Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Quickie Fix

Its news to nobody that the divorce rate in the United States is at an all time high, even (and in some denominations, especially) among Christian couples. Though the cause is up for debate, one pastor out of Florida thinks he's scored a winning solution, and has charged his flock to undertake "The 30 day sex challenge". Single parishioners? Don't worry, there's an aspect of the challenge catering to your lifestyle, too. If your marital state is solo, Paul Wirth, pastor of Relevant Church (that sounds historically credible) encourages you to abstain and refrain for the same month-long period, pointing out that for co-habitating and fornicating couples, sometimes sex takes center stage, forcing other essential components of the relationship to the sidelines.

That's right. Married people, oppressed by the drudgery of wedded bliss, are to make a concerted effort to get it on for 4 straight weeks, putting aside the usual "frustrations" that might otherwise demand their attention: children, work, family obligations... you know, all the usual libido-sapping trappings that suck the life right out of your bedroom.

Sure, today's high divorce rates are probably a reflection of the level of sexual dissatisfaction between spouses; but is this dissatisfaction the cause, or is it the symptom?

Has anyone stopped to consider the poverty of intimacy that would lead a couple to abandon their pleasurable procreative - oops, scratch that second adjective - pursuits in favor of the mundane drudgery of domestic duties? Could it be, perhaps, that the curious fact that frequency of love-making between spouses levels off at roughly the same rate of decline as the "honeymoon hormones" may indicate that something deeper than raw animal passion is necessary to maintain a loving sexual relationship?

Here's a scenario: Spouse number one climbs into bed after a long day of work and nudges spouse number two, whose back is turned to him in a silent plea that he not ask, not tonight, she's dead tired and she isn't in the mood. He persists, and she reluctantly rolls over, resentful and resistant, but lacking the energy or the enthusiasm to argue over it. Besides, it's been over 3 weeks, and she probably owes it to him. Just before they get started, she remembers she forgot to take her birth control that morning... He's upset, she's relieved, and as she drifts off to sleep, he slips out of bed to go "check a few things on the computer."

Neither spouse was willing or even capable at this point, of engaging the other in selfless love. Sex, divorced from the reality which it conveys, is simply an exchange of goods between 2 (or more) parties, with the primary interests of each being pleasure and satiation.

But here's the rub: this isn't sex. The difference between the consummation of a human union and the copulation between animals lies in the unique human ability to make a sincere gift of self, to offer to the other, at any cost, a complete gift of person in a truly outrageous outpouring of love. No other phenomenon in nature comes close to the selflessness of 'real' sex, to the intimacy that precedes and proceeds from the marital union. Well, there's one other phenomenon, but you'll find it's transcendent existence somewhat outside of nature. 2,000 years ago on a hill outside Jerusalem, to be sure, but mysteriously and supernaturally present in eternity.

You won't find selfless love between spouses who are denying each other the full gift of themselves by contracepting. A wife who consistently resists her husband's advances rather than voicing her needs to him isn't loving selflessly. Marriages that invite masturbation, pornography, or infidelity aren't loving and they surely aren't selfless.

But maybe this pastor's right, maybe it's the lack of sex, you know, the good kind you used to have in your college dorm room and later on in the living room, before the kids came... maybe this is the factor behind the breakdown of the basic family unit.

Well then, let's get it on.


  1. I just love your blog. BTW, I wanted to comment on your post about the fallen away friend who paid $70,000 for the privilege. All is not lost, God’s grace will work in his soul no matter how hard he may resist or the world may work to shut it out. He’ll be back, keep him in your prayers, maybe have Masses said for him.

    God Bless

  2. Interesting! I think it is certainly true that we grow more troubled as we continue to divorce (forgive the pun!) sexuality from procreation. With the advent of contraception, it has been possible to invest ourselves heavily in the false idea that sex is a base pleasure rather than a sublime communion. I can't remember where I read that God renews His part of our marriage covenant with us when we give ourselves to our spouses without restraint, but it's a powerful notion. Perhaps the pastor has the right idea for the wrong reasons!


  3. You rock. Keep tellin' it like it is.


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