Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Temple Issues: Redux

This one goes out to all my side-trackers ^_^
The above photo was taken on the West Coast during rainy season. We were fortunate enough to have good weather that day. If you look into my sunglasses, you can see the reflection of what is going on in the background. It's a bit like a story inside of a story. I just wanted to show you all a picture of us as a happy couple. Life isn't always "picture perfect," but we love each other and the rule of grace rules our house.

Last (significant) post we established that God does not condemn us for being fat. That is true, verily (or "Amen" if you will)? When the apostle John writes to us about being children of God, he never mentions that weight is a qualifier. Paul never mentions it as a Church issue either. I could go on, but we'll call the point made here.

It was brought up that we have a responsibility to our spouse to try to be attractive to them, and sometimes, for some couples, this means losing weight. Let's take a look at what Scripture seems to regard about these issues.

First, let's consider 1 Corinthians 7:3+4:

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (NASB)

I think it would serve us well to also take a look at the Message interpretation. It goes verses 2-6:

Certainly—but only within a certain context. It's good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to "stand up for your rights." Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it's for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. I'm not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence—only providing my best counsel if you should choose them.

I think Eugene Peterson strikes well at the heart of the passage here. The primary context of this passage has to do with satisfying our wife/husband in bed. The point here is that we are not to deny them the pleasure and their right to a satisfying sexual relationship with us (I know what some of you might be thinking, but don't bring up spouse rape or physical abuse here; we're assuming that the relationship is a loving and healthy one).

The principle here is that we are to give our bodies to our spouse sexually. I can see a little room here for the idea that we have a responsibility to sexually satisfy our spouse, and that includes more than just intercourse, but I'm hesitant to say that this Scripture demands it. I'm not saying it isn't a grand notion or motivated by a good and godly desire (as it certainly is), but I just can't say this Scripture demands it.

The second Scripture we find dealing with marital sexual responsibility is in Proverbs 5:15-19. I know, in order and chronologically, it is first, but most Messianic folk of the gentile variety tend to go New Testament first, so I did too.

Here is what it says:

Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love.

Again, I go to the Message on this one (which I don't usually like, but where Peterson hits a home-run, you've got to give him credit):

Do you know the saying, "Drink from your own rain barrel, draw water from your own spring-fed well"?It's true. Otherwise, you may one day come home and find your barrel empty and your well polluted. Your spring water is for you and you only, not to be passed around among strangers.Bless your fresh-flowing fountain! Enjoy the wife you married as a young man!Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose—don't ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted!

The principle to really draw from here in light of our discussion is to always take pleasure in your wife's/husband's body; to let that satisfy you. It makes no reference to what shape that body is in, but it certainly would be good to make it easier on your spouse to enjoy it by being the way they prefer in how you keep yourself. However, does Scripture demand it. From this, I'd certainly say no.

If someone else has a Scripture directly speaking to this, I'd love to hear it. However, I have a couple of my own thoughts.

First, my wife and I do try hard to keep our bodies attractive to one another. We abide by that principle, especially because the culture is so geared to using sexuality in ways it ought not be used, like commercial advertising. We want to satisfy one another sexually in that way.

Secondly, in all fairness, each spouse should think about this issue when they get married. The man should think, "Am I still going to be attracted to her after she has three kids and gains 50 lbs?" Not all women will, but it isn't uncommon. My mom spent the better part of 20 years trying to get kid weight off with limited success. She tried a lot of everything, and she got little of anywhere. The woman should think, "If he goes bald and develops a testosterone imbalance that makes him gain 50lbs, can I still be attracted to him?" This is really where the "for better or for worse" part of the wedding vows come in. Boobs droop, stomachs/hips/bottoms soften and round, hair falls out and wrinkles appear. Physical beauty, as our culture defines it, doesn't stick around forever.

Maybe it's better that the young and betrothed don't think about that. I did, but it didn't bother me. I know some people that would've really bothered. But I love my wife, and, though it was a little misguided, I had a deeper passion for her as a person. And in return for how greatly I have been blessed through her and by her, I will gladly pour myself out in every way that I can to serve and bless her. She's just so awesome.
Well, that's about it. I have to leave it with a weak finish, but that's all I've got.


Niki said...

The proper term is "breast". :p
You said "bottom" instead of "butt" or ...well, you know. lol

Sorry I didn't get a chance to weigh in on the previous post on this topic. (pun intended) You addressed a few things here that were going to be part of my comment anyway. It's that whole great minds thing again. haha

I do think we have a certain responsibility to be attractive for our spouses, though it's not commanded that clearly in scripture. I think it's implied. I remember hating HIS NEEDS HER NEEDS the first time I read it because the section on this topic offended me. It said something about going as far to get plastic surgery to correct a physical problem your spouse has a problem with. That really made me mad. There's more to the story than that, but that section still sucks.

As a fat and sassy woman, I am still sexy to my husband. True, I'm doing what I can to take off the extra emotional and "kid weight" I gained from having 3 babies in 4 years. I have been part of "Bible-based" weight loss programs on and off for several years. There was one in particular that perpetuated the "being fat is not a Christian thing" mentality,and that God was displeased and disappointed with you if you weren't in control of your eating. The program I am currently involved with doesn't have that focus and I've been very successful so far. 24 pounds down in 9 weeks. I want to be healthy and fit and I haven't appreciated it very much when I have been treated like a 2nd class Christian because of the extra padding that's not been shed yet.

God loves me no matter what the number on the scale is...I am not a number to Him or anyone else. I am a beautiful woman created in His image. I can't gain his favor (bad pun again) by becoming thin.

When I am old and wrinkly, I'll still be sexy to my husband. Sexy is not really based on size. Thank you Queen Latifah! And for my husband? He's already bald (on purpose)and bigger than when we got married and I love him more today than I did 14 years ago.

One more thing. Not to be a "Christian basher" like we have been called by an unnamed angry source, but I think the Medi-share program and others like it are ridiculous. The idea of Christians sharing healthcare costs only if you meet certain height/weight standards is pitiful. I'm overweight so I didn't qualify, but I have doctors reports saying how healthy I am for a woman carrying around that extra weight. Soon the weight will be gone...and we still won't be able to afford health insurance. That's a whole other subject for another post, but I had to mention it in connection with Christian's equating weight with Godliness.

The Family Jewels said...

My Hubby is more attractive to me today because our emotional relationship is healing. We have been together a long time and it isn't because he is down 30 pounds and I am down just over 60 so far that we are more attracted to each other now. It is because the bondage of the past has been taken away.

We changed our food and life lifestyles to see if that would make me feel better. It did and now we have more energy to do things together. I am more attracted to Hubby now than I ever have been and it has nothing to do with how we look.

I don't see how losing the extra weight is going to make us any better Christians. We are currently doing what God had called us to do for Him.

Will He love me more if I lose more weight? No, but He will love me longer here on earth because I am battling this chronic illness and winning. I will not let it defeat me. It is not up to me to judge others on how good of a Christian they are because of their size...and I won't because that is a sin.

You can sit on your skinny behind and judge me the fat lady and I will pray that I get to see you in Heaven someday.

Hubby loves me just the way God made me and he will still love me as I continue to lose the weight.

Delia said...

That's an adorable picture of you and Jen.

I agree that while it's nice to try to look your best for your spouse, like you said it isn't demanded by scripture.

I also believe that if a husband and wife truly love each other they can tolerate those changes that come with life. My husband and I are both different now than we were when we first married; assorted body changes from having 3 babies, more weight (for both of us), and lots more gray hair (him-bwahahaha), but when I look at him today I still see the handsome, sexy man that I love and married.

Anne said...

I would never say you had a "weak finish" on this post. It was quite touching.

R said...

You don't have to publish my comment, I won't get offended! :) LOL!!!

Steve Oberg said...


Thanks for writing about and expressing your own strong views regarding a sensitive topic. This issue of body identity has been, and continues to be, a huge one in my own marriage. That is true for both of us. I have never, ever been happy with the body God gave me and have always felt I am ugly and unattractive.

Fortunately my wife married me anyway :-)

I wish both of us could just get past this issue with ourselves and with each other.

There is so much more that I could write but I don't want to, mainly because I want to be sensitive to my wife's thoughts about all of this and I don't want to say anything that will make her feel uncomfortable.


queen z said...

would you please publish r's comment? I am curious to see a different side of this because your readers are echoing your opinion and a debate is really not a debate without both sides

KingJaymz said...

I've posted every comment I got. R's just got lost some place in the interweb. Blogger sucks like that.

Dapoppins said...

Hey now! I left a comment too! A nice one. Today! Did blogger eat it?

queen z said...

I guess I won't weigh in on this most delicious subject.. because I wanted to hear both sides of it before I made up my mind, I am split on this. Perhaps you can prompt R and Dapoppins to try their comments again?

R said...

I just said in a nutshell that I asked my husband one time that if I were obese, would he still be attracted to me. He said no. I said that this did not offend me because it is his personal preference for how he wants his wife to look. I have never been obese, just slightly overweight (according to modern government standards, I guess). When I was thirty pounds or so heavier, he never really noticed or made comment.

But, the answer to his question was not what motivated me to lose weight because I had already lost it by the time I asked him.

I also said that I married my husband for his brains, not his brawn. :)