Part 2 – Love Means Never Having To Say “Aw, Look What You Made Me Do.”

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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She Won’t Let Me Wear The Pants Or Stick My Thingy In Her, And Other Pressing Problems Facing The Church Today

Okay, so as a middle-aged Christian woman, in light of the recent rash of Driscollisms doing the rounds, I feel at this point I need to stand up say something. Someone certainly needs to tell these Bible-college educated boofheads a few home truths about marriage, leadership and sex. I’ve been hearing this same inane, misogynist drivel preached from church pulpits for about three decades now, and I’m so bloody tired of it, I just can’t tell you.

I wish everything they keep telling us to do actually worked, really I do. I wish all gender issues in the church and the larger problems of the world could be cured if I as a Christian woman agreed to never write essays or read books or rise above the creche roster at church, and promised to wear a french maids outfit while I dusted and baked. But this largely sexist idea that you guys – and it is the guys for the most part – seem to have about how all Christian men and all Christian women are wired – or ought to be wired –  just doesn’t work in the real world. And believe it or not, Mr. Anti-Women-In-Leadership, your church is in the real world.retro-couple

And, about that leadership thing. Let’s get this straight. You should stop telling men they ought to want to be leaders all the time, and telling women they ought to want to not be. Not all men want to be leaders, and not all men can be leaders, good or otherwise. And not all men want to live in a system of marriage or church or community where the kind of leaders you and your ilk advocate they become are even necessary. I mean, just listen to the way you talk to people, for crying out loud. Not all men are averse to the leadership of women, and many resent the fact you’re always telling them they ought to be. As hard as it is to believe, many men actually like women as fellow human beings, and don’t think women are just for marrying, or leading around, or sticking their willies in. I put it to you that an awful lot of men – more than you probably think – don’t want to be leaders, of their wives or anyone else. And these are not broken men that need fixing.

Another thing. Despite all that weaker vessel stuff, not all women are weaker than men, physically, mentally or spiritually. Some women are naturally very strong, and many have had to learn to be, and that is not an anomaly that needs solving or correcting. Little Man, not all women who are strong want to emasculate you. I am a strong woman, however, when I come into the presence of others, I do not assume because I am strong I am the boss of everyone else, and therefore all those present must defer to my strengths because there can be only one. I am happy to work with and appreciate the strengths – and the weaknesses – of other people, and give credit and respect where due. Regardless of what the misogynist men church teachers say, neither men nor women should assume their strengths are God’s gift to others, and that others must therefore submit and make way for them. My husband and I work together. He knows what my strengths are, and he is happy to use that to his advantage. He’s a smart guy. We try to let the other one do what they are good at and naturally enjoy, and we work hard not to dominate, but to compliment each other.

I tried downplaying my strengths once to allow my husband to rise up and be more like the strong Christian man the church said he was supposed to be in every area of our marriage (because he had the penis) but that was a disaster. He didn’t want to ‘lead me’ – he married me because he liked me and thought I was attractive and interesting, not because he thought I was weak and stupid and needed him or I would die alone in the woods. We figure God knew just what he was doing when he put us together, and when we both use our powers for good and not evil, everything works just fine. When things go wrong, it won’t work to blame someone else for being weak or a usurper. We just get onto the problem and sort it out.

Let’s just call this need some Christian men have to dominate and control others exactly what it is – basic emotional insecurity. If a man is intimidated by and feels he needs to dominate another person, and this is further compounded by the fact she is a woman, he is insecure first, a bully second, and a silly misogynist third. Buddy, your problem isn’t that your wife won’t follow your leadership, its that you’re trying to create an autonomous dictatorship in what is meant to be a democracy. Ironically, I have met a lot of incredibly strong women who got that way after surviving their stupid, despotic husband who used spiritual, emotional and physical rape as a “Biblical” leadership strategy. If you try to break your wife by demanding she follow your leadership because God said she has to, she may get strong in a whole bunch of ways you didn’t count on, with Gods help…and I will promise to help her do it.

Now, the sex thing. Pay close attention, because this is very important. Regardless of what they preach in church and write in their preachy marriage books, not all women have naturally low sex drives. A lot of women have naturally high sex drives, higher than their husbands do, higher than most men do in fact. Many men have naturally low sex drives, and it’s perfectly normal, i.e.: not a problem that needs fixing. 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. You do realise her part of the equation bleeds for a week every month, yeah? And besides, maybe your breath stinks. Maybe you stink. Maybe she really is tired or has a headache because of all the other problems she has to take care of as a result of the other times you put your thingy in her – i.e.: your children.  Your dick is your priority, not hers.

I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that if a woman has a low desire for sex she’s called “frigid”, but there is no derogatory name for a man with a low sex drive. As if it were impossible for a man to have a low sex drive, or for a woman to be sexually frustrated. Hello. There’s no name for a man with a low sex drive, because we don’t presume that everyone with a penis will just instantly feel like sticking it into us when we snap our fingers, and – funnily enough – your puerile name calling didn’t make us horny when you did it to us. Neither did those sermons you wrote telling us we need to deal with our sexual “problems”. The fact that you wouldn’t even know a sexually frustrated woman if you fell over her – and yet a sexually frustrated man doesn’t seem capable of thinking or talking about anything else – says a lot about our genders ability to take care of our business, don’t you think?

Mr Sex-Obsessed, Misogynist, Power-hungry Pastor-man, every time you talk at people about what is normal and what is not when it comes to sex, family and relationships you effectively cause 99% of your congregation to become just a little bit more neurotic. I don’t care to read your book and find out if God gets mad when we put that into there. If you’d stop banging on about it – no pun intended – many people would not ever presume their sex life was broken and needed fixing in the first place. And this is the real problem, isn’t it? The church stopped talking a long time ago about how great and amazing and awesome people are and all the things they are capable of and can aspire to and create together, and instead started repressing everyone and bitching about them, while at the same time complaining about being repressed. I’ll come back to church when you guys start healing and uniting all people, regardless of gender and sexual orientation, celebrating their humanity and diversity, and just stop with the generalisations, the misogyny, and the micro-managing sin via behaviour modification. It’s just boring.

 

 

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