.  Allie is cohabiting.  She has invested the greater part of her very being to a man not her husband.  Why?

There are many reasons why Allie continues to live with her boyfriend.  She has bonded with her partner.  She told me he isn’t the Christian she’d like him to be.  He isn’t protecting her virtue like he should.  He doesn’t have the qualities she would choose in a husband nor is she convinced that he should the father of her someday children.  But, she is “one” with him.  She has bonded.  What Allie doesn’t realize is that oxytocin and her amygdala have paralyzed her good judgment.  Hormonal chemicals and the “feeling” part of her brain are playing with the strings of her heart.

The concept of marriage frightens both Allie and her boyfriend.  Allie’s parents are divorced.  Her boyfriend’s parents are also divorced.  In their circle of friends and relatives, there are few models of faithful and working marriage.  “Living together” is just “what you do” to “find out if you really get along.”  Or, “living together” first is a “good way to avoid divorce.”  So, Allie and her boyfriend are just “doing what everyone else” seems to be doing.

Allie wants to believe that her boyfriend might change.  What is changing, however, is how she sees him.  Early in our visits, Allie explained how uneasy she was with her boyfriend’s need to control her, his sudden bursts of anger, and his avoidance of discussions about faith.  Over time, Allie began offering excuses for his negative and often wrongful behavior.  What is also changing is Allie’s perspective on God.  She wants me to remind her of her identity as a daughter of God in Christ.  She knows God loves her and that she’ll always be His child.  But, because she is living in a relationship that cannot please God, she is making God fit into her world.

So, how did Allie find herself in a place she really doesn’t want to be?  She longs for home and family, but has no husband.  She knows she isn’t in a healthy relationship, but worries that there might not be another.  She and her boyfriend sometimes speak about marriage, but her comments to me reveal that Allie’s standards for her live-in partner are actually lower than they are for her some-day husband.  Why is this happening?

Allie has done what researchers call “sliding, not deciding.”  Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, explains.  “Moving from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation.  Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it means.”

There’s something else.  Allie and her boyfriend have different, but unspoken, agendas.  A woman may view living together as verification that a man cares about her and living together, as much as she may dislike it, is a step toward marriage.  She may even think that by giving her man what he seems to want, he will, in turn, want to marry her.  But, a man may see living together as a way of testing a relationship or even postponing the commitment of marriage.  And, if a woman is willing to fulfill his physical desires without a ring, why jump into commitment until, well, maybe until there are children to consider.  Dr. Jay writes that “this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage.”

Couples who cohabit before marriage may want to avoid divorce, but that’s not the reality.  Dr. Jay notes that “couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages – and more likely to divorce – than couples who do not.  These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.”

Sliding into an unmarried-but-want-to-be-married state wouldn’t be a problem for Allie if sliding out was easy.  But, Dr. Jay explains that Allie is “locked in.”  She’s “signed up for a credit card with 0 percent interest.  At the end of 12 months when the interest goes up to 23 percent [Allie feels] stuck because [her] balance is too high to pay off.”  For Allie, being “locked in” decreases the likelihood that she will search for, or adjust to, another option.  “The greater the setup costs,” explains Dr. Jay, “the less likely we are to move to another, even better, situation, especially when faced with switching costs, or the time, money, and effort it requires to make a change.”

For some, living together seems fun.  Economical.  Safe.  Allie also perceives it as better than living at home (after all, she’s in her 20s) or with a girlfriend.  Allie once told me she was trying to “nest” in her boyfriend’s apartment, but when I asked her whose bed she was sleeping in she whispered, “His.”  Not “ours.”

As time goes by, Allie more stubbornly defends her living arrangement.  Why?

Because Allie’s investment is too high.  In her mind, perhaps too high to disconnect.  Too high to re-evaluate her standards.  Too high to wait patiently for a man who values her enough to say “I do . . . until death do us part.”  There are no children, yet; but, should Allie become pregnant, then what?  Will she settle for whatever?  Will she marry the man she says doesn’t have the qualities a child should have in a father?

Allie, like all men and women who cohabit and then, perhaps, slide rather than decide, seems stuck.  But, I know Allie.  She tears up when I remind her that she is the daughter of God because of what Jesus has done for her.  She says she is always encouraged by our visits.  She wants to believe she has a future of hope.  So, I will continue to remind her, whenever I can, that she has the ability to choose the father of her children.  She has the strength — promised from Jesus Himself – to leave bad habits behind and start fresh.

After all, Jesus’ investment in Allie is much higher than any investment she has ever – or will ever – make.  Jesus invested all He had for the sake of Allie’s soul.

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