|Picture is unrelated, but still pretty cool.|
We marked the day today by reading Luke's account of the death of Jesus at exactly noon. In a beautiful tribute, the skies in my area darkened and rain began to fall precisely at noon, the approximate time of Jesus' death. After the children and I read about His death we walked around the house together, pulling down the shades and closing the curtains, promising to keep our lights dim in mourning and grief until the sun rises on Sunday. Tonight we went to a Tenebrae service at our church. We wore black. To me, this is a funeral. There are some years where I sit in this service praying that my emotions will access the depth of the meaning of it, but never quite achieving that, and there are years when the floodgates open and I am a tearful mess right there in my pew. This year was the latter.
I made a decision during the service. I decided that I'm not going to go to my future sister-in-law's bachelorette party. What a petty thing for me to be fretting over, but there it was. It's been on my mind for weeks. For me, nothing is without meaning, and anything and everything can be connected. When I make a decision, it's almost never simple. Every little thing is somehow connected to my integrity. E asks me how I can live like this, but I don't know how not to. If I'm going to call myself a person with values and beliefs greater than my own desires, I need to have the strength and will to reflect those values and beliefs in my actions, always.
The bachelorette party is something my future sister-in-law (A) approached me about a couple of months ago. I have been looking forward to this wedding since my brother proposed because I am expecting it to be such a happy moment for my whole family- my brother happy and loving someone for life, my parents happy to see both their children with loving partners, etc. Of course the day should be just plain fun as well. IC, DJ, and I are in the wedding party, so it's a perfect excuse to get my hair and nails done, doll up my little girl, get great pictures of myself looking good for my facebook profile, all that materialistic shallow stuff that I can't help but love because I'm human. The invitation to the bachelorette party was the first moment that this became uncomfortable. She seemed unsure of whether or not I would want to attend because of the nature of the party. It's a sex toy party. My initial reaction to this, upon the reassurance from A that they did not sell any kind of pornography, was to say that it would be just fine, probably a lot of fun. After all, I am a married woman, and I very much enjoy a good roll in the hay with my husband, so what's wrong with a few little items to make things more interesting? We were in a lull anyway, why not spice things up? I went through my Christian sex rules in my head- Sex toys would not involve any other person in our sexual relationship (hence the pornography question), and they could potentially even bring us closer by making things a little more adventurous but remaining within the confines of the husband/wife relationship. Decision made, I told A that I was going and I was excited about it.
It nagged at me, and I couldn't figure out why. The more I thought about it, the more I did my "everything connected" stuff. You see, I have had a lot of things happen to me in my life that gave me a negative outlook on femininity, sex, womanhood, body image, and physical relationship. I began this blog because I suspect that there are a lot of women out there who, like me, have many flaws in their thinking due to past hurts and learned misconceptions, and I believe that healing from this flawed thinking can come through openness and discussion of these very intimate yet incredibly meaningful and important issues. The bachelorette party, with its adult toy sales and rumors of a penis-shaped cake, presented a certain image of sexuality and sexual relationship. I wasn't unfamiliar with the image, and it is just one of many out there. I have been in a healing process over my flawed thinking in this realm for years, and overcoming my negative views of myself and my body, and my inaccurate understanding of my worth as it relates to my body and to sex, has been a big part of that healing. I've only scratched the surface. Connected to all of this is a fundamental lack of trust in my own worth, and put together with several poor experiences with men at a young age, it is easy for me to believe that my value as a woman is based on my ability to "perform" for a man, sexually and otherwise. Thank God; with the love of my amazing husband (E), and my growing faith in Christ, I am learning that my worth is not connected to my beauty, my ability to attract the man I want, or even my ability to keep a clean house and happy children. Past abuse and poor choices left me with my individual sexuality locked in a box, controlled only by me and used to gain favor and acceptance, and therefore, worth. But after eleven and a half years with E, I can say confidently that I have given him the key to that box, and I will not take it back. He has earned it by showing me that I am worth more than what is in it. I have given him a part of myself that includes both my physical body from neck to knees, but also the part of my mind that creates and acts on my sexuality. E doesn't talk like this, and his thoughts on subjects like these are generally unspoken, but I know enough to know that it is a mutual decision. Sex is something that we have with only each other, not just in body, but in mind and spirit as well.
There's nothing actually wrong with attending a sex toy party, as I said. I could go, have a great time, buy some fun stuff, and use it with my husband without doing anything wrong or sinful. Nowhere in my Bible does it tell me I can't use sex toys with my husband. But going to a party, where sex is something fun to chat about with women I don't know, where sex is an act performed for physical pleasure and nothing more, does not fit my vision. Going to that party and laughing and eating penis-shaped cake not only cheapens the intimate, God-created connection I have with E, it puts me in a position where I have to take back that locked box and open it up for everyone there to see.
Furthermore, Paul taught that the marriage relationship is designed to reflect the love of Christ for us. In Galatians 5:25 it says, "And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her...". E and I have something together that belongs to no one else but each other, that is shown to no one else but each other, and that gives us another opportunity to understand how God loves us. Why in the world would I do something that remotely has the potential to diminish that? When you have something good and beautiful, you care for it and cherish it. The image of sex presented at that party couldn't hold a candle to what I have already, without any extra devices.
So that's why I'm not going. I don't really understand why, on the night of the death of my Savior, I felt led to write a journalistic post on an invitation to a sex toy party, but there it is. I wish I could express it more eloquently, but maybe I can only see the connection because I know what E and I have. Perhaps tonight was an emotional night for me because E and I have had a rough few months, and there were a few times when I almost gave it all up. Christ died for all of that. His death and resurrection are my open line of communication with God, and because of that sex, love, emotion, relationships, and life in general are on a whole other level. I live in the world and I enjoy a good time as much as anyone, but sometimes I find that, as it is with this party, accepting the best that the rest of the world has to offer me simply isn't good enough for me when I've tasted the goodness of life and love with Jesus in my life.
You should try it too.