There are certain topics of conversation I find rather…uncomfortable. I was party to a Skype exchange between Star Child, Gladys Mae and Boy 4 last night. They were playing long-distance truth or dare. It was, um, interesting. Some of the truths were hilariously inappropriate, having to do with bathroom habits (and we will leave it at that.) It absolutely cracks me up that my own children (there are eight of them, remember) find it so very uncomfortable for me to even HINT that the Handy Man and I might
have sex be physically intimate. We can talk poop, but not sex. Go figure.
But it also makes me sad because I realize I probably have not done as great a job as I had hoped of helping them to understand what an amazing gift physical intimacy is within marriage. God gave Eve to Adam and it was beautiful and right. The Bible says that Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed (Genesis 2:25.) Sex within the confines of godly marriage is, indeed, beautiful and right. But humankind has so mangled this gift by treating it as something casual and worthless, and as a result, the purity of the marriage bed is not valued nor preserved. Modesty, it often seems, is a thing of the past. True intimacy, rare.
I try really hard to make sure the Handy Man and I go to bed at the same time. Our nightly ritual usually involves all those little things we do while getting ready for bed…brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, brushing hair, determining whether it is cold enough to wear socks to bed or if the cold factor is mild enough that my toes will be sufficiently warmed by the Handy Man’s warm legs (not his favorite part of the evening ritual), and talking. Connecting. So often we have not had a chance earlier in the evening to talk about the important things: what moments we need to share about the kids (conversations we had with them, concerns we have about them, blessings we experienced, humorous bits we need to share); how our days really went (work anecdotes, frustrations, joys); our plans for the next day (where the kids have activities, whether I will be out with my father, the cars we each need to drive). It is in those last few minutes before bed that we get a chance to flirt, too. I love that my husband still flirts with me after 20 years of marriage.
My favorite time of day is that last 15-30 minutes or so before sleep claims my body for the required nightly rest. At the end of a day, I am generally so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. But I stay up past the time I should merely to have that last half-hour with the Handy Man. No, it isn’t because of we are having mad, passionate sex (although, frankly, there is a time for that, is there not?) No…it is because the last few moments of the day are when he and I are naked before God in prayer together. I treasure that time so very much. It is where we can pour out our hearts, our joys, our thank-yous, our fears, our frustrations, our anguished cries. It is when we can audibly thank God for the gift of each other. So often after I have blown it…not shown the grace or patience or love that I wanted to show….I hear my husband thanking God for me, as a wife and mother. It is humbling, affirming, and encouraging all at once. Sometimes I hear him say things about me that I cannot quite believe to be true, and it gives me a glimpse into his heart. It reminds me how blessed a woman I really am.
There was a Facebook meme going around that said, essentially this:
“Your naked body should only belong to those who fall in love with your naked soul.”
The sentiment is that we should not take sex casually. Ideally, there would only be ONE person who will meet that requirement. I think the nakedness of soul and body were designed by God for the context of marriage. In Ephesians 5, Paul talks a lot about marriage: how a wife is to respect her husband (submission) and how the husband is to love his wife (sacrificially, like Christ). He then goes on to say that marriage shows us the relationship between Christ and the Church (his bride). Marriage is the model relationship to show us how we should relate with Jesus.
So often, though, marriages are not ideal. Always, marriages are made up of two sinners. Hopefully, those two are redeemed and want to live to glorify Christ, but even then, the flesh makes marriage difficult. In our culture and world, nakedness of body is easy. Nakedness of soul is much, much more precious.
We like to tease the kids about our sleeping behind a closed door. We usually keep our bedroom door closed, but in the winter, when the wood stove is our only source of heat, it is necessary to keep our door open. The children (mostly) know to knock before entering our closed door. Sometimes we are talking, sometimes we are dressing, and sometimes, yes, we are….you know. But most often, we are just being naked before God because that takes privacy, too. Those times are my favorite times. I wish I could explain to my children about those times. I wish they had the capacity to understand that nakedness is not about sex. It is about honestly, vulnerability, oneness. It is about trust, safety, security. It is about being thoroughly known and unashamed. It is about intimacy, and sometimes that means physical intimacy, but mostly it means something much more precious: emotional intimacy with each other and with our Lord.
God says, in Genesis 2: 24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” One flesh. Physically one flesh. But also so intimately known to each other that they are like halves of a whole…separate, distinct halves with separate, distinct personalities, and yet molded together as one in a way that is inexplicable outside of the union. Naked and unashamed is what God meant for marriage. We blew it at the fall and every sinful moment since, but Jesus redeemed us. And because we are redeemed, it is possible for us to have a taste of what it means to be naked and unashamed. Full restoration will only happen in heaven, but marriage can give us a pretty good glimpse, if only we will treasure it and allow it to be what God intended.