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"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Matthew 5:28 is a notoriously misinterpreted verse with a complicated history, and a reputation of being a marriage killer.
No, not some kind of erotic teetotaling. Unhelpful and unnecessary prohibitions provoke us to moralism. But God’s grace changes that.
Its rationale is dubious. Regardless, God tells us to not be “mastered” by anything, including sex. What then shall we do?
By: Bethany Bray
By: Mary VandenBerg
By: Sir Roger Scruton
Director: Louise Lockwood, BBC Two
Resentment is one of the greatest marriage problems that couples will ever face. Some talk about money and specifically sex as being the biggest challenges. However, those problems and others frequently lead to resentment, which can become a deeply ingrained point of no return from which couples too often never recover.
God made men to love to look at feminine beauty, and many women don't like, let alone understand, that reality. These women (and some men) may consider males to be stereotypical, sexually immoral perverts. And unfortunately, this often can seem to be the case because men don't change their DNA and those condemning them don't tend to change their bias.
Why did God allow both sexes to operate this way? Well, you'll have to ask him on that one. Regardless, it's when men and women get together and then resent one another sexually that this really becomes a big problem.
Resentments and marriage problems arise when one spouse hard-heartedly condemns the other for real or perceived wrongs. A great number of women may actually despise their men for such offenses, either openly or silently. At some point, she develops a resentment towards him because of perceived threats to their relationship that leave her needs unmet. In response, he then also resents her because either way, real threats or not, he’s condemned for wanting to express his sex drive. One can argue that too many divorces are due to the fact that faithful husbands still love looking at other beautiful women because God made them that way, and that their wives don't just dislike, but bitterly resent them for it.
Looking at beauty can take many forms. The sensuality of sexual imagery is certainly the main draw of pornography, but it’s not the only one. Closely related is that viewers are neither judged, shamed, nor condemned by the subjects in the images. They are attracted to porn not only for the beauty, but because they are not despised by the subjects, and because they can experience a feeling of acceptance. Men and women get a sense of freedom when they express themselves sexually, which they may not be free to do otherwise.
The double standard here occurs when one spouse insists that the other respond in an accommodating way to their own relational wants, while at the same time they deny the God-given sexual needs of the other. These needs may go unmet, and the result is that the relationship deteriorates. Alas, many husbands' attempts to love their wives sexually are sadly rebuffed.
And it's not just men who suffer for it. It's wives as well, but not for the reasons you might think. One big reason for the hurt is the personal bitterness related to all the unrighteous condemnation that’s inflicted. In a Christian context, that’s not very surprising. Men are generally the ones who are condemned all their lives for wanting to express their God-given sexuality.
Despite this opposition, most Christian men want to love their woman. They long to see the sensual beauty of their wives. However, this is where feminism and emasculation come in. First off, many women aren't even comfortable in their own skin. Now, the media and culture aren't doing any favors to help that, but when she’s insecure, it can throw off every sexual response that follows in her marriage. She may become overly self-conscious and in her mind condemn her husband for appreciating beauty of other women. Her insecurity can turn into resentment towards his visual nature, and she may refuse his advances. Likewise, this often leads to resentment from her husband in return, who likely cows to her refusals in order to avoid making things worse, until he can no longer take it.
What you’re not usually told is that your spouse may (even unknowingly) hate their own body, and that their resentment of your frequent need for sex or their condemnation when you look at other people (not even to covet) is the real reason you’re driven toward porn. Rather, we’re told by Christian sex “experts” that the problem is usually some brain issue. The sad thing about all of it though, is that many wives believe their husbands will no longer see them as beautiful or love them if husbands look at other women.
These beliefs are some of the biggest factors underlying marriage strife. It’s assumed by some that male sexuality is in some way partly sinful by nature, but this is simply not true. Many marriages have been threatened or have failed because the guy spends time masturbating or looking at porn and she mistakenly calls it sin. Resentments grow, and then since an understanding isn’t reached, the marriage too often unnecessarily ends in divorce. This doesn’t have to be.
Ironically, it's really both accepting God-given sexual drives and meeting the sexual and relational needs of your spouse that will lead to a calming of marital tensions. Initially, it may feel like placating biases and that it might exacerbate the problem at first, but just like with the gospel, responding to God's grace and then with grace toward others can be counter intuitive.
Resentment In Marriage: The Double Standard
Sexual strife is rarely one-sided, and unmet needs of each spouse lead to bitter resentment. We need Jesus's tenderhearted love.
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To the women whose men love Jesus and provide for them: You are greatly loved. And you may not realize the degree of sexual self-control that he exhibits in striving to love you faithfully, as well as his continual sacrifice for you. By his Spirit, God is producing that self-control in your man. However, in requiring a stricter-than-God morality, you are communicating to your husband that God's standards are not good enough. Do you also require your man to deny and eradicate part of the sexuality God gave him? And to those women who do not have a loving marriage: Your Father in heaven loves you beyond what you even know, in ways like a good husband loves you, but far more. He will give you the grace that you need.
Ladies, hopefully it's clear how much your man wants you, because if he seriously considers the demands of purity culture, be aware that they are contrary to every fiber of who God made him to be. Just know that if your man does acquiesce to following some sexually moralistic “battle plan for purity” that you may be left with a man who, deep in his heart, is a resentful religious ascetic. And it will only be out of his own pride, or misrepresented love for you and a notion of feeling whipped, that he caves to it.
There must be understanding and grace from both wives and husbands, and the church to heal the real problem of contempt resulting from the "problem" of porn. Be tender-hearted in your love and avoid resentment toward the one you married. Your spouse is neither hopeless, nor should they be despised. Wives need to understand their men and love them according to their needs, and husbands must love their wives in an understanding way. It’s that kind of love along with the grace of God which changes people more than anything.
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