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Eden in Grayscale

Self-serving fantasies are just faded images of the true intimacy that's possible in marriage

She danced through the garden grass and giggled as a chipmunk scampered across her toes. The verdant leaves bathed her bare shoulders with a healing balm as she brushed past. She reached up to grasp the colorful delicacy, fantasizing about the pleasure in the tantalizing taste of the forbidden fruit. Her coral tongue brushed against her cherry lips in eager anticipation of the ecstasy that waited. As her pearly white teeth crushed the flesh of the fruit, a drop of the juice of good and evil dribbled from the corner of her mouth, down her chin and neck, a teardrop of temptation, leaving a trail of ashen gray.

As Adam swallowed the fruit, a dull achromatic tone spread over his face, a consummation of the act of disobedience, a confusing climax that ended in dissatisfaction. A lingering longing caused the shade of shame to darken as it spread over his disappointed face. Eve faded fifty shades of gray before his eyes, and a shadow of a doubt passed over his own face as he blushed at her new complexion. They rushed to hide from the perfect intimacy of "naked and unashamed," which had been their birthright by design.

Their banishment from Eden produced a shadow over their intimacy as effective as splashing a sea of ink across the evening sunset. That swirling contamination of self-gratification still taints the pleasure of sexual intimacy between husbands and wives, creating a barrier that inhibits true intimacy of body and soul. Always present to tempt and cast a shadow onto sexual intimacy is the seductive and alluring fantasy of an elusive, forbidden fruit, hinting of Eden's perfection just beyond the grasp. Could it be true that God wants his created counterparts to experience the fullness of the real, passionate, abundant life of sexuality through mutual satisfaction in marriage?

Why the Colors Fade

An insatiable desire to return to that blissful freedom unstained by the curse of sin and separation has deceived many into believing that consuming more of that forbidden fruit will introduce a new hue of intimacy. Hoping that one taste of tantalization from media or fantasy will restore more excitement to sexuality, many indulge only to find that perhaps the very act of reaching for that forbidden fruit limits the ability to enjoy the true beauty of the exclusive intimacy of marriage.

What if dabbling with that pretend palette has guaranteed that reality will never measure up to fantasy? Has the airbrushed illusion caused the real woman to take on an ashen hue, as each turn of the page smudges monotony over the covenant partnership? Has that make-believe world, where the lovers are beautiful and perfect, where the remote controls, where the screen minimizes the risk, where the book can be laid down when the appetite of selfishness is appeased, caused her to lose her desire for the man who holds her when she cries?

Lovemaking that turns to selfishly seeking duplication of a fantasy is just a grayscale depiction of the true color the human soul desires—the color that is attained through self-sacrificing love. Add a few splashes of the tint of betrayal, or hues of clumsy and mismatched libido, shaded by hectic schedules, and the continual disappointment of cursory and casual sex, and it might not seem worth the effort that is required to keep the colors alive with a real partner. And yet, through the communion and intimacy of covenant-keeping sexuality, there is a gift of repainting each other with the vibrancy of all the colors of Eden. It is available and attainable through true love.

Restoring True Color to Lovemaking

Lovemaking is alive—a body-and-soul experience of two lovers becoming one. True intimacy is the dream-come-true of two imperfect, fallen yet redeemed lovers, who are seeking to get back to Eden. As self-sacrificing love is expressed between two partners, a spark begins to vibrate and pulsate with an energy that produces a whole palette of colorful hues of mutual delight, as they miraculously become one—body and soul. The intimacy of covenantal lovemaking is so much more alluring than the illusion and reflection of a mere counterfeit shadow of sexuality so common in today's media.

Love Is the Only Medium Required

True mastery of satisfying love-making is attained in a willingness to get messy with the media of unconditional love's forgiveness, understanding, and mercy, upon the canvas of covenant, cleaving, and commitment. The color of love—it's not a two-dimensional splotch on a screen or a photo-altered fantasy on a glossy page. Love is a living color that pulsates, vibrates, sings, grows, and dances. It bends and sways in response to mood and manner, and explodes into a multicolor display that has no name on a designer's swatch.

It's up to the two to discover this oneness together. It cannot be accomplished in the loneliness of self-gratification, because it's the blending of the two palettes that produces the living color. True mastery requires the combination of those passionate colors discovered in the early days, blended together with the deeper hues of 'til death do us part, painted together onto a canvas of intimacy with brush strokes of forgiveness and repentance. Blended together, the colors will burst into a love that is alive and that will survive into a brilliant masterpiece as beautiful as the sunset that hints of all the colors of Eden—just over the horizon.

Shari Popejoy is a writer who lives with her husband, Marc, and their three children in the quiet country of the Ozarks. She is the author of Won without Words and The Livingstone Library youth adventure series.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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