some thoughts on marriage and the value of sexual love
The male’s non-seasonal (i.e continuous, year round) sexual interest in the female is what keeps human couples together. This biological basis for the long-term pairing up of women and men predates any cultural institutions of marriage. This was one of the ideas addressed in the book, The Human Animal, by Weston La Barre (The University of Chicago Press, 1954). La Barre was a professor of anthropology at Duke University (in North Carolina). Though not stressed in the book, women have a sex drive, too.
This makes sense. If the sex drive were only present for a “mating season”, the male would lose interest, and go away after the sexual activities ended and leave the female to rear the young. One observes this in many animal species. For humans, this would not work. As adaptable as we are as a species, we do not survive or prosper very easily when alone. We really cannot be “lone wolves”. We need the strengths and abilities of others, as they need our strengths and abilities. (For many this appears obvious, yet there are some who cling to the view that sex in marriage is only for begetting children (reproduction). That view actually dehumanizes sex. Humans are not animals. We have a higher consciousness than animals and thus sex has meanings for us that animals cannot experience. More than physical sensations are shared when we make love.)
Since the sexual bonding is what, at the most basic and primal level, keeps the couple together, those church men over the centuries who have shown such contempt for sexual love within marriage have done much harm to marriages and married persons. Contrary to what some church men might assert, sex in marriage is absolutely vital. The continuing sexual interest and desire of the spouses for each other serve to keep the human family intact. (Sexual pessimism and hatred of pleasure are not authentic Christian values, by the way, but entered the early Church from ancient pagan schools of thought.) There is a need for sexual morality, yes, but one must tread lightly when treating sex within marriage. (We need sexual morality to protect ourselves from our own self destructive tendencies. As well, it is not good for the individuals involved, nor for society, when wives/mothers and children are abandoned.) The fact that there are currently hundreds, if not thousands, of Christian marriage authors and bloggers is evidence of the tremendous confusion we have in Christendom today on the subject of sexual love within marriage. A sorry state, but at least some progress in people’s understanding is being made.
We need to add here that we are not saying that sex is the only important factor in a successful, lasting marriage. But, it is a very important component of a happy, lasting marriage.
The importance of sex cannot be denied nor trivialized. The sexless marriage is dead already and very likely doomed to dissolution. Children suffer terribly when their parents’ marriage ends in divorce. As to sexual morality within marriage, when you withhold frequent sex from your spouse (for whatever reason(s)), you thus cause him or her sexual frustration. Sexual frustration is the biggest source or cause of sexual sin. Many people have affairs these days (there are websites that facilitate this) and they cite 2 reasons frequently for seeking affairs while still being married. They were either neglected emotionally for years and/or sexually neglected (or denied) for a long period of time. We do not condone adultery. Yet, we recognize that when a person’s emotional and sexual needs are not met, it is not surprising that the person may seek to meet those needs outside of their marriage (out of frustration and despair of their marriage). It is a harmful and serious sin to routinely withhold emotional support and/or sexual relations from your spouse. Of course, you are not likely to hear of that sin in church!
(Another – and even more troubling – trend that we hear of is that of the young man or young woman who marries, and then cannot make the adjustment to monogamous sexuality. Somewhat surprisingly, this seems currently to be more prevalent among young wives than young husbands. When a person has engaged in sex very casually and has had many sex partners prior to their marriage, she (or he) may have a more difficult time being satisfied with sexual intimacy with their spouse. For some, this may be more of a case of being attracted to the thrill of sexual novelty (the excitement of having a new, if very temporary, sexual partner at intervals). For others, there may be more serious emotional problems – that are not being admitted and addressed – that are making it difficult to keep their sex within their marriage. Promiscuous pre-marital sex is harmful and risky in many ways.)
We wrote a series of essays on marriage in the summer of 2012 (filed under the blog category of “marriage” on our blog site). Since then, we have written the occasional essay on marriage, parenting, etc. However, ours is a generalist blog. Thus, we refer interested readers to those dedicated (or specialized) marriage blogs that regularly address sexual love between the spouses in a healthy, honest and mature way, and from a Christian perspective. There are many such blogs these days and we have selected only a few to include links to here. (We have found that we have serious differences with some Christian marriage bloggers, but the blogs linked to below are ones we can recommend without reservation.) These websites can be a great resource for married couples and for those engaged to marry. (Refer others you know, as appropriate, to these blogs.) You may even see various comments I have made on some of their essays.
Note: all of the following blogs are written by married women. Women readers (wives) do seem to be more comfortable and more open to discussing with other women their very intimate concerns about sexual love. But, these blogs are also for husbands as the essays are written with balance, and take into account the concerns of husbands.
Julie Sibert writes on her blog, Intimacy in Marriage. In my opinion, Julie is the most incisive writer on this issue of sexual love and intimacy within marriage. She also is not afraid to call the Christian clergy to account for their failings in addressing the value of sexual love within marriage. We share links to 2 of her more recent essays that drive these points home.
From J (she uses only her first initial) on Hot, Holy and Humorous, we link to this relevant and helpful essay:
Sheila G has a long running blog with almost daily essays. There are many reader comments that expand the discussion. This is a helpful website:
For those wives who have played (or are playing) the role of refuser or gatekeeper as regards sex, I would strongly suggest reading some of the essays on this blog (written by a middle-aged wife, who is now a former gatekeeper): http://forgivenwife.com/
Please visit the linked essays. Have your spouse read some of the essays, too. For those who are having challenges, problems, or “issues” in their marriage, consider what these bloggers say – it can be helpful. As well, if you feel it is appropriate and needed, consider seeking the help of a qualified marriage counselor. There is no shame nor reason for embarrassment in seeking the input and counsel of a trained and experienced marriage counselor. Marriage is not easy, and there are times when outside counsel is appropriate and helpful.
Copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com
We have shared our essay here: http://www.messymarriage.com/the-communication-tool-that-opens-hearts-and-linkup/#
Best wishes to all.