marriage (with a little sex and a little spice) part two
. . . . continuing from part one . . . .
Only in the past several decades have we (in large numbers) begun to seriously and openly question this Augustinian sexual pessimism, and hatred of pleasure in Western civilization. We need to achieve a more mature, healthy, and rational appreciation of, and respect for, marriage in the Western world. We’re not there yet.
Clearly, God intended sexual love for marriage. (The moral commandments are there to protect us from our own, all too human, self-destructive tendencies.) It is also clear that sex within marriage was not intended to be exclusively, nor even primarily, for procreation. (We humans would have a mating season, as the lower orders of animals do, if sex were solely for the purpose of procreation.)
In fact , when you consider the non-seasonal and continuous sex drive in the man, and consider that the woman has both the capacity for sex, and a desire for it throughout her monthly cycle, it is readily and clearly apparent that there is more to human sexuality than procreation. By the way, as some who live in ivory towers appear (still) not to be aware of, women do have a sex drive (libido, or perhaps in the feminine it is libida).
As we believe that God created us male and female (with equal dignity and equal worth) and that God does not make mistakes, we arrived at this conclusion. God fully intended for the sexual expression of the love between the spouses (marital lovemaking) to be frequent, pleasurable (for both spouses), passionate, tender, playful, and respectful. (We view procreation as a natural, positive, good and – for the propagation of the human race – necessary outcome of marital lovemaking when conception occurs.)
Think about it. An omniscient and omnipotent God could have created or designed human sexuality and procreation in any number of ways.
To be sure, God’s ways are so far above man’s ways of thinking, but it would seem to be that God intended for the marital lovemaking, in its frequency and passion and pleasure, to serve to bond or unite the spouses in a very strong love for one another at a deep level of their being or psyche. Could it be that an all-knowing and loving Creator knew how difficult human relationships are to sustain over the years given the numerous character flaws that humans have? We think that God knew that lifelong marriage was going to be a tough proposition and He purposely designed our sexuality in such a way to help us to really bond and unite with our spouse. A stronger loving bond within marriage helps the marriage to survive the great stresses that come over the years.
Before concluding this second in our series of essays on marriage, and pretty much finishing the background discussion, we need to address one last issue.
It is offensive to us that octogenarian celibate males (with active support from allies among the laity), with no personal experience of the goods of the married state, will seek (and have sought over the centuries) to burden the married state and burden the joys of the young spouses in their God approved marital lovemaking. They attempt this by micromanaging what goes on in the marital bedroom. By this micro management and its sexual pessimism (they will even assert that frequent lovemaking will make the spouses “selfish” – we are not making this up!), they are really trying to impose, as near as is possible for married persons, an ascetic, celibate, monastic ideal upon the spouses. In fact, since the time of (St.) Augustine (d. 430), the Church really has tried to de-sexualize Christian wives and effectively emasculate Christian husbands. (As well, asserting that sex within marriage is exclusively or even primarily for procreation actually dehumanizes the sexual love between the wife and her husband. For the clerics, the sexual love between the spouses is not just physical. There are emotional and psychological components of that love that you do not understand.)
We can only point out that we are called to live moral, human lives. We are not called, nor required, to live ascetic, joyless lives.
We would not so humbly caution these Church men that if you are going to insist on playing the role of moral arbiter over all aspects of our lives, then kindly make sure that you are up to dealing honestly and constructively with moral complexity. (Those who have read some of our earlier essays still on this site (see category tabs) will not be surprised by these remarks. You can read the essay(s) on Islam (the futility of seeking a common ground), alleviating poverty (by doing more than merely treating its symptoms), and on capital punishment as good examples.)
We believe that the only thing the Church ought say about marital lovemaking is this: If you conceive a child, you cannot abort (kill) that child.
Go forth and multiply does not mean that we are instructed (or required) to have as many children as is possible over the course of our reproductive lives.
Dear readers, we will eventually get a little more playful, and much more graphic and explicit in these essays.
Here is the link to the next installment, part 3, of this series.
As this memorable song (1980s) was on the radio at breakfast time, we offer it to you now.
Til Tuesday – Voices Carry (indeed, voices do carry)