I unapologetically write Christian Romance, the Hallmark movie channel kind. Once, at a writers’ conference, we had a discussion about the “unreality” of such offerings. One other writer and I put forth the thesis that we have “too much” reality in life, and we want something perhaps less realistic, but more “happily ever after,” so we can dream of a better reality.
My characters face troubles, in fact I portray heroes who “go through the Valley of Baca and make it a place of singing.” Girls in crisis pregnancy, Missy Raines in Recovered and Free, a man who was abused in foster care, Nick Costas in When I Am in Your Arms. An alcoholic who abandons his family and struggles to find his way home, Ian O’Malley in Recovered and Free. A woman who was sexually abused by her first husband and is ashamed she “failed,” because she went through a divorce, Lisa in Wounded and Free. A grieving chaplain who was widowed, Bill Robinson in Invisible Wounds.
None of these characters had an easy life untouched by pain, but they all share the healing of love, passionate love. God created passion. He made us passionate creatures. He is passionate—passionate about the lost, the backslider, His creation. Sacred Passion, it’s His idea, and we are made in His image.
As a mentor of young women in our Mothers of Preschoolers program since 1995, I teach young women that passion in marriage is a desirable and pleasurable necessity in marriage. I believe the marital union is sacred, but the marriage bed is undefiled. Truly believing that, I keep my characters sexually pure outside of marriage and sexually passionate once the vows are exchanged.
Like fire, well-placed passion warms and delights, and ill-placed passion consumes and devours. If we maintain passion inside of marriage—and does God use that nasty word, “fornication” to refer to the sexual relationship any place else?—it can be the “glue” that holds a marriage together. If we treat it as an unholy thing and throw it around, it can burn the home down.
As passionate creatures, we both desire and need physical satisfaction. It is the third most powerful human drive, after thirst and hunger. Believing God designed this need to be fulfilled in the sacred estate of matrimony, we turn to our husbands and wives. In the sexually licentious age in which we live, we are deluding ourselves to believe that more is better, and no commitment is necessary to enjoy “good sex.” “Liberation” is throwing off the shackles of “out-moded Puritanism,” and we have successfully achieved a fifty per cent divorce rate. We have left countless children shuttled between households that value sexual gratification over the security and joy of childhood. [I am not saying that a man or woman should remain in abusive relationships that destroy them. I am merely pointing out that most divorce is scratching a momentary itch, refusing to work harder at being the adults in the home, and dishonoring our vows and covenants.]
I am not naïve to believe this. I have lived it. I married in 1962. My husband is the father of all my children, and he is as committed to them as he is to their mother. We have chosen to maintain our household through every storm and trial. “Happily ever after” doesn’t mean without work, sweat and tears, constant self-examination, and the need to ask and give forgiveness or choosing to love when tough times come, but it is doable, and the blessings of shared history, shared family, security and, yes, passion, is a worthy goal.
God gives “do-overs.” He is in the redeeming business. Betrayal happens, and the betrayed is not left discarded like a shipwreck on the shores of life. God Himself picks up the pieces of the broken. He restores what the locusts have eaten. [Joel 2:25] He has a plan for us [Jeremiah 29:11], hope and a future. But if you are at a moment of temptation, at a turning point that may be easier, but not better, choose love—not the “feeling,” of emotion, but the kind that “bears all things, believes all things, the faith-filled love of I Corinthians 13.
If we have chosen to confine our physical gratification to the marriage bed, we achieve valuable outcomes: freedom from the fear of sexually transmitted diseases, freedom from the heartbreak of betrayal, and the protection and honor of a lifetime of sacred passion and the glue that can hold a marriage together. The physical aspect of marriage must be renewed regularly—studying diligently to show ourselves approved applies to every area of life, not just Bible study, and many excellent Christian books are available as resources to spice up your marriage. (Although the Bible has lot to say on the subject of marital bliss--one young woman I counseled came back from her assignment to read “The Song of Solomon” blushing and saying it was an “R-rated” book!)
As the church, we must not fail. We need to find and demonstrate a higher way, a better way, and value our spouse and our vulnerable children above ourselves—not suffering abuse, but working to achieve the highest and the best: a lifetime of respect, honor, and passion. Sacred passion—it’s God’s idea.
Charlotte S. Snead is a mentor for her local Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), she teaches young moms to love their husbands, train their children, and serve God. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Duke University with a B.A. in psychology, Charlotte completed her master’s in Social Work at the University of North Carolina. She and her husband, a surgeon, parented five children and fostered several others. One child and two grandchildren are adopted, motivating her pro-life work. In 1985, Charlotte founded a pregnancy help ministry and still serves on that board. She has been active in the pro-life movement for many years, writing bi-monthly for Life Matters, the state pro-life publication, and op-ed pieces in state newspapers. She has been published in The Pentecostal Evangel and Harpstring and has spoken in schools, meetings, conferences, and on Christian television and radio, as well as interviews with secular media. Her first novel, His Brother's Wife, was published by OakTara.