The Marriage Issue (Part 4): Loneliness

JacknJilAnnouncements Oct post

We shall be talking about loneliness in this message, and I’m sure you know it is a very germane subject. It often gets lost in the cracks of the edifice of marriage discussion, but every single grapples with loneliness. Except of course those super singles. But you know those are not really Earthlings. They originally came from Mars.

There’s a general assumption that single ladies experience loneliness more. It’s why some young men approach older single ladies as if they’re doing them a favour. I know this happens. It’s an attitude borne of pathetic ignorance. And they’ve been watching too many movies. If you’re a lady and someone displays that attitude towards you, you know he’s not been reading his Bible. The only reason loneliness appears to affect women more is because women are more emotionally expressive. Loneliness was originally man’s problem. It spread to women because Adam was a conceptual embodiment of the two sexes. Male and female created he them. The reality is that men experience excruciating loneliness much more than women. It’s what gets many men into trouble. Loneliness was a man’s original problem.

Now, I don’t care how spiritual you are, but there’s this thing about receiving proprietary affection from a dedicated partner – you know, a man you can call your own, or a babe you can call your own. There’s just something about it. When you don’t have that dedicated supplier of affection, you suffer from an acute sense of loneliness. And that’s the point of marriage. It gives you, or is supposed to give you dedicated and custom affection. You’ll be shocked however to learn that some married people experience loneliness too.

Loneliness is not an easy thing to define. It’s easier to describe the feeling of loneliness than to pin down a definition. We tend to confuse loneliness with alonement. The reason is because the feeling of alonement often accompanies loneliness, but alonement is not loneliness. Even Webster’s dictionary got confused about the definition. It defined loneliness as being sad from being apart from other people. But that is the feeling of loneliness; not loneliness. You and I know you can be in the midst of friends and still feel very lonely. To be sure, being in the midst of people can and does assuage loneliness. Activities ameliorate loneliness. What activities do is block out consciousness of loneliness. I’ll explain.

There are different types of analgesics. When you have a headache the curative approach is dependent on the kind of analgesic you take. Some analgesics go to the root of the headache to tackle the cause. But some others don’t really deal with the headache itself. They deal with your perception of headache. They block your reception of pain. That’s what activities do to loneliness. The loneliness is there, but as long as the activities are on, you can’t perceive the feeling. But once the activities stop, like when you’re alone on your bed at night, you feel lonely. That’s when many singles begin to surf the net, which almost invariably leads them to porn. You see, we know how to handle busyness; we don’t know how to handle idleness. It’s why idleness is the devil’s workshop.

Let me try and describe loneliness to you. As I describe it, try and imagine it. Loneliness is like being in a strange place, on a very vast terrain of the undefinable. Everywhere you turn there is land and land and land; and everywhere you look there’s sky and sky and sky. The vastness of the terrain makes you feel like the silhouette of a stick figure in the distance, your tunic blowing in the wind. It makes you feel puny, inconsequential, and weak. If you look into the horizon, removed from yourself from far away so you still see yourself, you’ll see the sky kiss the earth but you’ll wonder where exactly you are. You’ll feel lost. Like you’re not accomplishing anything, or doing much with your life. You’ll question what you’ve achieved, regret waste of opportunities – wonder if you shouldn’t have taken certain decisions at certain moments. And it’s too late. It’s like waking up the next morning and the familiar is gone, like the world moved on overnight, leaving you behind. It’s like you know nobody again. There’s this desperation that engulfs you, like your life has no direction, like you’re all alone. Did you see and feel what I was describing? If you’ve been experiencing these feelings or such moods, you’ve been experiencing loneliness.

Now, from the Book of Genesis we do know that marriage cures loneliness, or is supposed to cure loneliness. But we sometimes expect too much from marriage, ascribe too many capacities to it. We treat it like one of those miracle cures peddled on Lagos buses – the type that can cure AIDS, gonococci, staphylococci, ringworm, eczema, craw-craw, headache, menstrual pain and catarrh. Some of us believe marriage will cure our insecurity. Some imagine it will give them self-esteem, while some believe marriage will cure lust, and even sexual addiction. We’ve overloaded marriage and so marriages are short-circuiting. Too many false expectations. The single Christian male in particular needs marriage to cure lust. He’s under enormous sexual pressure because of God’s prohibitory injunction on premarital sex. And when he breaches it, he feels excruciating guilt. And if he feels he can’t stop, he even runs from church. I don’t care what it is but never run from God. Always go to God.

What sexual pressure and loneliness do to the male Christian single is that it turns every woman within his aesthetic range into an attractive biological form. And so he falls in love every Sunday from beholding several beautiful women, especially the ushers and members of the choir. They are very visible and he can legitimately stare at them and rank them in order of beauty. If he’s in the choir or any close interacting group, he’ll burrow down to one particular female member, forcing himself to arrive at a resolution for her. It’s the law of sociological dynamics. Proximity breeds besotted desire. In a collective, the average guy goes for the woman he considers will be amenable to his proposal, within his reach and attractive just enough for him. I’m choosing my words carefully. Trying to describe difficult scenarios.

The reason he seems to enjoy looking at the women and playing a mental game of resolving which one he’d rather choose every Sunday is because he’s attracted to a feminine range. Every man has what you might call a compatibility range. And several women can fit within that range. A lot depends on his cultural exposure, and the materials he’s been exposed to. If he’s exposed to Vogue magazine for instance, or any other glossy magazine, his atypical woman may be a lady in pencil skirt, long eyelashes, dangerous stilettos, Brazilian weave, Tom Ford rouge, Black Up foundation, Iman mascara, MAC lipstick. He’ll keep falling in love with women who fit that image and its approximations. I know women like to compare the length of natural hair as a basis of compliment and it’s a feel-good factor, but the truth is men don’t care whether it’s artificial or natural. As long as it fits into the image of their cultural aesthetic, men don’t care how. The reason is that men deal in imageries and similitudes. As long as the woman looks like Beyoncé or any woman that typifies their cultural aesthetic, they’ll go for her. Even if everything is glued on. Man was made from an image and so he responds to imagery. And because he was made after a likeness he responds to likenesses. Man was made from four raw materials: image, likeness, clay chemical concentrate and the breath of life. The clay makes him malleable. The breath of life makes him seek after God. Likeness is what fuels his visual aggregation of women and image engenders his imagination. It is this principle of aesthetic range that makes a man fall for the same type of woman over and over again. I’m sure you have friends who keep dating light skinned women. And I’m sure you have some who keep dating ebony women. It’s that aesthetic cultural range in operation. If anybody tells you looks don’t matter, better not believe him. Not caring about your look is a look itself. It’s called bohemianism. And natural hair and no jewelry is also a look. It’s au naturel – conservative bohemianism. Every man is attracted to a cultural imagery. It has nothing to do with spirituality. Attraction is cultural. The contradiction comes when a conservative bohemian now seeks to marry an aesthete claiming God instructed the union. Which means God is violating freewill. Now, I’m not saying God can’t give you advice and guide you. He’s your father, he ought to. And he knows people. He also knows future history. But it’s just advice not commandment. You can refuse his advice and you do every day. But God won’t violate the freewill of another person by instructing they marry you. Don’t go instructing people God told them to marry you. Then they’re no longer human. Freewill is a componentry of human-ness. It’s inviolable. But it’s what makes God a righteous judge. If you marry someone you don’t love, you will be unhappy. It’s as simple as that. Ask Jacob. And then ask Leah.

Marriage doesn’t cure lust. It is self-discipline that controls lust. What marriage does is provide a legal and moral outlet for sexual gratification. According to scriptures marriage was configured as a containment device for sex drives. 1 Cor.7:2 (MSG) says, “Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life…”

In other words, sexual drives are always going to be straining against the boundaries of marriage. Sex needs boundary. You need discipline before marriage. You need discipline after marriage. If marriage can cure lust the term “adultery” is superfluous.

Note that the Bible talks about a “fulfilling sexual life.” It’s important that the sex in a marriage be fulfilling. Sex is particularly important to men in marriage. And the punitive use of sex on a husband is very reprehensible, as is manipulative use of sex. It is dangerous to deny your husband sex. And it is wicked to deny a wife sex as punishment. You create room for Satan in your marriage. What Satan does is control the demand and supply equation. He creates a problem in your marriage to create sexual demand. Then he supplies a third party to gratify that desire, all with a view. It’s how he sets people up. He sends an ovulating strange woman after an errant horny husband, and he sends a stud to the deprived ovulating Christian woman, sometimes a diseased strange woman or diseased stud.

Now, I know there’s an erroneous belief we shouldn’t be talking about sex in church, but I wonder where that belief came from considering that the Bible is not shy about sex. Surely if we can talk about finance in church we can talk about sex. I’d rather the young man or woman learn about sex in church than from the porn material on the Internet. Porn resource materials are not designed to deliver intimacy. Porn is actually designed to create alienation and dissociation. It can’t work otherwise. One of the side effects of addiction to porn is erectile dysfunction in the presence of a real woman, yet erectile function at the sight of porn material. And the cardinality of porn is the abuse and devaluation of women, their role and what they represent. Why? Because Satan hates women! That is one of the aftermaths of the crisis in the Garden of Eden. “I will put enmity between you and the woman,” God said. And so the Woman and the Serpent are mortal enemies. They can never be reconciled. Satan seizes every opportunity to debase, degrade and denigrate the woman – rape, prostitution, wife battery, emotional abuse, porn, child molestation, bestiality, sex slavery, gang rape, oppression, suppression, unequal pay, glass ceilings, misogynistic crimes, extreme porn, abuse porn, shame porn, name it. Some of the porn materials don’t even have anything to do with sex. Just perversion and sadism – the infliction of extreme pain on the woman. The purpose of perversion is to make you amenable to Satan’s extreme ideas. He makes you cross boundaries because he knows that the line you cross becomes a temptation for you. If your boyfriend ever asks you to sleep with himself and his friend, you can be sure he has no value for you. The chance he’ll marry you after such ménage a trois is almost nil. Men are not keen to share the women they value with others. Does he value me, is a question a woman ought to ask.

The woman’s situation is made worse by the fact of her symbolism. She is the typification of the bride of Christ. If you want to understand some of the things going on in the world today, you have to dimension that information with respect to the antithesis of the Christ, the Antichrist. May the Lord give you understanding.

Satan’s sex syllabus can never deliver a loving relationship. And the Church should stop complaining if it won’t step up to the plate and teach wholesome but pragmatic stuff. If you don’t believe sex should be taught, perhaps you’ve not read your Bible, not as you should. Sex according to the Bible is a knowledge programme. Even the world calls it carnal knowledge. When Adam copulated with his wife, the Bible records it as a knowledge session. Adam knew Eve his wife, the Bible says. We’ve got to move beyond Thou Shalt Not about sex to a more robust discussion of the subject for the sake of the singles, and for the sake of marriages. It’s the No. 1 topic in this generation and if you doubt, go on social media. God is not against sex. All he wants is for sex to take place within a marital context.

Loneliness is not the same as alonement. Alonement is a physical phenomenon. Loneliness is a soulish phenomenon. The narrative in Genesis tells us uniqueness makes man lonely. Adam was unique. It’s why gifted individuals experience loneliness, why very talented individuals commit suicide, why musicians are prone to extreme behaviour. It’s why pastors struggle with loneliness, what makes them vulnerable to adultery. Unique gifting, consecration and differentiation engender loneliness. I’m trying to give you understanding of some of the things you’re experiencing.

The reason loneliness cannot be assuaged by mere sex is because loneliness is a soulish phenomenon, it is not a physical phenomenon. This is what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 6:16-17 (MSG) when he wrote, “There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin.” Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us lonelier than ever…”

In other words, sex without commitment and intimacy only exacerbates loneliness; it doesn’t cure it. It’s why the Bible contextualises sex within marriage. That’s the definition of intimacy and commitment. Without intimacy and commitment, sex makes us lonelier is what the Bible says.

Let’s take a closer look at Adam. He was the first man to experience loneliness. He was such a unique creature. He defied the order of creation. He was made a little lower than the angels but ranked higher than the animals, though created on the sixth day like the animals, indeed after the animals. He lacked the superhuman capacity of angels being a space-time creature. But he had an intellectual capacity beyond the reach of animals. His cerebral cortex gave him unique advantage. He would go on to subdue the earth with his brain capacity.

Adam classified and named all the animals. He was the first taxonomist. In classifying and naming the animals, he acquired intellectual property rights to the brand names of the animals. God had the intellectual rights to the conception and development of animals, but it is Adam who has the naming rights. And the descendants of Adam will continue the naming tradition, naming their children, endeavor, products, nations and ideas. The descendants of Adam name everything. They even named God! Most of the names of God were coined by men. When they thought of the mightiness of God, they named him El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty. When they viewed him as a mentor, they named him Jehovah Raah, the Lord My Shepherd. When they realised the necessity of grace, they called him Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord My Righteousness. When they analysed the improbability of God’s generosity, they called him Jehovah Jireh, the Lord My Provider. When they sought to calculate the numeric strength of God’s army, they called him Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts. When they pondered his healthcare policy, they called him Jehovah Rapha, the Lord That Heals. And when they contemplated the origin of God, they named him after the mathematical symbol of infinity, El-Olam or The Everlasting God.

And so here was this brilliant fellow named Adam. He had a fantastic job. He was spiritual, having demonstrated transcendent capabilities and having fellowshipped with God. And yet he was lonely. We can thus establish three facts:

1). Brilliance will not make you immune to loneliness.
2). A fantastic job cannot resolve the question of loneliness.
3). Spirituality does not ward off loneliness.

I know the last deduction is contrary to some of the teachings we’ve had in church. But the truth is, incessant church attendance has never cured loneliness. Loneliness is not a spiritual issue. It is a soulish issue. There are people who practically sleep in church. And guess what they’re praying about – God give me a husband, God give me a wife! That you serve God diligently won’t take away loneliness. The service engages the use of your time and preoccupies your mind to block out contemplation of loneliness, but it cannot take away loneliness. And that loneliness can hit you at unguarded moments, say at the wedding of a friend, or even an enemy.

The point I am trying to make is that loneliness is a fact of life. It is something that afflicts all humans; it’s not peculiar to you. Stop making it your issue. Stop berating yourself over it; stop beating up on yourself, blaming yourself for the past, for missed opportunities to marry. What can you do! The arrow of time flies forward, you can’t edit the past. Marriage cures loneliness no doubt, but if the marriage hasn’t come, it hasn’t come! The earlier you reconcile yourself to the reality of loneliness as a fact life, the less you’ll feel sorry for yourself. Reconciling yourself to the reality won’t take away the actuality, but it at least gives you pragmatism. Loneliness is a natural byproduct of man’s creation. Quit the self-pity and self-recrimination. You weren’t in the Garden.

We all fall into that temptation of feeling sorry for ourselves once every while, especially when everything seems to overwhelm us. You’ve got to learn to pick yourself up, dust the seat of your pants and move on. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Learn to fill your time with activities. Activities are analgesic to loneliness. If you don’t take this attitude as a single, you’ll make yourself miserable. You’ll become desperate and vulnerable. The irony is that your desperation then scares off marital prospects.

Imagine a man who went out on a date with a woman he just met, and while he’s still analysing the date and the prospect of a relationship, she shows up at his doorstep the very next morning, say 7am and there she is with breakfast! And she’s carrying a small suitcase as well. That’s the picture of desperation. It’s always presumptuous, and scares people off. Men can be desperately presumptuous too. If a guy goes on a date with you for the first time and begins to make a PowerPoint presentation of how many kids he’d like, and how his wife has to quit her job to take care of the kids, and how he needs to settle down as fast as possible… If that doesn’t scare you as a woman nothing ever will. Desperation is always presumptuous.

When you’re desperate, you’re prone to rushing into marriage with an unknown quantity. What then happens is that the things you should have learnt during courtship you begin to discover in marriage. Your courtship effectively begins after the wedding. There are many marriages like that. They invert the natural order and end up as disaster. When you rush into marriage you’re permanently tuned to Discovery Channel. You’ll see things you never bargained for. Very few such marriages survive. Ask Khloe.

If you’re single, I say occupy yourself. Then hope for the best. Very soon, Mr. Right will show up, and very soon Mrs. Right will show up. I wish you best in your marital endeavor. God bless.

#Illuminare © Leke Alder