Sunday, February 1, 2009

Peace and Depravity

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator Romans 1:24-25a

During the 'sixties a repeated chant was "never trust anyone over thirty". In the summer of 1971 I crossed that Maginot Line. In a couple more years the so-called Decade of Love would be over, the Vietnam War would end and Nixon would be sinking in the flood from Watergate. An era of my life was ending as well.

The group of artists, actors, poets and writers my wife and I had socialized with for several years was going separate ways. The Hippie culture and psychedelic streets near the river were fading from view. The Beatles had broken up in 1969. By 1973 a different sound was dominating everything, Disco. The new icon was a skinny John Travolta in a tight white suit.

I was still selling some writing, still going to evening college, still not believing in God, but I was losing the anger. Fighting every authority figure was behind me. I had been through a couple of jobs, had moved to New Jersey and in a sense felt at peace. I now had a job that was going to last several years. I was an Assistant Controller (and eventually would be the Systems Manager) for a steel fabricating company in Philadelphia. We were no longer living in the "roach hole", but had a very nice modern apartment at Ski Mountain in South Jersey. (If you know anything about South Jersey, you will chuckle at the idea there could actually have been a ski resort there.) 

In the near past we had lived with a motley crew of neighbors of sometimes questionable repute. Our life had been one of some austerity. There were months when I lived on soft pretzels for lunch and there had been stretches when I would walk along the trolley stops looking for dropped change in order to buy food. Now we lived among people who in a coming decade would be called Yuppies. The times of protest had ended; party time had begun.

Our old crowd had talked about art, literature, politics and philosophy. The new friends we were making had little interest in any of that.  If our 'sixties group was cerebral, our new associates were tactile. Pleasure was at the center of our relationships.

In began with W. and B. and a chance meeting in a lingerie shop. My wife was there to buy a teddy or something. She took a couple items into the dressing rooms and I found myself standing next to another fellow of approximately my same age self-consciously holding his wife's purse, too. A moment later this nice-looking young blond woman came out of the dressing rooms wearing only a fish-net body suit. She twirled about and asked her husband what he thought. He approved and she went back behind the curtain. He glanced at me and we smiled at each other.  What do you say in such a circumstance?

But somehow this turned into a strange contest between his wife and mine for most daring display. Out they would come in another brief wisp of material. The owner of the shop seemed delighted, and why not? When we turned to leave there was a large crowd gathered around the front of her shop watching this impromptu burlesque show.

While waiting, her husband and I had talked and exchanged telephone numbers and addresses and we became friends. We would get together at each other's apartments and play striptease games, take Polaroid pictures and have sex.

Now, I want it to make it clear. We were not wife-swapping. We only had sex with our own spouse.  I did not see any of this as sin at the time. I was still a faithful husband. And really by secular standards I was and am. I was a virgin when I met my wife and I have never had sex with any other person. By the worldly definition I have not committed adultery. By Biblical standards, I have over and over again. Besides this voyeuristic period of sexual games with another couple, I had long been a collector of pornography. But I saw no harm in it. I wasn't neglecting my wife. These were just images on the pages of magazines. Or those women contorting themselves in the nude upon some sleazy stage were just a show. Or those base acts were just shadows on a movie screen.  I didn't "really" break the Seventh Commandment. I didn't believe in the Ten Commandments anyway.

This friendship with W. and B. didn't last long. We began to suspect they wanted to go where we didn't and we broke it off.  We found another couple who we had a much longer relationship with. These were our drinking buddies.

When we met B. and G. we all lived in the same apartment building.  We would get together every weekend and sometimes in between. Sometimes we went out, but often we simply gathered in one of our apartments, played pinochle and drank. For some reason I had a great tolerance of alcohol and didn't get drunk. Not so much with B. Most evenings ended with me picking up his inert body and carrying it back to his bed before my wife and I went home.  There were also times I had to pull him out of a bar before fists began to fly or off the street before the cops came. But, although there were dirty jokes and innuendo aplenty in our conversations, there was no sexual play with B. and G. B. was an extremely jealous husband with a tendency toward violence.

This relationship ended when I got saved. Somehow after that, B. and G. found us different and no longer with shared interests.

We had some other friends during this period. We had a long and close relationship with V. and M. These friends would have been considered perfectly respectable. There was no sexual hanky-panky, no drinking to drunkenness. But there were a lot of parties and everything was pleasure. V and I played tennis almost every lunchtime during the work week and golf every weekend. 

For about four years life couldn't have been better as far as I was concerned. The only fly in the ointment had been losing another baby. It seemed pretty hopeless and I had accepted the idea of never having children. That was just one of those things. We had each other, a nice place to live and friends. We considered ourselves good people. We worked hard and paid our taxes, harmed no one, so what was wrong with having fun when ever we could. This was what life was all about was our motto. Grab the gusto. If it feels good, do it. 

Without kids, there were no encumbrances. We were free to do as we pleased. We could just take off on weekends and enjoy vacation trips each year. It was on one of those vacation trips my wife said something that would change everything. 

"Honey", she said, "I think I'm pregnant again."  This would make number seven.

To be continued: Seven, the number of completeness. 

The photo was me in 1971.

1 comment:

  1. God has sure brought you a long ways Larry. You can say as David said, That the Lord has pulled you up out of the miry pit and has placed your feet upon the ROCK!

    You have an amazing testimony, I am so thankful to the Lord for your life and where He has brought you from.