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Appropriate Sexuality within a Marriage, Frequency *and* Activities

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#41 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 20 December 2014 - 06:28 PM

When all else is said and done the purpose of sex is to propagate the species. Without sex there are no people. However, sex becomes an end in and of itself if boundaries are not set. Within marriage, sex becomes a mutual expression of love. Marriage becomes the boundary of a stable relationship that can care and provide for the children that may result from that relationship. Where sex is concerned about the "other" person rather than oneself, particularly in the basic fact that it produces children to be loved and raised in Christ, it is a good thing.

 

Therefore, the Church, by and large, teaches that children are expected as part of a marriage. This is abundantly clear from the prayers of the ceremony of matrimony. In all these things, sacrifice and moderation are important. The presence of children, by their nature, often limits sexual activity due to the time and attention they require, which provides opportunity for parents to practice self-control. In general terms, sex is expected to become an less important part of the marital relationship, as it matures. 

 

How much is "too much" is difficult to quantify in specific terms, although anything that distracts us from Christ is generally not encouraged by the Church. When sex is for selfish reasons, it becomes a distraction from a spiritual life. If I want to have sex and my spouse does not, I get to practice self-control and sacrifice my own needs for those of my spouse. If she wants physical contact and I'm not necessarily "in the mood", providing for her needs over mine is again a chance to exercise selflessness.

 

But there are clearly times when sexual activity is proscribed to help us learn and practice self-control and this is clearly outlined by Holy Scripture:

 

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, (Ecclesiastes 3:5)
 
Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations. (Exodus 19:15)
 
And the Apostle Paul is very specific:
 
Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:1-5).
 
"... for a time ..." is considered by many in the Church to refer to times of fasting and prior to Communion. Perhaps the answer is simpler than some of us might want it to be?
 
Simple thoughts from a bear of little brain.


#42 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 02 February 2015 - 09:20 PM

It is increasingly obvious that this topic has individuals who do not wish for it to be discussed.  Why those who do not wish to discuss it simply cannot ignore it, I have no idea.
 
That being said, post #41 had some great statements.  I disagree with the statement "When all else is said and done the purpose of sex is to propagate the species."  Otherwise, infertile couples would be forbidden from that aspect of marriage.
 
What I have found is that the answer is rather clear.  When a husband and wife are joined in marriage, it is not ok for either to deny the sexual relationship.  It may be the husband, or it may be the wife.  Both can happen... I believe the latter is more common.  And it is not ok.  It is only ok if both the husband and the wife agree.  Period.
 

The scriptural admonition is for married couples not to deny each other sexual relations, except by mutual consent for the purpose of prayer and fasting. Abstinence from sexual relations (by mutual consent) is certainly appropriate the evening before receiving the Holy Sacraments, and during the day that one receives them. It is certainly not an absolute "requirement” of the Church to abstain on all fast days (and on the eves of fast days), or during the 11 days after the Nativity when marriages are not permitted. The Russian Church in the 13th century issued guidelines for married clergy on these issues, and they included as days of mandatory abstinence only the first and last week of Great Lent, the two weeks of Dormition Lent, and Wednesdays and Fridays during Nativity Lent and the Lent of the Holy Apostles. The married state is blessed and the marriage bed is undefiled. The Holy Church in protecting the sanctity of marriage and the well-being of the spouses, as well as encouraging procreation and the raising of "fair children” has no interest in creating artificial impediments to preclude spouses from "rejoicing in one another.”
Archpriest Alexander Lebedev

 
As for activities, that part of the discussion can occur if and only if others participate in the discussion.



#43 Lakis Papas

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Posted 02 February 2015 - 10:43 PM

 Matthew 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 



#44 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 12:23 AM

I disagree with the statement "When all else is said and done the purpose of sex is to propagate the species."  Otherwise, infertile couples would be forbidden from that aspect of marriage.

The PURPOSE of sex is to propagate the species. This ought to be self-evident and has nothing to do with what is or is not "forbidden". Sex organs are designed for a specific purpose; insemination, even if a person happens to be infertile. A gun that shoots blanks does not cease being a gun.

 

Propagation obviously and biologically does not require marriage. "Accidents cause people". I think a better question is does marriage REQUIRE propagation?



#45 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 02:08 AM

The PURPOSE of sex is to propagate the species. This ought to be self-evident and has nothing to do with what is or is not "forbidden". Sex organs are designed for a specific purpose; insemination, even if a person happens to be infertile. A gun that shoots blanks does not cease being a gun.

 

 

Sex organs are designed for insemination only?  And all this time, I thought the man's external organ was multi-purpose.  

How must a male eliminate urine then?

 

The argument that all organs must be used for an asserted single-purpose design principle is ludicrous.  It certainly is not self-evident.  However, as far a design goes, there are very few body parts that are single purpose.  Or perhaps it is acceptable that body parts/organs are multi-purpose.  Moving on...

 

The human female contains an organ that is apparently designed for a single purpose: experiencing pleasure.  And the argument that it is only pleasure due to insemination is simply not reflected in nature.  Boy, that is a big blow to the whole argument.

 

But, even assuming that it were accurate.  Why not take that argument to the logical conclusions and lets enumerate a multitude of sins:

  • Individual loses his arms in an accident, learns to write with his foot
  • Woman uses her head to shut a door when her arms are full of groceries
  • Girl cuts her hair to sell for charity (or a survivalist uses human hair to make a cord)
  • Boy vomits through his mouth (that was obviously designed for only for consuming communion)
  • Woman pierces her ear (that should only be used for hearing)
  • Tatoos on the skin

I mean, the list just goes on and on.  So why the preoccupation with the reproductive organs and ignoring all the other examples?



#46 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 02:30 AM

I didn't say "only". You are simply being belligerent. I'm done.



#47 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 01:04 PM

The MULTI-PURPOSE of sex is 1) to create an emotional bond within a marriage (especially for the husband) and 2) to propagate the species.  There are multiple illustrations of the first purpose within a monogamous marriage comprised of pious individuals:

  • A husband whose "gun" does not perform purpose two, shooting blanks and all.
  • A wife who is infertile (naturally or through a hysterectomy)

Within a healthy Orthodox marriage, the first purpose is especially important.  Contrary to being belligerent, I am being intellectually honest and consistent.  Ad hominem doesn't strengthen a position.

 

And in case you hadn't noticed, traditional marriage in modern societies has become a sham.  The traditional Orthodox haven't gotten a handle on that in over 100 years.  Is there any wonder why there is no moral authority to speak to the issue(s) of the day in the culture wars?



#48 Michael T.

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 11:17 PM

Ok, I'll give a pat, simple answer. This could be taken as a silly answer, but as a man in my mid 50s I find it as the bottom line.

I give that preface to say that I am being very serious with this answer.

The sin quo non of Christianity is love, and the difference in "making love" and "boffing" is love. As much as the answers to these questions are dependent on individuals what is required is first and foremost the other. If one is to live the Life, the choices and actions one decides to do should be in light of the other. If each of the two spouses( I still would like to call them "spice") puts the others needs, desires and joy before self, the answer to these questions will be self evident.

#49 Anna Stickles

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 11:31 PM

This is true, but it is not the whole picture.  Christian marriage does not exist solely as a relationship between two people, but it has responsibilities within, and exists as part of, the wider social structure.  Consider this article.  

 

the point is that when marriage is reduced to love between two people apart from the social responsibilites inherent in their marriage relationship, then even the seemingly most selfless giving of one to the other is really something selfish and going to tend toward idol worship rather than agape.

 

Our modern era wants to make sex as something entirely private between two people, but I think we have to question this and understand that traditionally this was socially regulated and that both men and women were not merely responsible to themselves but to the society at large. The whole homosexuality debate is basically gaining ground because sex is no longer considered a social responsibility, but a completely private affair between two people.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 20 August 2015 - 11:36 PM.


#50 Anna Stickles

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 12:02 AM

The MULTI-PURPOSE of sex is 1) to create an emotional bond within a marriage (especially for the husband) and 2) to propagate the species.

again, sex exists within the context of marriage and marriage has the larger purpose of helping to stabilize and bind peoples together beyond simply the two involved. Both emotional bonds and procreation exist within the wider context of what this does to benefit and bring oneness and unity to the extended families and the larger society.   Marriage in the Church exists within the wider sacramental reality of how this reflects and contributes to the unity and communion of the whole Body of Christ.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 21 August 2015 - 12:06 AM.


#51 Michael T.

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 12:30 AM

Absolutely Anna, and that is why having focus on the Other is so important. A house can only be as stong as the bricks from which it is built.




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