[This post was previously titled My Book About Sex]
If I could write just one book that would transform most marriages, it would have two chapters, and six words. In fact, I’ll write that book right now. I will release all copyrights to it, and you are free to distribute this fantastic advice from a seasoned counseling professional to as many people as you’d like.
Apparently a pastor in Texas is going to set up a bed on the roof of his church and hit the sack with his wife there for 24 hours. The 24 hour bed-in will be broadcast on the Internet. The date corresponds with a book the pastor will be releasing about sex.
Really? When I was growing up in the church, the revolutionary message was, “Christians can rock too!” Now our church leaders are doing “Christians can f**k too?” No thanks. Is that really where we’re at? By the way, I too have had weeks where I have encouraged couples to be intentional about having all the sex they can — I think that needs to happen. But this whole thing reminds me a bit of the scene in that Monty Python movie…(warning to the sensitive — there is brief nudity in this scene, and a comic demonstration of sex):
In what way is this different? The Youngs feel the need to demonstrate sex by getting in bed together, and to do it on a rooftop, put it on the Internet, etc., for the supposed benefit of others. (The mere fact that some, perhaps many, may in fact benefit in various ways is beside the point.)
BTW, my use of the term f**k instead of the less vulgar “have sex” is intentional. It seems to me that once you put it on a rooftop and invite thousands of people out to see it, it could never be anything other than f***ing. After all, the medium is the message, right? Can you take sex and put it in a barnyard and have it in the mud and invite all the neighbors and expect that what they will see — no matter your intentions — is beauty and intimacy in action?
This is Spinal Tap is a brilliant 1984 mockumentary about a fake band called Spinal Tap that is a send up of the absurdity, filth, excess, and stupidity of rock culture. (Great movie, but to be compared to anything that happens in it is not good.) Their song Sex Farm comes to mind here. In the movie the point is made, ironically of course, about how this song debases sex.
Comment on the song Sexfarm,by Spinal Tap, from the movie This is Spinal Tap, 1984
Now for the song. Again, if you are sensitive about sexual things, this lyric will bother you. Don’t watch it. It debases sex, big time. That’s the point.
The song “elevates” sex (according to the band) by taking the idea of it and putting it on a farm. Does it matter whether it’s a farm or a rooftop? Isn’t the medium the message? Aren’t you always saying more by how you say something (and the context in which you say it) than by the words you say? So again I ask my question. Can you take sex and put it in a barnyard (on a rooftop) and have it in the mud (in the sky) and invite all the neighbors (the Internet) and expect that what they will see — no matter your intentions — is beauty and intimacy in action?
My presumption is that Pastor Ed and Linda aren’t actually going to have sex, but that too is beside the point. What is going to be accomplished by this circus that couldn’t be accomplished more effectively by simply modeling appropriate sexual attitudes in one’s personal and public life day after day? I’m not questioning that Pastor Ed is already doing that. I’m just stating that it’s enough.
This media show is every bit as absurd as the Monty Python clip above, isn’t it? And depending on your point of view, it’s every bit as funny. Or every bit as tasteless. Then again, quietly living out a life of sexual propriety, decency, responsibility, faithfulness, and integrity — as great as that is — doesn’t sell books. Besides, who wants to see a pastor and his wife in bed together? Creepy.
In my previous post I said the only two guidelines for sex in a marriage relationship are 1) it should not exploit or humiliate anyone; and 2) it should not involve anyone except the two partners (including vicariously through pornography). That post, as I expected, had very high readership, but no one asked me why use of pornography should not be included in a sexual relationship. I’m guessing a lot of people who read this disagreed with that, or at least wondered what harm there is in it.
I want to be clear that I mean it when I say a couple has a right to do absolutely anything they want to in the bedroom, and if you and your partner use pornography, far be it from me to say you do not or should not have that choice. But that does not mean it is necessarily a good choice. I know a lot of times people bring this into the relationship to spice it up, to add variety, to heighten the excitement. Notice anything? There’s nothing wrong with any of those things! Spice, variety, and excitement are critical parts of a healthy sexual relationship.
But I have several reasons for believing that use of pornography in marital sex (actually, in any sex where partners are concerned for one another’s well-being) is ill-advised.
I’ll only cover one in this post, and that is that it carries so much potential for the humiliation and exploitation that have no business in the bedroom. Couples are rarely perfectly matched when it comes to levels of adventurousness with sex. When one partner first brings up using porn, the other partner will frequently be less than excited about it. But assuming the less enthusiastic partner really cares about the one who wants to use porn, they can often be quickly and easily talked into it. This is especially true when it is the man who wants to use it and the woman who does not (which is usually the case).
My middle daughter, Kyra, and I are continuing our commitment to blog all the
way through the alphabet. Rather than lasting 26 days, we're going on almost
a year now, but we're gonna get it done.
I predict almost no one is going to care about how long this post is. It contains my best sex advice for premarital couples.
1. Some research has shown that married couples report better sex lives than non-married couples. The lesson? If you’re already having sex before you’re married (and let’s face it, the overwhelming percentage of couples are), it’ll probably just keep getting better. If you’re not having sex before you’re married, you’re almost definitely not missing the best part of it. [update: though the above research has been legitimately called into question, we do know that sex does not necessarily declines after marriage.)
2. George Michael said it best — “Sex is natural, sex is fun, sex is best when it’s one on one.” All of that is true. If you experience sex as unnatural, or not fun, get help. It’s not natural to experience sex as unnatural! You may have picked up some fears or inhibitions along the way that you need to shed. Most importantly, keep sex one on one — between you and your partner. Don’t bring third parties into it; not in real life, and not by means of pornography. The reason for this is that,
3. Sex should remain rooted not in fantasy, but in reality. The temptation in all of life is to always be trying to escape the present moment (either actually or in our imaginations) to get to some perceived other and more pleasant moment. But the key to lasting happiness in all of life, including sex, is to resist this “grass is always greener” flight into other moments, and learn to invest yourself fully in whatever moment you are in. Spend way less energy fantasizing that you are having sex with Ryan Gosling or Mila Kunis, and way more energy on appreciating the awesomeness of the being you are actually with. Focus fully on that person — sight, smell, taste, touch, sound — breathe them in. Allow the real-life person in bed with you to BE your fantasy — the one you are thinking about and seeing yourself with.
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