Lust for wife

This will not come as a surprise to readers, but it was a surprise to me.

Since “putting away childish things”, I have recently been having lustful feelings about my wife!

Without really trying, I have been more physically affectionate, and perhaps even forward — a couple of times she has said (good-naturedly), “put me down”. I have caught my eye wandering over her body in a new way (or, at least, a way it hasn’t wandering for many years). A couple of times I have even found myself having sexual fantasies about her.

My wife has noticed some of this, and doesn’t seem to mind that much (“put me down”).

For my part it’s pathetically exciting and feels like strange new territory. I don’t want the moment to pass and fade; on the other hand I don’t want to fumble and drop it.

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Dear Lord

This song is actually by John Coltrane, but I prefer Marilyn Crispell’s version. Here is John Coltrane:

Crispell’s reading is a constant yearning and opening. Coltrane’s, lovely as it is, is a jazz tune.

“Dear Lord” is the phrase I use to open a prayer. Sometimes just getting myself calm, clasping my hands into a heart, and saying “Dear Lord” can bring that peaceful prayer feeling on me. Praying is a treat. I do feel selfish giving myself that time. But it has a positive effect on me: it calms me and strengthens me, it helps me love my wife and our son. The nearer I am to prayer, the less snarled up in myself I am.

As any readers will know, I am a creature of habit. I always go to the same restaurants, order the same dishes, even sit at the same tables. I have set myself two prayer times: bedtime, and a short quiet time when I arrive at work (I cycle to work and arrive very early to miss the rush hour traffic).

I realised recently that this might be stopping me from praying at other times, or from praying “on the spur of the moment”. I’ve done two things to nudge me towards prayer outside of my set times.

  1. By chance I finished my diary notebook and have started a new one. I decided that this new diary would be in a New Style. I have been keeping a diary for much longer than I have been a Christian, and that new side of me didn’t show up in the diary very much. In this new diary I am mixing prayers and Bible readings with old-style diary entries, and I am talking to God, and listening to God much more in those pages. I keep this notebook with me and write in it often.
  2. I have downloaded the Universalis Daily Hours app onto my phone. This pings automatically at times throughout the day, and suggests Psalms, readings, prayers and hymns. It reminds me to make contact, pulls me out of me work, and brings prayer into my day.

1 Peter 3:1-4

Second in a two part series! Part One is here: 2 Peter 2.

1 Peter 3:1-4

1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

(ESV)

This is one of those passages that has always made me come over all lefty and feminist. This time approaching the passage I was determined not to read in the same old way. When I read this time, I was struck by the idea of providing an example, rather than giving verbal admonishments — words were like the superficial decorations mentioned in verse 3, while conduct was like the gentle & quiet spirit of verse 4. I didn’t think of wife vs husband; I thought of myself being an example to my wife (and to myself).

Then I read the reading notes, which drew attention to the “even if some do not obey the word” in verse 1:

However, I think Peter might’ve had a specific group of women in mind when he was speaking these words —– wives who were married to unbelievers —– though every woman or man can learn from his teachings on submission here.

I am married to an unbeliever!

Going back again to read the passage, reading verses 3 & 4 broke a wave of upset and confusion over me:

3 Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing — 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

(ESV)

3 Your beauty should lie, not in outward adornment — braiding the hair, wearing gold ornaments, or dressing up in fine clothes — 4 but in the inmost self, with its imperishable quality of a gentle, quiet spirit, which is of high value on the sight of God.

(REB)

I didn’t realise it at the time, but each time I returned to the text I was reading it more and more “as” the wife. And then I hit the end of verse 3: “the putting on of clothing”; the REB actually says “dressing up” which is the phrase I use on this blog.

My thinking (if you can call it that – emoting) went like this:

“… the putting on of clothing”, “dressing up in fine clothes”

  • what kind of clothing would I be putting on, as a wife? That is the clothing I’d like to be putting on;
  • the language “the putting on” seems to focus on the activity itself: stepping into the “fine clothes”, and the relief and safety I feel;

“Do not let your adorning be external”

  • for me these adornments are not external, they are carefully hidden and private, and associated with a secret (snowflake) “inmost self”

I don’t think I ended up with any message, but the reading I was constructing was so obviously at variance with any “correct” reading, I found it very upsetting — out of nowhere.

I think perhaps I was primed for something like this to happen as I’d been doing a lot of online “window shopping”: some business trips, and some wife & son absences, were coming up. (I didn’t buy anything in the end.)

Why do I want to recount all this here?

  • I was surprised and still am at how shocked and moved I was by this confrontation with Scripture.
  • The power and the shock only happened because I was reading the Scripture as part of a group.
  • The strength of this response shows me, I think, how this “dressing up” habit is much closer to my heart, more a part of me, than my other Bad Habits.

Step away from the phone

Reading a couple of nice posts on Lisa Notes (Where’s Your Phone Right Now?, Is Your Phone Changing You?) has inspired me to tone up my resistance to the time sink that is social media.

Thankfully I dislike Facebook (the software creeps me out and the UI is ugly) so there is little danger of my becoming addicted to it. I do like to follow blogs, but it’s always either a topic or a person I follow, so there’s no sprawling network of endless connections beckoning. Email is just part of my work. However, for me Twitter is like Heroin. I’m sure I could spend whole days surfing around Twitter. So for me “Social Media” really means Twitter.

I do use SM for a reason — to share information, to find things out, to “keep up to date”. How often do I need to login to fulfill those functions? Not really more than once or twice a day. Set a frequency and stick to it.

The mobile phone has become a ubiquitous general-purpose information and time-passing device, always “relevant”, designed to be pawed and fondled.

My main “don’ts”:

  • SM should not be the first reading of the day. First reading should be on actual paper (the newspaper, magazines).
  • In fact, no SM till after breakfast.
  • SM should not be an on/off ramp activity (e.g. when I arriving or winding up at work)
  • Don’t use the phone as general purpose life companion. Find ways to push againt this. For example, I have started wearing my old wristwatch — instead of using the phone as a kind of pocket watch.
  • I should not reach for the phone when bored, or in those spare, empty moments (e.g., waiting for rice to cook). We get a daily newspaper, and weekly and monthly magazines, puzzle magazines, … there are plenty of ways to while away time that do not involve the phone. I could even read a Psalm.

2 Peter 2

With an online reading group I have been reading and studying 1 & 2 Peter. Two of the readings provoked a very strong emotional reaction in me — strong, sudden, and surprising. I thought I’d write a response to both events here to try and tease out what happened and why.

In both cases, the reaction didn’t come on my initial reading. With the reflecting perspectives between my reading, the reading notes, questions, comments, … I was being made to look at the Scripture in new ways, and finding it confront me in new and surprising ways.

The two readings were:

I’ll write about the most recent first:

2 Peter 2:20-22

[20] For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. [21] For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. [22] What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

(ESV)

These three verses are the last verses of chapter 2. The chapter is a unified whole and it felt as if the force of the whole chapter hit me with this last reading — especially the repulsive image of the dog returning to its vomit.

It’s a very angry chapter, and the anger builds. The anger is clearly aimed (on a calm and careful reading) at the “false teachers” mentioned in 2:1 but (a) in a way everyone is a “teacher” — each of us stands as an example to those around us, and (b) reading slowly a verse or two at a time, that context recedes into the background.

I increasingly read passages, and the anger, as being directed at me. For example (these are Revised English Bible):

2:10 Above all he will punish those who follow their abominable lusts …

2:12 These men are like brute beasts, mere creatures of instinct, born to be caught and killed.

2:12 … They will perish like the beasts, [13] suffering hurt for the hurt they have inflicted.

2:13 … while they sit with you at table they are an ugly blot on your company …

2:14 They have eyes for nothing but loose women, eyes never resting from sin.

2:14 … God’s curse is on them!

2:15 They have abandoned the straight road and gone astray.

2:19 They … are themselves slaves of corruption, for people are slaves of whatever has mastered them.

2:21 Better for them never to have known the right way, than, having known it, to turn back and abandon the sacred commandment entrusted to them!

Looking back on the chapter from the end was suddenly very upsetting: the anger, the accusation (I have abandoned, I have turned back) even rejection (it would have been better for me never to have tried).

Well that was a fortnight ago and I have calmed down a bit. Reading now, from a distance, I can see Peter’s special anger directed at people who were leading others away from the light. That invites me to think about how I am leading people (mainly my son, I suppose) astray by my example or the things I say — and whether I can help lead people towards the light.

I also notice (or plead!) the difference between purposely abandoning the way, and falling or straying by accident or weakness. I sometimes think of sin as weakness, illness or confusion, while evil is a more conscious turn not just away but against the light. I am having trouble extricating myself from sin, but I don’t think I am evil. I think Peter’s anger is directed at people who are evil.

But … I had a very successful Lent, and I continued the regime afterwards as the “new normal”. In mid-May (just before the reading group started 2 Peter), I was away on business for a few days, and I *decided* to give myself a “break” from this new normal. I have been struggling to get back into it ever since. I turned away.

Jesus Inside

In How can I be a good husband? I wrote:

Jesus is inside her and when she speaks to me, Jesus speaks to me. Loving and supporting my wife is loving and supporting Jesus.

What do I mean by that?

First of all I use it as a metaphor to promote a way of treating people — how to listen or attend; how to value them, even in their weakness.

But I do think it is more than a metaphor, that it is true in some way.

Here are two ways:

  • I think of the “body of Christ” as humanity as a whole. So every person — Christian or not — is part of the body of Christ.
  • One way I think of Jesus is as the perfect human. Jesus is the ideal in whose image we are all created, and which we strive (knowingly or not, Christian or not, consistently and effectively or not) to realise.

In both senses every person has Jesus inside them in some way.

The force of the argument is similar (imho) to Romans 2:15 when Paul writes of the Gentiles that, “the work of the law is written on their hearts”.

I would say the Holy Spirit inspires everyone too (to a greater or lesser extent, etc.). This is manifested in the “striving” I mention in the second point above. Sometimes I think of the Holy Spirit as a kind of force, like a force of gravity, that wants to pull or turn us toward the light.

Obviously God acts on everyone too.

Part of “being a Christian” (imho) is being conscious of this reality — while secular thinkers will be unconscious of it, or describe it in other ways, or deny it — and to try and live in accordance with it.

How can I be a good husband?

How can I be a good husband to my wife? (Not that I am a complete disaster of a husband at the moment.)

When I am with her I should listen to her, look at her. When I speak I should use her name as well as endearments.

When I am up first in the morning, I should think of her and prepare for her presence. When I am returning from work at night, I should think of her and prepare to meet her.

Every night I should pray about her. Having someone to pray about has been a good reminder to pray. I like the idea of thinking about my wife with my “prayer mind” as I fall asleep.

I should remember that she loves me, she loves me, she loves particular things about me. I should remember that she looks to me for support and love. I should take pleasure in giving her love and support.

Jesus is inside her and when she speaks to me, Jesus speaks to me. Loving and supporting my wife is loving and supporting Jesus.

I am a body. My wife is a body. We make a body together. I want to strengthen all of those bodies, so they can be vibrant and flourish.

I lust for my wife. I enjoy her, and she enjoys my attention (or she used to, …). I should train my lust on my wife. I should find good ways to show her my desire for her. I should give her all the love and support and comfort and space she wants. My lust is to find her desire, to fan her desire, and to become her desire.

New goals

This might be premature, but I feel as if I am in a new phase of my journey. I seem to have broken the bad habits that triggered this persona and this blog in 2013. At least, I feel ready to aim at some new goals, and to orient this persona and this blog around them.

I have three largish goals I’d like to aim for. They are more like states of affairs than events.

  1. Be a good husband (and father)
  2. “Come out” as Christian
  3. Have sex with my wife

The first has to be achieved before the other two I think.

I’d like to achieve the first goal this year, and then aim to achieve the other two in 2018.

By being a good husband I mean being a source of stability and strength for my wife. Also a source of good vibes and happiness of course, and a source of feelings of calm and safety. I want to establish that before demanding special treatment or “recognition” (2) or special favours (3).

I don’t quite know what I mean by “coming out” as a Christian. It might mean “declaring myself” to my wife. It probably does mean going to a church semi-regularly, and meeting other Christians In Real Life.

Another Church

At my bedtime prayer last night I felt I’d had a good day and was thankful to the Lord. I couldn’t think why the day felt so blessed, so I traced back over what I’d done. A reasonable day: ups and downs, but nothing special. A couple of points to be ashamed of. In the end I did find something.

I was in town to do some errands. I arrived at the library five minutes before it opened. Usual practice would be to go to one of my usual cafes, get a coffee, write some diary and watch the world go by (actually just the babes and milfs). The weather was exactly right. However, I dithered, I wandered, undecided without knowing it, like Buridan’s ass.

I found myself at a church. It was open but quiet. I walked around for a bit enjoying the atmosphere. I found a pew and sat down and prayed. Not for anything special. Not my bedtime prayer or my morning quiet time prayer, an extra unscheduled prayer. Sat calmly for a while. Made a donation. Left and got on with my day.

Bad Habits After Lent

I was really stimulated to embrace Lent this year. Since reading about “turn away” I have been much more mindful of where I am casting my gaze. After reading Ugochi’s two posts on masturbation (Is it sinful?, How to stop) I decided I would cut out pornography and masturbation completely. As is my wont I have monitored everything closely.

  • “Turn away” has been very effective and has even affected my mood generally
  • Pornography I haven’t missed at all. Odd how sometimes a habit will just fall away without a murmur.
  • Keeping my hands off myself was harder, and by mid-March I was seething with lust and wondering if I could last till the end of the month, let alone Easter. However, I made it!

During Lent, the duration of 40 days seemed like a target. Now I am on the other side of it (especially perhaps as Easter had that special landmark), it feels more like a door I have walked through. I have no desire to watch pornography. I am quite horny most of the time but I don’t want to masturbate, and I feel in control of that.

I used to have pornographic sexual fantasies running in my head almost all the time. Now, they rarely pop up, and when they do they are so obviously weak echoes of habitual reflexes. My horniness and lust is undirected and kind of purely sensual.

What now?

The obvious thing would be to pounce on my wife, but I think I should take that slowly.

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