I ran across The Marriage Bed the other day. It’s a pretty interesting site, and worth taking a look at if you can get past and/or accept its assumptions about marriage and interpretation of the Bible. They attempt to offer “a safe place for married Christians to discuss sex”, and also offer some articles target to young/unmarried people about waiting until marriage for sex.
I should say to start with that I don’t agree with several of their claims about how marriage and sex should be, and I definitely don’t read the Bible as literally as they do. I also think that some of the ideas that result can be harmful; I’ll discuss those in a later post. Nonetheless, I think that even without accepting those assumptions there is a fair deal to be gained from any discussion of sexuality that treats its audience as responsible, thinking adults. This one does just that, showing a refreshing amount of critical thought from a group whose loudest voices are too busy shouting “NO!” to listen to any objections. Here’s a few of the insights that I think many people could find helpful.
1) I truly appreciate the focus on how emotional intimacy makes sex better. I don’t agree so much with the subtle (or not-so-subtle) implication that sex without emotional attachments is bad. I prefer the approach taken in Virgin Sex for Girls*, which emphasizes knowing what one’s sexual conditions are and demanding that they be met. If casual sex falls within those? Heck, hump like a bunny and have fun (just please use appropriate protection!). But if you want to have your first kiss on your wedding day with the person you love? That’s great too.
2) I highly approve of their endorsement of naked time in the form of sleeping, showering, and snuggling together. We are so touch-deprived as a society, and I honestly believe it contributes to the anxiety, fear, and anger so many people feel. If you’ve got someone in your life that you’re comfortable doing so with, be sure to take advantage of opportunities for snuggling, cuddling, hugging, and just sitting close together – naked or not. If you don’t, check out the Free Hugs Campaign – maybe I’ll see you with a sign someday. I’ll be sure to stop.
3) A thoughtful discussion of divorce which emphasizes marriage as a serious decision. (Instead of just something you should do because it’s better than the alternative!) Again, I don’t agree with all of this, especially the idea of refusal of sex alone as a reason for divorce, but I’ll cover that in a later post.
4) The site seems committed to providing more or less accurate resources about birth control, even if the couple who writes the articles doesn’t agree with the use of all of the methods they mention. They acknowledge that it is possible for different decisions to result from a prayerful attempt to understand what the Christian approach to this question is.
5) They are anti-pornography for reasons which include “unrealistic view of the female body” and “wrong ideas and expectations about sex”. Personally I find those two reasons enough to reject any particular instance of smut that meets them, though I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say I’m against all porn, anywhere, any time. I do wish they had talked about about how the porn industry as it stands now harms women (oh, where to begin…). And I wish that they had seriously considered the possibility that women might sometimes look at porn too, instead of reinforcing the ever-present idea that only men look at porn. But encouraging realistic ideas about the female body and sex itself is a good start for anyone.
6) They encourage use of sex toys in marriage. Yay! They also link to this store, which sells products in ways such that the nudity on the packages is removed and/or covered. If that idea caught on in the wider world, companies might have to create good products instead of just advertising “buy this product and get the woman free” deals.
7) They are remarkably kink-friendly, as such discussions go. Though they do condemn homosexuality (certainly not a minor thing, but not a surprise given their stance on the Bible), they take a honest, critical look at topics ranging from anal sex to nudity to adult nursing. Mostly, it boils down to this: If the action is a) not prohibited specifically, b) not disruptive to relationships, c) medically safe, and c) not a fetish, it’s allowed. Their condemnation of BDSM is lacking justification in my opinion, but on the other hand their discussion of Domestic Discipline is quite thoughtful. Overall, I’d say that they are part of the small group of people who object to homosexuality in such a way that I can believe it’s not mainly an “ew, buttsex” objection at some level.
Overall, as I said, there are things you can learn from this site even if you’re not a Christian, as long as you’re willing to agree to disagree with them about some important assumptions. Next: The Bad, The Ugly
*One of my favorite books on this topic. There’s also a version for boys, which I’ve skimmed and which looks equally interesting.