Tag Archive: steve graybill


My good friend Steve Graybill from Americaland, who has written for my blog before both on his strength weakness [which he identified, ironically enough, as a thirst for knowledge] and also on Sex in Marriage recently bought a copy of my book, ‘i, church’ on Amazon. He had some questions and thoughts which he shared with me via email and i asked him if he would write them into a post so that we could get more people engaging. Here is some of our back and forth conversation and some thoughts Steve had.

Steve and Helene

So, me and my wife, The Beautiful Helene (TbH) – when you can’t be original borrow – have had the privilege of hanging out with “FISH” a couple of times the past couple of years after meeting him at the Simple Way on a trip to “Come and See.” My wife being the awesome gift giver that she is bought a half dozen copies of ‘i, Church’ – two for us and some for us to give away.

I recently started reading the book and so far am really enjoying it. However, it is a bit weird to read a book of someone I would consider a good friend—a good friend despite not spending tons of time together, but some of the best quality time when we do hook up! I had a rather verbose FB message session with Brett regarding some questions with his book, which resulted in a brief dialogue, and Brett asking me to put the dialogue on his author page for further comment. So what follows is mostly what transpired, with some additions and editing from me on our conversation on ‘i, Church’.

[Steve’s First Message to Bret]t: Hey Bro, Enjoying the book–I am underlining the normal amount which is good. I have a number of questions which is also good. Perhaps one of us will get on a plane to get to the other or we can do a skype at some point but I have one question that I did want to present here more for food for thought than anything. You reference the parable of the Talents and it is obvious that you take the normal exegetical stance and see Christ’s referring to master in it as God. I will be frank, and say that I have never much liked this parable with that exegetical stance. In the past several years I have seen that passage exegeted with the Master representing the world not God, several times, this exegesis also aligns better with the other parable of the sheep and the goats in the same chapter in Matthew. Anyway, I was wondering if you had heard of this and your thoughts on it. Peace, Steve

[Brett’s Response]: hey Steve – i have heard the parable done from the other point of view [i think it was Pete Rollins] and i can see that – am researching Mark for a lecture i am giving today actually [5am here now so much later today] and came upon a piece yesterday [no idea where] where Jesus independently of that parable says the words ‘he who has will be given more and he who doesn’t will lose what little he has’ and so the meaning taken from that parable i feel is still a biblical principle even if that particular exegesis is not accurate [also with passages like branches not bearing fruit, salt losing its saltiness – that seems to be a clear principle throughout Jesus’ teaching?]

Not sure what you’re saying with regards to sheep and goats – is that master also not God? have not heard that before and need to go give it a read with different eyes and see but i have never had issue with that one because it does seem to back up God’s heart for the poor and marginalized – so give me more of what you mean with that one?

[My Response]:

-Brett, I am really struck with this saying of Jesus! So here is what came up in a google search for: “Jesus, whoever has more will be given.”

Matthew 13:12: Hearing the Word (Jesus)

Matthew 25:29: Talents (Money)

Mark 4:25: Hearing the Word (Jesus)

Luke 8:18: Hearing the Word (Jesus)

Luke 19:26: Minas (Money)

In Luke 19: The master owns up to him being severe (unforgiving) “You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.” In Matthew 25’s account we have: “…you knew that I reap where I do not sow and gather where I scattered no seed…”

The other three times where this phrase is mentioned in the Gospels is regarding hearing the words of Jesus.

What about Jesus Claim that you cannot serve both God and Money?

Matthew 6:24 has Jesus discussing laying up treasure in heaven and Luke 16 Jesus tells the parable of the dishonest manager—the master of the manager in this story is diametrical to the master we find in Luke 19 and in Matthew 25—he actually commends his manager for his shrewdness in reducing debts and making friends with people knowing that he is about to be fired and the parable ends with, “You cannot serve God and money.” In other words, the manager has given up worldly gain for heavenly gain (human relationships) and is commended by his Master for this decision.

What if Jesus’ use of this phrase, “to him who has more will be given,” is purposely given in two contexts to show, much like Jesus lays out in Matthew 6:24, that we have a choice. Do we want to push into God and have more of Christ’s presence in our life? Or do we want to operate in the paradigm of the world and have material objects be more present in our life?

Brett: I think we more or less agree on the sheep and goat parable. My point was that in the Parable of the Talents we have this money-hungry master that in essence adds to the homeless population, while in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats we see a God who is found in the homeless, the widow, the incarcerated—a God who opposes the cruel masters represented in the Parable of the Talents.

[One more post from me on Matthew 25 that was at the end of the FB message just to create tension]:

Several months ago I heard a message on the Matthew 25 passage in question (Talents) that kept Master as God and honed in our the faithfulness aspect of it that I really appreciated. I see where positives and teaching points from both exegetical stances–how crazy it would be if Christ meant it as a “both and” scenario and not an “either or.” Late here and heading to bed–maybe I can copy and paste a big chunk of this convo onto your author page with some editing?

[A small addition to that post]:

The one thing from the message that stuck out to me besides the faithfulness aspect was what was not emphasized. I don’t necessarily agree that Jesus presents these parables as a both and scenario, but I am not a theologian and even if I were one, a good one anyway, I would have to admit that I do not have a monopoly on exegesis and hermeneutics. Anyway, during that message it was emphasized that it does not say: “Well done, good and hard-working servant,” or “Well done, good and incredibly driven servant,” but “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Having faithfulness being the teaching point of the message made that interpretation of the passage relevant and useful for me.

[My next message to Brett]: OK, Damn, another one: From ‘i, Church’: “The pattern in so many local church congregations is the paid staff and the minority of the people in the church doing the majority of the work which is mostly aimed at the church building/members. The majority of the people who frequent the building on a Sunday are quite happy to spectate. Come and watch a show if you like and then leave largely unchanged.” This made me think of Dave Schmidgall’s quote of NCC is a place where we want you to be a part of what God is doing through NCC and NCC is a church that wants to be a part of what God is doing through you.

Dave is my Campus Pastor and he has followed through with Helene and me more than once on that part about the church being a part of what God is doing through us. Another quote of his is “criticize through creation.” If you have a beef and complaint with the church and want to complain for the sake of complaining I am not going to give you much of an ear, but if you want to criticize and have plan for action then let me hear it and let’s get moving!

[Brett’s Response]: “NCC is a place where we want you to be a part of what God is doing through NCC and NCC is a church that wants to be a part of what God is doing through you.” sounds like a great [but long] car sticker but not fully sure what it means – are you talking specifically as a building in terms of using their premises for ministry vibes? i do love the “criticize through creation” concept although not 100% – it has merit and most of the time should be applied but sometimes not having an alternative answer yourself doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be muted on pointing out the fact that something is wrong… cos otherwise your motto is “Let’s continue doing it wrong til we figure out a way to do it better.” and sometimes things done wrong just need to be stopped altogether and then you can figure out a batter way of doing things – but i do get it and agree with it largely in principle… thanks for the questions.

[My Response]:

-Well, Dave’s wife happens to be a darn good business woman with ethics—not sure if you remember the Bittersweet Mag I gave you, but that is Dave’s wife’s use of her business for justice in the city. Anyway, she has a rented space for her business that use to double as their home until recently—anyway they have more than once allowed us to use that space during the evening for Kingdom purposes. That is

being a part of what God is working through us—they were even able to allow a couple to use it for their wedding—God is all about weddings!

-Helene and I volunteer at a hospice house in DC called Joseph’s House. While volunteering there we met a resident at the house who had another house in DC that was not habitable at the time and we asked our church if they might support us in renovating the house. They followed through with this giving us a small budget to work with. While the outcome of that experiment is still yet to be determined, that is being a part of what God is working through us.

-Helene and I are trying to make our spare bedroom a place for transitional housing for trafficked women in DC—currently this does not exist at all in DC. We approached NCC with this and they are partnering with an NGO in DC to create a pilot program for this. That is being a part of what God is working through us.

So, criticize through creation: several people have approached NCC with statements such as you are not doing enough to advocate for the homeless, what are we doing to end trafficking in our city?, HIV/AIDS is at epidemic proportions in DC, NCC needs to be doing more! We are not advocating for Children the way that we need to be what is NCC doing to address these issues. These are the criticisms that get thrown back at us—you are part of NCC head this up if you are passionate about it and NCC has your back. Those are our 4 key issues with our church right now and there are considerably more folks not on staff then on staff taking up the banner for those issues—Criticize through creation.

What about your thoughts? What have you liked or disliked with Brett’s book? What actions items are you taking away from it?

What are your thoughts about the church being a place that has you participating in the things that church is passionate about and having that church support you with Kingdom causes that you are passionate about? How is that playing out in your life? How are you criticizing through creating?

[To find out more about ‘i, church’, click here]

Advertisements

this week is Thanksgiving which is a fairly alien celebration to us as South Africans…

but as South Africans living in Americaland, this is now the third time we will be celebrating it and so it has begun to find a special place in our hearts…

and with a focus on giving thanks, who can go wrong? [don’t mention black friday or cyber monday and we may get out of this alive]

there is so much in my life i have to give thanks for [and that is even in the midst of a time that has been a little bit of a struggle for me in various ways] and it would take a hundred blog posts to even start denting that [don’t worry, this is not the start of a 100 part series]

but tonite i hung out with two guys who graciously invited me onto their most fun radio podcast and the show ended with my new friend Jacob asking Josiah [aka Tea-man] and myself one thing we were grateful for…

and i spoke a little bit about friends. and yes, there was an obvious side reference to the tv series and could we BE any more thankful [and how one day Matt Perry will respond to me on Twitter – how about it Matt? love your work!] but one of the things i am always most grateful for in my life is the many [and your mind would be blown if you had any idea how many] meaningful friends i have in and around my life.

the kind of friends i spoke about in particular are those whose friendship is so deep and powerful [through quality over quantity of time spent together] that you can see them once a year or even once every three years and it’s like you’ve been spending time with them daily for the last year – you just pick up exactly where you left off… you got anyone like that? take a moment and picture them. pick up your phone, open your Twitter, grab a pen and paper and LET THEM KNOW!!! those are such special friendships.

i spoke of my friends Debbie and Barry Autwick from KZN in South Africa who surprised us a week before flying over here with the news they were coming and we got to hang with them for two days and just laughed so much [it was him!] and learned great new bands to listen to [Bastille] and discovered addictive happiness-making videos [What the Fox says and other music videos by Ylvis – have you checked out their ‘Flight of the Conchords’esque ‘The Cabin’?] and spoke about life and God and truth and laughed some more [did i mention they topped up my supply of Nachtmusiek and Milo?] Oh man, such good times and i have seen them a maximum of one to three days per year or less over the last five to ten years…

i thought of our new friends Steve Graybill and Helene Scalliet who we met pretty much in passing during our time at the Simple Way but stayed in contact with online and so our friendship has largely grown as we’ve shared ideas and read each others blogs and followed the activity and thought and heart of the other online and just such quality people who planned a trip to come visit us a few weeks ago [and yes they had other friends in the neighborhood but after less than a week in total of relationship they chose to fly across the country and spend some days at our place] and we laughed and spoke and got to know each other and were challenged and prayer walked and it was amazing – and the other day when i was feeling particularly low i go online and there is a mail from Steve that was just so encouraging and real and loving that it lifted me right up.

and i could go on for a long, long time. but the point is realising [which i do often] and being grateful for [which i am all the time] and then trying to be more regular in the letting them know just how much they mean to you [which i try to do, but probably fail horribly at simply because there are so many of them in my life]

so many of those friends are the ones who pooled their resources together and gave generously [and are giving] so that we could be first at the Simple Way [in terms of flights] and now here [in terms of flights and monthly support] and they are not all people that have a lot, but what they have they share. we are blown away by the generosity constantly shown to us.

so this week [and beyond] i want to take the time to say thank you to my friends – i hope that they know – and i hope i will get better at telling them…

what about you? is there someone in your life you need to let know how much you care about them or appreciate them or what they meant to you? if anyone wants to share a story of a good friend like i’ve shared here, i would love to read those – one story of one friend you have who means a lot to you… and go.

And now a glimpse into the story of Steve and Helene from Helene’s side:

Helene and Steve

I will start with the here and now – Steve and I have been married two and a half years and together six years. I feel very blessed and fulfilled by our physical intimacy, and am looking for many years of exploring what that will look like in the various seasons that await us. Knowing where the other comes from with respect to sexual history makes us want to honor the other, and bring healing and peace and respect to the other in a way that no one else can. With that comes a humbling responsibility and great power, but also a deep desire to bless the other and receive the joy of sex that God intended for us to experience together. I am sure it will not always be like it is now – sometimes it will be better (whatever that will look like, I don’t know yet) and sometimes it will be worse, but I have a deep trust that this is something we both want to prioritize because we have been uniquely placed by God in a position to offer that to the other. I would say that right now, our biggest challenge is that we often feel like life gets in the way of us making time to be intimate as often as we’d like. Thankfully we are quick to notice it and since we don’t have children and have a fair degree of freedom in our activities, we plan impromptu time in bed or put a hold on our calendar for a romantic evening on short notice to remedy the situation. Life is good.

But it wasn’t always like this. What I had to bring to the table on our wedding night was a soul and body so disconnected by a misguided sexual past that I thought I would never be able to fulfill my role in sharing wonderful physical intimacy with my husband. And it really broke my heart, because I felt that Steve had spent so many years (mostly) holding back from physical intimacy until he found someone to marry, while I was out carousing with any guy who wanted to lay a hand on me, and now all that brokenness made me unable to give something to Steve that he so rightfully deserved. I felt shame and disappointment and guilt. I felt unworthy and dirty. And more than anything, I felt scared to give him access to my body and my soul together as one – which is something I’d never done with anyone.

You see, my body hadn’t always been mine. My childhood, despite my wonderful parents’ love and care, was filled with physical attacks from a violent brother as well as the unwanted advances of a male babysitter before I even reached puberty. At a young age I learned that my body was something people could use to hurt me. I learned that those closest to me were the ones who would hurt me. So I simply dissociated my soul from my body – if people wanted to use my body for evil that’s fine, I could keep it at arm’s length and not be affected by it. In teenage years I became very promiscuous – which seems counterintuitive but I learned later that it is a very common way for survivors of childhood sexual abuse or violence to cope with a feeling of powerlessness. It was as though I had to affirm that my body didn’t matter, therefore what happened to me as a child didn’t matter. What it did however, was widen the chasm between how I related to my body and how I related to my soul – I didn’t understand how the two could coexist together as a whole. It also taught me that you can have countless partners but that you never have to trust anyone, especially the ones you become closest to. So in a weird way sex became a tool to keep people at a distance, not bring them closer. I had no concept of what it could mean to have sex with someone and respect them, or be respected for that matter. By the time I entered my thirties I had left that wildly promiscuous past behind, perhaps more as a result of finding fewer people willing to engage in the practice because of my age, or perhaps because unbeknownst to me I was growing up a little. Then Steve entered the scene. We started dating and he told me about not wanting to have sex before marriage. I thought “well heck, I’ve never tried THAT before!” Since nothing else had worked to that point with respect to finding eternal love, I was willing to give it a shot. Not only was I attracted to Steve in the conventional way at the onset of dating, but I was also very intrigued by the idea that someone could value a relationship with me that wasn’t based on the physical. In hindsight it is an incredible story of redemption that the Lord would have put Steve on my path, because out of that relationship came a deep reconciliation between my body and my soul, and a feeling of wholeness has emerged that I had never thought possible.

It was not easy at first though. I didn’t know how to be sexual and at the same time stay engaged emotionally and spiritually with him. I knew that I could not treat this incredible person the way I had treated sexual partners in the past – by using him as an object. At the same time, I did not know how to stay connected with him during physical intimacy because I had trained my soul to just go hide somewhere deep inside whenever I was naked with somebody and to leave my empty shell of a body for the person to use as they saw fit. At that point, we’d just gotten married and I wanted desperately to give him a wonderful sexual experience, but it all came crashing down on me. All those years of protecting myself had essentially disabled me from knowing how to let somebody in, body and soul, into my life. So in the first few weeks/months, I remember letting “it” happen but feeling pain and incredible sadness that I couldn’t connect with Steve in that way. I felt a lot of rage and guilt that all these years I had been able to have “great sex (whatever that means!)” with strangers and now with the one person whom I loved and trust, I couldn’t do it. But that was actually a blessing, because what was happening was that for the first time in my life I cared enough about someone that I did not want to use him and let him use me. I wanted to experience what God intended for us to experience, but I didn’t know how. I felt too broken to have anything to offer. I was at an impasse, so I went to see a counselor who helped me sort out all these feelings I was having. She gave me and Steve tools for overcoming this initial difficulty in our intimacy. She gently encouraged me to start trusting Steve in a way that I had never trusted anyone before. At first, I sometimes had to make him stop in the middle of the act because I couldn’t stay with it emotionally and I did not want to let myself dissociate from my body. It was better to make the whole thing stop than to let myself go back to that secret place inside and leave my empty shell in bed with Steve. It was awkward of course, and I am forever grateful that Steve gave me the space and unconditional love to work through all these emotions – all the while he was experiencing his own disappointment that sex with me wasn’t quite the amazing and exciting experience he had hoped it would be. What made the difference was that I knew he trusted me and trusted that I was committed to getting past this and having a wonderful physical connection with him down the road. He never pressured me, something for which I am, again, so grateful to him. Within that sacred, safe place I began to heal.

After about a year, things started getting better. I found myself looking forward to sharing intimate time with Steve whereas before I had to talk myself into it a little. I started trusting him, trusting my body to be a source of joy and pleasure and not a source of pain, trusting that it is possible to have someone touch me with respect, with love, with care. And I feel so incredibly grateful when I find myself wishing we spent more time in bed together now–after my journey it is such a blessing to find myself in such a mundane, simple predicament: simply to wish for more intimate time with my husband. More importantly, all the time Steve and I spent not being fulfilled sexually has created a relationship that is based on trust and mutual respect and we have learned to find other ways to feel valued and loved. I look forward to and love the times that we spend physically intertwined together, but I also look forward to and love the times when we just sit and talk about what we’ve been reading and thinking about, cook together, kayak together or serve others together. We were able to develop an incredibly supportive and challenging relationship even as we were struggling with relating to one another sexually, which had two pretty awesome outcomes: one, we appreciate the lightness and depth of our physical intimacy even more because we worked hard for it, and two, we don’t worry about how it would affect our relationship if for some reason (sickness, distance,…) we couldn’t show our love physically to one another. We know so many ways to show and receive love and to feel connected to one another, one of which happens to be sex. It’s a wonderful gift, but not the “end all be all” of marriage in my opinion.

[to read Steve’s side to this story, click here]

Steve and Helene

Val and I met Steve during our time at the Simple Way and although we have spent a really short amount of live time together, he has quickly slotted into my folder of ‘Favourite people.’ Steve is someone who really strives to live out the Good News of Jesus practically and is an absolute inspiration. He jumped at the chance to share his story here and I hope that it will encourage and challenge many of you as it has me… On his second visit to the Simple Way we got to meet his lovely wife, Helene. Here is a glimpse into their story from Steve’s point of view:

My pastor has a saying: “Sometimes you have to let a dream die before God will resurrect it.”

I became a Christian shortly before my 19th birthday. Being somewhat of a high-school nerd I had still – had my virginity intact without much threat to it as I entered my college years. Truth be told when I became a Christian it was mainly because I wanted to date a girl who would not date non-Christians — we were best friends and there always seemed to be the ambiguous friends-more-than-friends paradigm/angst to our relationship. Of course, it was me who usually had the more romantic interest in her. Needless to say that romantic part of our relationship never worked out with any longevity, but being close Christian friends we made a covenant with each other that we would remain virgins until we found the person that we would spend the rest of our lives with. And we would wait until we married that person. She held up her end of the covenant while I did not. I was close, but I blew it. Of course she did get married in her early 20s, while I would wait until I was nearly 40 to have God give me the person that I will spend the rest of my life with.

Finding the woman that I would marry was the number one goal of my twenties. It was frustrating to see my male friends that were not holding to my standards of sexual morality fall in love, and get married. I would pray and ask God, “My friends are sleeping around and getting rewarded with wives. You know this is the desire of my heart, I am not sleeping around with anyone – Okay I did buy that Penthouse magazine, but geez I threw it away the same night I bought it and even went back to the store clerk and confessed that purchasing it was wrong—so when do I get rewarded with the woman that I get to spend the rest of my life with?”

By the time I was 29 I had had it! Most of my guy friends were married and my closest friend who I was living with had just gotten engaged to a possessive and jealous woman and I had to move out and our friendship eroded quickly. In the process of this, I began dating a non-Christian woman who I was up front with about waiting until marriage before having sex. She was fine with this agreement. But my anger and resentment toward God for not giving me what I deserved with my chaste lifestyle boiled over. I still remember the night that I had sex for the first time. I remember my girlfriend honoring me – three times she said “You don’t need to do this if you don’t want to. Are you sure?” I was sure! It was obvious that God was not for me and if God was not for me, than I was not for God.

I had heard stories about how if you have sex before marriage you will wake up feeling guilty the next day. This was not the case for me at all — I woke up feeling great, in control, and like a man! However, our relationship would begin to fall apart soon after this decision. Despite me being the initiator of sex, I gradually began to lose respect for her and I think that was the primary factor that led to me breaking off the relationship.
It would be two years before I would have another relationship at the age of 31. Christina* was a divorcee, 6 years older than me, a recovering alcoholic, but a Christian. We both agreed to wait until marriage to have sex. We also agreed that we would date for at least a year. While we never had intercourse, I would not exactly say that were not sexual. Regardless, we were dating for 11 months and I was beginning to think about buying a ring when she abruptly cut the relationship off. I was devastated—It was one of the most difficult times in my life — God had again shown that he is not for me.

Somehow, I took to heart one of the things that Christina told me when she broke up with me. If you want to understand me you should attend Al-anon — a twelve step program for families and friends of alcoholics. I don’t know why I would take the advice of the woman that just broke my heart but I did. Al-anon literally saved my life. It was in the Al-anon meetings that I began to realize how egocentric I was! For a solid year I was at Al-non twice a week and on bad weeks more! One of the biggest turning points was on Good Friday — I attended a meeting that I did not normally attend because it was just a really hard week for me. I remember gushing tears after that meeting and going up to Val, who was always knitting through the meetings, and flat out told her, “I am unlovable!” She immediately gave me a hug and reassured me saying, “You are totally lovable.” She meant those words and somewhere inside of me I knew she was right.

Things did not get instantly better after that night but that was the turning point. I began the process of realizing God is for me — a process that continues today. Somehow, it occurred to me that maybe I was not meant to get married. I decided for the first time in my life that I would trust God with this. If I was meant to be married God will make it happen in his timing, but I was really willing to accept that maybe I might be called to be single for the rest of my life. That latter scenario was a bit hard to swallow but I was okay with it. I was okay with it until gradually I started to really enjoy it.

I would not go on another date for more than six years! I had gotten used to single life and I was loving absolutely every minute of it! And then bam! I asked a woman that I barely knew if she would like to share gas money to a river festival. This was the time when gas was more than $4.00 a gallon, I was driving a gas-guzzling SUV and the festival was three hours away! We were both avid whitewater kayakers and would be able to hang out with our respective friends once at the festival. Helene was a “safe” option — I was sure of it!

God had other plans! It did not take long for us to realize on the ride up that there was a connection between us. We talked the entire way without either one dominating the conversation at any point. I remember being excited and confused at the same time. Needless to say, the river festival was the catalyst to us beginning a relationship. The big problem for me with this though, was that Helene was an atheist, had a promiscuous past and had also recently dated a good friend of mine. Again, I laid out the boundaries of no premarital sex and was shocked to find another non-Christian agreeable to this.

I was committed to loving Helene for who she was and not for what she believed. I was very hands off with respect to sharing my faith with her. I was open to sharing what I believed and why I believed what I believed and would recommend books that had influenced me — mainly so that she could better understand me. Regardless, God began to enter her life.

I happened to be what is commonly termed as “dechurched” at this time. Al-anon was still serving that purpose for me at the time, albeit more like 2 times a month. Helene heard about an Alpha group at National Community Church (NCC) in Washington, DC and started attending. Before long she was going to services and then this atheist girlfriend started asking her Christian boyfriend why he did not go to church — weird how God works sometimes! God uses atheists to get Christians into church — NCC is still our church home today!

It was not long before our relationship would fall into the trap of what I call the “Bill Clinton” school of sexual abstinence. Everything but intercourse is not waiting until marriage, but it would take us a while until we realized this. We dated a little less than two years before we got engaged and moved in together not long after. About 8 months before our wedding we went through a six week prepare group with our church for engaged couples. The group leaders are empty-nesters and they are awesome and they do a great job with the group! However, it would be the week after the group ended that I would pick up Lauren Winter’s book, ‘Real Sex,’ off of my wife’s bookshelf. I will not go into details about the book other than to say that it was the kick in the butt that I needed and that it is a great read for dating couples! I read the book in a few days and immediately gave it to Helene and said, “You need to read this and then we need to talk.”

We agreed that waiting until marriage to have sex is not about doing everything but intercourse. We were cheapening what it means to honor God with how we were approaching our physical relationship. We set up an appointment with the leader of the prepare group and he let us have it. At that meeting, we agreed that I would move into the spare bedroom starting that night. The only problem was the Helene’s mom was visiting and staying in the guest room at the time. So instead we agreed that I would sleep in our bedroom but on the floor on a camping pad until Helene’s mom’s visit was over. We very specifically agreed on body parts that were off limits to the other until we said “I do.” We also wrote confession letters to each other that we would burn together as well after reading them aloud to each other.

The decision to do these things was paramount for the health of our relationship. Showing love physically is easy. It can be a challenge to show love in other ways. Helene and I had to be creative. Notes around the house—putting them in sneaky places where one would least expect it was one thing we did. Reading Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages and learning what those are for each other was also good for us. Moreover, the decision to step away from the physical aspect of our relationship was a step of faith in trusting that God knows what is best for us. Instead of seeing God as wanting to take away the fun things in our life–in this case sex—I decided to go all in (no pun intended) with trusting Him!

I will admit that it was not always easy but it was certainly amazing! I gained more respect for Helene. I gained more respect for myself. It was a catalyst for me to allow God deeper into my life. I also learned how to make Helene feel loved beyond the scope of just being sexual. And I felt redeemed — even all the mess that Helene and I created with keeping God at arms-length in our premarital sex life — God was able to redeem it once we invited Him in!

God had truly resurrected the dream that I had let die!

[*Name Changed to protect the innocent]

[To follow Steve’s musings in his regular blog ‘Steve G’s Eclectic World’, click here]

[to get a glimpse of part of Helene’s story, click here]

Wow! So this one should get people clicking on it. It may seem like a bit of an unusual topic to list under ‘Taboo Topics’ which after all was a series designed with the aim of talking about some of the issues that are very prevalent in the world, but that the church [and often even the outside-of-the-church world] rarely speaks about, or into. But think about it for a second. Preaching about sex in church? In any context other than the ‘Thou shalt not!’ of pre-marital sex… I certainly can’t remember the last time i heard a good preach on how to have good sex in marriage.

I know what a lot of you might be thinking – of course not, how inappropriate would that be, that is something for a counselling sesssion… or something like that.

It certainly is something for somewhere. And if the majority of married people are not receiving any form of counselling, then chances are it is not being spoken about. At all. Does the bible have anything to say about sex? Absolutely, and it definitely has a lot to say about how we should be treating each other.

So I wanted to get the ball rolling and so i sent out a general email to a bunch of my married friends, and Steve and Helene responded almost immediately and having read their stories i am so excited to be able to share them with you as there is so much Love and Grace and Redemption within them, that I really believe these are going to change lives and hopefully share a bit of an ‘I get it’ with some of you who may have felt as if you are the only one who understands what you’ve been through. While each of our stories is different, sometimes it just takes hearing the story of someone who has gone through something similiar, to be able to feel a little bit encouraged and have a lot more hope that this can turn out alright…

I should say before we begin that I really do believe that marriage is the place God created for a man and a woman in a committed relationship to have sex in. That is how God designed it to be. Although at the same time, it is important to acknowledge that we do live in a broken world and we live with a lot of that brokenness in us {which God is bringing to redemption], and so it doesn’t always end up that that is where sex happens. Fortunately we have a gracious and loving God who is able to enter into our stories where we have messed them up…

This was the original blog post and two responses that invited the whole focus on this topic – click here to read ‘How much Sex in Marriage?’

Click here to read the story of Steve Graybill and his wife Helene Scalliet

Click here to read the story of Helene Scalliet and her husband Steve Graybill

Martin Luther King Jr. penned the following words from the Birmingham jail, “I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension.’ I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.”

I recently turned 42 and have been following my savior and mentor, Jesus, for more than half of my life. This relationship started out with things pretty black and white. However, the more I get to know this Jesus, the more I honestly believe that he is into paradox. I am not sure how I missed his quote, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first” for so long! However, this quote and my friend Brett’s idea behind a strength having the potential for being a weakness both fall into paradox which creates the tension that MLK Jr. so aptly described from his jail cell. The list of things I see as black and white these days is dwindling rapidly as I am embracing the narrative of tension.

So what is my strength that is also my weakness — or what is one of my strengths that is also one of my weaknesses? I almost actually typed out knowledge as my strength — but that would be very far from the truth! However, I do have a deep drive for obtaining knowledge. I want to know a lot about a lot so that I can make a deep impact for Christ. I believe that the more I learn about a problem the better equipped I will be able to solve it. There is certainly biblical backing for this. Mark 12: 30 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

However, if I am not careful with this strength it can so easily distract me from the relational aspect of what it means to be a follower of Christ. I can very easily bury myself in books and neglect just about every relationship I have. Moreover, it leads to dependence on me rather than God—if I know enough about this issue, I can resolve it and completely leave God out of the equation which in turn will lead to pride. Finally, knowing this is one of my strengths makes me want to focus on it because it is easy for me. And this takes me away from the areas of conflict in my life, which involves me stepping out of my introverted cocoon and entering the “nonviolent tension which is necessary” for me to grow. Jesus was most often about building relationships, and while I believe that having knowledge is important I believe it is paramount to be in relationship and community!

to see a different strength weakness where Bruce Collins talks about PEOPLE

%d bloggers like this: