Three years ago, I wrote a post that upset a lot of folks: Six Things to Know About Sexual Refusal.
I made the following points that husbands have shared with me about the hurt they’ve experienced from the lack of sex in their marriages:
- Sexuality is inherent to a man’s sense of self.
- Your husband’s sexuality is God’s design.
- Men best receive love through sex.
- Depriving him of your sexual pleasure can be as damaging as depriving him of sex altogether.
- A pattern of sexual refusal invades the very fabric of his life.
- Sexual refusal is the worst thing in his life.
Many readers were upset because they thought I was saying the following:
- Women do not have the right to say no—ever, to anything sexual.
- Men are little more than beasts controlled by their penises.
- Husbands appreciate their wives only for sex.
- Women’s sexual desire is irrelevant, as are her comfort, pain, and suffering.
- The only consent required is at the altar when she promises to have and to hold. Sexual coercion is just part and parcel of the marriage bed.
- A wife should have an orgasm because her husband wants her to, regardless of whether she wants one.
- Women should ignore their own hearts and bodies to please their husbands.
I was accused of perpetuating rape culture, spiritually abusing my readers, being a product of purity culture, exemplifying the reasons feminism is necessary, and writing “sexist BS.”
In case you have any question, this is what I believe:
God designed women as sexual. Our sexuality is an important part of who we are; it matters as much as our husbands’ sexuality does. We have the right to say no. We are not required to provide whatever our husbands request in the marriage bed. Sex is a special and important way of building intimacy; it is a vital part of marriage, but it is not the only way to express love and connect with each other. Our sexual desire matters. Our bodies and hearts matter. We matter.
Understanding our husbands is important—just as it is important for our husbands to understand us. Understanding my husband’s feelings in no way diminishes the importance of what I feel—even if our feelings are at odds.
Had I phrased some things differently in that post, I might have avoided the words that triggered much of the criticism. Many people read what they expected to see based on specific words. They projected their own pain and trauma and read between the lines.
I don’t believe the things that people reacted against, nor do I think I said those things.
Over the past three years, I have prayed about the post. I’ve reread the comments and emails. I’ve visited websites and blogs where I was criticized for what I wrote. I’ve researched spiritual abuse, rape culture, consent issues, and perceptions of Christian sex and marriage. I dug into the comments and words that disagreed with me.
Why the Post Still Matters—and Why I’m Going to Stir Up the Hornet’s Nest
Three years after the post was published, it continues to be the most-viewed post on my blog by a large margin. Week after week, searches lead to it as a result of things like “Christian husband complains I won’t have sex” or “why won’t my Christian wife have sex.” This post also elicits more email than any other post, from husbands who thank me for expressing what they’ve been feeling and from wives who’ve come to understand why their husbands are so upset about the lack of sex.
Sex is an important part of marriage, and many Christian marriages continue to suffer because of problems with sexual intimacy.
God has been nudging me to write about this post again. As much as I would rather not agitate the hornet’s nest again, I’m about to do just that.
Over the next few weeks/months, I intend to write about each of the six things I addressed in the original post. Just as I did in the original post, I’ll discuss what husbands have said to help wives understand why their husbands may be sexually frustrated. This time, I also will discuss how wives can respond.
Before I dig into this series, I’d like to give some caveats to help readers understand some context and qualifications.
- I’m generalizing. Not all men feel like the husbands who’ve expressed their views to me. Not all marriages have a husband who wants lots of sex, or a wife who resists and avoids sex. Your mileage may vary.
- The word “refusal” is often used in talking about sexual consent issues. Here I am not talking about refusing to have sex at a given time. By “sexual refusal,” I am referring to an on-going pattern of no: a refusal to have a sexual relationship or to address issues that interfere with a sexual relationship, not a refusal to have sex tonight or to do a specific sexual activity. In no way am I ever saying that a wife’s consent is unnecessary. Ever.
- I’m addressing marriages with generally good-willed husbands. I am not addressing marriages with difficult relationship issues or on-going and unrepentant sin.
- Sex is for wives as much as it is for husbands. His desires are not more important than hers.
I hope these new posts clarify some of the things that upset folks three years ago. Some people will still be upset, but hopefully a few wives who are trying to understand their husbands and improve their marriages will be helped.
While I continue my preparations for this series, I invite you to read that post as well as several related follow-up posts.
- Six Things to Know About Sexual Refusal
- Silver Linings
- The Right to “No”
- Six Things to Know About Emotional Disconnection
If you have questions or would like clarification on what I wrote them, please ask them in a comment below or in an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can incorporate my responses into the upcoming posts.
Image credit | Christianpics.co