The Neglected Wife

A beautiful young wife recently asked me how she could resolve her feelings of being neglected. Her husband is a delightful chap who is actively serving the Lord and who also works part-time to supplement the family income. The bride is caring for a baby and the husband enjoys his sport as a way to unwind.

Feeling Neglected

The young wife struggled with feelings of being neglected, yet she knew that her husband is a wonderful man. He is serving God, helping others, working to meet their own family needs and enjoying life with his friends. He loves her and helps her out with the baby and her other needs when he can.

Still she felt neglected and at times became angry toward him and said things that expressed her frustration and hurt feelings.

Now she was feeling guilty about being such an unworthy wife. She felt that she was out of order to carry the feeling of being a neglected wife. She did not want to burden her husband but to bless him. However she just could not get past the feelings of being hurt.

She asked me what I would suggest she do.

The Husband’s Challenge

I appreciated the heart of this delightful young lady. What a sweet attitude, considering herself to be wrong and willing to do what she could to change. I commended her approach, but I then directed my comments toward her husband.

I pointed out that one of the common crimes men commit against their marriage is to ‘neglect’ their wife. The tendency to neglect the wife is so strong and natural for men that if they are not consciously avoiding it then they are almost certainly doing it. Men are compulsive neglecters. It comes naturally to them and they will dismiss or justify their actions, despite the way they are hurting their wife.

This young man was very willing to receive my instruction so I ventured to point out what he needs to do.

What is Neglect?

Husbands are commanded to love their wife, and when they do not do this they are neglecting her. Neglect is what happens when a man does not make the wife the centre of his attention.

If the husband is distracted, absent, uncaring, dismissive or otherwise failing to focus on his wife he is neglecting her.

Some men are busy. Others feel that their wife’s concerns are of no real substance and are unworthy of the attention they demand. Some don’t want to have their time with their wife dominated by the wife’s emotional issues, but would rather pursue physical intimacy and her joining in their interests.

All of these things constitute neglect.

The Opposite of Neglect

Neglect is possibly best seen by looking at its opposite.

When a husband stops what he is doing to give his total attention to his wife and then engages all his powers to meet her needs as the highest priority in his life at that moment, then he is loving her and not neglecting her.

When a husband is attentive to the real needs his wife is struggling with and does all that he can do to meet those real needs and bring her to a place of security, feeling his total love and commitment to her, then he is not neglecting her.

My Advice to the Neglecting Husband

I suggested to this young husband, in the hearing of his wife, that he needs to be attentive to her needs. Even though he is busy he must allocate special time that belongs to her, where she has 100% of his life. He will not always be able to give that to her at the time she feels the need for it. So he must find the first opportunity, such as in three hours’ time, when certain processes or meetings are completed. When he commits to give her his undivided attention at that time she will feel secure and be willing to wait. She will appreciate the elevated status in his life that his commitment gives to her.

When she comes to him he is to give total attention to her needs. He is to concentrate on listening to what she is saying and hearing her underlying emotional needs. He is then to offer her his understanding and care.

Sometimes all the wife needs is to have her emotional tank topped up. The husband is her best source of emotional recharge. A loving hug and assurances of his care and commitment will do much to lift her over her emotional hurdles and give her energy to press on.

A Quick Top Up

A wise husband will look for opportunities to give his wife a quick top-up, to keep her emotional reserve tank full and ready for life’s challenges. When a husband sees that his wife is a bit distracted or a little titchy he should be attentive to her inner needs.

When he asks her how she is going she may well say that all is fine. But if he thinks that is not the case he should persist to encourage her to tell him what she is thinking or struggling with.

He can then hug her and share in her concerns, offering whatever help he can. It may be that he can only join her in prayer for God’s wisdom. He may have nothing to offer from himself. But that very act of caring enough to join her in prayer over the unsolvable problem will be very precious to her.

Regular input from the husband, investing his 100% attention to meeting her inner needs, understanding her thoughts, feelings and concerns, and then doing what he can to help her resolve them, will give her the quick top-up that will keep her in a healthy emotional state.

Strong hugs, caring words, supportive attitudes, attentive listening and expressions of affection are very valuable to a wife and will help her overcome the feelings that she is being neglected in the competition for her husband’s time and energies.

The Spirit of a Marriage

Have you damaged the spirit of your marriage? Do you know the current health of your marriage? What is the ‘spirit of the marriage’ and how can it be damaged or healed?

These are the questions I will open for you, so you will be attentive to some things that may have escaped your attention up until now.

Hidden Person in Your Spouse

The Bible tells us that each woman has a “hidden man of the heart” which is a source of true beauty for them. Peter advised women not to be distracted by their external beauty tricks, of tizzing up their hair or wearing jewellery. Instead, he advocated that the woman allow her inner beauty, the “hidden man of the heart” to come forth.

“Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation (example) of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” 1Peter 3:1-6

Hidden Things in Your Marriage

Each person has a hidden, inner life. We do not readily expose our inner self to others, and in fact our inner self is at its most special when shared between husband and wife. The wife is encouraged to reveal to her husband the hidden person within her heart.

Many people never see the hidden person in their spouse. But worse still, many people damage their marriage by offending the inner person in their spouse.

Hidden Damage

Marriage creates the most intimate level of relationship possible on earth. Two people receive a divine status as one physical entity, enabling them to share intimacy in the sanctity of God’s own morality. This unique relationship should be the place where two people are able to share their most hidden thoughts and feelings with each other in complete confidence and security.

However, when husbands and wives offend each other they cause the other to lock away their most secret thoughts and their hidden person, so that they never show the other the “hidden man of the heart”. This becomes a hidden damage in the marriage.

On the surface the couple may be happy, cooperative and exemplary. Yet one or both will have closed off their inner person from the other.

They may enjoy frequent and fun-filled physical intimacy but the intimacy of the soul is rarely if ever enjoyed by them.

Hidden Man Intimacy

Every marriage holds the potential for a level of interpersonal fellowship and sharing where both husband and wife trust their most secret and sacred self to the other. That is a profound level of intimacy

When a couple has intimacy at the level of the hidden man they are reaping richness from their marriage which others simply do not know exists.

The Spirit of the Marriage

The spirit of the marriage is that wonderful potential which your marriage can enjoy if only you both love each other with the level of commitment and openness that enables both to readily reveal the hidden man of the heart to the other.

This spirit of the marriage is damaged when the couple hurts and offends each other. When a husband or wife feels that their spouse does not respect, love, cherish and trust them the spirit of the marriage is damaged.

If, for example, the wife feels dismissed by her husband, and that he does not care for her inner thoughts and feelings, just that she make him happy, then she will shut down part of herself and that will damage the spirit of the marriage.

Auditing Your Marriage

Your marriage may be a happy and delightful relationship where the two of you get along with great companionship. That’s great. But even so it is possible for you both to be missing the richness of the spirit of your marriage. This will be because one or both of you have damaged the inner man of the other and caused them to close off their ‘hidden man’ from the other.

So how is your marriage going? How is the spirit of your marriage? If you have damaged your relationship and your spouse is not opening to you the depths of his or her heart and soul then you are the poorer for it.

Don’t settle for less than a rich and wonderful depth to the spirit of your marriage, where the hidden man of both of you is trusted in the hands of the other. I pray that your experience be that of a blessed spirit of the marriage.

The Lost Taste of Sex

I’ve talked a bit about how we lose the taste for things, so now I’ll turn your attention to sex. (I smile at this, since some people already have their mind turned too far in that direction.) I have pointed out how people end up unable to enjoy the natural flavours of life and of God’s glory, because they have become addicts to sensual stimulation.

One of our problems is that we adapt to the stimuli, so anything that is tantalising becomes normal as we continue to experience it. We can find ourselves adding more sugar, more salt or more spice, because we keep adapting to the flavour sensation we have created.

Another problem is that we must avoid crossing moral boundaries. We are moral beings and many of the things our body craves must be kept within moral bounds as well. If we indulge a human appetite we become a slave to their thing. Our body then makes demands of us and will not be satisfied unless we indulge it. We are in a moral bind. What was supposed to simply be a delightful additional experience becomes a slavery and an acid hole in our being.

In our sensualised western culture we are constantly prompted to indulge our appetites. In so doing we begin destroying our taste for those things and we come under the power of the sensuality. We find that we are spoiled for the ordinary, not because we have transcended the ordinary, but because we have damaged our taste buds and can no longer taste the flavours God created for us.

So, how does this apply to sex?

Most westerners do not know how to enjoy sex that is not sensualised. Sex has been so immersed in pop-culture sensuality that many people think their sexual experience is a failure if it just ordinary.

Sex is packaged for us in song, books, movies and TV programs as a highly sensualised experience. Pornographic or sensualised images, eroticised stories, voyeuristic entertainments and immoral lifestyles have so swamped our appreciation for sex that most westerners are permanently damaged goods.

In my Straight Talk on Sex seminars I point out that sex is often fused with adrenalin in the experienced of sensualised people. Those people don’t want sex without the accompanying adrenalin rush as well. The taste of sex has been lost to them.

I recall talking with a new Christian who had recently dealt with his pornography problem. He had begun to use pornography to give himself a sexual excitement. However, the consequence was that he found himself unable to enter into natural sexual relations with his wife. He finally resorted to keeping pornography beside his bed and using that to get himself worked up enough to be able to have intimacy with his wife.

The wife in that situation felt horrible demeaned. She felt that she was so deficient as a woman as to be incapable of attracting her husband’s sexual interest. The problem, however, was not with the woman but with the man. He was spoiled for the ordinary. He could no longer enjoy the natural and sweet intimacy God gave him in his marriage. What he had indulged in, in order to give himself an upgrade in his sexual excitement, actually did the very opposite. It ate holes in his sexuality.

Thankfully, through becoming a Christian, this man dealt with his sin and addiction.

The devil’s deal just never gets any better. He keeps promising the earth and delivering mud. He promises excitement while he is stealing your ability to taste anything at all.

If you have been damaged in the ways I describe in these posts, I encourage you to deal with the issue. You are welcome to use the Steps to Release which are my main ministry tool in helping people. I have already posted on the topic, giving a summary of those steps, so look for the post titled Steps to Release.

Sacred Nakedness

The on-going current issue of child nude photos intended for display in a Sydney art gallery prompts me to clarify again the Biblical position regarding nakedness. Sacred Nakedness is the term I am now using to help us recognise the moral issues behind this debate.

It has long been suggested that nakedness is something which mature adults should have no problem with. Adults are well informed about the differences between male and female physiology and married couples can enjoy open sexual intimacy and share their nakedness without shame or recourse. So, it is suggested, it is prudish and childish to make too much of nudity and nakedness.

Advocacy for the open display of nudity, at least to adults, goes along the lines, “We’re all adults here. If you’ve seen one naked body you’ve seen them all. There’s no need to be ashamed of the human body.” Evolutionary influences add to the debate such thoughts as, “Clothing is a recent invention. We are just a ‘naked ape’ and we can display our unclothed bodies just like other animals do.”

Then come the big guns of mockery and intimidation, such as, “How Victorian and prudish to be ashamed of the human body. We should celebrate our bodies and be unashamed to display what nature gave us.”

So goes the sales pitch. That’s why people who anchor their beliefs in cultural voices become confused on this issue. Instinctively their conscience warns them that nakedness is not such a casual issue. Life experience signals that nakedness is indeed a deeply moral issue. Yet these other voices of cultural reasoning challenge our instinctive perceptions.

Consider these obvious signals that nakedness has a sacred and moral quality. Imagine a person choosing to turn up at work stark naked for the day. If nakedness is such an over-rated issue, made special only by outdated, prudish ideas, then why does such a situation raise so much concern? Is it not true that most people in that workplace will be distracted, some being sensualised and others being offended? Is it not true that the parents and family of the naked person will struggle with their actions and the family of the others who turn up at work will hold concern for how their family member will be affected by working around someone who is naked?

While some ‘enlightened’ people will assert that they have no problem with their child, spouse or friend showing off their naked body, the vast majority of people, including those of no apparent moral convictions, will find such nudity distracting, inappropriate, embarrassing or otherwise out of order.

We each know, at a societal level, that the open display of nakedness is socially inappropriate, even if we can’t articulate why.

Here is the reason why nakedness is not for public display. Nakedness is sacred. Nakedness is a personal, private gift given us by God, signalling our special place as God’s creation, made in the image of God. The animals are not made with that unique quality and so their bodies do not have sacred nakedness. Humans are made in the image of God and are given a conscience which alerts them to the sacredness of their nakedness. Exposure of nakedness causes shame and is a violation of our moral being. While it is possible to become desensitised to our conscience, such cavalier attitudes do not change the reality of our creation. Neither do philosophy classes, protestations by ‘artists’, demands that we be ‘grown up’ and ‘realistic’, etc.

It is possible for people to push past their pangs of conscience and become hardened liars, thieves and even killers. So the evidence that some people can be arrogantly hardened in their stance on nudity is no case for arguing its inherent value. A gang or thieves celebrating their freedom to steal without pang of conscience has not changed the fact that theft is wrong.

Shaming ourselves by exposing human nakedness is not ‘enlightenment’ but rather it is the journey into darkness. Professing themselves to be wise and elevated, libertines become fools and debase themselves. They throw away their sovereign uniqueness and reduce themselves to animal status.

Ancient Greco-Roman art did not change our created reality. Michelangelo’s statue of David did not change our created reality. The modern addiction to pornography, nudity and immoral living does not change our created reality. Appeals to the cause of ‘art’ and ‘free speech’ do not change our created reality.

I remind you that from the earliest record of human experience, Genesis Chapter 3, we are shown that humans have a conscience about their naked bodies. Adam hid himself because he was naked. I remind you that Noah’s married adult sons, who knew all about what naked bodies looked like and could make every claim to being ‘adult’ in their choices and actions, took pains not to see their father’s naked body when he lay in a drunken sleep in his tent. Instead of thinking that nakedness was of no consequence these men carefully covered their father’s nudity, ensuring that they did not see it themselves.

Every human body possesses Sacred Nakedness. When we make public display of the naked body we are rejecting our own sacredness and the dignity which we have by divine mandate. Those who have no respect for God, and thus are happy to demean and debase themselves, wish to undermine us all. Any and all displays of nudity and nakedness debase our human dignity. Artistic expression is not above our moral realities. It gives no authority to those who wish to act outside God’s moral requirements.

The naked children photos are an attack on the dignity of us all. They are base in their moral impact. They are an offence to humanity in general and the innocence of children in particular. It does not matter what the pose or the level of sensuality implied or aroused by the images. The violation is not principally based on the age of the children or the suggestive nature of the images. Any and all display of the naked body is at its core a violation of human conscience, because it is a violation of our divine personal preserve, our sacred nakedness.

For the record for those who may protest the need for exposure within medical procedures, even in the context of medical treatment, which at times necessitates medical evaluation of people’s private nakedness, we should maintain the dignity of sacred nakedness, rather than allow callow attitudes toward that which violates the conscience.

The child nude photos issue is not a debate about the bounds of art. It is not a fuzzy issue with competing claims and counter-claims. It is a time to focus on our abandonment of foundational reality. It is time to remind ourselves of the moral boundaries which God has imposed on us. It is time to stand for what is wholesome and healthy, in the face of those who wish to drag us all into their own violated state.

Note: I posted an earlier review of this subject under the heading Nudity, Purity and Sex, May 31, 2008.

Nudity, Purity and Sex

Australia has been distracted in recent days with questions about an art show of naked children. Police raided the exhibition last Thursday and seized some of the images of naked 12 and 13 year old children. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd spoke out against the display, while the artistic community defended the show. Questions emerge such as “was there consent” and were the images “sexualised”. Art advocates point out that the naked body has been the focus of art for thousands of years.

This is timely for me, as it raises an issue which I have recently been thinking about. I believe that nudity is, in itself, a distortion of sexuality. I believe that our personal nakedness is a divine preserve. When we become lax about the sanctity of the naked body we have already crossed an important line in the loss of purity.

In all the debate that is now going on about the child photos there is recognition that some display of nudity is pornographic and an abuse of people’s privacy. I contend that any display of nudity should be seen as a violation of a sacred preserve. Now, before you dub me a wowser, take a moment to think a little further through the issue, with the Bible as your reference point. Follow me through the following notes.

As I tackle sexual deviancy in its various forms I have come to realise the importance of teaching on ‘purity’. Purity is a lost quality in the west, where sensuality and the “what’s in it for me” mentality reign supreme.
As I teach my Straight Talk on Sex material around the world I find myself more optimistic than I should be. I keep expecting Christians to have an understanding of and a commitment to moral purity. In my own childhood, although addicted to lustful thoughts and sexual obsessions, I carried an acute sense of my own impurity. I continue to be surprised, although I should not be, when I find Christians and Christian leaders who have abandoned the key ground of purity.
So let me challenge your thinking about ‘purity’ and relate that to nudity and sex.

The Call To Purity.

The starting point of each of our lives is that we have been created by God. Furthermore, we have been created in the image of God. So we are to be holy just as our heavenly Father is holy (Leviticus 11:45,19:2). We have a creation mandate, to be holy, just like God, who created us in His holy likeness. If we are not holy we defy God, rebel against His creative purpose for our lives and destroy the very thing God sought to establish. We cannot be unholy, for any reason. No matter how unholy those around us are, we must live in the fear of God and be holy and pure before Him.
Paul the Apostle insisted on this level of purity 4,000 years after the creation, as he set things in order within the infant church. Paul insisted that believers should “possess their body in sanctification and honour” (1Thessalonians 4:4). He exhorts Christians to “cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” and to “perfect holiness in the fear of God” (2Corinthians 7:1).
Jesus Christ demands our holiness. He instructed His followers to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). And the Apostle Peter added his voice to the case, saying that we are not to live by the lusts that we had before we were Christians , but are to be holy in all our lifestyle, just as God is holy (1Peter 1:14-16).
So, purity is not an optional extra for Christians. It is not something for the more devoted to think about, which ordinary Christians can ignore. No, indeed! Purity is something that is mandatory for all people who want to walk with God. And we have that from the Old Testament, from Christ, from Paul and from Peter.

The Spirit-Flesh Tension
God created us in His image. God also gave us human flesh. Our flesh is an area of vulnerability for us, as it is tempted to seek indulgence of its appetites. We are torn between our calling to be like God, and our lusts to be self-seeking and indulgent. God refers to this problem of the human condition by saying that man is “also flesh” (Genesis 6:3). The implication is that man is a spirit being, made in the image of God who is spirit, but man is also flesh, pulled by lusts. Mankind has a pull in both directions – toward God and holiness and toward self and degradation.
Christians need to be transformed from the old self-indulgent, fleshly lusts, into glorious freedom from self-indulgence. Look at the way Paul puts this case. 1Thessalonians 4:3-8 “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel (body) in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence (sensuality), even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness. He therefore that despises (the calling to holiness and the sanctity of the human body) despises not man, but God, who has also given to us his Holy Spirit.”
Now, let me package this up in a simple summary for you. You are created by a holy God and you have a divine mandate to be holy. Your flesh pulls you toward self-indulgence, lusts and degradation. Christ has paid for your sins, so you can be forgiven, and the Holy Spirit is given to empower you to put your flesh to death so you can live free of your fleshly lusts and glorify God.

Nakedness / Nudity
The human body is the starting point of purity. God created the human body to be kept sacred by each individual. Personal nakedness is a divine and sovereign element of human purity. To expose the body, or to go further toward sensual and sexual activity, is sinful and degrading.

As soon as Adam ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden he knew that he was naked and he felt shame (Genesis 3:10). Adam was not ashamed of seeing Eve’s nakedness, because she was ‘one flesh’ with him, but he was ashamed of letting God see his nakedness, since nakedness is private, not for public display.

Noah’s godly sons would not look on his nakedness, because they knew that it was a sacred preserve of their father’s purity. Even though drunkenness had left Noah exposed on the floor of his tent, these sons took pains not to see his nakedness. They maintained their own and their father’s purity.

When a beautiful woman presents herself in a sensual manner, to attract the attentions of men, she demeans herself and degrades her value – she no longer holds her body as something honourable (1Thessalonians 4:4). She is toying with her nakedness, even when she does not expose it, by seeking to arouse sexual interest. She has demeaned her created holiness and lowered herself to the level of a pig. Proverbs 11:22 “Like a gold jewel in a pig’s snout, so is a fair woman who is indiscreet.”
When a man looks on a woman to lust after her, even though he does not see her nakedness his attention is drawn to exploiting it, and that lusting is deemed to be the same as committing adultery with her (Matthew 5:28). Lusts bring corruption into human society (2Peter 1:4) and those lusts actively contend within and war against the soul of a person (1Peter 2:11).
When a couple marries, God establishes a moral miracle, where the two independent bodies are deemed by God to be one body (one flesh) and so the nakedness and sexual intimacy between the couple is now moral and not impure. They are allowed to see and enjoy each other’s nakedness, even though no-one else is allowed to. Nakedness is still sacred, but it can now be shared between the husband and wife. The sexual freedom enjoyed by a married couple is undefiled, within the sanctity and privacy of their own marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4).
When a society becomes lax about nakedness it has become impure. When people stop protecting the sanctity of their own body and the body of others, impurity has contaminated the society. When people dress in an alluring manner and when nudity is exposed on movies, TV, magazines and billboards, impurity takes over. The people are despising God. When people will not treat their own nakedness and the nakedness of humanity as a sacred preserve given them by a holy God, they are despising God, Himself. It is an act of rebellion against God. I remind you of 1Thessalonians 4:8 “He therefore that despises (the calling to holiness and the sanctity of the human body) despises not man, but God, who has also given to us his Holy Spirit.”
This is what I am saddened to see in too many Christian circles. The refusal to honour the sanctity of the human body and each person’s personal nakedness is a mockery of purity and it is rebellion against God. Yet churches and church leaders are guilty of exactly that.
Christians are called to put their flesh to death, with its affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24), and they do that not by human effort but by relying on the Holy Spirit to empower them (Romans 8:13). This results in Christians living a life that is free from lusts and the pressures created by their flesh (Galatians 5:17), and they are able to live in the ‘glorious liberty of the Children of God’ (Romans 8:21). They then live in purity, and enjoy the fullness of joy which God created for them.

A disclaimer: The flesh is able to be enslaved by lusts, but God gave us our flesh and He has made provision for us to enjoy life in our bodies. Christians crucify their lusts, and then enjoy the natural life which God gave them. God intends us to enjoy our human existence in our human bodies. God created an idyllic garden resort for Adam and Eve, with the best tasting and the prettiest plants. God designed woman’s beauty as a gift for her husband to enjoy. God commends eating the sweet honeycomb. God encourages us to be ravished by our wife, to be satisfied with her breasts and to live joyfully with her. We are not sentenced to morbid existence, killing every pleasure. But we are to live in the fear of God, bringing our body under, so that we live out of our spirit and glorify God in our body and our spirit. Having done so, we will enjoy many delights through the five senses which God gave us.