Spiritually-Mixed Marriages= Bad Sex

I haven’t posted in nearly two years but it is with good cause. I was in the thick of my PhD coursework but now I’m out, actually I’m just done with coursework. I’m currently studying for my comprehensive exams which are the exams PhD students take to demonstrate intellectual proficiency and prowess in their discipline and research and the test that, once we pass, we become conversant members of our guild. My core discipline is Ethics with a focus on Women, Gender, and (Sex)uality, thus my reading for exams spans those areas as well as Catholic Social Teachings because, hey, I’m Catholic now (more on that later). Nevertheless I hope to share a little of what I’m reading and thinking as I study over the next few months. The quote below is from True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis by Daniel R. Heimbach. This book isn’t on my exam list–though I’m considering adding it–I am considering using a chapter out of the book for a Sexual Ethics class I’ll be teaching for a group of high school students. The class will be a brief survey of sexual ethics on the spectrum–meaning students will study ethicists who theorize on sex from conservative, moderate, and liberal perspectives. I’m using Stanley Grenz’s Sexual Ethics: An Evangelical Perspective as our conservative sexual ethics text but Heimbach’s book goes the extra mile–and an extra 200 pages or so–to provide a thorough view of biblical sexual morality. The quote below jumped out at me while I was looking for a chapter to read with class. Check it out:

God’s general prohibition against spiritually mixed marriage is consistent with his interest in guarding the positive value of complexity, intimacy, and complementarity in sexual relationships. Spiritually mixed marriage weakens the complexity of sex by trying to construct relationships that do not include the spiritual dimension. Since sex remains spiritual no matter how we try leaving it out, relationships that ignore the spiritual dimension are doomed to failure because of what couples try pretending is not there.

The prohibition guards the value of sexual intimacy as well. The spiritual dimension of sex is not just unavoidable but is the most important dimension, and spiritually mixed marriage leaves a vacuum at the deepest level of sexual intimacy. So long as the vacuum is there, sex will never reach the potential for intimacy that God intends it to have. Nothing else in a relationship goes as deep as the spiritual dimension, and nothing else can take its place.

Finally, the prohibition against spiritually mixed marriage protects the value of complementarity in God’s design for sex. If a Christian marries a non-Christian, the two may be able to complement each other physically, emotionally, and psychologically, but they cannot complement each other spiritually. Daniel R. Heimbach, True Sexual Morality, 211

Simply put, an unequally yoked marriage will impact your sex life because you will be unable to reach the intimacy God intends in loving relationships. There can be no intimacy between two people with differing spiritualities.

This is fascinating.

I know those within Christian traditions are well aware of the prohibitions against unequally yoked relationships and marriages, but have you ever heard of the prohibition against it for this reason? Do you purchase the claim that a spiritually mixed marriage can impact sex life? If you do believe sex is spiritual, do you believe that your partner must share the same spiritual and religious practice as you do? And a more fundamental question, does shared spirituality come from shared religion?

It has been a longtime but let’s talk about sex.

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Throwback Thoughts: Protecting Your Vulnerable Position

It turns out I’ve been thinking and talking about sex for some time but experience and reason have changed the way I look at scripture and tradition on the matter. (Whether it is for better or worse is still to be determined.) Nevertheless, Thursdays here for the next few weeks will be for Throwback Thoughts–posts on sex and sexuality re-published from my old blog which was active from 2007 to 2010–and Fridays I will share where I currently stand on the issue(s) taken up in Thursday’s post. Let me tell you, 4-7 years makes a difference, whether it is for better or worse is still to be determined. So without further delay, here is a post from October 21, 2008 about my trip to the gynecologist which prompted a reflection on vulnerability and purity. See you tomorrow and enjoy or be confounded by the me of yesteryear.

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This afternoon I incurred the wrath of the speculum. It was my annual “special woman doctor” appointment. I don’t ever, ever, ever look forward to these appointments.

This is not me.

This is not me.

So there I was laying on the special recliner and mentally freaking out at the sight of the stirrups. They were menacing and the thought of putting my feet up in them and spreading made me sick. The moment had arrived when I was told to scoot down and put my feet in the stirrups. “This is it,” I thought to myself. “This is the moment when I am at my most vulnerable, feel most scared and all my defenses are let down all because of the way my legs are positioned and my life is exposed.” I thought about the profound implication of being in this position.

This is the position we assume when we are creating life, the position we assume when life is coming out of us and the position we assume to make sure our life is secured. This position is based on our lives as women and yet so many of us take it for granted and freely put our legs into hypothetical stirrups for people who can’t even guarantee us anything beyond that moment. It’s such a serious matter and in that moment I acknowledged the importance of protecting my womanhood and my purity at all costs. I found it interesting that though this woman was being paid to examine me and ensure I am healthy I was still spazzing out as if she were a rapist coming to take it by force. I was open in front of a perfect stranger and although I knew she meant no harm, I couldn’t help but be nervous and scared. But it also spoke volumes as to how much more we put ourselves in danger when we offer such an intimate and sacred part of ourselves to people who God hasn’t ordained or even deigned for us to be with.

There’s always a scripture that comes to mind for me when I consider purity. Psalm 5:16, “Why spill the waters of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone? You should reserve it for yourselves. Never share it with strangers.” (NIV) I always think about that scripture when I hear about the countless numbers of men and women, believers and nonbelievers alike, who see no problem with spilling their waters into the streets. It’s just another past time. Some think they are entitled to it. Some think it’s impossible to abstain from it. Some think you’re a prude if you won’t even entertain the idea of spilling your waters. I think about this scripture when I think about myself some behavioral traits from my past that I had to let go of in order to step into a better and right relationship with God.

In considering all of this, I just feel very convicted and felt compelled to share with anyone who might read this that it’s of the utmost importance that we protect our purity. Everyone may not believe in abstaining from sex until marriage or even keeping themselves away from fornication, but I believe that for the livelihood of our spirits, we must. The temporary pleasure of operating in impurity just because you can is just that, temporary. After you’re done feeding your flesh and taking your feet out of the stirrups, the sweet taste in your mouth will turn as bitter as gall. And unfortunately, you’ll be left with a part of the person you gave yourself to and they will have a part of you, that you can’t get back.

My being in the doctor’s office, in those stirrups scared me (and maybe it’s because I tend to be a naturally scary person) and made me realize that I cannot ever afford to be caught in that position with the wrong person doing the wrong thing. Inasmuch as you can make it possible, see to it not to find yourself in hypothetical stirrups spilling your waters in the street to people who are here today and gone tomorrow. See to it that the only time you find yourself in the vulnerable position is when you must submit to your practitioner or to the person who God has joined you together with.