No, Sex is Not the Nourishing Food of Marriage

No, Sex is Not the Nourishing Food of Marriage August 12, 2016

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(image via Pixabay)

Did you ever see something on the internet that upset you immensely? Something that grossed you out so much, you wanted to take a hot shower and scour yourself with steel wool?

I just had one of those.

This is worse than the time I googled “Trypopophobia.” Don’t google that, by the way.

I just read this article from Aletia, which is usually a reliable source of excellent writing. This is my first exposure to Ryan Williams. For all I know this is him on an off day, and his usual content is much better, but this post is foul right down to its title: “Sex is the Nourishing Food of Marriage.” Mr. Williams has many fine scholarly credentials and is apparently a doctoral student, but this post reads as if he’s a fifteen-year-old just back from chastity camp. I feel like I have to hose down my laptop and give it a dose of herpes medicine.

According to Mr. Williams, sex is the only nourishment by which a marriage is made strong. Anybody who claims that acts of charity and love (besides literal lovemaking) strengthen a couple’s sex life is whistling Dixie. It’s the other way around; lovemaking strengthens acts of charity. Actual sex clinicians who try to heal a couple’s sex life by encouraging non-sexual closeness are gravely mistaken. The true lifeline of a happy marriage is sex with a triple capital x, all the time. And not just any sex! It has to be good sex.

This delightful life is fun, but it is no game; any lover worth his salt knows this. The writhing form of his beloved under his touch requires concentration and dedication, sensitivity to her needs, humility in face of her beauty, vulnerability to receive what is given in the form of delight, endurance (both physical and mental), thoughtfulness, practice, anticipation, perseverance, humor, tact, joy, laughter, courage, patience and communication, just to name a few. 

“The writhing form of his beloved under his touch?” Mr. Williams, stop having sex with your wife for a moment and see if she’s all right. That’s not usually how sex works.

Williams is choosy about his sex. Turning on Jake and the Neverland Pirates for the children and then running upstairs for a quick get-together will not do, it seems.

We need to perfect the act of sex, first, so to perfect marriage; we need to learn to delight in delight, and to let the physical act of love-making pierce us so we can pour ourselves out unreservedly, as Christ did from the cross, and let the power of the sacrament of marriage flow into our homes and family lives. 

Williams actually states that sex is:

The training ground for virtue… in any other activity within a marriage, be it helping with chores, listening to a spouse, being vulnerable, forgiving, etc.

The training ground for virtue, such as forgiving. Make-up sex is very nice, but can you imagine not being able to forgive without sex? Can you imagine a marriage between two individuals so selfish and hedonistic that they need excellent, writhing, piercing and pouring-out sex to inspire each other to take out the trash? Or listen to one another? Who has the time for this nonsense?

By this logic, our Blessed Mother Mary and Saint Joseph must have had the worst marriage imaginable. Mary never sinned, but Joseph was not immaculate as far as I know. Correct me if I’m wrong. According to Williams, Our Lady never forgave him even once, because they had no sex. Joseph never helped with the housework even when Mary was lying in the straw snuggling her newborn Son. Mary and Joseph never listened to one another or were “vulnerable,” whatever that means, because they lacked the benefits of passionate lovemaking.

Perhaps it’s not fair to bring up Our Lady and Saint Joseph. They had miraculous help, one might argue. But what about the ordinary, every day sinner? Can Joe Schmoe and his wife really only refrain from quarrels and take turns doing the dishes if the sex is excellent and plentiful? Well, how did Joe and Mrs. Schmoe meet in the first place? What qualities was Mrs. Schmoe drawn to in her future spouse? Not generosity or forgiveness or industry, apparently, because Williams claims we learn those from sexual intercourse.


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