...”we are born with a distant memory of Eden..” , this thought, from a recent book, has remained with me as it points to a reality hard to define.
What in us longs for beauty, for purity? What in us battles against defilement of sin? If we are created in the image of our Maker, does this memory provide a path toward virtue?
Years ago, as we sat around the lunch table at work, my colleague remarked that she had gifted her husband with a subscription to Penthouse. “Really?” was all I could muster in my incredulity. How is it that this was a fitting gift from a wife to husband? A steady flow of erotic images to fill her husband’s mind? Our break was soon over and I was left to ponder the reason of the wife, simply that her husband liked the magazine and she wanted to purchase it for him.
This was years ago and I’ve lost contact with most of the gals I used to work with..and still I wonder, does she know, does any woman know what is sacrificed when pornography enters the sacrament of marriage?
And currently, we can scarcely get through a month without reading headlines about another famous man down, fallen to the demons of lust. It isn’t just the wives who suffer under such conditions, the men suffer too, for they have freely rejected a treasure from God.
In our culture, although pornography is a multi-billion dollar business, with over 2 billion being made on the internet alone*, for the most part, it remains a taboo topic among Christians. It is truly the silent lion ...devouring millions who would show to the world a delightful face while the soul is decaying to the core. According to “Healing for the Soul” website:
“secular and religious sources reveal that porn is now as American as Apple Pie, and has found a place in every corner of our society, including the church.”
Indeed, Christian believers are not immune from the destruction ...57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregations.**
C.S. Lewis wrote about a fictional society where, if multitudes gathered to watch a “strip-tease” of food.. or the slow uncovering of a juicy mutton chop, what might we conclude about that society? One critic noted that he would conclude the society was starving to death. He implied that such things as the strip-tease resulted not from sexual corruption, but from sexual starvation- a complete absence of sexual purity. (Mere Christianity pp 96-97) As I read the statistics on pornography in the U.S., I cannot help but agree. We are a sexually starved people through either willful neglect, apathy or ignorance toward that beauty of Eden. For who could know of that pure memory and not cherish it, safeguard it entirely?
I’ve heard women say, [about pornography] “it’s a help...an aid to sex in my marriage” But this is a lie from satan, the great deceiver. What pornography actually does is create a gulf between husband & wife spiritually, if not physically as well. It brings to the marriage bed falseness, shame, guilt, lies and sorrow. It invites the corruption of hell and our culture opens the door willingly.
God created the sacrament of marriage to bring a man and woman together in unison, in one flesh, to draw us closer to Him. Let me say that again...the union of man & woman in holy matrimony pleases and is instituted by God (Matthew 19:6). Indeed, there is nothing sinful, vile or shameful about sex within marriage - just the opposite is true. Proverbs 5 tells us of the pitfalls of looking for intimacy outside the bonds of marriage and conversely, the joy and exhilaration - in beautiful imagery of flowing waters- to be found with your spouse.
The purity with which God has gifted us in this way is complete and in no need of adornment. Do we need to look further for proof of this than His Word, in particular, the Song of Songs? Where else in Holy Scripture do we have such richness given to us of the love and intimacy between a husband & wife?
“For your love is better than wine, and the smell of your ointments is better than all spices....”
“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country, let us spend the night in the villages, let us rise early and go to the vineyards;
Let us see whether the vine has budded and its blossoms have opened, and whether the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love. The mandrakes have given forth fragrance; and over our doors are all choice fruits, both new and old, which I have saved up for you, my beloved.” verses from Song of Songs ( Song of Solomon, NASB)
Such a rich gift from our Heavenly Father, to man & wife... who could know of this gift and receive it not?
*top image, celtic art was found here.