Significant sex

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Sexual union, lovingly experienced and sanctified by the sacrament, is in turn a path of growth in the life of grace for the couple. It is the “nuptial mystery”. The meaning and value of their physical union is expressed in the words of consent, in which they accepted and offered themselves each to the other, in order to share their lives completely. Those words give meaning to the sexual relationship and free it from ambiguity. Sexuality is not a means of gratification or entertainment; it is an interpersonal language wherein the other is taken seriously, in his or her sacred and inviolable dignity. – Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia

I’d like to share today a song by the group, Penny and Sparrow. The song, Duet, is sung by lead singer Andy Baxter and his wife, Hannah. Our friend, Austin Ashcraft, played it for Patti and me last winter and we both loved it.

The song brings into close proximity the tender thrills of sexual intimacy in marriage, and the hard labor of day in and day out commitments to spouse and family. You can feel as they sing how these two seemingly contrasting aspects of marriage actually intensify one another. I’ll share below what I wrote later that night after he shared the song with us.

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I’ve found it to be the case that among the most creative tensions within marriage are those that pulse between the self-oriented dynamism of erotic-possessive love (I want you) and other-oriented dynamism of self-sacrificing love (I am for you). Marriage is a fiery dance between desire and choice, possession and freedom, drinking in and outpouring, cleaving and surrendering, eros and agape. All at once, I am caught up in a burning passion for my wife, just as I am called out to a death-to-self Passion for her. Both flames mingle in our nuptial fire. When these two coexist in marriage, and eros serves agape, they forge a profound unity between us that cannot adequately be expressed in analytical prose, but requires intuitive poetry and song. Like Duet.

It’s really pure ‘theology of the body.’ Only when erotic sex is joined to sacrificial, total and lifelong fidelity (aka marriage) does it consecrate the one-flesh union, making of each sexual act a ratification of the unbreakable bond that “God has joined.” When these are not joined, when eros is dissociated from agape, sex becomes a fleeting act of use, the exploitation of another for self-pleasuring — until the thrill wears off. Once her usefulness wanes, I can move on.

Every sexual act bears the inscription of a marital act, a sign and pledge of everything-forever, which is why every sexual act apart from marriage is a lie, an act of theft. Only after I sold all I had — renounced every other option among women and pledged ny whole heart, soul, mind and strength — was I permitted to claim as my own this treasure buried by God in the field of my wife, Patricia, daughter of the Most High King.

Drilling down a little deeper. I can see a bit more now, after 20 years, that only after long togetherness can you experience the profound significance of sexual union as a sacrament of the Sacrament — a tangible sign of trust, surrender, gift, unity, mutual indwelling, an exchange of hearts, and everything else marriage is God-designed to be. When minds and wills have achieved an intimacy born of battles, struggles, tears and countless reconciliations, then each sexually unitive act comes to embody a real love story. Then sex becomes a truly intimate act, signifying and expressing the insanely personal knowledge you have of each other; a knowledge that makes you finish each other’s sentences, anticipate each other’s needs, forgive each other’s failures even before they happen. My wife knows me more than any other human being. That is terrifying and thrilling all at once! That’s why radical honesty and trust in marriage are so essential. Without them the mystery of interpersonal intimacy, in this full sense, is absolutely impossible.

Again, the true beauty and power and ecstasy (which means “going outside of oneself toward”) of sex after years of marriage is that it enfleshes an actual story of two who are ever-more becoming one. “Adam knew Eve” (Gen. 4:1) is such an apt euphemism for the sexual act, as God intended it to be.

Our culture worships sex in a cult of pleasure, which renders sex susceptible to addiction. Such an addiction, devoid of authentic freedom, is an idolatry trivializing the true beauty and power of sex. Christian culture worships with sex in a cult of self-gift, making of each sexual act a free bodily offering (Rom. 12:1) of faithful and fruitful love, offered with my spouse to the God-Man whose Incarnation has forged in “one flesh” His everything-forever covenant love for the human race.

Entering that mystery in marriage is real ecstasy.

Here’s Duet:

I bet your shoulders can hold more than
Just the straps of that tiny dress
That I’ll help you slide aside
When we get home

I’ve seen ’em carry family
And the steel drum weight of me
Effortless, just like that dress
That I’ll take off

Because I’ve seen you
And I know you
And I’m not going anywhere

Because I’ve seen you
And I know you
And I’m not going anywhere

I bet your back can carry more than
Just the weight of your button-down
One by one, they’ll come undone
When we get home

I’ve seen you carry family
And all my insecurities
One by one, they’ll come undone
When we get home

Because I’ve seen you
And I know you
And I’m not going anywhere

Because I’ve seen you
And I know you
And I’m not going anywhere

Because I’ve seen you
And I know you
And I’m not going anywhere

Because I’ve seen you
And I know you

3 comments on “Significant sex

  1. WoopieCushion says:

    Wonderful. Thankful.

  2. Sara says:

    Thank you for posting this! They do have a studio recorded version for both listening and purchasing at https://pennyandsparrow.bandcamp.com/track/duet-feat-stephanie-briggs. Definitely a favorite song!

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