Do men need sex? Wants vs. needs and the making of weak men

A bit ago, I wrote a piece challenging Michelle Duggar’s advice to her newlywed daughter about how to be sure to always be ready for sex.

“And so be available, and not just available, but be joyfully available for him. Smile and be willing to say, ‘Yes, sweetie I am here for you,’ no matter what, even though you may be exhausted and big pregnant and you may not feel like he feels. ‘I’m still here for you and I’m going to meet that need because I know it’s a need for you.’ ” (emphasis mine)

That advice, in my opinion, makes men out to need sex to such a degree that the lack of it will lead to bad things like porn and adultery. Sex is treated as the glue that holds fragile men in the marriage and the lack of it kills the marriage because men can’t function without it.

Interestingly, comments on that blog and other social media, by women, suggested that indeed sex is a need, not just a want.

Now, I just read a piece by a not-surprisingly anonymous blogger entitled, “How a husband can enjoy sex that is grudgingly given by his wife,” which argues much the same thing. While there are a million things wrong with his post, I only want to highlight the “need” language used in it. When illustrating how a wife might be allowed to (rarely) turn down her husband’s request for sex, he suggests she use this line with him,

“Honey, I know you really need it, but I am just really sick tonight, can I make it up to you tomorrow?” (bold mine)

And when he talks about the problem of the wife not wanting sex the way the husband wants,

But then we have the conundrum, women don’t always feel like having sex. Even women that have a healthy view of sex don’t always feel like having sex as much as their husbands do. (emphasis his)

One could argue that for some this is true, some men feel greater sexual desire than do their wives. But it is only a conundrum if such feelings/desires for sex are evidence of some innate need that if not met will lead to trouble.

Maybe from this quote you are not sure that this blogger believes sex is a need for men. Well, he also believes it is a need for women as well,

You need to realize that this is a physical need that you have as a man. You also need to realize that whether your wife knows it or not she needs to have sex too. Your marriage needs sex at regular intervals. If you don’t have sex with your wife at regular intervals, even sometimes when she is not in the mood but consents anyway, you will open yourself to temptation. You will find yourself becoming distant from your wife, because this is the primary way that you as man feel closeness with your wife.

But even if you realize and accept this truth that you need sex and it needs to happen even if your wife refuses to “fake it” and bury her wrong attitude then what?

What is probably most controversial in this blog is that he advises men to go ahead with sex when a wife is giving sex in a grudging way. He recommends that a husband not look at his wife’s face but focus on her body. You see, sex is such a need, it would be best to just muscle through it, don’t look at her face, so you can fulfill that need. Really!

Is it a need? Is it a want?

So is sex a need? Even if you believe it is a duty to provide sex to your spouse, does that make it a need equivalent to, “if I don’t get oxygen, I will die”?  Will the absence of it lead to bad things? It seems that some have  bought into this little formula: SEXUAL DESIRE = NEED. UNMET NEED = DANGER that will lead to  temptation, straying, or some such pathology.

What do we do with single men who want to be married? Is God unkind to them?

I think our troubles begin this way: We often baptize desires as needs, expect needs to be fulfilled, are angry when they are not, make demands of others to fulfill our wants and excuse ourselves when we use illicit means to get what we want (either by outright force, manipulation, or secrecy).

Notice here the author conflates desire with need. Yes, many men and women desire sexual activity. We are designed for it so it is not surprising when we like it and want more of it. But it is also designed to be used to connect us with our spouses. And when it is used to only fulfill one person’s needs, then it is not being used as designed.

And when we see it as a need, we are encouraging men to see themselves as weak and incapable of living without sex.

Further, arguing backwards does not make it a need. For example, you could show that those in sexless marriages are more likely to cheat (example; I don’t know if this is true or not). This information still does not make sex a need. At best it can only tell us it is a powerful want.

Consider for a minute how we might respond to these two different equations:

  • Sex as basic need + unmet need = ???
  • Sex as powerful want + unmet want = ???

How would you conclude these two equations? The first is more likely to focus on ensuring the spouse is not selfishly withholding such a basic need. The second is more likely to be concluded by addressing the one who has the want and how they plan to address that want.

A Better Equation

Maybe this is a more accurate equation: Sex as a powerful want + partially unmet wants + brokenness (bodies, relationships, desires) = grief over losses + opportunity to rely on Holy Spirit + pursuit of loving our spouses more than ourselves. This equation better acknowledges wants, sadness the happens when wants are not met, the reality of broken wants and broken bodies but also points to a better goal of reliance on God and the focus of love more than getting something.

It is painful to have unmet wants/desires. Those desires do not have to be wrong (though we are never fully right either). But our wants are always given to God and made secondary to our command to love the other well. Yes, part of loving the other may be talking about desires and hurts. But surely let us get rid of the idea that failing to have sex leaves men or women in some greater danger than those who have sex as much as they want.


Filed under marriage, Relationships, Sex, Uncategorized

35 responses to “Do men need sex? Wants vs. needs and the making of weak men

  1. Pingback: Check out | HeadHeartHand Blog

  2. Phil, I think it was brave of you to tackle this topic, and you’ve done it well.

    I remember when I was in my forties and a pastor was conducting a women’s bible study group that I had organised in my home for women who had suffered domestic abuse. Somehow in the course of the discussion the subject of sex in marriage came up. The pastor told us that men have physical pain in their testicles when they have gone a while without sex. I have to admit I had never been told that before (and I’ve never dared ask anyone else whether it is true). I actually felt foolishly naive when I heard him say that. (“If it’s true, why didn’t anyone ever tell me that before? I must be an ignoramus!”)

    But whether or not it is true, it struck me that it was a weird thing to say and a weird way to put it, especially to a group of women whose marriages had ended because of domestic violence. It made me feel faintly guilty – was the pastor inferring that I had not given my husband enough sex and so ’caused’ him physical pain?? And naturally, I didn’t feel safe or confident enough to ask him that question.

    Of course, on this blog it’s a rhetorical question and I don’t expect an answer. I’m only sharing it because it seems pertinent to this idea that men NEED sex rather like they NEED food and water and oxygen. …… Shiver.

    • Testicle pain due to no sex? NOT true. Some men report feeling prostate pressure about 48 hours after last sex. Not usually painful. And yes, definitely a weird thing to say!

      • Oh THANK YOU Phil !!!!
        That had been niggling at me for years.

        Now I know it for sure that it was a weird thing to say, some other dots are joining in regards to that pastor. Uuuuugh.

  3. There was a documentary on Aussie TV recently about the female sex drive. It was not at all salacious or coarse. It was scientific and informative. I won’t give the exact link here, Phil, as it’s your blog and you may not want it linked. But if you have time to check it yourself you may then decide it is worth posting in this thread.

    The program is an episode of Catalyst which is a weekly science program on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s main TV station. So, do a web search for Catalyst Female Sex Drive Tuesday, 3 November 2015 and you’ll find it.

    One of the experts interviewed on the program talked about how womoen somtimes give their parnters ‘mercy sex’ and that from the point of a women’s libido, that is not a good idea because mercy sex destroys libido.

    That has certainly been my experience. I thought it was a very good way to put it.

  4. Thank you for addressing this. Would you please connect this to what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:2-4? As in, please model how to maintain that sex is not a need while at the same time applying 1 Corinthians 7:2-4. That would be really helpful.

    • Camila Furches

      Respectfully, I ask:
      Did you miss reading verse one?
      The following verses are written because of man’s choice not to follow verse one. Not because a man is incapable of applying verse one. Verses 2-4 are not written as a NEED or verse one certainly wouldn’t be there. They are written as an allowance of how ideally you are allowed to act in a marriage. At the time period that they were living in, Christians who were married wrongfully thought it more pleasing to God and honorable to live in celibacy even once married. Paul was saying celibacy can be a good thing, but rather than try to live celibate (and then commit adultery) it is a good thing to marry and have one another’s body. You don’t have to live celibate to please God. You can marry and be honorable. That is allowance. NOT need. Man needs to quit twisting the Scriptures to justify sinful, uncontrolled lust and growing bitterness toward one’s spouse for the good gift God has given in marriage.
      That is so appropriate of Dr. Monroe to point out:

      “…it is also designed to be used to connect us with our spouses. And when it is used to only fulfill one person’s needs, then it is not being used as designed.”

  5. Ben Unger

    Whatever the problems (which are quite real) with ‘go have your way with her even though she’s making it obvious she’d rather be somewhere else’, I have to call you out for this patently unbiblical nonsense. There’s no kinder way of putting it – especially when so many marriages really are being torn apart by this, and leaders like yourself, who are called to apply the whole counsel of God to life, instead mouth a few platitudes about ‘relying on the Holy Spirit’ and ignore the unarguably plain Word of God on the matter.

    You say that “Sex as basic need + unmet need = ???” will tend to “focus on ensuring the spouse is not selfishly withholding such a basic need”, and that “Sex as powerful want + unmet want = ???” will tend to “be concluded by addressing the one who has the want and how they plan to address that want”. This is true, so far as it goes.

    But then Paul writes:

    “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
    (1 Corinthians 7:3–5 NAS95)

    There is no possible way to spin this as Paul ‘addressing the one who has the want and how they plan to address that want’. The only defensible way of reading this is Paul ‘focusing on ensuring the spouse is not selfishly withholding such a basic need’! His wording couldn’t possibly be more clear, since he phrases it as an imperative command: ‘Stop depriving one another.’ He furthermore justifies this in very stark terms of authority – not ‘my body, my choice’, but something much closer to ‘his body, her choice’ and ‘her body, his choice’.

    Which, in the situation you describe, directly translates to: You, wife, stop depriving your husband.

    (Interestingly: The Greek word translated ‘deprive’ is a very strong one, indicating the withholding of something that belongs to one by right – defrauding, cheating, stealing, denying. This is not the language of ‘my body, my choice’ – and to say otherwise, or nullify it by qualification, is as clear-cut a twisting of Scripture as can be.)

    As for singles: Funny you should bring that up, too. Why is it that the Westminster divines, in the WLC, questions 138-139, said that ‘marriage, by those who have not the gift of continency’, is a duty inherent in the seventh commandment, and that ‘undue delay of marriage’ is a sin inherent in the same commandment – again, appealing to 1 Cor 7:2-9, and also to Mt 19:10-11, wherein Jesus explicitly says, of the good possible by not marrying, that “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given”? (Perhaps Jesus simply failed to ask 21st-century American psychologists and women their advice – perhaps on the dubious grounds of having been the one to ‘create them male and female’?)

    Sound Biblical counsel would be ‘Men, love your wives – even when they fail you. Women, love your husbands – even when they’re no longer the hotties who once gave you tingles. Stop depriving each other – unilaterally. Don’t divorce, except for unfaithfulness, or you will be promptly excommunicated. Singles, get married – which means, have reasonable expectations of each other and of married life, respect and live contentedly within your biological limits, and obey the first command God gave Adam.’

    But teaching that might mean calling people to actual Biblical self-sacrificial living, instead of the pop-psychology facsimile that sells so much better, especially to the distaff side of the church.

  6. Ben,
    I’m happy to engage on this topic with you as I think it is important. But since you are calling me out, let me call you out on violating the 9th commandment. Go read WLC 144-5. Where is the charitable esteem? Why the miscontructing intentions and scornful contempt? I would ask you why the anger?

    But giving you the benefit of the doubt that you do really want to discuss this, I would say the following points.
    1. I have written on this subject of 1 Cor 7 before. See here: That may not fit with your interpretation but it does give my views on the passage in question.
    2. Your first line “Whatever problems (which are quite real)… is in fact not something I am wanting to bypass. In fact, that is the main purpose of my entire post. These problems are real and are worth pointing out.
    3. As to point 2, I think that it is essential to understand what the main problem is behind it. While selfishness and failure to love are certainly present. I would argue that the worldly view that men need sex and the lack thereof is what drives them to act out is false and needs to be brought to light.
    4. I don’t think 1 Cor 7 does teach it is a need. I do think it implies a very strong desire and a requirement of spouses to care for each other well. I suppose we could say, “sin is crouching at your spouse’s door…so help him/her.” But of course it does not dictate how the help should be carried out and doesn’t say that the spouse is the decider.
    5. Yes, the passage does give spouses a say over each other’s bodies. That say is not just, “let’s do…” but also “let’s not do.” A spouse can say no and be in full keeping with this passage.
    6. Clearly, the passage says not to “deprive.” And yet, let us note that just because I have a want and I make a request but my wife turns me down does it mean that I am being deprived. If deprivation is in the eye of the beholder then we are no longer following Ephesians 5 which is that we are to love sacrificially. Thus, my wants cannot be the say of what is deprivation.

    • Phil, I very much agree with you and I admire the way you replied to Ben Unger.

      I hadn’t read that post of yours before. It is excellent. I’ll be sharing it on our A Cry For Justice blog and Facebook page. 🙂

    • Unger

      The anger is because I know people whose marriages have been torn apart by a wife’s defrauding her husband, all the while with the church’s categorical refusal to call her out on it, on the totally unwarranted grounds of 1 Cor 7:4 (as exemplified by Barbara Roberts in a post below). I’ve seen even more men pushed towards sexual temptation for the same rotten reason. I happen to work in a foreign mission field where, if the statistics are to be believed, most of the country’s marriages are sexless. I’ve seen what it does to people, and one of our biggest issues here is undoing that work of hell before it undoes the church. The last thing we need here is *justification* for that work of hell on supposedly Biblical grounds.

      Thus, once more…

      1 Cor 7:4 says, paraphrasing, ‘he has authority over her; she has authority over him’. If you read that in isolation, as Christian feminists are wont to do, Paul would indeed appear to be saying ‘women (or men, where applicable), you have perfect veto rights over the other’s sexual desires.’

      But 1 Cor 7:3 and 7:5 are the immediate context for 7:4. What do they say?

      7:3 says, paraphrasing, ‘he must fulfill his duties to her, and she must fulfill her duties to him.’

      7:5 makes patently obvious what one of those duties is, and he ain’t talking about cooking or laundry. The reading of 7:4 as an at-will sexual veto right is arrant nonsense that should be denounced, in season and out, as the dagger at the heart of marriage that it is.

      And I spoke above of seeing men pushed towards sexual temptation. I meant it. To claim a sexual veto right is to give your husband a hearty shove towards hell. Paul could not possibly be more clear on this: the end of verse 5 – not to mention, the entireties of verses 2 and 9, and the general thrust of the entire verses 1-9 section – is as explicit as can be that one of the purposes of marriage is to counter sexual temptation by providing a legitimate outlet for sexual desire. To say this is, trivially, to say that one of the purposes of a wife is to help her husband with sexual temptation by having sex with him. And to say *that*, again, trivially, is to say that a wife’s failure to do this is a failure to love her husband, a shirking of her duty, that God, through Paul, explicitly calls a grave sin and commands her, in the plainest language, to stop.

      If a husband simply quit working, not for any defensible reason, but just because he ‘didn’t feel like it’, and quit providing for his wife, you would very rightly denounce him for breaking his marriage vows. He is not behaving as a husband to his wife. You would say this, even though it is quite true that a wife (especially now) does not *need* a man’s provision: she can work, or even in lousy places, beg, and probably get by with enough to live on. (And even if not: she has Jesus, and that’s all she really needs, no?) Why is it, then, that when a wife breaks her marriage vows, refusing to provide for her husband in this God-designed and God-commanded way, on account of ‘not feeling like it’, you rush to defend her – and that, with one verse of scripture extracted from immediate context that explains the exact content of the ‘authority’ it mentions?

      It is a most stinking red herring to bring up, in the context of the Duggar quote, the sorry fact that some men go beyond wanting loving sex, and instead insist on doing the degrading perversions they’ve seen and heard about (which is, alas, somewhat common), or otherwise insist on having it even though it harms their wives (which, let us face facts, is *not* very common). You would certainly do well to address such things in other contexts, but the Duggar quote was nothing but the plain truth that sex *itself* is a marital duty – one that should be offered with love, not grudgingly, in the same way that worship to God should be offered with love, not grudgingly. Sexual refusal – again, not refusal of perversions, not refusal with good reason, but simple selfish refusal of sex itself – is *not* a marital duty, is *not* a marital authority over a partner’s body. Mrs. Duggar was therefore entirely and unarguably correct to point that out. In doing so, she was fulfilling the command of Titus 2:3-4, that older women should teach younger women to – wait for it – love their husbands and be subject to them, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

      • Unger, you claim that “the reading of 7:4 as an at-will sexual veto right is arrant nonsense that should be denounced, in season and out, as the dagger at the heart of marriage that it is.”

        You have misrepresented what I said.

        In my comment dated November 15, 2015 at 12:21, I made the point about the sexual veto right of women, because that point has been vastly neglected. Women have been taught they have no right of veto and that they must always allow the man to have his way regardless of their feelings. This imbalance needs to be righted!

        In seeking to right that imbalance, I am not dismissing the verses around v. 4 which talk about duty and the importance of not defrauding the other partner. I believe I made this clear when I said:
        “Sex is supposed to be engaged in by mutual agreement and for mutual enjoyment. If one party does not feel comfortable with something, that thing shouldn’t be done. Sex is supposed to be about BOTH people loving and giving pleasure to each other, and never forcing one person’s will on the other or making them feel uncomfortable. There is no other way of understanding verse four.”

        You appear to have become angry on behalf of what you have perceived or observed about the plight of husbands whose wives chronically deny them sex. For one thing, how do you know the husbands in such cases are telling the whole story? How do you know that the husbands are not regularly excercising emotional and in other forms of abuse to their wives — which might well be a reason for a wife to say No to her husband’s requests for sex. How do you know what is going on in those marriages? You are not behind those closed doors. And if you are crediting the husband’s accounts without listening to the wives’ accounts, that would indicate to me that you have a gender bias towards believing men and discounting the value of women’s testimonies.

      • Unger

        For some reason, I can’t reply to the post immediately below – Roberts @5:20.

        I know of no otherwise-halfway-orthodox church that teaches that ‘women must allow the man to have his way [in bed, wrt sexual acts – this is what I assume you mean] regardless of their feelings’. Show me such a church and I’ll denounce it right alongside you: such a teacher *must* be pulled from the ministry.

        That said…

        Just to make sure I’ve read you correctly: You say ‘If one party does not feel comfortable with something, that thing shouldn’t be done.’ Are you limiting the range of things one can ‘feel uncomfortable with’ to perversions and undue hazards? If so, I’ve no beef with you.

        But you do not seem as if you’re qualifying your statement so. What you say reads as if the range of things one can ‘feel uncomfortable with’ and thereby obtain a veto right extends beyond perversions, and compasses any and all sexual activity, at any time, for any excuse.

        Which is it?

        Regarding abuse: The topic at hand is not abuse. Abuse lies beyond the scope of the Duggar quote above. Injecting abuse into a discussion of her quote is something like injecting home invasion robberies into discussions about whether children should play with guns. That’s a big part of why my initial reaction to reading things like this is anger: I have an inveterate dislike of people who raise red herrings. It’s intellectual hitting-below-the-belt; it is impossible to arrive at grounded, mutually seen and agreed-upon truth with someone who makes a habit of it.

        But just to play: What is abuse, anyway? I hear this word a lot – and almost never defined in any way that even remotely comes close to excluding general human discontentment (which, I remind you, is sin). If you’re actually being treated so badly that what God has joined, the man you married has torn asunder, tell your church exactly what and why, then *leave*. But if you aren’t – as evinced by your continuing to live with, enjoy the provision of, and enjoy the title and status given by your husband – then what part of ‘vow’ or ‘duty’ is unclear? If you’re remaining with someone you call husband, then by your own words and deeds you declare before God and man your continuing duty to treat him as husband, for better or worse, as a ministry to that fellow sinner. Paul offers no ‘but I’m not haaaaaaappy’ out from those responsibilities, any more than he offers husbands a ‘but I’m not haaaaaaaaaappy’ out from theirs.

        Required reading re ‘abuse’:

  7. Justin

    From what I have come to understand about this knotty issue (and for full disclosure, I am not married), I think it’s safe to say that a husband needs intimacy with his spouse in order to flourish. That intimacy wouldn’t require a “sex when he wants it” approach, but I would think it includes sex. I’d say the necessary factor is communication, where sex is just one form of it.

    Does a marriage need intimacy (which includes sex) seems to run analogous to asking “Does your relationship with God need prayer?” For it to thrive, the answer would be yes. So for a marriage to thrive, then the answer would be yes (and this would allow for exceptions!)

    • Justin, I don’t disagree with your comments. A marriage needs intimacy to flourish and sex is one of those forms. It is not, however, the only form. Nor did you say it was. So, we are made for an ideal but there are obviously other forms that also work well. The problem often forms when one spouse believes more frequent sex = thriving and another finds another form of intimacy as thriving. For that marriage to thrive, there will be a need for communication but even more, willingness to listen and honor each others dreams/concerns.

  8. Anneliese Knop

    Could you please elaborate on your statement that “Those desires do not have to be wrong (though we are never fully right either)”? I am particularly interested in what you meant by “we are never fully right.” Is that simply a reference to the tainted nature of post-fall humanity, or something more directly related to this topic?

    Thank you for explaining the progression of categorising sex as a “need” to weakening men (or women) by denying the existence of self control and prioritisation. That’s a thought that’s been running around half-formed in the back of my mind for a while now, but I hadn’t quite been able to articulate it yet.

  9. Many people do not realise it, but 1 Corinthians 7:4 is probably the clearest verse in the whole Bible that says a woman can say no to sex!

    “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

    The husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. This means she can tell his body to not do things to her body. She has the authority to tell his body what it can and cannot to do her body.

    So if a husband says “You must let me do this to your body because I have authority over your body”, the wife can say back to him “No; I have just as much authority over your body as you have over mine, so if I say you can’t do that to me, you must not do it. Our authority over each other’s bodies is equal and reciprocal, so neither of us can force the other do to anything they don’t want to do!”

    Sexual is supposed to be engaged in by mutual agreement and for mutual enjoyment. If one party does not feel comfortable with something, that thing shouldn’t be done. Sex is supposed to be about BOTH people loving and giving pleasure to each other, and never forcing one person’s will on the other or making them feel uncomfortable. There is no other way of understanding verse four.

    Women have been trained to think that they have no authority in the marital bed and that men have all the rights. But women have just as many rights and just as much authority as men in the marital bed.

    Whether or not the Bible teaches egalitarianism in marriage overall, I think it is beyond question that Corinthian 7:4 teaches egalitarianism in regards to the sexual-intimacy aspect of marriage.

  10. Lee

    I think the issue of sex in marriage is more complicated than the wife just giving the husband what he needs whenever he needs it. What about the needs of the wife? What about her need to feel loved, cherished and heard. If a husband wants sex then he needs to put in an effort outside the bedroom because for women that is where the process of “feeling close” to their husband begins. Without the feeling of closeness before sex a woman can become resentful of the giving of her body when the husband does not give on an equal basis outside of the bedroom. The bible states that husbands should love their wives like Christ loved the church. If a husband loves a wife in that manner and gives to her selflessly, listens to her concerns and treats her like the most important person in his life – the sex will naturally follow. In my experience in talking with many married Christian couples, if there is a problem in the bedroom with a man not having his needs met, it can usually be traced back to the man himself and his failure to love his wife like Christ loved the church. A woman’s need to express her emotions and for her husband to listen to these emotions and to feel loved and secure is a “want” that is just as powerful as a mans “want” for sex.

    • Lee, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Much of what you say I agree with. Yes, what about sacrificial love and selflessness in marriage? These are key things that must always come first. I would say that some might interpret your general tenor near the end that if there is a problem in the marriage regarding sex it is usually the husband’s fault. I would say that may be true but that we know sin happens on all sides. The point however is not to lay blame in general but to continue to work on loving well and without making demands on the other.

  11. Anneliese Knop

    Phil, could you recommend further reading on this subject, other blogs or books, specifically from a Biblical perspective?

  12. Steve Burdan

    Interesting article – thanks!
    Of course, until about 50 years ago, say, this would not have been a general issue, let along one for us Evans.
    It would seem that many guys in Scripture, starting with Jesus on down, did not see sex as essential to their lives, or some kind of idea of fulfilled life or marriage.
    IMO we can’t allow ourselves to be defined by our marital status primarily, or our level of sexual activity…
    There are far more things important than trying to re-enact some idea of the Song of Solomon…

  13. If a self professing marriage expert demands the wife have sex with her abusive husband. Demands the wife to sleep with her enemy every night. No excuses. Quoted to me while in abuse.
    “I don’t care if he is sleeping with many loose women. Have sex with him”.
    Uses scripture to back it up.
    Has no experience with DV.
    Is a volunteer group leader in a church setting. As in ..
    Marriage counseling classes .
    Has experienced infidelity in her own marriage. ( this info is for leadership only) .
    Use biblical dicernment . PLEASE
    Been there.
    Yes! God gave women emotion.
    But.. This is from the pit of hell.

    • Herjourney, you might want to clarify what you think is from the pit of hell? The advice given to you? (I would agree). A comment here? The original post?

      • Phil
        The advise given to me.
        As quoted here.
        And, I will add the following.
        There were times when I felt like what a hooker might feel. If she has any emotions left. Used only for the abusers sexual pleasure.
        In reality
        I was his fix.
        Until I said.. No more.
        Even tho I still had feelings for the man I married over thirty years ago.
        My trust has been so severely broken.
        I have difficulty trusting others.
        I do know
        That God protects me!
        Trusting in God’s word.
        That I am His daughter.
        He does loves the broken and oppressed. He is for the abused.

      • Thanks for sharing your struggle! Blessings on your recovery and glad you know that God is for the abused!

  14. This attitude makes my skin crawl after 20 years in a marriage with a man who “NEEDED” sex. Pastors when seeked for council assured me that my husband “NEEDED” sex, as well as myself. My “submission” aka coercion in this matter only fueled resentment toward this selfish man and these insensitive pastors. I was never listened to, my feelings were never regarded, and I was assaulted more times than I care to remember.

    Shame on “christian” men who make sex an idol that sacrifices their wives on the altar of there wants. Shame on the pastors who encourage and affirm these selfish men. God give us wisdom to know better and do better.

  15. Patrick

    These two articles have made me wonder when and how sex for men moved into the need category?
    My next question is: Does need trump fidelity in a marriage? If it truly is a need say like food then it must be satisfied no matter the cost and any and all means to satisfy the need would be legitimate. And any or all means to stifle it illegitimate. So porn, prostitutes, affairs and any other outsourcing are all biblically approved to satisfy the need?

    I think not.

    If that illustration is inaccurate “well it’s a need but not like food because if I don’t eat I’ll die and if I don’t have sex life goes on.” Then by logic it’s not a need but a preference (yes, a strong preference) and a choice.

    My next question is “what is the reciprocal need met for the woman?” Interestingly some of the male posters imply the woman’s need is duty. And that having done her duty she should be satisfied.

    But it seems the posters on both sides are at times arguing a biblical exegesis of “me first, your life for me” and providing scriptural documentation showing you must sacrifice for me.

    In the comment section there certainly is a lot of differing opinions on the subject. I often find it interesting that people look at exactly the same scriptures and come to such diverse and divergent interpretations.

    I think when we look for a one size fits all explanation of our natures (especially through the lens of our brokenness) we run into problems with priorities and emphasis on both sides.

    What happens when self-sacrifice runs up against a ‘need’? Which one wins? I think the answer it may take the Spirit to help figure that out.

    So I can envision a husband saying “I’d like to have sex tonight but I know you’re tired, I’ll wait” and a wife responding with “ I’m tired but I know you’d like to have sex tonight let’s go.” Both are being sacrificial and giving to the others need/want so the union is sweet which ever direction they decide to go.
    That’s a ‘you first, my life for you’ attitude modeled by Jesus.

    • Patrick
      From a woman’s perspective.
      Sex is different for a man than a woman.
      Women need trust and intimacy before fully giving herself to her ( hopefully husband.
      A healthy marriage is give and take.
      Not just giving and giving until she feels used up.
      When the husband understands her emotions fuel her desires.
      Sex will be the way God intended it to be.
      One flesh union.
      God glorifying.

      • Patrick

        I’m not sure if you are agreeing or disagreeing with my post and if yes, which part. However, I understand that sex is different for a woman than for a man and that there is learning and understanding to be done by both sides so neither the woman feels ‘used up’ and the man does not feel rejected.

        So I think the correct formula here is When a man understands his wife and a wife understands her husband there will be a glorious union. It should be noted that this learning and understanding is progressive and a process requiring a lot of time and effort. That’s why marriage is the hardest thing I know and the most rewarding.

      • Patrick
        Yes, I agree with your previous statement.
        Understanding each other is encluded in the realm of intimacy.
        Without back and forth, verbal heart communication rejection can happen rather rapidly.

  16. Hi Unger, you said “I know of no otherwise-halfway-orthodox church that teaches that ‘women must allow the man to have his way [in bed, wrt sexual acts – this is what I assume you mean] regardless of their feelings’. Show me such a church and I’ll denounce it right alongside you: such a teacher *must* be pulled from the ministry.”

    Yes, I am referring to normal sex, not perverse sexual practices.

    It is a fact that some abusive husbands expect/require/demand their wives to engage in perversions in the bedroom. But the idea that a wife must allow her husband to have his way in bed is applied by pastors and teachers to normal vaginal intercourse.

    The problem is that most churches which teach this stuff do not speak it overtly from the pulpit, so as a man you are probably not aware of how frequently it is taught to women.

    If I had the time (which I don’t right now) I could cite examples from books and websites that teach women “how to live as good Christian women”. But I would ask you to hear me and give credit to my experience. I have been supporting Christian victims of domestic abuse and writing about this topic since 1999, so I do have some knowledge in this area.

    I have heard or read accounts from many Christian victims of domestic abuse who been told by pastors or christian leaders (of either gender) that they should allow their husbands to have their way in the bedroom no matter *how* the wife may feel at the time and no matter how badly the husband is treating the wife. It is taught as part of the submission ethic. It is sometimes capped off with advice like this: : “If your husband is straying or using porn, or if he has a bad temper, wear something sexy when he comes home and put on makeup to please him.” In other words, the inference is that the woman should make herself MORE sexually enticing and that will stop the man being cruel and callous to her. Another inference is that it is the woman’s fault that her husband is straying or using porn, and she has the POWER to stop him doing those sins by making herself more sexy. It blames the victim; it shifts responsiblity away from the abusive and immoral man and puts the reponsiblity onto the oppressed/mistreated wife. I believe this all stems from misogyny.

    For an example of one woman’s story, here is a link to a comment at A Cry For Justice which demonstrates the kind of thing pastors are often telling wives who seek counsel for how to deal with a contemptuous, hardhearted, cruel husband.

    Phil, I hope you don’t mind me giving this link.

  17. Hi Patrick, I appreciate the irenic tone of your comment 🙂

    You said “it seems the posters on both sides are at times arguing a biblical exegesis of ‘me first, your life for me’ and providing scriptural documentation showing you must sacrifice for me.”

    I want to clarify that I am not saying that regarding sex within marriage, women should adopt the same kind of selfish, narcissistic, callous attitude that some so-called christian men adopt in the bedroom.

    “Me first, your life for me” implies callous disrespect for the opposite partner. That is not what I am endorsing.

    I am simply pointing out that the “Me first, your life for me” attitude is quite often taken by men (probably more often than you realise Patrick, if you are a good man and a good husband). Abusive men who hide out in the church doing their abuse behind closed doors while passing themselves off as Christians to the congregation at large, are using 1 Cor 7:4 to (wrongly) justify their callousness. And because there is quite a lot of ‘c’hristian teaching given to women in Christendom about their duty to submit to their husbands, there is an enormous imbalance. Hard-hearted men are empowered and feel justified in being selfish in the bedroomm, while oppressed wives are disempowered and told to submit and suffer as ‘good’ Christians.

    This imbalance needs to be corrected. That I why I point out that 1 Cor 7:4 actually gives the wife the right to say No in the bedroom: to try to correct the imbalanced teaching.

    Of course, in a good, mutually respectful marriage, this right of the wife would not be exercised callously. You described this very well when you said,
    “So I can envision a husband saying “I’d like to have sex tonight but I know you’re tired, I’ll wait” and a wife responding with “ I’m tired but I know you’d like to have sex tonight let’s go.” Both are being sacrificial and giving to the others need/want so the union is sweet which ever direction they decide to go. That’s a ‘you first, my life for you’ attitude modeled by Jesus.”

    Please understand that when a husband is abusive and the wife has been taught that wifely submission is the highest good, the wife will sacrificially endure callous disrespectful selfishness from the husband — often for decades. And over the years the abusive husband just gets worse; why wouldn’t he, there is nothing holding him back! He gets so many perks from living that way. And the church is doing far too little to correct this by changing the way it teaches about submission. What the church too often is doing is teaching that when women say NO to their husbands, they are grievoulsly sinning.

    Patrick I do hope you come to our blog A Cry For Justice. We would like to have more men become aware of this issue.

  18. Pingback: Advice to Young Marrieds? Why Michelle Duggar’s Newlywed Sex Advice Hurts Women AND Men | A Cry For Justice

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