Benefits and Disadvantages of Utilizing Secular Tools
On Friday, I mentioned the article I shared on BHE’s Facebook page that received a bit of feedback and flak alike. I felt like I should and could better address some of the concerns raised via the blog rather than a lengthy social media post. You may read Monday’s post here.
I wanted to first discuss the benefits and disadvantages to utilizing secular tools before I address specific points from the article itself.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Utilizing Secular Tools
What is a Tool?
Let me first define tool – Dictionary.com defines tool as “anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or a purpose.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online defines tool as “a means to an end.”
With any tool, you should first approach and ask what your end goal or purpose is. Then you can ask if the particular tool is useful and helpful for reaching your goal or purpose.
A tool is not… a mandatory means to an end or the end or purpose itself. It is merely a handy device or something to be utilized in achieving your goal/purpose.
Certain tools are not for everyone. I don’t think any author, myself included, when they set about writing advice, intends their advice, their method, their way, or their tool(s) to be the only way to accomplish a task, reach a goal, or fulfill a purpose. Most often, advice-style counsel (in the form of a blog post, article, book, workshop, or session) is merely an offering of tools, an exchange of ideas, a conversation piece to help the average person, and therefore is not intended to be specifically applicable to everyone’s life in every time, way, and place.
Benefits of Utilizing Secular Materials
There are good intentions.
I personally will not share something I believe deliberately and willfully promotes an ungodly lifestyle or actions. However, I might share something that I don’t wholeheartedly agree with at times because it is the author’s intent to promote positive, healthy relationships and to encourage growth and the overcoming of obstacles. The author intends good to come from reading the article. In this particular article, I believe the author was hoping to help couples achieve better intimacy, which is not a goal limited to a Christian audience.
There are useful principles, even in secular material and advice.
The content might introduce a new angle or way of thinking about things or considering things that you may not have previously considered. God may or may not choose to speak to you directly or indirectly through the articles I share, but I do not doubt God can use worldly advice and secular content or tools to reveal truths about Himself, His purposes, you, and your marriage. The articles and content are a “means” to an “end,” but they are not the only means nor are they the end themselves. They are a tool, but there are other tools in the toolbox that may be better for achieving the end. That doesn’t mean we should never utilize certain tools.
The Internet, for example, is a secular tool for all intents and purposes. Many evil things can happen on and through and over this tool called the Internet. And yet, many good, godly things can happen over the Internet. As Christians, we can utilize the Internet to share the gospel, promote God’s truth, edify believers, give testimony to the power of God in their lives, pray for one another, read Scriptures, and serve God. This blog is an example. My social media sites are an example. My emails are an example. I can connect with people I couldn’t otherwise connect with, and reach farther than I am physically capable to at this time because of this tool called the World Wide Web. Is this the only means of connection? Absolutely not. I could continue my BHE ministry offline, but for now, I utilize the tool called the Internet.
I am not trying to compare my blog ministry to the article I shared, but I am trying to illustrate how we, as Christians, can utilize secular tools for godly purposes. A secular tool that causes us to think critically, examine our motives, intentions, and actions, and that promotes positive solutions to problems can be useful.
Disadvantages of Utilizing Secular Material
Not everything is beneficial.
By its very nature, secular articles and content tends to be human-centric. The problem is that you can’t fix things on your own merit, strength, or willpower. There is no self-help article or book or material that can magically fix and solve all your problems. There is no magic formula or step-by-step guide to achieving fantastic marital intimacy.
That’s why I think the title of the particular article I shared could be better called “7 Suggestions for Helping Married Couples Through a Dry Period in Sexual Intimacy.” Okay, perhaps it needs a better title since that is rather long, but my point stands.
These are merely suggestions because ultimately that’s all they are. They are not the end all, be all solution to every problem regarding intimacy in marriage.
The word “save” in the the original title is misleading (and therefore not beneficial) because it implies solid solution and definite rescue from the “dry spell.” You are already “saved,” but through the blood of Jesus Christ, not an article, book, or blog post. You need to depend on Christ to empower you and strengthen you and your spouse to work through a dry spell, a problem in your marriage, or an area of struggle in your life.
You avoid the root of the problem.
Step-by-step guides are helpful to a point, but they don’t address the root of the problem – sin. While you are “Saved” through Christ Jesus, you still live within a sinful, broken world. It is important to remember that while this is no longer your identity – sinful and broken – you are still impacted by the brokenness and the sin in the world around you and you are still apart of the brokenness and the sin.
If you assume or think or try to solve every problem through a list of things you ought to do, you are taking matters into our own hands and assuming control of the situation.
When you ignore the root of the problem or condition of your life, faith walk, marriage, and subsequently, sexual intimacy with your spouse, you will never see the brokenness for what it truly is, and if you refuse to see the true condition, you cannot fix things and things will never get better.
Acknowledging the root of the problem requires you to be in a place that starts with you recognizing the problem for what is is and seeking God’s guidance, strength, and purposes for renewal, hope, and restoration. In other words, you need to see things the way God sees things in order for there to be change.
You place the emphasis on self.
Most of the time, secular content focuses on helping you as it should. However, there is a danger in only focusing on self. While the article I shared did mention talking with your partner, the overall tone was directed to an individual, not a partnership. There is an inherent danger with focusing on yourself and forgetting the other in the relationship.
Marriage is a partnership, a weaving together of two lives, two hearts, two bodies, two minds, and two spirits. A husband and wife are intertwined quite literally. God created Adam, and then He created Eve from Adam’s rib. Eve was created as Adam’s ezer kenegdo – “his sustainer beside him.” God designed Adam and Eve (husbands and wives) to be of one flesh. Sexual intimacy is a crucial, critical part of marriage, designed for pleasure, comfort, and satisfaction.
However, Scriptures don’t stop there. 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 tells us that our bodies are not our own. The husband should “fulfill his martial duty to his wife” and he “does not have authority over his body but yields it to his wife.” Similarly, the wife should “fulfill her marital duty to her husband” and “she does not have authority over her body but yields it to her husband.” Sex is ultimately about fulfilling and satisfying your spouse. Therefore, you cannot solve the problems of your marriage or your sexual intimacy merely by reading one article and following a list.
Over and over again in Scriptures, God talks about putting others above yourself. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy sex or that you shouldn’t experience pleasure or if something is painful or uncomfortable you shouldn’t stop. I never, ever want to encourage anyone to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable and this is a conversation that should happen between you and your spouse.
However, the danger of following the “steps” of an article, book, or some other form of content is to get too focused on self to the point where you won’t even try, you won’t talk about it, or you can only think about your pleasure, desires, and needs. You need to think about your partner’s pleasure, desires, and needs also.
Ephesians 5 tells us to “walk in the way of love just as Christ loved us” (vs. 2). Loving as Christ is sacrificial in nature. This again doesn’t mean you can’t ever feel pleasure or have your physical needs met, but it does mean you should consciously make an effort to please your spouse and ask God to root out any selfishness or sin that may be hindering you from loving your spouse fully and completely.
- Posted in: Attributes of God ♦ Communication Tips & Techniques ♦ Intimate Issues ♦ Knowing God ♦ Prayer ♦ Protecting Your Marriage ♦ Real Marriage ♦ Respect ♦ Sex
- Tagged: Fighting for Marriage, Goals, God's Strength, Love & Respect, Purpose, Secular Content, Selfishness, Selflessness, The Marriage Bed