Right, let’s get this straight. This is the last post I’m going to write on the subject of sex, at least for a while. I’d like to think at least some of these thousands of Google hits are really from sincere Christian couples looking for guidance, but somehow I doubt it.
I’ve had an overwhelming response to my last post She Won’t Let Me Wear The Pants Or Stick My Thingy In Her, And Other Pressing Problems Facing The Church Today. I received lots of feedback, mainly supportive, and mainly from other women. I also recieved some feedback from some very brave men (it’s okay, my husband has often tried to explain how scary I can come across when I write) who took particular issue with this bit:
“If your wife doesn’t want to have sex with you, that is YOUR problem, not hers. You’re the one with the erection – sort yourself out, for goodness sake, and leave her alone.”
Their general protest was along these lines – a good Christian wife should work with her husband to alleviate his sexual arousal. It’s her duty.
While I admit my initial address of this issue may have been a little glib, I don’t retract it. What I said in essence was that if you as a man become sexually aroused, and your wife doesn’t want to have sex with you, you should probably do whatever you need to to alleviate your tension all on your own.
I think you should. Take care of, it that is. I don’t think it’s anyone else’s job, and I object when men tell their wives it is theirs. I particularly object when pastors and Christian teachers tell women that they must have sex for, and not just with, their husbands, as part of their job. I suspect in doing this, they’re actually trying to deal with a particular quandary they have, one they are very concerned about, and one which they’d really like to fob off as someone else’s responsibility. It’s been previously unspoken about. Be suitably warned. I am about to speak of it.
A friend of mine tells me how one morning her man woke up fully aroused – a perfectly natural situation – but one which she in no way caused, or was particularly interested in. He then informed her that his arousal was her responsibility to “take care” of, complaining that if she didn’t “help out”, he would be “forced” to relieve himself, which he considered to be a sin in the eyes of God. She felt she had to comply with his wishes, because she did not want to be responsible for causing the man she loved to commit a sin.
I think my friends dilemma reveals a hidden and yet vital aspect which is largely ignored in the attempt to make women have sex when they might not particularly want to. I don’t think it would be a broad assumption to state that most Christian men largely consider self-relief options to be a sin in the eyes of God. I think this is why they find it so effortless to justify their stance that a truly loving wife would “work with them” to satisfy their sexual “needs”. If she loved me, he reasons, she will provide a sin-free avenue whereby I can alleviate my sexual tension, because as my sister in Christ and as my wife, she shouldn’t want me to have to disobey God. So then, when a woman withholds herself from her husband in these circumstances, it then becomes not an issue of his sexual urges, but an issue of causing her husband to stumble.
Sound familiar? I didn’t want to. I had to. That woman – the one you gave me – made me do it.
Now, I’m not ignorant to the “issues” men face. I’ve been surrounded by men my whole life, I know what goes on. I know they sometimes can’t help it, and the strangest or mildest provocation can lead to, well, you know what. I’ve also also been around women my whole life. I am one. I also know full well that many wives use the withholding of sex as a method for punishing or bribing their husbands. Of course, this is unfair and another form of emotional blackmail.
However, I think it’s only fair that a woman might feel responsible for helping alleviate her husbands sexual arousal only if she willingly and knowingly participated in causing it in the first place, and if the mutual act required to alleviate it is something she is willing to do at that time. I think a man – or a woman, for that matter – ought to take care of their own business and not expect their partner to dutifully do it for them, unless of course that partner is happy to do so.
My issue is this – Many Christian men are wont to believe they will avoid sinning by using their wives as a receptacle for their arbitrary sexual impulses, often not related to or caused by her at all. In some instances, I don’t think they want to show their wife how much they desire, love, admire and respect her. They simply don’t want the inconvenience or stigma attached to masturbation.
For the especially Bible-y people, who usually like to scramble for Corinthians chapter seven about now, here’s what it says:
“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”*
Basically, the Bible says the husband ought to give his wife sex, and she ought to reciprocate. Her body isn’t just hers – it’s also his, and vice versa. Don’t say “there will be no sex” unless you both agree on it, and use that time to pray. Make sure that time is short, so you don’t get too frustrated in the meantime.
If there is any point to this scripture, it is is one of the mutual agreement on marital sex. I would not advocate that one partner withhold sex from the other arbitrarily, not just because of Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians but because it’s not healthy for their relationship. What I am saying is that we ought not presume the absence of sex is always a problem, or that women ought to concede to it just to help a brother out, primarily so he has one less thing to repent of at the end of the day.
Hows about you just take a cold shower instead?
There’s a whole bunch of reasons women don’t feel like sex. Like I said, maybe you are a little on the stinky side, pal. Men often can’t smell their own stink, particularly their breath. Maybe she just finished her period. Now just admit it – you have absolutely no idea what that is like. I know how on the TV commercials for sanitary products women dance in flimsy white dresses on the beach at that time of the month, and I know that blue liquid always goes exactly where its supposed to, but it’s not really like that in real life. EVER. If you saw what we have to see every single month, you would need counselling.
Maybe she just had a baby. When something that big comes out of there, the last thing you want back in there is the very thing that started it all in the first place. Add to that all the stuff I said about periods, times about twenty. For about two months. Then there’s the actual baby. Give her time.
Maybe there is something else going on down there you don’t know about. Maybe she has some emotional issues that need dealing with before she can give herself fully to it. Maybe some moron called her fat today, or maybe you called her fat yesterday, and being naked in front of someone else is something she just can’t come at right now. Maybe she just didn’t consider that cuddle in the kitchen to be foreplay.
No, I don’t think it’s fair when one partner says no and you both agreed at some stage there would be sex. My point is that there needs to be that conversation. I am tired of this general assumption the problem is essentially an absence of sex, to be remedied by the easiest possible means – preferably to just have the woman lie still for a moment. If you’re married, and sexually frustrated you need to back up the truck a little. What was your initial agreement? Was there ever one? What are your expectations?
Have the chat. Will there be sex, ever? Check. Will there be sex when I want it a lot and you just want it a little bit? Maybe. Will you serve as a receptacle of my sexual needs so I don’t have to service myself, thus causing me to sin? Er, well, perhaps you need to talk about that a little more. Maybe you need to think about whether you coercing someone into lying there while you relieve your tension isn’t just another form of masturbation. Maybe you really do need to take Paul’s advice and abstain while you pray this thing through, and consider exactly what honouring and respecting the other persons body really means.
Just remember, when you make someone have sex with you that doesn’t want to have sex with you, there is a name for that, and I’m pretty sure its a sin.
* Corinthians 7:3 – 6
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