Oh did I type that outloud?
(Side note: I am not writing this to those who have issues with domestic violence, pornography, orgies or want to bring another person into the relationship in any fashion – I have another entire ministry devoted just for that. This book is for a man and a woman who are in a biblical marriage who need to add a little “spice” to their otherwise drab, mundane and almost non-existent love life).
“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25).
The number of times I have read right over the top of this Scripture is innumerable. But one day it caught my attention and drew me in to take a deeper look as to what that “naked and unashamed,” meant and to see if it was something that could ever be captured – or – recaptured in a marriage.
Especially when there was someone in that marriage as broken as me.
As a child, I was molested by my grandfather – and if that wasn’t enough, I was gang-raped by the teenage boy and his friends that lived next door to my grandparents. But I think what lingered in my heart for so long was being abandoned by my mother and told to not mention it or that there would be consequences. I grew up being further abused and like a good little girl, I kept my mouth shut. As time went by I felt dirty, unworthy, and very ashamed.
To be “naked” was not an option for me – I would never again open myself up to anyone for any reason ever,” I thought – But actually, it was the exact opposite.
Desperate for love (in all the wrong places), I opened myself up to more shame, guilt, and ridicule – because I was in unholy relationships with abusive men – just like the ones I grew up with.
So, when David came into my life I honestly did not know what to make of him. He was so different, so loving and so kind that I ran away like that scared little girl – just knowing that when he found out all that I had been through (when I got naked) – he would leave me (shame me), just like everyone had done all my life.
Intimacy is something that all women and men strive for in their marriage relationship – intimacy, as described biblically is to be naked – what you see is what you get – and all the security that goes with it knowing that you will never be forsaken – no matter what. Loved unconditionally – despite all of our flaws, past circumstances, hurts, brokenness, and pain.
It is also allowing the other person in the relationship to be naked and unashamed – to provide them with security that you love and respect them for who God says they are, not who they think they are or have been told that they are.
It is the ultimate relationship – Intimacy means that we are free to be the woman that God has created us to be and knowing that no matter what we will always be secure in knowing that through the good, bad, and the ugly – we are still approved, accepted, loved, and desired.
I know that I am a very blessed woman. I realize that God gave me the greatest gift of all time when he brought David back across my path 25 years after I left him. In addition, I know that my husband is very special– but what is interesting is that he would say the same about me! I know me! And although that might be who I am in his eyes – and the woman I strive to be, it is most certainly not the woman I once was.
There was a time when I (intentionally) remembered everything and never let it go – believing that I had to store up ammunition in case a war broke out and I would need to defend myself.
There was never any room for anyone to stand naked before me – because I would judge them on every flaw they had and the ones that were to come, based on what I had witnessed so far.
But after years of failed relationships, frustration – and most of all a lack of real intimacy – I realized that at some point, I had to believe that the promises of God were greater than my fear of being hurt by people.
But it didn’t come easy…
“I slept, but my heart was awake. A sound! My beloved is knocking. ‘Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one… (Song of Solomon 5:2).
When speaking with other women throughout the years, I have realized that we all have the same (yet different) issues with being naked and unashamed.
We see our flaws – every single wrinkle, fat cell, age spots, hair-out-of-place, gravity-taking droop, and it weighs on us so much that as each year passes, the “mood lighting” turns towards darkness and we start changing our clothes behind closed doors – out of the site of our beloved. We attempt to hide each and every imperfection – and in pitch-perfect darkness, we try to make our husbands try to imagine what we once were…
And those intimate moments, become more and more infrequent.
In addition to casual conversations and research-driven surveys, I write a blog. This subject sometimes reaps responses from others. Some want to make excuses for their brother-sister relationship they call an intimate marriage, others are simply emasculated, frustrated men trying very hard to get their wife to “open that proverbial door,” much like Solomon with his bride.
Comment from SB #1: Holly, I find this to be very judgmental! There are times when God says the two shall separate! I mean, what about after a baby is born or you have a disc bulging in your back? There should be grace shown to one another during different stages and situations in life….
My response: The other part of that verse is “mutual time of prayer” – are you praying? Regarding the delivery of a child– have you had an episiotomy? What I mean is that we need to be very careful that we are not making excuses and especially not twisting Scripture.
Comment from LC #2: (from a man) “Want your spouse to be intimate with you? Do the dishes, clean the bathrooms, change the sheets, do laundry.”
My response: Performance-driven sex…. Ah – NO. Women, we do not make our husbands believe that if they do… then we will. Not only is that emasculating, it is a form of sexual abuse. Sex is the expression of love for your spouse – It is given freely, without cost. It is not ever, performance driven by duty or chores.
Let’s face it, the reality is we (women) will make any excuse we can when given the opportunity to get out of sex. After all, this form of manipulation has been passed down throughout history:
“I had put off my garment; how could I put it on? I had bathed my feet; how could I soil them? (Song of Solomon 5:3).
How many times have you thought – “I’m too tired… I just showered… I’m in my jammies! I just did my hair! The kids are in the next room! I haven’t even shaved my legs!”
Yep. Me too.
We blame the kids, the housework, the scheduling, the job, the headache, the aches of any kind… and if we try hard enough, we find a way to blame him.
When writing this chapter, I thought that the most important, well-informed individual I could ask about being naked and unashamed, would be my beloved. I didn’t want to put him on the spot – or embarrass him – I wanted honest answers that would require thought.
So, I sent him a text message.
“Think about me standing right in front of you, naked…. tell me: 1. What you see. 2. What you think. 3. What you feel.”
And then I waited.
“1. Intimacy, vulnerability, perfection
But those were the Spiritual answers – I wanted the real answers… You know the ones! So, when he arrived home for lunch – I asked him again, this time I was more specific…
“Babe,” I said, “Your answers were great… But,” (Big sexy-smile) “I’m looking for a little more than that…” I continued.
Honestly, he looked a little worried.
Then he said, “boobs!”
Eye-roll, followed by a smirk (because I never believe that response…)
I said, “Let me help you… When I look in the mirror I see age spots, pudgy tummy, squishy butt, one saggy boob, and unshaven legs… Hardly something worth viewing in the light of day – let alone as foreplay.”
“I’m not taking inventory! I’m looking at my hot naked wife and thinking, ‘Thank you Jesus!’”
We both laughed.
And then He continued: “Honestly, babe, I don’t look at you like that – I see my beautiful wife that I love and feel that same vulnerability that you feel – I’m not perfect either – we are what we are – and as far as I’m concerned, we’re perfectly joined together. When you open yourself up to that same vulnerability – I feel honored that you trust me to just love you and cherish you – in all your glory! I put my focus on the beauty that you are – inside and out… I see my perfect wife.”
Big Smile! Teary eyes! Lump in my heart! If I hadn’t been holding a gigantic butcher knife, preparing his salad for lunch, he would have gotten a gigantic hug and kiss too…
Taking his plate of taco-salad and heading to the living room, he continued, “By the way – To tell you the truth, I couldn’t tell you when or if you have ever shaved your legs…”
“Awake, O north wind, and come O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its choicest fruits” (Song of Solomon 4:16)
I got news for you girlie – she’s not baking a cake.
So, the appropriate answer to the request – is:
Yes. Yep. Sure. Of course. Why not. Indeed. Certainly. Absolutely. YAY! No problem. Okay. Agreed. By all means. Right here or in the bedroom?
Better yet, don’t wait for his leading… Just get naked.
The above blog is an excerpt from the upcoming book by Holly T. Ashley, “Barefoot, Naked, and in the Kitchen.”