Worthwhile Reads: Marriage, the Bible, Sex, and Modesty

Spiritual Tyranny offers an excellent satire, Modesty Check for Men, pointing out what would happen if the purity culture dropped its double standard regarding modesty teachings and pointed itself at men as well as at women:

Am I wearing a sleeveless shirt that shows my underarm hair? Some women are turned on by the smell of sweat and hairiness of men. I need to put on a good deodorant, and wear sleeves.

Are my jeans too tight in the groin or buttocks regions? Many women can be distracted if the jeans are too tight and cause the material to “pull” and reveal my manly physique. It is a sign of virility and women who are turned on by this will be caused to stumble.

Do my “six pack abs” show when reaching over my head? Conversely, do my love handles show? Women can be turned on my either. Don’t show mid-sections!

And as for shorts and pants – I can’t just check them standing up. I need to see how much they reveal and pull when I sit down. If I see too much groin or buttocks, I need a looser pair. But not so loose that my underwear shows from the backside. I should always wear a belt to keep my shirt tucked in, covering my mid-section, buttocks, and groin adequately with loose fitting shorts or pants.

When I sit, do I sit slumped down, with my legs sprawled open, drawing attention to my groin area? Posture is important.

Valerie Tarico penned an article on Alternet called Captive Virgins, Polygamy, Sex Slaves: What Marriage Would Look Like if We Actually Followed the Bible.

The point is that marriage has changed tremendously since the Iron Age when the Bible was written. For centuries, concubines and polygamy were debated by Christian leaders – accepted by some and rejected by others. The nuclear family model so prized by America’s fundamentalist Christians emerged from the interplay between Christianity and European cultures including the monogamous tradition of the Roman Empire. As humanity’s moral consciousness has evolved, coerced sex has become less acceptable even within marriage while intertribal and interracial marriage has grown in acceptance. Today even devout Bible believers oppose sexual slavery. Marriage, increasingly, is a commitment of love, freely given. Gay marriage is simply a part of this broader conversation, and opposition on the part of Bible believers has little to do with biblical monogamy.

Since many Christians haven’t read the whole Bible, most “Bible believers” are not, as they like to claim, actually Bible believers. Bible believers, even those who think themselves “nondenominational,” almost all follow some theological tradition that tells them which parts of the Bible to follow and how. Yes, sometimes even decent people do get sucked into a sort of text worship that I call bibliolatry, and Bible worship can make a person’s moral priorities as archaic and cruel as those of the Iron Age tribesmen who wrote the texts.

Sarah Over the Moon writes that The Church Needs to Do a Better Job Talking about Sex, and It Knows It.

So, here’s a few ways in which the church can really do a better job of talking about sex:

*Stop acting like people are ruined when they lose their virginity

*Stop blaming women’s “immodesty” for men’s lack of control

*Stop saying, “The Bible is clear about premarital sex.” It’s not.

*Stop saying, “The Bible is clear about homosexuality.” It’s not.

*If you want people to view pregnancy as a gift, stop talking about single mothers like they’re being punished by God.

*Don’t pretend that marriage is like pressing a magical, “All sex for the rest of your life will be great!” button.

*TALK ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL

*Quit opposing sex education in schools.

*Quit pretending that abstinence-only programs are sex education.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://wonderingwanderingthoughts.blogspot.com OneSmallStep

    This quote from the article … “Sex is the best gift you can give your spouse, so don’t let anyone else unwrap it before marriage.”

    Wow. Essentially, a physical act is the best thing you can give your spouse. Not your kindness, your compassion, your dreams, your personality … nope. A body untouched by anyone else.

    You know, if you asked my husband, the best I gave him was unconditional love and acceptance. Because that meant that I accepted him as who he was, flaws and all. It meant that I accepted him as a person, not just an “unspoiled body.”

  • http://www.spiritualtyranny.com John Immel

    I do so love satire, so plenty more where that came from. Glad you liked the post. And thanks for the link to my site. Much appreciated.

    John Immel

  • smrnda

    I’ve heard people say that saving sex for marriage makes it better, but I’ve also heard the same people talk about how long it took them to figure out how to make sex work since, unlike most people, not only did they not do it but they tried hard not to think about it. Then I think of a friend of mine who told me she was glad she had sex before she was married since she got it out of her head that sex was the biggest deal in the world by doing it, and that it wasn’t the most important thing in a relationship.

    I think, in the end, the whole purity thing is just a ‘women are property and they give men status’ deal. It’s like instead of saying you ended up with the *hottest* woman you got the *purest* woman you can find. Given how much of a public display some people make about purity, it’s clearly a way to say “I’m better than you and my marriage is better than yours because my wife didn’t have sex with anybody but me.”

    When you mention polygamy and sex slaves, it’s amazing how that goes on so much in the Bible and it’s practically not talked about, and any controversy it might cause seems to be brushed away pretty quickly.

    I think the problem with the modestly doctrine is that it’s not about respecting women, it’s about trying not to have any sexual feelings at all, which isn’t possible, and because it’s impossible, I think it sets men up to feel hostility towards women because they can’t shut off being attracted. It’s far better to just accept that sexual feelings happen and that what matters is how you deal with them.


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