You Leave Me Breathless
In a genuine relationship between a man and a woman some things change with the passing years. Some passions and felt needs weaken but other things become stronger in the process and while, for example, the sexual hunger might be less demanding the rich pleasure of the other’s presence increases. Change is inevitable and in many ways is a good and pleasing thing.
Ask a couple of Christians about their relationship and they’ll tell you that they’ve enjoyed the romance, the loving lunacy or the security and steadfast commitment they’ve experienced with each other. Those who haven’t experienced these things rightly feel they’ve lost out on something special. Those who’ve known these things will thank God for them—and so they should because God gave them to us to be enjoyed with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:3).
My guess is, though, that Christians in general have a lingering suspicion that we’re always in danger of making too much out of God’s physical/social gifts so we’re always qualifying our praise and enjoyment of these blessings. We’re to be “spiritual”, don’t you see, and material and social blessings could create a rift between love of God and love of life. It has happened, of course, and we could all point to people who have fallen in love with money and all money means and we may even be able to confess our own entanglement with “things” and our consequent worldliness.
So I’m not denying that God’s gifts to us can become a threat but we’re not to forget that it was God who gave them to us. We’re not to forget that God gives to the human family (and not just Christians) “life and breath everything else” (Acts 17:24-28). It’s patently obvious that the gifts aren’t meant to build a wall between us and God, and in fact, for a great host down the ages they created no such rift.
I’m not sure that we can be completely cured of the tendency to lose our balance but I do think it’s tragic if due to pseudo-guilt feelings we can’t enjoy a good meal because there are millions who haven’t enough food to stay alive. I think it’s tragic, too, if we’re suspicious of romance, the sheer pleasure of love-making or the desire to be alone with the beloved. I fully expect “the world” to abuse God’s gifts but I think Christians are seriously at fault when we place a stigma on earthly pleasures even while we ourselves enjoy them however guiltily. We often stigmatize these gifts by implication and/or reluctance to openly praise God for them. CS Lewis thought it a bit humorous that some people feared that they might “worship” their wives/husbands. He thought that day to day life itself would obliterate such a possibility. I’m certain he’s right.
As I see it, the upshot of all this is that Christians should enjoy without apology the earthiness of our Hebrew—Christian faith and relate it to God’s purposes toward us; that, rather than to nibble at life while others enjoy it in fullness.
We ought to embrace the honourable rejoicing in life and romance and friendship that millions around us experience. We ought to lead them to believe that we too sometimes soar when we think of our beloved, that we know what it is to hunger without shame for those things God has given to us all. Yes, of course, we’ll not forget to condemn the perversion of God’s gifts but we’re good at that and we’re good at it because that’s what we’re accustomed to doing. What we’re poor at—I suspect—is exulting with healthy relish in the things of the here and now.
One of the loveliest songs to come out in years is the one young Shayne Ward sings: You Leave Me Breathless. In promoting it the powers in the industry, with promotional video work, have made it all sex and sensuality but the song is much richer and finer than that. Every syllable is romantic and poetic, of course, but it speaks of the kind of thing I’d like my grandchildren to cherish and instead of downing the song in a “Christian” reaction we should be jealous and in some cases, maybe, to be ashamed of ourselves if we haven’t ever thought, or wished to think, in the ways expressed in the song. [Imagine the pleased astonishment of our son/daughter/grandchild if we bought a copy of it for them? I've given worse gifts to my kids.]
We need to be sure that nature doesn’t devour and destroy grace but the way to do it not to deny the glory of the creation as God has made it.