Feeds:
Posts
Comments

In the recent Seminar for Men, I quickly referenced the different engagements with sexuality – erotic, illicit and intimate. 

 I have gotten questions about it, so, in preparation for the rest of the articles on “insights helpful to men into regards to communicating treasure-hood to their spouses through sexuality” (or some other equally subtle and well-thought out title).  The basics of what the treasure principle that I am talked about can be found at:  (http://chrismleggcounselor.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/a-new-treasure-principle/)

So, with no further ado:  Thoughts on the different facets of Experiencing Sexuality

There are at least two different ways to engage sexually… at least these two different ways of experiencing sex, and maybe three. 

I have to start somewhere, so here is as good a place as any… First, a person can engage with sex in a way that is primarily erotic.

The Nature of the Erotic experience of Sexuality

I have already explained the Greek concept of eros, as I understand it, in the article about 5 different Greek words for love. (http://chrismlegg.com/2009/10/01/5-greek-words-for-love/).  In this usage, I am more closely aligning the word with our common modern English treatment, though the Greek certainly still applies.

In this expression or experience of sexuality, the sex is experienced for its own sake, and for the sake of the excitement, pleasure, and/or emotions of it.  One erotically engages with another person sexually in order to experience sex, and to receive (and give) the pleasure that can come with it.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this, so far as I can see, but it must be understood as limited…

…like icing… or candy… or dessert.   It can be a wonderful thing; but if someone tries to live on it, they will eat more and more and more and the more they eat, the more malnourished they become.  The erotic experience of sexuality is meant to be enjoyed, but it would be wise to remember that it doesn’t have the ability to nourish long term.  That is why if it is the only way that a person engages with sexuality, they always have to keep working at making it more, different, more extreme.   To reiterate yet again, there is nothing wrong with the erotic experience of sex any more than it is wrong to have dessert as a part of a meal.

There is, however,  a subheading under eros that is pretty much always based in sin…

… the illicit experience… the hidden, shameful, or guilty experience.  In fact, this can be one of the most powerful aspect of erotic sexual experiences.   Some people are addicted to it.  It is extremely powerful, but it is always short-lived.   This is the power of pornography, affairs, sometimes even just the pursuit stages of a relationship. 

It is toxic to a healthy sexual relationship.  In fact, this may explain why God’s Word calls for premarital abstinence… most early and virtually all pornographic expressions of sex are illicit in nature!  Hidden, shameful, abusive, selfish sexuality is common before marriage – especially in adolescence (or earlier), when most people experience “adult” sexuality for the first time.  If you suspect that you are somehow addicted to the illicit expression of sexuality, one great resource is http://www.pinegrovetreatment.com/.  Carnes is the expert on these issues.

Erotic sex is essentially what our culture understands, and virtually (and sometimes literally) worships.   Even though I believe that most of the erotic aspects of sex are a wonderful gift of God, like all things connected to the flesh, it has little power across time.  It must be re-fed in always newer and better ways… like food and drink.  When engaged with in wisdom, humility, and submission, they are sweet.  When made a part of the overall sense of nourishment, they are a wonderful pleasure… but when worshipped or idolized, they are eventually poison to the system.

I mentioned that this is the expression of sex that the World understands.  It prefers the illicit but understands the erotic.   One of the most clear evidences of this can be found in the world’s solutions to any sexual problems.

 Grab any magazine from the checkout lines, or purchase a merely secular book on helping with sexual problems (don’t, by the way).  “Sixteen ways to spice up your sex life” on the cover of a women’s magazine will involve virtually nothing but new ways to bring more eros (like lingerie or something a little kinky) or even more often, illicit expressions of sexuality (pornography or other ways of involving other people).  The world’s assumption is:  if there is something wrong with your sex life, it must not be erotic or illicit enough. 

That assumption, in my experience, is almost always inaccurate. 

Generally, in my experience, when someone has a dissatisfactory experience of their sexual life, it is because they ONLY have illicit or even erotic expressions… so, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, let me show you a more excellent way…  Next week about this time!

Advertisements

Today I re-organized the Phalanx articles so that they went in a certain order… I hope they are helpful.  So, when you check them out, or when you send someone to read them, encourage them to read them in order.  Each article ends with the link for the next one.  Let me know if you have any feedback as to the order I put them in.  Thanks

Chris

God, give us men!  A time like this demands

Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;

Men whom the lust of office does not kill;

Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;

Men who possess opinions and a will;

Men who have honor; men who will not lie;

Men who can stand before a demagogue

And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!

Tall men, sun crowned, who live above the fog

In public duty and in private thinking;

For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,

Their large professions and their little deeds,

Mingle in selfish strife, lo!  Freedom weeps,

Wrong rules the land and waiting justice sleeps.

                Josiah Gilbert Holland – “Wanted” 1872

If you need a challenging encouragement (and who doesn’t?), check out this song by Sanctus Real… “Lead Me”… lyrics and the song at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAKBXBXz1fo.

Why do we Need to Prove?

Most of us as men are trying to prove things.  We feel the need to prove ourselves smart, strong, right, desirable, sexy,

my friend's stone for remembering what God taught him recently

a stone of remembering

epic, powerful, and all kinds of other things.  We need to prove that we are loved.  We feel the need to prove that we are capable.  We try to prove that we are all-sufficient. 

 We tend to use the people around us to prove these things.  Ouch yet?

 If people laugh, we are funny and accepted.

If our wives will do certain things for us, then she must really love us/desire us.

If our kids don’t obey us, then we must not be perfect…

If people do what we demand of them, then we must be respectable/powerful.

If our boss approves of us, then we must be competent and admired…

(my friend John writes more about this) http://johnnyredfearn.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/nobody-loves-me/

 If someone else gets more attention, or acclaim, or money or something else measureable, than us, then we still need to prove ourselves…

… but does she love/desire me enough to do something more?

… does she love me enough to prove it to me again?

… does she love me enough to do something she is uncomfortable with, or does she love that more than me?  Does the love the kids more than me?  Does she love her parents more than me?  How can I get her to prove it?

Proving things always requires the bar to be raised.  Tired yet?  When are we done?

Never.

My gut tightens up just writing about it.

When I was about 11, I started taking martial arts.  It had a big influence on my self-confidence.  I was taking a soft-style called Hapkido, and the instructor was a Master named John Dowdy… I cannot begin to explain how much of a difference it made in my life as a young man and how it has played out as a man.

I think there is something to the idea that I once read in a Louis L’amour book that all men need to believe that they are able to handle themselves properly in a fight.  Most men probably live in a kind of denial of the truth, or at least remain untested.  It was wild, as a young man, to interact with men whose fighting prowess seemed supernatural at times, and to be taught by them!

As a therapist, one of my first recommendations for boys who seem to struggle with confidence is martial arts.  On my resources page, I have a link that can take you to a Kung Fu school here in Tyler that I send young men to. 

But I am writing this blog to tell a story that I learned while taking martial arts that taught be the most important lesson about the need to prove things. 

We went to an open tournament and I fought in it.  What I remember best, though, was the black belt finals. 

It was a 3 point tournament, with back, groin, and head shots allowed as points… with pads on hands and feet.

The final four were:

1. a guy I don’t remember, and you will see why in a moment.

2. a big, angry aggressive martial artist in a brown and orange gi (uniform).

3.  a talented Tae Kwon Do artist with patches all over his white gi.

4.  a small Korean guy, wearing gi pants, but a plain black t-shirt… he may not have been wearing a belt.

The first two fought, and within a couple of points, and even with the pads, the angry guy hit the other guy in the eye so hard that it collapsed the bone under his eye!  #1 was taken out on a stretcher, as I recall.

Patches and the Korean were amazing.  The Tae Kwon Do guy doing the most beautiful precise movement I have ever seen – spins, jumps, strikes… all perfectly executed (with his canvas gi popping at every movement).  He never touched the other guy.  The little guy weaved in and out of the these moves and slapped him on the cup (groin protection in martial arts is even more extensive than baseball).  My memory is that all three points were scored this way!  Until that day, I did not realize that there were people actually fast enough to see a punch coming and just dodge it.

The final round was the little Korean guy and the big snarling guy.  The whole auditorium sat in hushed anticipation of seeing this big bear get taught a lesson.  Everyone in the room (except maybe him) knew how this would end – in his humiliating defeat.

At the mark, the big guy came across the mat like a freight train.  The little guy danced back out of the ring.  The judge warned him for leaving the ring.

Then it happened.

The little guy kind of cocked his head at the other one (who was still kind of snarling in the middle of the ring), shook his head to the side with a kind pitying look,

 and walked out the tournament.

 Need to read it again?  Go ahead, I will wait.

 Everyone was stunned… except the big guy left in the ring who started celebrating his victory.  He won the 1st place trophy.

 As my dad and I drove home, we talked about him.  Did we think he could have won?  Of course we knew he could have!  Then why not fight?  At that point in life, it was almost beyond me to imagine not showing off when someone could.  What possible other motivation would cause someone to not fight except some doubt as to whether they could win?  I couldn’t imagine any.

Then why didn’t he fight?

The conclusion my dad and I reached (and which was confirmed later)?

He didn’t need to.  It didn’t look like fun to him.  He had nothing to prove to anyone. 

Not all the cute girls in the room (and the other girls too), not the tough men, (get this) not even himself.

Imagine that – he needed a reason to fight rather than a reason not to.  He needed a reason to prove himself rather than a miraculously darn good reason not to!

Imagine not needing to say that thing which makes people think (or lets them know) that you are smart.

Imagine not needing to drop that name or tell that story that lets people know how important you are.

Imagine not feeling slighted if other people like when someone else speaks or leads than when you do.

Imagine not feeling the need to prove something?

May God set us free of our insecure need to prove things, but instead teach us to focus, to rest, to rely, on the truth of who we are… in Him

saving us

from frantically trying

to prove against who we aren’t…

in ourselves.

Gideon is a mighty warrior the moment God sent His messenger to declare it… long before Gideon knew it was true.

Amen.

PS – thanks, Mark Cole, for the photo of the stone.

One purpose of the Phalanx is to give men the resources we need to make it, together, as epic heroes.

A good friend and fellow soldier & worker recently let me know about an event that he is helping make happen. I feel very confident in recommending anything he is involved in… so I am going to post his words on this event for men here in case anyone is looking for something like this…

Rob: “For six years now, Sabine Creek Ranch has been a great site for Men’s Retreats.

Four years ago Eddie Walker decided to start sponsoring a Men’s Conference to serve churches with great speakers and worship. Steve Farrar came the first year. Neal Jeffrey came the next two years. Check out our website for the bios on the three speakers this year. The keynote speaker is Colt McCoy’s dad and he is going to talk about Living to Win.”

It is being held the weekend of Jan 21st. More at http://www.sabinecreek.com

I have recently run into another issue that I think is worth mentioning:

Conceptions of masculinity… or maybe should say “misconceptions.”

Over a century ago, a guy named Carl Jung talked a lot about the psychological and sociological applications of “archetypes”… by which he meant that we each have models in our heads of how certain things are supposed to be.

 Psychologically, if the concept is connected to us in any way, our perception of our identity can be strongly linked to that archetype… and sometimes we don’t even know it.

They are kind of like metaphors for certain important ideas, and how we perceive those ideas. I particularly like his ideas for the typical human archetypes for masculinity.

There are the technical terms… now to the application.

I have recently run into a number of different men who, when we talked, I realized that they had at least one of the following mindsets:

1. a very limited understanding of masculinity…

2. a perception of masculinity that does not include them…

3. a strong desire to connect with masculinity they cannot find it in their own identity.

So, I asked each of them to describe masculinity…  

“Tall, dominant, confident, strong, muscular”… stuff like that, were exclusively the answers.

Only those indicate a very one-dimensional perspective:  Physical presence, big muscles, good looking..

What made that definition additionally impactful, and I think, may have contributed to some of their confusion was that they didn’t see themselves as tall, dominant, confident, strong, etc.  So, they didnt see themselves as Manly. (if we think a chair has four legs and we don’t have four legs, then we must not think we are a chair!)

It seems that most men in our culture have a one-dimensional view of masculinity and I think we need a better integrated, well rounded (and at least 4 dimensional) perspective. 

I think we may find some wisdom in the ideas of  Jung, the theist psychologist I mentioned earlier… Jung believed that there were actually four archetypes of masculinity; and in fact, each of these overlap in sophisticated ways:

1. The Warrior (athlete, soldier). This is the one we tend to think of first. These men are those who consider themselves men because of their physical presence, their prowess with physical things, their strength, their option to kill. In today’s world, these would be our sports stars, Navy Seals, body builders, Olympians, etc.

2. The Wizard (professor, rabbi, guru). This is the man who sees himself as a man because of his knowledge. He carries the secrets, the wisdom, the information, that others need. Modern day teachers, trainers, computer experts, etc. fill this role.

3. The Lover (poet, romantic) This man connects to masculinity via his ability to engage in other’s lives emotionally. He may incite passions in women via seduction, or a crowd via the stage. Modern day movie stars, politicians, inspirational speakers, celebrities, and often preachers fit this archetype.

4. The King (leader, manager, captain). This man is a man because of his ability to lead others. Other men are drawn to them and their ideas. This man connects to masculinity by guiding, bossing, and/or direct others.

Obviously the lines between these is blurred, and most men, once aware, can connect somewhat to all four, but most of us see ourselves as primarily representing one or two. One aspect of this that can be most helpful is that this means we don’t all need to be primarily only one of them!

We don’t have to all be primarily warriors… and we don’t all have to see ourselves as warriors in order to be MEN!  We shouldnt be!

 Also, our views on them and on ourselves change (hopefully) as we grow, age, and mature. I also think that the more developed a man’s image of his own masculinity is, the more integrated all four become in his life! In the best case, we could see ourselves integrating all four into our lives.

I also think scripture gives us plenty of examples of all four in the men we find there, eg.:

Moses – wizard king

David – lover warrior king

Daniel – wizard lover king

Elijah – wizard warrior

Peter – warrior king

Jesus – I see examples of all four integrated pretty strongly in Him… especially a lot of wizard king 

What is vital for any male is that he is able to identify himself with some picture of masculinity… that he can say

“ ______________________ is what it means to be a man… and I am ____________________.”

When we can’t we usually end up looking to prove it in ugly, self serving ways that hurt others, or we look for it in another person via idolization, codependency, or maybe even homosexuality.

So, maybe the most important application answers these questions: how do we know what is manly about us?

How do we know when we are men, not boys?   Answer: when someone tells us.

As more time passes, I have become convinced that we do not know that we are a man until someone who we think of as a man tells us that we are.

Have you come to believe that you are a man?   Have you told anyone that they are?

Now move on to https://phalanxmen.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/loving-with-limited-resources/