Adam Walker Cleaveland at Pomomusings asked about The Sex Challenge at Relevant Church. Basically, for thirty days, the lead pastor’s challenging single people to stay abstinent every day and married couples to have sex every day.
My gut reaction and my comment was, “It’s horrifying.”
Then, I took a couple of days, stewing about what made me so irritated. I mean, a lot people commented that they were glad that the church was talking openly about sex. Sex is good, after all.
I wonder what the pastor’s motivation behind this is. Is it to jumpstart the sex lives of his congregation? Let them realize what a wonderful thing it is? Is it to combat our cultural notion that people have great sex until they get married? Or is it just a cheap marketing ploy? I mean, we all know that sex sells… and I am blogging about it after all…. But my deeper concern is that this sort of stunt fortifies that pernicious idea that women must be, at all times, sexually available for their husbands.
Maybe it’s my background. While I was growing up, we did talk about sex in church. A lot. In the context of marriage, it was presented in a positive light.
But then there was this nasty persistent undercurrent that I saw many couples get swept away in. There was that idea (a biblical one, in fact) that a wife should never deny her husband. This verse definitely goes on the list of things I wish were not in the Bible.
Growing up in the midst of our religious community, I watched the sad and detrimental effects. Husbands often went away with an over-bloated sense of entitlement, feeling that they had the right to demand and dictate when their wives should have sex with them. Women lost control of a very, very basic right–the right over their own bodies.
And it followed that when the men were not “satisfied” and they had this entitlement issue, it seemed almost permissible for them to have an affair. No one said that, exactly. But when an affair occurred, the first whispers had to do with whether the wife was generous enough in the bedroom. They always seemed to blame the victim.
We’ve heard it…especially in church. It’s old news. We all remember what Mark Driscoll did when Ted Haggard hired a prostitute and did drugs with him. Well, he posted this:
Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.
So, there’s my back-story. That’s why I’m horrified at the thought of a male religious leader pressuring a couple to have sex everyday.
There are times in every relationship when a spouse can’t have sex. He or she is just not emotionally or physically able. And one of the most precious things that a partner can do is to understand when that happens–to put his or her own desires aside out of respect for a loved one.
We should talk openly about sex–but in our churches I dare say that women’s voices have not been heard on this issue. We have a huge percentage of women in our country who have been victims of sexual violence. So much that it’s almost a norm… And I’m afraid the church has a long way to go before they can begin to help in the healing process.
In loving relationships, women should always have the right to have sex or not to have it. And men should too. No pastor should dictate that. When we talk about sex in church, it should be held with deep respect and mutual consent always needs to be our starting place.
photo’s by Mirage