Protecting (and running from) the Past

Seems like ancient history (almost) since I first blogged on K-I-S-S-I-N-G.  Well, a couple of recent conversations with friends have provoked me yet again (aren’t you glad).  In that first post, I gave as some reasons to stray from PDA (premarital displays of affection) the following:

If you have any sexual history, it will become alive again; you will be battling old temptations and practices

Your significant other’s sexual history may become alive again

Each time you meet, you would be fighting not to be consumed with each other physically; it will dominate your thoughts

Let’s talk through these.  Maybe an analogy could help with this.  The other night, we ate dinner meal at our church.  As usual, I surveyed the tables for dessert and there they were: red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting.  I was transfixed on that large plate of cookies.  (Actually, I was thinking about how I could sneakily put other food back so I could make more room for those little fat pills.)  I didn’t notice until several minutes later that there were actually two other (wonderful) desserts.  I didn’t notice because I LOVE red velvet cake, cookies, brownies, etcetera with cream cheese icing.  I’ve had it and I love it.  I’ve had it and I notice it when it is around.  I’ve had it and I look forward to having it again.

OK.  It’s obvious right?  But it is as true as it is obvious. What is at work in this situation as a representation of PDA is the human tendency towards memory-based attachments (read: worship and slavery).  We were made to worship – there are no cultures in the world of any kind of development that lack worship structures.  That’s not a product of evolution or expediency; it’s a result of how we are created.  Yet, in our current condition, our tendency is rather than to worship the one true God, we divert our affections and attention to other things; especially those things we’ve enjoyed before.  We give those things power over us.  They become our masters by our own choosing and we, their slaves.

Our bodies are preeminently involved in this.  Feed the body (in any way) and the body becomes the + side of a magnet and the feed the and what do you have?  Attraction that borders on inescapability.  (We see this in any number of addictions to food, fun, sex, drugs, etc.  This is why the body experiences “withdrawal.”) It is inescapable outside of a controlling and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ.  There is explicit slavery involved when the lusts / passions are excited.  The lusts of the flesh – about which we are all too familiar – have no competing conscience.  What is there to stop my hunger, thirst and pursuit of these things but situational limitations (fear of getting “found out” or of being scorned, etc.)?  Reading Romans 6:12, we see, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to obey its passions.” This is the experience of a non-Christian.

As Christians, these passions / lusts / excitations are NOT inescapable.  We saw that in the verse I cited above.  Far from being an explicit, deterministic slavery it becomes an implicit slavery.  There is a war on, now, and each day we wage it on one side or the other.  Wave a red velvet cookie in front of my nose and watch me and you’ll see who’s winning the war. In speaking of physical hunger, the implications of tasting once are obvious.  Tasting again is as inevitable as it is planned, “I WILL ask T.C. to make those cup cakes again!  Oh Man!”  We were made to eat and so this is normal.  This is the means that God uses to incline us to eat.  (Maybe more healthy than red velvet, though.)

Physical hunger is symbolic to other types.  Ask anyone one of us who are married about other types of hunger and you’ll eventually hear “It is so enjoyable, I look forward to it again.”  That’s perfectly normal.  We’re made that way.  We see that in physical hunger as in any other type.  So, having kissed, you’ll want to kiss again.  Having held hands, and you’ll look for reasons to grasp hands.  Having had sex and the hunger for it will resurface with a vengeance.

The last reason cited above, the “preoccupation of purity” is a significant issue.  If you are in a serious relationship with another, there is so much to know.  Intimacy presupposes revelation – one goes as the other goes. Growing intimacy presupposes growing revelation; it is required.  The inverse is also true: problems come in relationships because of ignorance.

If physical touch is a part of the relationship, then, because we are human and built for physical relations with the opposite sex, that becomes a dominating part of the relationship.  Growing physical intimacy leads to diminished revelational intimacy; less knowledge.  Why?  The risks become too high.  The more someone finds out about another, the greater chance they will like the other less.  That will lead to less physical intimacy and that’s risky (if that is a key component of the relationship).  On the other hand, the more someone finds out about another, and the more they like what they find, the less likely it is they’ll keep from more physical intimacy and that’s risky.  Holiness is out the window, then.

Consider an example: two young people are physically touching each other as a part of their relationship.  At some point, they have a conflict.  Now there is a fear that because of the conflict, physical touching will end.  Physical touching is really good so that becomes a major motive for resolving the conflict.  Is resolving conflict for the sake of unimpeded physical touch a good thing?  Whatever happened to resolving conflict for the glory of Christ?  Or, for the good of the unity of the church?  Or for the witness of sound church-family relations to the watching world?

Seems to me that if you excite the past you’ll likely wreck the present.