Speaking the Truth in Love

The Counsel of the Wicked

The book of Psalms begins with a blessing for “the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked” (Ps. 1:1). I immediately thought of this passage after listening to a disturbing radio interview some years ago. Dr. Paul Schienberg, the program’s guest, was a therapist and coauthor of the book You Can’t Afford to Break Up: How an Empty Wallet and a Dirty Mind Can Save Your Relationship. Schienberg maintained that the biggest threat to a marriage was boredom, and that imagination was its antidote. He said that play-acting was especially effective in keeping a relationship fresh. For instance, a wife could go to a bar (pretending to be single) and her husband could come along and “pick her up.” Schienberg also recommended that couples find racy sections in novels and read them aloud to each other.

This advice contradicts both good sense and biblical teaching. Dr. Julie Slattery, a psychologist associated with “Focus on the Family,” is the author of No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex and Intimacy in Marriage. She says that marital intimacy involves two boundaries. One boundary is around the couple, and the other is between them. The boundary around the couple should be firm. No one else should be permitted into the relationship. But the boundary between the couple should be open. Couples should talk to each other about their sexual needs and feelings. The Bible says it this way: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterers” (Heb. 13:4).

Unfortunately, Julie Slattery says, Americans tend to get things backward. The boundary around the couple is left open, and the boundary between them is closed. In a “Focus on the Family” radio broadcast devoted to her book, Slattery said that marriage therapists were even encouraging people to refresh their relationships with fantasy and pornography. This wicked counsel was exactly what Paul Schienberg commended. And any couples who listen to it are planting poisonous weeds in their own garden.

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