Sunday, January 24, 2010
#121 30-Day Sex Challenges
In recent months a rash of evangelical churches started advocating 30-day sex challenges for married couples. The tagline is "Every man's fantasy: 30 days of sex! Every woman's dream: 30 days of intimacy!" The challenge is to have sex every day for 30 days, the end result being a stronger marriage. The husbands are stoked. The wives act like they are too.
Sex challenges made by churches typically get a lot of press, which drums up attendance. And if it gets people in the door the challenge is a good thing, right? This logic makes the sex challenge difficult for Christian culture to question.
At the conclusion of 30 days the participants are surveyed and most of them report that it was the best 30 days of their lives, LOL! But some say the challenge precluded actual communication and got downright tiring. A significant number of people have survived sexual abuse, but counseling isn't often proffered by churches with jumbotron prominence the way sex challenges are. Offering personal interaction and proactive healing of deep wounds might go much further towards fostering intimacy than a sex challenge could, while challenging trauma survivors in this way can cause a lot more damage.
With all of this propaganda the pitfalls aren't discussed. The wife could feel objectified or emotionally neglected, but if she has been immersed in Christian culture she could dismiss these feelings as being selfish and sinful. And men in Christian culture sure as hell do not speak openly about being too tired for sex or feeling emotionally neglected. The machismo undercurrent in Christian culture is pretty effective in shaming men into acting stronger in the traditional sense, even though Christ modeled strength in the most untraditional sense.
The message being given is that it's good to do something if the person standing at the pulpit challenged you to. But how did the ins and outs (har har) of the congregants' marriages come to be bandied about from the pulpit? Is there a boundary issue here? Would it be better for the church body if the pastor taught the Bible instead of being provocative and muddling tactical advice with scripture?
When something as intensely personal as a sex challenge is presented by an institution and doesn't speak to the personal histories and hearts of the people involved, it's a breeding ground for emotional and spiritual injury. Christian culture's recurring theme of Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship goes to show that the point has been lost.
This post originally appeared at Beliefnet. The original post and its comment thread can be seen here.