**This is long, but if you did take the time to read the original article, please do me the honor of reading my response.**
I recently was directed to an article entitled “I’m Sick of Hearing about Your Smoking Hot Wife” published on Christianity Today in which the author attacks pastors and Christian men who publicly praise their “smoking hot” wives, their sex life, and the God-given joys found in marriage.
In this article, the author, a sexual abuse victim, shares how hearing about what a healthy sex life is like makes her bristle because “it’s hard for me to think sex is beautiful. I tend to disconnect from the act”. She faced raped and molestation as a child and has yet to face freedom from the horrors of those actions.
Bear with me as I wrestle with the grace and patience this poor woman must be offered and the hard truth that she needs to hear. Know this: I do not speak at a rose-cheeked child unaware of the reality of what abuse of a variety of kinds looks and feels like. I don’t discuss this as a woman who’s never felt pain or abandonment or a lack of worth. I don’t minimize the pain of what she and so many others have experienced at the hands of the wretched. I merely call her and myself to a higher standard than what she has allowed to control her life.
In her article, her first point supporting her “bristling” and “bile in her throat” in response to pastors and husbands who talk about their wives and sex in a positive light is to discuss what she believes “God requires of us” in regards to sex in marriage. (I would like to see her Biblical basis for this statement.) My heart breaks for her if she has this understanding that sex is a requirement, as in another law or “must-do” or command. I pity her that she has never experienced within her marriage the sweet oneness that true emotional and physical sexual unity can bring. Yes, it is understood that if you agreed to get married, sex is a “requirement” but everything in Scripture points to sex as something that should be joyful, relished by both parties, and treasured as something sacred. The Scriptural understanding of sex as sacred is never demonstrated in the article. (Hebrews 13:4) She looks at it as a command, a fulfillment of her husband’s needs, and something that she is bound to endure as someone broken, scarred, and festering in pain and unresolved anger and bitterness.
As a result, not only is her view of sex skewed, but her understanding of God has found itself twisted amongst the wreckage of her broken heart. Overflowing from her comments about the inappropriateness of the church’s view of sexuality and her understanding of sex as something that is required of her and her belief that any requirements made of the married woman in regards to performance for her husband in the bedroom has distorted her understanding of marriage as a whole. It has thwarted her ability to view marriage as the image of Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:22-32), as suddenly his needs are pressures and impositions and almost unjust in her mind. If sex is something God designed to be a requirement in marriage for a woman to “endure”, then what does that say about the character of God?
Her next point is that open communication between spouses is needed in the bedroom. Absolutely. I think sex is easier to talk about before marriage than after, as the needs and specificity are more embarrassing post-wedding vows than they should be. It is the devil’s lie that you can have an “ok” sex life as a married couple and can never reach a point of sexual ecstasy as a couple. (Does he not try to get us to be satisfied with a lukewarm relationship with the Lord in the same manner?) Open communication is a must, but her attitude has unfortunately skewed this as well as she only discusses and allows for discussion for her own needs as the injured party. She does not include any discussion of her husband’s needs and desires and wishes. The only discussion she expresses that is necessary is that he be willing to hear pain and frustration and realize that “it’s not always so easy to move from ‘This is bad,’ to ‘This is good.’ I was utterly, profoundly petrified of my wedding night. It’s taken me years to move from bad to good.” I’m sorry, sister, but if what you have described as sex as obligation is “good”, I would never want it either.
Her next point is just as one-sided. She talks about sacrificing for the other person but never addresses her need to deal with her past and her pain and bitterness in order to sacrifice for her husband. To her, having sex is a sacrifice as she claims she “could make a case for never having sex.” That itself is an extremely unbiblical view, as if her pain or past can justify her withholding satisfaction from the man she vowed to love and give herself to. (1 Corinthians 7:1-5) Not only that, but I would challenge her that the act of sex itself does not necessarily fulfill and satisfy your spouse. In fact, it is the heart behind the “I gave some; that should be enough” that is the most selfish and appalling. She demonstrates no real regard for meeting his sexual needs except to go as far as reluctantly “doing the deed”.
Earlier in the discussion and then in her next point, the author discusses another one-side view of the sexual relationship, spousal understanding, and her “holistic view of sex”. She confronts those who think that if women “struggle in the sexual area and their husbands look elsewhere, it’s partly their fault. They’ve violated that scriptural call to be a smoking hot, sexually satisfying wife.” While I do not agree that I would be responsible for the heart behind my husband seeking satisfaction outside of marriage, if I were not consciously and actively seeking to meet his needs on a regular basis, I would be responsible for my part in driving him away sexually and provoking him to pursue sexual satisfaction elsewhere. I would liken this argument to the understanding that parents are not responsible for rebellious teenagers, but they are Biblically held responsible for driving them there if they have provoked them. (Eph. 6:4)
In the same way, I would warn her against her emphasis on the view that “Men are gentle, strong, wild, yet not held hostage by sexual urges.” While I agree with the statement individually, the author has made it so obviously clear that her husband’s needs must yield to her pain and unresolved past. She holds it against him that he has sexual urges, as if these uncontrolled passions make him another perpetrator against her. Again, a twisted view of the God-given desires, which are so clearly viewed as beautiful in their correct place —marriage–within Scripture. (Song of Solomon)
She also says that our sexual relationship as a couple must include dignity for each other. She says that we must view each other as “whole people” and therefore we “dignify our God.” Unfortunately, she is the one with misunderstood view of her own pain and is the self-declared un-whole person. While I do not know her husband, I dare to say that he has treated her with more dignity and more Christlike patience than she deserves for what she has offered him in return. If it is possible for sinful man to “dignify” a Holy God, I would say his patience with her one-sided twisted view of sex is acting as quite an example of His Holiness, Patience, and character.
She next discusses her healing. While I would dare to call this minimal in relationship to what true healing is (and again, I say this as someone who has been broken and needed serious healing as well), I can applaud her desire to heal. Unfortunately, she has limited herself to agreeing to a sexual relationship and found that as an equality for sexual healing instead of “staying” bitter and refusing sex altogether (I use quotations there because I would dare say she is still bitter).
She finishes up her article by saying that we need to recognize growth, which, while important for any spouse of a sexual abuse victim, is not the end-all for solving this sorrowful dilemma. The pain of what she experienced was real. She’s “making progress” but in her mind, there are some things that will never change. She has limited not only her sexual relationship with her husband but the depth of the healing she could experience and the power of a Holy and Loving God to make broken pasts into beautiful works of artistic mastery.
I am by no means disregarding what she is feeling or thinking that it is possible for a husband to not quite understand the pain which his wife has experienced because of past sexual abuse. The article is useful for that reason alone. However, to use this as a fight against another couple’s ability to enjoy and rejoice in a healthy and undamaged sexual relationship is to selfishly impose one’s past on others, to skew what is beautiful and healthy and God-given into something that is required and endured, and to dangerously view God in a way so that He is no longer the Giver of what is good and perfect (James 1:17) but the Designer of something unpleasant and emotionally painful.