by Libby Anne cross posted from her blog Love, Joy, Feminism
(Trigger Warning for intimate partner rape)
Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 161—164
In this post we begin on Debi’s chapter “To Love Their Husbands.” Remember that Debi is working her way through the things older women are commanded to teach younger women in Timothy 2. You want to know what this entire chapter on wives loving their husbands is about? I bet you can guess. Sex. That’s right, I’m not surprised either. I do need to start with a warning, though. If you’ve ever experienced intimate partner rape, I’d suggest you either read carefully or skip this post altogether.
Loving him means putting his needs before your own. I am a minister. If you are a wife, you, too, are a minister. Our ministry is directed toward our husbands and then our children. We were, and are, created to be help meets. Every day and every night we need to be ready to minister to his needs.
Because describing sex as “ministering to his needs” isn’t creepy at all!
And now we have a letter, which Debi gives the caption “A Normal Guy.”
Dear Mr. And Mrs. Pearl,
I am in a dilemma and need you guys to write my wife and tell her what I say is true. My wife thinks I am a sex pervert because I need sex. She feels I am not sensitive to her needs when I want sex and she doesn’t, which is most of the time. She will give me sex, but it hurts her feelings that I do not love her enough to consider her first. I tried to explain to her that to a man sex is just like having to eat. When I have missed a meal I unconsciously roam the kitchen, opening cabinet doors, and peer into the refrigerator, just looking and looking. I told her that a few days without sex leaves me in the same condition sexually. No matter how much I love her and respect her feelings and needs, I still have this overwhelming sexual need that drives me until it is satisfied.
There are very few times when everything is just right for her. She is exhausted, or has a backache or not healed right down there or whatever she comes up with. I tried to explain to her that she is setting me up for temptation, and that really set her off. Now I am not only a pervert, I am also unfaithful in my heart, so she is upset every time a good-looking girl walks by.
Please tell her I just down-right need my woman. That’s the bottom line; I am normal—all guys need a woman. She said I made it until I was 23 without sex, so why do I have to have it now? I told her when I was single, I did not have to see one undress or lie in the bed and know I could if I wanted to. I just want to come home and be a family man. I want to crawl into bed at night with a woman who is glad I am her man, and I want to make love every few days so I don’t have to think about the girls at work. Would you write her and explain all this to her. Maybe if she heard from you she might understand that I have feelings, too—physical feelings as well as emotional feelings.
First of all, unless Micah is a high school teacher (and I very much hope he is not), the strange female creatures (to use Michael’s term) he’s looking at at work are women, not girls.
Next, has Micah literally not thought of helping with the kids and the house after supper so that his wife won’t be so exhausted when bedtime comes? Can he seriously hear “I have a backache” and think about how awful his wife is for not wanting to have sex with him without even considering that she might need a back rub? And what in the name of all that is holy is this bit about Micah being upset with his wife when she doesn’t want to have sex because her vagina has not fully healed from childbirth?! You cannot—cannot—be more of an asshole than that. You try pushing a baby out of your vagina, ripping the skin of your vulva such that it has to be stitched back together, and then hopping between the sheets! I cannot believe how freaking insensitive Micah is!
The sad thing is that Micah started out so well. He’s right that having sexual urges doesn’t make him a pervert. I have to wonder if his wife grew up with such conservative ideas about sex that she’s been unable to shake them. It’s more probable that Micah and his wife are simply not sexually matched. From his letter, it sounds like he has a much higher sex drive than his wife. And you know what? That does suck. I’ve known women in the same boat—dating or married to men who simply don’t want sex as often as they do. Yes, you read that right—this sexual mismatched thing can go either way. Micah needs to know that it’s not just him, and then needs to be given healthy tools for handling this mismatch. And in case you’re wondering, “tell my wife to have sex with me even when she doesn’t want to” is absolutely not one of those healthy tools.
Also, Micah, telling your wife that she better put out or you might just be forced to cheat on her is totally not okay. It’s a threat, and it’s shifting blame. Your wife was damn right to be upset when you told her that!
Debi doesn’t follow this letter with commentary. Instead, she starts with this verse:
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:31—32).
Then she offers bullet points that, presumably, expound upon what this verse means:
- God’s ultimate goal is for you to meet your man’s needs.
- God’s original intention was that a woman would spend her life helping her husband fulfill his dreams and ambitions.
- From the beginning, God meant for us to be a comfort, a blessing, a reward, a friend, an encouragement, and a right-hand woman.
In other words, women were created to meet men’s needs, so they darned well better put out. If they don’t, after all, they’re not meeting their men’s needs, and that’s their whole purpose for existing. Debi then offers this dialogue:
“What can I do to help you, Adam?”
“Pick up the other end of that log, and help me move it over here.”
“What should my next project be, Adam?”
“Have my dinner ready every evening, and take good care of my little ones.”
“That is a very strong fence you are building, and the gate looks nice. I am so proud of you, Adam. What would you like now?”
“Take your clothes off real slow so I can watch . . . . Yeah, you’re a fine help meet.”
In Debi’s other life, she’s a porno writer.
Anyway, moving right along:
A man’s concept of love and marriage is different from a woman’s, especially after he has gone without sex for a few days. This is not a “how-to” book for a man. I will skip his part, and deal with the ladies’ part. God describes marriage as “they two shall be one flesh,” which is their bodies coming together.
Many men feel that marriage is not quite what they thought it was going to be. Some men spend their youth dreaming about the wild passion they are going to experience with the woman they love more than life. It is their expression of the oneness they will have with her alone. This is truly God’s design for a man in the department of love.
The man remembers the passionate and loving looks his sweetheart had for him before marriage. He had naturally assumed that she would always think of him in that all-consuming, loving way. When they were courting, that is the way she made him feel. He saw it reflected in her face. All he wanted was to satisfy that hungry animal he thought she was, and, for a while, she was all he had hoped for; but then that faded away. She wasn’t interested anymore. Her disinterest in him sexually is a reflection of her heart, and he knows it. There are a multitude of excuses women use to explain why the would “rather not” or why the “cannot respond” sexually. I believe I have heard them all. Her husband knows in his spirit that all her excuses are just that: excuses for not wanting him.
Uh . . . no.
First, let’s stop giving guys (and girls) unrealistic expectations about what their sex lives will be like when they grow up. My parents and my church talked about the glory of married sex to the extent that I was personally profoundly disappointed upon finding out what sex was actually like. I’m not trying to dump on sex or anything, it’s just that the view I was given was very unrealistic. I didn’t realize that it was something that took practice, for instance. Sex is great, but if you go into marriage thinking it’s going to be an eternal sexual pleasure fest, you’ve got something coming.
Second, what in tarnation is this idea that if a woman doesn’t want to have sex with her man every single minute of the day and at the drop of the hat, this means she no longer loves him? This is absolutely insane. Debi is saying that any time a woman doesn’t want to have sex, she is simply making up “excuses.” Excuses for what, I have to ask? Women aren’t obligated to have sex whenever their husbands snap their fingers. To the extent that women actually make up “excuses” for not having sex, it’s because they don’t feel like they can just say “no thank you, I don’t want to right now.” And that’s something they should feel like they can say without repercussions, because men aren’t babies, they’re fully grown men who should be mature enough to except a “no.”
Third, this idea that women shouldn’t be taken at their word when it comes to sex is a huge part of rape culture. And more than that, this suggestion of Debi’s that when a woman says “I don’t want to have sex with you right now” she’s really saying “I don’t love you anymore” is both complete bullshit and extremely destructive. Debi is creating a situation where men will interpret a woman saying “no” to sex one evening as complete and utter rejection and a situation where women feel like they can’t say “no” even just once without risking making their husbands feel completely and utterly rejected. And that’s a level of dysfunction someone ought to be able to see coming a mile away.
When a woman is not interested in his most consuming passion, he feels that she is not interested in him. When a woman just “allows, cooperates, and tolerates,” it leaves a man feeling sick at heart. If, to a man, sex were just copulation, he would make his deposit and be satisfied, but to him it is intimacy, a merging of spirits, a way of saying, “I love you . . . I need you . . . I like you.” A man’s most basic needs are warm sexual love, approval, and admiration. For his wife to be willing but indifferent, speaks of neither sex nor love.
A woman is a fool to believe her own excuses or to thinks he can convince him that what she says is truth. Her half commitment makes him feel incomplete and unloved. By not obeying God in this area of sex and love, a woman is putting a terrible curse on her husband. When a woman forces a man into that position, it is the equivalent of a man saying to his wife, “You are a stupid, ugly, lousy wife, but I will still be a good husband and kiss you today.” A man’s wife has more influence on his frame of reference than any other thing or person in life.
Holy hell. Not only do women have to have sex with their husbands at any moment or the drop of a hat, they have to also act as though it’s absolutely and completely the only thing they want to be doing. They have to be into it, active, passionate. Debi somehow sees nothing wrong with telling women that they must have passionate involved sex with their husbands any time their husbands want it, whether they themselves actually want to or not. More than that, how can Debi not see that what she’s telling women to do is to learn to be good at faking it?
Man is driven to succeed. Hormones drive him to be the best at work, to drive aggressively, to build the best building, or write the finest musical piece. But his most pressing drive is to be a successful lover. Making his wife feel glorious when he touches her is the ultimate test of his manhood—the very measure of the man. He cannot view life differently; that is the way God made him.
You know, this is the first time female pleasure has come up, and somehow Debi makes female pleasure all about men. Women, you better feel pleasure during sex, because if you don’t your man won’t feel like a real man! Really? Is that, like, the whole point of female pleasure? Seriously, what?
He needs a wife, a help meet, a helper who will meet the need God put in him. If a wife does not meet his intimacy and sexual needs, she is a help-not-meet, a helper not suitable to the task for which God created her.
I’m done. I’m so, so done.
Comments open below
Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Libby Anne blogs at Love, Joy, Feminism
Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the religious right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving fundamentalist and evangelical religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the problems with the “purity culture,” the intricacies of conservative and religious right politics, and the importance of feminism. Her blog is Love, Joy, Feminism
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce