So, Son, you up & bought your own house in your last days of being 18.
A century old red brick near the university campus, all set up for seven roommates.
And then your kid brother went and got accepted down at the university in his last days of being 16.
Those are stories of their own that’ll get told sometime. You boys have done mighty fine by your dad and me — mainly in spite of your Dad and me.
In a few days here, those 5 good guys you found to room with you in your red brick will be moving in, and you two boys will wave bye to the farm here and head off into big dreams.
Your old mama’s got some big feelings about you boys of ours, you two oldest first brothers, headed out of here already, but that’s for another time — and besides you need me to be brave.
Need me to keep smiling and making bacon and eggs here for a few more mornings here yet.
But there is something I’ve got to muster up some courage here to say now, that I don’t quite know how to say, so you boys just grant your old Mama grace as she stumbles through this, something I sure wish someone had sat down and told me.
The other day, somebody sent me words of a woman a few years older than you boys.
Words about how she regretted waiting until she was married. How she’d waited until her wedding night and how she wished she hadn’t. How waiting wrecked a deep and real part of her.
How all those years of no made her ashamed of when she finally said her marital yes. How she couldn’t be intimate after she got married because she still felt she’d be in sin.
She felt the only way she could heal, that her marriage could survive was if she chose: a God relationship or marital relations. Guess what she chose — and your first guess doesn’t count.
Hey — I get it. I really, really get it. I waited and I was her.
After getting it into your head that you don’t — it can take a long time after you say “I do”…. for the rest of you to say I do. There’s a story I know about that, that’s likely never going to be told. You don’t need to know the self-hating, shaming pain of that story – just that your father is a very caring man who knows that the soul of a woman needs to feel a deep safeness before you ever touch the skin of a woman.
And I guess that is exactly the point that nobody really told us:
Your skin is the outer layer of your soul.
Your skin and your soul are one in ways that Hollywood and MTV and the mall won’t ever tell you.
Your skin and your soul are profoundly connected and this is a profoundly beautiful thing. There is no shame in this — only the glory of God who made your body art to reflect your soul.
So contrary to what hook-up culture may be touting in the back halls of high schools and behind the closed doors of university dorm rooms — there’s nothing casual about giving away your soul.
The union of two bodies is nothing less than the union of two souls.
Physical oneness is a holy God-created ceremony to express nothing less than a soul oneness.
So I guess that is the question your generation has to answer—- Why do with your body what neither of you are willing or ready to do with the whole of your life?
And the thing was, after I said I do, I somehow thought there was shame in what my body needed to do —- instead of beauty in what my soul got to give.
Somehow the focus during my youth had been on mere skin — instead of on ultimate soul-intimacy.
But maybe if we preached this far more often from the pulpit, maybe if parents told their kids it far more often, maybe it would not only make waiting until marriage make more sense — but it would make marital intimacy make real happy love:
The joy of physical oneness is but an echo of the joy of spiritual oneness with Christ.
That is the breathtaking, otherworldly miracle:
“The ecstasy and joy of sex is supposed to be a foretaste of the complete ecstasy and joy of total union with Christ,” is what theologian Tim Keller writes.
“Great sex is a parable of the Gospel—to be utterly accepted in spite of your sin, to be loved by the One you admire to the sky.”
That might just right upend your world, the whole disoriented, hurting world: “Great sex is a parable of the Great Gospel.”
As God calls His people to exclusively commit to Him alone — so we’re called to commit to exclusive intimacy alone — an echo of Belovedness.
As God commits to wholly, unconditionally, and covenantally accept us forever in spite of our sin and flaws, to love us passionately to death —- so physical intimacy mirrors a whole, unconditional and covenantal acceptance of us forever in spite of our shortcomings and flaws, to love us with a passion that is willing to die-to-self.
Hook-up culture may have cheapened it and legalistic cultures may have shamed it, but the real Truth is you can’t contain the otherworldly beauty of it: Physical union is a parable of union with Christ.
Listen —- Scripture’s call to abstain from premarital and extramarital relations is not about controlling the power of male/female sexuality — it’s about reflecting the otherworldly power of God-soul exclusivity.
Our exclusive physical oneness is to be witness of the people of God’s exclusive oneness with God. The exclusive communion between husband and wife is to reflect our exclusive communion between soul and Christ.
They may be saying something different on the university campuses but listen for the holiness of it: Union isn’t merely physical self-expression to feel good — it’s ultimately about soul self-giving to love well.
Physical union is a God-made ceremony to express the exclusivity and intimacy and totality of oneness —- and if you use physical intimacy to express anything less than that, you’ve destroyed its very meaning.
It may not be popular, but I guarantee you it’s powerful: Unless physical union is about making committed, covenantal love — the essence of it’s God-given meaning is destroyed.
But hear me — no matter what’s happened in the past — Jesus wants you, Jesus chooses you, Jesus holds you, Jesus keeps you and there isn’t one of us that hasn’t been broken and there isn’t one of us that doesnt belong, that He doesn’t stop calling “Come, Beloved.” No matter what’s happened to the rose — Jesus desperately wants the rose.
Maybe just hear this quietly too, what your Dad and I have lived: Feelings come and feelings go and feelings cannot sustain a relationship.
A relationship needs something stronger than feeling for it to endure and flourish —- Relationships need the safety and strength of a binding, legal covenant to thrive. A covenant is the most powerful infrastructure to be powerfully intimate.
And this is the epiphany for us old and married to keep remembering, that keeps renewing and reviving everything:
As the covenant is necessary to be powerfully intimate — so being powerfully intimate is necessary for the covenant.
Just as much as being intimate needs the ceremony of the covenant, the covenant needs the constant renewal ceremony of being intimate.
That your Dad and I can vow, to keep renewing our covenant with that intimate ceremony of an old and practiced passion.
That’s quietly ours. And maybe yours is quietly this:
Your naked body deserves the honor of being shared only with someone who is covenanted to never stop loving your naked soul.
Head back to school, kids, go move into that red brick with your 5 good buddies and head out to your classes. Dreams have a way of finding even the waiting —
amazing grace that loves all of you all the way up to the sky.