“Marriage Doesn’t Convey Consent” ~ Again?

Last year, one of my favorite marriage bloggers ran a gauntlet of attacks from feminists, faux-Christians and other loons over a post on the ills of sexual gatekeeping. Knowing that she was a nice person and incapable of giving these eejits the welcome they required, I felt she needed someone on her blog who wasn’t nice (a niche I nicely fill), and went in with guns blazing. Ah, such larks. *sigh*

Well, this month I am having my own little discussion with a blogger who is, apparently of the same house. Now that I am a blogger myself, I do understand the peril of coming across as an internet troll, so our limited exchanges have been civil, and I am withdrawing from discussion while no blood has been spilled, but something that she wrote has triggered today’s post.

Two Owls

Echoing the premise that fueled last year’s bombardment, this blogger criticized the idea that marriage conveys sexual assent. I, in a most un-Curmudgeonly manner, commented on her site and wrote about how I believed her premise to be wrong. (I promise, the premise was unharmed). In further exchanges, we responded back and forth a few times until, as I said, I felt it was time to end discussion before I became Curmudgeonly.  A final statement in her last comment triggered some thoughts, and so this post.

In response to my assertion that marriage is sexual by definition, this writer attempted to defend the proposition that it would be unfair to hold someone to the expectations of marriage if s/he experienced sex after marriage and discovered that they didn’t like it. Her point was that obligatory sex is damaging, and put this question to me, in order to justify someone opting out of sex:

“I understand your feeling about making a commitment to marriage and sex. But, how do you know if you like sex if you have never tried it? This question is not an admonition for trying premarital sex, it is a query about your logic.”

Taste Testing Marriage?

For me, the way in which she phrased this question is extremely problematic in at least two ways.

First, as a Christian, I believe that sex was created by God. I believe that sex is reserved for husbands and wives within the boundaries of marriage. At a minimum, marriage is a sexual union, as sex is the defining activity of marriage. I’ve stated it before, but here it is again: there is no other activity that husbands and wives may engage in that friends and roommates can’t also do. Sex is what separates friendships and rooming together from marriage.

Granted, we all have favorite activities; travel, music, hobbies, sports, etc. But none of these are prescribed nor proscribed in the Bible. They are all just different things that people like to do. Sex, however, isn’t just a hobby or pasttime, and the Bible has both prescriptions and proscriptions concerning sex. That line, “how do you know if you like sex if you have never tried it“, is denigrating to God and His creation. Imagine asking someone if they like walking, talking or eating. These are all functions of living, as is sex.

However, coming into a marriage with a “taste and see” attitude is just ridiculous. Do you remember the Life cereal commercial with Mikey? According to the blogger, sex in marriage is a Mikey situation, one in which you try it to see if you like it. In her post, and in her responses to me, she defended the right to unilaterally choose a sexless marriage. Look at that question again:

But, how do you know if you like sex if you have never tried it?

Basically, the way she presents this question makes it sound as if we are to believe that sex, designed by God, created by God, is akin to a cuisine, a choice off of a menu. “Ooh, I don’t like Thai, and Chinese food doesn’t float my boat, but you can give me Tex-Mex any day of the week.” No, sorry, but sex is not a preference, it’s a natural human function. You don’t ask people if they like eating or seeing, right? What she and others are doing is debasing and devaluing God’s creative work.

Whose Logic Needs Querying?

Which now leads to my second problem with how she phrased her question. In the last line of the paragraph, she says that she wants to “query my logic.” But is it my logic that needs to be called into question, or hers? Now, to be fair, she is saying that she is not advocating for pre-marital sexual experimentation. Instead, she is merely arguing for the right for one spouse to try sex, and if s/he doesn’t like it, be allowed to foreswear sex for the rest of the marriage.

My mind boggles at the idea that people honestly expect a husband or wife to be totally okay with being told, “No sex for you!” How does one even get to the point of thinking that sex is just an option in a marital relationship? Now, I realize that there may be impediments, in some cases, to having a sex life in a marriage. There are at least two reasons that I would tell a wife to say “No way” to a husband; I will add that these are, in my mind, reasons for kicking his butt out of the house. (Material for later post, folks. )

Let’s turn this around and examine her logic. She is advocating that someone can get married at 20-25, and then make up his/her mind after the wedding about whether or not they like sex. Further, since they then decide after the experience that sex isn’t for them, they may now impose celibacy on their spouse for the next 40-50 years. She thinks that it is unreasonable for a husband or wife to expect their spouse to engage in a sexlife after marriage, but finds the life-long torture of another human being via a sexless marriage to be acceptable. And I’m the one who needs to have his logic queried?

In my opening paragraph above, I said that my blogger-friend was attacked by “faux-Christians”, and I think that this is just a matter of “second verse, same as the first”. I ended my discussion with this writer by asking this question:

• Since you present sex as a take-it-or-leave-it option for either spouse,
• and since Paul commanded, in 1 Cor. 7, don’t “defraud” (KJ), or “deprive” (modern translations),
• and since you support the right of one spouse to “defraud”/”deprive” the other of sex,
• do you arrogate to yourself the right to correct God’s obvious errors? **

Unfortunately, I believe her answer, and the answer of many others, would be “Yes.”

**(Well, that’s what passes as civility from a Curmudgeon.)


Filed under Marriage & Sexuality

6 responses to ““Marriage Doesn’t Convey Consent” ~ Again?

  1. Not to nit-pick, but I’m going to. Doesn’t Paul use the phrase, “this is a concession, not a command,” regarding 1 Corinthians 7:1-6? You know, CSL, that I agree with you. Marriage is all butterflies and rainbows at the beginning. But, when things get tough or distasteful, that’s when Christ starts using marriage to help form us to be more like him. Not that I’ve felt like a martyr as a wife, but I do see how marriage has helped mold me to be less selfish. One of the things I had to become less selfish about was considering the importance of sexual intimacy for my husband, even if I didn’t think it was important to me.


  2. Actually, I think that the “concession” part of Paul’s writing is what follows, not precedes, v. 6. V.1-5 are command, v6-ƒƒ are concession. The way I read it, Paul’s “Now” is the line of demarcation.

    But you are right about marriage changing us. I believe it is for the better, as part of our growth and maturity as the people that God is forming for Himself.


  3. Whether or not marriage implies automatic consent (always available with “no, not now” never an option), it is a promise of a sexual relationship.

    There are many things we might expect of a spouse but can assign to someone outside the marriage– household maintenance, laundry, bill paying, or child care, for instance. Sex isn’t on the list.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I really like this. Sex is indeed what separates a marriage from just friendship. Wish I could get my husband to understand. After 16 years, he has lost interest, and I can’t get him to see how much the rejection hurts.


    • Hi, Michelle,

      I am sorry that you are experiencing gatekeeping/refusal in your marriage. I don’t know if these might be of any help, but check my Archive and look for my Marital Go-To Tools posts; it is possible that you might find yourself in there and also find an antidote.

      As well, I am thinking on/working on a new series of posts dealing with refusal, and things to do to address it. This won’t appear next week, but will be coming in the near future.

      I hope you stick around to see what’s coming.


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