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August 15, 1996
Behind the White there lies the Black
(to today’s Sunshine Girl and her corporate self
whose sumptuousness, though appealing, is a lure to death)
there you stand, in two dimensions
pretending at three
glowing rhapsodic in the sun
my impure thoughts gaining sway
as your promises of pleasure
in the delights of your body
and freedom of your loving
overwhelm my mind
there you stand, in string and patches,
your body scarce contained
its curve and softness fully shown
inviting and desirable
the pleasures of your flesh
eagerly calling my name
yearning your passion
craving the softness of your breast
despairing of a world where such things are
the lure of steadfast men
to draw them to their doom
in Proverbs you are described
as one who offers love for free
to all who would enjoy you
appealing you may be
but all your lovers die
yet I am God's
and He is mine
while I love Him I live
and if I love you I die
I must stand firm
resist your snare
grace restraining greed
appealing you may be
but all your lovers die
yet am I God’s
I believe that the woman whose picture prompted this poem is
married, I simply cannot understand how a woman could even think
to please strange men with the joys that belong only to her husband.
For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
When I was a child I felt that, no matter what God said, if a woman acted in such a way as to let a man not her husband know that her body was available for his pleasure, and that it was her desire for him to have this pleasure, then in this situation there was nothing wrong with giving her what she asked for since no harm had actually been done to her. He would simply have accepted the offer of her body which she had made to him. She could not possibly have been violated since she had desired that which had been done to her (or more correctly: with her). She wanted a man to make love to her, she looked for one who would be willing to make love to her, and through her actions encouraged him to make love to her. It was her actions which resulted in the man giving her that which ultimately they both desired: the satisfying of the love of physical pleasure in place of enjoying the pleasure of the satisfaction of love. What I had failed to understand at the time was that adultery is a sin not because someone has been violated but because our relationship with our God (and potentially our spouse) has been violated and He considers adultery to be a sin. In profaning the marriage relationship adultery profanes the love that He has for His people and which marriage had been designed by Him to typify.
The prevalent belief in my culture, that sex is merely a pleasurable biological function (instead of one of the components of an intimate biological, emotional, and spiritual union), has resulted in the belief that sex need not be restricted to the bond of matrimony, and that it matters not with whom it is enjoyed so long as it is enjoyed freely, without restriction or compulsion. Since sex is understood to be no more than a pleasurable biological necessity, necessary in a similar sense to the functions of washing, sleeping, or eating, therefore the Christian ideas of sexual morality no longer apply and the concept of adultery itself is done away with. We are encouraged from childhood to seek out the lovely of the opposite sex (and ever more increasingly of the same sex) and to enjoy the pleasures which they are able to provide us, in whatever form they may be provided, and not to worry ourselves with moral absolutes or the harm that we are possibly causing ourselves or the one we are using for our pleasure. It is believed that no harm could result because the morality of the sexual union has been previously deemed to be a non-issue and the judgments of those who continue to hold it as an issue are therefore without power.
In the Bible we find that harm has actually been done to both parties for Paul writes that whoever joins himself to a prostitute (even if one charges nothing for sexual intimacy prostitution still occurs since a prostitute is defined in the Bible as one who offers sex outside of the covenant of marriage for some personal gain - and who can be either male or female though the context here is female) has become one with her, and Paul describes it in a manner that makes it clear that one who carries in them the Spirit of God must not partake in such practices. Harm has occurred because both have been violated: One by yielding to sin through its temptation, the other by becoming the tool of sin, a utility to serve the desires of an other. In submitting to the temptation of a prostitute we weaken our relationship with our God and we reduce an other human being, an image bearer of God as we are ourselves, to a tool for our own personal pleasure. Our fellow human becomes a sub-human object of scorn, rather than a living soul for whom Christ died.
Though I have never physically followed the whole route of sexual temptation, the fact that it was a possibility surely filled my imaginings (how often I dreamed the scenarios that are so prevalent in our current entertainments and accepted by our society). While I have never yet been guilty in deed, at the very least I have been guilty in contemplation. It is a trap where, once we are caught in it, we seek pleasure rather than pleasing, human joys rather than the joy of knowing God to whom all pleasures point; and so we are lead, just as the fool is above, from Life to death by the chain of our desires.
We are also told that in breaking one commandment we have become guilty of breaking all of them (you cannot partially break a plate, it is either broken or whole). It is wrong, not because we are wronging the woman nor because we are wronging ourselves, but because God has said that it is wrong. It is an absolute not only philosophically but legally because our Final Judge has told us that He holds such things in contempt. In doing these things we are ultimately wronging our relationship with Him. It is not that sex in and of itself is a bad thing (it is a creation of God after all) but that sex outside of the context for which God designed it is wrong. There is a moral absolute regardless of how we try to ignore and deny Him. He has said that a certain thing is wrong and so therefore it is and there is therefore no room for debate.
The same would go for euthanasia in that the person asking for release from sickness, pain, and infirmity is asking others to do what God expressly forbids (“Thou shall not kill,” Exodus 20:13). Yielding to such a request is not mercy killing, it is murder. Man is never given control over the life of his fellow man except in the cases of capital crimes and warfare against the enemies of God and even in these cases only at the command of God. We must learn that the only absolutes that exist are those that belong to God, we cannot create our own to serve our own pleasures because we have no power over this world other than that of stewards. Our pleasures are not an end in themselves but one more means by which God shows His love for us by giving us the ability to enjoy this life and perhaps to ponder the why of it all and so arrive at He who waits that more may be saved. God is the ultimate authority and if we deny His authority for our own we doom ourselves to damnation.
Satan will not fill our hearts with desire to do an obvious evil, he seduces us with minor aberrances that are often extremely enjoyable (as he often perverts what God has made for good) but that only serve to separate us further from God. If we could do that little wrong we become less able to resist the slightly greater wrong because our logic for refraining from it has been tossed aside. Once the wedge is in it drives ever deeper until we are either eternally separated from God or must give up something incredibly desirable in order to continue in His fellowship. That is Satan’s ultimate goal, separation from God, because he is hatred and would rather have us destroyed alone than alive with God. He will give us our heart’s desire if that desire can remove God from our lives. We can literally sell him our souls in return for what we perceive as pleasure and loose ourselves to its delight and loose forever the delight of Heaven and an eternity with our Saviour and God.
For the longest time I would view myself after my various sins and wonder "What could God want with me." I would try to justify my actions, make excuses that great heroes of the Bible also experienced moments of weakness, and compare myself to my peers in an attempt to make myself believe that I wasn't as bad as I felt that I was. But the fact of the matter is that I was being confronted by my very real guilt, that no matter how large or how small the sin I had broken the law of God. This was not a personal response to a negative burden placed upon me by my church nor was it in response to the ridicule of my friends. It was an awareness of the awesome perfection of God and my sinful state before Him. Regardless of my actions I was personally guilty of breaking His law and was consequently also guilty of the death of His Son Jesus Christ. My greatest problem at the times when I felt such guilt was coming to the realization that God still wanted my company, I felt that He would find me so repugnant that He would abandon me. It was in this way that the enemy sought to move me further from my God. (Remember that our enemy does not please our desires for our benefit, nor ultimately even for his own, but he pleases our desires in order to alienate us from God for our own destruction.) What I had failed to realize is that Jesus died in my place to bear the very wrath of God which in my guilt I feared...while I was dead in my sin. He did not wait for me to become acceptable before He offered Himself in my place, He offered Himself so that I could become acceptable. His mercy is such that He came to save me while I was utterly lost in my sin, while I was in my death He gave me life and that life has overwhelmed all that my sin continues to do. I am not perfect, nor to I believe that I will ever be perfect on this side of the grave, but I do believe that because of Jesus sacrifice in my place I am able to stand before God as an imperfect man who has been forgiven his imperfection. My sin has been punished on broader shoulders than my own and I have now the promise of eternal life through Christ and Christ alone.
This is not to say that it matters not what I do in my life, that my actions have no consequence, but that regardless of what I do I have been made right before God and His condemnation no longer rests upon me. My calling is to live according to His grace, not to minimize the blood of Jesus Christ but to treat it as the treasure that it truly is. The airbags and seatbelts in our cars may protect us in the case of an accident and may even save our lives but that does not give us the license to drive however we wish, we bear a responsibility toward the other drivers around us, our passengers, and ourselves that causes us to drive in accordance with the established rules of the road. Just so we have a responsibility before God to live according to the established rules of creation. Those who would live however they wished all the while counting on the blood of Jesus to satisfy God's righteousness on their behalf crucify Christ again to their own detriment and show their disregard for a salvation so dearly bought. No, I am not perfect, but I struggle to overcome my imperfections and to live according to the holy calling of God, not giving in to temptation but seeking the path of holiness that I might become ever more what God would have me be.
Behind the White there lies the Black
A poem by Peter Rhebergen
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