Hotter Than All the Fifty Shades in the World
My marriage of nine years, one mortgage, and three insanely young children often seems to read more like a construction punch list than a Shakespearean sonnet: three daily loads of laundry, two car payments, one long meeting on Tuesday night.
Even this week's "buy Rob an anniversary card" loses sparkle, flanked as it is on the list by "fix hole in ceiling" and "remember multivitamin."
If not stoked, passion will get lost in the mundane.
To remedy this, many of us modern Americans turn to novelty. In my native state of Connecticut, a glass-paneled truck drives through the city of Hartford during normal business hours. Inside, two women perform an exotic dance for pedestrians and commuters.
And millions of otherwise traditional, married women have downloaded E. L. James's erotic fiction series, Fifty Shades, to their Kindles and Nooks, making the first book of the series one of the fastest-selling of all time.
Above all, the Fifty Shades trilogy promises readers an escape from boredom. New Yorker writer Jessica Weisberg interviewed a group of women about why they liked the book. They said reading the books took them back to a less responsible time in their lives, "when you can do whatever you want and have as much sex as you want and don't have to walk the dog."
In a recent Atlantic article about the series, James Parker posits that today, in matters of sexuality, "Above all, we fear numbness. We fear deadness."
Compared to exotic dancers and erotic fiction, married romance may seem dull. But to a culture seeking to flee sexual boredom, God's design actually provides the necessary spark for sustained passion.
Miss Manners calls that spark "tension." The white-gloved matriarch of etiquette may be the antithesis of Fifty Shades, but even she acknowledges that human beings love a challenge.
In her advice on dinner parties, she writes, "Contrary to popular belief, a good party atmosphere is not 'relaxing,' but the opposite. It should be full of tension." She goes on to explain that tension is what makes dinner party guests dress up, tell their best stories, and "live up to the occasion."
She could have said the same about romance. Tension is intrinsic to a love story. Romeo and Juliet had it. Every knight on a white horse saving a girl in a tower had it. Every hero and heroine of every romantic comedy on the big screen has it.
And in God's good design, Christian marriages have it too.
The First Love Poem
A marriage is not a fait accompli: Check it off the list and then go unclog the toilet. Rather, marriage is an ever-evolving challenge, and the tension created by meeting that challenge is the key to its passion—and its success.
It all started in the Garden of Eden. After the creation of Eve, Adam, the first man, composed the first love poem:
This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.
(Gen. 2:23, ESV)
She is like me, says Adam. And she's not like me at all. Even before there was sin, there was a love story, filled with difference and holy tension. Gender is a challenge to which married couples rise every single morning.
My husband is tall and blue-eyed and scratchy. He can do complicated calculations in his head at an amazing speed. He is logical where I am intuitive, absent-minded where I am organized, and concise where I am wordy. He laughs loudly, snores louder, and preaches like no one else.