Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Marriage Prep Instruction #15 (SERIES FINALE!!!)

My lover is mine, and I am his.”---Song of Solomon 2:16 (NCV)

Lover: a person who is in love with another; a person who has a sexual or romantic relationship with another; a person who has a strong enjoyment or liking for something, as specified

Well folks, we are at the end of, at least this part of, the Marriage Preparation Instruction series. I know this because before today, I felt an urgency to pen these. Now, there is a peace. However, with that peace, I know that we ALL must keep in mind:

I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly.”---Psalm 85:8 (NKJV)

Family, we are in a very privileged position now. God has provided both his princes and princesses with a wealth of knowledge...some that, several married people who have “peeked in on this”, have confirmed that they wish they had known on the front end of their union. We cannot take all of this information for granted or assume that we are not now held spiritually accountable for what we know. Hosea 4:6 doesn't say that “people” are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. It says that “My people”...God's people are.

Now, I'd be presumptuous, arrogant and foolish to suggest that, for any of us, the journey stops here. For many, this is either a “breaking up of fallow ground” (Hosea 10:12) or a seed planting time (Ecclesiastes 11:6). However, for some, hear me when I say that you are about to enter into a season of marital harvest:

Harvest: the season when ripened crops are gathered; a supply of anything gathered at maturity and stored; the result or consequence of any act, process, or event

However, that doesn't mean that your work is done:

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”---Matthew 9:36-38 (NKJV)

The laborers are few. To reap a harvest, work is involved. That said, some of us have been “sowing in tears” for so long that we have forgotten to acknowledge and accept the other side of that particular Psalm (126:5): that in time, we shall also “reap in joy”. Reaping is work, too (don't get it twisted), but during this “waiting for reaping” season, do not be so weary in your well-doing that you lose sight of what God told you would be the result of your toiling...your hard work...your labor:

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”---Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

Due (rightful; proper; fitting) season. You know, one of my favorite fruits are strawberries. As a matter of fact, there are some in the grocery store now, but through trial and error, I know that I can (and should) wait. Yeah, a strawberry is a strawberry, indeed, but there's nothing like one in season. Those are the ones that are bigger, sweeter and actually, not as expensive because during the late spring/summer time, they are in greater abundance. I believe that God wants us to look at his blessings in a similar fashion. You can get married right now, if you want to. You can have the wedding, the honeymoon, the house and picket fence. But, don't you want to wait until it's the right season? Until your wedding and married life can be bigger, sweeter and yes (if you plan it out right), not as expensive than if you had moved in haste?

At the end of the day, that is what this series has been about: showing us how to cultivate the “ripest” and “rightest” kind of marriage. If you read, retain, process and properly apply these tools, I am a firm believer (Psalm 119:66) that you will be way ahead of the majority of people who desire to be married, or are even currently married. The “So, How Did YOU Know?” blog and now the “Before You Jump The Broom” blog (which is where these tips are housed) are not in your space, AT THIS TIME, by coincidence. One of my favorite proverbs of all time is actually by Buddha: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” If you were not ready for this information, you would not have it. However, that said, now that (this particular) class is over, you can best believe that “test time” is ahead; yet, even that is for a purpose:

For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.”---Psalm 66:10 (NKJV)

Refine:free from impurities; to purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured; to make more fine, subtle, or precise; to make fine distinctions in thought or language

Synonyms: better, CLARIFY (looka there, Ziyon!), cleanse, cultivate, elevate, EXPLAIN, filter, IMPROVE, make clear, polish, PROCESS, smooth, temper

You know a lot now. I am confident that a refining intense refining time, will soon follow. Do not lose sight of your goal...of the purpose (Philippians 3:12-14) behind the process. The Enemy is ready to come to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) everything that is just within your grasp. DON'T LET HIM.

CONTINUE TO PRAY. (Jeremiah 33:3) God will show you specific and intricate things as it relates to your mate and marriage.

KEEP THE FAITH. (Hebrews 11:1) You cannot please him without it. (Hebrews 11:6)

HONOR HIS COMMANDMENTS. (John 14:21) You can bet on the fact that God will not give you one of his creatures to worship...or abuse.

DON'T STOP JOURNALING. We have been instructed to write the vision and make it plain (clear). (Habakkuk 2:2-3) This would include a love vision.

GET A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM. One of the scriptures that I held close to me all last year runs throughout Song of Solomon: “Women of Jerusalem, promise me by the gazelles and the deer not to awaken or excite my feelings of love until it is ready.” (Song of Solomon 2:7) Remember that marriage is GODLY UNION. You want godly people with godly insight and godly intentions speaking into your life. Watch what you read about relationships. Be careful of who you go to for counsel on relationships. Be prepared to have to let some people (and habits) go in order to get to the person God has purposed for you. No one, after God, should come before your mate. ANYONE who takes issue with that, adjustments will have to be made. ANYONE who is not in support of marriage---a godly marriage---will need to, at the very least, be placed in the “outer courts” of your human trinity (mind, body, spirit). ANYONE who speaks negativity re: your heart's desire, I am confident in saying that, for them, as it pertains to you, their season is up. (Ecclesiastes 3:3) A wise man once said that if you want continue getting what you have, continue doing what you do. To get ANY of God's promises, you must be willing to pay the price of surrender and obedience. ANYTHING OF VALUE COMES WITH A PRICE. (Matthew 13:45-46, Matthew 16:34)

And finally, SOW INTO SOMEONE ELSE'S MARRIAGE. Luke 6:38 (NKJV) tells us, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

The truth? (John 8:32) Some of you are still single because you are so selfish. MARRIAGE IS A MINISTRY; one of the ultimate forms of service. For years, I never knew why, but I have been drawn to helping married couples (and since our charity should be kept on the low, I will leave what I've done between me, them and God.-Matthew 6:1). There is one couple in particular, though, because I have seen in a very “up close and personal” way how truly special and sacred their union is, I am about to put on full blast:


I am not the only one who finds this, almost six years of a HAPPY and HEALTHY marriage, to be inspiring. This couple, who waited until marriage to have sex (shoot, went three years without even kissing) and who love God and his purpose for marriage sincerely and intensely, had such a special courtship that the Tennessean allowed me to pen it back in 2003 and just a couple of weeks ago, Rachel was told that a local church even uses that very story as a part of their “courtship curriculum” for young people.

Ladies, trust me, you want to wait for a man who looks at you like Brian looks at Rachel (just check out the video); who can have a room full of women in his presence, but his eyes are always twinkling for you.

Fellas, you want a woman who honors you like Rachel does Brian. This woman is such an example that Proverbs 31, does indeed exist among us. She serves because she is confident in the fact that what she puts out, she gets service should be. (

In this time of singleness, I am at complete peace in saying that a part of the “showing of your love for the Lord” (I Corinthians 7:32) should be to adopt a couple to plant seed (it could be money, time, affirmations, babysitting FOR FREE, date planning...let God lead) into. Sowing and reaping is a principle, and sowing into a marriage is definitely a spiritual thing. (Galatians 6:7-8) Don't pick the “popular couple”...pick the one that God assigns to you. He will show you who needs your spirit-led assistance and why, but during this refining/testing time, know that this assignment will be paramount to your progression. The greater the education, the greater the preparation. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward. (I Corinthians 3:14)

And now, just briefly, we will go into our “men” and “women” sections. Actually, it will only be a recap of what Solomon and his “dark and lovely” Shulamite beauty shared with one another. Family, we really do have to watch and reverence the power of our words. Off the cuff, one day last year, I said to someone: “When a man can praise me like Solomon did the woman in Song of Solomon and I can do the same, I will know he is the one for me.”

There are KEY THINGS (in bold) that I want you to catch that they both said to one another. “ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-NKJV) Song of Solomon, the most romantic, erotic, and some would say, poetic book in the Bible is no exception:


How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, you are beautiful!

Your eyes behind your veil are like doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats streaming down Mount Gilead.

Your teeth are white like newly sheared sheep just coming from their bath.
Each one has a twin,and none of them is missing.

Your lips are like red silk thread, and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks behind your veil are like slices of a pomegranate.

Your neck is like David's tower, built with rows of stones.
A thousand shields hang on its walls; each shield belongs to a strong soldier.

Your breasts are like two fawns, like twins of a gazelle, feeding among the lilies.

Until the day dawns and the shadows disappear,
I will go to that mountain of myrrh and to that hill of incense.

My darling, everything about you is beautiful, and there is nothing at all wrong with you.

Come with me from Lebanon, my bride.
Come with me from Lebanon, from the top of Mount Amana, from the tops of Mount Senir and Mount Hermon.

Come from the lions' dens and from the leopards' hills.

My sister, my bride, you have thrilled my heart; you have thrilled my heart with a glance of your eyes, with one sparkle from your necklace.

Your love is so sweet, my sister, my bride.
Your love is better than wine, and your perfume smells better than any spice

My bride, your lips drip honey; honey and milk are under your tongue.
Your clothes smell like the cedars of Lebanon.

My sister, my bride, you are like a garden locked up, like a walled-in spring, a closed-up fountain.

Your limbs are like an orchard of pomegranates with all the best fruit, filled with flowers and nard, nard and saffron, calamus, and cinnamon, with trees of incense, myrrh, and aloes— all the best spices.

You are like a garden fountain— a well of fresh water flowing down from the mountains of Lebanon.”---Song of Solomon 4:1-15 (NCV)

One line of this says in the Message Version, “You've captured my heart, dear friend. You looked at me, and I fell in love. One look my way and I was hopelessly in love!” Guys, look for THAT chick. The one who you find mind/body/spirit to be beautiful (having qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.; delighting the senses or mind). The one who, even in her flaws, you find something of a kind...a good fit for you. The one who does not just have the potential to be your lover, but who you revere as your SISTER in Christ. The one who can thrill your heart (for some of you, I guess that can almost be the equivalent of makes you nervous or tremble) with just one glance of her eye. The one whose love you find to be better to/for you than the best wine; a woman who “invigorates, cheers, or intoxicates like wine”.

A lot of you may not be as poetic as Solomon (after all, his daddy was the psalmist, David), but look for the woman that inspires you to want to sing her praises...either in song, poetry, books, cards or compliments. Look for the one who fills you with so much that there are simply not enough words; that you could go on...and on....and on because she is just THAT wonderful...THAT beautiful...THAT amazing; not just physically, but spiritually. You find that gal, and you are on to something! Stay on the path and don't get lost (in your vices, temptations and issues). A good (virtuous and favor-filled) woman is hard to find!


Promise me, women of Jerusalem, if you find my lover, tell him I am weak with love.

How is your lover better than other lovers, most beautiful of women?
How is your lover better than other lovers?
Why do you want us to promise this?

My lover is healthy and tan, the best of ten thousand men.

His head is like the finest gold; his hair is wavy and black like a raven.

His eyes are like doves by springs of water.
They seem to be bathed in cream and are set like jewels

His cheeks are like beds of spices; they smell like mounds of perfume.
His lips are like lilies flowing with myrrh.

His hands are like gold hinges, filled with jewels.
His body is like shiny ivory covered with sapphires.

His legs are like large marble posts, standing on bases of fine gold.
He is like a cedar of Lebanon, like the finest of the trees.

His mouth is sweet to kiss, and I desire him very much.

Yes, daughters of Jerusalem, this is my lover and my friend.”---Song of Solomon 5:8-16 (NCV)

Ladies, if you have to talk yourself into being into someone, HE IS NOT THE ONE. The other revelation in this? If you have to hide talking about him with your sister friends, he is also not the one. There were some other key things that jumped out at me in these verses (although I do love them all).

For one, to the Shulamite woman, Solomon was better than all of the other lovers she had known...hands question. He was incomparable. Now remember, one definition of “lover” is “a person who has a strong enjoyment or liking for something, as specified”.

The man you see as the “lover above all lovers” yes, on the back end (after marriage) should be holdin' it down, but on the front end, he should be bringing you enjoyment as well. STRONG ENJOYMENT. To your mind/body/spirit, he should be making it his mission to provide for you satisfaction and pleasure. You being delighted should be a priority for him.

We all know that they say that the eyes are the window to the soul. (There is actually scientific proof on that...Google it). A guy has caught your interest? Look at his eyes. Look in his eyes. Ask God to give you the ability to look through his eyes. What do you see? Two definitions of “eye” are “sight” and “vision”. Did you know that a definition of “sight” is “one's range of vision on some specific occasion”? When it comes to you and him, what does he see? (He needs to be seeing SOMETHING...he needs to be open to God revealing.) And, please make sure that your man is a visionary; that he has a plan for his future. I speak from personal experience when I say that there is nothing worse than sitting across the table from a fine man, asking him what he wants to do with his life and he says, “What do you mean?” (I mean, I need to get up from this table!)

And finally, make sure that you desire (to wish or long for; crave; want; to express a wish to obtain; ask for; request) him much, and that he is your lover AND that he is your friend. I think that a part of the reason why God is not always big in instant gratification is because desiring something teaches us how to pray, which in turn keeps us in check concerning who is the giver of all things. Indeed, Ecclesiastes 3:14 tells us that God does what he does (forever) SO THAT MAN WILL FEAR (RESPECT) BEFORE HIM. You see a man who catches your eye/heart? Ask God about him. He'll tell you what you need to know, do...and not do. After all, it was God who made him. He has more information than even the man himself.

The other benefit of desire is that men want to be wanted. I am not saying this as a cosign on stalking, but as a reminder that wanting him now is a good sign that you will want him later. Don't get with some guy, even if he “finds” you, out of fear or desperation. Forever is a long time to spend with someone that you do not crave...want...or long for.

And yes, you must make sure the guy is your friend. For some of you, that means you need to quit being so E-V-I-L. The Bible says that to make friends, you must first show yourself friendly. (Proverbs 18:24) Don't assume that just because a man speaks that he is trying to “get at” you. The Bible says to guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23)...not to be a crazed maniac with a barbed-wire fence around your character. And if you're looking for perfection, you can hang that up, too. A friend loves at all times. (Proverbs 17:17) This is not the time to be looking for the mental creation of perfection that your chick flick obsession (that does not exist) conjured up. This is the time to see who you connect with, who you communicate well with, who you can “mess up and forgive” with...who you can trust, have fun, grow “because of and around” with.

Well, my friends, that's a rap. Thanks for walking this out with me. I am looking forward to posting some of you all's stories on the marriage blog sooner than you think (smile). In the meantime, as it relates to sowing and reaping in this area, hold these verses close:

Justice will be found even in the desert, and fairness will be found in the fertile fields. That fairness will bring peace, and it will bring calm and safety forever. My people will live in peaceful places and in safe homes and in calm places of rest. Hail will destroy the forest, and the city will be completely destroyed. But you will be happy as you plant seeds near every stream and as you let your cattle and donkeys wander freely.”---Isaiah 32:16-20 (NCV)

Just like the economy, successful marriages are in a recession as well. But don't you let that deter you. JUSTICE will be found in the desert (healthy marriage drought). FAIRNESS (God honoring your obedience) will bring you peace...calm and safety. GOD'S PEOPLE will live in peaceful homes and be in calm rest.

Be happy as you plant your seed. Harvest season is on the way. (Acts 1:7-Message)

Of this, I am finally and peacefully sure.

©Shellie R. Warren/2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Marriage Preparation Instruction #14

In the same way, you wives should yield to your husbands. Then, if some husbands do not obey God's teaching, they will be persuaded to believe without anyone's saying a word to them. They will be persuaded by the way their wives live. Your husbands will see the pure lives you live with your respect for God. It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from within you—the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that will never be destroyed and is very precious to God.”---I Peter 3:1-4 (NCV)

Yield: to give up, as to superior power or authority; to give up or surrender (oneself); to give up or over; relinquish or resign; to give as due or required; to give a return, as for labor expended; produce; bear

Persuade: to prevail on (a person) to do something, as by advising or urging; to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; convince; to draw or incline to a determination by presenting sufficient motives

Gentle: kindly; amiable; not severe, rough, or violent; mild; not steep or sudden; gradual; easily handled or managed; tractable; polite; refined; to mollify; calm; pacify; honorable; respectable; tender; not strong, loud, or disturbing; easy

Quiet: free, or comparatively free, from noise; restrained in speech, manner, etc.; saying little; free from disturbance or tumult; tranquil; peaceful; being at rest; refraining or free from activity, esp. busy or vigorous activity; making no disturbance or trouble; not turbulent; peaceable; motionless or moving very gently; free from disturbing thoughts, emotions, etc.; mentally peaceful; said, expressed, done, etc., in a restrained or unobtrusive way; subdued

Spirit: the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul; an attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action

OK, ladies (and gents) in waiting. We are actually nearing the end of this “series” journey. God, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:12), was pretty clear with me on how this should go and so, I don't foresee there being more than one or two after this. Now, who knows what God will inspire once this is completed, but I think for now that we all have received enough to pray about/meditate upon/walk through in preparation for the king/queen that is to come.

As I was brought to this lead scripture, I couldn't help but think how, in many ways, this message has come full circle. Ladies (because you were actually the inspiration for this series), we started out with the instructed vision on how to pen 365 ways to love our husbands within the first year of marriage (Deuteronomy 24:5). Now, God is showing us how to win our mates over in the sense of making them confident with their choice; especially the ones who do not (initially) obey (to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of) God's teaching(s). (Bookmark that.)

You see, here is what I want you to catch: Remember how Proverbs 18:22 tells us that he who finds a WIFE finds a good thing? I have said several times that because it doesn't say, “He who finds a WOMAN”, then that must mean that we must be wives---in the sense of being “wife quality”---when he gets to us. Now, I didn't see this curve ball coming, but I am so thankful that God is into the details; that since God cares about the numbers of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7), then he certainly is interested in our desire to be married and putting us all onto the path that will ultimately lead us to love, peace and harmony.

PLEASE PAY CLOSE ATTENTION. Some of you are going to be set free...liberated...released from the fear that's been holding you, not just from your mate, but from yourself and the purpose that God has in mind for you as it relates to your mate. (John 8:36)

Now, let me say to the guys that while there will be a section written especially for you, this intro is for the ladies. I urge you to read it because I think it will help us make some better sense to you as well, but if you feel like you are on the outside looking in, in a way you are right. This is something that God wants to share with his daughters...a secret that he is about to reveal because they have asked for clear direction in this area (Amos 3:7, Jeremiah 33:3).

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a married male friend of mine about how he knew his wife (of several years) was the one for him. He went on to explain that the day he met her, he watched how she treated her family and friends...especially the children around her. In his mind he thought, “Crap! I'm not ready. I enjoy being single...but you don't see ones like her often. I can't let her pass me by.”


Now, watch this, ladies: God is about to bless you...and release you from your anxiety. (Philippians 4:6) Being that we should be “wifeys” when our intendants approach us (or God brings us to them), go again to the lead scripture and see the kind of wife we should be to bring our husbands to a certain place in their walk with God. Now, the one part that does need to be tweaked a bit is that until we are married...until we are “one” with our mate (by God joining us to them-Matthew 19:6), the one who we should be “yielding” to is God. But the rest, we can leave “as is” to understand the direction that God is giving us in this season (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

You all probably know by now that I am a pretty inquisitive chick. Well, I have “polled” many men about marriage and do you know what a lot of them have said? It wasn't so much that they HAD to get married, so much as they HAD to be with the one that they choose to marry. In other words, they didn't want to lose her, they knew what was required to get/keep her and that was one of the main motivations for jumping the broom. THEY WERE PERSUADED TO MAKE A TRANSITION FROM SINGLE MAN TO HUSBAND.

In my prayer time today, God was showing me though these verses what a lot of us do wrong during our waiting season. Just today, I was talking to a wife of almost 20 years about feeling like I was headed towards a “project” when it came to being united with my future mate. Her response, “Honey, they are ALL projects.” I drove home really letting that sink in. As long as we are living in this sinful world, our flesh and spirit are going to, as the Bible says, lusting against one another. (Galatians 5:16-17) So, like it or not, there is always going to be an inclination for people to run from the very things that are meant to restore and save them, with one of the main ones being, love. And, while I think a lot of us want to be married, the reckless actions of singles and the (un)successful rate of marriage reveals that many of us don't take the “true love mission” part of marriage's purpose to heart:

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”---Proverbs 10:12 (NKJV)

Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”---Romans 13:10 (NKJV)

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.”---Luke 17:3 (NKJV)

My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love.”--Galatians 5:13 (NCV)

Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again. But be careful, because you might be tempted to sin, too. By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is important when he really is not, he is only fooling himself.”---Galatians 6:1-3 (NCV)

If anyone sees a brother or sister sinning (sin that does not lead to eternal death), that person should pray, and God will give the sinner life. I am talking about people whose sin does not lead to eternal death. There is sin that leads to death. I do not mean that a person should pray about that sin. Doing wrong is always sin, but there is sin that does not lead to eternal death.”---I John 5:16-17 (NCV)

My point in listing these scriptures? Well, something that one of my married girlfriends told me was that she recently heard a sermon in which the pastor said that one of the biggest problems with marriages today is that couples don't respect one another as BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN know, what we all are in the spirit realm, whether we are married to one another or not. It kind of goes along with my theory that many people seem to be better friends with the same sex than with members of the opposite sex (I hardly ever put the “If you do this to me, we're through” mandates on my girlfriends...especially like I do with guys.) What I'm trying to say is that love is good...but for a relationship to work AND to last, mutual respect and a sincere liking for one another are just as important...with a purpose of witnessing and serving one another.

So, ladies, because we live in a sinful world (I John 2:2)...because sin caused curses to come upon both the man and woman which now makes things more challenging than God ever purposed for them to be (Genesis 3:15-19)...and because the Enemy's mission is about division (John 10:10), we have to be open to the fact that a part of marriage is to restore what has once been lost.

Something that my mom often says when we speculate about the emotional chemistry between Adam and Eve after they were put out of the Garden, is that there had to have been some real trust lost between the two of them. They stayed together, so it would appear that love was still there...but a mutual respect and liking? Eh, I'm not so sure how solid that was; at least not like it was in the Garden. Why do I say that? Because SIN CHANGES THINGS. Sin's mission is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) any and all that God put in place. One of the greatest gifts that God ever gave mankind was marriage. It did not come after was created in the world's perfect state. Therefore, you can best believe that the Enemy will do ALL THAT HE CAN to curse such a blessed union.

He knows that a wife was to be a helper to man. (Genesis 2:18) He knows that a wife is to bring favor to man. (Proverbs 18:22) He knows that a wife is the crown of her husband (Proverbs 12:4) and that a virtuous one is worth more than the most beautiful of gemstones. (Proverbs 31:10) Family, we were made in the image of God...the Enemy HATES that. (Genesis 1:26-27) One of us standing alone is a challenge. Two of us united as one is a threat. ANYTHING THAT HE CAN DO TO KEEP A MAN FROM A WOMAN, HE WILL DO. If he has to use fear, sex, pride, our past, spiritual/biblical ignorance, greed...whatever, he will use it.

What God showed me today that BLEW MY MIND is that many women will bring their husbands to them by doing what the lead scripture instructs. See, the truth is that a lot of men, by the choices they are currently making, are just like the husbands who are not obeying God. If a man is having sex outside of covenant, he is not obeying God. If a man is putting anything (even if it's his career and financial state) before submitting to his Heavenly Father, he is not obeying God. If a man is so angry about what his father/mother did/didn't do that he cannot forgive, he is not obeying God. And, what does the Word say that wives are to do to persuade their husbands to respect restore what was lost? THEY ARE TO WATCH HOW WE LIVE; not in what we say, but what we do.

A lot of us don't want to hear this, but the truth is that a lot of men are hesitant about getting married because they don't see enough “wives” out here. The Word says that it is our PURE (free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind) lives that show our respect for God that will “urge”...”induce”...”appeal”...”incline” a man to believe in the power of God. Can you believe it? Talk about restoring what the locusts have eaten! (Joel 2:23-25) A woman is what tempted a man to partake in sin (Genesis 3:6) and the Word says that it is through a woman than a man can be restored back to his rightful place...being in relationship with God.

AMAZING!!! Now, do you see why the Enemy wants us half-dressed...settin' it out...compromising our values...chasing them down...being desperate, loud, bitter, jealous, competitive, covetous and angry? ANYTHING THAT WILL KEEP US FROM BEING PURE? It's because he knows that is what will win a man back to God...that is the kind of wife that will change a man's life.

I am so full, I can't stand it! And here, is where we will briefly split up:

Men: It's actually pretty plain and simple for you. WATCH HOW THE WOMEN YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY LIVE. The Bible says that a woman who is more concerned with her outward appearance is not what God defines as truly beautiful. Fellas, you were made in the image of God and so within you is the ability to be equally as discerning. The hair? The jewelry? The clothes? Those things are temporal...they will pass away (Luke 21:33), but the virtue of a woman will stand, or as the Word states, IT WILL NEVER BE DESTROYED. Ask God to show you how to see the spirit of a woman as apposed to her physical stature. Yes, I believe that God wants you to be attracted to your mate, but more importantly, he wants your soul to be saved. It's a PURE woman that will assist you in doing that.

And while I'm at it, don't spend a lot of time on if you are “good enough” so much as if you are being obedient to the unction of your Father. I Samuel 15:22 says that it is better to obey than to sacrifice. Some of you are sacrificing so many of the unbelievable things that he has in mind for you all because you are not listening to what he is trying to tell you. YOUR WAYS ARE NOT HIS WAYS and neither are your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). He knows, far better than you do, the woman who is spiritually-equipped to bring you favor---even when it comes to stabilizing your relationship with him.

Women: God made it clear the kind of woman a pure woman is. Her spirit is gentle and quiet. Now, did you catch that he used the word, “spirit”? That means that our attitude (AT ALL TIMES) is to be kind, polite, calm and tender. That means that we should live our lives based on principles rooted in things that are free from noise and turbulence; that we should make it a point daily to be free from disturbance and trouble; that we are to be mentally peaceful and that we should move through life gently. In other words, we are to be free from DRAMA.

Newsflash: When it comes to women, men are used to drama. As a matter of fact, it's such a part of their diet that many of them don't see that it's junk food for the soul; that it's killing them slowly...but definitely (yes, Twinkies look appealing and taste good, but that doesn't mean that they are good for you). What's one definition of “insanity”? Doing the same thing and expecting a different result, right? A drama-filled woman may get a man, but she won't keep him. You want a godly husband? Are your actions reflecting what you say?

If you want a husband, purpose in your mind to be a PURE WIFE...even before he chooses you. There's a great chance that in how you live your life NOW, on the front end, it will then persuade him to move from being a compromised single to a godly husband...again, not from what you say, but from watching what you do. GOD HAS SO MUCH CONFIDENCE IN US that stated that our mere presence can convict a man to change his ways; that we are the agent that he is relying on to assist him in his mission to bring mankind back to's purity, not our looks, that has this kind of affect on a person. It's purity that has life-altering power.

I can't tell you how much this message has changed my life and my perspective. It's not about coming up with strategies and manipulations. Even if my future husband is not carnal, God just wants to me to be still (Psalm 46:10) and be pure. With God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) and it's my purity that he is asking me to give to him to manifest those possibilities.

Do you feel the burdens coming off of you? Do you see that you don't have to do anything other than being who God called you to be in the first place?

I so love him. An on-time, restoration message for me (and my husband-to-be), indeed.

©Shellie R. Warren/2009

Marriage Preparation Instruction #13

Now for those who are not married and for the widows I say this: It is good for them to stay unmarried as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry. It is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire. ”---I Corinthians 7:8-9 (NCV)

Control: to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command; to hold in check; curb; to eliminate or prevent the flourishing or spread of; the situation of being under the regulation, domination, or command of another; check or restraint

Better: of superior quality or excellence; morally superior; more virtuous; of superior suitability, advisability, desirability, acceptableness, etc.; preferable; larger; greater; improved in health; healthier than before; in a more appropriate or acceptable way or manner; to a greater degree; more completely or thoroughly; to increase the good qualities of; make better; improve

Burn: to consume; to cause sharp pain or a stinging sensation; to consume rapidly, esp. to squander; to suffer losses or be disillusioned in business or social relationships; to cheat or rob; to be or become angry; to be very eager; to suffer punishment or death by or as if by fire; to be destroyed, injured, damaged, or changed by or as if by fire; an act, process, or result of burning; a sensation of intense heat or stinging pain

And, here we go: Perhaps, one of the most “taken out of context” scriptures ever used when it comes to transitioning out of single living and into marriage preparation.

Some people would probably consider me to be a “marriage/wedding hater” because I am notoriously known for not showing up to a ceremony if my spirit doesn't sit well with it. Now mind you, that doesn't mean God didn't call the two together; that is certainly God's call (Ecclesiastes 12:14). But, one of my favorite pastors has said at every wedding that I have attended (that he has officiated) that when you go to a wedding, you are standing in are bearing are basically saying that you are excited about the union.

Uh-huh...well, God gave me a gift of discernment (all of us actually-Ecclesiastes 8:5) and he instructed me to judge with righteous (characterized by uprightness or morality) judgment (John 7:24) and so therefore:

If he doesn't have a job (and his own place).

If she's still messing with her ex.

If he's confused (and/or acting upon that confusion) about his sexuality.

If she's still working out her past (if she lives like a victim more than a survivor).

If the two of you have only known each other for three months (that means met and mated).

If I never hear “purpose” come up in the motivation.

If their heart for God is not mentioned as a reason why you love him/her.

If there is not a plan in place (that you can articulate) for the marriage beyond the wedding.

If it's only because she's pregnant.

If you mention your age/biological clock.

If the only thing you can tell me is how sick of abstinence you are.

I AM NOT COMING. As a matter of fact, as a believer, it is a responsibility of mine (Proverbs 27:6) to not attend something so sacred as a union between two of God's children if they are ill-prepared. It's not that I don't have's just that I read ALL of the Word and it says that “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:14-17) If you believe that someone is your mate, then ask God to put a plan into place to prepare the both of you. If you really think they are “the one” (sooooo preaching to the choir, here), then what's the rush, right? Timing is the Father's business (Acts 1:7-Message) and I don't know about you, but what's the point in reading all of this information that the Godhead is providing if we are not going to use it? A part of “working out our faith” is believing that God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16), instructions and timing are true; that they must be applied unanimously and harmoniously for them to be truly effective in our lives.

Which is why I wish more premarital counselors/pastors were responsible in how they use the lead scripture for this tip. How ironic that it would be #13, because the truth is (John 8:32), if you don't get this one---and I mean, really get it---it could be a really “unlucky” and unfortunate thing for you.

Around the time that God gave me the “Make Him Weak in the Knees” series, as it related to this “better to marry than to burn” PERSONAL pearl of wisdom that Paul provided (umm, you did catch this part in I Corinthians 7, right? But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.”---I Corinthians 7:6), I remember the Spirit saying to me, “Because fornication is a sin (Ephesians 5:3), it IS better to marry than to burn, but I want more for you than BETTER. If you are homeless, it's BETTER to live in a shelter than on the streets, but wouldn't it be BEST to live in a house? In marriage, you deserve my BEST.”

As God's children (I John 3:1), we all do. To rush to the altar just because you cannot exhibit self-control...well, not only is the not a good enough reason, but it ups your chances for divorce court (and sexual frustration because if emotions will motivate choices now, it probably will later, too) by at least 45-50%. Recently, I was telling a male friend of mine who was talking about how sick he was of abstinence (and I certainly can relate) that there are no guarantees that if you allow lust to motivate you that you will get what you want in the end. Lust is an illusion. As a matter of fact, since lust is love's counterfeit (Galatians 5:16-17); since it's a flesh-rather-than spirit-driven emotion; since it is something that wars against the soul (I Peter 2:11) and in the end brings forth death (James 1:15), to use that as your reason for entering a sacred union instituted by God (Matthew 19:6)...well...good luck with that. You're gonna need it.

Besides, self-control IS a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and that doesn't stop after singleness. As a matter of fact, Paul said that one of the reasons why he recommended that we remain single is that unmarried people are free to care about the things of the Lord (I Corinthians 7:32). Now, if as a single person you have a hard time controlling yourself when all you really have to concern yourself with is you and your relationship with God (the one who told you that if you draw near to him, he will cleanse your hands and purify your hearts-James 4:8), I'm curious to know how you think you will be able to pull off self-control in a “till death do you part” situation with another flawed human being. If you can't get a grip and “control of one's emotions, desires, or actions by one's own will” NOW, you are fooling yourself if you think that you can do it...then. The Enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, right? (John 10:10) What he has done to far too many marriages is steal the love that they could have shared as a couple by stealing the self-control that they should have exhibited as singles. Don't let him kill the knowledge and destroy the wisdom that God is trying to give you, in this God-appointed season, concerning this matter. IT IS BY NO COINCIDENCE THAT YOU ARE READING THIS. Marriage has purpose. If you are desiring to be married at this time, ask God to reveal to you what the purpose is for your desire. He only cosigns on what will bring glory to his kingdom FIRST; not what will appease your flesh. Which is why I believe that a lot of us are still single. Don't believe me?

You want things, but you do not have them. So you are ready to kill and are jealous of other people, but you still cannot get what you want. So you argue and fight. You do not get what you want, because you do not ask God. Or when you ask, you do not receive because the reason you ask is wrong. You want things so you can use them for your own pleasures.”---James 4:2-3 (NCV)

OK, I know what some of you are thinking: There are a whole lot of people who are married right now who did it for “sensual” reasons. I feel you, but here's the thing. I know what it's like to TAKE something that God has not GIVEN me. YOU DON'T WANT TO GO THAT ROUTE. Taking something without asking is not only rude (I Corinthians 13:5), but stealing (Exodus 20:15). I was just reading about an NBA player whose ex and baby were murdered by an attorney that apparently the woman was having an affair with. Just because God allowed that crazy man to take the life of a nine-month-old and her mother, that doesn't mean he willed it---or that his blessing is upon it. Don't you confuse the two issues. YOU DON'T WANT SOMETHING THAT HE ALLOWED. YOU WANT SOMETHING THAT HE WILLED...that you asked (to put a question to; inquire of; to request information about; solicit) for and he gave you permission to have because with that comes his blessing...his favor...his protection...his provision...his joy for/in/around what you are doing.

Do you know something that hit me like a ton of bricks while researching in the Word for this lesson?

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”---John 15:16 (NKJV)

Again, one of the Fruit of the Spirit is self-control, right? If you desire a GODLY UNION, then you need to bear (to produce by natural growth) fruit and allow that fruit to remain (to continue in the same state; continue to be as specified) before coming to the Father...YOUR FATHER about wanting to be married. There needs to be a season in which your spiritual fruit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) is not only ripe, but evident for all to see. (Matthew 12:33) AND, if you do have your eyes set on someone, or if you are in a current relationship with who you think may be “the one”, there needs to be a season in which you see some fruit within them as well. Two cannot walk together without agreement, right? (Amos 3:3) A part of that agreement is that you want to do things in the Spirit and not in the flesh (which should be indicative by what they say AND what they do). Again, God is a God of order (I Corinthians 14:40) and so once that happens:

Also, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about something and pray for it, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”---Matthew 18:19 (NCV)

Did you see that? You need to both agree and pray for it. WHEW!!! A good sign of a relationship on the right track is that both people are in agreement (that they should not just love one another, but honor God, exhibit spiritual fruit and have a desire to find their mate) and that they are both praying. Family, YOU DON'T WANT TO BE LINKED UP TO SOMEONE WHO AIN'T A PRAYING PERSON; and not just praying, but listening. One of my favorite scriptures of all time is Proverbs 28:9 (Message):

God has no use for the prayers of the people who won't listen to him.”

Prayer is how we petition God about the directions that he has for our lives. (Proverbs 3:6) When it comes to seeking God about the partner for life that he has in mind for you, you definitely want him to be leading...and you want the person who will be leading/following you to want God to be leading. If you are praying about someone who is currently not a praying person and if you don't see evidence of spiritual fruit GROWING in their lives, at least for now, you already have your answer on if they are the one for you...the answer would be “no”. (Tell him, “Thank Ya!”)

Wow...all that and we haven't even fully gotten into the verse yet. God is so good...and so thorough. We will take the male/female fork in the marriage prep road here:

Men: OK, I am speaking to Bible-believers here, but you DO recall what the Word says, right? If you can't control yourself sexually, you would be better off getting married. IF YOU CAN'T STOP DEFILING YOUR TEMPLE AND THE TEMPLE OF GOD'S DAUGHTERS (I Corinthians 6:19) THEN YOU NEED TO BE MARRIED. It's more virtuous, it's more morally superior, it's more appropriate and (hello) HEALTHIER to marry. I even have an article to prove it:

Have you ever abused a girl and had her father find out about it? It's not a good look. When you are being sexually-active with a woman who does not belong to you (that means who is not your wife), you are “abnormally using” her. And you see, here's the thing: What boggles my mind about you doing that is that in God's Word, there is a solution. You want sex (any kind of sex), GET MARRIED. If you don't want to get married...if you're not ready to get married, then you're not ready for sex. You know how the Word says that the Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath? (Mark 2:27-28) Marriage was not made for sex. Sex was made for marriage. (SPEAK HOLY SPIRIT!!!) It wasn't like sex existed and God was like, “Oh, let me make it legit and create marriage.” Sex is what solidifies the union of marriage. MARRIAGE COMES FIRST. It is the horse before the cart; the chicken before the egg (I'm pretty confident that God made the chicken, first!) You are trespassing on God's property (a woman) when you are sexually intimate with her without a covenant in place. And don't think that just because you have been “getting away with it” that you...well...are getting away with it.

And that's it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it's good or evil.”---Ecclesiastes 12:14 (Message)

So many men want to be respected by women for being a man. For godly women, that is easier to do when you are doing what God created you, as a man, to do: when you are taking dominion over the earth (and yourself-Genesis 1:26-29) and when you are protecting us. Do you know one of the reasons why I am going to try my darnest not to have sex (ANY KIND OF SEX) with my husband before my wedding night? Because I want trust to be the foundation of our union. Being that I know that fornication is wrong and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), I can't fully trust someone who would put my spiritual well-being in jeopardy. You “love” me, but you don't mind doing something with me that God abhors? What kind of love is that?

Now, that doesn't mean that I don't need to take responsibility for my own actions. But, what that does mean is that if I am going to follow, I need to trust when you are going to lead (Ephesians 5:22). God is love (I John 4:16) and in my single state, by finally surrendering to him, I see where that is getting me. I am not going to settle for less now. Fellas, love has to lead you ALL OF THE TIME; not lust---EVER.

If you are just “burning up” with passion, how about you spend that energy on getting your queen than chasing the, umm, girls who don't realize (yet) that they are queens. God has no problem giving you sex...under the right circumstances: MARRIAGE.

Women: While I will, for the most part, cosign on Paul's concession (a space or privilege within certain premises for a subsidiary business or service), I just have one brief word of caution to interject here: Passion is not just sexual. It is defined as, “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate”. Colossians 3:5 (NKJV) tells us, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

If you've never seen “The Other Bolelyn Girl”, PLEASE check it out. Benjamin Franklin once said, “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” Unbridled passion can do some very strange things to a person. He can't wait now, so you rush to the altar? What else can't he “wait” on? A man who says he loves you, but can't wait for/on you (FAITHFULLY)...he's suspect. I Corinthians 13:4, out the gate, describes love as “patient”. If he loves you, he will wait for that love to mature...until God says it's time to move forward.

At the same time, if you love him, you will encourage him to wait and support that decision in ALL that you do. As a woman who used to mark my worth ONLY by my physicality, I'm here to tell you that Delilah (Judges 16) ain't the only woman who can break a man down...but the truth is, at the end of the day, they don't honor you for it...they don't trust you because of it...they can't fully give themselves to you due to it.

Helper. That is the FIRST word that God used to describe the purpose of a wife in the Bible. (Genesis 2:18) I've seen the couples who gave it up on the front end vs. the ones who waited until “I pronounce you husband and wife.” There are some who are currently happy who took that risk, but the ones who didn't...their marriages are FAR LESS dramatic, and I believe it's because they built their union on a SOLID foundation. To gamble on sin is a sucker's bet. If you want to help a man out, if you want to give him “some”, give him some admirable assistance and spiritual support. Be a woman who “...contributes to the fulfillment of a need or furtherance of an effort or purpose”. A man's purpose is never to live a life of spiritual compromise.

Even on my weakest days, something that I try to keep in mind is that if my husband is going to lead me, then he has to be able to keep things under control. I can't encourage him to “lose control” now only to expect him gain it later....and then find myself resenting him because he struggles in doing so. Yes, it is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire. However, it is best to marry because I love someone. Love is takes time. I don't want to marry someone because I couldn't wait. I want to marry someone because God said that we were ready.

You can take this tip and make it “Unlucky 13” or break the curse of impatience in your human trinity (mind/body/spirit), and I suspect for many, your bloodline. The choice is totally up to you.

As for me, I know what I'm gonna do.

See you soon. (!)

©Shellie R. Warren/2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Marriage Preparation Instruction #12

Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”--- I Corinthians 7:3-5 (NKJV)

Affection: fond attachment, devotion, or love; the act of affecting; act of influencing or acting upon; bent or disposition of mind; the emotional realm of love

Authority: the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine; a power or right delegated or given; an accepted source of information, advice, etc.; an expert on a subject; persuasive force; conviction; right to respect or acceptance of one's word, command, thought, etc.; testimony; witness

Deprive: to remove or withhold something from the enjoyment or possession of (a person or persons); to take something away from; deny

Consent: to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield; to agree in sentiment, opinion, etc.; be in harmony; to be of the same mind or opinion; acceptance or approval of what is planned or done by another; acquiescence

Yes, yes, yes...I knew this one was coming. If you were reading (and processing) the definitions, again, this is one tip that we can already pass the offering plate 'round one time on, but because I know the Lord wants to bring about a greater clarity on the topic, we will proceed.

One of the first things that I think that people, especially men/husbands, miss when quoting these verses is that they don't do it IN ORDER (and we know that we serve a God of order-I Corinthians 14:40). Yes, the Word does say that in a marital union, there should only be ONE REASON why a couple would “deprive one another” (and we will get to that in a minute), BUT do you see what is mentioned before that part?

Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

Let's stop at affection first; something that I hear far too many wives say that they are lacking in the receiving department. Now, I will be the first one to stand up and say that one of the worst places to go for information on something as intimate as sex with your covenant partner is the media. I Corinthians 3:19(NKJV) says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”

I have told many of my friends that my first (official) sermon was gonna be entitled, “I Live With That Man.” You have NO IDEA how many guys that I have had a straight-up attitude with God about when he “denied me the right” to have them. In my spirit, God was like, “Are you serious? He slept with your girlfriend.” “Are you serious? His credit score is 400.” “Are you serious? He has an STD...and even he doesn't know it yet.” We have to get to a place that we really trust (Psalm 18:2) that in the “Yes” and the “No”, God knows what he's doing...that he created all and sees all. (Psalm 24:1) If there is a person that you desire, trust God to bring them...or take them away, knowing that he loves you enough to deny you no good thing (now, you have to be living right so that you can hear him clearly, of course-Psalm 84:11).

When it comes to intimacy with your mate, this same trust must apply. When the Word said, “Acknowledge him and he will direct you” (Proverbs 3:6), there was no loophole there. You want to know how to please your partner? Porn/Erotica is not going to tell you. Cosmo/Maxim is not going to tell you. Ray J's show is not going to tell you. Lil' Wayne doesn't have clue. (Oh, and for that matter, your parents...your pastors...your mentors should only speak the Word to you when it comes to this as well. What brings them “pleasure” may tend to be very different from what brings you and yours satisfaction...EACH COUPLE IS DIFFERENT.) GO TO GOD.

Now, that said, there was an article that I recently read on women and foreplay for a piece that I'm doing, and being that I am a woman, and I speak to a lot of women, the tips in there appeared to be pretty dead on (and non-biblically compromising). According to the research from this writer, women need their men to:

Hold hands with them

Touch them (at times) in a non-sexual manner

Give them flowers/candy/small gifts

Cuddle with them on the couch

Help around the house with the kids

Give them quiet time


Now, it's amazing isn't it, fellas? It doesn't say anything in there about grouping her breasts while cooking or slapping her butt while she's getting ready for work (not saying that anything is “wrong” with that...but everything has it's time, place and purpose-Ecclesiastes 3). I believe that because women are nurturers, the way that we are often stimulated is through nurturing. And, because you guys are conquerors, there are moments when you need to feel “conquered”; that we desire you so much that we just can't contain ourselves (duly noted).

But you see, before the sex, Paul spoke on affection at that. I have some male friends right now who don't know how to respond/react to a woman giving them gifts or holding their hand and I think it's because they've gotten a lot of SEX, but very little AFFECTION from women in their past. Your wedding night is not the time to start learning about how to be an affectionate person (male or female). Of course, due to the nature of the relationship, certain “acts of devotion” should be reserved for marriage, but even with your family and friends, this would be a good time to learn how to: touch without letting things become sexual; give gifts expressing your love for others; talk and listen...and yes (a hard one for me at times), give QUIET TIME. Due to schedules and life demands, there may not always be time for the kind of sex you would desire to have with your partner, but you must always make a way to be affectionate with them; to allow your feelings for them to have an influence on you...daily. Romans 12:10 (NKJV) says, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another...” This should apply with all men/women, but especially with your mate.

Next up, authority.

OK, this one just might step on some toes. Sorry. I was actually kind of thrown myself when I studied up on it. You know, I find it very interesting that when a woman gets pregnant outside of covenant, she often wants to claim sole rights on the baby that belongs to both her and the man that she was impregnated by. If she wants to keep, abort or give up the child for adoption, often in her mind, he should have very little to say because, “It's her body.” Well, it took the lost lives of four of my own children to accept that 1) it's not just “my body” (I Corinthians 6:19) and 2) “MY body” is housing “OUR baby”. I didn't create him/her alone and so I don't have the right to make decisions re: his/her well-being alone. (This is why a single mother saying she is the father and mother is so out of order. You are not even created to/capable of being both!) When a woman is pregnant, she doesn't have the AUTHORITY to make those kinds of the godly or physical realm. (Just because God lets us doesn't mean he condones it...that it's his perfect will. It actually means that we have disrespected authority, and there are always consequences that come with doing that.-Galatians 6:7-8)

In a covenant relationship, again, this applies. When you DECIDE (because again, no one is making you take this on) to become “one flesh” with someone (Matthew 19:5-6), you are giving them AUTHORITATIVE RIGHTS WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR BODY (the physical structure and material substance of an animal or plant, living or dead). Like the “unplanned pregnancy” situation, I find it interesting how many women talk about wanting a man's heart, but then want to “buck up” when he makes a suggestion about her body. He should desire you(the same way) even if you gain 50 lbs in two years? He has no right to speak up if you change your hair color and doesn't like it? On the flip, fellas, you grow a beard and she's not really into all of the “hair burns” you are putting on her face? You started out with a six-pack and now you're rollin' with a keg? YOUR MATE HAS THE AUTHORITY TO ADDRESS THESE THINGS. As someone who is one with you, they are given, BY GOD, permission to “delegate”, “convict”, “bear witness to” your physical being (ouch, ouch, ouch, I know!). As your leader/helpmate, they are seen, BY GOD, as “experts on you”.

This is one reason why you should pay very close attention to how a man or woman feels about your physical appearance on the front end (before marriage). If he thinks you're a little “too healthy” (size-wise) now...if she doesn't like how you wear your (facial) hair now...if you never feel good enough (in their eyes) now, then don't expect him/her to let up on you later. Now, as FRIENDS, it's a preference. Later as COVENANT PARTNERS, it's an AUTHORITATIVE INSIGHT...and RIGHT. I've dated men who had near heart-attacks when I would shave my head. Shoot, I have spent 34 years with myself knowing and now accepting that my husband is not gonna too much care what I do with my hair (because creative people tend to be chameleons). Now, that doesn't mean that I won't respect his authority, but I have male friends now who barely blink when I take a pair of clippers to my scalp. My hair is not what they are drawn to....that is not a “deal breaker” in what makes me attractive to them.

During this time of singleness, and especially if you are seriously courting or engaged, listen to how your significant other is responding/reacting to your appearance. We all can (and should, to a certain extent) make suggestions on how others can become more attractive. But IMPROVING you is not the same as CHANGING you. She hates jeans and t-shirts now? Don't trip when she has the AUTHORITY to speak Brooks Brothers suits into your life. He doesn't like tattoos and belly rings now? Don't lose it when he has the AUTHORITY to request that they be removed. When you become one with someone, you don't just stake claim on their have a huge influence on their body as well. (I know, I know...control freaks, I KNOW!!!)

And yes, “authority” also applies in the bedroom. I am not sure if premarital counseling spends nearly enough time on the “bed being undefiled” chapter (Hebrews 13:4), but when it's time to prepare for walking down the aisle, this must be addressed. I know way too many men who thought they were gonna get, umm, “blessed” in certain ways that their wives actually find to be disgusting and never had any intention on, umm, blessing them with. If your mate is going to have “ a power or right delegated or given” sexually until death parts you, then you need to know what that entails ON THE FRONT END. Sex is a gift in's so relevant that it's only for married people. I am especially speaking to the ladies when I say this: Don't get so “brand new” that you think a man who is committing the rest of his life to you is going to want to “cut corners” in the sex department. At the same time, fellas, you don't just have authority over us. We also have authority over you. Sex isn't just about what you want/need to be fulfilled. WE ARE IN THE BED WITH YOU. We have the right to speak up when something is right...and not not-so-right. If you don't want to hear it, you take that up with God. HE GAVE US THE RIGHT TO SPEAK UP WHEN IT COMES TO OUR SEXUAL SATISFACTION. The objective, aside from being fruitful and multiplying (Genesis 1:28) and aside from achieving oneness (Genesis 2:24-25), is pleasure...MUTUAL PLEASURE.

And this is where we will split up.

Men: OK, I chose the NKJV of this scripture because it is the translation that uses the word, “deprive”. Now, I have heard a lot of husbands use this word (almost as a weapon), but based on the definition, I think a lot of times it has been out of context. Yes we, as women, shouldn't keep sex from you without you deciding with us that it's seasonally for a purpose. (Amos 3:3) BUT, do you see that “deprive” doesn't just imply sexual activity? ANYTHING THAT GIVES PLEASURE SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AWAY. Women don't just need consistent physical intimacy. We need the other things that define pleasure as well: “recreation or amusement; diversion; enjoyment”.

Don't stop dating your wife. Continue to come up with creative ways to express how you feel and how much you love her. The routine of life can make anything a drag after awhile...we love for men to create diversions. When the Word speaks on not depriving your mate, don't keep us from the special things that drew us to you in the first place. Wives love being their husband's girlfriend in the sense of being courted and wooed. THAT SHOULD NEVER END.

Women: I think most of us get the “men section” part. But it seems like the “mutual consent” trips a lot of us up. What I appreciate about the definitions of consent is that there appears to be no manipulation implied. The Bible does indeed tell us that certain things ONLY come by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:20-22), but it also says that we are not to withhold what brings our mates pleasure unless our husbands are under the same mind or opinion...that they permit...that they agree...that they are in harmony with us going without FOR A SEASON. Having a headache...rationing it out...PMS'ing (for half the month), none of these EXCUSES apply (unless the two of you are praying for the Jezebel spirit to be exorcised from you!).

There are way too many women I know who are floored when they find their husbands in an emotional/physical affair when the Bible makes it clear that if you deprive him, you give the Enemy an “in” to your marriage. You ain't had sex with him in six months and you're shocked that he's flirting with his secretary? You shouldn't be. You haven't complimented him in weeks and he's getting chummy with the 36-24-40 neighbor? Girl, please.

Yes, a man is accountable for his actions and what is done in the dark, God will judge. (I Corinthians 4:5), BUT as the woman who is one with him, you will be held accountable for the part that you played in it as well. You deprive your husband, you deny him the affection and authority that God has given him in your life, and yes, you have just played an Oscar-winning supporting cast role in him being tempted by him coming in to steal, kill and destroy your union. (John 10:10)

Husbands and wives in training, as you are praying for leadership and guidance in this area, keep in mind that between you and your mate affection is due, authority is given and deprivation is not of God...until death parts you.

You want to “pray and fast” on something, pray and fast on that!

©Shellie R. Warren/2009