Fairly Spiritual: Real challenge is nurturing true love

It has been reported that a Texas reverend, Ed Young, recently asked his mega church congregation to participate in a seven-day sex challenge.

All married members of Fellowship Church were admonished to have sex with their marriage partner for seven consecutive days. Pastor Young kicked off this copulation crusade by bringing a bed on stage and preaching a message on the virtues of married sex. Pastor Young’s discourse on … conjugal relations was lauded by many. I am not making this up … seriously, Google it.

Not to be outdone, Dr. Ruth, the world renowned sex therapist, admonished her followers to read their Bibles and pray for eight consecutive days. Unfortunately, that last part isn’t true, so please don’t Google Dr. Ruth. However, the Rev. Young’s seven-day sex challenge actually happened. Which leads me to many observations, some of which I can write down.

First, as I wrote last week about Christmas, “For an event to truly be eventful, it must not happen every day.” I think this is true of even the most glorious marital perks. Second, it seems to me that building a sabbath into any activity is worth consideration. Third, this column is making my mom so very nervous.

Which is why Pastor Young’s harmless publicity stunt is worth further consideration. Pastor Young has touched upon … wait, let me find the right word … Pastor Young’s message addresses a topic that is simply not dealt with in popular or Christian culture. That is the issue of everyday intimacy. About the only time Christians publicly talk about sex is when the word is accompanied by other words such as “moral failing” or “inappropriate” or “ask your mother.” The church spends far more time talking about “when” sex is appropriate than about “what” purpose intimacy should have in a marriage relationship.

The love stories of our age and every age deal almost exclusively with young love or new love. Whether these stories advocate or demonstrate moral purity, they often are united in their celebration of first love. If one ponders their favorite romance movie or novel, they will most likely find a narrative filled with burgeoning love.

Our most celebrated love stories exist within the realm of the first embrace, the first kiss, and that first powerful feeling of complete infatuation. In the denouement of any good love story, the lovers finally realize they are forever meant to be together or are tragically doomed to be forever apart. Either way, these timeless love stories pluck our heart strings pitch perfect.

Matter of reality

The problem with such stories is they end where a lifetime of love actually begins. Marriage exists in the “happily ever after” part. However, the “happily ever after” part does not exist in the realm of reality.

Reality has both sunsets and sunrises, joy and sorrow, passion and apathy. If anything, human relationships are marked by a myriad of conflicting emotions and contradictory ways of being.

First love eventually grows up and becomes deeper love. Deeper love transcends sensuality. Deeper love moves beyond sexual appetite. Deeper love finds intimacy in peaceful silence, in aimless country drives, in finishing a puzzle while the children sleep, in attempting to start over in the midst of a seemingly endless fight.

Love that holds a marriage together goes far beyond the bedroom. It exists in the mini van as she reaches over to caress the back of my neck with her perpetually cold hands. This is how she says she’s sorry. Timeless love exists in my failed attempt to make her laugh even though she has every reason to stay angry. She loves the attempt, not the punch line. She is less enamored with the comic as she is with the struggling man.

True love goes beyond grand symbolic gestures and carefully chosen poetic words. True love finds rest in the breath and the heartbeat. When given preeminence, true love permeates the mundane and ecstatic expressions of marital life. As my love for my wife grows, I find the compartmentalization of our affection blurring.

Seven days of sex … I guess. But seven thousand ways to say I love you … that seems more our style.

Doug Bursch hosts “The Fairly Spiritual Show” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on KGNW 820 AM. He also pastors Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets Sundays at 10 a.m. at the Riverside High School Theater. He can be reached at www.fairlyspiritual.org or doug@fairlyspiritual.org.