Tag Archives: Christian Marriage

Ignore The Hypotheticals

hypotheticals

I just finished a series in which I attempted to bring balance to the discussion of Christian marriage and the validity of sometimes having to bring an end to a dysfunctional marriage by divorce. The springboard into that series was the attempt to provide an answer to the question “how much refusal is refusal,” and when does it justify separation and divorce.

In preparing for that series, I came across several “testimonies” from refused spouses who told of trying to have discussions with their refusers about the sorry state of their marriage bed, only to that these discussions turned back on them with accusations with a common theme–the refusing spouse accused the desirous spouse of wanting too much sex. (Just for your info, I’ve read stories in which both husbands and wives are accused of this, so it’s not solely a wife-specific complaint.)

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll not be surprised to learn that these accusations were usually along the line of how the desirous spouse was damaging their marriage with their insatiability, maybe even to the point of ending the marriage. But there was one common theme in these accusations that I recently came across; these accusations added a new wrinkle to the eternal argument, shifting it into the future by adding a couple of hypotheticals.

“What If I Can’t Have Sex?”

“Hypotheticals?” Here’s one example: a wife began by arguing that her husband only wanted her for sex, thus making him the bad guy for putting a strain on their marriage. But then she changed gears and accused him with this: “So what if I’m not able to have sex, am I not a good wife to you anymore? Will you decide to divorce me if I’m sick and can’t do you anymore?”

As I said, this is not an isolated incident as I have read several stories like this recently, and I find it interesting that the refuser jumps to a “What if…” question concerning the future. Looking at this statement, it’s easy to see it for what it is, an evasion, an attempt to dodge the question, isn’t it? Instead of addressing the very real and immediate concerns of the refused, s/he tries to deflect from the matter at hand and turns to launch a preemptive attack on the motives of refused spouse.

So it is at this point that I don my Solomonic robes and, with my customary Curmudgeonly wisdom, pronounce, “Okay, down the road, if there are any physical challenges to the ability to have sexual relations, then you can deal with those challenges. But today, the matter at hand isn’t some future ‘what if you can’t…’ but a very immediate ‘Can you?’ As in, ‘If you can have sex now, why are you refusing to have sex with me?’”

Refusal is the immediate elephant in the room, and future exigencies can be met by future actions if the need arises. But what is of primary importance is the here-and-now, and if a climate of refusal has been created by Won’ts, they have to be dealt with. Can’ts can wait their turn.

If you are presented with a “What if I can’t….” argument, just remember this one fact and deal with the elephant in the room:

“Won’t” ≠ “Can’t”

The Second Hypothetical… Is Just As Unserious

Unserious? Yes, I mean “unserious.”

When I saw that “What if I can’t have sex?” argument, I was reminded of one of my old posts, “If you loved me….” In that post I wrote how “If you loved me, you’d accept me” was basically a resort to childish argumentation, akin to a Kindergartner telling his mother, “If you loved me, you’d give me a cookie.” (Ask me how I know about that.)

That If you loved me… line is an unserious attempt to deflect from having to deal with a serious issue, the attempt to restore intimacy, and so is this What if I can’t… line. One is an attempt to bargain while the other is an attempt to question the refused spouse’s motive and character. (By the way, both are attempts at manipulation.)

Above, I mentioned that some refusers were making the accusations that their spouses’ insatiability was damaging their calm and might be threatening their marriages. In the second hypothetical, the refuser casts him/herself in the role of a victim.  In an effort to appear martyr-like (which is, as we all know, next to deity itself) this question/accusation has been presented:

“Would you really destroy our marriage, all that we’ve been to each other, over…. SEX?”

Okay, I have to confess that my immediate reaction to this is somewhat less than diplomatic, and certainly within my curmudgeonly character:

“Me? You’ve been destroying our marriage over sex for umpty-ump years;
I’m just calling time of death!”

(Mm-hmm, decidedly undiplomatic.) And most likely, you AREN’T  calling TOD on your marriage, but trying to get your spouse to help you in improving your marriage. But in reflection, I’m not really all that wrong, am I? The refuser HAS been actively destroying his/her marriage over sex by denying its proper role in the relationship.

I really do wonder at the amount of self-control a Refuser has to have in order to ask that question with a straight face. After all, 5, 10, or 20+ years of gatekeeping and refusal into a marriage and s/he wants to claim that they have built a marriage together? When I read this I was reminded of one of my personal heroes who, when asked to renew vows for their 20th anniversary, responded, “Why? What have we got to celebrate?”

As you might imagine, Hero’s words were a mega-slap in the face for his wife (metaphorically speaking), but they were also a crushing blow to the Happy Marriage fiction she wanted to maintain in front of family and friends. Hero’s response was an honest assessment of what his marriage had done to him, and instead of having constructed a life and testimony to God and to the beauty of marriage, the refuser embodied the truth of Prov. 14:1:

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.”

It’s ironic that this second accusation, this second unserious line, is actually true, but only in reverse. When God created man and woman and instituted marriage as the channel for the holy expression of one’s sexuality, He said, “It is good.” Men and women are sexual beings by God’s design, and He ordained that sexuality be the province of the married. But when one spouse gets the notion that they don’t have to honor their partner’s God-given, God-ordained need for sex, s/he sets in motion the engine that will demolish their house.

So there is no validity to a sexual refuser trying to seek refuge in the institution that they have worked so hard to destroy.

Don’t Accept The Deflect

“What if I couldn’t have sex?”
“Would you destroy our happiness just because of sex?”

So what are you to do if you receive accusations along this line, from your spouse? Just remember that they are just attempt to deflect from the real issues of your marriage; don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in these rabbit trails. Instead, keep the main thing the main thing, and keep pursuing marital healing for the both of you.

CSL

Disclaimer: I am not a counselor, doctor, or pastor. For that matter, Wife says I don’t play well with others. My advice and comments come from my concern for hurting Christian husbands and wives. Someone once said to me, “Church shouldn’t hurt”, and I believe the same thing goes for marriage. I’m going to call ‘em as I see ‘em, but please, don’t take my word as gospel. Yes, read what I say, pray about what I say, but do your own “due diligence.”

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Marriage/Divorce: Restoring Balance, part 4

balance4

(This is the fourth of a four-part series; here are the links to part 1, part 2 & part 3.)

Over the last three posts, I have been attempting to answer the question of how to quantify refusal. As a reader said, it takes only one act of adultery to break the marriage covenant, but surely one “Not tonight” does not constitute refusal, thus violating the marriage covenant.

Since Jesus addressed divorce in the cultural and historical context as a rabbi, I went back to rabbinic writings to find out how the rabbis of Jesus’ day addressed the topic of refusal, and I discovered several things:

  1. the rabbis believed sex to be a right and responsibility of marriage;
  2. the rabbis even went so far as to list the amount of sex a wife would be entitled to;
  3. The rabbis viewed sexual neglect as a violation of the marriage covenant deserving of non-support (after one month) and divorce (after one year.)

And what was incredible to me was that… Continue reading

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Marriage/Divorce: Restoring Balance, part 3

balance6

(This is the third of a four-part series; here are the links to part 1, part 2 & part 4.)

In this series of posts, I am addressing questions from a reader who asked if it were possible to quantify the amount of sexual refusal needed to justify labeling it as a violation of the marital covenant and therefore a just reason for divorce.

My first post stated that I accept as a given that there are four valid reasons for divorce, and not just the one, adultery, as most Christians believe. My last post pointed out that (in OT times and up to the time of Christ) refusal was stated by Jewish leaders as a reason for divorce, and I presented the view that refusal is a deliberate violation of the marriage vow of fidelity to your spouse. Continue reading

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Marriage/Divorce: Restoring Balance, part 2

balance2

(This is the second of a four-part series; here are the links to part1, part 3, & part 4.)

In my last post, I started addressing a question or two put to me by a reader asking if it is kosher to consider sexual refusal as a valid reason for divorce, a la adultery. After all, he correctly noted, it only takes one act to commit adultery, whereas refusal is a long-term situation. At what point does it become “sexual immorality,” he asked. In fact, he asked that question again in response to my One Coin, Two Sides post:

There is a slight problem with the abandonment is equal to adultery argument in my opinion. The act of adultery along with sexual abuse (may as well throw that in for good measure) is sustained by a single act. A single act of adultery would be grounds for divorce and a single act of sexual abuse could mean a lengthy stay in jail. Now clearly a single act of refusal, even though it may be a break of the marriage covenant, wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow in most circles.
So when does refusal become abandonment and then possibly/maybe grounds for divorce,1-day, 2-weeks, 3-months, 9-months….?

Continue reading

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Marriage/Divorce: Restoring Balance, part 1

balance

(This is the first of a four-part series; here are the links to part 2, part 3 & part 4.)

And, I’m back. I guess. I think. Maybe. Anyway, here I am today.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I follow quite a few marriage bloggers and writers on Twitter, and recently, divorce has been a trending topic among them, with an increase in the number of posts and tweets encouraging Christians to continue to hold on to their marriages for the Kingdom. I can understand that, by the way. Back in December, Michelle Weiner-Davis, of Divorce Busters,  sent out a tweet stating that January was Divorce Month, and recommended that New Year’s Resolutions for starting divorce proceedings be abandoned. Continue reading

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Bad Teaching: Women Rule, Men Drool, part 3

 

bad teachingThis is the last of a three-part series; here are the links to part 1 and part 2.

 

In my first post in this series, I presented the possibility (probability?) of a wide-spread acceptance in the Christian church of the idea that women are more godly, holy and spiritual than men, and included quotes from others who said that they have bumped up against the idea. I posited that this assumption might be a reason for the disconnect between men and the Church, and presented findings from a Pew Research study showing that, of all the world’s religions, Christianity is the only one with a greater female membership.

My second post explored material that showed that the presumption of a female-superiority teaching is actually quite possible and that there is a very good likelihood that this teaching is at the root of much of the dysfunction that troubles today’s church. Continue reading

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Bad Teaching: Women Rule, Men Drool, part 2

bad teaching

This is the second of a three-part series: here are the links to part 1 and part 3.

In my last post I presented the idea that, contrary to the teachings of the Bible, today’s church had somehow gotten hold of the idea that women were superior to men and without sin. I admit that it is a novel idea to articulate, but since it seems that this is held as truth by more than a few Christians (however tacitly), this seems like a good time to bring the teaching out into the light of day and examine it.

I cited several writers who have suggested that they have come across the concept in their interactions but didn’t give any particulars or examples, other than to comment that they have observed evidence that it is held by some Christians. While it might be difficult to find a teacher or preacher who openly avows support for such a belief, I did cite a study by the Pew Research group that might demonstrate the results of such a teaching being promulgated. In that first post, I included the Pew Research chart that showed that in all branches of Christianity (save the Orthodox branch) women outnumber men as adherents. The chart further showed that every other major religion has more male adherents than women, leaving Christianity as… Continue reading

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Bad Teaching: Women Rule, Men Drool, part 1

bad teaching

This is the first of a three-part series: here are the links to part 2 and part 3.

We have a problem in the church. It appears that nearly one-half of the church is made up of carnal, fleshly-minded people whose only thoughts are with satisfying their appetites, and have no desire nor ability to truly seek after God. They hide behind a facade of Christianity but, in fact, are incapable of self-control and are unable to submit to the direction of the Holy Spirit and pursue spiritual goals.

I can only be speaking, of course, about husbands, for it is well-known that wives are more spiritual, more holy and more godly than any ordinary man could possibly be. I know, I know; in the past, I’ve said that there are two sinners in every marriage, but today, I repent of such drollery. I have seen the error of my ways. Continue reading

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The Church and Porn, part 3

porn3

This is the last of a three-part series: here are the links to part 1 and part 2.

Okay, to summarize my two previous posts: Paul Byerly, of Generous Husband, started a discussion among CMBA bloggers about pornography and the efficacy of the Church’s response. This is something I’ve been thinking about, and so did my first post on making the main thing the main thing, and not wandering off on crusades. My second post was a brief (for me, anyway) look at some examples of how Christians have affected society in the past.

Today, I want to try to tie those two posts together in a suggestion/rant (take your pick.) Continue reading

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The Church and Porn, part 2

porn2

This is the last of a three-part series: here are the links to part 1 and part 3.

Members of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Assn. are in the process of discussing the damaging effects of porn on marriage, and how the Church is responding to it. I have been thinking about the issue of porn and the Church’s response, and I’ve come to the conclusion that much of our response, while not necessarily ill-advised, is merely ineffective. In my previous post, I presented the idea that when we choose to come against a sin, we do two things: we approach the fight in our own strength and not in God’s spirit, and we change our identity from Christians to Crusaders.

My thought is that we need to “make the main thing the main thing” by downplaying what we are “agin” and emphasizing the evangelism of our society. In essence, as some might deride it, return to that old time religion. It’s worked in the past, so why do you think that mankind is too sophisticated for God’s good news? Continue reading

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