For Couples Getting Married: Don’t Save Yourself for your Wedding Night!

The day I was married ended up being the hottest day of the summer in Illinois. The tuxedos we ordered were better suited for winter weddings. The air conditioning in the church was failing, and hundreds of warm bodies in the pews didn’t help.

Penny and I never expected it to be that hot and to sweat that much.

The service went great and the reception was a blast. The banquet hall echoed with laughter and clinking glasses and the young and elderly all dancing to, “You Know you Make Me Want to Shout.” By the end of the night, Penny and I said our final goodbye’s, and collapsed into the limo. Our day began just before 5AM and it was non-stop emotion and movement, and smiling (so much smiling)

Penny and I never expected to be that exhausted.

We made the hour drive up to the Hilton at O’Hare airport, carried our luggage in, found our way to the room, and walked in for the first time as Husband and Wife.  We sat down on the bed, and took a deep breath, looked at each other, and smiled at the situation we found ourselves in.  I leaned over for a kiss, and Penny whispered, “Bobby pins”.  “What?” I said. Now granted I didn’t have any experience with wedding nights, but it still seemed like an odd thing to say.  “In my hair” she explained.  She turned her head to explain further.

My wife’s hair was pulled up for the day, in a way that beautifully highlighted the curve of her face and her slender neck….it was gorgeous. What I did not realize was that to accomplish this feat required an intricate network of little steel girders providing support to the entire structure….300 of them to be exact.

So there we were, sweaty, exhausted, emotionally drained, sitting on the bed as I located and removed 300 Bobby pins.

Penny and I never expected our first night together to look like that.store-bobby-pins-2

I was told early on by my Sunday school and youth group teachers that I should wait to have sex until I was married.  I was told to save myself for the wedding night, and if I did, that night would be the most amazing night of my life.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I was a 22-year-old guy alone with my wife, the night was still great.  But looking back, I now know that I was not saving myself for the wedding night. The wedding night (as good as it was) was not the physical culmination of our relationship, it was the beginning of a life-long journey of discovery and intimacy, and awkwardness, and joy. I was saving myself for every night that would follow.

With patience and attention, many of the expectations we have for physical intimacy can be realized.  But this, I would argue, is not the point and purpose of the wedding night. Those kinds of expectations can only lead to disappointment, misunderstanding, and hurt — all of which go against God’s original design of sex.

So for all of the couples out there preparing for your wedding day, I would say this about your wedding night: Have fun, no pressure and no expectations. You are at the beginning, it gets better, you have time, and please, PLEASE discuss the use of “hair scaffolding” before you get to the hotel room! 

 

 

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Summertime Part II: When I Learned about Sex….

With the ending of summer, I decided to do a series of posts reflecting on what the summer months taught me, that my years in school never could. If you missed the first post in this series, you can read it by clicking here.

I can’t remember which summer it was that my Dad decided he needed to talk to me about sex. But I do remember a point in my life, just before I jumped into the rapids of puberty, when almost overnight the girls I played with went from being long-haired boys, to females, and eventually to women. Their eyes took on color, their faces took on structure; where once was a simple human form, now had curves and dimensions. It is a strange thing to go to bed one night with girl friends, and wake up the next day, surrounded by potential girlfriends.

Recognizing the times and the seasons, my parents decided to orchestrate “the talk” with me under the guise of a father-son fishing day. We woke up early on a Saturday, and made our way to the state park. After an hour or so of fishing, we put the poles back in the car, and decided to go for a hike. Ten minutes in, we found an outcropping of rocks overlooking a bend in the creek, and agreed to sit for a while. A few minutes passed with small observations about the creek and comments about the poor fishing. Finally my Dad began the conversation with the words, “so….you are getting older now….and….I wanted to talk with you for a few minutes about sex….”

RockCreek

For the next several minutes I sat and listened to Him talk, explain, warn, and define. It was an open and frank conversation filled with fascinating answers to questions I did not know to ask yet but certainly appreciated the heads up. It wasn’t that I needed him to tell me what sex was, as much as I needed him to fill in the gaping holes left from culture, television, church, and the discussions that went on in the back seat of the school bus. What I needed was someone to explain the framework, the context, the plan and purpose of sex. I needed to hear that it was a gift, and that every good gift has been given by God and meant to be enjoyed. That the physical and spiritual are inexplicably intertwined so that one will always affect the other.

As we talked it suddenly dawned on me the number of adult figures in my life I was convinced had already had sex – teachers at school, Sunday school teachers at church, my school bus driver with the missing front teeth, that man with the cane living two doors down who yelled at us for walking on his grass…..THE PASTOR AND HIS WIFE?!?!?

This is what summer is all about….discovery, rites of passage, insider information that suddenly changes your view of the world and reconciles in your mind what your body has already started telling you. I may have been educated during the school year, but I learned so much during the summer.

And just like that, the talk was over. We walked back down the trail, found our way to the car, and headed home. I felt older, as though I was on the inside of a secret society, possessing information that could be dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands. I walked past couples holding hands and I nodded to them, a smirk on my face, as if to say, “I know….I know….” At the time there was absolutely nothing more I could do with the information I had been given, but it was good to know and I was sure it would come in handy some day….like Monday in the conversation happening in the last seat of the school bus.

That’s a Lot of Sex for One Chapter!

Ahhh It’s February, that time of year when Pastors feel a certain amount of freedom and even a certain expectation to discuss issues related to love and sex. So with Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I thought I would do my part.

I’ve been working through the book of Genesis, rehearing so many stories I had read before. But then I read the story of Jacob, and how his family came to be, and I was shocked.

There is a lot happening in this chapter, so let me give you the rundown:

Jacob is married to 2 women — Leah and Rachel. You’re not suppose to have favorite wives, (and I always assumed you didn’t have a choice since you only had one) but it’s the bible…and Jacob loved Rachel more.

So Leah has four children and, Rachel, cannot conceive. Rachel, gets desperate and says to her husband, “give me children or I shall die.” No pressure eh?

Rachel, ends up offering her servant, Bilhah, to her husband in order to have children.

He ends up having 2 children with, Bilhah, and, Rachel, is happy.

Leah sees the situation, and that she is not bearing children, she offers her servant, Zilpah, to her husband, Jacob. Zilpah ends up having 2 children with Jacob, and, Leah, is happy.

Are you counting? We’re at 8 children.

Then one day one of Leah’s children brings home mandrakes and when Rachel sees them, she has to have them. She is desperate to have children and this root might be the answer. This is the exchange:

One day during the wheat harvest, Reuben found some mandrakes growing in a field and brought them to his mother, Leah. Rachel begged Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”

But Leah angrily replied, “Wasn’t it enough that you stole my husband? Now will you steal my son’s mandrakes, too?”

Rachel answered, “I will let Jacob sleep with you tonight if you give me     some of the mandrakes.” Genesis 30: 14-15

Yep, little does Jacob know that his wives are making deals while he is away….deals that involve sex for plant roots.

 So that evening, as Jacob was coming home from the fields, Leah went out to meet him. “You must come and sleep with me tonight!” she said. “I have paid for you with some mandrakes that my son found.” So that night he slept with Leah. Genesis 30:16

I have paid for you? Talk about your, “welcome home hubby.” But Jacob doesn’t seem to object, and Leah goes on to have 3 more children.

Oh….we’re at 11

Then we go to, Rachel. She conceives and has another son, Joseph.

That makes 12 sons (and one daughter though she doesn’t normally get included)

Can you believe that?? I mean you put this family on a stage with a studio audience and you have an episode of Jerry Springer.  One chapter in the bible, with all of the jealousy, and anger, and bed-post notching, and competition, and sex, and pain, and low self-worth that often is the human experience….and you thought there was drama in your family.

And yet, through all of the craziness found in one chapter in Genesis, you still find a God who enters the mess of their experience, redeems, it, and leads them toward His purpose. From this family God would establish the twelve tribes of Israel (sorry Dinah). This chapter tells a story greater than 2 women locked in a baby war. As in the other chapters and books in the bible, this story speaks to the God who “works all things for good” and who seeks to draw all Peoples, all nations, and even all of history to Himself and for His glory.

There is nothing like the bible….and nothing like a good love story

Happy Valentines Day everybody!