skirmishing over good sex #pietka

Skirmishes about good sex (bad sex?) are breaking out all over the place. With her recent, widely read and distributed post, Rachel Pietka has set the cat among the pigeons, arguing as she does that Christians should not assume or expect that sex in marriage will be great. It might never be great, and that’s ok, she says – just take bad sex as an occasion to grow in grace and focus on the more vital aspects of life and marriage.

Pietka is particularly taking aim at the false claim of abstinence education programs that insist that if you just wait until you are married, you will have the reward of great sex. She thinks this emphasis on great sex is setting an awful lot of people up for disappointment in the bedroom when the wedding night is a flop and there may be years of sexual dissatisfaction.

But as an orthodox Christian, Pietka also doesn’t believe the answer to this problem  is an abandonment of abstinence before marriage (which is, of course, the prescription contemporary culture offers). Rather, as mentioned, she suggests that sexual incompatibility, or bad sex, is something that Christians just might have to endure faithfully and prayerfully, as we endure many other things.

And in the other corner we have Sheila Gregoire, who has written a book entitled The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. So you can imagine where she comes down on all of this. To sum up her counter-argument to Pietka: “After a decade, whether your honeymoon was great or not, you experience roughly the same levels of sexual satisfaction. Sex is a learning curve, and the best thing to do is just relax and be happy you can truly be intimate. Don’t worry too much. Things will happen and will get great with time.” Continue reading

celebrating difference…

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.  That’s the title of a book, of course, by American author and relationship counselor John Gray. He argues that women and men represent distinct worlds – it’s like they’re from different planets. And he tries to describe these different worlds or planets. In this well-known book, many of the things he says may seem to be common sense. He says that in the face of stress men tend naturally to withdraw (he calls this retreating to the cave), while women naturally want to talk about things. Men he says, like to do things on their own, while women like to work collaboratively. Men tend to look after themselves while women tend to look after others.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus has sold more than seven million copies. And of course there are other books not unlike John Gray’s – books that promise to give us insight into the differences between women and men – books that promise to help men and women in their marriages and intimate relationships because they will begin to understand one another better.

It’s remarkable that in our culture there are, on the one hand, strong voices that tell us that women and men are fundamentally different from each other. For many of course, this is just common sense – that women and men are quite different. John Gray and others tap into this common sense. Continue reading

sarah harmer’s take…

Canadian musician Sarah Harmer has a new album out next month, but in advance her label has released a single from the album entitled ‘Captive’. You can hear it on her website, here. I was struck by the logic of the lyrics. The song-writer points to our sometime inability to live well within a relationship (thus, ‘forget the way I acted’) and then expresses her desire to be ‘held captive’ in the relationship – her voluntary wish is to be ‘fenced in’ and to be ‘held to this thing’ so that she can live in the joy and delight of love. The counterpoint is that if she is not fenced in (even if it is a wholly voluntary fencing in) she won’t get to the good stuff. Thus, the song opens:

I want to be held captive (Oh oh oh)
Forget the way I acted (Oh oh oh)
It’s just I’m out of practice (Oh oh oh)
and d-distracted.

And ends with:

Fence me in and keep me close
Fence me in and keep me close to you

Continue reading

a woman’s story

A sermon interlude in a series on the book of Ruth.


This morning’s sermon represents something of an interlude in our series on the book of Ruth. It’s not that we are turning away from that story today, but we take a step back in order to take a slightly different perspective on this wonderful narrative. 

As we take that step back, I want to remind us, or point out, that telling stories is a part of human nature. Even more, our story-telling ability in some sense makes a human, a human. This ability defines us. As human beings we tell stories that reach back into the past, stories that speak about our present experiences, and stories that reach into the future we imagine. The fact that story-telling defines us is particularly shown when we point out that if you really want to know someone – if you really want to know who she is – facts aren’t enough. Continue reading