Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Husband to Wife

I came across this anonymous letter, and I thought it might speak to many husbands and wives out there...


I know you're confused about my sadness. You admire me, I can tell, and I know you respect me, which is what you're supposed to do. And you know that I love you. I say it, and I mean it. I try to show it, but I fail - a lot. I don't do the things I want to do, and I do the things I don't want to do. That's why I'm mad at myself. I rambled last night before falling asleep - sorry if I did too early. I'm tired a lot. It's been a tough year, really about a year. I reflect on it. Things were good last November. I don't remember much of December, but January through March were challenging on many levels. I remember being especially tempted by lust during those months and losing battles on Mondays after just confidently leaving church the day before... But the words don't come easily, and though I've longed to confess to you (or even someone else), it's shameful. So I'll write about it instead.

Once April rolled around, the temptations eased and I felt really good. Spring was in the air. We had our family vacation, which was truly fabulous, the highlight of my year. I had not experienced any ugly sin that I can recall during April or May. Relief!

And of course, I'm wise enough to know that it'll never go away. But I weakened and the roller coaster ride began again through the summer. I think of a roller coaster, it goes up slow and it's peaceful, but when the downhill comes, you go down fast. And I did. This summer, the battle with lust reared up again. Truly, it began with mere and innocent curiosity, as in "Who's that actress that played in that movie?" I saw no fault in looking at an image or two of a fully clothed woman, with the motive of adding movies to our rental queue... It was no trouble, so I thought. But it didn't stop there. And so towards the end of summer, I was really struggling with this - 2 good weeks were followed by a bad day, and then a good week was followed by a bad week, and then a good day was followed by 2 bad weeks. Each down was deeper and longer, and each up was less peaceful and shorter. I was truly in trouble, and I knew it.

And I justified it by appealing to what I've told you before (at least I think I did - If I didn't, I played it over in my head with you enough times to convince myself that we've had this discussion). I've always thought myself to have a low sex-drive; and I don't like the thought of that (at least I didn't...). I'd go in cycles of nothing to wanting you all the time. I want to want you. But I'm not confident in initiating sex, so I roll over and go to bed. And then on occasion, you'll get mad at me for doing that, but I fight it off and claim to be tired (which I truly am). The desire builds over a couple days like that, and as James 1:15 says, "After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin." But our sex (and here's the justification) was/is always so good when I want you a intensely. And losing the battle with lust makes me want you more. And I'd justify it for the sake of good sex, then I'd ask for forgiveness, and fight against it the next day. That cycle week-in and week-out was killing me.

It had to stop. So about 10-12 weeks ago (I stopped counting after being porn-free for a couple months - and probably if you reflect on it, about the time I started to seem especially distant to you), I decided to give up the desire for sex. Romans 7:8 says, "But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire." When I don't try to want it, it doesn't try to want me. I have no desire, but I don't struggle against THAT sin.

God said to Cain in Genesis 4:7, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." This ongoing attempt to "master sin" by eliminating desire has worked really well in curbing that sin. 1 Peter 2:11 says, "Abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul." Romans 6:12 says, "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires."

I spent time in God's word yesterday in order not so much to learn but more to abstain from sinful desires and, therefore, sin. Romans 13:14 says, "Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." I like the thought of not thinking about how to gratify lust! Galatians 5:16 says, "Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." How do you live by the Spirit? It's not so much by trying, though I am trying. It's by grace. And so just as I prayed for awhile that you would want sex (and, sadly, certain kinds of sex, like the porn I was watching) more (though that was foolish because I was sinning all the while), I now pray for the grace to be pure, having pure desires that lead not to sin but to the right experience of purity in the marriage bed.

Galatians 5:24 says, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." I don't feel like I have done that. It's not over. It's as good as done, but not done yet. And I'm not sure how to invite desire for sex without inviting sin to regain its desired place in my life. 2 Peter 2:18-19 says, "By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, [false teachers] entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." I see myself as "just escaping from those who live in error," (though truly only in one area of my life, all the while watching other areas of my life seeming fall into shambles). And that's the pain. I am too weak to manage it all. I can't fight sin on multiple fronts. If I strive against it on the left, it beats me down on the right. If I fight to the right, it attacks from the left and then underneath. I look up, and it's there too. It's strong. But God is stronger. And I just want to let go. But I don't know how.

I was mastered before becoming a Christian. And then I was free for awhile. And then I was mastered again. And then I was free. And then mastered, and then free. And then mastered and now free - in one area, but mastered elsewhere. I HATE the cycle. I HATE that good desires (for my wife) lead me into sin. But I haven't figured out how to invite good desires without also inviting sin. And so my solution over the past 3 months has been to eliminate all desires. It has worked to keep away sin. I don't have the desire, so sin has had no hold on me (in that area). But I realize that's not good for you. You need me to want you. And though I'm scared to want you - since that desire will invite sin - I probably need it too. I don't know what to say or what to do. But I ask for your forgiveness. You think you have a strong husband. I am not that and am certain that I never will be on my own. But at least you have a faithful lover in the Lord, and I hope that we can still work together to glorify Him in whatever way He chooses to be glorified by us. I love you, and though seeming sad for a season, I will not be mastered any longer by that oh so hideous sin.

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