Sexuality in Marriage

Egalitarian Sex.  Biblically, is there any other kind?  After all, the sole New Testament mention of authority within marriage occurs in 1 Corinthians 7:4

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.  1 Cor 7:4

As you can see, this “authority” does not go one way but is completely mutual and vice versa.  The structure and symmetry in 1 Corinthians 7 is enlightening and beautiful.  See “Beautiful Symmetry in 1 Corinthians 7” by Don Johnson.

I can’t speak for other egalitarians but when I confess that “I am egalitarian”, I mean men and women are equal and should have equal authority, honor, and voice within marriage and within the church. But men and women are not the same.  While there are likely to be exceptions to generalizations about male or female, I propose that recognizing common differences and how to navigate them can help our marriages to be more satisfying- sexuality included.

My marriage of 30 years  suffered under enormous baggage and destruction from porn exposure and childhood sexual abuse and I am deeply disturbed by the popular teachings and trends toward The Church of Sex (David Kupelian weighs in with his great insights!).  Marriage does not automatically stamp any and all sex as “pure and undefiled” Heb 13:4.  Sex within marriage can be exploitative.  And it can move back and forth between holy and exploitative (which is confusing).

As usual, I can’t speak for all egalitarians nor for all women but I can speak from my own experience.  I was naive.  It took a male christian marriage counselor professionally trained in psychology to set me straight that the demand for certain sex acts is symptomatic of porn usage and while sex is a biblical entitlement of marriage, I need not ever violate my own conscience!  I wish Christian men heard less teaching which guilt trips and condemns wives  into playing harlot, and more teaching along the lines of what David Kupelian and Janet Mefford say here-(start at minute 26:00) or Rabbi Lamm’s “The Jewish Way of Love and Marriage”.

This is from the first link:

The onah experience may not be mere mechanical fulfillment, for as such it does not conform to the biblical requirement to rejoice one’s wife. Rejoicing means satisfying needs, and it signifies a sensitive and caring involvement of the whole person and a genuine sense of intimacy, (kiruv). Therefore, Mainonides teaches that one may not have intercourse without being mindful, sensitive, and alert. “One may not have intercourse while either intoxicated or sluggish or in mourning; nor when [one’s wife] is asleep, nor by overpowering her; but only with her consent and if both are in a happy mood.” The act must be capable of expressing devotion. Thus one may not have intercourse if husband and wife are not committed to one another are thinking of divorce, nor if they quarreled during the daytime and have not resolved it by nightfall. Raavad refers to this as exploitation, using one’s partner as a harlot. One should not perform the conjugal act while imagining some other partner. The physical onah must be expressive of love; otherwise, it is simply animalistic…

In addressing this area which can be so very tender and vulnerable, my last word for you is HOPE.  God is in the business of healing and victory and he is on the side of your marriage no matter what the baggage and issues which need to be overcome.  As a wife, I had to learn to exercise my God-given equal authority and fight spiritual warfare on behalf of my husband and our marriage.  We have matured, reclaimed ground the enemy had taken, and our sexual intimacy has never been better.  There is HOPE!

This entry was posted in 1 Corinthians 7, Charis Hart, Sex and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sexuality in Marriage

  1. krwordgazer says:

    Good points, Charis! I know of no Christian egalitarian who believes that men and women are the same. I believe that is a myth being spread by complementarians who don’t understand what Christian egalitarianism actually is about.

  2. Trevor Sykes says:

    I found it very disturbing to read the link, “The Church of Sex (David Kepelian)”, and all of the sermon illustrations attributed to Mark Driscoll. Disturbing in the sense that this is said to be the diet of many modern churchgoers, being that the Mars Hill group boasts 19,000 members over 14 congregations. What is equally disturbing is that there were 350 comments on that article of David Kepelian’s and many of them were in defence of the Driscoll sexual banter (call it mantra). Aside from that Charis, thank you for your insights expressed in the post and for your expression of hope in the forward movement of your own marriage situation. There does seem to be an over preoccupation with sexuality and frank discussions of sexual activity from the pulpit in this generation, particularly related to the need for men to be sexually fulfilled. This gives rise to the pastoral advice that a woman should ‘serve’ her man, an expression that I personally find incredibly repugnant and degrading of women. That is not to say that sexual intimacy should not be satisfying but it should be mutual, an expression of love intimately enjoyed by both partners.

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