Why marriage ruins sex

Jay Dee

Why marriage ruins sex

Jun 05, 2017

Sometimes it can seem like marriage ruins sex. After getting married, many people notice that sex becomes routine, boring and just not that exciting.  Yes, the spouses with the stronger drive will still have a strong desire for sex, but it’s often not the same as

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Marriage can ruin sex if you focus too much on the structure and not enough on loving your spouseSometimes it can seem like marriage ruins sex.

After getting married, many people notice that sex becomes routine, boring and just not that exciting.  Yes, the spouses with the stronger drive will still have a strong desire for sex, but it’s often not the same as it was earlier in the relationship.  The spouse that has a more inhibited drive can often find that desire goes away completely.  Sometimes as the words “I do” are spoken.

Why is this?

Reason 1: Naughtiness is sexy

It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.  When we are doing something we know is wrong, we get a bit of a thrill.  For many couples, this explains why prior to marriage, sex (be it penetrative, oral, manual, or just making out) is hot.  It’s sexy because it’s risky.

The reason is that when we are doing something risky, our brain releases dopamine, a hormone that tells us we’re “winning” at life.  We get a burst of dopamine when we pass a test that was hard.  When we jump a ramp on a bike as kids (or as adults).  When we jump off a tall diving board.  Dopamine is what gives you that “high” that makes you feel like you’re on top of the world.  You feel like you got away with something.  This is why some people steal cars to go joy-riding in (rather than to make a profit).  It’s the excitement that drives them.

But, once your married, it’s no longer taboo.  It’s now not only acceptable, it’s expected and expectation is decidedly unsexy.  No one gets excited by expecting something to happen.  It’s just mundane, normal life.  Don’t get me wrong, sex still produces a dopamine burst, but it’s not as large.  It’s lost something.  It’s similar to a drug addict going from heroin to marijuana.  Yeah, it will get you high … not it’s not even in the same ballpark.

Reason 2: Responsibility is unsexy

The other side of this is that having someone rely on you is about the unsexiest thing in the world for most people.  Healthy individuals don’t get turned on by dependency.  We want someone who is confident, a person who is capable on their own.  Someone who wants us, but doesn’t need us.

The problem is that when we get married, we join our lives.  We open our hearts and minds.  We become vulnerable in many ways.  Those with stronger drives often find that sex becomes their barometer for how the relationship is.

  • If you haven’t had sex in a while, you start to feel detached and insecure.
  • If your spouse doesn’t initiate, you feel they don’t desire you.
  • If your spouse isn’t interested, you feel they aren’t interested in you.
  • If your spouse rejects sex outright, you feel they’ve rejected you.
  • If your spouse gatekeeps sex, you feel the relationship has become some sort of business arrangement where you haven’t met your performance goals.

Whether these feelings are accurate reflections of reality or not, the fact is that you appear to become dependent on sex with your spouse.  That feeling of dependence is unsexy, particularly to those who don’t view the relationship through the same lens.

And that’s a massive change from sex while dating.  Sex before marriage, especially if you aren’t living together, is something you want, not something you need.  It’s naughty playtime, not a duty or required to keep your spouse happy.  In marriage, you start can feel like you are required to have sex.  Whereas before marriage, you weren’t supposed to be doing it, so when you did, it was because you really wanted to.

Reason 3: The commonplace becomes mundane

Lastly, we tend to get bored of things.  When sex is a rare event before marriage, when you can sneak away, it’s exciting and fresh.  It’s new and a special event.  But unfortunately, in marriage too often we take it for granted.  We expect sex, and expectations are not sexy.

Unfortunately, marriage can be a structure where obligation kills desire.  Because it’s not only available but also encouraged or even required, it’s no longer fun.

It’s not that the sex has changed.  In fact, sex likely got technically better over the years, but that mindset has shifted.

Right now my kids are all dying to get a fidget spinner.  But I know that only a couple of weeks after they get one, I’ll be tripping over the discarded toy in the hallway.  No one will want to play with it anymore.  Last Saturday they all fought over who was going to play with a fidget spinner one of the kids at church had.  But I know that within days the excitement will wane. It will become boring and dull.  I won’t be able to force them to play with it.

And of course, the fidget spinner won’t have changed.  It will do the same thing it always did.  It didn’t objectively become more or less fun.  Only their mindset regarding it did.  The commonplace becomes mundane.  The mundane is boring.

Society’s response

Our culture’s response to this has been to be more open to things like open marriages, threesomes, sex parties, and porn.  Like children, when something becomes boring, they just find a new plaything to keep things interesting.  The problem is that these things tend to escalate.  You need more and more fresh and new things to stay interested.  And it doesn’t really solve the issue.  This is bailing out a ship without ever patching the hole.  There’s no time when it ends.  You just need more and more fresh, new and exciting things.

It’s not a solution, but because they don’t have an answer, they’re looking for temporary relief.  Things that will help stem the feeling of hopelessness and a sense of being trapped.

So, how do we stop marriage from ruining sex?

Christians should have the answer to this, shouldn’t we?  The God we serve created sex, so as His followers, we should be able to figure this out.

Really we have the same problem in the Christian walk as well in dealing with our relationship with God.  For many of us, Christianity becomes dull after a time.  For those of us who grew up in the church and know no other life, we often get born into an already dull relationship with God that our parents have.  This is the life I grew up in.  My parents never seemed excited about their relationship with God.  They didn’t talk about Him much.  They talked about His stuff, and talked about what we needed to do, our obligations and duties, but not about what He meant to them.

And growing up, Christianity was boring.  It was just something I was.  Being in church was dull because I saw it as a duty and an obligation.  Something you had to do to avoid hell.  Many spouses approach sex in the same manner.  Something they need to do to avoid divorce.  I’d imagine for many spouses, sex is about as inviting and as exciting as is an hour long sermon to many congregants.

But have you ever been around new Christians?  They’re excited and vibrant.  They look forward to time with God.  They’re excited to read the Bible.  It’s inspiring.  Similarly, couples in a new sexual relationship are excited and vibrant.  They crave that intimacy and are excited about it.

New Christians are infatuated with God just as new lovers are infatuated with each other.

However, as you get into the relationship, things change, as we discussed.  The world tries to recapture that infatuation feeling, but should we?

Infatuation is about making me feel good

That beginning of relationship high is all about making ourselves feel good.   We want to be with our spouse, or God, because of how it makes us feel.  It’s not really because we love them, it’s because we love how good we feel when we focus on them.  Then the structure of the relationship (be it marriage or Christianity) settles in, and it’s no longer as fun.  There’s work to be done.  It’s now a real relationship that requires our attention and devotion, in a self-sacrificing way.

It’s no longer carefree and exciting.  There are obligations involved.  Things we should be doing.  Things we used to love to do, but now we know we should do them.  I think this is by design.  Because in order to grow through this, we need to change our focus.

We need to get excited about the object of our love, rather than the feeling of love.

I think the answer lies in changing our mindset.  When my wife and I were in our early twenties, we left the denomination we grew up in.  There were a few reasons.  One of the most impactful had to do with not believing the doctrine we were taught was faithfully reflecting the Bible.

While that may sound like a very high-minded theological reason, it has a very substantial impact on who you believe God is.  It took us another four years or so to find a church where their core doctrine matched what we saw in scripture.  Suddenly we were excited about God.  It’s like we never really knew Him before.  Church was interesting.  We couldn’t wait to go.  Sermons were inspiring.  When we read the Bible, we saw new things because we had a new perspective.

Over a decade later, I’ll be honest, that excitement has waned a bit.  Not completely, but it’s not the same.  We still enjoy going to church.  I’m still finding new and exciting things as I read through my Bible.  But, if we’re honest, I don’t think we’re as excited as we used to be.

Will I eventually become bored with Christianity again?  Will sermons be dull?  Will I lose interest in reading the Bible?

No.  Because I’ve found the answer: I decided I wanted to know God better.

And that’s a subtle but important change for a Christian.  We often aren’t encouraged to know God.  We’re taught a lot about God, but you can’t really tell someone who God is.  They have to get to know Him themselves.  You can’t manufacture intimacy.  The best we can do is create a framework within with intimacy can flourish.  And that’s what church is.  That’s what doctrine is.  That’s what all the rules in the Bible are, I believe.  A structure created to help us.  But they only go so far.

Marriage is a structure for fostering love and intimacy

In the same way, marriage is a structure.  There are rules, duties, obligations and guidelines for how to do things.  They set us up for the best chance for true intimacy to flourish.  But it won’t magically do it for you.  You have work to do as well.

In both cases, if you all you do is focus on the structure, the duties, obligations, rules and guidelines, then you will end up with a solid, but empty structure.  One that is boring and lifeless.  And this is where many marriages and many Christian walks, end up.  With a structure that looks pretty, but has no life.  Many eventually abandon them, because a lifeless structure is dull.  It’s mundane.  It’s boring.  And so we give up.

After all, we did all the things we were supposed to do right?  We followed all the rules.  Met our obligations.  Adhered to the guidelines.  And it’s boring.

We focused on the structure for the structure’s sake.  Instead, we need to focus on the other party.  What if we focused on God with respect to our faith and devotion?  What if we focused on our spouse with respect to marriage and sex.

When we changed denominations, the excitement was all about me.  It was about what I was learning, about having my questions answered.  It was new and fresh and frankly, I was infatuated. But infatuation is not love.  It’s selfishness.  It’s all about how it makes me feel.  I may never recapture that excitement, but I’ve found something deeper.

I’m not doing it to satisfy my own desires, but rather to be closer to God.  

What if the lack of satisfaction is there to push you deeper?

What if that loss of excitement is there to force us to get more intimate?  What if most people just give up too easily?

When you read your Bible, do you do it because you should?  Afraid if you don’t you’ll go to hell?  Do you read it because you’re looking for an answer?  Because you’re following a devotional, preparing for a church lesson, a sermon?  Or do you read it because you have a desire to know God?  Not know about Him, but know Him.  How He thinks, how He feels.  What His desires are.  What if you read it so that God would be known?

What if you read it so that God would be known?

Similarly, when you think about sex, are you thinking about relieving stress or pressure?  About meeting an obligation or duty?  Are you just wanting to have fun?  Or maybe you’re worried if you don’t they might watch porn or have an affair?

What if you had sex to know your spouse.  To be intimate and vulnerable.  To be alone with just the two of you, naked and unashamed, together, exploring each other.  To know them and be known in return.

What if the reason sex has become less exciting is that you’re focused on the wrong thing?  What if it’s designed to spur you into a deeper relationship?  Something that points to true intimacy?

Adding excitement isn’t wrong, it just can’t be the basis of your sex life

Don’t get me wrong, sex can be fun and relieve stress.  Those who have been readers here for a while know that I’m all in favor of adding spice to the marriage bed.  I’ve even created resources to help people shake things up if you’re stuck in a rut, or just to explore some new things.

Spice Jar
Sexual activities game for married couples
Printable$7.50
Download and use tonight!

It can be fun to switch things up with games, toys and new activities and positions.  It can also be helpful in exploring new facets of intimacy and learning more about each other.  And that should be the focus, the deepening of the relationship. The excitement can’t be what your married sex life is based on.  I think that is the trap of society’s response.  They take a tool for deepening intimacy and make it the focus.  The relationship becomes a medium of exploring sex rather than sex being a medium for exploring intimacy.

So, sex can be fun and exciting, but there’s more to it.  Sex also does protect against affairs and divorce and temptation.  It is an obligation and a duty, but one we should approach as a privilege with joy, as an opportunity to know our spouse better.  A chance to be intimate to share ourselves and give them space to share themselves.

It’s the same thing as reading your Bible.  It’s a good thing too.  It’s a duty and an obligation for Christians, make no mistake.  It will help give a foundation for accepting eternal life and it’s good to know about God, the commandments, rules, and guidelines and it’s a great place to get answers to questions.  But if our focus is on those things, then we are missing the main point.

Christianity without a relationship with God is unfruitful.  The structure will not save you.

Sex without intimacy is unfruitful.  It won’t satisfy you and you’ll eventually get bored.

In both cases, the structure isn’t the problem, but focusing on it and expecting the structure to bring purpose will doom you every time.  Christianity won’t save you, but it gives you the structure to know the one who will.  Marriage doesn’t ensure a great sex life, but it gives you the structure to create one.

We all know marriages and Christians who are stuck focusing on the structure rather than the relationship.  Share this post to help them out.

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28 thoughts on “Why marriage ruins sex”

  1. Curious says:

    God bless you for this post.I learned a lot

  2. Robyn says:

    I think you might be onto something here! There’s so much great stuff here JD, I’ll have to re-read a couple of times. Thanks!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Hey Robyn! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  3. LatterDay Marriage says:

    Perhaps it would be better to phrase it as ‘having sex before marriage negatively impacts sex within marriage’. If a couple wait till they are married then marriage doesn’t ‘ruin’ sex, it opens the door to having sex.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Hey LDM. I feel you missed the point of the post. Sex before marriage isn’t the issue in this topic. Even if you don’t have sex before marriage, that same thing can happen.

      1. Robyn says:

        Whether a couple has sex or not before marriage, doesn’t erase any ignorance either of them may have about sex or any preconceived expectations. It can’t change the undulating cycle of human relationships (including intimacy and sex). Nor will remaining abstinent before marriage magically fill you with ideas and knowledge about sex beginning on your wedding night.

      2. LatterDay Marriage says:

        The title and some of the content implies that having sex before marriage is exciting (because it is naughty and new), there is less responsibility etc.) and getting married ruins all that. I’m sure that isn’t the message you want to send, but it is easy to take the post that way.

        Yes a couple that waits can and will have their challenges too, but the finger of blame should be pointed at the fact that they got married, it should be pointed at the things they brought into the marriage that cause them.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          The title is what it is because many people already feel that way.

          However, I don’t think you can read the post and get that as a takeaway.

        2. Robyn says:

          As readers we bring our own preconceived perceptions to the interpretation.

          Observation of a truth (which is what JD presented) in human emotion (psychology) and/or science doesn’t make it righteous or not; it’s simply a truth and an observation … it’s the reader’s mind that takes it to sin or righteousness.

          I’m taking you to task on this because this is a subject that I’ve been in and out of for many years and JD did a beautiful job of articulating what I’ve been seeing in married couples but had no words for. You’re taking the great insight he has, the love with which he writes, and his great talent (given to him from God) and criticizing it by nitpicking because you don’t like the conclusion you arrived at because of your own preconceived ideas of sex before marriage.

          I didn’t arrive at the same conclusion as you LDM with this article. I’ve been following JD for quite some time now, and it never occurred to me that he was pointing a finger of blame; i know he’s not like that.

  4. J. Parker says:

    Excellent post, Jay Dee!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks J!

  5. Missy says:

    Love this post!!!!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks Missy 🙂 Feel free to share it!

  6. Craig Gjerdingen (@cgjerdingen) says:

    “Sex without intimacy is unfruitful. It won’t satisfy you and you’ll eventually get bored.”

    But to make things more complicated…

    Too much intimacy is a thing!
    Sexual tension, distance, separateness can create passion and desire, that counter marital boredom.

    Next post: creating tension without creating distance or loss of intimacy ?!? Boundaries and activities to build a long lasting fulfilling, spicy, marital union.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Too much intimacy is a thing? I don’t see how that’s possible. Boredom only happens when you focus on the sex, and not on intimacy. I’m not interested in creating tension, there’s enough tension and conflict in marriage to work through without artificially creating more conflict.

  7. OurSpice.org says:

    So much truth in this article. Marriage (and long-term relationships) often dim the passion of those early days as the daily tasks of life settle in. Kids, work, finances…..exhaustion. Love remains but too often the spark cools and sometimes even resentment and longing set in. It’s more common than most realize, but it doesn’t have to doom the relationship. Love is there and often both partners, quietly and privately, wish there was a change, but it’s hard to spark that change, especially from within the natural tensions of that partnership. Sometimes, it helps to have an outside influence guiding the relationship, helping to rekindle what is still there, hidden but glowing under the ashes left from what life burns out of all relationships. Sometimes, it takes the heat of the unknown — and yet anticipated — to fan the flames of stable but stagnant relationships and breathe life back into a dormant existence.

  8. Heinz G. says:

    I used to breed guinea pigs as a hobby, and even though the males would be totally disinterested in females who had been their mating partners for a while, the moment I put a new female in the cage they would all become excited and try to mate with her. The reason: the males of every species are biologically programed to promote the hybrid vigor of the species by breeding with as wide a variety of females as possible. The human social institution of monogamy is a profoundly unnatural constraint of this biological drive, and it is such a foolish prescription for how we should live, and produces such constant and unnecessary sexual misery, that the only way to explain or defend it is to pretend that some mythical, all-powerful, all-wise being in the sky invented the idea so that it can’t be changed.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Look, you put your faith in guinea pigs to tell you how humans should act. I put mine in a God I believe created humans. I’m not going to make fun of you for worshiping mammals, so I don’t see why you’re making fun of me for worshiping a all-powerful being.

  9. Heinz G. says:

    Well, I’m not putting my faith in or worshipping anything, but just drawing an inference from the behavior of one mammalian species to another, which is at least still within the realm of science. Human males feel a strong urge to sleep after sex, and have you ever wondered at the evolutionary reason for this? It is because nature regards sex with the same female twice to be a wasted genetic experiment, since that genetic combination has already been tried once and so does not need to be repeated. Many varied matings are valuable for any biological group since they increase hybrid vigor and experiment with a wide variety of genetic combinations to find the most successful pairings, and so our instincts cooperate with this natural goal and incline us to seek variety. Better to re-design the rules of society to satisfy that natural inclination than to make everyone frustrated to satisfy some Bronze Age superstition about how things should be.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Oh, let’s not fool ourselves, belief in evolution takes as much, if not more, faith than belief in God. Athiesm is a religion.

      Problems with macro evolution such as the missing link, irreducible complexity and abiogenesis are still unsolved and require huge leaps of faith to accept as “fact”.
      Cosmic evolution has similar issues with an inability to solve the origin of matter/energy, issues with the moon’s decaying orbit, and Earth’s magnetic field’s decay rate showing we couldn’t have had life on this planet more than 10,000 years ago. Geological evolution has issues like a lack of sedimentary layering in the grand canyon, finding brass bells in the middle of solid coal (theoretically impossible given evolution’s timeline of events), polystrate fossils, and others. The entire field of radiometric aging is based on some fairly large assumptions that have to be taken on faith just to accept it as a “science”.

      Now, Christianity has answers to all these issues that are logically consistent, requiring only one leap of faith: That there is a God. And for many of us, it’s not much of a leap, because we see the evidence of His presence in our life. Since science is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment”, I’d say Christianity actually does this observation and experimentation, we even have first-hand accounts of creation in the Bible, if you accept it as fact. Whereas evolution is more of a philosophy than a science as it can’t observe what happened in the distant past.

      So, yes, I’d say you are putting your faith in something – people, which is also what you’re then worshiping by accepting their doctrine on faith.

      But, let’s say we take mammals as our guide for how humans should behave (which I don’t think we should, but for argument’s sake we’ll try).
      Mammals aren’t all polygamous, there are some who mate for life, such as beavers, gibbons (which evolutionists consider to be closest to humans in behaviour and are often used to explain human behaviour), otters, some bats, foxes and wolves and others.
      So, given that these mammals lack higher social orders like humans do, why would they have “evolved” to be monogamous? If you insist on putting your faith in evolution, then why assume that we should act like guinea pigs rather than gibbons, which are genetically more similar and considered a closer evolutionary relation?

  10. Heinz G. says:

    The animal whose behavior is most like that of humans is the bonobo, which is about as sexually free as you can imagine, and this sexual freedom seems to reduce tensions in the group and keep them generally quite happy. People have to struggle to remain monogamous, and tend spontaneously to stray, and those who have the power to do so, such as various historical sultans, have as many mates as possible, so this would seem to be the more natural form of behavior. In the Islamic world, people observe that Iranian men always seem more sane and relaxed than those in neighboring countries, since they can have up to four permanent wives and any number of temporary wives arranged by contract for periods of one month at a time, which amounts to a type of minimally limited polygamy. Every social rule is a formula for hurting someone, since inclinations will always conflict with rules, so a maximally humane construction of society will have a minimum number of rules, and the only rules which are truly justified are those which protect people from harm. If people were trained to adapt not to the artificially created shortage of sex partners we have created through monogamy but to the free formation of sexual alliances, everyone could be sexually fulfilled, no one frustrated, and no one would be jealous through the artificial construction of sexual partnership on the model of property ownership, such as Friedrich Engels described.. And the positive side-effects of a society with sexual tensions reduced rather than diverted into sociopathologies such as crime, violence, war, and hatred might be enormous.

    Although science is always a project in progress at least it is based on empirically testable hypotheses and tangible evidence. Positivism requires that only what empirical evidence requires or what the consistency or coherence of the theory requires to explain that evidence can go into the formation of theories for science, not anything metaphysical, so at least the methodology is reliable. The problem with the God hypothesis, however, is not just that it fails the positivistic tests for an acceptable explanation, but that the explanatory device is itself self-contradictory. That is: God is defined as infinitely good and infinitely powerful. But there is obviously evil in the world; some of the evil can be explained as the side-effect of human free choice, such as when a bad person chooses to punch someone, but much of it cannot sensibly be attributed to human agency, like hurricanes and earthquakes. So there is more evil in the world than can be referred to what is required to make human freedom possible or can be blamed on people, so God has either put into the world more evil than he had to or at least allowed it to persist, despite his infinite goodness and infinite power. Since this is inconsistent with his defined infinite goodness and infinite power, God is a self-contradictory concept, so he is unavailable as a hypothesis. So while there may well be some unexplained or unexplainable things about the world, God is not a useful concept to use to make them any clearer..

    1. Jay Dee says:

      You’re right, got my species mixed up, my apologies.

      I don’t think people have to struggle to remain monogamous. I think people struggle to maintain healthy relationships, which is true in monogamy or outside of it. The rate of affairs is only 15-20% (less in those who believe in God and attend church regularly by the way). I myself don’t struggle at all to remain monogamous, and I know many others who feel the same way. So, I’d reject that theory as not having any backing evidence. What you have described is the concept of “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” where those in power are corrupted.

      In fact, we have a story of that in the Bible with King Solomon. 300 wives and 700 concubines, and at the end of his reign, he realizes it’s all meaningless and worthless and he urges his son to remain monogamous.

      And studies show that those people in committed, monogamous marriages have better than those who choose the path you are describing. In fact, those who attend church regularly have statistically the best sex lives. To me, that’s a point in favour of the Christian model of marriage and sexuality.

      As for the argument about evil and God being powerless, you answered the question yourself, but didn’t go far enough. The Christian answer to pain and suffering isn’t that humans fell, but that the universe is broken through the introduction of sin, which is a byproduct of freewill. We believe that this is the stage for us to play out the choice between God and “not God”. A 6000 (so far) year experiment to see where it leads. As you pointed out, there is so much evil in the world that the point is being made of where life without God leads. And as the world continues to turn away from God (as you are suggesting), it descends further into chaos and self-destruction.

      So perhaps it’s not that God is not a useful concept, but just that you don’t understand the concept. From my perspective, the Bible explains all of this quite clearly, and the evidence is observable and testable. We see it all the time in converts – we see them get their life in order, we see them become happy and content. We see them quit smoking, get healthier, establish healthy relationships. Accepting God leads to a holistic improvement in life.

      We also see the reverse in those who leave. Their lives devolve into stressful, unhealthy living, full of anger.

      I’ve seen way too much evidence of what happens without God to be convinced that it’s not a useful model, let alone a better working theory than what the rest of the world offers.

      You don’t have “some unexplained or unexplainable things”, it’s the foundation that’s unexplained. You can’t solve the simple questions of “why”, “how”, or “what” anything began. Not the universe, not life, not even our species. Every time evolution (be it cosmic or biological) tries to reach back to a beginning, it fails. I’ll stick with the one that has answers, and that I see improvements in all aspects of my life when I live in accordance with it.

  11. Heinz G. says:

    We can always introduce an infinite regress of ‘why’ questions behind every explanation, so that the concept of God as the universal explainer outside of the system of ordinary explanations is given some conceptual space in which to operate, much as a child just keeps asking ‘why’ after each stage of an explanation so we can never get to the end of it. But Ludwig Wittgenstein importantly distinguished between real questions and metaphysical questions which have the grammatical form of a question but don’t really point to anything which could answer them. Yes, we can ask why the fire started in the kitchen, but we shouldn’t let that mislead us into assuming there is the same type of real thing answer to why there is a world, or why there is anything rather than nothing. Those sorts of questions just rely on reasoning that because 5 is greater than 3 and 3 is greater than 1, there must be some one greatest number, or, alternatively, some one smallest number, but such sequences, just like causal questions, are defined and answerable only over finite ranges.

    And the empty spaces begging for an answer they seem to demarcate certainly would not be usefully answered by positing some self-contradictory infinitely good, wise, and powerful being who for some reason allows innocent children to die screaming their lungs out from incurable cancer. The Christian hypothesis that the original sin of Adam and Eve can justify God allowing more evil to exist in the world now than seems necessary to allow present free will violates the most basic moral principles we now recognize in law, which is that whole classes of people cannot be punished for sins or crimes they did not personally commit,, just because they are the same type of beings who did commit those crimes. Thus it was condemned as a distinctly Nazi abuse when the family of Stauffenberg was arrested after he attempted to assassinate Hitler, and international law itself prohibits group punishment for the sin of some members of the group under the concept of ‘Sippenhaft,’ or ‘responsibility of the group.’ So if even we humans recognize that punishing people for belonging to the same group as did something wrong even though they are individually innocent, you would think that God himself would be sophisticated enough ethically to understand this same point. But he seems to betray his Bronze Age origins by not noticing the problem.

    Even if it’s only 15% of the population which suffers from monogamy’s restraints, we should ask why, as a society, we should establish a system of social rules that hurts even that many people? Certainly statistics show a steady decline in the frequency of sex in couples as time goes by, as familiarity leads to monotony, and what nature intended as exciting becomes intolerably routine. If sex were every day with someone new it would certainly be more exiting than it now is for literally everyone under monogamy, and for sex the concept of excitement seems essential.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      original sin of Adam and Eve

      From a Christian perspective, the original sin was not from Adam and Eve. As for a class of people being punished for crimes they did not commit, that assumes your proposing it to be fair. Nowhere in the Christian faith is “fair” considered a worthwhile pursuit. Quite the opposite in fact.

      Furthermore, your arguments are based on this existence being the most important, which, again, from the Christian perspective is not truth. This is merely a … proving grounds of sorts.

      But even if we limit existence to here and now, Christianity says that all sin, and so there are no “innocents”. Any evil we receive isn’t unjust. In fact, our simple continued existence is more more merciful than we deserve by Christian doctrine.

      So, you’re trying to judge a non-human being by human standards.

      And then you do the same in reverse in the last paragraph. Christianity, as the Bible teaches it, has no interest in holding those accountable to it’s beliefs other than those who hold them as their own. I don’t believe we should create rules for those who don’t believe in them. Now are we saddened that they don’t? Yes, of course, because we believe they’d be happier if they did, but this blog is for Christians, those who claim to believe in the Bible and uphold it’s tenants. You clearly don’t, so why you’re even bothering to stick around and argue with something you disagree with and aren’t held accountable to is beyond me.

      Unless of course you’re feeling a bit convicted, that there may be something to this, and that conviction is causing cognitive dissonance with you. Perhaps it’s that conviction that’s causing you to invest so much time in learning more about Christianity through this debate.

  12. Heinz G. says:

    It is always empirically possible that we could somehow discover a massively powerful, omniscient being outside the world who was not perfectly good, or, as you concede that Christianity does not require, not ‘fair,’ but this would simply fail to match the necessary definition of the concept of God, since he would at most be a sort of nice, or generally well-meaning but sometimes unfair entity, and so not worthy of our worship. Either he is perfect or he is not good, and a God who is not fair is not perfect, so he is just some odd thing. Ultimately he has to meet our definition of goodness, perfection, omnipotence, and omniscience, since otherwise we could not assent to him or recognize him as God. Were we to accept anything less we might just be believing in a demigod and thus being pagans. It would be like worshipping a God who was omniscient but could not understand the International Date Line.

    It also seems ethically defective for God to have created humans who are designed to be capable of sin and then to punish them when they express this feature. Why not just make them incapable of sin and never punish them? That would produce a much less cruel world. Perhaps they need the capacity to commit sin in order to be ethically significant beings, but in that case, why not ensure that their punishment is always exactly tailored to their sin, which would be just, especially since the Bible often attributes a concern with justice to God? But we don’t find this empirically, and we see children born with spina bifida, good adults wracked with hideous diseases, good and bad alike destroyed by hurricanes or earthquakes. True, they may all be ‘sinners,’ but no system of justice would punish everyone without relation to their deeds.

    Returning to the original discussion, the misfortunate influence of the God idea is that it encourages a metaphysical system of ethics to be adopted, where some things are ‘clean’ and permitted, and other things are ‘unclean’ and forbidden, but with no reference to real human needs. Inflicting tangible or emotional injuries on real people should be the exclusive focus of our ethical prohibitions, rather than declaring some forms of biological pleasure sacred and others forbidden without reference to human needs and happiness. If we make sex unnecessarily evil, then we require something metaphysically unreal like eternal love to excuse indulgence in sex. But if we could just relax and view sex as an ordinary biological and social pleasure, like eating with people, conversing with people, dancing, sleeping, exercising, etc., people could access it with much less conflict, much less jealousy, and much less neurosis than now accompanies a human sexuality which has been polluted by all the metaphysical trappings applied to it from a make-believe ghost in the sky who can read your mind and will cook you in a pot after you are dead, and who, among his many other features, seems extraordinarily disapproving of sex.

    How did this disapproval first arise? Some theorists offer this view. As soon as humanity had advanced to the point where the entire population was not demanded by the immediate needs of agricultural production and food could be stored, a class of bureaucrats developed who had to master the use of symbols to keep track of how much grain had been stored where. This created an upper class of symbol users who could enjoy more leisure than others, and to increase their social status, they decided to pretend that only they could read some magical message from extra-terrestrial gods in these symbols The best way to ensure their power was to use this new mythology to allow them to stand between the people and the people’s satisfaction of their desires, so the people could only eat the foods which the gods had declared to be clean (e.g., no pigs or things which walk with many legs upon the sea), and people could also only access their sexual needs after the new class of priests had permitted this by performing a ceremony for which they were paid. Unfortunately, these early anthropological devices to establish ancient power structures have persisted in transformed manifestations into the present age, so we still have to deal with all the unnecessary baggage of magical sins, omniscient daddies in the sky, sex rules that have nothing to do with real human needs, guilt over violations of ungrounded injuries, no meat on Fridays (I guess that’s gone now), and other such encumbrances.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      It is always empirically possible that we could somehow discover a massively powerful, omniscient being outside the world who was not perfectly good, or, as you concede that Christianity does not require, not ‘fair,’ but this would simply fail to match the necessary definition of the concept of God, since he would at most be a sort of nice, or generally well-meaning but sometimes unfair entity, and so not worthy of our worship.

      You misunderstand, He’s not fair, because He’s too good and loving to be “fair”. The fact that He’s not fair is what makes Him more worthy.

      It also seems ethically defective for God to have created humans who are designed to be capable of sin and then to punish them when they express this feature.

      Where to start with this. First, I disagree that God punishes us. I think, rather, that He is gracious and merciful enough to give us what we really want.
      Now, I will agree that God disciplines those who want to be disciplined by Him in the same way that a father disciplines his children – for their benefit. We don’t hold back discipline simply because we birthed them with the capability to choose incorrectly. But, if one of our children leaves the house and chooses not to be guided by us anymore, of course, we let them go, just as God does.

      Why not just make them incapable of sin and never punish them?

      Because that would violate His prime characteristic: of being loving. Love requires free will. To remove free will is not loving, but control, which is the opposite of free will.

      why not ensure that their punishment is always exactly tailored to their sin, which would be just, especially since the Bible often attributes a concern with justice to God? But we don’t find this empirically, and we see children born with spina bifida, good adults wracked with hideous diseases, good and bad alike destroyed by hurricanes or earthquakes. True, they may all be ‘sinners,’ but no system of justice would punish everyone without relation to their deeds.

      You are thinking individually, not as a whole. If you stop people from harming others, then you limit their free will. You can’t say someone has free will – except they can’t do x. Then they don’t have free will. They have restricted will. So, in order to allow people to have free will, to determine if following God is the right or wrong way, they have to be able to make all the wrong choices. That includes polluting our water, air, soil, food, etc.. It includes making bad choices about our health, which affect our genes, and the subsequent genes of our descendants. It affects global health over a long enough timeline, and it would impact it more and more significantly the longer the timeline is stretched out – as we see happening.

      So, yes, we are all sinners, but we aren’t being punished for our sin individually. We are collectively being taught the result of sin on a global level.

      Returning to the original discussion, the misfortunate influence of the God idea is that it encourages a metaphysical system of ethics to be adopted, where some things are ‘clean’ and permitted, and other things are ‘unclean’ and forbidden, but with no reference to real human needs.

      I wouldn’t consider it metaphysical, but practical. The animals that are considered “unclean” are those that are less healthy to eat. For example, pigs will eat anything, they’re nature’s garbage cans, so we’re told not to eat them. Muscles are filters for the water so we’re told not to eat them. Animals that are vegetarian with advanced digestive systems are considered “clean” – cows (four stomaches, birds with gizzards, etc..). It’s not metaphysical, it’s down to earth and practical.

      I’m not sure what you mean with no reference to real human needs. The Bible spends more time talking about money and finances than it does about prayer or faith. If people listened to it’s advice, they’d have no debt and would live within their means. It has advice about how to have healthy relationships, solid businesses, how to plan for the future, how to be content with whatever comes your way. The bulk of the Bible tells how to live here on earth. The minority of it deals with the metaphysical.

      Jesus’ ministry followed this same pattern – help people with their physical needs first, then help them with the spiritual stuff.

      Inflicting tangible or emotional injuries on real people should be the exclusive focus of our ethical prohibitions, rather than declaring some forms of biological pleasure sacred and others forbidden without reference to human needs and happiness.

      I would argue that’s what we’re doing. You just disagree with us about what causes the tangible and emotional injuries.

      But if we could just relax and view sex as an ordinary biological and social pleasure, like eating with people, conversing with people, dancing, sleeping, exercising, etc., people could access it with much less conflict, much less jealousy, and much less neurosis than now accompanies a human sexuality which has been polluted by all the metaphysical trappings applied to it from a make-believe ghost in the sky who can read your mind and will cook you in a pot after you are dead, and who, among his many other features, seems extraordinarily disapproving of sex.

      Lots in there. I disagree with you that removing all boundaries to sex improves people lives. We’re in the middle of that experiment in our society, and, frankly, it’s an utter disaster.
      I disagree that God “will cook you in a pot after you are dead”. While many Christians teach this, it’s not Biblical. The Bible teaches that those who don’t want to follow God are destroyed after they die – which is what athiests believe anyways, so that works out well.

      And, no, I’d say God is extremely sex-positive. In fact, Christianity holds sex in such high esteem and so powerful that we think it should be handled wisely and with healthy boundaries – somewhat like fire. Our society, on the other hand, is intent on reducing sex down to a simple activity – like walking – this reducing it’s value. Society seems to be the ones who are sex-negative and placing little to no value on it.

      How did this disapproval first arise? Some theorists offer this view.

      A theory with zero evidence.

      no meat on Fridays (I guess that’s gone now)

      Oh, that this one is simple to figure out with a little digging in history (actual study, not a theory). The fishing industry was dying off, so they asked the Pope to help bolster it. The Pope told the people to each fish on Fridays in honour of something in the Bible (it was a farce), and so they did.

      But, that was the Catholic Church, which I’d already said – we shouldn’t rely on as a moral compass or an example of what the Bible says.

      Seems you have a lot of misinformation in your view of Christianity. It’s no wonder you think it’s crazy. More than willing to answer any more questions you might have. Hopefully we can continue to clean some of these misunderstandings up.

  13. UnderReconstruction says:

    “The Bible teaches that those who don’t want to follow God are destroyed after they die.”

    I would like to believe this (though I’d probably prefer to believe that all souls God makes he will somehow, someday, justly redeem and reconcile to himself). Jay, is it OK to ask how you interpret those scriptures that seem to support a view of hell as eternal conscious torment? (E.g, Mt 25, Mk 9, Rev 14 & 20)

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Hi,

      I think believing that God will redeem all negates freewill, which then negates love, and then we run into a paradox. But it’s a nice thought at the start of the train of logic 🙂 Just doesn’t end well.
      I tackle a lot of this in this post: SWM 040 – What happens to our souls when we have sex?
      And we’ve actually continued the discussion over the last month or so in our supporter’s forum, check out that post, as I responded to a lot of comments there already with respect to those chapters and others. If you still have questions, I’m more than willing to answer them as best I can.

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