Many years ago, I made the following observation: Sermonizing is the sin of the deadly earnest, no matter what theological colors you may be wearing. As I have aged, all that I’ve observed of the world around me convinces me that I was wonderfully prescient back then.
For example, if your theology is Global Warming, then you come at the debate with the fervor of an Al Gore, demanding that anyone who disagrees with you be locked up or sent to re-education camps. And if your theology is abortion, then “By Billy Bedamned Hangtree, keep your laws off my body! Sorry, Kiddo, it sucks to be you ‘cause Mama wants to shake her groove thang!”
And if you are a marriage blogger like me, there is a good chance that you might, just might, mount your personal soapbox and get a little too ferverous in your denunciation of refusers and gatekeepers and anyone who is less than a true believer in the importance of sex in marriage.
Having acknowledged that, in this post, I do want to talk about the Loyal Opposition, the deniers and skeptics, sans torch and pitchfork, sans tar and feathers. If you are familiar with the Global Warming/Global Change debate, then you are familiar with the terms climate denier and climate skeptic. In this post I want to address the problem of Sex Skeptics™.
What is a Sex Skeptic™? My definition of a Sex Skeptic™ would include anyone who can’t bring themselves to come alongside the statement that God made sex as a gift to marriage, for both partners, with a hearty “Amen”. I would accept the accusation that I can get a little ferverous over the proposition, but I don’t think that you can pare too much off of that simple definition, that sex was created by God and that God said, “It is good” when he made Adam and Eve. If you can, you’re a Sex Skeptic™.
How can you tell if you are talking to a Sex Skeptic™, or if you are reading something written by a Sex Skeptic™? Is there something that gives their true nature away, that reveals that, in their heart of hearts, they know God didn’t mean it when He said, “It is good”? Yes, there is. You can always identify Sex Skeptics™ by their condescending buts.
Please note the single-T but, that I didn’t say “butt”; I’m not referring to any body parts, nor am I calling names here (although I am sorely tempted). By using the phrase condescending but, I’m referring to the bemused belittling of sex, denying its importance to marriage.
The Condescending But In Action
“Sex is nice… BUT it’s just the frosting on the cake.”
Yes, it’s true that a man won’t die for the lack of cake, but when you tell a man that his physical drive and desire for emotional connection via intimacy is just a bonus and not a necessary part of the marriage, you tell him that his needs are superfluous to his marriage and relationship with his wife.
“Sex is nice… BUT sex is just one aspect of marriage.”
True, but so is talking. So is fatherhood and motherhood. So is providing emotional safety. So is working to provide for your family. All of these are single aspects of marriage, so why do people see sexual intimacy as the one “aspect” of marriage that can be diminished without harming the marriage? Why not diminish parenting or providing, or even talking and communicating? We’re never told, “You know, parenting is overrated,” or “Communication is just one aspect of marriage.”
“Sex is nice… BUT sex isn’t really all that important to a relationship.”
Well, if you are talking about best friends, I should hope not! But if it’s not that important, then why do we get so upset about infidelity, then? I certainly don’t condone adultery, but what would be the reaction of these Sex Skeptics™ to the suggestion that, since sex isn’t that important to a marriage, then instances of infidelity are no big deal? After all, it’s not like there is a real relationship in a “friends with benefits” arrangement, so long as I’m back at home when the day ends, right? After all, “it’s just sex”, and surely is meaningless, right? For some reason, if the thought of infidelity is mentioned, sex is downright important to the relationship. As in, “I don’t care if we aren’t having sex, but you’d better not be having sex elsewhere!”
“Men Just Don’t Get This!”
Chris Taylor recently began a post:
My Facebook feed recently had a meme that said, “Physical intimacy isn’t and can never be an effective substitute for emotional intimacy.”
A woman made the comment, “Men just don’t get this!”
I realize that having a Facebook page means that you open yourself up to a deluge of tripe and trope from ‘friends’ capable of inducing a sugar coma. While I haven’t seen the particular specimen that Chris describes, I’m willing to accept that it is a decent representative of that subset of tropes devoted to Superiority of the Sisterhood; I see this kind of material all the time from a few of my relatives. It’s just the nature of the beast.
But being so marvelously unself-aware hath its benefits, I guess. After all, it keeps you from seeing that the opposite is true, as well; women just don’t get this, either. It seems that women are just as capable of proclaiming right along with Prof. Henry Higgins, “By and large, we are a marvelous sex!”
True, all too often, men DON’T get the emotional connection women get through heart-to-heart communication. As a card-carrying guy, while I enjoy our language, sometimes I am not all that keen on doing a lot of talking. By the same token, women, as a rule, don’t get the emotional connection that sex creates in husbands with their wives. They just don’t.
But I’m Wrong
Yes, I’m wrong. That was a blanket statement I just made, and blanket statements, like all and never statements, are pretty much useless. And that woman commenter that Chris quoted? She was wrong, too; she made a blanket statement, as well, saying that men just don’t get it. Here’s why: some men, even many men, get it. Some women, even many women, get it.
How many times have you heard or read “Never say never or always, because you’ll always be wrong!” Absolute statements ARE wrong (absolutely!), and if a husband or a wife says, “You always…..” or “You never….”, it’s going to be a false statement. So saying that all men or all women don’t get it is just so much bovine effluvia.
Now, mind you, there is always a truth behind an archetype; I definitely believe in archetypes. The accepted societal notion that men want sex more than women has statistical support for it. But that doesn’t discount the fact that in up to 40% of all sexless marriages, it is the wife who has the higher sex drive and is the one being refused. The societal belief that it is women who want to connect emotionally and that men are distant doesn’t mean that men don’t want to connect with their wives; it just means that we don’t recognize that most men connect through sexual intimacy.
What Is It We Don’t Get?
It’s not that men don’t get the importance of emotional connection or that women don’t get the importance of sexual connection. What most of us don’t get is that we are seeing connection through our own lenses, through our own wants and needs. We aren’t giving consideration to the fact that The Other is other than you.
Last year, Chris, at Forgiven Wife, wrote an excellent and insightful post asking wives “Should Your Husband’s Sexuality Be Like Yours?” In the beginning of the piece, she wrote:
Embracing our sexuality means that we recognize and appreciate our sexual response for what it is. We need to reject the idea that a male paradigm should apply to us.
There’s a flip side to that: we also need to reject the idea that a female paradigm should apply to our husbands.
In her post, Chris does a great job in cataloging how male sexuality is different from female sexuality, and lets her readers know that it’s okay, that God DIDN’T go, “Oops”, after making man and so tried to perfect the species with Eve.
And guys, there are things that we don’t get about female sexuality, such as turn-ons. I could try to emulate Chris and attempt to catalog how female sexual response is different from ours, but many writers and bloggers have done so already. However, in her video Why Women Are Different From Men, Amanda Gore does it humorously, bluntly, and, oh, so succinctly, so pay attention! (If you get nothing else from this post, get this and tattoo it somewhere: No Boob Honks!!)
Gore is only right; as men, we’re all about “the bits.” Women, not so much. In fact, guys, take a lesson from that reknowned sexologist, Monica Geller, and learn the importance of all seven of the erogenous zones:
By the way, did you catch what I did there? I went with verbal communication for women, and visual communication for men. It’s not that one mode of communication is right and the other is wrong; it’s just us. Like Chris said at the end of her post:
Learn to understand your husband’s sexuality and sexual response, and learn to see it as part of God’s design for your marriage.
And the same goes for communication. So guys, if you will be willing to not be a Connection Skeptic, maybe you can get through to the Sex Skeptic™ in your life.