This is big rant, addressed primarily at pastors and other Christian leaders. Feel free to point such individuals to this if you like. There are a couple of unrelated resources at the bottom, so skip down if you have no interest in the rant.
The reason for this rant is that I just finished yet another e-mail to an individual who is in a sexless marriage, and is being attacked by his church for what he has supposedly done wrong, while his wife has never been confronted about her sin. Her sin is sexual refusal. I don’t mean she says no sometimes, I don’t mean she won’t have sex more than twice a week, I mean sex is less than once a month. In this case, it’s a man being refused by his wife, but it happens the other way too. Sometimes it’s total refusal, sometimes it’s sex once a month, or almost once a week, but with refusal the vast majority of the time. Sometimes the lack of sex is because of ongoing emotional, mental or physical issues, but the person with the problem won’t get any help. This is still refusal, as it is refusing to do what would make it possible to have sex.
I’ve heard from plenty of men and more than a few women who sought help from their church for sexual refusal. It is exceptionally rare that any help is provided. As my title suggests, this is the sex sin the church ignores. While it’s not always the case, it is not uncommon for these situations to progress to where the refused spouse is in sin like porn or adultery. This should not be surprising, in 1 Cor 7 where Paul makes it clear that refusing sex in marriage is wrong, he also warns that a lack of married sex will result in temptation. I am not excusing the man or woman who does these things, but they are a biblically predictable result of sexual refusal. In other cases the refused spouse decides they can’t live like that, and they seek a divorce. When the church refuses to deal with the sin of refusal, they have contributed to the sins that may result, and to any divorce that comes from the situation. Additionally, the church is enabling the sexual refuser, and that’s a very bad thing for a church to do.
So here is the bottom line for Christian leaders: Sexual refusal is a common and growing issue. Ignoring it does not mean it does not exist in your church, and being embarrassed about it does not get you off the hook with God. If you don’t think it qualifies as sin, I encourage you to do a detailed study of 1 Cor 7:3-7. Can you honestly say Paul did not see sexual refusal as sin? If you want some background, look at what the Old Testament and Jewish rabbinical teachings have to say about the issue.
A couple of new resources:
Lori Lowe, author of Marriage Gems blog which I link to often, has written a book titled First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage (aff link). I have not had the time to even request, much less read a review copy, but based on what I have seen, and Lori’s track record, I can recommend the book.
From the press release: “The book tells the in-depth stories of a dozen couples who experienced many challenges from child loss to infidelity, drug abuse to military separation and MUCH more. Find out how to prepare your marriage for almost any challenge, and learn the 12 lessons that will help your marriage not just survive, but thrive.”
Matthew of the Adventure-Some blog (which you will be seeing me mention in the future) has a free e-book titled Ready-to-go Dates – The cure for Dinner & a Movie. This is great resource for the date challenged, or if you have just run out of good ideas for something different. Registration is required, and a link to the book will be sent when you confirm your e-mail address.