Friday, November 4, 2011

#223 Scheduling sex


Who does this? Well, it’s a common practice among married evangelicals and is usually performed at the behest of the pastor who did their premarital or crisis counseling.

It’s even common to even hear suggested in a sermon. Unlike high chuch and mainline denominations, Protestant pastors of the evangelical stripe love talking about sex from the pulpit (the married and heterosexual elements always carefully emphasized). The pastor will say “We schedule other important things like quiet times and oil changes. Why not this?” You get the idea that he knows a lot of people in the congregation with near-celibate marriages and you have a sneaking suspicion he’s doing the men a solid.

Christian culture’s take on sex has caused no shortage of self-loathing, book deals, vaginismus and divorce. They aren’t sure how to hold power and danger and carnality alongside personal histories, spirituality and the whole person, so they hedge its pedestal with awed suspicion and then they're bewildered that sex isn’t better. In the grand tradition of Christian culture they once again put the cart before the horse. Not the position, but metaphorically. The wives silently seethe and wield it like a weapon. It’s the best way to exert control over that relationally passive horndog they’re married to. Their church’s Song of Solomon series gets the husband’s hopes up. Maybe she’ll put out if God says to? They resort to scheduling marital congress like the Zondervan books suggested. The husband waits for the appointment panting and wagging. The wife is grateful for each day that isn’t the designated Sex Day and when it arrives she wonders what’s wrong with her. He’s just so eager and unable to connect unless it involves their junk. But the sex date is as good as it gets. At least they’re doing it. A soggy potato chip is better than none at all. Again, this is advice given from the pulpit. Taken at face value (Christian culture's tendency) it’s another way of Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship.

73 comments:

Sean (not the douchey one) said...

"...Not the position, but metaphorically..." HA! I just spit out something I should have swallowed.

Narnia said...

Our entirely secular premarital counseling course recommended the same thing if the couple finds their struggling with an imbalance of sexual appetites.

I actually found it incredibly helpful. Honestly, it's been 10 years since I was a frisky, newly dating teenager who just wanted to get it on at every single opportunity. As my sexual appetite has changed at a different pace than his, it has been the most difficult part of our relationship. I would fret about it constantly, knowing he probably wanted it but just wasn't asking, but that very fretting would only worsen the situation. It would make it so the whole thing became such a stressful deal that I *never* wanted it.

When we tried scheduling some time for intimacy, I didn't spend every day fretting about the pressure of his desire. Instead, on those days, I could relax and give myself time to settle into a much more open mindset. The entire experience became joyful again, instead of a constant struggle.

Both of us were very grateful for the suggestion and how it helped improve a situation that was spiraling out of control, and we both didn't know what to do. I think what was important about it is that we both knew there was a problem, we both wanted to do what we could to fix it, but we weren't getting anywhere on our own. I think the fact that we went into together trying to see if this would help both of us have a happier and more joyful, comfortable and fulfilling sex life, actually made it a very useful tool.

Katie said...

Are you sure you meant to write "panting and wagging" or did you *really* mean "panting and whacking off?"

Ryan said...

I got married at 20, mostly so we could have sex "legally." We've been married for 10 years now, and haven't had sex in a year. Who's with me?

Nate said...

the christian take on sex is the most dysfunctional and harmful thing in christian culture. the rest of the world gets married for money or love or security....christians get married at young and immature ages just so they can have sex, and then when their marriages fall apart they wonder why...HINT: marrying so you can have sex is the worst idea of all time.

secondly, how is it so hard to have a non confrontational talk about sexual desire. i know sex is dirty and taboo in christian culture, but is it really so hard to say "hey honey, i know that you don't have the same sex drive i do, but lets work on this together, how can i help you get more into this, and make this more enjoyable for both of us. sex isn't a big deal if you're getting some. if you aren't it will tear your relationship apart sooner or later.

lastly, i think maybe christians don't realize this because many of them only have sex with one woman and dont have much experience with woman as a whole ( because friendship with women is discouraged, you may be tempted by them, stay away from all vagina all together if at all possible, lest ye be lead astray). the majority of woman are insecure about sex. christian women especially. they have hang ups about their vaginas, or the way their bodies look or, having the lights on....this list could go on forever. the key to sex in any relationship is to show the person you are having sex with how beautiful you think they are and how you are attracted to them all the time, no matter if they just rolled out of bed. i have dated a few girls who were extremely uncomfortable with different aspects of sex, but as the relationship progressed, they came to enjoy them because they saw how much i enjoyed them, and they were able to let some of there hang ups go, because they realized that none of those silly things they were insecure about really mattered.

I agree with stef, sex isn't something you schedule. if you have to resort to that to save your marriage, you need to learn to be more open about your sexuality as a human. talking is the number one factor in having a healthy relationship. talking about sex is the number one factor in having a healthy sex life....oh, and actually marrying someone who you are sexually compatible with....but i guess when you kids get married at 19, you don't even know what that means.

Nate said...

@ryan- i can't even begin to comprehend all the things wrong with your comment. i can't speak to your relationship because i don't know the specifics. however having seen my parents and friends in their "get married to have sex" relationships....you have to fix this asap. the longer you let it go, the more bitter you get, and the harder it is to fix....god commands you to have a healthy and loving relationship in the same way he commands you not to have sex before marriage...why did you do the one, but you can't do the other?

Anonymous said...

Wow. I love how you phrased this piece, because it pisses me off when people talk about this like it's such a great thing. Sex with someone who's not really into it? Bleh.

And though scheduling sex might be a good idea for some, in situations where you're really busy and are just blocking out a period of time in which to do something you really want to do...most of the time, it's going to be a depressing effort that doesn't do anything to change a relationship except increase the frequency of bad intercourse.

And for the partner who has more frequent urges? There's always masturbation, right?

I really do think people should have more, and more joyful sex, but this seems fucking painful.

And what about the daily sexuality of a couple--the kisses, the touches, the hugs? This scheduling dealio gives a picture of a relationship where the partners are cold and separate unless they're having intercourse. Because believe me--if you've got a lot of healthy daily touch going on, you will get turned on more often (though not always) and you will enjoy intercourse more, if intercourse is your thing.

Unknown said...

I found this book interesting, depressing but an insight that my experience is not unusual. Ryan, you might find this helpful. There are some truly sad stories but also the occasional laugh.

Check it out and don't be put off by the book's title: http://books.google.com/books?id=OU_RvGQEXzQC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ViewAPI#v=onepage&q&f=false

Anonymous said...

Narnia's comment described my situation perfectly. Scheduling sex certainly could be grim, if people are approaching at as a chore rather than as she describes it. But it can also be helpful in some situations. Even Greta Christina, who's about as sex-positive and nonChristian as it gets, recommends it in some circumstances.

stephy said...

Bill Siems summed up this post best over on the Facebook page:

"It's all really part of the way Christian culture objectifies sex, obsesses over it, covers it with religious pronouncements, then wonders why it doesn't happen more often or isn't better. The way to free something that's been shoved in a box with a lid tied on is not to just put the whole mess in a bigger box. In my own experience, too often when I hear people talking about sex, e.g., not enough, or not good enough--and this is both in Christian culture and out of it--they're really talking about a symptom and not a cause.

That's what I see in the crux of Stephy's posts on sex: Christian culture treating the symptom like a cause. It's all up to each of us to decide if that applies to us or not."

Marco said...

Looking forward to Stephy's entry on "The Five Love Languages". Now THERE's something Christian culture likes.

snowygurl said...

LOVING the picture ! tee hee

Unknown said...

This isn't just evangelical christian culture. I remember a friend sharing a Roman Catholic text on the subject - with a primary emphasis on procreation complete with positions to increase gender selection...

On the positive power of touch, this is an area where we should potentially give some credit to christian culture. I think that hugging amongst adults is pretty neccessary and much more prevalent in CC than in general culture. Even side-hugs is better than being in the touchless vacuum guaranteed to cause misery. Humans are more relational than dogs and look at what happens to a dog that isn't touched and petted - they become really unhappy.

Of course if your church is a hand-shaking only place then there might be some need for sermons to schedule sex since the rest of the message is so wrong.

Callie said...

Unknown, I actually find CC's relationship to physical touch pretty disturbing. That is one area, among many, where Christians tend to have TERRIBLE boundaries.

I have many friends who are sexual abuse survivors, and most of them refuse to attend church because people touch and hug them without permission and it sends them into horrible flashbacks. These are people who long for an authentic relationship with God and with other people and who want to be able to know that they are worthy of having real relationships with people, but those longings fall by the wayside when they're in the midst of PTSD symptoms set off by well-meaning Christians. These friends have often talked about wishing they could just wear a sign around their necks that says 'Please don't touch me' so that they can attend church without being manhandled.

It breaks my heart that church, which should be a very safe place for people of all walks of life and experiences, tends to be super triggering and traumatic instead. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are sexually abused at some point in their life. This is a huge segment of the population that Christians marginalize. I'm not saying that we don't need physical touch, but why can't we acknowledge that not everyone is OK with it (with VERY good reason) and maybe we should ask before invading a stranger's space?

ezekiel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It's a bit funny how years ago people griped about how silent the Church was on sex. Now they gripe that there's to much on the subject. I'm sure the comeback on that will be something along the lines of "how it's communicated". Basically, people like to complain about the Church. It's one way of obtaining a superior feeling over Church, justifying the lack of any kind of commitment to a local body, because of course there isn't any good ones out there.

stephy said...

Would you be surprised if I were a member of a church right now?

Tony D said...

Callie, you can tell your friends who don't want to be touched to look for a traditional-worship Presbyterian or Lutheran church. The're not called the "frozen chosen" for nothing!

Jeff said...

Callie, good points. And they do lead to why I would only say some credit.

Prior to leading a retreat for the leadership of a Lutheran church, I made a surprise visit during a Sunday worship. The first person to even greet me was the woman who backed her SUV into mine as I was leaving the church parking lot.

It made a great anecdote about why thier church might not be growing.

Katie said...

Guys, I just feel like we haven't talked enough about masturbation on this thread. Or zoophilia.

Anonymous, sex talk is one thing that bothers me least about the church. The church is dumb because it's run by a bunch of people who think they're in control when they're not. And I only recently had to discontinue my membership from my church because I'm not allowed to be a member when I profess that I'm not a Christian even though I still enjoy learning about the Bible. So, good job church. You win again.

Ed Horch said...

Scheduling sex only works if you both want it anyway, but whenever the time comes, something else pre-empts it or you're too exhausted from chasing the kids all day and whatnot. Scheduling sex to relieve the discomfort of one person wanting it and the other not indicates a much more serious problem, for which scheduling is an ineffective Band-Aid.

Frank said...

Stephy, I assumed you were a member of a church as your knowlege of the church is very accurate. I go to church every week (even teach sunday school) and I love your blog. Thanks!

Chris said...

@Anonymous I resent your claim that somehow people who offer criticisms of Christian culture are simply insatiable malcontents with an axe to grind. I'll lay it to you straight: I just want people to think. Is that so much to ask?

Anonymous said...

thanks ed! perfect!

Katie said...

@Chris don't think too much! You might lose your faith. I mean, you might not. It depends. I lost mine. Shouldn't have thought so much.

stephy said...

Ugh. Yeah, sorry to have hurt any feelings. I'm not trying to and when I say that stuff I know that there's a possibility the person could hear it and it's a weird balance to try to keep where I'm being honest about my gut response and not hurt someone's feelings. They're incompatible instincts so much of the time. I hope you can understand that my reactions are informed by my story, as are yours, and outside of the context of relationship it's really easy to un-personalize someone's story. I have a giant problem with the scheduling sex thing which all stems from my story and I'm still working this out over on the SCCL Facebook page (we're still talking about it over there and I'm trying to figure out why I'm so skeezed out by it). Just Christians talking about sex gives me the willies, is the main thing. I don't mean to hurt feelings and it's hard to apologize for that because I don't know if I'm sincerely sorry in all the ways a friend would be. That's where the anonymity of the internet thing gets tricky, I guess. All this stuff is difficult without relationship. I hope you can hear some of where I'm coming from with all of this and I'm sure you're a great person and I don't want to hurt feelings for no reason. xoxoxo

Simone said...

Your response to this is interesting and so different to mine. I kind of live in terror of hurting people's feelings and it's just been getting worse and worse as I get older. We should talk about this whole thing on the show. I'm sure we'll uncover some interesting points in that conversation, though I don't know where we'll end up!

stephy said...

As I've gotten older I am more transparent but also more understanding of the importance of feelings and relationship. It's a weird balance to walk, one that often comes up in therapy sessions. Sounds like a podcast topic!

Narnia said...

Steph,

I wanted to say how much I appreciate your kind and gracious response. The internet can indeed be very tricky sometimes. I know I've had my fair share of blunders. Anyway, I really appreciated it.

stephy said...

Aww gosh, you're gracious to say it was gracious. Thanks for hanging in with me.

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tidbits of Torah said...

You Have Been Warned
The prophet has already warned us that we should be careful not to think that God has any form or likeness, saying: “Watch yourselves most carefully, since you saw no image” (Devarim 4:15); “But you saw no image – there was only a voice” (ibid. 4:12). “Watch yourselves…..carefully” means: be careful – in your thinking and imagination – not to represent the Creator by any shape, nor to conceive of Him in any image or likeness, for your eyes beheld neither image nor form when He spoke to you, as it says: “To whom, then, will you liken the Almighty? What likeness will you compare to Him?” (Yeshayahu 40:18); “To whom, then, will you liken Me, that I should compare to?’ says the Holy One” (ibid. 40:25); For who in the skies can be compared to God? Who is like God among the heavenly beings?” (Tehillim 89:7); “There is none like You among the gods, HaShem, nor are there works like Yours” (ibid. 86:8); and there are many similar passages. (source pg. 133 Duties of the heart)

The Divine attributes of action are those that are ascribed to the Creator as a result of His actions. It is possible that in attributing these qualities to Him, He is made an associate of some of His creatures [to whom they are also attributed]. Nevertheless, we are permitted to ascribe these qualities to Him, because of our urgent need to know Him and recognize His existence, so that we may assume His service. We find extensive use of this kind of Divine attribute in the Torah and the books of the prophets, as well as in the praises offered by the prophets and the pious. Such attributes are used in two ways:

1) Attributes are ascribed which indicate image and bodily form, as in the following examples for Scripture: “And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him” (Bereshis 1:27); for in God’s image did He make man” (ibid. 9:6); “By the mouth of God” (Bamidbar 9:18); “My hands alone stretched out the heavens” (Yeshayahu 45:12); “in God’s ears” (Bemidbar 11:1); “and under His feet” (Shemos 24:10); “O arm of God!” (Yeshayahu 51:9); who has not sworn falsely by My Name” (Tehillim 24:4); “in the eys of God” (Bereshis 6:8); “and God said in His heart” (ibid. 8:21) and there are other similar attributions of bodily organs to God.

2) Attributes are ascribed to God which indicate movements and bodily actions, as it says: “God smelled [the pleasing fragrance]” (ibid. 8:21); “God saw…regretted…and He was saddened at heart” (ibid. 6:5-6); “God came down” (ibid. 11:5); “God remembered” (ibid. 8:1); “God heard” (Bemidbar 11:1); Then God awoke as one that had slept” (Tehillim 78:65); and there are many other similar attributes to Him of human actions.

The foolish and ignorant person will conceive of the Creator, may He be exalted, according to the literal sense of the Scriptural phrase.

Anonymous said...

TLDNR

Anonymous said...

How to tell a kooky frootloop - anyone who just blanket quotes chunks of sacred text. Feels more spam I'm thinking (re: Tidbits of Torah)

Narnia said...

I realized today that my screenname probably suggested otherwise. (I've been using it for ages and have sort of forgotten about its origins). Would it squick you out any less if I told you my husband and I are both very much atheists?

stephy said...

You know, it does squick me out less. It just goes to show that my issues surrounding this are almost totally related to the Christian culture thing. Ugh.

Narnia said...

I think that makes sense. I'd guess it probably has to do with the whole culture of "doing things and avoiding relationship" as you so succinctly put it.

Atheist or religious or anywhere in between, if you use it as a way to avoid communicating and dealing with the real issues then that's a problem. If either partner is just "lying back and thinking of England," well that's just plain awful. I just think that if it's a tool that you use in conjunction with honest and open communication to help you both work through the issues, well, there's nothing inherently wrong about that. YMMV. :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know. I hate saying that as CC loather myself, but the more I read this blog the more I can't shake the feeling that its author is sort of doing funda-evangelicalism in reverse: charismatic personality at the center with a lot of adoring fans on the periphery and any criticism shut down as "douchy."

I think of how fundies perceive the world in very two-dimensional ways, where the good guys (them) and bad guys (whoever is not them) are easily discerned. They miss that people and the world are three-dimensional. In the same way, SCCL seems to think evangies are two-dimensional bad guys. Sure, they're very misguided but are they really as evil as you think, or as they think secularists are? Has the author shaken off all the fundamentalism? She seems to think so, but from where I sit she seems to have learned pretty well from her own upbringing how to demonize those with with whom she disagrees.

Bill said...

Oh dear. Stephy doesn't demonize CC. It demonizes itself. She just points it out. Like, it wouldn't hurt if it wasn't true, right?

If anything, this thread shows that Stephy REACHES OUT to people she disagrees with. Responses like hers on 11/17 and 11/22 show that brilliantly.

No one seems to be saying that "evangies"--some unspecified class of people--are "two-dimensional bad guys". But "Evangelicalism"--a movement and many of its proponents--does present itself in a two-dimensional way that has harmed many people here. And those people are calling that Evangelicalism out.

Unlike any Evangelicalism I knew or grew up with, the SCCL community is hardly homogenous: it ranges from "raging atheists" to folks I would guess are theologically Evangelical who simply don't take themselves too seriously. What SCCL--and Stephy--does is give uncensored voice to those who have pain and anger toward that two-dimensional fuda-evangelicalism. She lets us rage, then gives us a hug, and lets us be as we choose to be. I, for one, cannot think of anything more Christlike. She certainly did not learn this from her own upbringing.

So, Anonymous, please, if you have something enlightening to add to these discussions, please, by all means, do so. If you mean simply to disparage Stephy and turn SCCL against her, well...we'll be here when you get it.

somaticstrength said...

As a survivor of sexual abuse, can I just say that a lot of the ways that CC deals with sexuality is really squicky, in that it comes across a lot of times as coercion. You don't *really* want sex, but you know, your pastor says you should do it for your spouse, and your spouse says the same, so you will, even though internally you don't want it. That's...coercion and rape and really icky, and one of the reasons that, even when I was a Christian, I vowed never, ever to marry one.

Anonymous said...

Doing "whatever" can certainly be unpleasurable if you feel like "you have to do it". With genuine Christianity, you follow biblical principles out of a love for Christ. When you do it with that heart, all this jibber-jabber you all are going on about becomes irrelevant. Comments like "when I used to be a Christian" reveal a lot. If you're not one now, you never were to begin with. Obviously if one is not a Christian, one is not going to have the heart to follow Christ, it just becomes a list of do's and don'ts.

Bill said...

"Why does what you just said strike me as a massive rationalization?"

starla said...

Why don't you post anymore? Although after reading all this, I'm thinking ow that Moral Orel was all truth :-)

stephy said...

I just post here when I want but I post several times a day on the SCCL Facebook page... http://facebook.com/stuffchristianculturelikes

Anonymous said...

Everything I hear on church about marital sex seems to be designed for sex crazed monsters who are thinking about it all the time. People with erectile disfunction have no place there :( They only help macho guys who want to stop being machos. Not the other way around.

Kevin said...

Anonymous, you've got it all wrong. Stephy is not a charismatic authority surrounded by mindless followers. She is a friend among many. If anything, we are the personalities and she the moderator. I have disagreed with people here on MANY things. One of the first threads I commented on was to say that I thought the post was, if not silly, then short-sighted. The thread offered me a place to say why I disagreed. What part of that is shutting me down? In fact, according to what you're saying I, as a fairly radical atheist, I should be shunned by this community. But that is not the case. I have, through SCCL, made friends with many wonderful people who, though they do not believe as I do, accept me as a good person and worthy friend.

Second, when someone says something I disagree with, I tell them I disagree and I tell them why. What's wrong with that? If you think that pointing out the errors of fallacious and dangerous thinking is somehow, "shutting people down" then I suggest you offer an alternative.

Finally, you seem to think that SCCL is about fundies. Wrong. SCCL is about Christian Culture which sees itself as being equal to Christ. The point of SCCL is not to demonize it, but to point out where it fails to live up to Christ's ideas. If Stephy has a bias, it is towards Christ.

As Bill said, if you have something to say, you should chat about it, but can the accusations of people you don't really know and a community you don't seem to understand.

Callie - NLI said...

I can't speak for Stephy, but I absolutely own my own tendancy to swing from fundamentalism on one side of things to fundamentalism on another side. I wish that it weren't so, but I am also aware that it is very rare for someone to find middle ground without first swinging to the opposite extreme. I'm trying to be aware of it in myself while simultaneously accepting that undoing the black and white thinking I grew up with in CC is a process and it's going to take me a while.

I would guess that a lot of us here are at different points in the pendulum swing, and isn't that what this site is all about? Being OK with the journey? Understanding that no one has arrived and all of us, no matter what our beliefs, are in process?

I love this site precisely because there IS space for that pendulum swing. How else will I be able to find the gray? To find the middle ground? There is no gray without both black and white...the existence of extremes is what allows for a middle.

Stephanie, thanks once again for being a 'spacemaker'. When I needed that space the most, I found your blog and it has been so healing. I don't always agree with everyone here, even you, and I actually treasure that. You and SCCL at large have given me room to wrestle with what I believe and I have been changed in my short time here. Thank you.

brianoverholt said...

"If Stephy has a bias, it is towards Christ."

@Anonymous, as a Christian and seminary student, it took me awhile to get this... but Kevin's right on.

I don't always agree with Stephy's take on everything about CC, but I think the effort is always toward getting to the core of what it really means to follow Jesus -- minus all the baggage that flawed human being try to add onto that.

There's always more to the story than a simple blog can contain... just be thankful that she doesn't make you read about how lots of Christians are "really nice people" in every single post.

Chris said...

Anonymous needs only look at the post DIRECTLY ABOVE his own to feel what should amount to a sense of incredible and overwhelming stupidity. Read the exchange between Stephy and Narnia before you decide to call her someone who "knows how to demonize those with with whom she disagrees."

Yea, she really ripped Narnia a new one. Stephy why you gotta be such a bitch all the time?

Abby Normal said...

My first thought was the same one as in the post-"Wait, people DO this?"

I guess I'm out of touch because I go an Episcopal church where sex is never really discussed from the pulpit (which is fine by me).

Most of what I know of sex I learned from my parents. Yeah, they were big on waiting until marriage, but it was still supposed to be fun.

I mean, holy smokes, if it's not fun there is clearly something majorly wrong going on.

Anonymous said...

"If Stephy has a bias, it is towards Christ."

If one has a bias torward Christ they defend what He's written, not lash out against those who do. Example of tauting premarital sex as good and right, while ridiculing those who stand on his Word regarding the issue.

Kevin said...

Anonymous, can you show me where Christ says anything about ore-marital sex? Can you show me where Stephanie has not defended Christ's teachings?

I think you're putting your beliefs in Christ's mouth and, at the same time, putting fictitious word's in Stephy's.

Brandt Dotson said...

This anonymous commenter is quite confused. Christ didn't 'write' anything. He is the Word. (Well, He did write in the dirt once, but that's it.)

If Stephy has a bias, it is towards hypocrisy, stupidity, and a culture that is wholly un-Christ-like. Nowhere in the Bible does it instruct church leaders to control the sex lives of married people. She is not lashing out against those who defend His word, she is pointing out the folly of a man-made culture that has strayed from the teachings of Christ, and this anonymous poster is a part of that culture. The Christian Culture in America is a false church, and those who follow it are false Christians, and God will tear it to the ground.

And where in Stephy's post does she mention premarital sex? Again, this commenter is quite confused. I would suggest reading the Bible, every word, then compare it to what you 'think' Christianity is.

Kevin said...

Brandt, I think you mean Stephy has a bias AGAINST hypocrisy...

Otherwise, nicely said.

Anonymous said...

Christ didn't 'write' anything. He is the Word.

He is the Word, He wrote the Word (through prophets, sorry I have to clarify) and He lived the Word. One does not exclude the other.

Kevin said...

So, you're NOT presenting any evidence Anonymous? You're just criticizing? Pretty weak, dude.

Katie said...

Might I just say everyone in this comment string has represented Jesus very well. Good job, all! ("Jesus" might just be psychological.)

stephy said...

Fuck off.

The_L said...

To the anon:

I'm still trying to figure out where this post mentioned any form of non-marital sex whatsoever. This post is about an unfortunate trend among married couples of scheduling sex in lieu of talking about how their sex drives might differ and how to reasonably accommodate each other.

While I personally disagree with you regarding premarital sex, I'm sure we can both agree that sex WITHIN marriage is a very good thing, and should be engaged in joyfully in order to strengthen the emotional bond between spouses (and, if desired, produce some children). Emotionless sex performed out of a sense of obligation is the opposite of that, and is far more likely to strain a marital relationship than to improve it.

ib said...

Okay, so here is my obligatory introduction. Name is Nate/iB. Came across your site somehow, but cannot honestly tell you how. I am walking on a path, but sometimes that path is very much, not "Christian approved." But I walk it nonetheless, and while on it, deal with my own messy spirituality.

Nice to meet you, cyberly of course.

Katie said...

Haha! Just saw the "Fuck off." If only I could.

@Nate/iB, I like your mess.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, always such the cute and clever "I'm not your typical Christisn" phrase!

FML said...

So, this one hits so close to home it's not funny. I grew up a PK/MK, and was sexually active in HS and college, but always with the Christian guilt hangover, or at least a heavy dose of doubt, unless I was with a non-Christian girl, I guess, then it didn't seem as big a deal. But of course none of them were wife material, because marriages don't last unless they're Christ-centered, don't you know. I dated two different girls at an "emerging church," and was accused of taking advantage of them after neither relationship worked out and they compared notes. I had a sit down with them and the pastor and apologized for any wrong-doing. With a good bit of guilt left over from that I met someone I admired a great deal who happened to be on the ordination track but also from a broken home with huge abandonment issues and I decided to "do it right this time," so we were abstinent for the two years leading up to our wedding. It wasn't my idea at first, but she didn't want to be a hypocrite to the youth she worked with and I respected that. After the wedding, we realized pretty quickly we weren't compatible. Sex always had to be scheduled, or she'd "forget" about it. And when we did schedule it, well, let's just say Stephy's vaginismus comment hits home. I had thoughts of leaving but "You suck in bed. I want a divorce" never seemed quite acceptable, although for that matter, neither does "let me go eat shit for the next fifty years." I had thoughts of an affair, but "Hey I know you're Mom and Dad both left when you were a kid and you have huge intimacy issues, but I thought I'd mention I just banged this twenty year old barista named Jen" didn't quite seem right either. I don't remember what it's like to be around a woman who's comfortable with sexuality. We've talked about it into the ground, but it doesn't really change anything. Porn and masturbation seemed perfectly justifiable in this case, but became compulsive to a point where I started going to SA. Now I'm seriously just confused. And now she's pregnant. Guess we won't be having that 5 minutes of painful, scheduled sex for a few more months. If there's a moral to the story I haven't learned it yet. Oh, I did pick up Frank Shaeffer's book after hearing Stephy mentioned it on the podcast. So, thank you! After years of thinking about it, I have no conclusions or wisdom, or even criticism to offer. I firmly believe our issues come from both family issues, physical issues, and from being raised in the church, but I have no vantage point or grounding to be able to say "here's how it should be and here's how to get there." A soggy potato chip is better than none at all. If it was someone else, I'd be laughing too. You may now shoot me.

stephy said...

I'm not laughing at all. I'm so so sorry, FML. I want to be able to help. Maybe this whole site and the community surrounding it can help you process some of the PK/MK stuff and know you're not alone in confusion, and that maybe, maybe, there is a spot of hope in all of this somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I feel for FML as well. I'm in a no-sex marriage myself. My wife and I are in our 50s, and I can't remember the last time we had sex. It's been months. She avoids at all costs. she gets up early on Saturdays, etc. I hear what you're saying about eating shit for the next 50 years, because that's where I'm at. I'm resigned to my situation. Counseling is out of the question because I know she won't go. She comes from a working-class background in which you'd rather die than talk about your feelings. We were in counseling ten years ago and our counselor sucked so badly that she quit, and I quit the session after. That left scars. I've been in counseling since then, but without her it doesn't do much good.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that your blog has been very helpful in my Christian faith. It has helped me separate the reality of Christianity from the mess of American evangelical culture. Thank you for your insightful work.

Anonymous said...

I don't like people that quote the torah. Seriously, fuck off quoting man of nonsense. As the only jew here this guy needs to go away.

AGB said...

I just want to say that your blog has been very helpful in my Christian faith. It has helped me separate the reality of Christianity from the mess of American evangelical culture. Thank you for your insightful work.

Yeah, that's identical to an anonymous post above. I thought I would stop the anonymity and openly express my appreciation for this blog.

Jeremy said...

I had someone tell my wife and I during our pre-marriage counseling: "The best sex happens outside the bedroom."

What he meant by that involves two things that are simple but rare:
1. Love each other and delve into intimate conversations where you are really getting to know each other and addressing needs/problems/etc
2. Treat each other lovingly and respectfully throughout the day

If you do those things than sex becomes an overflow of the intimacy that you have been experiencing rather than just a way to appease the sexual angst.

Joey said...

Scheduling sex is very much suggested for people with certain disabilities and/or chronic illnesses. In the case of illness, libido is an extremely tricky thing, between symptoms and drug side effects and whatnot. There's a lot of help in the idea that you can spend a couple of days "working up to it" (whatever that entails), instead of feeling that you need to be good to go spontaneously, when it might be a really bad day physically.

senormedia said...

"I had someone tell my wife and I during our pre-marriage counseling: 'The best sex happens outside the bedroom.'"

Your counselor must have owned a large car in his/her youth...

brekp said...

I feel bad for anyone who has the schedule sex. I think it's our view on the topic. The cc has such a dualistic view on sex. I grew up in a house where sex was talked about openly in a healthy way. I now have a healthy sex life as a Christian myself.

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