A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Al Mohler Says Husbands Must Earn Sex

Boundless is proceeding with their series of reprints of older articles at their website. The current one posted is entitled "The Seduction of Pornography" by Albert Mohler. I have just got done reviewing the previous article in Boundless' series of reprints ("Physical Intimacy and the Single Man" by Matt Schmucker). You might want to read it, if you have not already done so. Like Schmucker's article, Mohler's piece turned me off when I first came across it. So, now that Boundless has chosen to reprint it, I am taking the opportunity to say my piece about it.

Mohler does a fine job of restating the obvious about the spiritual ills of pornography, but he gets derailed when he presents a feminized, Estrogelical, pseudo-Christian view of male sexuality:
Consider the fact that a woman has every right to expect that her husband will earn access to the marriage bed. As the Apostle Paul states, the husband and wife no longer own their own bodies, but each now belongs to the other. At the same time, Paul instructed men to love their wives even as Christ has loved the church. Even as wives are commanded to submit to the authority of their husbands, the husband is called to a far higher standard of Christ-like love and devotion toward the wife ...

Put most bluntly, I believe that God means for a man to be civilized, directed and stimulated toward marital faithfulness by the fact that his wife will freely give herself to him sexually only when he presents himself as worthy of her attention and desire.
Sorry, Mr. Mohler, but you are dead wrong. Yes, a man is called by God to love his wife and be emotionally attentive to her needs (not necessarily her wants, though). But that is because God expects such of men regardless of the situation (Col. 3:19). It is not because a man has to earn sex from his wife. There is no earning anything that God commands to be given freely. Consider two Scriptures that are relevant to this discussion:
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. (1 Cor. 7:4) (NASB)

For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake,
but woman for the man’s sake. (1 Cor. 11:8-9) (NASB)
Given that a husband has authority over the woman, who was made for his sake, all this talk about earning sexual access from the woman is nonsense. Just as the man is suppose to love his wife for better or for worse, so the women is to do the same for her husband. She is to be a good wife and be attentive to his sexuality, regardless of how he acts as a husband.

At any rate, I take special interest in Mohler's description of a stereotypical man involved in pornography:
"This man lives alone, or at least in a context other than holy marriage ..."

"This man need not be concerned with his physical appearance, his personal hygiene or his moral character in the eyes of a wife. Without this structure and accountability, he is free to take his sexual pleasure without regard for his unshaved face, his slothfulness, his halitosis, his body odor and his physical appearance. He faces no requirement of personal respect, and no eyes gaze upon him in order to evaluate the seriousness and worthiness of his sexual desire."
Dear readers, I want you to think about the subtext of what Mr. Mohler is saying. You see, it sounds a lot like what Debbie Maken said a while ago:
"I have no sympathy for those pushing churches to cater to the unregenerate man as a way of drawing him in. The fact that a beer guzzling, Nascar watching, porn-viewing, minimum-wage earning loser thinks that church is not for him; well, he is right."
Don't you love the stereotypes that these pundits like to push about men caught up in the sin of pornography? Porn users are supposedly just a bunch of single loser guys that watch NASCAR, have facial hair (gasp!), halitosis, and aren't physically attractive to women. Boy, you can just feel the compassion for sinners oozing from the pens of Maken and Mohler. Heaven forbid that a porn user just might be the clean-cut guy who makes a lot of money, who is a married pastor of a big church, or is appealing to women. Obviously, an oh-so-successful guy doesn't use porn. He justs commits fornication and adultery with his female admirers. That's all.

But seriously, given that facial hair, halitosis, being single, being physically unappealing to women, etc. could just as easily describe a man faithful to God as it could a lonely porn user, I think we need to look at the implicit male-bashing in the narratives of Mohler and his ilk. I think someone people need to get one thing straight: Sexual purity for men is not about pleasing women or "saving one's self for marriage" ... it's about pleasing God (Matthew 5:8).

One final matter. I find Mr. Mohler's rhetoric to be downright corny and counterproductive. For instance this paragraph is over the top:
Pornography is a slander against the goodness of God's creation and a corruption of this good gift God has given his creatures out of his own self-giving love. To abuse this gift is to weaken, not only the institution of marriage, but the fabric of civilization itself. To choose lust over love is to debase humanity and to worship the false god Priapus in the most brazen form of modern idolatry.
Hoo-boy! How many of you opened up another tab to look up Priapus in Wikipedia? I thought disbelief, bigotry, greed, materialism, violence, pride, hatred, lust for power, adultery, envy, lying, stealing, drunkenness, slander, and murder were real bad but "porn use" is the biggie of the all!! The fabric of civilization is unraveling because of Pamela Anderson! Give me a break. The grandstanding by so many religious conservatives about sexual sins only serves to make other sins look less destructive than they really are.

Moreoever, while Mohler and company wax eloquent about the scourge of pornography, the real 300-pound gorilla in the room goes undiscussed. I've touched on it before: Sexual sin in men is connected with the idolatry of the feminine in this society. If men want to be free from sexual sin, then they have to place intimacy with women in proper context. It's not the most important thing or even a necessary thing. But I doubt Mohler will ever say that. After all, he has sided with Maken in adopting Marriage Mandate theology. He believes most men cannot do without women and that they have a duty to marry (a position that contradicts plain teachings of the Bible such as 1 Cor. 7:17-38). So I have to wonder: Do religious pundits get mad because sexual sin represents an affront to God ... or because it just represents an affront to the sex cartel that society places over men?

18 comments:

Amir Larijani said...

When I read that line by Mohler, all I could think was, "WHAT was he smoking???"

I mean this issue should be as clear as daylight: if he's the husband, he's already earned that access to the marriage bed. Ditto for her.

When they said, "I do", they earned it.

Last time I checked, both parties have the responsibility to put out, and there is no case--other than the menstruation period under OT law--for either party withholding marital affections from the other.

MikeT said...

I recall the Bible saying that those who refuse to take care of the needs of their own are worse than unbelievers in the eyes of God. Therefore, a wife should take care that if she does not do her best to take care of her husband's sexual needs, she is running afoul of that tidbit of wisdom about how God views taking care of others' needs, and that she may be harshly judged by God for it.

Obviously, a man must be reasonable in his sexual demands on his wife, but a wife must put out if she is able to just as a husband must go to work when he doesn't want to in order to bring home the bacon.

wombatty said...

Crap like this might help explain the decline in marriage rates in the church. If men have been listening to or reading such teaching on marriage and believing it, no wonder they don't want to marry.

This picture of marriage that Mohler, Maken et al. paint is not at all appealing to me and I doubt I'm that much different from most men.

Sad thing is, when a couple has need of marriage counseling, chances are this is the kind of crap they're going to run into.

Amir Larijani said...

Last time I checked, both parties have the responsibility to put out...


You apparently have gotten the memo Amir. Women don't have responsibilities, only rights. They get to have their cake and eat it too.

Steven said...

The part that got me was Mohler saying that pornography was strictly a male issue. Of course it is if you define pornography as only the male half of objectification.

Men's porn is visual;women's porn is emotional: soaps, oprah,cosmo, tabloids etc.

The problems in feminized "fellowships" - including boundless - is that not only are the two types not equally denounced, but the female version is glorified.

The Makenites are nothing but female porn pushers. They objectify men as success objects and as emotional crutches to protect women from having to take responsibility for their own choices.

sftoklb said...

This is why marriage is such a bad deal for men. Women think sex is nothing more than a bargaining tool to get what they want out of men. The price they set is too high when there are other women giving it out for free on top of the easy availability of porn.

If this guy really wanted to put porn out of business he would be telling wives to put out more after marriage and not just before in order to trap a guy into a marriage with false expectations.

Ken said...

Another great post and some great responses. Just think - there are young men in and outside of the church that read things like that written my Mohler, and they get incredibly discouraged.

Yes, we're all sinners. But we're not sinners because we are masculine... but that is the impression so many are giving today. A husband doesn't have to "earn" lovemaking any more than his wife should be expected to "earn" access to community property.

I'm certainly not going to defend porn (been mulling over my own blog entry about it lately), but when male use of porn is stereotyped it helps nobody, and when it is emphasized disproportionately above the female use of what amounts to the same thing (as already cited), it is another way of trying to portray men as predators and women as innocent victims.

In general, it is this kind of thinking that makes tell other men considering marriage that they should NOT marry unless... (and I insert an ever growing list of conditions and qualifiers).

The more women are given a pass or even portrayed as godly while men are ridiculed and demeaned, the less likely it will be that a man who does want to marry can find a woman with the right attitude and emotional reality for marriage.

Keep up the good work.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Anakin, great site, oft time visitor, first time commenter.

I loved his characterization of porn-using men. I wonder what Mohler et al would have to say about porn using women?

Or do women not have sex drives in the Mohler universe?

wombatty said...

Intersting Elusive Wapiti. From your link:

-- 24% of moms use visual porn (no word in the survey on how many women use "emotional porn") as the primary means of getting in the mood.

Some time ago, a Christian website (crosswalk.com, I believe) conducted an anonymous survey on church-attending women. The survey found that 25% of church-girls admit that they have an addiction to visual porn. They confessed to using it on a regular basis.

Along the same lines, I’ve read (in one of Shaunti Feldhan’s books) that roughly a quarter of women (I think) are more visually stimulated than the typical women.

[And the only place I have ever seen the problem of ‘emotional' or 'female porn’ (e.g. romance novels, chick flicks, etc.) dealt with is in Marriable, by the DiMarcos]

Not long ago, a girl who has this problem wrote into Boundless about it.

You always hear about guys being the ones visually turned on, but I guess I'm wired like that too.

In part, Candice Watters replied:

You may be wondering why I would answer such a candid question here. At first, I wasn't sure it was appropriate. But given the stats on masturbation, porn use and sexual addiction among women — and the overwhelming cultural assurance that all this and more is normal and expected — I decided it was not only acceptable, but necessary.

Apparently, there is a growing recognition that a significant minority of women struggle with this issue as men do. Candice’s reply is gentle, understanding, encouraging and respectful – all while being firm. Needless to say, this is quite a contrast from Mohler's typically scornful article directed at men.

Go back and read Mohler’s article and ask yourself how long we will have to wait before we see such a condescending and derisive article written about women caught in the web of pornography.

Personally, I’m not holding my breath.

I have to give Candice Watters credit for a gracious reply to the girl who wrote in.

wombatty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wombatty said...

Elusive Wapiti said...

Or do women not have sex drives in the Mohler universe?


Funny you should ask that. I was browsing through a book in a Christian bookstore some time ago. The book was about the lies that the world and the church tell us about sex.

One of the 'church lies' they wrote about was 'that women have emotions and men have libidos' They quoted an author who hypothisized a first date between two teens.

After the date, he is pictured as simply struggling against impure thoughts and she is pictured pressing a popcorn kernel lovingly into her scrapbook with a sigh.

There you have it Anakin, the Big, Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood...lol

The book takes such authors to task for a grossly simplistic view of reality: Newsflash - women have libidos too!!!

Or, as my little sis says 'Sometimes it's hard [to say no to sex] for women, too.'

Elusive Wapiti said...

"I have to give Candice Watters credit for a gracious reply to the girl who wrote in."

I just went and read Watters' reply to the girl's letter. Yep, candid straightforward, and full o love. Although I did take difference with her here this morning regarding how women get turned on. I still think she has some blinders on when it comes to female sexuality. But at least I have to give her props for at least owning up to female sexuality in a way that many religious-types refuse to do.

wombatty said...

In my last post, I wondered when Mohler might write an article in the same spirit as 'The Seduction of Pornography' concerning the women who are caught up in porn like men.

Now I'm wondering when he will write an article, in that same spirit, concerning the majority of women who aren't visually stimulated.

The article might go on about how women are emotionally stimulated and how wallowing in romance novels & chick flicks (e.g. femal porn) distorts a woman's expectations of her man.

He might write about how this could lead her to be perpetually unsatisfied with her 'average joe' husband, all the while pining away for 'Prince Charming' to sweep her off her feet.

Lastly, he might talk about how a woman has to earn her husbands emotional minstrations and attention. He would point out that a woman should take care of herself physically and mentally if she expects her husband to find the prospect of engaging her emotionally an attractive proposition.

For some reason, I'm not expecting this article to be written - ever.

Personally, I agree with guys like Emerson Eggerichs who points out that our responsibilies to our spouses are duties that we are called to fulfill regardless of whether they 'deserve' it at the moment.

Jewish intellectual and talk-show host Dennis Prager takes this same approach. He asserts that sex should be no more an 'option' for a woman than getting up and going to work is for the man. 'I don't feel like it' is not a valid excuse. He is balanced, however. He points out that when your wife does make herself available, it is your responsibility to make her glad that she did. Amen to that.

In fact, he has an hour of his show every Wednesday (The Male/Female hour) he dedicates to discussing relationship issues. I highly recommend downloading the podcasts. You can browse the archives and find the Wednesday shows.

Yesterday's show was titled 'Obligatory Sex' - how apropos. You can find his podcasts here.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"He asserts that sex should be no more an 'option' for a woman than getting up and going to work is for the man"

Here's a way for the sex-starved husband to have a laugh or two:

When his wife says "I don't feel like it" or makes some other lame-o excuse for not fulfilling her marital duty to him, he should just hand her a stack of bills, saying that he doesn't feel like going to work today, and that she needs to take care of them.

wombatty said...

More evil men leading innocent women down the path...

Teacher couple solicits group sex with student

Of course, we know who is at fault here - her husband.

And another:

Teacher sentenced to three years in prison for sexual relationship with student

This one is more complicated, but we know there is a man at fault somewhere, don't we? Some excerpts:

The victim, who is now 19, told police that she and Thorsby had sexual conduct three times in a darkroom at the school and “several times” at Thorsby’s home.

[...]

Thorsby pleaded guilty to four counts of statutory rape by an authority figure and two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and was sentenced to prison on Monday.

[...]

Thorsby and the girl went to Memphis in November, 2006 and stayed in a two-bedroom hotel room, where their sexual relationship began.

“I was giving her a back massage and one thing led to another,” the girl wrote. “It was mutual contact between both of us.”

The girl repeatedly told police that Thorsby never forced her to have sexual contact.

“I’m completely sorry and feel responsible for my actions and both our actions,” the girl wrote. “I know what I’ve done and I’m ready for the consequences.”

The girl told police she and Thorsby had plans to move to California and live together.


My usual sarcasm aside, it's refreshing to see someone take responsibility for their actions instead of crying victim. It's also nice to see a little justice served.

Just a couple more to add to the big list...

Curiepoint said...

If men have to earn sex from their wives, is it similarly fair that women must earn babies from their husbands?

If not, how do these people think babies happen in the first place?

SavvyD said...

I deal with men in the world who think they deserve sex just because they took you out a few times. It's shocking. Some even profess to be Christians.

This is also why attraction is imperative in a relationship--it seems like Christian teachings overlook this because the smallest touch has been sexualized. I don't think kids even know if they are actually attracted to each other. It's all getting so ridiculous.

Also, satisfying each other's needs begins outside the bedroom. One cannot expect a great sex life if he/she never listens to his/her spouse. If a woman needs more affection or a backrub or whatever to get in the mood, or he needs to take a shower, then friggin do it so we can do it!! And if she's wiped out from working plus taking care of kids and housework, get a friggin maid so she won't be too tired to do it.

Amir Larijani said...

Savvy says:

Also, satisfying each other's needs begins outside the bedroom. One cannot expect a great sex life if he/she never listens to his/her spouse

I could not agree more. I've long contended that the real issue often has less to do with what happens inside the bedroom, but rather what happens during the other 16 hours of the day.

On the other hand, success at this requires that both husband and wife be on the same page.

In other words, perfect initiation/leadership by the husband does not guarantee perfect response/submission by the wife, or vice versa.

That's the price we pay for our fallenness.

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