The secular, evolutionist, world likes to tells that marriage fulfills a societal need of resource distribution. Women have what men want (sex), and men have what women want (resources and protection). Now, this is a gross generalization of course, even if we disregard the quarter to a third of marriages where the wife wants sex more than the husband. But, even though many Christians claim to reject models that are based on evolutionary principles, and claim to follow the Bible’s reasons for marriage and sex, this concept of trading sex for resources or protection still manages to find its way into Christian philosophy regarding marriage and sex.
For example, in one of the videos on marriage and sex by Mark Gungor (who I enjoy immensely, don’t get me wrong), he shares a story about a bee hive (I think it was a bee hive). He was supposed to get rid of this beehive, and his wife kept reminding him and reminding him, and he kept delaying and delaying. Then one day she told him “that’s it, no more sex until the beehive is gone”. Of course, boom, he’s outside getting the beehive down, and the audience is laughing, nodding, clapping. Myself, I sat, at home, shaking my head. Sadly, Mark didn’t seem to recognize the implications of the story, since he didn’t tell anyone not to do this, or that this is a bad exchange. He merely accepted and shared that his wife changed sex from being based on their relationship and their commitment to each other, to being about works, about things, about what my husband can do for me.
I remember laughing at that story, it was pretty funny! But it did also leave me scratching my head. I am still a little confused by the subtle messages of the exchange between Mark and his wife. I know for us, if there is something I really need done, all I have to do is ask and it gets done. Most of the time. Why couldn’t Mark just do it when she asked out of love since it was a problem that needed to be dealt with.
This is not the way to approach sex. If your willingness to have sex, or not, is dependent on what your spouse has, or hasn’t done for you, on what you can or have gotten out of the relationships, then I’d argue that you are exchanging sex for personal gain (be it material wealth, emotional fulfillment, protection, whatever). Take away the marriage license, and this starts to resemble prostitution. Selling your body for gaining something else, be it peace at home, kids, so you don’t have to work, whatever. It all boils down to the same thing. But, this is what many marriages, including Christian marriages, have become. An exchange a resources. A trade. A business transaction with sex as currency.
She didn’t say we will have sex when you’ve done it, just that they won’t have sex till he’s taken care of that task. Jay and I have had this discussion before, and I wonder about things like what about women where men are not helpful, can be rude, and insensitive, and she’s just not feeling the love, she still loves him, she’s not gonna really want to have sex cause she doesn’t feel loved by his behaviour. He’s going to be all like, “Lets get to bed early tonight hunny so we can have some fun” and she’ll be thinking of all the things that didn’t get done because he’s kinda lazy, so is she withholding? But if he helps her then is he just trading resources? So what’s a girl to do? In one sense it is a trade of resources, but I’d like to argue that it goes deeper then this. What I was just arguing seems so superficial, where is the sacrificial love?
Now, this is quite the opposite paradigm from what we see in the Bible
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. – 1 Corinthians 7:1-5(emphasis added)
Sex within marriage should be given freely, not as an exchange or a trade, not because we want it, not because we deserve it or expect it, but rather, because we love our spouse, and want to share with them, to be one with them, and to experience joy with them. Life changes when you live out your marriage in this way.
It kinda sounds like Mark’s wife was depriving him of sex. It really does go against scripture. To be able to give conjugal rights to your spouse is to trust them completely at the most intimate level!
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
You don’t do housework because it will get you sex, you do it because you love your spouse. You don’t help out with the kids because you think your spouse will be in a better mood and your are more likely to “get some”. You don’t workout because you want your spouse to be more attracted to you so they will have sex more, you do it because you want to be beautiful for them, and so you can spend a longer, more quality filled life together, and, so you have better sex, but together, not because it’s something you want to “get” from the marriage. If you can both manage to live this way, wow, life takes on a whole new perspective. And yeah, you end up getting more sex too.
This is such a journey that you travel together. You sort of grow into this mentality, and wonder how come you missed this for all those years in the beginning. The way you think is totally different, it’s all about your spouse, and how they’ll think about this or respond to that or I bet my spouse would love this.
In the last year or two, some of my eating habits have changed. There are foods that I used to really enjoy that I don’t really think about any more. Mostly spicy food. I used to love hummus with hot peppers in them, spicy pepperettes, hot chicken wings, and the like. I would constantly be picking up these things in the grocery store, and no one else in the house would eat them, just me. But these days I don’t eat them, I don’t even think about them. So, what changed? Well, I started noticing Christina, my wife, behaved differently when I ate these types of foods. She didn’t kiss me as often. During sex, she would turn her head. She never said anything like “You need to stop eating those things”, or even complained, made a noise, nothing. It was obvious to me that she was trying to avoid something, or wasn’t finding sex nearly as enjoyable as usual. And when I’d ask, she’d just say “Well, your breath isn’t the freshest”, or sometimes she’d ask if I could brush my teeth first (not a demand, just a request), or she’d ask “…did you brush your teeth?” when we were going to bed, hoping that I had forgotten, and not that my breath still that bad after brushing my teeth. My eating these foods was diminishing her enjoyment of my company, of kissing, of sex, which in turn, dampened our sex life.
So, I slowly cut back on them, and now have basically stopped eating them. I really barely noticed the difference in my eating habits, it wasn’t a hard change, but it has had a dramatic effect. My wife never pulls away from kissing anymore, she never asks if I’ve brushed my teeth, she never turns her head away during sex to avoid my breath. In short, she’s enjoying kissing and sex a lot more, and that’s why I did it. You have no idea how much he loved his spicy curry and spicy hummus and spicy Indian food. He gave it up for MY enjoyment! Isn’t that romantic?
Now, in return, we have a much better sex life. I don’t think that’s solely to do with the food choices, and it’s impossible to pinpoint the reasons, because we are constantly trying to improve our marriage in many little ways here and there. But the point is, that you shouldn’t do things in exchange for sex. Instead, do them to increase their enjoyment of sex, of your relationship, of life. Then, perhaps better or more frequent sex will follow.
I’m not saying “if you are nicer, you’ll have more sex”. Don’t turn this into a “all Christian bloggers are trying to turn guys into beta’s” flame-fest. I’m saying, check your priorities. That’s it. If you make life changes purely to get more sex, well, you may have the opposite effect. Generally low-drive spouses don’t like being expected to perform. We really don’t. At least I don’t. I still have trouble with this sometimes, I feel like I have to, but I have no reason not to! They don’t like the trade of “I’m doing this, so you better pay up”, and so, all the changes, all the work, all the effort that goes into getting more sex, ultimately may negate the very outcome you were attempting to achieve, and that, is a real tragedy.
It’s all in the perspective you have towards why you are doing the things you are doing. Jay and I are reading a book right now called Intimacy Ignited, and it talks a lot about being a servant lover. We’re only 2 chapters in, but I can see where it’s going, and how it can help change people’s outlook on what sex is all about. Try thinking of what it means to be a servant lover, and how you can honour God in your marriage by adapting this attitude.
Are you trying to change in order to have a better sex life, or does your marriage involve trading something for sex? How is that working out?