Friday, February 15th | 10 Adar I 5779

March 20, 2018 11:14 am

The Lust Marriage

avatar by Shmuley Boteach

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A Torah scroll. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In just a few weeks, Pamela Anderson and I will be releasing our new co-authored book Lust for Love: Rekindling Intimacy and Passion in Your Relationship.

Already the media is commenting on our odd pairing. But Pamela is much more than just an author and an activist. She is a brilliantly insightful woman, especially about relationships.

Our main argument in the book is that marital passion is declining all round. Recent American census data shows that the number of US adults who never marry has hit an all-time high of 1 in 5. In 1960, it was 1 in 10. We’re lucky it’s only that high. In Scandinavia, only 20 percent of the population bother to marry. In France and Britain, it’s about a third.

To many, marriage is a bore. Marriage is about “settling down.” Passion and pleasure in all things, especially sex, is the goal of the age — and most people are convinced that marriage just cannot provide it.

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Jewish tradition sees things differently. Adam, the first human, was a hybrid of male and female. When Adam fell asleep, God removed a tzela — often translated as rib but actually meaning “side” — the feminine side.

The result was the compartmentalization of masculine and feminine, man and woman, with each being incomplete without the other. Ever since, each sex instinctively and erotically seeks unification with the lost half.

This is the mystical reason why, even in a secular age, the ideal still remains marriage — with every Hollywood chick flick ending with a wedding. We don’t marry to obviate loneliness, because shacking up would afford the same degree of companionship. Rather, we marry so that two halves can be sewn together as an indivisible whole.

He who separated us is He who can unite us.

The Book of Genesis expresses it thus: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother. He shall cleave unto his wife. And they shall become one flesh.”

Of all the benefits of marriage, it is perhaps the sense of invincibility and invulnerability that is strongest.

Genesis describes Adam as having been lonely. But why? He was surrounded by angels.

But angels are perfect. There was nothing Adam could contribute that they were missing. Loneliness ensues when we feel appreciated but not necessary, admired but not essential. It was only when God provided a vulnerable creature like Adam himself, Eve, that his loneliness was remedied.

But there are many people who are married who still feel very lonely. The reason: people don’t want to be loved but desired. Not appreciated, but lusted after. Marriage today is based on the Christian concept of love rather than the Jewish concept of lust. The New Testament condemns lust: “For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16).

St. Paul famously argued that “God is love,” and that all marriages should be based on the comforts of compatibility, friendship and shared experience.

Judaism believes that marriage must be built on deep desire and covetousness. The holiest book of the Bible, the Song of Solomon, is an erotic poem that describes the burning yearning between a man and a woman.

The tenth commandment is clear: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife,” which means you should be coveting your own.

Lust is, quite simply, much stronger than love.

How do we recapture it? By focusing on the three rules of erotic lust.

The first is frustrated desire, erotic obstacles.

The second law of lust is mystery. Lust is enhanced in darkness and shadows. Ironically, the more the body is covered, the more one lusts after it.

The third law of erotic lust is sinfulness. The forbidden is erotic.

A cursory glance of world classics demonstrates that it is not the righteous, loyal wife who fires the literary imagination — but the unfaithful, sinful wife, like Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Tess and Lady Chatterley.

The many who complain that religion creates sexual taboos in relationships forget that such taboos can often enhance lust, while a permissive society that makes sex so available turns it from chocolate to vanilla.

Unlike the “love marriage,” which is based on closeness and constant intimacy, the “lust marriage” is based on separation, renewal and a measure of distance. All great advice from a religion that champions lust over love in marriage.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is one of the world’s most celebrated relationships experts and is the international best-selling author of 31 books. His national TV show, Shalom in the Home, won the National Fatherhood Award. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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