Do all the stipulations in the Bible on sex benefit women? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
On yesterday’s blog, some commenters on Facebook thought that I had given the impression that in this society, women were only valued for sex. They were pretty much objects. One did rightly see I was trying to point out the sacredness of sex, but that didn’t come across that way.
So today, I want to clear things up as to why the Bible has these rules and if they are good for women or not.
Let’s start with something. I do think our society is led by men. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for women. When men are being men, they will look out for the women around them. I suspect there weren’t many feminists on the Titanic who were objecting when it was said “Women and children first!”
A man who abuses and/or uses a woman is not being a man really. He’s being less of a man. If you view yourself as a leader in society, your goal is to build up those around you and not to tear them down. Any man if he wants to can take a woman’s body. Not any man can take her heart. That requires that he be a real man and one she is willing to entrust her heart to.
So let’s look at some other realities. Are some men more tempted to just look at women as sex objects? Yes. Pornography is a great example of this. If anything has taught men to treat women as objects, it’s pornography.
In the ancient world, this would also be the natural temptation of men. After all, men by nature of the chemicals and hormones in their bodies tend to have very high sex drives. Not all do and in some marriages, the woman actually has the higher drive. We’re speaking of averages here.
A man and a woman would often get together immediately in an arranged marriage and then you could be introducing yourselves to one another and then sleeping together immediately as husband and wife. Why this way? Because sex is meant to be a bonding act. It releases scores of hormones and chemicals that bind the two people to one another.
This is one reason Christians safeguard this so much. Not because sex is anything dirty. After all, the joke is that many Christians are taught two things about sex growing up. #1. It’s dirty. #2. I should save it for someone I love.
Sex is in a sense like nuclear energy. If you use it the way it was meant to be used, wonderful things can happen. If you use it in a way it’s not meant to be used, Chernobyl can happen. Do we see this? Yes. Look at most any talk show on where they talk about who is the father of who and see it. Look at single mothers who have been kicked to the curb by a guy because he thought someone hotter came along or he didn’t want to get married. Sadly, look at our divorce culture where too many people don’t take their vows seriously and many times, one person is rejected and abandoned over it.
In sharing my own story of divorce, I have had men share stories with me that leave me thankful I didn’t go through that and I have heard stories in DivorceCare that are indeed horrendous. Even harder is the fact that so many men and women jump into relationships immediately before they are ready because of the intense loneliness. Some have said that being divorced is worse than the other person dying and I am inclined to agree. Death is normally not intentional. Divorce is.
The rules of the Old Testament also started with people where they were. Let’s face it again. Guys are very much driven by sex and our natural tendency will be the path of least resistance to get what we want. We were originally designed to use our drive for the good of the other. Now we often place the good of ourselves first and foremost. Women become just means to us. Even outside of sex, this is naturally how we tend to view other people. What can they do for me?
Women meanwhile live in a world where half of the people around them could overpower them if they wanted to for the most part. Yes. I realize that there are men who are not physically intimidating, including myself, and there are women who know how to fight well, but I am again speaking of averages. I will not claim to know what it’s like to walk as a woman in a parking lot at night, though I do walk out women who work at night where I work so they don’t have to go alone.
The Old Testament doesn’t expect perfection right away. Consider many of the rules as baby steps towards a better ideal. We have slavery at the start in the wilderness, but as time moves along and people become more and more capable economically, that starts to dissipate. Jesus Himself implies this when He says that Moses granted divorce because of hardness of heart, but this is not the way it was meant to be.
So God looks at sinful men and says that if they follow their natural instincts, they will pay a price. They will either have to be with the woman for life or at the least, pay a hefty fine. That’s to curtail the man’s strong desire. So if he wants to be with the woman then, what does he have to do? He has to work up and be a man and really impress the father enough that he says “Okay. I can trust you with her.” Many of us know that if we start acting a certain way towards someone, our feelings towards that someone can change. Lewis once said to not ask if you love your neighbor. Live like you do, and loving feelings will follow. Even if they don’t, you are still doing the right thing.
Within the past few years, I was at Celebrate Recovery and for the group sharing after, it was just me and one other man. He told me about how he doesn’t feel respected by his wife and XYZ and all this other stuff. I listened and then said, “You know, I’m hearing all of this stuff and I’m going to say something and it’s going to sound insensitive, but I think I need to say it.”
BAM! The guy said even the next week it was the slap in the face he needed.
After all, as I explained. You have a duty. You have a responsibility. You made a promise as a husband. You are to do that regardless of how you feel. Do your duty and let her work out her own issues.
The Christian call to a man is not to deny his sex drive. God made it for us and He made the woman’s body desirable to us for a reason. He built the engine. It’s instead to channel that into greater love for the woman. Saving sex for marriage is meant to say that you only get to love the woman this way after you make a lifetime commitment. There is no try before you buy.
This is also to make the woman feel safe. She can freely give herself to the man because she knows he has her best interests at heart. He has made the promise and he will keep it. Ideally, a woman will meet the needs of her husband sexually, and he will meet her needs as well, not just emotional, but every other need. Also ladies, if you have a good man, he delights in meeting your needs and wants to meet your needs.
I can safely tell you that when I was married, I loved doing things that I thought put a smile on her face. When our anniversary came, I tried to go all out every single year. I wanted to go above and beyond to please her. Some I remember well, such as taking her to the hotel we stayed in our first night for our first anniversary to recreate things. For the fifth, I took her to an Equestrian theater. For the seventh, a friend had given me $200 and told me to spend it on something fun explicitly. I spent all of it and even more on our anniversary which included eating out for every meal, getting her a PSP, and a singing telegram singing songs from our wedding and other songs.
For me, I just wanted to make her happy and have her feel loved.
Ladies. Please remember you are worth a lifetime commitment. Don’t give yourself to a man for anything less than that. Let him demonstrate his commitment by making the promise first.
God realizes our natural tendencies in Scripture and puts these stipulations in because He wants us to get the most out of what He has made. It is wrong to say God only cares about our happiness, but it is just as wrong to say our happiness matters nothing to Him. God created love and sex and marriage for us to enjoy it as well and we should. Marriage done right will have us living more holy lives and in those lives finding more joy in one another and in God.
As we go through Scripture looking at marriage and divorce, keep this in mind. We are talking about the sacred. Marriage and sex are sacred because they come from a God who is sacred and they involve two people who are meant to be sacred together and bring up holiness in the next generation.
I hope this clears up matters for readers and my apologies for any bad phrasing on my part yesterday.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)