Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday: I'm not a party gal.

Picture is unrelated, but still pretty cool.
Today is Good Friday.  I always want to call it Black Friday, which is a little silly since Black Friday is that kick-off to the holiday shopping insanity and probably the best example of the commercialization of Christmas. (I love Christmas shopping by the way, but I prefer Cyber Monday.) I want to call it Black Friday because to me, this day is about mourning.

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.


  1. Well said and I think that you and I have a whole lot in common. Thanks for verbalizing for me.

  2. How does it cheapen what you have with your husband? Would it be different if the party were hosted by people with whom you'd feel more comfortable? I don't see a parallel at all between the love God has for the world and the love I have for my husband. ;-)

    FWIW, I was invited several years ago to one of these parties hosted by a conservative, married woman friend who happens to be a Roman Catholic. I was SHOCKED to receive the invitation. The hostess, as it turned out, was adventurous (in that way, I guess!) and living in a town away from her possibly judgmental priest, nuclear family, etc. and evidently decided it would be a great time. She was right.

    Pregnant at the time, I had to attend sober, which was initially difficult. However, all of the women there (men not allowed) had a fantastic time. We really did. The "facilitator / leader" was a riot and very comfortable with what she was doing. They sort of start small, working their way up from things that are hard to be offended by--like flavored body powder--and progress more to thing like night gowns, and then, by the time everybody is good and hammered, the more "mechanical" things are brought out. The "leader" handled the orders in such a way that you never know what others ordered. It was SO much fun to do with my grad school friends. I'd probably DIE before doing that with family though, so I understand where you're coming from! There are certain things that just do not compute.

    I'm glad that I went; I learned new things and connected in new ways with my friends. So perhaps this is not the right invitation for you. However, I'd encourage you to keep an open mind--maybe some day you will be invited by people with whom you feel more comfortable.

    FWIW, my husband was, um, thrilled. It's made life a lot more interesting, in that context.

  3. Anonymous- I will do my best to respond to your comment. I am currently out of town and using a poor computer so bear with me.
    How would it cheapen what I have with my husband?- I think I explained this in the context of the post. I think that this party treats sex as a physical act with little or no mental or spiritual component. With my husband there are physical, mental, and spiritual components that deepen our sexual connection. Furthermore, all three components are private, and I think that for me it would be wrong to share them with the other women at the party by discussing my sex life, particularly in a joking way.
    Would I be more comfortable if it were hosted by people I knew better?- I would be more comfortable at the party, yes, but that would not make it OK for me to attend. My mother is attending the party, and in fact I would be most comfortable discussing things like this with her. But no matter how well I knew the other guests, I do not feel that joking about sex with anyone other than my husband is appropriate for me.
    "I don't see a parallel at all between the love God has for the world and the love I have for my husband. ;-) "- I'm not sure what part of my post you're referring to here. If you don't see a parallel between the love God has for us and your marital relationship with your husband, I would invite you to read 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:23, and Revelation 21:2. In all of these verses the church (the collective people of God, or all Christians) is compared to a wife, and Christ is her husband. The church is commonly known as "the bride of Christ". The book Song of Solomon can also be read as an analogy of God's love for His people. In addition, there are numerous passages throughout the Bible that discuss marital relationships, such as Ephesian 5:23 and 5:33 and 1 Corinthians 7:3-4.

  4. Your experience with one of these parties- I'm sure you realize that what one person considers fun may not be fun at all for another. I'm glad you had a good time, but the party you're describing would not have been enjoyable for me at all. You describe a lot of laughing and joking about the topic of sex, which of course means discussing and sharing personal information on one's sex life, and as I've already said, I do not feel that is appropriate for me. You also made the statement that everyone got "good and hammered". I don't feel it is appropriate for a Christian to get "hammered" in any context. I am not against the consumption of alcohol, but when a person gets so drunk that their inhibitions are lowered he/she is at risk for making poor choices, and that includes sinning. I would not consume alcohol to that level. I have been "hammered" more than once in my past, and from experience I can also say that it leads some people to share more personal information than they would sober, which leads me back to my first reasoning as to why I should not attend this party. Furthermore I simply don't see what is so fun about being "hammered". If you haven't seen Bill Cosby's old stand-up routine on going out to get drunk and "have a good time" I highly recommend it! You end up with your face in a toilet and feeling like you just spent 3 hours riding a tilt-a-whirl. Not my idea of a good time.

  5. In regards to whether or not I would consider attending one of these parties in the future, the answer would be no. I don't see how a different invitation or different guests would change my convictions on this matter. And in response to your comment that your husband was thrilled (I'm assuming you mean with your purchases), my husband would not be. My husband is perfectly happy with our sex life, as am I. If we wish to try new things, there are plenty of new things we can try for free (positions, locations, etc.) and without having to attend a party. When we checked out the products online we did find some of the lotions and candles interesting, but I'm sure they are available elsewhere for much cheaper. For what it's worth, I am not a fan of direct sales parties of this sort in general and make it my practice not to attend them. I do not like listening to sales pushes, which is really what these parties are, and I do not like being pressured to purchase something I don't need so that my host can earn a prize.
    Thank you for sharing your experience and questions. I'd be happy to continue the conversation if you'd like to comment again.

  6. I have to agree with you on this one, Melanie. I was thinking about it more, and I know that I would not like to go to one of these parties, either, no matter who it was with nor who invited me. Like you, I feel that my sex life with my husband is just for us. I would not like it if he went to one of these parties and was talking about our sex life with his buddies nor imagining doing things with the products that are sold there. God created us, male and female, in perfect form to be together and to please each other. I have firmly believed for a long time that the basis of great sex is love and respect, both of which come from God and are commanded by Him to a husband for his wife. If my husband needs outside influences to make him feel better, then I feel that there must be a serious issue in our relationship. And isn't part of modesty keeping our sexual marriage relationships behind closed doors?

  7. Thanks, Mama Bear, you brought up another whole angle that I hadn't even thought about. Eric doesn't even usually like to talk about our sex life with me, so it wasn't on my radar! But really, if you wouldn't want your husband talking about the details with his friends (or worse, joking about them- since when is sex a joke?) then it isn't ok for you either.