**This is long, but if you did take the time to read the original article, please do me the honor of reading my response.**
I recently was directed to an article entitled “I’m Sick of Hearing about Your Smoking Hot Wife” published on Christianity Today in which the author attacks pastors and Christian men who publicly praise their “smoking hot” wives, their sex life, and the God-given joys found in marriage.
In this article, the author, a sexual abuse victim, shares how hearing about what a healthy sex life is like makes her bristle because “it’s hard for me to think sex is beautiful. I tend to disconnect from the act”. She faced raped and molestation as a child and has yet to face freedom from the horrors of those actions.
Bear with me as I wrestle with the grace and patience this poor woman must be offered and the hard truth that she needs to hear. Know this: I do not speak at a rose-cheeked child unaware of the reality of what abuse of a variety of kinds looks and feels like. I don’t discuss this as a woman who’s never felt pain or abandonment or a lack of worth. I don’t minimize the pain of what she and so many others have experienced at the hands of the wretched. I merely call her and myself to a higher standard than what she has allowed to control her life.
In her article, her first point supporting her “bristling” and “bile in her throat” in response to pastors and husbands who talk about their wives and sex in a positive light is to discuss what she believes “God requires of us” in regards to sex in marriage. (I would like to see her Biblical basis for this statement.) My heart breaks for her if she has this understanding that sex is a requirement, as in another law or “must-do” or command. I pity her that she has never experienced within her marriage the sweet oneness that true emotional and physical sexual unity can bring. Yes, it is understood that if you agreed to get married, sex is a “requirement” but everything in Scripture points to sex as something that should be joyful, relished by both parties, and treasured as something sacred. The Scriptural understanding of sex as sacred is never demonstrated in the article. (Hebrews 13:4) She looks at it as a command, a fulfillment of her husband’s needs, and something that she is bound to endure as someone broken, scarred, and festering in pain and unresolved anger and bitterness.
As a result, not only is her view of sex skewed, but her understanding of God has found itself twisted amongst the wreckage of her broken heart. Overflowing from her comments about the inappropriateness of the church’s view of sexuality and her understanding of sex as something that is required of her and her belief that any requirements made of the married woman in regards to performance for her husband in the bedroom has distorted her understanding of marriage as a whole. It has thwarted her ability to view marriage as the image of Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:22-32), as suddenly his needs are pressures and impositions and almost unjust in her mind. If sex is something God designed to be a requirement in marriage for a woman to “endure”, then what does that say about the character of God?
Her next point is that open communication between spouses is needed in the bedroom. Absolutely. I think sex is easier to talk about before marriage than after, as the needs and specificity are more embarrassing post-wedding vows than they should be. It is the devil’s lie that you can have an “ok” sex life as a married couple and can never reach a point of sexual ecstasy as a couple. (Does he not try to get us to be satisfied with a lukewarm relationship with the Lord in the same manner?) Open communication is a must, but her attitude has unfortunately skewed this as well as she only discusses and allows for discussion for her own needs as the injured party. She does not include any discussion of her husband’s needs and desires and wishes. The only discussion she expresses that is necessary is that he be willing to hear pain and frustration and realize that “it’s not always so easy to move from ‘This is bad,’ to ‘This is good.’ I was utterly, profoundly petrified of my wedding night. It’s taken me years to move from bad to good.” I’m sorry, sister, but if what you have described as sex as obligation is “good”, I would never want it either.
Her next point is just as one-sided. She talks about sacrificing for the other person but never addresses her need to deal with her past and her pain and bitterness in order to sacrifice for her husband. To her, having sex is a sacrifice as she claims she “could make a case for never having sex.” That itself is an extremely unbiblical view, as if her pain or past can justify her withholding satisfaction from the man she vowed to love and give herself to. (1 Corinthians 7:1-5) Not only that, but I would challenge her that the act of sex itself does not necessarily fulfill and satisfy your spouse. In fact, it is the heart behind the “I gave some; that should be enough” that is the most selfish and appalling. She demonstrates no real regard for meeting his sexual needs except to go as far as reluctantly “doing the deed”.
Earlier in the discussion and then in her next point, the author discusses another one-side view of the sexual relationship, spousal understanding, and her “holistic view of sex”. She confronts those who think that if women “struggle in the sexual area and their husbands look elsewhere, it’s partly their fault. They’ve violated that scriptural call to be a smoking hot, sexually satisfying wife.” While I do not agree that I would be responsible for the heart behind my husband seeking satisfaction outside of marriage, if I were not consciously and actively seeking to meet his needs on a regular basis, I would be responsible for my part in driving him away sexually and provoking him to pursue sexual satisfaction elsewhere. I would liken this argument to the understanding that parents are not responsible for rebellious teenagers, but they are Biblically held responsible for driving them there if they have provoked them. (Eph. 6:4)
In the same way, I would warn her against her emphasis on the view that “Men are gentle, strong, wild, yet not held hostage by sexual urges.” While I agree with the statement individually, the author has made it so obviously clear that her husband’s needs must yield to her pain and unresolved past. She holds it against him that he has sexual urges, as if these uncontrolled passions make him another perpetrator against her. Again, a twisted view of the God-given desires, which are so clearly viewed as beautiful in their correct place —marriage–within Scripture. (Song of Solomon)
She also says that our sexual relationship as a couple must include dignity for each other. She says that we must view each other as “whole people” and therefore we “dignify our God.” Unfortunately, she is the one with misunderstood view of her own pain and is the self-declared un-whole person. While I do not know her husband, I dare to say that he has treated her with more dignity and more Christlike patience than she deserves for what she has offered him in return. If it is possible for sinful man to “dignify” a Holy God, I would say his patience with her one-sided twisted view of sex is acting as quite an example of His Holiness, Patience, and character.
She next discusses her healing. While I would dare to call this minimal in relationship to what true healing is (and again, I say this as someone who has been broken and needed serious healing as well), I can applaud her desire to heal. Unfortunately, she has limited herself to agreeing to a sexual relationship and found that as an equality for sexual healing instead of “staying” bitter and refusing sex altogether (I use quotations there because I would dare say she is still bitter).
She finishes up her article by saying that we need to recognize growth, which, while important for any spouse of a sexual abuse victim, is not the end-all for solving this sorrowful dilemma. The pain of what she experienced was real. She’s “making progress” but in her mind, there are some things that will never change. She has limited not only her sexual relationship with her husband but the depth of the healing she could experience and the power of a Holy and Loving God to make broken pasts into beautiful works of artistic mastery.
I am by no means disregarding what she is feeling or thinking that it is possible for a husband to not quite understand the pain which his wife has experienced because of past sexual abuse. The article is useful for that reason alone. However, to use this as a fight against another couple’s ability to enjoy and rejoice in a healthy and undamaged sexual relationship is to selfishly impose one’s past on others, to skew what is beautiful and healthy and God-given into something that is required and endured, and to dangerously view God in a way so that He is no longer the Giver of what is good and perfect (James 1:17) but the Designer of something unpleasant and emotionally painful.
4 thoughts on “I am proud to be his “smoking hot wife.””
Hello, I would encourage anyone who has just read your post “I am proud to be…hot wife” to read another entry from the woman you are referencing–a piece she wrote about her journey of growth and healing…http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2008/september/14.38.html?paging=off.
In the article she openly expresses her desire to be able to one day experience the open, and passionately pleasurable (non-requirement) sex of Song of Solomon. From the article we understand further why for her, sex of this kind is a journey and not an experience readily available to her. I praise God that she and her husband are steadily working through their sexual relationship by bearing with one another in love.
As for this post from Making My Boast (MMB), I have to admit I just couldn’t understand what has the you Ms.MMB (I’m sorry I don’t have your name) so roused up. I felt like we read a different article. I will go ahead and throw out the disclaimer that I am a survivor of sexual abuse. It is thoughtful of you to mention (I think twice in your post) how much you do not intend to underestimate or dismiss the amount of pain that this woman has experienced. Still…i get the impression that you have misunderstood what she is saying. Then again, only she can vouch for that, as she knows what she is trying to say. So what I can do, and am choosing to do is to go back and annotate your points above to give you a better perspective of where this woman was coming from. I thank you for taking this response with a grain of salt. My expertise consists of my own experience as a survivor of sexual abuse, my experience in group therapy and hearing the stories/testimonies of others (and listening to dear close friends who are also survivors), my exposure to even more stories reading and researching how sexual trauma impacts one’s life (there are a lot of great books about there),
So please understand, this response is simply an expectation I have put on myself to respond to the promptings of my heart. I read your article, the woman’s article, and another article she wrote about the healing journey, and I sensed your post reflected an unfortunate misunderstanding. By offering you the following points below, I am endeavoring to shed more light on this situation, and am striving to be a maker of peace. Of course, i recognize that I cannot make/create peace except by being eager to remove obstructions of peace…misunderstanding being one of them (In all thy getting get understanding).
…I write these words b/c there is a special prayer that Jesus himself offered our Father “let them be one, as you and I are one”…now we know if the Word himself, sent a word on high…it shall DEF not return to him void. Amen! So these are my intentions to be a maker of peace, by providing clarification, that we may lean more towards a mutually understanding of one another, that gives way for lovers of Christ to (more likely) be in agreement with each other (whew! Lots of prepositions).
Main Offer – I offer you to read this woman’s journey to healing (link above) and you will see that she is doing her work of confronting her misconceptions of sex and has attempted to adopt the prevalent spiritual prescriptions of what an enjoyable sex life looks like….and that she is still on her path of healing. She herself hopes to one day enjoy a Song of Solomon experience, but is currently focusing on a path towards enjoyable sex that is most suitable for her situation. I got the impression that you painted her as someone who has stubbornly decided that enjoyable sex is burdensome. Her article shows that she has gone through a journey of coming to the understanding of why sex was burdensome for her, and of working through this disconnect with her husband.
Offer 1 – I offer you to reconsider where the original author’s (OA) “bristle” and “bile in the throat” comes from. You suggested in your post that 1) hearing about what a healthy sex life is like causes the OA to bristle; that this woman 2) bristles BECAUSE as she says “it’s hard for me to think sex is beautiful. I tend to disconnect from the act”; that the OA 3) responds with “bile in her throat” in response to the pastors and husbands who talk about their wives and sex in a positive light. I believe you are misunderstanding the cause/effect relationship here. Consider that for a person who has experienced sexual trauma, s/he experiences a list of symptoms from flashbacks, to gag impulses, to dissociation, and immobility responses (prolongued stiffness experienced in the body), and others (reference books: The Body Bears the Burden; Invisible Heroes; Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide to Understanding Symptoms). These symptoms are to be understood as the imprint of trauma. They are the consequences of the trauma having happened in the first place…consequences which show up and manifest in the survivor’s life due to various triggers. When the OA references the experience of hearing about the “smoking hot wife” and the experience of going to a Christian-based sexy wife conference where they shared various tips for the bedroom, she is referencing triggers to her symptoms (bristling and gag reaction)…she is not referencing the cause for those symptoms. For a survivor, the cause for her/his symptoms is always the original trauma. BECAUSE a survivor was sexually traumatized, s/he may bristle/gag when something triggers the memory of the original trauma. Bristling and gagging is an involuntary response afforded to him/her by her nervous system in response to how the trigger induces her to in a way re-experience in the trauma (reference books above). Especially if the survivor is unaware that unresolved trauma produces consequences (these symptoms)..she is more susceptible to be triggered once exposed to even the most “harmless” stimuli such as a conversation about enjoyable sex. In the article you referenced as well as the other article I am suggesting you read, you will be able to see how the OA came to an understanding that some of her behaviors (not being able to hug her child, etc) where indeed trauma related and she understood why they are affecting her and the relationship with her husband. She bristled b/c she bristled, in the same way that we sneeze when we sneeze and we feel goosebumps when we feel goosebumps. I offer you to see that she is simply explaining how she came to notice her involuntary reponses to what she didn’t think would cause her any discomfort:
“I felt bile rise up in my throat. I knew I couldn’t have been the only woman in this audience suffering from flashbacks from unwanted sexual abuse. I left that conference feeling less than. I tried some of the things they suggested, but I ended up feeling even more cheap”
In the above quote she openly lets us know the she was aware that the gag reflex was a result of being triggered by flashbacks…she even left the conference hoping to try what they suggested. Many survivors who are also Christians eventually come to a point that they realize that their Christian community is well intentioned but often times very insensitive to their experience of trauma. Some survivors never get past that and abstain from active participation in their religious communities, others come to the realization that people/communities/books/therapists will always miss the mark in and of themselves, whether one is a trauma survivor or not. I have come to the understanding that only God “gets me” right on, understanding my situation right on, and he orchestrates a beautifully balanced composition of tools and resources (of people/communities/books/etc) in a way that they help instead of hurt. I sense that this woman is retelling how she had to come to that realization for herself…that is, how to receive from God the word that He would have her hear to get through the season that she is in.
Offer 2 – you suggested that the OA spoke of herself as thinking of sex as a “requirement” and you suggested that she was suggesting that sex is simply (your words) “a command, a fulfillment of her husband’s needs, and something that she is bound to endure as someone broken, scarred, and festering in pain and unresolved anger and bitterness.” Here I will simply say, please re-read point 5 in the OA’s article titled “heal for the other’s sake.” Here the woman is clearly sharing with us that she is working to come to a place where sex is not a requirement. I’m not sure why you dismissed this point.
Offer 3- I offer you not to feel sorry for this woman. You referred to her as “this poor woman” and that you “pity her that she has never experienced within her marriage the sweet oneness […] sexual unity can bring.” Here again, please reference point 5 of the OA’s article in which she shares with us that her brokenness has paradoxically been a gift for her, as it causes her to run to Jesus for healing. If you want to pity anyone, pity the persons who are captivated by the disorderly desires of their flesh that they molest/abuse/rape others. Let us grieve the sin that leaves some of us thinking (incorrectly so) that we need to hurt others to satisfy desires..and let us grieve the sin that leaves the victimized thinking (incorrectly so) that what we cannot escape the consequences/burdens/symptoms of the trauma we were not able to avoid. Both are reason not for pity (I would suggest) but for us to grieve our vulnerable and wretched state as a human race disconnect from God. You pity this woman and you describe her as someone who has not yet faced the freedom of her past. But I offer you that everytime she turns to Christ for renewed healing as she describes, she sees her freedom (in Christ) and sees the gift in her brokenness. Yes, some trauma survivors are not and never become able to enjoy the pleasures of life from the simple joys to the more deeply rewarding aspects of relationship. In the second article she even shares how showing affection to her child was challenging for her. But my faith has led me to understand of the gift of surviving trauma as well, in that as I find myself experiencing so much brokenness in my human experience I began to savor the new creation, I began to savor the Spirit which God has given me as a pledge for the more glorious body to come (2 Corinthians). I began to savor the words of Paul: being exiled in my body, I am at home in Christ. I do not glorify the brokenness, I do not glorify the inability to readily feel certain pleasues… I simply rejoice that there exists “a distress that God approves” (2 Corinthians)…the distress that brings me and other survivors to savor the salvation and redemption of ourselves in Christ. The gift of the Spirit allows those of us who know much distress in our flesh to more readily understand that we are whole and healed on account of the work of Christ. Period. That we have all that we need in Christ period…so that we may be able to exercise patience as God works to heal the brokenness. So that our wholeness does not depend on the condition of the flesh, which is often slow to manifest the glory of God (reference Pastor Jack Hayford’s sermon on Nehemiah: Restoring the Walls). When you pity her for never having experienced the joy of physical intimacy you are insinuating that “she is missing out” which is an impossibility for one whose refuge is Christ.
Let us not pity one another, but rejoice in the opportunity for God to be glorified. Let us rejoice over people like you who instinctively enjoy sex and have never had any significant obstruction to that pleasure so that we may readily see what God intended were it not for the wretchedness of man, AND let us rejoice over people who are surviving traumas of all kinds and live with dignity and have a testimony to share so that we may readily see the glory of God despite that wretchedness. And the glory of God is not always that the blind man see, or that the sexually violated enjoys sex…but sometimes that these come to an understanding of themselves that is in-grown, that is established (not by their human experiences or lack thereof) but by the Spirit of God dwelling in man…the Spirit of God which allows us to freely enjoy the fruits of our salvation irrespective of what our human experience is (the fruits being love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). From the second article I gather that this woman is learning that she is able to have peace and joy in Christ and which is a glory greater that the one that is passing away (the glory of the outer garment which experiences things just as enjoyable sex). I will dare to speak for her this one time by saying don’t waste your pity on her.
Offer 4 – You suggested that her call for open communication is one sided and skewed towards her needs only. I would consider that you read the second article and read how she and her husband are working this out just fine by taking the time to share what both of their experiences and needs have been and how she is learning to be sensitive to how his upbringing has posed challenges in his marriage and how they hope to be there for each other in overcoming strongholds. Also please consider that we are called to a “mutuality” in our relationships that is not always “equal.” If she is the weaker of the two when it comes to sexual intimacy in that she has yet to fully develop her identity as a sexual being and if her husband is more mature in this area in that he sees sex as good (as it is) and desires it (as he should)…we are taught to bear with one another in love. Her needs in this case may outweigh his. Let us rely on God to help us strike the right balance such that no one who takes more has too much and no one who takes less is in want (2 Corinthians 8:15).
Offer 5 – Do consider that having sex IS a sacrifice FOR HER, as she has to overcome the groanings of her carnal experience which the devil uses to prompt and tempt her towards withholding sex. But even SHE recognizes, as you do, that this is less than the best…she says “that this [withholding sex] would leave no room for the gospel–that overflowing beauty of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection.” And so she shares with us that she has decided to rely on Jesus. Jesus helps us renew our minds and re-interpret those same groanings of our flesh (which bear the struggles of our human experience) as not the sound of temptation but as a call to experience the resurrecting/redemptive glory of God (2 Corinthians)
Offer 6 – You suggest that she has a (your words) “misunderstood view of her own pain, and is a self-declared un-whole person” I would ask you to review points above and read the second article
Offer 7 – you continue and end your post by insinuating that this woman is limiting her own healing process…however in the article and the second one I offer, we read language everywhere which points to her acknowledging she is a work in progress. I’m still not sure why you were so quick to draw the conclusion that her current healing is (your words) “minimal in relationship to what true healing is.”
I will conclude with one of my favorite verses, Romans 14:
“One person may have faith enough to eat any kind of food; another, less strong, will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat freely are not to condemn those who are unwilling to eat freely; nor does a person who does not eat freely pass judgement on the one who does—b/c God has welcomed him. […] So the one who eats freely, eats in honour of the Lord, making his thanksgiving to God; and the one who does not, abstains from eating in honour of the Lord and makes his thanksgiving to God […] Why, then, does one of you make himself judge over his brother, and why does another among you despise his brother? […] A privilege of yours must not give must not be allowed to give rise to harmful talk, for it is not eating and drinking that make the kingdom of God, but the saving justice, the peace and the joy brought by the Holy Spirit. […] So then let us be always seeking the ways which lead to peace and the ways in which we can support one another […] Within yourself, before God, hold on to what you already believe. Blessed is the person whose principles do not condemn his practice”
Romans 14:2-22 (NJB)
This is one of my favorite verse which I would like to apply to this situation. Sometimes, for whatever reason, some of us are not able to readily partake in certain activities of life (enjoying sex for pleasure and not requirement in this case) and/or we choose not too…let us serve Christ in whatever WE ARE able to do, that we may be approved by God. As brothers and sisters in Christ we give way to possible distraction by condemning each other for what we can and/or cannot do: the one who is not able to enjoy sex despises the one who is, the one who is able to enjoy sex is judging the one is isn’t able to. For one to despise the other, and for the other to judge the first…is fruitless b/c the kingdom of God (the more glorious portion) does not consist of the ability to engage in certain human activities, but in the ability to demonstrate peace and joy as brought by the Holy Spirit no matter what activities we choose and approve for ourselves and our lifestyle (of course) as long of course that those activities are in line with the truth of who we are in Christ). The verse continues by saying let us continue in our convictions…I understood the article as the woman sharing with us the conviction which she now holds that “the problem with comments like [the smoking hot wife] is that it assumes we all come to marriage pristine, unmarred, and that it’s just a simple choice to be sexy and available.” I understood her to be saying that once she realized that she would have to tailor her approach to the marriage bed by taking into consideration her trauma experience her world opened up to new possibilities and she even saw her brokenness as a gift.
My hope is that other trauma survivors can come to a place of seeing how Christ can give us beauty for ashes just like she is beginning to experience…and that our beauty for ashes will weaken the temptation to harbor any kind of resentment towards those who are uninhibited in the pleasures of life. My hope is that those who CAN more freely experience the goodness of human experience may FULLY enjoy thereof “in honour of the Lord” and may they be guided by love to consider and be sensitive to the fact that their privileges may be a cause for a sister/brother to “fall away, be scandalized, or to weaken” (2 Corinthians 12:21). We, believers in Christ, are all one body…let us be ONE as the Father and Son are one. Let us manifest in our selves, in our communities, in our relationships, and in our conversations, the inclination, propensity, and eagerness to realize this ONE-ness by remaining open to the Holy Spirit, without which ONE-ness has no meaning. With the Spirit, we may bear with one another in love.
I zeroed in on this comment because of the “flashbacks”, “gag reflexes”, etc. A close family member of mine has struggled with PTSD (post-traumatic-stress-disorder) this past year and a half, and I can attest to the triggers that can send one into complete fear and repulsion in certain situations. But it’s a response of the brain, and the mind, and YES, I believe FULLY that Christ can heal His broken, but we must trust Him to not only heal the emotionally more susceptible side of our hearts, but also our real, physical body, our real physical brain processes.
I too, felt like I read a different article. And after it, I read several other of hers. I can see both hers and Ashley’s point. But I guess I am one to err on the side of grace to this obviously “still-healing” (still a work in progress, as I MYSELF am as well) sister in Christ. “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone…”?
Ashley, THANK YOU – for being a young woman, seeking after her God with a passion and abandonment that is obvious. I believe this heart gave you the passion to write your thoughts on this topic. Thank you for inviting me to comment about this …
A challenge continues before us, to connect GOD to our dailiness. It’s actually a WONDERFUL CHALLENGE AND ADVENTURE! We are often content when we connect Him simply to our “worship”. Could that be a well-placed tactic of Satan? Leave the connection at THAT door? Satan is sly. “Christ came to give life more abundant” (John 10:10) yet sometimes it is so difficult to apply this in our struggle areas and in our daily life moments. Your thoughts encourage and challenge this and are not typical! Have we connected that Satan would like to “steal from us, kill us”, in THIS area? HE, the CREATOR can create in us a new heart and life more abundant, even in our sexual God honoring moments! I believe those commenting, all believe this. 🙂
I loved your sensitivity. Is it a process, yes. Are there hurts, oh yes. Is there a Rescuer who completely makes us new … Ezekiel 36:26 backs that. He even changes our SPIRITS … our attitudes! All new! New. Some personal thoughts:
My husband and I sensed early on in our ministry, that MANY teens have never seen their parents live the essence of loving the … romantic side of their marriage.
Security for children is found in parents who love each other deeply, and demonstrate a loving relationship. Of course Satan would like to demolish this bedrock, and in our hurting world, is doing that with skill.
The concept of demonstrating of course promotes a verbal response, as well as an observance. “That couple loves to hold hands, speak of their love and show a watching world, there is a BEAUTY, a PASSION about doing this “marriage” thing with skill, focus, and excellence”. (Phil. 1:9,10 has a sweet application even to this area.) I wonder if the Pastors who are being questioned, etc., about their vocalness in this area, are simply trying to promote and reclaim GOD in this area! Why should Satan steal our joy? AND JOY IS SO TENDERLY AVAILABLE, from the God who heals! Again, we all agree. 🙂
My husband and I kiss often when we are in front of our own children. We practice not going by each other without touching, even in our home. We celebrate our love on FB, when he is teaching, and often he will call me up and kiss me almost in any setting, when he is speaking. If the world is blatant about showing the unfaithful celebrating … the unmarried “celebrating” … shouldn’t those RESCUED FROM THAT MINDSET celebrate the joy and security that comes from being filled with the SPIRIT in this area!?!!
I owe a lot to two Godly women who encouraged me young in my marriage ….”Ellen, wait until you see what God can do over the years in this area of your life.” Women helping women get past misconceptions! It set an expectation and challenge that I am still enjoying fully …I will celebrate 30 years in June … but let me say … I like celebrating much more than that!