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I Am Not a Sex-Fueled Robot

Robot

They say that men give love to get sex, and women give sex to get love.

If this is true, then marriage is nothing but a market exchange where we trade emotion for flesh in a desperate attempt to satisfy our own cravings. If this is true, I am simply a customer settling a invoice with flowers and kisses, my wife is a deluxe call girl with a long-term contract, and love is a filthy currency.

As a newlywed man, with stockpiled marriage advice ringing in my ears, the sex/love economy hung heavy over my head. I worried about whether I was paying the fair market price of love for the sex I was getting. I worried that my wife wasn’t really interested in sex at all, but she just went along with it because it was in the small print on our marriage contract. No matter how many times she assured me otherswise, I couldn’t shake the feeling that sex was only a means to an end for her. I couldn’t shake the fear that she would think my love for her was only a way to get into her pants.

Rather than rejecting the sex/love economy, Christian relationship advice just operates within it. Apparently talking about the profound differences between men and women is a good way to sell books and fill up marriage conferences. Women are painted as mysterious creatures that must be decrypted before they can be understood, and then the secret to understanding your spouse is promised between the covers of whatever book is popular this year. And it’s all fun and games until you’re a confused newlywed trying to figure out all the secrets to loving your wife with fear of failure hanging low and heavy above your head.

I’ve given up on all that now.

The sex/love trading post has been shut down in this house. I enjoy sex. Sometimes I crave it. (In that way, sex is a lot like a bacon cheeseburger.) But it doesn’t control me, and it doesn’t define me. I am not a robot shuffling mechanically through life seeking out the next sexual power-up to keep me going.

I recently read a FamilyLife article about “Why Sex is So Important to Your Husband” that reminded me of all this all over again. I didn’t recognize myself in the picture they painted. Instead I saw a robot who trades love for sex and sees relationship as an afterthought.

It’s time to terminate that robot and become human again.

My primary motivation is not sex.

“A woman’s picture of romance tends to revolve around her emotional needs and her thirst for a relationship with her husband…. A man’s view of romance is much more focused on a single experience: sexual affirmation. In that regard, God wired men and women very differently.”

No. Men and women are not wired by God at all. We are flesh and blood and breath and electricity all bound up together in skin. We are whole human beings fully alive. Wires are for robots.

These blanket statements drive a wedge of fear between us, as if we are more different than the same. As if my wife’s “emotional needs” are some mysterious force beyond my simple sex-driven understanding.

This seems to imply that my thirst for sex drives me more than my thirst for relationship. As if relationship is the domain of a woman, and an afterthought for men. As if I trade love for sex.

This is every sort of false. Sex is a part of romance and relationship for both of us, in pretty equal measure. We were friends before we were lovers. I can live without sex, but I deeply need my relationship with my wife.

My sexual urges do not control me.

“A wife must understand that temptation can get a foothold when her husband’s sexual needs (including the need to feel desired by his wife) remain unmet. There are many voices in a man’s world tempting him to fulfill his needs through illicit and perverted recreational outlets.”

No. Because I am a man instead of a robot, I have the ability to say no to temptation. I am in control of my actions and responsible for my choices. And while I appreciate being sexually satisfied, it is not a prerequisite for my “good behavior”. Notice the difference between “Why Sex is So Important to Your Husband” and “Why Sex Is So Important to Your Wife”:

“When a man shows little or no sexual interest in his wife, she will expe­rience several emotions. First, she’s going to feel she is undesirable as a wife and a woman. She will wonder if she’s still attractive, or if something is wrong with her, or if he still loves her.”

Do you see? When a man doesn’t get enough sex, he’ll be tempted to indulge in illicit perversion. When a woman doesn’t get enough sex she’ll start experiencing emotions – doubt, insecurity, loneliness. As if she’s an indecipherable mass of unpredictable emotions, while I’m just a machine just looking for an electrical socket to plug into.

Incidentally, this is the same line of thinking that says a woman’s clothing determines my thoughts and actions. It suggests that my sexual urges are so powerful that I’d sacrifice my relationship to satisfy them. While it is true that temptation can approach me from any direction, this isn’t unique to men or to our sexuality.

I don’t believe the “tempting voices” are really about sex at all. I think they’re about emotions, about desire. When we can see ourselves and each other as creatures of desires that run far deeper than sexual urges, we’ll better understand how to fulfill each other in healthy, loving ways.

My identity is not dependent upon sex.

“Your husband will never be the man God created him to be if you don’t validate his maleness and understand and satisfy his need for sexual intimacy. You are God’s primary instrument of love and affirmation if he is to became God’s man. You have the power to make him or break him.”

No. I am a man. I like sex. These two statements are both true, but they are not dependent upon one another. Liking sex is not a uniquely male condition, nor is the accrual of sex necessary for my ongoing masculinity. If I am looking to my wife to validate my maleness or be the primary conduit of God’s love to me, I am being completely unfair to her. It would be a smothering expectation.

Certainly, my wife and I both affirm and support and love one another and help each other grow and mature into healthy, whole humans. But this is not a uniquely gendered or uniquely sexual arrangement. While my desire for sexual intimacy is part of me, it doesn’t prop up my entire identity.

I am not a sex-fueled robot. 

Eliminating the exchange of the sex/love economy has been one of the healthiest developments in our young marriage. It frees us to see each other as equally human, both with sexual and emotional needs. So I still cringe when I see these ideas about men and sex spread in Christian circles, whether we’re talking about purity or dating or modesty or marriage.

It doesn’t have to be this way but when these systems are reinforced and repeated from the time we’re teens, we tend to assume that it’s just the way it is. Men just give love to get sex, and women just put up with sex to get love.

Then fear and suspicion become the common factor in all our interactions, and we go along with it. Men just give up and allow themselves to become the slaves of their sexual urges, which women are then forced to accommodate and avoid and control. We eventually realize we that we have emotional and sexual desires that don’t fit neatly into categories, but we keep quiet because we know our roles and we play the game.

Let’s be human again.

We can learn to see ourselves and each other as human beings, with complex emotional and sexual needs to be explored. We can toss out the formulas and the easy answers and take the time to learn about each other as real people instead of stereotypes.

Let’s be done with the sex/love economy. Let’s not give love to get sex. Let’s love because it’s what we were created to do.

This is part of  the #ModestyRules Synchroblog.

[ image: aCherryBlossomGirl ]

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  • Bethany Pegors

    I really appreciate this. It’s really nice to hear this being talked about from the male perspective – too often I hear women saying what “men are like” and what “men need,” but it’s almost always much too sweeping and generalized. No, not ALL men are like what we read about in books. Not ALL men are pigs (or robots) who must have sex 24/7.

    This was also a really difficult thing for my husband and I to work through in the beginning of our marriage, but you’re right – once couples can get out of the sex/love economy, then seeing each other as equals and human is so much easier.

    Finally, I think this was my favorite quote:

    “No. Men and women are not wired by God at all. We are flesh and blood and breath and electricity all bound up together in skin. We are whole human beings fully alive. Wires are for robots.”

    Men AND women are “whole human beings fully alive” – we are not just subject to our base desires and instincts.

    Thanks again for this – it’s refreshing to read.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      I think that people do a lot of harm when talking about “what men are like”. While it’s true that men are like that sometimes, it doesn’t mean that men MUST be like that, or that they SHOULD be like that.

  • Dave Wonders

    I like many of the thing you say in this article, but I disagree with the statement that “men and women are not wired by God at all”. Sometimes we fit the convenient generalizations, and sometimes we break the mold, but I don’t think we should discount the unique personalities, longings, giftings, etc. that God has built into us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and before we where born, God had a unique purpose for us.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      I agree with you. I was just arguing that the word “wired” is overly simplistic for how uniquely complex God has made us. In the context, it’s part of robot vs. human metaphor. That’s all.

  • http://danileekelley.wordpress.com/ Dani Kelley

    I appreciate this so much. When we were newly married, we bought the “For Men Only” and “For Women Only” books and read through them. Our relationship suffered. We read through them again, then read through each others’ and literally underlined things and wrote notes to each other in them. And our relationship worsened. It wasn’t until we let go of the idealized “men do this, women do this” and started working within “Michael’s good at this, Dani’s good at this” that we were able to connect, to support one another, to really love each other and become a cohesive unit.

    And the whole sex dichotomy is so shaming. I’m a woman. I really like sex. And I have always, always, always felt like I am an abhorrent monster for seeing more of myself in the description of how men “need” sex than in the description of how women can usually take it or leave it. It also made me think for the first couple years of marriage that if my husband didn’t want me constantly that I was doing something terribly wrong. Then when PTSD became a regular problem for me…well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that whether I enjoy it or not, it’s something I owe my husband, and that my enjoyment isn’t that important, and even if PTSD is a factor I have to have sex with him anyway lest he stray. I respect myself and him way, way more than that despicable line of thinking.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      I remember reading those books with my wife when we were courting. I thought they were brilliant at the time. They did give us some good starting points for conversations, but in general I’m pretty sure their main premise was full of crap. Specifically, I’m pretty sure they said that women are basically not visually attracted to men. So there ya go.

      I think that you landed on something really important in trying to learn to love each other as Michael and Dani instead of “a man” and “a woman”. The trite equations and easy answers are also a load of crap.

      Sadly, it seems like your experience is somewhat common – the part where you feel like an abhorrent monster for having a sex drive. I’ve heard that from many women – including my wife – and it seems like there’s more “exceptions to the rule” than there is people who actually conform to the rule.

      Anyhow, thanks for sharing part of your story here. I really appreciate it.

      • jtheory

        I got those books from my sister in law when my wife and I married. I am reluctant to read self help books, especially ones on marriage, and I disappointed my wife by not wanting to read them.

        Maybe I made a good decision there it seems.

    • Elaine Betts

      It’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there :) My husband and I are the exact opposite of what all those books say we’re “supposed” to be in a lot of ways, and for a while I tried to figure out how in the world I could be more “womanly” and how I could encourage him to be more “manly”.
      Then I decided those books were full of crap. We are not gingerbread people, all stamped out with God’s giant cookie cutter. We are each unique and individual, and life is about learning and growing into the best unique and individual person we are meant to be.

  • http://www.identityrenewed.com/ Teryn O’Brien

    Thanks again for this post and for being honest!
    Men and women are a lot more complicated than we like to think. It’s easier to put them in a box, because then they become less than human, in a way. So, you push a button, and a result happens. AKA: you give men sex, they stay with you and don’t cheat. You give a woman flowers, she’s easier to understand and she gives you sex, etc.

    This is so, so, so messed up. And it makes everyone treat each other just a little inhumanely—until you throw away the manuals and rules, and you just love each other. You love each as other as HUMANS first and foremost–created in God’s image and beautifully unique and complex.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Yes and amen. Let’s all be humans, shall we?

  • billyymcmahon.wordpress.com

    Outstanding post.
    I’ve noticed how this can be so oppressive to people if they happen to not fit into a gendered category. Recently I have encountered a Christian-based counseling program which advocated for a 90/10 inverse relationship to male and female needs: manly “Godly” men at 90% sexual and 10% emotional, while women (because of their “feminine estrogen”) are 10% sexual and 90% emotional. This basically forms a contrast of men : sexual :: women : emotional.
    What if we don’t fit in the cookie cutter parameters? Arguments like the 90/10 model are definitely unfair simplifications considering our nature as humans.

    • David Michael

      I’m definitely not 90/10. I’d prefer to spend at least as much time building an emotional relationship with my wife as love-making.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Honestly, I haven’t met many people who do fit those supposedly normal statistics. I think relationship and sex are both equally important to both my wife and I. We might express that differently, but I don’t think that the needs are drastically different.

    • Gina

      I’m a woman and I’m not 90/10 emotional/sexual. Are you kidding? I don’t know anyone who fits that model other than a few post-menopausal women who have been married for 30 years. Or women who have been hammered with the idea that sex is dirty and they don’t enjoy it. I’m more like 40 percent emotional and 60 percent sexual, except it’s all mixed together because sex for me and my husband tends to be really emotional and heart-opening because sex is very emotional for him. It wasn’t for me until him. It was a little bit emotional, maybe 10 percent.

    • disqus_cfBevsr42L

      I think the big problem is divorcing the sexual and the emotional. why cant it just be what it is, right? sex and emotions are intertwined.

    • oldhill

      We are men, made after the image of God. We are not animals, but intelegent beings. The biggest part of this is, I have hormones that give me the drive, but I am a Christian and am called to control my desires, and treat my wife (of 37 YEARS) as a special person who is worth understanding, and showing consideration for her female hormone reactions. We are taking care of our non-identical triplet grandbabies and both working and it is a bit overwhelming and exhausting, especially for her.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    This is great! I remember how I used to not trust guys at all, because I was taught that they just want sex and they’ll play along with the relationship and whatever, but only to deceive a girl and then have sex. It really scared me because I want a guy who wouldn’t use me like that, who’s not so one-dimensional- but according to this line of thinking, they don’t exist. So it’s really good to see a guy saying this is all wrong.

    ALSO I studied electrical engineering and robotics in college, and when I first heard the “that’s how they’re wired” thing I thought it was going to be a really interesting analogy about brains and electronics. But, as it turns out, what it really means is “that’s just the way it is and we’re not going to explain why.” I really hate that phrase now.

    • http://danileekelley.wordpress.com/ Dani Kelley

      “I was taught that they just want sex and they’ll play along with the relationship and whatever, but only to deceive a girl and then have sex.” ME TOO. When Michael and I had sex before we got married, I expected our relationship to instantly change into this thing in which he disrespected me and treated me like garbage. Absolutely didn’t happen.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve read that crap about guys only wanting sex from even Christian dating books. Either I’m exceptionally more noble than most guys, or that’s a load of crap. I’m inclined to think it’s the second one. ;)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      This is great! I remember how I used to not trust guys at all, because I was taught that they just want sex and they’ll play along with the relationship and whatever, but only to deceive a girl and then have sex.
      -
      You know what’s weird? I’m male and I was taught exactly the same thing about girls! And I wasn’t even raised in Christianese Purity Culture! (My only explanation is a perfect storm situation of isolated Kid Genius getting blindsided by the Sexual Revolution in The Sixties…)
      -
      P.S. It’s left me with one of the worst cases of Virgin/Whore Dichotomy this side of the Taliban, and a lot of the Christianese Purity Culture types are too far-out for me. That’s saying something.

  • David Michael

    This is so true. Before my wife and I got married, the whole “men think about sex every 15 seconds” thing seemed weird to me, because I didn’t. I assumed it must have been something that started after you were actually, ya know, having sex. And then last night I realized that I still wasn’t. That and I don’t feel like I have to trick or manipulate or bribe my wife into making love. She actually seems to enjoy it! Disclaimer: We’ve only been married less than two months.

    Also, love and respect. Come on, now. I need love too, and she needs respect. I’m pretty sure that me insulting her would cause the mood to leave pre-tty quickly.

    …And while we’re here, does anybody know of any *useful* Christian relationship books? Because most of them are absolutely nuts. It seems like when it comes to relationships, the evangelicals all turn fundamentalist.

    • LibertyMama

      Congrats on the marriage! But yeah I haven’t found any. I’m seriously considering writing one, though, because I’m really sick of reading a Christian marriage book and scratching my head in confusion. My husband and I are very similar in our emotional make-up and many of the “Love vs. Respect” things don’t apply. Some do, but I’ve had more relationship help talking to my spouse than reading any book. You’re not alone! :) (we’ve only been married 1 yr and 11 mos)

      • Phillip Maine

        As is true of most Christians books written sense the 70s are Christianized humanistic concepts. I talked to a lady a few year ago that said I sure am glad we have gotten past a the Idea that women should have large families. In essence she said I am Glad I do not have to follow Jesus. I agree that we need moral romance novels. but if you are not ending them in a stable maturing Christian family, you are participating in the secularization of America.

    • http://www.allthingsbeautifulblog.com/ Alyssa Bacon-Liu

      My husband and I are going through “Closer” a devotional by Jim & Cathy Bur and it’s not too terrible. It definitely has it’s cheesy moments, but there’s nothing too “fundie” (at least that I’ve read…we’re only half-way through). It’s prompted some good discussions. But it’s hard to find resources for married couples who don’t necessarily subscribe to super traditional/complementarian/conservative ideas of gender roles

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Useful Christian relationship books…. hm, the Bible?

      Haha, just kidding. I don’t know actually. I’m in this phase where I think most relationship advice is crap, because most of the advice I’ve read is crap. I’ll have to keep an eye out.

      But yeah, it’s really dumb when books and articles try to say how much sex a person needs or wants at any given time. It will change based on your relationship, your life, and your body. For reals.

    • Phillip Maine

      While all of what you have said is true, Love, sex, and relationship is still away out of biblical context here. In the NT it is written do not deprive each other. The women wrote back to the writer, but if we do this we will have so many babies we will die and the writer said you would be fulfilling what Jesus called you to. Marriage is a relationship, but the Almighty made sex for procreation. Before My beautiful bride of 37 years and I allowed our girth to get in the way, we enjoyed sex. We have allowed it but still we are madly in love with each other. In my fathers generation none of my uncles or aunts are divorced. I now have two sons, one a preacher. In each case the wife became manipulative and controlling then left. Am I saying that the woman is totally at fault, no, but i can say that a majority of divorces come because the wife says ” I do not have anything in common with my husband.” As a pastor I have heard it over and over again. Sex is enjoyable and should be, but we must never divorce sex from family. Sex outside of Marriage is bad, sex inside marriage is just as bad if it is not used for producing children and creating a stable family environment for them to grow up in. I have talked to quite a few couples that say we do not want Children. There is no need for sex without children. I am not saying you should have a dozen children, that is between you and Jesus. I am saying the the secular humanist brainwash two children is wrong. This allows the evil Muslim people to take control because they have five or six. We are loosing this war, and it is a war, because we have become so selfish that we want more things rather then more souls to bring to Jesus. Oh yes there is always the argument what about those who can’t? (mostly because of Monsanto produced genetically engineered seed) This is a non-sequitur. If we were producing the children we should be there would be ample children for them and if we were truly Christian we would produce Children to give to the childless Christian couples. There is a side to the Monsanto story. They used a lady who was sterile because of a genetically induced virus. Monsanto took this Virus and engineered it into corn, then give it to the Third World. It is now in our food to. This is why infertility rate has went from 3% to 20% and rising.

      • aregularcommenter

        So you’re basically saying that since I underwent lifesaving, albeit infertility inducing medical treatment, I must be celibate? That I should just not bother not getting married?

        Not only is this just whack, it’s deeply, deeply unkind.

        • oldhill

          Do not get stupid, That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that if a family can be produced, it should be. Jesus has always allowed exceptions. However, it is possible that if you had went to nutrimdeical dot com and talked to Dr. Bill Deagle, the drug that sterilized you may not have been necessary. Our medical industry is controlled by big pharma. But I guess it does not matter because they have not fixed the Japanese nuclear accident and we are being systematically poisoned by radiation that is hazmat level here in the USA. Please do not eat tuna of sea food, it is contaminated.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            I smell Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory coming up…

      • Terri Anne

        Phillip Maine is a pastor who believes that the Bible requires all couples to have children if possible. He also blames the breakup of his sons’ marriages on their supposedly manipulative wives. The misogyny of this commentator is unfortunately all to common among conservative Christians, and especially pastors. This is why I no longer attend church.

        • Jess

          That is so sad that you do not attend church anymore because of just one or a few people. Fellowshipping with Jesus’ body, his bride, the church, can be a wonderful thing, can be a wonderful place that helps grow you spiritually, gives you support, as well as in units can help spread Jesus’ love to the outer community. In my experience, I have had some bad church experiences, but now God has placed me in a body of believers that have literally changed my life and my walk with God for the better. Find a true body of believers, it is the best and the closest thing to heaven that we have on this earth. Besides, heaven has fellowshipping as well. Anyway, sorry for you being hurt in the past by just a few church folk. They are human after all, and we must remember to deal with them in humility, longsuffering, and love, just like God deals with our misconceptions and our follies. Much love, Jess.

    • http://1t412.wordpress.com/ Christina

      I’ve heard good things about “are you waiting for the one” by Margaret Kim Peterson and Duane Peterson. It might be worth checking out.

  • Carla Laureano

    Thank you so much for this honest post. Because I write Christian romance, this is a hot-button issue that I end up talking about and blogging about all the time. I think you may be missing one little component, though– we can’t underestimate the pervasive thought in the church that all sex is shameful. Yes, we SAY it isn’t shameful within the confines of marriage, but after years of the purity movement hammering us with the idea that our self-worth and value to God is tied to NOT having sex, it places an unrealistic spotlight on sex in marriage. “You can finally have sex! Your husband/wife has been waiting all this time! You better do it right! You better not deprive him!”

    I’m actually grateful that while I was raised in a Christian household, we weren’t terribly involved in the church, so I escaped most of the legalism surrounding sex (and a variety of other topics). Because that’s exactly what the sex/love economy in Christian circles is– another aspect of legalism.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      You’re totally right. Purity culture is it’s own huge mess that I didn’t even want to try to tackle here, because I don’t even know where to begin and because this was already at 1400 words as is. ;) However, my wife and I both grew up in purity culture and are well aware of the double-speak of “sex is dangerous and filthy until it’s the best thing ever ever!”

      • Kristine Sylvester

        Hi. What is the “Purity Culture”?

        • Dove

          The Purity Myth: “The lie that women’s sexuality [meaning amount of sexual activity] has some bearing on who we are and how good we are.”
          It’s also called the “virginity movement.”
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAGqfEU-FpQ

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        However, my wife and I both grew up in purity culture and are well aware of the double-speak of “sex is dangerous and filthy until it’s the best thing ever ever!”
        -
        As in expecting/demanding your bride to instantly morph from Virgin Unto Death to My Personal Porn Star Fulfilling Every Pent-Up Fantasy 24/7/365 on your wedding night and forever afterwards?

        • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

          Yeah, I mean, that’s kinda an exaggerated way of saying it, but that was the general idea in much of the “purity culture” we experienced.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            It’s a natural result of the Christianese Purity Culture bribing its boys to save themselves for marriage with the promise of 24/7/365 barn-burning swing-from-the-chandeliers dynamite married S*E*X if they only wait.

            Add the fact that even Purity Culture kids are surrounded by an eroticized mainstream culture and there’s going to be a LOT of sexual fantasy building up between puberty and marriage. A lot of it influenced by porn.

  • Chris Akande

    Can I get an Amen!! Can I get a Hallelujah!!! Outstanding, Brilliant,
    Awesomely Apt. Thanks a lot Micah for this, totally appreciate it. For
    too long its been made to seem like Sex for a man was just as important
    as the air he breaths, or sometimes even more important; and a wife’s
    primary ‘job description’ was satisfying her husbands every sexual
    whim. And this so he becomes the ‘man’ God created him to be, like
    REALLY.
    “No. I am a man. I like sex. These two statements are both
    true, but they are not dependent upon one another.” Amen Brother, Amen

  • verahahn

    I would like to add that these blanket statements are painful if your experience is different than the norm too; supposedly most men love sex more than women, but what if your marriage has a wife with a high libido and the husband doesn’t want sex often? reading traditional marriage books is hurtful too because you feel abnormal and broken.

    • LibertyMama

      Yep. That’s the case in our marriage. Almost all of the Christian marriage books I’ve seen say (if the issue is addressed at all!!) that if your husband doesn’t want sex, he’s either cheating on you, you’re no longer hot enough, or he’s hiding porn. Which is a lie! I’d much rather trust my husband when he tells me he’s stressed and tired. It makes me sad how many Christians don’t accept the beautiful, wide range of sexuality that God created us with!

      • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

        Yes. I actually wondered if there was something wrong with me when I didn’t want to have sex every day after the first few months of marriage. And I know so, so many women who have felt excluded by this way of speaking. I honestly don’t know why it still exists.

    • Jenny E

      My marriage has this dynamic too! It took me years of internet searching to find anything that wasn’t all about how my husband obviously had some kind of medical problem and/or I wasn’t maintaining my appearance or “submitting” properly. There was so much guilt and shame bound up in something that is merely a small difference in personality and biology. It was incredibly damaging.

  • Peter Guth

    Even as a single man, this was very encouraging and inspiring. It helps me have a healthier perspective on my future marriage and helps me realize that many of my hopes are real and many of my fears are straight up lies. Props, brother. Keep being real. People need to hear things like this.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      So glad you enjoyed it. So often our fears are straight-up lies. Keep looking for the truth. It’s so much better.

  • Max Andrew Dubinsky

    great great post. thanks for writing it.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Thanks man!

  • Alessia

    I’m often grateful I had an atheist-pagan-whatever you can think of really gap when growing up. It made me able to evaluate and respect men even if a majority of them have been abusive and yes, all about sex and power over women. When I finally got to find people who were respectful I was open to them being so and not just trying to deceit me to be in my pants.

    This kind of mentality like the posts you linked to reduces all that is great about sex within marriage compared to all the sex outside of marriage a majority of people are enjoying a lot anyway in my opinion. I like what you say about sex being romance. Unless your not asexual getting attention from your loved one whether it’s sex or roses it’s the same. No dichotomy.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Yeah, I don’t know why so many Christian people are so hell-bent on perpetuating a damaging dichotomy.

  • danbrennan

    Wow! So awesome!!! So glad you reached out to me. I am always eager to learn about boundary-shifting friends (love, love, love your “wired” challenge).

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Thank you. I really appreciate what you talk about, and I think it will go a long way to helping men and women learn healthier relationships – both in friendship and in marriage.

  • Tim M

    I really appreciate this. I agree, “wired” is a metaphor of some, but limited, use for describing that complex process by which God has created us.

  • http://hballaman.wordpress.com/ hballaman

    Thank you for humanizing relationships! We need to stop distilling down our most intimate encounters to bulletin points and user’s guides.

    The quotes from those FamilyLife articles are merely Christianized versions of advice you’d find in Maxim or Cosmo. Ew. Evangelicals are just as good at objectifying human beings as the secular culture we profess to eschew. And yet we think we’re models of morality because we couch the objectification in Christian terms.

    The intellectual dissonance is deafening. And maddening.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      So, so true. You said it so well.

  • LibertyMama

    All I can say is thank you so much for speaking the truth eloquently.

    This love vs. sex dichotomy is a lie that wrecked how I saw myself, how I understood and related to men, and unfortunately, caused some issues in my early marriage. Thankfully, as we have both matured in our understanding of each other and the true nature of humanity and grace, (and my husband’s sweet patience!!) we have achieved a beautiful relationship where we both give love to each other because we are people.

    For a long time, I was paranoid that every woman walking by triggered some freaky cave-man “Must bang” response in my husband’s brain that he had to immediately combat. Because I had a sex drive, but I was told that women didn’t have those. It followed that if *I* as a sexless, emotional female had to combat temptation at times, or could admire beauty without lusting, that my husband must have this giant penis for a brain. Because humans absolutely cannot be nuanced. :P

    But through hashing it out, we both realized that as human beings who both experience sexuality as a *part* of our identity, the false dichotomy of sex vs. love was indeed a lie. Now, we mostly skip the sex chapters in Christian (or any) marriage book. I’m as likely to initiate as he is. If we don’t have sex for a while, it’s as likely to be because he’s stressed as I don’t feel well or what have you. He’s not going to cheat and lust the second we don’t make love. I’m so glad you’ve exposed this lie!! Every time we hear a Christian talk about sex, we roll our eyes because we know that the cliches about to follow are misleading and, in most instances, untrue and unhealthy.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      My wife used to worry about that too – that every time I saw a women presented sexual in ads, movies, tv, whatever that I would store away that memory for later use, either alone or when I was with her. As a loving husband, this was absolutely the farthest thing from my mind. But it was the logical result of the twisted “Christian” teaching on sex. It’s so sad/infuriating that so many married people have to unlearn marriage advice in order to have a healthy relationship.

      • delicatefade

        But its a real fear for a wife whose husband has used porn. It’s incredibly hard to shake the thought that he is checking out everyone else.

        • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

          That must be so very difficult for you both to work through. I’m sorry.

        • blockthiscnn

          You’re right, using porn makes the problem worse.

          I know, I’m a recovering porn addict (four months).

          It’s a nasty, destructive compulsion, and it tends to live in your head. Time and not looking are what weaken the urge.

          It is possible to be a sex robot, but you don’t have to be one,

      • Phillip Maine

        While all of what you have said is true, Love, sex, and relationship is still away out of biblical context here. In the NT it is written do not deprive each other. The women wrote back to the writer, but if we do this we will have so many babies we will die and the writer said you would be fulfilling what Jesus called you to. Marriage is a relationship, but the Almighty made sex for procreation. Before My beautiful bride of 37 years and I allowed our girth to get in the way, we enjoyed sex. We have allowed it but still we are madly in love with each other. In my fathers generation none of my uncles or aunts are divorced. I now have two sons, one a preacher. In each case the wife became manipulative and controlling then left. Am I saying that the woman is totally at fault, no, but i can say that a majority of divorces come because the wife says ” I do not have anything in common with my husband.” As a pastor I have heard it over and over again. Sex is enjoyable and should be, but we must never divorce sex from family. Sex outside of Marriage is bad, sex inside marriage is just as bad if it is not used for producing children and creating a stable family environment for them to grow up in. I have talked to quite a few couples that say we do not want Children. There is no need for sex without children. I am not saying you should have a dozen children, that is between you and Jesus. I am saying the the secular humanist brainwash two children is wrong. This allows the evil Muslim people to take control because they have five or six. We are loosing this war, and it is a war, because we have become so selfish that we want more things rather then more souls to bring to Jesus. Oh yes there is always the argument what about those who can’t? (mostly because of Monsanto produced genetically engineered seed) This is a non-sequitur. If we were producing the children we should be there would be ample children for them and if we were truly Christian we would produce Children to give to the childless Christian couples. There is a side to the Monsanto story. They used a lady who was sterile because of a genetically induced virus. Monsanto took this Virus and engineered it into corn, then give it to the Third World. It is now in our food to. This is why infertility rate has went from 3% to 20% and rising.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      For a long time, I was paranoid that every woman walking by triggered
      some freaky cave-man “Must bang” response in my husband’s brain that he
      had to immediately combat.

      The image that brought to my mind was a staggering zombie going “Must Bang… Must Bang… Must Bang…” instead of “BRAAAAAINS!”

  • Jason Stern

    Well said.

  • Melinda Todd

    Interesting post. I agree with you on so much and then I also know how things have worked in my own marriage of over 17 years and we fit the bill for all of those books that depict the men as always wanting sex and the wife not. BUT when we were new to sex, we both desired it and our needs were both being met for several years – there is something to the newlywed sex life :) . As life changes come along and bodies and hormones change, so did our sex life and we’re now one of those stereotypical couples. He thinks about it all the time and wants it all the time and I don’t. Obviously there are those out there who are like you and there are a lot of couples out there who are like us and need the encouragement the Christian marriage books provide because they ARE true for us. Unfortunately, sex was tainted for us from the get-go because of my childhood abuse. There are SO many factors that play into how couples think about and engage in our sexual relationships. No one idea covers us all. It’s sad that it has to get so complicated.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Thanks for sharing, Melinda. I think your story is a perfect example of how complicated it really can be. Even in your own relationship, it changes and shifts. I’d like to see more marriage advice talking about that. I think that’s really needed.

      • Melinda Todd

        I totally agree on that because the experts don’t talk much about it. Because it changes so much through the years! And very few of those experts really know anything about dealing with someone w/i the relationship who was abused (and most of them never address it) as a kid and the statistics are 1 in every 3? That’s a LOT of women out there who aren’t going to fall into the “normal” grid. I read one book by a Christian “expert” and when he came to this subject, his advice to me was to get over it and do it anyway. I put his book in the wood stove. Seriously, if I could just “get over it” wouldn’t I choose that?

        • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

          Mary de Muth has some excellent wisdom about that specifically. If you haven’t yet, I think you’ll enjoy reading her post “The Sexy Wife I Can’t Be”

          http://deeperstory.com/the-sexy-wife-i-cant-be/

          • Melinda Todd

            Yes, been following her for years. She and I lead an almost identical childhood.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          I read one book by a Christian “expert” and when he came to this subject, his advice to me was to get over it and do it anyway.

          i.e. “Lie back, close your eyes, and think of England.”

  • Brian Hawkins

    Let me add a note of appreciation from a 26-year-old male virgin. When a woman and I are alone in somewhat close confines, such as meeting in an empty hallway, or on an elevator (both are frequent at work), I can often see distrust in their eyes. Some absolutely refuse to make eye-contact, even when I say “Hi!” and smile. It is very difficult even to make small talk, and almost impossible to have a decent conversation. That makes me sad. It hurts to know that so many women have such a horrible notion of or experience with men. I have long blamed it on gender stereotypes, so I really appreciate you using your platform to voice the fact that we are NOT sex-fueled robots, but living, breathing MEN who think deeply and love passionately.

    Sadly it is in large part a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially in our emasculated western culture. The saddest part is what you highlight: “Christian” books are in large part just as full of useless, disgusting, worldly wisdom as the world’s own books.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Self-fulfilling prophecy indeed. Teach men and women to fear each other, and they will.

    • Jackalope

      Part of it in my own experience is that too often if I say hi back or smile in a friendly way, the next question is, “Can I have your phone number?” Umm, hello?? I was just greeting you because we live in the same neighborhood and are walking by each other. I like being friendly and I hate not feeling like I can be, but I also hate being hit on every time I say hello to someone.

  • http://www.pursuethebeauty.com/ Natalie Nyquist

    Yes. Thank you. Hope this spreads like crazy..

  • Tim Krueger

    Great post. I feel very fortunate that I learned these things before getting married (largely because my now-wife really challenged me to think critically about them). I’m always hoping that my engaged friends will ask me for marriage advice so that I can tell them this. And also, more generally, that trying to run your marriage through the “men are this way, women are this way” filter isn’t helpful because instead of seeing each other as partners bearing God’s image, you just see them as filling or (oh-so-mysteriously and inexplicably–let’s write a book about how we can’t possibly understand each other) failing to fill stereotypes. At least, I know this was the case for me in a dating relationship that fell apart, after which I began to re-examine these issues. Alas, no one ever asks me for marriage advice, but I think it’s so important (and because there’s not that much actual good Christian marriage material) that I’ve been dolling it out anyway!

    • Alessia

      We should get all together to co-author a book…

  • KCMcGinnis

    As a robot, I found this really offensive. Not all of us want sex all the time! ;)
    Great piece, thanks so much for writing it. I’m going to pass this off to my fiancee (who is not a robot); I think we’ll both find this really refreshing and helpful.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      I LOL’ed! Congrats to you and your fiancee too!

  • Grace Tsumbu

    This is so uplifting and an eye opener for me. God Bless :) Please I’m posting this on my blog and making reference to you and your blog!!!!

  • http://www.threeyearsdown.com/ Brittany

    I wrote a (difficult) post about purity/virginity/lies satan tells us. It started a conversation about this exact subject, so I’ll be sharing your post with those girls. The frustration between what we were taught in youth group, the books we were told to read (which I now agree, were premises on a ton of crap) and the fact that as teenage girls/young women we were 100% responsible for the temptation men felt — and the truth that we are all humans and all responsible for our thoughts and actions, was very apparent. I hope there’s a movement, quickly, in Christian circles to stop spreading the lie that men cannot control themselves and women can before even more damage is done.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It is incredibly insightful for me, not only because of my recent conversations, but as a single girl in her late 20s trying to figure out how to navigate relationships with men free from the lie that I’m a hot mess and a he’s a sex crazed robot.

    • http://lovingfromtheinsideout.blogspot.com Connie

      I don’t know if this is a movement or not, but here’s a post about that very thing…being passed on to the next generation: http://t.co/g7FwX8psgw.

  • Lee

    Really interesting! I’m a newlywed and a Christian, and this is helpful for me in understanding how my husband’s mind may be working in regards to our intimacy. Marriage is definitely a learn-as-you-go situation, we are finding out. We did premarital counseling and went through an excellent book, but you still never know exactly how it’s going to play out for you. The particular joys and struggles of marriage have surprised us in many ways, inside and outside the bedroom.

    Thanks for a fresh perspective. :)

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      So glad you enjoyed it. As a guy, I think the best thing you can do to understand your husband’s mind is just talk to him. He’s probably way more fun than a book anyways.

  • http://ashleighbaker.net/ Ashleigh Baker

    So good, Micah. John and I sped through stacks of those marriage books and internalized many, many false expectations. We’re still working to overcome them.

    I think it’s so helpful for those of us who are shifting from the paradigms in which we began our marriages to hash out the journey and its complications. Glad your voice is part of the conversation.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Thanks Ashleigh. Books are the worst, right?

  • http://www.gabbingwithgrace.com/ Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

    Thank you, Micah. This is so helpful to the overall convo. So helpful. my hubby is like this too… he loves to love, not as a trade in. I really, really freaking appreciate about that…. no shock he gets laid pretty much when he feels like it… and vice versa. Yay for being humans. yay for good ole married sex.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Yay for sex being something to do together, not a product to give to each other, right!

  • Elizabeth Franczyk

    Thank you so much for posting this. My friends and I were just talking about this very thing. There are messages in the church about sex that bring lots of opportunity for guilt, shame, and confused identity. God’s just breaking this in my own life, and I can’t wait for him to use me to break it elsewhere.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      So glad to hear it!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I long ago figured out that Christians are just as screwed-up sexually as everyone else these days, just in a different (and often opposite) direction.

  • Phillip Maine

    While all of what you have said is true, Love, sex, and relationship is still away out of biblical context here. In the NT it is written do not deprive each other. The women wrote back to the writer, but if we do this we will have so many babies we will die and the writer said you would be fulfilling what Jesus called you to. Marriage is a relationship, but the Almighty made sex for procreation. Before My beautiful bride of 37 years and I allowed our girth to get in the way, we enjoyed sex. We have allowed it but still we are madly in love with each other. In my fathers generation none of my uncles or aunts are divorced. I now have two sons, one a preacher. In each case the wife became manipulative and controlling then left. Am I saying that the woman is totally at fault, no, but i can say that a majority of divorces come because the wife says ” I do not have anything in common with my husband.” As a pastor I have heard it over and over again. Sex is enjoyable and should be, but we must never divorce sex from family. Sex outside of Marriage is bad, sex inside marriage is just as bad if it is not used for producing children and creating a stable family environment for them to grow up in. I have talked to quite a few couples that say we do not want Children. There is no need for sex without children. I am not saying you should have a dozen children, that is between you and Jesus. I am saying the the secular humanist brainwash two children is wrong. This allows the evil Muslim people to take control because they have five or six. We are loosing this war, and it is a war, because we have become so selfish that we want more things rather then more souls to bring to Jesus. Oh yes there is always the argument what about those who can’t? (mostly because of Monsanto produced genetically engineered seed) This is a non-sequitur. If we were producing the children we should be there would be ample children for them and if we were truly Christian we would produce Children to give to the childless Christian couples. There is a side to the Monsanto story. They used a lady who was sterile because of a genetically induced virus. Monsanto took this Virus and engineered it into corn, then give it to the Third World. It is now in our food to. This is why infertility rate has went from 3% to 20% and rising.

    • Jackalope

      You’re reading a lot into what the Bible says. Paul did say for spouses not to deprive each other, but there is no record of women writing to him with concerns about too many pregnancies (although that is a legitimate concern) and no response about that being what Jesus called them to. For that matter, Jesus never says that Jesus expects women to have babies. The only passages I’m aware of where he discusses this are Luke 11:27-28: “As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it,” Luke 23: 27-29: “A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For
      the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women,
      the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’” and Luke 21:22-23: “For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!” Certainly Jesus was pro-children and wouldn’t argue against having them, but unless you can back up your claim that this is Jesus’ command for women’s lives then you’re putting words in God’s mouth.

      • Phillip Maine

        Most women will not like this so do not argue with me but God in His Word, and if you think you can win against Him, go ahead. I will not try!
        There is no record of the letters, but the epistles were letters sent in response to letters hand delivered, mostly to Paul (as he did to them) and when you read it to get the full understanding in cultural context you must ask yourself what was the questions asked to Paul that he answered in this Epistle. Paul has the ability to put these thoughts in a smooth harmony of thought that is the envy of all pastors. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. So as a spouse you should love your spouse enough to help her feel like a loved woman. While nothing is said about birth control, and it is not wrong with it, the average Christian household in NT times was 8-12 Any husband who pays attention knows his wife wants him most during her ovulation, whether she wants children or not. 1 Timothy 2:15 does not talk of Eve because of the tense used He does not say Eve was saved but 1 Timothy 2:15 she (the women he was talking to) shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. (or the reason he made her female. So one of the questions that came to Paul was from the women of his church, If we give ourselves to our husbands, we will have babies until we die, so he says to them she (or you) shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
        Psalms 127:3 says Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. Every Christian knows this verse, but few really understand and apply it.
        The Lord says in Psalms 127:4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. A hunting quiver was one of six arrows, A war quiver held 12. As Christians are we hunting or are we at war, your choice. Remember the 2 child norm is a brain washing that started with the socialist one world government crowd and the Dick and Jane books back when I was in grade school and should be rejected. All this is culminated with 1 Timothy 5:14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

        An aside, Through Samuel God says if you appoint a king he will take 1/10th of your blood, sweat and toil, Gee, maybe we need a king so we can cut our taxes?!!!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          Most women will not like this so do not argue with me but God in His
          Word, and if you think you can win against Him, go ahead. I will not
          try!

          This is called “Playing the God Card”. Where “God Hath Said” is followed by an unspoken “So You Shut Up!”

          • oldhill

            When you opinion contradicts the truth, you have NO right to your opinion. And you are right, when God speaks, maybe you should be quiet and just listen. When your opinion contradicts God you sin.

          • Tegan Giesel

            The psalms- in the OT, under the Old covenant- talk about children being a blessing. Sure. But that doesn’t make them the only blessing possible. God doesn’t NOT love you if he gives you some blessing other than children. Or are you saying that Jeremiah was in no way blessed? And Paul gives advice to married couples. Sure. But that doesn’t mean that Paul considers marriage normative.

            “Corinthians 7:29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

            32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”

            As far as this goes- its Phillip Maine whose opinion appears to be contradicting the truth.

            And several of his points (“While nothing is said about birth control, and it is not wrong, the average Christian household in NT times was 8-12″ ” So one of the questions that came to Paul was from the women of his church, If we give ourselves to our husbands, we will have babies until we die” “A hunting quiver was one of six arrows, A war quiver held 12.” ) are taken from non-scriptural sources completely AND YET he claims that arguing with him is arguing with God. Aren’t people who speak on behalf of God when God has not spoken, supposed to be stoned or something? …Deut 18:20…?

            And he doesn’t even give the non-scriptural sources! Allow me to giggle.

        • Teri Anne

          Many Christians use the Bible as a weapon to justify unpalatable ideologies such as the subordination of women. This discourages sincere Christians questioning them because they do not want to contradict what God supposedly said and even possibly jeopardize their salvation. I have never heard anyone use the Bible to justify good things like loving your neighbor.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I am saying the the secular humanist brainwash two children is wrong. This allows the evil Muslim people to take control because they have five or six.
      -
      Outbreed the Heathen. You know, Extreme Islam has the same dogma? “WE CONQUER THE LANDS OF THE INFIDEL! OUR WOMBS SHALL BE OUR WEAPONS!” — attr to a Euro-Mullah
      -
      Note to anyone reading this without a Y chromosome: Not women. WOMBS. Breeding living weapons for The Great Culture War/Jihad. Spawning pits below Isengard, cranking out Uruk-Hai.

      • Tegan Giesel

        “You do not know pain, you do not know fear. You will taste man-flesh! ”

        Thousands of young socially awkward fundamentalists shake spears in the air and yell.

  • Holly

    Great post. All those generalizations about men/women and what they’re supposed to be like and what their roles should be in relationships made things way overcomplicated for me in the past. When I have a husband, I’m just going to study HIM and not some book about a prototype.

    • carter

      I think this is exactly why this kind of relationship advice sells so well. It takes all the difficult (and rewarding) parts out of relationships. You don’t have to do the gritty work of getting to know a unique person! You don’t have to ever be vulnerable and honest! Just read this book, it explains your spouse perfectly. If he/she doesn’t like what you’re doing, he/she is broken and should pray more so that he/she is more like this book. QED.

  • Karla

    Thank you for sharing this. I am having issues with my husband, while I don’t doubt he loves me very much, since I discovered he watches porn regularly when I am not home and used to (he doesn’t do it when I am present anymore) check out every girl that crossed our path my love for him has decreased, I don’t even have the same sex drive I used to have before. When I confronted him why he does all of that he said that it had nothing to do with me, that it is what all men do. I was not happy with that answer but I couldn’t argue back because I even believed it was true. I have been married before and while my ex husband was far from perfect, we didn’t have any of the issues I have now with my current husband. I am hesitant to show this article to my husband because I almost can hear what he will say, that this is only an exception and that he cannot be that way.

    But even so, thank you for showing me that is NOT what ALL men do.

    • blockthiscnn

      Hi Karla,
      I’m sorry to hear that your husband isn’t treating you well. On the one hand he is probably right that he loves you very much, but he is still using the excuse that what he’s doing is natural (and therfore harmless). Porn (especially on the internet) takes something fairly natural (he finds women attractive, which while natural is fairly easily controlled) to an obession, chasing the next high.

      He’s addicted to porn.

      I was/am still in some ways a porn addict. It started about 10 years ago. I have not used porn in over four months. Yourbrainonporn . com explains how the addiction works, but basically, in order to make the urge to get weak enough to control, he needs to give the reward center of his brain a rest. It took a couple of months for me to get there, but it’s working.

      As far as being a sexual robot, I’m not one now, but I was one for a while.

      It’s not going to work for him unless he’s willing to give it up.

      I hope he can realize his relationship with you is going to be far more benficial in the long run than pleasuring himself to pictures on a screen.

  • Lauren

    This means so much to me. When my husband and I got married, we discovered (to our dismay) that I have a physical condition that makes sex unbearably painful. I’ve been working through it with therapy, but the biggest challenge for me has been to overcome a lifetime of hearing the Church tell me that my husband needs sex constantly, and that my physical inability to satisfy that need makes me a bad wife. Thankfully, my husband has never pushed this, and has been so patient and supportive, but the lessons have done severe emotional damage nonetheless.

  • Jessica

    Thank you for writing this! What really strikes me here is the way people think they can speak for God. It’s almost as if these authors think, “I’m a Christian, this is what I believe about relationships, so God must too.” As a result you get phrases like “you’re husband never be the man God created him to be if..” Is the author truly not aware of how manipulative that is?

    I have long believed that men and women are not so very different. It’s an injustice and travesty how little Christian culture thinks of both men and women. The fact that you even had to write a piece denouncing the dehumanizing ways some Christians talk about men, women and relationships speaks volumes. I personally stay away from all marriage books because I don’t think I need anyone telling me how to do it or who the person sitting next to me is.

    I think if I were to ever recommend a book that deals with marriage it would be “Two-Part Invention” by Madeleine L’Engle. It’s not a how-to, it’s simply a memoir (part of her Crosswick Journals series), and the love she and her husband shared was inspiring beyond words.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      You make a good point. It’s easy to twist Bible verses around to say whatever you want. I wish people who are full of crap would just say their piece without always dragging God into it.

  • MichelofChrist

    And a HEARTY AMEN! to an “EXCELLENT” article.

  • Guest

    I wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve said. However, I think this spawns from a deeper issue of the popularity of people associating their identity with their gender. And thinking of themselves as BEING men, or BEING women. So long as I wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve said. However, I think this spawns from a deeper issue of the popularity of people making their identity beholdenI wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve said. However, I think this spawns from a deeper issue of the popularity of people making their identity beholden to their gender. So long as this continues, misperceptions like this and others are inevitable.
    I find it sad that as the most noble beings on this earth, we still choose to stoop to such a primitive level.

  • Sirkay

    I wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve said. However, I think this spawns from a deeper issue of the popularity of people making their identity beholden to their gender. So long as this continues, misperceptions like this and others are inevitable.

    I find it sad that as the most noble beings on this earth, we still choose to stoop to such a primitive level.

  • Amanda B.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. Having studied gender roles for several years now, it always feels like a breath of fresh air to read godly men weighing in on the matter. I’ve never been comfortable with the “Men are only in it for the sex” trope, but as a single woman, I have felt very little leverage to make a point of it. I really value being able to hear for men who refuse the stereotype and recognize the humanity of everyone involved.

    Thank you again for speaking up. It made my week.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      I wish more guys would speak up. I think that sometimes this “guys need sex all day every day” narrative probably makes guys thing there’s something wrong with them if they don’t fit that hamfisted stereotype.

  • Dawson Vosburg

    Holy cow. Completely and utterly true. I can tell you that this thinking has been destructive in my own life and I think it needs to be repaired for a lot of men and women alike. Thank you for saying this.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      So glad you enjoyed it. I have no idea why people insist on spreading around such destructive teachings. A glance through these comments should tell them there’s a problem, huh?

  • Cody99

    This is a good correction to an oversimplified version of what many relationships go through. If this were the norm, however, a correction would need to be made to this oversimplified version. I’d be interested to hear your perspective after your marriage enters the next phase. You might find some of the tired old cliches about men’s and women’s sexual and emotional differences maddeningly accurate. At that point, your discipline and elevated view of human potential will be a deep well to draw from. God bless.

  • John

    I want to believe every word you wrote here, but i’m struggling with naturalism, and thus i’m having a hard time accepting the premise that we are not “wired.” Paul did things he didn’t want to do because he was stuck in a body of death. Aren’t those sinful things the things he was wired to do?

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      My point with saying we are not “wired” is that God made us as organic, holistic beings – in contrast to robots which are a series of wires and circuits. And even if we are “wired” to do sinful things, that shouldn’t be attributed to God. That’s something different from the thrust of this article.

  • Antonio Nogueras

    Wholly mamma-jamma, Batman. This is stupendous. I’m not married, but I’m so glad you’ve written something that can really address the sensationalization of sex in a way that sex is integral, but not wholly necessary for a relationship to function.

    What is worse is that we live with the dynamic of couples dealing with problem of attraction first with just enough personality to get by, but we completely underestimate those who serve, care, and are friendly first. Simply speaking, we’re all in a rush to find a spouse, but not enough time is spent finding that perfect balance.

    With a love/sex economy, we begin to see the hoplesness in that balance that does not advocate a couple absolutely willing to serve and love each other because they actually LIKE each other.

    Please inform me if you disagree, I’m all about discussion.

  • Jon Tucker

    So what are practical ways that you and your wife tear down the love/sex economy?

  • Elisabeth Morley

    This. All of it. I have been trying to articulate what you wrote (and what many in the comments have said) for years. I grew up in the church and got such damaging teaching about guys in youth group, especially the “they can’t help it, they’re just wired that way. So if you wear ‘immodest’ clothes, it’s your fault if your brothers in Christ lust or are tempted.” I wish you could share this with youth groups and especially Christian college students–I think it would save many a lot of heart ache and unneeded angst.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      I think so too.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I grew up in the church and got such damaging teaching about guys in youth group, especially the “they can’t help it, they’re just wired that way. So if you wear ‘immodest’ clothes, it’s your fault if your brothers in Christ lust or are tempted.”
      -
      Isn’t that the same rationale Extreme Islam uses to justify the burqa and honor killings?

  • Negion6

    You say “wires are for robots” yet end the article saying “lets love like we are created to do.” So we are “pre-wired” to love by a robot maker in the sky? I see no difference between the robot metaphor and the creationist theory.

  • Negion6

    You say “wires are for robots” then end the article with “lets love because its what we are created to do.” So we are “pre wired” to love by a robot maker in the sky? I see no difference between the robot metaphor and the creationist theory.

    • http://forgetevolution.com Ralph David Westfall

      Actually the robot is the one who thinks that “the universe is all that there is or ever will be.” Under that concept, everything that you do is a result of natural causes–you have no free will. On the other hand, since I was created in the image of God, I do have the capability to choose whether or not to do what I was created to do.

      • Negion6

        You sure we didn’t create god in the image of man?

        • http://forgetevolution.com Ralph David Westfall

          It happens all the time. However the fact that there are a lot of Elvis imitators doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a real Elvis.

          • Negion6

            That’s not an answer. I still don’t understand how you think you have free will when you are “created” for a specific purpose. What god are you talking about anyway the western god?

          • http://forgetevolution.com Ralph David Westfall

            A lot of things were created for one purpose and then used for another. I have a friend who did a dissertation on types of software being used for purposes other than their intended uses–for example a spreadsheet program being used for word processing.

            In other words, being created for a purpose is not unilaterally deterministic. God gave me the free will to choose whether to work toward his best purposes for me or not. On the other hand, in a naturalistic universe everything happens as a result of preceding causes. People are essentially robots even though they may have illusions that they are choosing their actions.

            I’m talking about the triune God of Christianity.

          • Negion6

            So all humans are robots if they don’t believe in the same god you believe in? That seems elitist and closed minded to me. But to each his own! I’m going to eat some nachos because its not my choice?

          • http://forgetevolution.com Ralph David Westfall

            I didn’t say that at all. The robot implication is a logical consequence of the assumption that everything that happens is a result of natural causes. If that assumption isn’t true, then you are free to reject it. On the other hand …

          • http://forgetevolution.com Ralph David Westfall

            I didn’t say that at all. The robot implication is just a logical consequence of the assumption that everything is a result of natural causes. If that assumption is not true, you’re free to reject it. On the other hand …

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            Even though John Galt Celebrity Impersonators have outnumbered Elvis Impersonators since the 2008 elections…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Actually the robot is the one who thinks that “the universe is all that there is or ever will be.” Under that concept, everything that you do is a result of natural causes–you have no free will.
        -
        Robots are Calvinists?

        • Tegan Giesel

          Well, they discontinued the Arminian model… Too much risk of machine revolution…

        • http://forgetevolution.com Ralph David Westfall

          Thank you, HUG, for noting the similarity between the Calvinist position and the materialist/philosophical naturalist/common atheist position. Most Calvinist’s and most materialists etc. don’t like to think about how close they are to each other on this issue.

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      I believe God created us with purpose. Purpose is different than programming (wiring) in my mind.

  • Cali

    AMAZING! Thank you so much!

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  • Texas

    Thank you for this. I have been reading a lot about this subject lately and pretty much EVERY article, Christian or not just confirms what I was looking to debunk. Except this one. I needed to hear this. Seriously, if this idea that I have to “let him in my pants” to get love and the only way he can feel loved and give love is via my pants, I am not interested. I can’t have that pressure on me for my “parts” to be at the center of the universe in terms of happiness in my family. I want us to be human beings too and not just this “I give you this and you give me that” crap that we are stuck in at the moment. But both people have to want this. I have two boys and I try hard especially with my now teenage boy to talk about how much more there is to him (and will be to him) than his sexual desires and needs. No matter what television and music and the world tells him. Sadly there are so many men who have bought this about themselves. Special thanks to Dr. Laura who seems to think it’s perfectly okay to boil men down to her favorite phrase, “If I’m not horny, bring me a sandwich.” I have a lot to think about now. Thanks again.

  • Nathan Davis

    Sounds like you have it all figured out. :)

  • mdcooper

    Wow, I am so grateful to have found your blog, and this post in particular. I found myself pausing several times in awe and to be grateful because the words you wrote are EXACTLY what have gone through my head in the past, and it is so refreshing to find another critically thinking Christian (a male, especially) on this topic.

    I was involved in church all throughout my childhood, but felt less and less comfortable with stuff at my conservative church toward the end of high school. A pivotal moment in me getting out of church was when the older high schoolers did a Bible study on the book(s) Every Young Man’s/Woman’s Battle. I vividly remember reading that “women give sex to get love, and men give love to get sex”. The fact that those two exchanges are stated as fact and equal always astounded me. One is a uniquely human ability that Jesus encouraged us to show, while the other is something every animal does, without regard for any bond beyond the physical. And I got absolutely sick to death of reading how men and women were just “wired” differently! (Possibly the most cliche line in any Christian dating book) You are right – we are not robots!

    It is exciting to see a new face of Christianity like this that allows for individuals, rather than applying outdated formulas that really just limit everyone. As I became more involved with feminism and volunteering at a rape crisis center in college, the more I felt disconnected with the Christian community and couldn’t find a way to reconcile those two important parts of me. I’ve been wanting to find a church community, and couldn’t have read this at a better time to be encouraged that there is one out there for me.

    Thanks so much for what you post, I look forward to exploring more of your blog! Oh, and (late) welcome to NC – hope you are enjoying it here! I’m from Winston-Salem and am in Raleigh for grad school. it’s a pretty great place to call home, in my opinion :)

  • Andy

    Where are the quotations from?

    • http://www.redemptionpictures.com/ Micah J. Murray

      Should be links to the articles. Look for the blue text.

  • Barbara Czarnecka

    Great post!! Love it

  • hmminteresting

    you seem to privilege the emotional over the sexual in this article. Sex is just a bacon cheeseburger that you want but could live without, while emotional connection runs far “deeper than sexual urges”, its what makes us human apparently, allowing us to love each other in “heathy” fulfilling ways. I disagree. I think, like you said, we have emotional and sexual needs, as organisms who require a social community of intimacy as well as reproductive fulfillment. They are both equally part of a human organism. I wish sex was like cheeseburger, but the fact is that our bodies are programmed to seek reproduction, and our bodies and minds even punish us psychologically through depression and unhappiness when our sexual needs go unmet. it’s our bodies way of saying “you are combating something you were made to do!” You body doesn’t do the same when you force yourself not to have a cheeseburger. Our bodies similarly punish us psychologically when we are not getting the emotional intimacy we need, through much the same tools, depression and sadness.

    Also, different people have different levels of sex drive, so it’s unfair of you to say that sex is much like a cheeseburger. That trivializes the suffering that some of us go through in order to cope with our sexual desires in a society (largely Christian) that discourages their expression.

    • Gemma

      It’s interesting that you say the mind and body punishes psychologically through depression when emotional intimacy needs are unmet. My husband is soooo depressed, all the time – when we’re on the phone, when he comes home. His drive is ridiculous and I don’t know how to meet it. I feel like I am responsible for his happiness. It’s become a job. We do all have different sex drives. When they are extremely different, it really can be quite a problem. If the author of this article doesn’t feel run by his needs, other guys (maybe girls too) feel they are. My husband doesn’t feel like he can just make himself feel happy. If he could, that’d be wonderful! It’s so hard to know what to do when you are so different.

  • Jess

    As a semi-new Christian, after reading everyone’s posts, I am so grateful I was not brought up under tyrannical purity movement stuff (though I still see that it does some good). Now, that doesn’t mean I had other junk to deal with, I did, but I am so horrified to see so many people suffering under something I saw from the outside as so “holy, biblical, etc.”. I thought everyone in the movement was going to grow up happy and perfect and better than me, and that since I lost my virginity, I would be subpar and not a good future wife. I felt incredibly shameful and depressed, and wanted to be pure. I am so grateful for this article, because I was just about to be caught up in ultra-fundemental gender roles, now that I am growing in the Lord. Thank you for the heads up and now I will think along the lines of us being “human”, not male or female. I do however feel the femaleness of myself, no doubt put there by God, like “I want a husband I can adore and stand by”, and “I want to be a good mom” but I seriously was beginning to crush myself everyday into painful molds of a biblical woman, to the point I felt mousey, and flimsy, and that nothing I said was of some importance unless a guy would agree with me. I am beginning to feel human again, as you put it, and seriously, being a Christian for like 3-4 years, i didn’t realize I stopped feeling human (in the case of male and female roles. I was beginning to feel like property. Thank you for giving me some self-worth back. And I feel for others who have been in this longer than I have.

  • Heidi Sandoval

    Amen

  • Clayton Sanderson

    There is part of the Lord’s Prayer where we are taught, by Christ, to pray that God would lead us not into temptation. I praise God that he has done so in letting me not read this post before I was married. It is poisonous, and emptying at best.

    I am likewise a newlywed. After reading this post, I was so confused. How could a Christian who is married say these things? You compared sex with your wife to a bacon cheeseburger! Either your sexual experience is extremely lacking, or I’m certainly buying my burgers at the wrong place. A word to prospective husbands; don’t ever say this to your wife. Don’t ever say it to anyone, that sex with your wife is comparable to a bacon cheeseburger.

    This “sex/love economy” you condemn is nevertheless biblical. Ephesians tells us that husbands are to love their wives, wives to respect their husbands. I can see how you have missed that, though, since there is no scripture to support this view of marriage the you so eloquently set before us.

    But what do we do with this? Is it not clear that a giving, each of their own, not the same, is required of husband and wife? Does not the apostle Peter teach that husbands are to love their wives gently, as they are the weaker vessel? Wives need love. Husbands need respect.

    My wife and I are Biblical complementarians. Everyday, she pours herself out for me in respect: in te bedroom and out. She spends lavishly and foolishly, taking no count of her proverbial bacon cheeseburger. Everyday, I seek to love my wife and give myself up for her. In this economy, I’m not seeking my cheeseburger. I only want to spend lavishly on my wife.

    Christian, take heed. Don’t view your sex life, especially in marriage, as a simple gratification of your urges. Your sex life is where you and your spouse give love. If this is an economy, spend prodigally on your spouse, holding nothing back for yourself.

    My wife and I love sex. When used as God created, a means of loving and giving to each other, it is a picture of the Trinity and the recipe for an amazing marriage. Follow Micah’s advice here, and you’ll actually end up empty… When we love out spouse, or respect our spouse, we are “doing” marriage biblically. You might not be a sex-fueled robot, but this is certainly a road to a sexually frustrated an selfish marriage.

    • SDKelly

      After you are married for a while longer, you might discover that your elevated view of sex does not sustain itself, no pun intended. Sex is just an aspect and function of being human; it is not a picture of the Trinity. If you insist on carrying on with the image of the Trinity as your ideal, not only will your sex life suffer but so will your theology. And as an aside, I would love to hear your wife’s perspective on how fantastic she finds sex to be.

  • Gemma

    If ever there were a model of this stereotype in the home, about how men and women relate, it’s my husband and I. We fit it to a T. I feel like he is so driven by sex. There is not a day that goes by that he doesn’t want it. If we have sex, he’s happy for the day. The next day, his mood starts to plummet. A few days go by and he’s a real mess. He’s depressed when we talk on the phone at work, when he comes through the door at night, etc. I just want him to be happy. I’m willing to give him sex, but can’t get myself into waking him up, after a long day and no foreplay, to have what is supposed to be meaningful sex. I made myself more available before, but realized it was still not enough and he was never happy. He says because he still senses that I’m not enough into it. It’s a vicious cycle. If I’m honest, he resents it. What to do? He says I’m not sexual at all, never need it. It’s true that I need it way less. He feels like a robot with an insatiable desire for sex, that controls his mood. He has suffered with porn addiction from a very early age. So maybe he really is a robot? He’s had emotional affairs twice and nothing in this relationship ever feels stable. I’ve wondered if I’m cut out to be a wife? I wish there were other places to talk about these things. We’ve sought counseling twice and it seems like there aren’t many experts equipped at helping people like us.

    • Gemma

      I especially resent that when he hears I’m starting my period, he expresses anger. I feel like I have to hide it. He says there are other things we can do. I’m bleeding, crampy, gross – I don’t want to touch, with him all over me, and it going nowhere! I don’t mind trying to please him, but I can’t pretend I’m into it. Maybe I have intimacy issues?

      • Gemma

        I’ve seriously wondered if his life just wouldn’t be better with a woman with a higher libido, if some relationships aren’t just too difficult to make work. It’s so sad, 15 years in. Of course, how do you go about securing a wife with a higher libido? I guess if someone’s had enough experience, you can interview them. He tells me he told me before we were married that he’d need a lot of sex. Of course, having no sexual history, I had no idea what I was in for. He says part of the reason he was so excited to get married was because then he wouldn’t struggle with porn anymore. Maybe this expectation set us up for failure? You can see how confused I am about all of this.

        • Olivia Kieffer

          I feel so sad for you! You don’t need to stay in the marriage. He’s being super pushy, immature, and gross. I’d hightail it out of there ASAP. Easier said than done; I know!!! But you don’t need to live like that. He can learn to control himself and act like a proper adult.

  • Kelli

    Very interesting read, particularly from a man’s point of view. Thank you for sharing.

  • sportschap

    Micah, although I understand what you’re trying to communicate, you do your readers a disservice by caricaturing those who may have significantly deeper and broader experience than yourself. The perspective you ridicule above is more descriptive than it is prescriptive, and it is a very helpful description for a majority of Christian couples who experience very real, intense, and painful struggles in their marriages because of their gender differences. If you and your wife don’t experience those struggles, thank the Lord. Most of us spend a lifetime trying to learn each other’s “language” and “culture”, and the more help we can get the better off we are.

    Your assertion that “men and women are not wired by God at all” is simply false. From the very Creation, man and woman were “wired” to reflect the image of God…and not the same image. For those with eyes to see Scripture affirms explicitly and implicitly some of the typical gender characteristics described by the writers and speakers you seem to take such delight in deriding. Since you describe yourself as a feminist, I refer you to a non-Christian feminist neuropsychiatrist, Louann Brizendine, who demonstrates so clearly in her books “The Female Brain” and “The Male Brain” how “fearfully and wonderfully” we are made…male and female…differently.

    And thank goodness! If we were unisex, how boring would that be!

    One final point about sex and temptation. You would do well to carefully reread I Cor. 7:1-6. Even as a single man, Paul understood that sexual intimacy among other equally important purposes also served to guard against immorality. Those words were divinely inspired and we are wise not to ignore them.

  • Yep

    wow..its just a guideline. Man dont take it so seriously. The exchange is completely FINE. I think you justtook it a bit too seriously. Which i dont think was the point of the other article. Its a healthy guideline. If you dont like it thats OK :) sheesh.

  • Felicia Abril

    Hey Micah:
    I’m so glad that there are people like you who are speaking about this subject with a different perspective. I’m definitely an “odd duck” when it comes to relationships, especially since I don’t necesarily behave like a “lady” . I remember reading all the James Dobson about marriage and relationships, and I do remember reading “I kissed dating goodbye”, and yes they made the man seem like he’s a complete horn dog and making the woman as if she doesn’t have any type of sexual drive. I’m glad that I don’t read those types of books anymore, and I hope that people can appreciate for what I am, and not for what they want me to be. Keep up the good work friend!

  • Linda Teuling

    I appreciate this very much. I’m fed up with the stereotyping of the genders. You have a tremendous amount of insight! There should be more books about this point of view.