How Christian Sexual Ethics Can Mess Up A Marriage

A few weeks ago, Amanda at Friendly Atheist fisked a new book on marriage, Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together by Grace and Mark Driscoll. In the book an arrogant preacher and his wife detail their first unhealthy decade of marriage, spent treating each other and sex terribly, before giving marriage advice based on what they learned from the experience. Amanda does a nice job of pointing out how their problems stemmed from their evangelical Christian attitudes themselves and how they were solved without any divine intervention necessary, but with basic psychological and moral tools available to everyone, and by overcoming prevalent fundamentalist attitudes towards sex and love. Read the article.

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • martalayton

    For what it’s worth, half of the Christian blogosphere is up in arms about this book and there are very few defenders, and not just of the liberal variety. I’ve been trading emails with a high school friend of mine, who happens to be a complementarian, over just how ickily misogynist the whole thing is. She’s also fairly conservative by NY standards (though perhaps not NC ones).

    That doesn’t excuse what Driscoll wrote. It’s despicable, but not entirely unexpected – the man is a troll of the worst sort in my opinion.

    • Daniel Fincke

      Thanks, Marta. As long as he has a large following, which he does, he’s still fair game to treat as a representative of a certain kind of Christianity. And I doubt that their experiences with disproportionate guilt and jealousy centered around sex with other people are not tightly connected to the mainstream evangelical’s sexual ethics. I suffered from those warped ideas about sex and “purity” for my fair share of excruciating years. Abstaining from sex was not the hard part. The hard part was all the self-hatred and alienation from my girlfriend, all stemming from perfectly natural things I was being conditioned to treat unhealthily.

  • martalayton

    I agree, Dan. And it’s good to shine a light on this. I’d been toying with making a post, but I had to put down my own (borrowed, not bought) copy of the book within ten pages when I realized that I didn’t need that poison in my head. Which meant I didn’t feel qualified to say anything on the book that would justify a blog post.

    I think you are right about the self-hatred thing. I was exposed to similar ethics of purity, but oddly enough I didn’t come out with the self-loathing. I chalk that up to the fact that I was in a mainstream Protestant church, for all that all the churches had a fundamentalist strand in them. It sounds like your experience was worse. In any event, I do agree that his large following in itself means we shouldn’t let dreck like this slide by unnoticed.