Don’t sex cult the marriage bed.

This doesn’t mean avoid married sex, obviously, but there is a strain in Americans and of late conservatives the last generation or so of sex culting the marriage bed.  Christians are prone to this subverted gnosticism, prizing the intimacy of the marriage bed in too earthy and incontinent a fashion, denying that marriage is not really about having lifelong tingles.

The Puritans struggled mightily with seeking balance in this matter, but modern conservative Christians into the whole cult of “freaky sex but we’re married ooooo edgy” can’t even understand the problem.  Some boast of their inability to conduct themselves appropriately in public settings as a sign that their marriage is well ordered.  This could not be further from the truth.

Focusing on marital intimacy to the point that one is spending hours per day in figure maintenance hardly seems a good place for Christian wives to place their excess energies.  Call Trim Healthy idolatry, if you will.  At the very least, it leads to massive misinformation being passed from woman to woman about female health and bodily changes due to time and fertility.  It goes by many different names, but 40 days, six weeks postpartum, a long month, and so forth are quite universal and cross-cultural.  One to three months is the traditional range of “hands off” postpartum, and this is simply not being passed along any more to new wives by experienced married women.  It’s for the good of both husband and wife, to help them stay grounded in the fact that sex isn’t primarily about their mutual gratification, but a vehicle for welcoming new life into the world.

Whenever a subculture kicks this idea to the curb, it doesn’t lead to stronger marriages or healthier wives and children.  In several regional American subcultures prior to birth control and legal abortion, it was not at all unusual for women to resume relations at a couple of weeks postpartum.  This hardly made those marriages stronger and it sure didn’t help the infant and maternal mortality numbers.  And it didn’t matter that plenty of those women wanted to resume and weren’t necessarily being pressured.  It’s not about the immediate wants of the individual.

When Christians sex cult the marriage bed and define it firstly in terms of gratification, they degrade marriage rather than cultivate or enrich it.

It can also lead to unhealthy and improperly ordered parent-child stuff.  I want to put in more about this topic, it’s a big honking problem with far reaching consequences and severe damage to healthy, God-centered sexuality for girls and guys, but I’m pretty tuckered out, so I’ll just have to call this notes enough for now.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t sex cult the marriage bed.”

  1. I agree with the spirit of this post, having myself lamented what I like to refer to as the pornification of marriage amongst Christians. But I’ll quibble with you on the details.

    For one, the number of Christian women who in reality are concerned enough about being attractive to their husbands to put in a lot of time to figure maintenance is relatively small. Hanging around the conservative wing of the Internet tends to magnify the number but having been told repeatedly by women face to face how little sense it makes to be concerned about health for the husband’s sake at all and having ONLY encountered women like that on the Internet, I feel fairly comfortable saying this problem isn’t much of a problem, LOL.

    Secondly, I find that those who decry the effort required to try and turn around years of neglect, gluttony, or weight gain from pregnancies and injuries are usually those who have never really had a weight problem, at least not on the over weight side of the issue. To lose 30, 40, 50 or more pounds really does require a fair amount of focus, concentration, effort, time, and support which is often not found within the marriage.

    Husbands get used to fresh baked bread, homemade cookies, and whatnot. In my particular case, there hasn’t been a need to lose weight for the sake of maintaining sexual attraction, but health issues have to be addressed. Where I would prefer the wholesale absence of obstacles from the kitchen (which would certainly make the effort less arduous), my husband doesn’t agree. More focus, time, energy are therefore required to get where I’d like to be.

    Thirdly, while sexuality in marriage is certainly for the purpose of new life into the world, unless you’re going to argue that women should have as many babies as humanly possible (something I know you don’t believe) or that infertile couples whether through age or tragedy shouldn’t be concerned with sexuality in marriage, then you have to allow that there is a place to be at least somewhat concerned with maintaining a degree of sexual attractiveness in marriage.

    Fourth, are there really a statistically relevant number of couples who push for sex outside the normative 6 weeks post partum period? I’d be surprised if that were true.

    Now…all that said, I do agree with you that our energies shouldn’t be solely or even significantly focused on sex or figure maintenance. To dedicate oneself to maintenance of the external to the exclusion of more important and pressing matters is tell tale sign about where our treasures lie.

    So like I said, the spirit I agree with, but the filling in of the details left me with a lot to say.

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