The Sex Within Marriage Manifesto

Jay Dee

The Sex Within Marriage Manifesto

Mar 15, 2016

The topic of sex within marriage within the Christian community is an oddity.  The reactions to bringing up the topic are quite varied:  embarrassment, shame, fear, anger, interest, inquisitiveness, looking for help, looking to share a burden, wanting to know their normal.  Often many of

SexWithinMarriage LogoThe topic of sex within marriage within the Christian community is an oddity.  The reactions to bringing up the topic are quite varied:  embarrassment, shame, fear, anger, interest, inquisitiveness, looking for help, looking to share a burden, wanting to know their normal.  Often many of these reactions occur in one individual…sometimes in seemly paradoxical juxtapositions.

It is a topic that many want to discuss, but don’t know it until they start to.  When there is a safe environment, there is a point, I find, where people realize they’re not going to die of embarrassment, they’re not going to be ostracized for discussing it, they’re not going to ridiculed or shamed for speaking of sex.  Once they pass that point, they don’t want to stop.  The questions come out in torrents, begging to be heard and answered.  At first, they simply want to know that they’re experiences, desires and drives are normal.  Then they want to know if their struggles are common.  Then they start sharing advice, their own viewpoint on the subject, or they’ll ask for a solution to their problems.  Sometimes these are both the same thing.  A piece of advice becomes a testing ground, to see if others will correct them, to see if they’re approaching sex with the wrong mindset.

But, all of this cannot happen without the first key component: a safe environment.

And so, above all else, I believe that is what I’m trying to create here.  A safe place where people may come, to explore the topic of married sexuality from a Christian perspective.  Because such places are lacking in our Christian communities.  Sex is taboo to discuss in most churches.  It’s a rare elder or pastor who will talk about sex in a frank and open manner.  Our sermons tend to avoid the topic of sexuality, even while the Bible is blatant about it.  Our religion, which should be the most sex-positive in the world, is seen as prudish.  We’re known for reducing sexuality down to a means for procreation, for preaching that sex is a sin, or a necessary evil we must endure.

Some will accept and even preach these explicitly, but when sex is hidden away, when it fails to be discussed, when we shy from the topic, we lend credence to those accusations.  We accept them, implicitly as well.  We make our churches, our homes, our very community hostile to communication about this most serious topic.

In our community, marriages are ravished by by sexlessness, by a lack of intimacy, vulnerability and love.  Beneath the surface, married couples are losing a battle after battle in a war that no one wants to accept is occurring.  They have no supply lines, they have no support troops.  No counsel, no advisers.  Because even acknowledging the war is real is taboo, and so asking for help is a feat too monumental for most to bear.

Instead, we focus on the outcome, like a doctor focusing on the symptoms and ignoring the root cause.  Statistics of divorce are spoken openly in our churches, preached from the pulpit, but statistics regarding porn use, affairs, sexless marriages, refusal, those are ignored.  We lament over starving marriages, while we lock away the foodstuffs that would save them.

And so, here, out in the wilderness of the internet, I am trying to build a place, where marriages can come to be fed on this topic.  Where I can share information, share with them my experiences and research.  Not only that, but where they can interact with the information, discuss it, challenge it, debate it.  To give a space where sexuality can be alive, not hidden in the corner, but brought to light were it can flourish in marriages.  This community is meant as a safe haven, an oasis, so that Christians can come to discuss sexuality honestly and openly, without fear of retribution, or censure.  Where we can acknowledge the battles that are happening, ask for aid, and give support.

But, ultimately, I want this to be also a center for spreading this mindset out into the rest of Christianity.  That people take what they’ve learned, not only the information, but the mindset, of being open, of being able to discuss sexuality, and go out into the world and be open there as well.  And when things get tough, when they feel backlash, when they are shut down, it will be a place for them to return, to get strength in safety.  A place to rest, before heading back out into the war that no one else wants to acknowledge.

I cannot find a simple word to encompass all of this.  No simple analogy or metaphor to express my vision for what I’m trying to accomplish.  Perhaps the closest I can get this is:

Sex Within Marriage will be a center for Christians to find healing, rest, camaraderie and training, from which will spread a sex-positive Biblical message to their marriages, and to the rest of the world.

That is my vision for this ministry.  In truth, I believe we, my wife, myself and so many of my readers, are already starting to accomplish it and I hope you will join us and continue to help make it a reality.

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7 thoughts on “The Sex Within Marriage Manifesto”

  1. Mike says:

    Thanks Jay.!! You have been a huge help to me and my wife. I am trying to pass along your posts so others can get help as needed.

    I do get some backlash. It is uncomfortable to be criticized about speaking about sex in marriage. Sometimes I want to quit or modify my message. However, after a few days of prayer and consideration, I jump back in spreading the message.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. John Wilder says:

    Kudos on the great post. Could not agree more.

  3. MrShorty says:

    A nice manifesto. I hope you find success in this endeavor.

    Jaydee said: “Our religion, which should be the most sex-positive in the world, is seen as prudish. We’re known for reducing sexuality down to a means for procreation, for preaching that sex is a sin, or a necessary evil we must endure.”

    2 responses to this
    1: From a discussion started over on Paul Byerly’s “Generous Husband” blog, I had cause to find this essay on St Augustine’s teachings on sexuality: It was a brief introduction to some of the long history of how Christianity has tried to wrestle with questions around sexuality. I think that this perception that Christians are sex-negative has roots in our earliest history going back 2000 or so years ago (and maybe farther if one wants to explore the Jewish and Greek influences on the Christian attitudes). I think it would be real interesting, if one had the time and resources, to explore this history and try to understand where all of this sex negativity comes from.

    2) My other main reaction is how this impacts how we teach our teens and singles. Your manifesto here, as one might expect, focuses on “sexual education for married Christians”, if I may phrase it that way. I’ve found, looking back on my own life and experience, that so much of this “sex negativity” started out long before I got married. Secular sex ed mostly taught to be very afraid of disease and pregnancy, so don’t do it. The church taught that sexual sins were a special kind of sin to be avoided at all costs. Nobody wanted to really bridge the gap between “you’re a special kind of bad to want sex before marriage” and “now that you are married its ok (and maybe a good thing) to desire sex with your wife”.
    I am reminded of a Focus on the Family broadcast a few years ago, discussing dating for singles. In one segment, they talked about how “if your date truly respects you, he/she will not want to have sex with you” and “if you truly respect your date, then you won’t want to have sex with him/her”. Such a contrasting message to the one I sometimes see trying to be promoted to married couples about how sex and love and respect go together. I sometimes think that a better message about sex given to our teens and singles would help with getting the right messages to them after they get married.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Greek definitely influenced us towards being sex negative. But Jewish views on sexuality are very sex-positive. If anything our desire to distance ourselves from Judaism might have negatively affected the Christian view. But we certainly can’t blame Judaism for our negative theology on sex.

      Yes, I’m focusing, in this space, on teaching married Christians. That’s not to say we don’t need to deal with singles and teens. Just that this isn’t the place for that. It’s a different audience that needs a different approach. That said, I think the “first line of defense”, as it were, would be to teach the parents, so that they can model and convey those teachings to their kids.

  4. Mark says:

    I think MrShorty’s second point is dead on!
    The Christian community has made sexual sin to be of such a terrible thing, that it’s on the level of being Hitler, or some mass murderer. The church really DOESN’T teach, that if you’re guilty of one, you’re guilty of ALL, or that ALL sin can be equally forgiven.

    This is very obvious when the whole pornography shaming is made such a big deal about. Do we institute special groups for liars, or drunks. No, they (the alcoholics) go to those groups anonymously. The liars, they aren’t given notice, unless you’re personally hurt. There aren’t special courses for those who back-talk their parents, or for theives. And since being angry is the same as murder, anyone who gets angry is really guilty of murder, just like the porn viewer is guilty of adultery! By comparison, we really need lots more groups dealing with anger. And what about our whole “American Dream”? The whole thing is motivated by wanting (coveting) EVERYTHING that the neighbor has, and then the things he doesn’t have as well, and to rub his face in that.

    With 37 years of marriage, “to the wife of my youth”, there’s so many screwed up ideas about sex and marriage, and how walking as a Christ-follower should be done. Sometimes, I think it’s worse now than when I was young (70s), even with all the “Christian” talking heads, and book-mongers.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Well, pornography gets suck a heavy hand, I think, because it’s so pervasive. With half the men and 1/3rd of the women in churches (including pastors) having struggled with porn addiction, it’s an epidemic on a scale we don’t typically see.

      As well, the “all sins are equal” is true in the context of salvation. Any sin is death and creates a need for a saviour. However, the social impact of some sins is greater than others.

  5. Mark says:

    How can Solomon speak the phrase “fairest among 10,000”, without actually having seen that many. The Biblical naratives numbers his wives and concubines over 1,000, so it is not unreasonable to think he actually did view that many women’s “beauty”.

    The whole premise of Esther, competing “to win” the pagan beauty contest, as a spiritual imperative also suggests differing views of sexuality than the modern conservative Christian ideals.

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