If there’s one test you should fail in life…it’s the world’s compatibility test.
My wife and I don’t watch many TV shows, but recently we downloaded the most recent season of “Downton Abbey” on Apple TV. My wife’s a sucker for English shows and I’ve been curious to know what was going to happen to poor ol’ Mr. Bates.
In case you’ve never seen this show, one of the main characters is a woman named Mary Crawley. In one of the seasons, Mary lost her husband and has since remained single. A couple of men have come with proposals but she hadn’t taken to either of them.
Well…time has gone by, and Mary is finally ready to get married again. Mary is formally called “Lady” Mary Crawley…but what Mary does next is not very ladylike.
Our concepts of a “lady” and “gentleman” have obviously been hijacked by a societal transformation.
Let me get right down to it. Mary is thinking about marrying this English dude. But Mary thinks she should have sex with this guy before she actually marries him. She wants to, as she explains to her servant Mrs. Bates, take Lord Gillingham for a test drive before she buys the vehicle. So she sends her servant Mrs. Bates to grab her a strange contraceptive contraption at the store to minimize the chance that her actions might result in a child. Never mind the STD’s.
Commonplace in our society…right?
The show takes us into a back and forth dialogue between Mary and her servant regarding her decision to sneak away to the hotel and do her business. Mary explains in an arrogant matter-of-fact sort of way that she doesn’t want to marry this chap and then find out he’s no fun in bed. The servant, Mrs. Bates disagrees with her decision…but what does the servant know anyway? She’s just “old fashioned”. All of this has got to be done in secret because Mary’s got a “reputation to uphold” in the community.
At this point, Mary doesn’t even realize that her sister Edith (whom she continually makes fun of) did almost the exact same thing a few years earlier. In Edith’s case, it resulted in a child that she cannot even claim as her own. Every day of Edith’s life is now a secretive walking nightmare of guilt and shame. The child is now a chess piece in the game their playing on Downton.
Mary…however, is convinced that she’s required to take the “world’s compatibility test”. Looking at it this way seems to give her an inkling of justification that she’s not just having sex to have sex. Mary…as so many men and women do…equated sex…with her ability to love this man and have a compatible relationship with him.
As we watched this show and listened to the dialogue, I couldn’t help but remember a message someone sent me on Facebook awhile back. A concerned woman wrote about how she was struggling to explain the importance of being chaste to a friend. Chastity has become somewhat of a foreign concept in our society today and many people don’t understand the “why’s” behind bridling your passions. She quoted what she’d heard said by others many times before:
“When two people love each other it is normal to want to express that physically.” She continued by saying that many “believe that in order to find the ‘right one’, having sex is one of the many boxes one must check off when testing compatibility.”
This is flawed thinking. It is the perversion of a sacred gift. I would venture to guess that no couple has ever fallen in love, remained in love, and stayed together only because of good sex. Sex is not the bond that brings couples to the Mt. Everest of happiness. Love, respect, and honor are the attributes that enable married couples to go to places that cannot be reached through compatibility testing carnality.
Many people would consider it ridiculous to get married without taking your significant other for a spin. Justin Garcia from the Kinsey Institute noted after doing studies of the so-called ‘hookup-culture’ we live in today, that “the normalization of casual sex among young adults is one of the most notorious recent changes in sexual behavior in western society.”
The problem with our society is that we seem to have it all backward. We seem to be teaching the younger generation that “sex comes first…then you can see if you’d like to make a relationship out of it.” It’s all about immediate self gratification.
You can hike Mt. Everest or you can take a helicopter straight to the top. Take the helicopter and it’ll soon be but a faded memory. But hiking that mountain on your own and reaching the top will be life-changing and everlasting.
None of it will mean a thing if you’ve skipped the steps that make it meaningful. The real joy is in the journey.
We live in a ‘step-skipping’ world. We see it with credit. We see it with work ethic. We see it in business. We see it in sports. And worst of all…we see it in relationships.
A long time ago, Jesus called John the Baptist the greatest prophet to ever walk the earth. But few people would be able to tell you how that great prophet ultimately lost his life. John was beheaded and his head set on a plate.
Why? Because John knew that skipping the steps to intimacy will lead to pain and sorrow. He also knew that God is most concerned with two things as reflected in the commandments he’s given:
How his children come into this life and how they go out of it.
So don’t be afraid to fail the world’s compatibility test. That failed test will be one you’ll never regret…