I’ve had a number of conversations with folks about some of the male-female relational dynamics that are being discussed and/or pondered as a result of their perspectives gained from reading a book titled Sacred Union, Sacred Passion. And so I wanted to throw a few (hopefully, balancing) thoughts out there for consideration.
Warning: This is not a light read. It’s more on the “meat” side than the “milk” side, and so will require more time to consume, and more digestive energy to process.
Up front, I want to say that I haven’t read the book and don’t intend to. And my limited understanding of it only comes from conversations about it, listening to others speak about their take-aways from it, and reading blog posts about it. And so basically, the main concept that I wanted to chime-in on is that of male-female relationships; and the idea that fleshly religion has erected false boundaries and hindrances from experiencing the fullness of relational intimacy that God has for His children. And that in Christ, there is no male-female distinction, giving in marriage, etc; and so we are all free to go deeply into intimacy with any believer, regardless of gender, age, marital status, etc.
On the surface, I totally agree with this concept. Removing all humanness and fallenness, and picturing absolutely pure spiritual union; then I believe any and every believer can have the deepest of fellowship by the spirit at any time and any place and with anybody, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, socio-economic status, etc. And the rigid, religious boundaries put on us by our parents or past-church-life are not “life”. But they are like the law, that acts as an schoolmaster/tutor/escort to Christ (Galatians 3:24). The rules and laws are like guard-rails that keep us from driving into the ditch and killing ourselves while we’re young and foolish, but leave us longing for something life-giving to govern us from the inside instead of bouncing off things on the outside. When we mature to being governed from the inside (by Christ in us), then the guard-rails are still there, it’s just that we’re able to stay in the middle of the (narrow) road (that leads to life), without constantly slamming into the guard-rails.
Underneath the surface, a potential problem with this teaching is that none of us are absolutely pure spiritual beings yet, and have lots of humanness, brokenness, unhealedness, selfishness, neediness, lustiness, and-the-like that we are bringing into every relationship. And I believe it’s VERY UNWISE AND DANGEROUS to throw out lofty, overly-spiritual, idealistic teaching about a future, full, perfected, completed state of being; along with repeated encouragement to “be free” and “fully explore” this new-found intimacy with anyone and everyone who’s willing, regardless of spiritual maturity-level, gender, marital status, etc. Additionally, to me, repeatedly pressing this concept in multiple formats actually smells like an “agenda”. Christ is our only agenda.
Add to the truth that we’re a “work in progress” and not fully mature/perfected, the reality that the Lord ordered His eternal plan to include different ages (time-periods) in which He is working out His eternal purpose by specified administrations during each age, then it’s important for us to consider which age we’re currently in, and which age is coming. And how the Lord plans for us to live in each age. In this age, there IS male & female, marriage, humanity mixed with spirit, fallenness, crying, trees without leaves that heal, zero streets of gold, etc. In the NEXT age, there is no male/female, no marriage, trees with leaves that heal, streets of gold, etc. I realize that the Lord has called us to “bring heaven to earth” by faith, and that He gives us glimpses, visions, and tastes of the next age in all of its glory (with no brokenness and sin-tainted flesh to deal with), like He beckoned the Israelites with the vision of a “land flowing with milk & honey”; but the promises (of the next age) are inherited little by little, step by step, throughout this life, by “faith and patience” (Heb 6:12). If we try to rush forward, casting off all restraint and wise relational boundaries; then we can easily end up like the prodigal son, wasting our inheritance (which was meant to be in-part now, and in-fullness later) in worldly living .
Regarding the truth about the ages, 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 has always been a comfort to me when life is hard and I don’t seem to be experiencing the amount of the next age that I’m desiring. It’s ok that we “earnestly grown” for more. It reminds us that we’re in desperate need of Him here and now, and presses us to go deeper and deeper into Him; but it also leaves us unfulfilled enough so as to long for the next age. Verse 5 specifically states that the Spirit is given to us (here and now, in this age) as a GUARANTEE (deposit), for the fullness that we’ll receive in the next age. Think of the guarantee/deposit like a down-payment on a 10 million acre farm filled with endless fresh water supply, livestock, oil wells, and gold mines. The down-payment on something this huge would be above and beyond our imagination, but it’s still a small measure compared to the whole farm.
2 Corinthians 5:1-8
5 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee (DEPOSIT).
6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
I see this teaching about male/female relationships as like the story of young Moses, when the Lord called him to be Israel’s deliverer. The call to deliver was of the spirit and a true and powerful unction from God. And in Moses’ youthful & impatient zeal, he struck out and killed the Egyptian. God put a powerful vision of a future work that HE was doing in Moses’ heart, and Moses didn’t wait on the Lord to show him what that looked like in his day & time & daily-life. He leaned on his own understanding, bypassed the spirit’s leading & restraint, and executed PROFOUND, LIFE-CHANGING, WRONG, ACTIONS. It cost Moses 40 years in the wilderness (to learn to not only hear the Lord, but to also FOLLOW the Lord instead of his flesh). And it cost an Egyptian man his life, and Egyptian woman her husband, and some Egyptian children their dad. Take a lesson from Moses brothers and sisters: just because we’ve heard the Lord, doesn’t mean we automatically know exactly how to walk-out what we’ve heard right here, right now. We hear/see the vision, but then we walk it out slowly, carefully, and patiently; as the Lord guides each step; discerning the spirit vs flesh/soul; without jumping to conclusions based on youthful zeal or carnal (but spiritual sounding) reasoning’s.
I also see the temptation around this teaching as akin to the years of transition that a teenager goes through in the years of going from his parent’s house to being on his own. As a teenager begins to develop into an adult, he has a strong desire to know who he is and begin exercising his adult freedom. He wants to test his father’s teaching and life-style, and decide for himself if they’re for him or not. He wants freedom and independence. All this is natural, good, and healthy “sprouting of wings”. But the teenager also seems to fixate on their freedoms, and be oblivious to their responsibilities; and totally clueless as to the true magnitude of what taking full responsibility for their life really entails. So, in their drive to experience freedom, coupled with their immaturity around responsibility: 1) on the positive side, they venture out and life begins to come to the forefront as their main teacher and they begin to gain wisdom and experience for living; 2) on the negative side, they do lots of goofy things, and potentially do some very dangerous, life-altering things. On the positive-side, it’s great when they discover their personal identity, advance their education & training, get jobs, explore new territory: basically grow in productivity/fruitfulness. On the negative-goofy side, it’s funny when they come out dressed like a clown and think it’s “cool”, or smell like a rotten fish bcs they forgot to put on deodorant, or get fired from a dink-job for being on their phone. On the negative-dangerous side, it’s tragic (and potentially life-altering) when they have sex with someone who’s not their wife and create a life that they’re not ready to raise, try hard drugs that can kill or addict on one dose, drive faster than their skill-level can handle and have a wreck, etc. You get the point. Many of us have been told what-to-think and how-to-live by the institutional church all of our life, and now that we’re “free” and in organic church, then we could be tempted to blast past all wise boundaries to experience all of life that we can handle, and end-up deeply damaging ourselves, others, and the church. One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control, and God’s word encourages us to be sober-minded. All “restraint” is not religious, and we are foolish if we don’t think that we are not like a horse in the Lord’s bridle. We’re “free” to follow the Master, not our flesh.
Lastly, I want to highlight a very real & living warning around this teaching that I believe the Lord has allowed me to see, around 2 couples that I’m aquainted with who recently swapped spouses with each other after several years of marriage. I have no idea if they read the book or not, and doubt that it had anything to do with the wicked and depraved wife-swapping that’s occurred. However, the necessary and vital wisdom around guarding our heart and handling relationships with proper boundaries was obviously not employed, and the fruit of the lack spiritual maturity and vigilance has resulted in life-long tragedy. There’s no way to throw a coat of paint on this development and call it “good”; it’s a full blown manifestation of sin and depravity around improper male/female relations. I have zero condemnation for the these couples and lots of love for them; but Proverbs 24:30 shows that wisdom can be gleaned from looking at the fruit in another’s life, and that’s the only reason that I’m highlighting this situation. Get wisdom from the bad fruit of improperly handled relationships brothers and sisters, and let it guide you to having appropriate walls around your gardens (relationships), so that any old beast can’t just roam in and devastate your crop of good and godly fruit.