Marriage or sexual slavery?

Pastor Mark Gungor, who is an "international speaker on marriage and family", wrote a blog post titled "Feel Like Having Sex?" (October 5, 2014). Naturally, he briefly warns us about the supposed harm of sex outside of marriage. This is neither surprising nor what I will write about, however. Marital rape is a much more pressing issue.

In the blog post, Gungor writes that a woman emailed him with the problem that her husband does not wish to have sex as often as she does. Gungor says he suggested they have a sex schedule. The husband thought this was a bad idea, because both partners must feel like it, which is not something one can force. Smart guy!

Gungor then starts to rant about how wives cannot cook for their husbands only when they FEEL like it and that you cannot go to work only when you FEEEEEEL like it. Are these things really the same, though? I mean, first of all, in a relationship, it should not automatically be only the woman who cooks; that is just... well, sexist. More to the point, work and food are about survival. Sex is about love, intimacy, and pleasure; sex should not be work or an obligation.

If one is forced into having sex when one does not really want to or feel like it, it is to be raped, even if it is by one's partner. If both partners have the misdirected notion that they owe their spouse sex, then I am not sure either of them is guilty of rape, but this whole system of guilt is flawed. One might call it religious marital rape culture, and it is people like Gungor who enforce it; people like him are basically rapists by proxy.

In marriage, you do pledge yourself to your partner and I cannot imagine a sexless marriage working very well. Nonetheless, bodily autonomy is a human right, even if one is married. Whether it is the husband who "owes" his wife or the wife who "owes" her husband, it is a disgusting way to view sex and the right to our own bodies. Sex is never something one owes anyone, whatever the circumstances may be.

Toward the end, Gungor writes, "For you men and women out there who are like this—those of you who are all about your 'feeeeeeelings' and refuse to have sex with your spouse unless you 'feeeeeel' like it, I sure do wish I could be around to ask you how you 'feeeeeeel' once your sex-starved spouse ends up committing adultery."

You know what I feel? I feel it is not an expert on marriage, or even an adult, who wrote this article (and yet he is much older than me). It just seems childish, which I guess is hardly surprising since many religious rules about sex and marriage are, indeed, quite juvenile. Gungor is basically saying, "Take one for the team or the team will find a new player."

He goes on to say that the "withholder" made the cheater cheat by not having sex enough. He says it is unfair, because the "cheater" (his quotations) is the only one who is demonized, while the "withholder" gets no blame. This kind of rhetoric is a bit too similar to the slut-shaming bullshit that somehow justifies rape. Not having sex as much as you would like is no justification to cheat on your partner; even though it may very well be a cause, the blame does not fall on the "withholder" but on the cheater.

It is disgusting and terrifying that people still think like this. If you are having problems with sex, forcing it will not resolve anything. If you think it will, ask yourself this: Do you want a marriage or sexual slavery?