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Posts Tagged ‘casual sex’

Close loving relationships quite naturally gravitate toward sex, while casual sexual relationships rarely gravitate toward love.

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Embracing the things our culture celebrates as the good stuff (e.g. casual sex, partying, money, fame, cosmetic surgery, diet pills, friends with benefits…) is a lot like buying toys at the Dollar Store.  Initially, it seems like you’re getting a great deal, but when you get the stuff home you discover that it’s all just cheap junk.

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As I closed the door of my locker, and spun the combination lock, I could see the other guys on my shift shuffling into the locker room. They looked about as enthusiastic to be there as I was. The first night of midnight shift was always a killer, mostly because no one sleeps that day, and then they show up at work just about the time their body decides it’s time to go to bed. I had tried to lie down just after dinner that night, but it didn’t seem to help much. Since I was already in my coveralls, I headed toward the break room, figuring I could read the paper until the foreman showed up to give us our job assignments.

 

One of the few benefits of working the late shift was that there were always plenty of newspapers leftover from the guys on dayshift. When I got to the break room, the only other person there was an old timer named Bill. He wasn’t considered an old timer because of his age, which I would guess to be somewhere in his mid-fifties, but because he’d been at the mill for over thirty years.

 

He worked for the Carpenter Shop, like I did, and he was sitting in his usual spot, sipping coffee and reading his Bible. As he peaked over his reading glasses, he said, “There’s fresh coffee over there”. I gave him a quick nod and headed for my cup. Bill and I rarely worked together, as he and another old timer (Henry) normally worked the shop, while I was generally assigned to projects out in the mill. I’d never really made any kind of effort to get to know him despite the fact that he’d always been pretty friendly toward me. While a lot of the old timers treated the younger guys like dirt, or as if they were invisible, that didn’t seem to be Bill’s way.

 

For a long time I rationalized that the reason I didn’t hang around him was because he was older and married… but after my recent conversion to Christianity, I had to admit to myself that it was really all that Bible reading that had kept me at a safe distance. Though I’d never heard him preach at anyone, I couldn’t help but think that, given the opportunity, he would. Needless to say, he’d been the butt of many jokes over the years, but I think that most people secretly respected him.

 

Given all of the changes that were going on in my life at that moment, I would have loved to have sat down and spoken to him about some things, but I was still having a hard time letting any of my co-workers see the change in me; so I sat down and started scanning the sports page instead.

 

I’d only gotten through a couple of lines before I heard a commotion in the hallway, with the sound of loud voices and laughing only slightly muffled by the doors to the break room. Within a few seconds, a group of my boisterous co-workers came bursting through those doors. I could now see that it was a few guys from the Pipe shop and a girl named Tonya, who was a laborer. As usual, Tonya was spewing obscenities of a highly sexual nature and she had her hands all over one of the guys, while the other two guys seemed to be cheering them on.

 

Tonya was notorious at the mill and stories of her midnight shift exploits were legendary. As I watched, I caught a glimpse of Bill out of the corner of my eye and I could see a pained expression on his face. I was suddenly embarrassed when I realized that Bill had witnessed similar scenes, with me falling into Tonya’s web, on many occasions over the last seven years. Something inside of me wanted to tell him that I wasn’t that same guy anymore, but I also had to admit that there was still something inside me that found Tonya’s sexually charged behavior enticing.

 

I’d hoped that the change in me would have been enough to erase those feelings, but instead, it was just enough to make me feel guilty about having them. I had no trouble understanding that getting involved with someone like Tonya was the road to nowhere and I definitely didn’t want to go back to where I’d been with her; but as I watched her seemingly trying to seduce this young man, I found myself feeling a little jealous and left out. She must have noticed me staring, as she broke away from her young prey and started walking toward me.

 

“What’s the matter Danny, do you miss me” she taunted, as she unzipped her coveralls to the waist. “Come on baby, it’ll be just like old times” she said, as she seductively straddled the bench I was sitting on.  I could sense my face turning beet red and I felt suddenly paralyzed as she began to push her body against me, eventually reaching for the zipper of my coveralls. My mouth and throat were so dry that I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to make a sound, but my hand suddenly jerked to life, intercepting hers, as the word “No!” somehow managed to escape my lips. Because our faces were so close together, I could see the surprise and hurt in her eyes; and I realized that the firmness of my grasp and the tone of my voice had somehow caught her off guard.

 

Though our eyes were locked for only a few seconds, I felt like I looked right into her soul and it was heart breaking. While her physical beauty hadn’t diminished much in her forty something years, I could sense the damage inside of her. At the end of that brief moment, she pulled away from me, moving back toward her original target, as she muttered, “your loss”.

 

By now, the break room was beginning to fill with the night crew and I remained motionless; feeling like someone who’d just swerved out of the path of an oncoming eighteen wheeler. I felt sick to my stomach as a picture of my fiancé flashed through my mind; and I wondered if she’d still want to spend her life with me if she knew that I was the kind of man who could fall to a woman like Tonya.

 

I felt ashamed and confused, and I was still very much in my own little world, when a hand on my shoulder managed to pull me back into the moment. When I looked up, I found that the hand belonged to Bill and when our eyes met, he asked, “Are you OK?” I managed to weakly nod my head to indicate that I was, though I wasn’t necessarily convinced of it. Before he could say anything else, the foreman came in and began to give us a shift briefing.

 

At the end of the briefing, the foreman explained that Henry’s wife had called to say that he’d been admitted to the hospital with chest pains earlier that afternoon. He then told us that I’d be working with Bill in the shop until Henry made it back to work. While I’d been looking for a chance to talk with Bill, the incident with Tonya had really dampened my desire to talk to anyone. Bill picked up his Bible and headed for the break room door before he looked around to see if I was coming. I pretended not to notice him waiting for me and after a couple of seconds he went on without me. I realized that though I’d managed to avoid him for the moment, it was probably going to be impossible to avoid him for the entire shift. After grabbing a couple sections of the newspaper, I also headed for the shop.

 

When I got there, Bill was filling the coffee maker with water. As he looked up at me, he said, “I figure we’ll need this tonight”. I once again nodded at him, still not wanting to get involved in any sort of meaningful conversation. After he got the coffee maker going, he came over to the bench I was at and said, “On the first night of ‘mids’, Henry and I normally sort through the scrap box, make shim bundles and clean out the dust filters on all the machines. We’ve learned that it’s not a good night to try to do any kind of precision work.”

 

As our eyes met, I managed to say, “Sounds good”. Bill then moved over to the scrap box, while I started removing the filter housing on one of the belt sanders. I was relieved that Bill didn’t press me to work side by side with him, as the knot in my stomach began to slowly unravel.

After about an hour, I was feeling a little more relaxed and I noticed that Bill was taking a break. He was pouring himself some coffee, so I decided to join him. As I sat down with my coffee, he asked, “You doin’ OK?”

 

I wasn’t really sure if he meant doing OK with cleaning out the machine filters, or doing OK after the thing with Tonya, or just doing OK in general; but I said, “Sure, how are you doing?” He went on to tell me that he was a little worried about Henry and that he’d been praying for him. Unconsciously, I mentioned that I’d been praying for him as well, and I could tell by Bill’s expression that he was surprised. I suddenly realized that I still had the desire to tell Bill about the changes in my life and so I decided to seize the moment.

 

“I’m a little new to this praying thing” I admitted, before adding, “I really didn’t get serious about God until just a few months ago”.

 

“Really” he replied. “What caused that to change for you?”

 

“I suppose that it was my fiancé and her little boy. She’s a good Christian girl and being around them for the last several months has made me see things differently. The closer I’ve gotten to them, the more I’ve wanted my life to change. A couple of months ago, I answered an altar call at her church and I asked the Lord to come into my life.”

 

Bill smiled as he said, “That’s great Danny, so how’s that going for you?”

 

‘Well, I thought it was going pretty good. Of course that was before tonight’s little incident with Tonya. Now I’m not so sure.”

 

Bill looked confused, as he said, “What about the incident with Tonya makes you doubt your decision?”

 

I could once again feel my face turning red with embarrassment, as I admitted, “I guess I just thought that I was over stuff like that; now I’m wondering if I wasn’t just kidding myself about this whole thing.”

 

“I’m a little confused Danny; you told Tonya ‘no’. That seems like a change to me. It sounds as though you feel like you somehow failed that test.”

 

“Yeah, I guess I do feel like I failed. I mean if I’m totally honest; there is a big part of me that really wanted Tonya to keep going tonight. Here I am about to get married to a girl that I really love and I can’t even resist someone like Tonya, who I already know that I don’t want to be with.”

 

“But you did resist her” Bill countered.

 

“Well I guess that’s true, but if my life has really changed, why would I still want to go there with her?” I asked.

 

“So you’re thinking that if this commitment you’ve made to God and to your fiancé is for real, then you shouldn’t feel tempted to sin anymore?” he asked.

 

I knew right away that couldn’t be right, but I had to admit that on some level it must have been the way I was thinking. Still, I couldn’t seem to let go of the idea that I’d failed and so I replied, “I guess not, but if Tonya had done that same thing to you, would you have been tempted?”

 

Bill paused for a moment, as though he was measuring his words carefully. “As a purely flesh and blood man, I absolutely would have been.”

 

“But aren’t we all just flesh and blood?” I stammered.

 

“We weren’t created to be ‘just flesh and blood. We were created in the image of God, who is revealed to us in three persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Like Him, we are made up of three parts, which for us are body, soul and spirit. Our soul is that part of us which is eternal; it is the essence of who we are, and where our mind, will & emotions come from. Our body is that part of us that God gives to fulfill our mission here on earth; and our spirit is the part of us that allows us to stay connected to the spiritual realm, which is the dimension in which He dwells.  Though we tend to think of ourselves as a body that has a soul, we’re really a soul that has as body.  In the end, the soul goes on, and the body is cast aside.”

 

“Our flesh is not unlike that of the other animals here on earth and in those times when we choose to suspend the higher aspects of our design (e.g. our conscience), we can and will live on a purely instinctual level. On that level, it would be nearly impossible not to respond in some way to the invitation that Tonya was offering. But the thing is that God never intended for us to live on a purely instinctual level. He gave us a mind, a will and emotions to keep those more animal instincts in check.”

 

“I’ve seen you fall to Tonya before, so what do you think was different tonight?”

 

“I guess I’d just made up my mind that I wasn’t going to go there?” I said.

 

“You see, you’d made up your ‘mind’ and then you asserted your ‘will’. That didn’t erase the instinct within you to accept her invitation, but it kept that instinct from becoming action. That’s how it’s supposed to work and tonight it did. You may see it as a moral failure that you had the urge to give in to the seduction, but I feel certain that God sees it as a victory that you exercised your will not to give into that urge.”

 

I’d never heard anybody talk like that before, but what he said made a lot of sense, and it seemed to lift a great weight off of my shoulders. Maybe I wasn’t as bent on evil as I’d feared; but this whole topic of sexuality reminded me of one of the few apprehensions I was still battling about my upcoming marriage, which centered on the idea of having sex with the same person for the rest of my life. After all, I’d been having sex since I was a teenager and at almost 31 years of age, I hadn’t been with the same women for more than a year.

 

Though Beth (my fiancée) and I hadn’t slept together, and as much as I looked forward to that experience, I had a hard time imagining that after many years it wouldn’t become rather mundane. I hated that thought, but I had to admit that it seemed inevitable. Since Bill apparently understood some things about all this, I thought maybe he could help me; unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to find the words to ask.

 

Without thinking, I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind.  “I guess I’m just having a hard time figuring out what it is that God thinks about sex. I mean, I’ve always thought of sex as being kind of dirty, and maybe even ‘ungodly’, but He’s the one who invented it, so there’s got to be a way that it’s OK with Him. I really want to get this part of my new life right.”

 

“That’s good Danny, you’re right to want to get that part right; it’s important. I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on the subject, but let me ask you a question.  Is fire a good thing, or bad thing?”

 

“A good thing” I replied.

 

“What about fire on your curtains?” he said.

 

“OK” I admitted, “that’s not good”.

 

“So what about fire in the fireplace?” he added.

 

“That’s a good thing”

 

“What if it’s the 4th of July?” he challenged.

 

“OK, I get it.  Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad.”

 

“That’s right!  Ultimately it depends on the context.  In the right place and at the right time it is one of the most wonderful gifts mankind has ever known.  In the wrong context, it can be powerfully destructive.  It’s the same way with sex.”

 

“Though I don’t pretend to know God’s thoughts, I’m pretty sure that He doesn’t think of sex apart from love. To Him, sex is simply meant to be a physical expression of love and unity. When we have sex outside that context, we’re totally subverting His design. Another thing that I’m pretty sure of is that sex was meant to engage not only our body, but our soul and spirit, as well.  I don’t suspect that many people experience it that way.”

 

Something in my expression must have given away my surprise at that statement, as Bill seemed energized by my reaction. He continued, “You see, the flesh simply wants to feel good, and so something like what Tonya was offering would undoubtedly be pleasurable on that level. The problem is that we don’t live on that level and our soul yearns to be loved and valued. For our souls, a quickie in the Janitor’s closet can leave you feeling pretty empty emotionally. Sex on that level is really reduced to being more of a bodily function, much like going to the bathroom.”

 

I couldn’t suppress a smirk at Bill’s comparison of a quickie to going to the bathroom, which seemed to make him feel as though he needed to explain that statement. He said, “No really, just like those times you’ve ‘really got to go’, you feel like you might explode if you don’t get there; there’s a great sense of release and relief when you do get there; you wipe yourself when you’re done, and an hour later, you don’t even remember that you went.”

 

His explanation somehow managed to wipe the smile from my face, and while what he’d said seemed almost vulgar, I couldn’t deny that it was absolutely true. A fresh wave of shame rolled over me as I remembered some of my experiences in places like the Janitor’s closet.

 

He went on to say, “The problem is that there is no way to experience sex on a purely physical level. We may suppress our thoughts and emotions in the midst of those experiences, but our souls are there, and they are damaged every time we are joined with another soul, and then pulled apart. You see God really meant it when He said that two would become one flesh and there is a bond that is formed, whether we intend for it or not. For a couple that has resolved to share their lives together, this bond only makes them stronger. But for the person who couples and uncouples repeatedly, there is a ripping of the fabric of their souls. Do you remember when we built that little platform for the CEO to speak from at the company picnic?”

 

“Yeah” I replied.

 

“Then you’ll also remember that we built it with screws instead of nails. Why did we do that?” he asked.

 

“Because we knew that we were going to take it down after the weekend and we wanted to be able to reuse the wood. If we’d have nailed it together, we’d have torn up the boards getting those nails back out” I replied.

 

“That’s exactly right! And having sex with someone you’re not going to stay committed to is just like building that platform with nails. Whether you understand it or not, you’re putting it together as though it’s going to last forever, when you really intend on ripping it apart at the end of the weekend.”

 

I was amazed at how practical that explanation was and how well Bill seemed to understand all of these things. I wondered how I’d never heard anyone talk about stuff like this before, and I wondered where Bill had learned it. I was soaking it all in and he just kept rolling along.

 

“Have you ever seen or maybe even been in a relationship that was clearly not meant to be, yet that you couldn’t seem to get away from?”

 

As I thought of my on again, off again relationship with Tonya (amongst others), I nodded in agreement.

 

“Well, I’d suggest that this is because your souls have been joined together and even if, on an intellectual level, you know that the relationship is no good, that bond keeps pulling you back toward them. I’ve watched many people, who were in horribly abusive relationships, break free from their tormentor, only to willingly go back to them sometime later. People are baffled by that, but I really believe that this soul tie has everything to do with it. I’ll even go out on a limb here and say that I’ll bet that when you looked into Tonya’s eyes tonight, you could feel the turmoil inside of her.”

 

I was blown away that he’d say something like that, and even more amazed that he was exactly right. For every point he seemed to be making, I could think of a sexual experience that in some way validated its truth. While it was certainly helping me to understand why marriage was the context God created for sex, it wasn’t really touching my fears about what sex might be like after marriage. I decided to try to get Bill to talk about that some.

 

“So I think I understand the problem with casual sex and sex outside of marriage, but I don’t really know many married couples that seem to have a great sex life. Surely that’s not God’s plan either it is?” I asked.

 

“You’re right, that’s not God’s design either. Unfortunately, I think that this is a subject that the church has avoided talking about, so even people who call themselves ‘Christian’ often have their ideas about sex shaped by the culture. The culture tends to make everything about ‘me’, while God tends to make everything about someone else. How many times have you heard people talk about their ’needs’? You know, ‘I’m a man and I’ve got needs…’ or ‘my needs aren’t being met’. Again, that kind of attitude simply reduces sex to a bodily function.”

 

“If a husband makes sex all about getting his needs met, he’s likely to make his wife feel like a piece of meat and after a while she won’t want any part of it; and if a wife simply makes her husband feel like she’s ‘doing her wifely duty’, that man is likely to fall to the first woman who shows more than a passing interest in him. Even though the stereotype is that men go for younger and prettier women, from what I’ve seen, they actually go for the ones who seem to be excited about being with them.”

 

“A healthy sex life is the by-product of a healthy relationship, so the focus can’t be on what happens in bed, it has to be on what’s going on in the relationship itself. If you can look at your wife and feel grateful for what she brings to your life, you’ll have taken the first step to a great sex life. If you can express that gratitude to her on a regular basis, you’ve built a great foundation for intimacy.”

 

Bill got up from the bench, walked over to a cabinet by the wall and pulled something from the shelf. When he returned, I could see that it was a beautiful hand-made box, with amazingly intricate inlaid pieces, that were stained in different shades. When he opened the box, I could see that it was a hand-made chess set. The pieces were each hand carved and the board had squares inlaid with alternating wood grain patterns. It was truly one of the most beautiful sets that I’d ever seen and Bill asked me to take the pieces out and to look at them. I found myself being very careful with them and studying each detail. After spending a few minutes appreciating this amazing work, Bill asked me what I thought.

 

“Incredible” I replied.

 

To my surprise he said, “What’s so incredible about a bunch of scrap pieces of wood?”

 

“Scrap! This set is hardly scrap” I answered incredulously.

 

“That’s where all these pieces came from” he said. “Every one of them was once a piece from the scrap box.”

 

“But they’re not scrap anymore, they’re beautiful!” I replied.

 

“You’re right that they are beautiful, but don’t you see that it is because someone saw the potential in them and cultivated it. Someone patiently worked with each piece and poured their love and effort into them. By the way, that someone was Henry. He made this set for his grandson. Relationships are a lot like this set, they all start out as hunks of unfinished wood. What you wind up with in the end depends on how much of yourself you’re willing to invest. Did you notice how you handled these chess pieces? You were almost reverent with them.”

 

“Of course I was, they’re one of a kind” I interrupted.

 

“That’s right!” Bill replied. “And so is your fiancé. She is a one of a kind, she was handmade, and she is even more complex than the beautiful in laid patterns on this box. If you can continue to view her like that, your love will only grow richer over time. If you will spend your life together touching her, and studying the intricacies of her being, just like you did with those chess pieces, you will never struggle in the area of intimacy.”

 

“Can you imagine how heartbroken Henry would be if one day he finds this chess set dumped in the bottom of his grandson’s toy box? I think that must be how God feels when He sees us cast aside one of His children. What destroys most relationships is simply taking each other for granted, and not valuing what we have. Even though most couples vow to ‘love, honor and cherish’, almost none of them ever do.”

 

Bill must have recognized that his words were beginning to overwhelm me, as he stopped and apologized for preaching. I loved what he was saying, but I wondered if I could live up to all of that. He went over and got the coffee pot and refilled both of our cups. When he sat back down, he seemed calmer and a little more down to earth.

 

“My wife and I have been married for thirty-five years and we never slept together before we were married. She was a virgin, but unfortunately I was not. I was drafted into the Army on my eighteenth birthday and was sent off to boot camp right after graduation. I was convinced that I’d probably never make it out of Vietnam alive, so I decided that I was going to experience everything that I could before then. I’m not proud of how I handled myself in those days and it was pretty amazing how much experience I gained in just a couple of years. The things I saw in Vietnam make Tonya and the janitor’s closet seem innocent.”

 

“When I made it back home, my thinking about sex was all wrong and I wondered if I’d ever be right again. When I fell in love with my beautiful girl, I prayed that God would change my mind and show me His way; and for the last thirty-five years, He’s been doing that.”

 

“The first thing that I had to learn was to keep all of my sexual energy pointed toward my wife; for me she’s the only truly ‘sexual’ being on the planet. My relationship with every other woman is either like the one I have with my mother, my sister or my daughter. I don’t let my mind imagine what it might be like to be with someone else and I don’t let myself look at things that create such an image in my mind.”

 

“Even though everyone refers to it as ‘making love’, I doubt that most people ever really do, and that’s ultimately what it’s all about. When I’m with my wife like that, I want her to feel loved. Successful sex for me is when she feels loved, honored and cherished. Believe me, that’s aiming a lot higher than just an orgasm. I don’t make love to her body; I make love to her soul and so sometimes making love is simply holding her instead of having sex, or letting her sleep because she’s exhausted.”

 

“After some years, I realized that my love for her was a pitifully small thing when compared to God’s love for her; so I started praying every time that we’d come together, that God would let her feel His love through me. When that happens, it becomes a body-soul-spirit experience. Believe me, once you’ve made love like that, you’ll understand that God was the one who invented sex and that His way is far better than anything that we could come up with. Once you experience that kind of thing, you realize that it’s the ‘real deal’ and that all that garbage the world peddles as ‘hot sex’ is just a poor substitute. I mean, you’ve probably been with a lot of women by now, has any of that really brought you the happiness that you were looking for?”

 

I nodded, indicating that it hadn’t.

 

“Do you think that someone like Tonya is feeling better about herself and about her life, by having sex with all these guys?”

 

I once again shook my head, agreeing that it probably wasn’t.

 

“And yet, the culture has sold us on the idea that someone like you is giving up the good life, so that you can spend your life with someone that you love?” He added.

 

Of course he was right and I began to think of all the crazy things about sex that I’d believed over the years. Even though I could see what he was saying, it was still hard to imagine that it could be that great after thirty-five years with the same woman. I tried to imagine Beth and I in thirty-five years, but I just couldn’t get a picture of it in my mind. Finally, I managed yet another generic question. “So it’s never gotten old for you?”

 

“Nope” Bill replied instantly. “The longer I’ve been with her, the more reasons I’ve found to love her, and the more history we’ve shared. She’s such a part of me that I can’t imagine life without her. Again, the world says that sex is driven by physical attraction, and maybe even chemistry, but the truth is that those things are only necessary when you’re having sex with someone you don’t love. I can’t see my wife objectively; I love her too much to separate how she looks from how I feel about her. When I look at her, I don’t think about what her fifty-five year old body might look like; I think about the incredible beauty that I’ve found within her heart.”

 

“When we make love, I’m too close to her to even see her body. My eyes are normally closed and when they’re open, they’re looking into her eyes, which are the windows of her soul. There’s nothing that will warm your soul like looking into the eyes of someone who truly loves you. That never gets old. We may not have sex every day, but we find a way to ‘make love’ every chance we get.”

 

Again, I wondered if Bill just wasn’t a better man than me. I knew that I loved Beth, and I was excited about sharing our lives together, but I wondered if I could ever get to the place that he was describing. Even though what he’d said seemed to challenge all my preconceived notions about sex, all of my sexual history seemed to validate that what he was saying must be true. As much as I felt like I had more questions, I couldn’t seem to think of one to ask; and Bill finally said that we ought to get back to work. As amazing as that conversation was, we never did get back to it; not on that night or any other.

 

With the benefit of the twelve years’ experience that I’ve gained since that conversation with Bill, I can now see that night was probably some sort of divine appointment. It was truly a turning point in my way of thinking. I did marry Beth, and we had a couple of beautiful children together. And I can honestly say that I love her even more today than I did back then. Bill was right, I can’t be objective in the way that I look at her, nor do I want to be. I never knew that life could be this meaningful; she is my soul mate. With three young children, we don’t always get to the sex part, but just like Bill said, “we find a way to make love every chance we get”.

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