How the pornification of marriage hurts real people

I thought we had an interesting conversation yesterday about the Pornification of Marriage. Thanks to all who participated. I was heartbroken, inspired and thankful for many of the exquisite insights. I wanted to highlight a few of those (because sometimes important insights get buried in the avalanche of comments): from kd:

One of the reasons my first marriage failed is because my ex-husband expected me to be beyond Christian in the bedroom. Because I would not engage in pornified sexual acts, I was no longer attractive, submissive or considered a good Christian wife. Sex is meant to be a love act. Not a fulfillment of lust. If I thought that the idea of pole dancing came to an innocent couple who had never heard nor seen of the idea elsewhere, it wouldn’t bother me. But the fact that most likely any such ideas have come from one or both spouses having dabbled in ungodly, worldly sexual ideas before they were married causes me to wonder.

from Joi:

It seems to me that mainstream Christian culture has taken secular society’s ideas about sex and simply slapped a “wait until marriage” sticker on it without addressing any deeper problems. As someone who has decided to pursue a life of permanent singleness, I’ve found that a lot of Christians simply can’t process the fact that a life without sex is not only an option, but can be very fulfilling as well. We’ve become so saturated with secular ideas about sex that we’ve become blinded to many things that we used to know.

from Holly (married 22 years, nine kiddos!):

Although sex is a wonderful gift there’s just so much more to a good marriage. I loved Joi’s comment above. Such insight and truth! My husband went thru a devastating illness last year – sex suddenly wasn’t really all that important. Getting him well again was. Providing stability for our children was. Loving each other, serving each other – that was what was important. Sex was the icing – not the main course of our lives. If we were to never be physical again, it would be a horrible loss, but we would still have each other and our love would still be incredible and worthy. I feel like even in church circles these days there is way too much focus on providing “Sizzling sex.” Well….when it is, it is. :) When it’s not, it’s still pretty amazing – a real gift to each other. There is so much more to do in this life, really, so much more to the kingdom of God. (And that’s not to set me up as super holy. I’m not.) I just feel that we need to reprioritize a bit, and not clamor for the same thing that the world clamors for – at least not in the same way. :) My thoughts are that we are to enjoy that part of our marriage – then move on with the rest of the day and see what God has for us to be doing.

from Nancy:

A lot of the reasons I object to the idea of pole dancing in a Christian relationship can be found in the “why?” of it. *Why* does a man think it’s sexy? Because he’s seen it on TV, or in a movie, or in a strip club? I want my husband to think I’m sexy not because I imitate sex workers, but because he loves me — there are plenty of nuances, creativity and fun to explore with each other without imitating porn.

from Callie:

This summer, my good Christian friend got married, guess what her idea of a great bachelorette party is? Yes, pole dancing lessons. I struggled with this as I am passionate about human trafficking and prostitution issues and desire to see a shift in our society’s view of sex. How can I justify going to my friend’s bachelorette and learning to pole dance? That’s the very thing I speak out on.

I have been struggling with the question as to WHY Christian women believe it is alright to learn how to pole dance? (well, women in general and especially Christian women) I told my friend I didn’t want to go, she said “It’s not that big of a deal, it’s fun, it’s at a recreational place, we all just want to learn how to be sexy for our husbands.” I have a problem with that last part. As women, we don’t need to LEARN how to be sexy, we ARE sexy and we already know how to be sexy. I was appalled that all these Christian women (and their parents) were so accepting of pole dancing. I will admit, I went to that pole dancing lesson, I didn’t want to let my friend down and fell into peer pressure. I am not proud of it. I did not have fun, I felt like a robot and I felt incredibly awkward. Now, I firmly believe that we should not be bringing elements of prostitution and sexual exploitation into our marriage beds. Pole dancing is a spectacle, objectifying women. Why would I want to learn how to dance like a stripper and place myself as a spectacle? Why would I want a husband who finds that attractive? I want a husband who respects me and finds me attractive no matter what I wear or do.

from Tara S:

It seems that there is endless harm to be done in the “anything goes” mentality. The idea that if we can just wait…just wait until marriage and then all our carnal fantasies can come true! It doesn’t do much to promote actual chastity, which is why so many of us seem to think that a life without sex is some kind of unimaginable deprivation...

In my own youth, I was surrounded by the idea that thinking about sex, fantasizing, etc, etc, was perfectly healthy….period. There was no caution toward restraint whatsoever. This kind of coaching did not do me any favors. I built up a pattern of thought and internal lusting in those years (because it’s all in my head, it doesn’t count, right?) that I’m still struggling to set right today. I can’t help but draw a parallel with the “It’s all in my marriage, it doesn’t count, right?” ….I am, by experience and necessity, very wary of that train of thought.

Chastity is humble restraint in thought, word, and deed. If we are just waiting for marriage to get our “get out of jail free card,” then is it really chastity?

from Chuck:

I work as a psychotherapist, primarily in the Christian community (but don’t call me a “christian counselor” – there’s no such thing, IMHO), and primarily with issues of sexual integrity (like porn addiction).

I completely agree with you about the pornification of marriage. In fact, I’ll even take things a bit further by saying publicly here something I’ve often said privately elsewhere…

Porn for a man is (imagined) sex with a woman who will not or cannot say “no”. There is no emotional risk involved, and no expectations on him for any kind of relationship. In short, it’s sexual violence. Porn for a woman is (again, imagined) sex with a man who will not or cannot fail her relationally. He will always be “romantic” and “make” her feel special (like anybody can actually force somebody to feel anything??) It’s not love, because there is no risk.

So what do we do in most of our “Christian” marriage conferences and seminars? (BTW, I HATE using the word Christian as an adjective – that’s why it’s in quotes – but that’s a whole other deal…) I those conferences, men are told to be more romantic, get out the candles and the soft music, send cards, make her feel special. Women are told to be more sexually available and assertive, “give him your body,” and for heaven’s sake, NEVER say “no.” In short (using my definitions above): be more like porn for each other.

How in GOD’s holy name (and I mean this prayerfully!) does that honor His image and likeness, in which we are made? How does it invite us to think about sexual union being one of the highest forms of worship that humans are capable of? “Two becoming one in the presence of God” is, IMHO, the closest we can come to experiencing, celebrating, and yes, worshipping Trinity. Our loving, relational GOD.

Related: h/t Emerging Mummy-- "Let's Talk about Sex, Baby (...and consumerism)"