Feminism

is it possible to be a sex-positive Christian? [part one]

If you’ve spent any time in feminist circles, you’ve probably bumped into the term sex-positive. It gets thrown around a bit, and one thing I’ve noticed is that it can occasionally be difficult to nail down what the writer/speaker means when they use it, so I’m going to offer a definition for what I mean when I use it.

To me, being sex-positive means that sex can be a good and healthy part of human experience. Not everyone wants sex a lot — or at all — and that is also good and healthy. Being sex-positive means I believe in educating people about sex, about safe sex, about contraception, about STIs, about how to give and experience sexual pleasure, and I believe in removing stigmas and myths from sex (such as “virgin women bleed the first time“). Being sex-positive means that I believe in seeking enthusiastic consent, and that consent is the most basic, fundamental, necessary part of sex, as it is the only thing that separates sex from rape. I believe in educating people about being a responsible sex partner, giving young people especially the tools to make complicated, nuanced decisions regarding sex.

It also means that I don’t shame, judge, or condemn those who are (or are not) having sex, regardless of their life circumstances.

Including whether or not they are married.

And that is where I and probably most Christians part ways. To many Christians, the only conversation to be had about sex is in the context of heterosexual (and, in same cases, such as Matthew Vines, homosexual) marriage. The gold standard in evangelical conversations about sex is abstinence, and it is typically the only information and encouragement unmarried people receive.

However, just because I disagree with many (if not most) Christians about this doesn’t mean that I don’t have access to either Christian tradition or the Bible to make my argument. I’m going to lay out my argument in a few posts, with today’s focusing on laying some groundwork.

A note before I begin: I am a progressive Christian, and that does mean I interact with Scripture differently than an evangelical who believes in inerrancy and takes a literalist approach. I don’t want to hash that all out, so if you’re curious about how I see the Bible, Peter Enns’ The Bible Tells Me So is a good book to start with. For more controversial reading, Forged by Bart Ehrman was interesting.

~~~~~~~~~~

I. Sin

The question that I have to start with, as a Christian, is “is pre-marital sex a sin?”, but the most relevant part of that question is our definition of sin. In many Christian conversations about what sin is, it seems to be assumed that “sin is a transgression of the law of God.” In a sense, I agree with this definition, but it’s because I believe that “the law of God” can be summed up in “to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” Where I disagree with this definition is in its common application: many Christians preach and act as though “sin” is “doing something that God says you’re not allowed to do.”

That application is non-sensical to me because the Bible doesn’t cover that much ground, really, and there’s a whole lot of things we can do that is never addressed– so how are we supposed to know God’s stance on it? Especially when what we do have in the Bible has God apparently telling people to commit genocide and infanticide … repeatedly. I think we’d all agree that genocide is a moral evil, but the Bible shows God commanding it, which is disturbing. Personally, I believe that either a) the people who wrote the Old Testament believed that God told them to do that, regardless of whether or not he did, or b) they said God had commanded it to justify it. “B” makes the most sense to me, as people have used their deity to justify all sorts of evil things through history.

This is why I believe that it’s important to have a more consistent sense of ethics than my deity (dis)approves of this action. Personally, my ethics and morals are guided by the question could this action or inaction cause harm? This aligns with my understanding of “love your neighbor as yourself,” and “they shall know you be how you love one another.” This question allows a lot of room for nuance and complexity, as not every situation and person is going to require the same response from me. Does my deity approve of this action? is very black-and-white and does not allow for circumstance, but could this cause harm? does.

So, for me, the question “is pre-marital sex a sin?” becomes “will having sex cause harm?” It’s extremely important to note that this question applies inside of marriage, as well as out of it. This is not a question we can stop asking just because we signed a piece of paper.

~~~~~~~~~~

II. Rejecting the Premise

The Bible is a very old collection of books. I wish that’s something that didn’t need to be mentioned, but it is. It is very old. Ancient, in fact. Directions in Deuteronomy about stoning women who didn’t bleed on their wedding night are from 700 BCE, possibly. Conversations about “fornication” or “sexual immorality” from the Pauline epistles are from the first century. These facts mean that there is some historical context we have to situate ourselves in before we can even begin having a biblically-based conversation about sex.

On its face, it seems as though the New Testament consistently condemns all forms of extra-marital sex, but I think it’s important to ask the question why? It’s also important to address the problem that what the New Testament writers had in mind may not be a 1-for-1 correlation to our modern-day situation, and for us to seek the “eternal principle” that can apply to us. I believe that the consistent morality presented in Scripture is rooted in love and not causing harm to others, and I’ll get to why I believe that specifically applies to sex on Friday.

For today, the most important idea to keep in front of us is that the New Testament does not reject the practice of owning people as property. Property law, it can be argued, was the foundation of Roman society (and, by influence, Western civilization. See: white police officers being more concerned with the destruction of property than the destruction of human life in places like Ferguson). At the time St. Paul was writing, the paterfamilias, the head of the household, was able to order his life and by extension society because he owned people. He owned his wife, he owned his children, he owned his slaves. We see this in the way that several biblical passages are organized around the Greco-Roman Household Codes.

Paul doesn’t directly challenge this system in his epistle to Philemon, although he doesn’t exactly endorse it, either. Owning people as property just … existed. Paul might not have been happy with it, but it was there. The NT almost seems to shrug it off in some ways– explaining to Christians how to live in this system while practicing love and doing no harm. Paul even made the shocking suggestion to the paterfamilias that he was morally obligated to take good care of his property. For its time, these letters were progressive. However, we’ve gone farther. Most of us have decided that slavery is a moral evil and that, specifically, women are capable people and are not possessions attached to their husbands.

In this system, in a society where women are either the property of their fathers, husbands, the government, or religion, we could be damaged. If we “lost” our virginity, we were quite literally worth less, and, as such, had been harmed. The fathers who owned us were also harmed because they’d lost their ability to sell us for an ‘unsullied’ price. Because of this, it’s easy to see why the NT seems to so roundly condemn extra-marital sex. When a woman’s value is directly attached to whether or not she’s had sex with or been raped by a man, having sex with her is harmful, and should not be done.

However, that’s not where we are today. Today, women aren’t property. Marriage isn’t about a sale. We don’t care about things like dowries and ensuring the existence of legal heirs. The context has changed, although the basic question (“would having sex be harmful?”) hasn’t.

Photo by Sarah Reid
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  • I wrote about this topic in a post for iMonk in November. Lots of very smart people commented on it, so I’d highly recommend reading the post and the comment thread.

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/guest-question/comment-page-1

    These are two of the best responses I received IMO:

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/guest-question/comment-page-1#comment-936741

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/guest-question/comment-page-1#comment-936904

    My own feelings on the matter are still fluid and undecided, but I’m leaning towards accepting the sexual ethic I propose in the entry.

  • This is fascinating. I admit I don’t know what I think of this topic (since the necessary definitions like, say, “marriage” are quite difficult to pin down), so I appreciated your thoughtful take on this. And your interpretation of the Bible. I anticipate the rest of your posts. 🙂

  • Now to address your post directly. I cannot personally affirm every sexual experience that a person could have even within the bounds of enthusiastic consent. I just can’t believe that “consenting adults” and “do no harm” is quite enough for a functionally moral Christian sexual ethic. To quote Danielle from iMonk: “…it seems healthful to affirm the goodness of the lesser goals one might bring to sex (pleasure, release, fun, desire for progeny, and so on), but better to bring such goods into the service of greater ones, such as relating meaningful and intimately to someone else over a sustained period of time.”

    I just can’t wrap my brain around the concept that, for example, that the acts engaged in by the guy on my baseball forum who boasted about his drunken (Consenting all the way around, if you were wondering.) threesome among other things are just as “good” as acts engaged by people who actually love each other and wish to better each other beyond just providing an orgasm and leaving. I’ll fully admit that my views are not heavily researched and are based more on gut feeling than anything else, so it may be possible that I’ve been overly influenced by my disgust reflex and that I’m just a killjoy, but I honestly at this moment do not think so.

    • This is where the “do no harm” question comes into play. Was the drunken threesome “harmful”? And I’m not necessarily asking “was anyone assaulted/raped or caused physical damage in a way they did not consent to?”

      An action can be harmful in an abstract sense, including relationally and emotionally, and I think those things can be taken into account. It’s just not up to me to decide that for other people.

      • No. They screwed and left, although he claimed they broke the bed in the hotel they were staying at, so it may have hurt his wallet somewhat.

    • I’m afraid that, while one is clearly far more harmful than the other, I don’t see why your feeling that there’s something wrong about a threesome between people who don’t love each other would be more accurate in some way than Thabiti Anyabwile’s diatribe on how revolting same-sex sexual acts are. Consent is measurable; “it revolts me” and “it’s just plain wrong” are not.

    • If I may offer my take on this, you state that you can’t see the wild and drunken threesome as “just as good” as bonding and intimacy between committed individuals that love each other. I think that is a reasonable opinion, but it does not imply that the threesome was /wrong/. Things can be of lesser value without being wrong or negative in any way.

      For example, I enjoyed sometimes watching a soccer game and drinking beers with my friends. It was fun and a positive experience. I do not, however, value this experience as highly as, say, the time I drove out into the countryside to go meteor-watching with my wife overnight. This is primarily because A) I have a more intimate connection with my wife than my soccer-watching friends, B) the meteor-watching experience took more time and investment to make it happen, so its value was higher, C) I CHOSE to place a higher value on it because I was more interested in investing love and emotion into that event than into watching soccer and D) despite the fact that it was bitterly cold, it was simply a more enjoyable and exciting activity.

      I think this can apply to sexual experiences. Different experiences may have different levels of value. The drunken threesome may not have been wrong… just a night of fun, like watching the soccer game. An intimate night with one’s spouse, might be much more meaningful for some, without having to make the threesome /wrong/. The important thing is that the people engaging in this experience have to be the ones to ensure that the value of the experience is preserved, regardless of whether their engaging in casual or non-casual sex. If someone in the threesome wasn’t enjoying it, then they should be able to stop if they wish, just like if someone in the intimate married-partner-sex isn’t enjoying it they should be able to stop if they wish. The married sex isn’t /inherently/ better… that will depend on the value the partners involved wish to place on it and how well they treat and respect each other.

      Does that make sense?

      • Josie

        I found that explanation very helpful, thank you.

  • Rebekah

    I think it is very helpful to keep the historical facts in mind, like you said. While today we would shudder in horror over a women being forced to marry her rapist, when the law was written not marrying him would probably have been far more harmful to a women now considered ‘worthless’ or less valuable then it would have been to marry him.

    I’ve also been thinking recently about how the OT law and some of those troubling laws in particularly should be viewed. A lot of christians seem to take the OT law and hold it up on some sort of pedestal as the end all of what God thinks is good. But in its context it wasn’t so much as the final word on morality, just the beginnings. The people had just come out of a disorganized system and now need to be organized and have some ground rules. Going from no law/do whatever you want to a helpless woman to you must treat women as their own moral, decision making agents seems like it would have been too far of a jump for most men. Going from no rules on what you could do with your wifely ‘property’ to you at least have to stick with the same woman and if you’re going to rape some poor girl you at least need to own up and take care of the ‘property’ that you broke.

    Obviously its not ideal but at least its a step forward.

  • You probably know this, but I’ll offer it up as more food for thought around the sin section for any other readers. The word for sin in Greek is hamartia. It’s an archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” To sin is to be less than the God-image you were made to be. It’s not about missing one on a legal list to follow; it’s about failing to look like Jesus (in terms of character – that doesn’t mean, for example, being celibate because as far as we know he was, or spending our whole life in Israel or speaking Aramaic). I think of Paul’s text around doing what he doesn’t want to do because it’s not him that does it, but sin living in him. That’s an important idea, in my opinion, because positive reinforcement calling you toward a better character always works better than the list of no-no’s. He admits he does it, deals with consequences, but that’s not the real Paul.

    The other part I’ll add comes nicely from my mostly United Church of Canada seminary. In the 60’s, they jumped aboard the Sexual Revolution and basically said anything goes. Then they realized that this attitude can cause just as much harm as the rules approach. They settled on a relational utilitarianism to help them determine a lot of questions about sexual ethics. You ask the broad question of “will it cause harm?” and this way of looking at things would ask one specific subset of this: is it a positive or a negative for each of the relationships involved? Not just the person(s) participating, but others in the web of community. Recently I heard someone talking about her sister who has now started to date her best friend’s ex-husband. There’s multiple relationships in play there – the two sisters, the best friend, the man, kids from those previous marriages – and it isn’t easy to boil that down to “yes, that’s allowed in the rulebook” or “no, it is not.” Sex should be something that builds relationships, not something that harms it.

    • Rebekah

      Are you mixing up the hebrew word for sinning with the greek word or are both the greek and hebrew words both talking about archery and ‘missing marks’? I know there is a hebrew word for missing the mark (can’t recall off the top of my head) that is generally translated as sin but I don’t recall learning the same thing about hamartia. Of course I could have just missed that they both have that element of missing the mark.

      • My Hebrew is very rusty, my Greek less so. I double-checked that at least biblehub agrees Greek hamartia is literally translated to missing the mark, but I didn’t know the Hebrew word translate “sin” has a similar root. I’ll need to remember that.

        • Rebekah

          Ok, guess that’s something I missed! I’m pretty positive hebrew has a similar word, I remember that one since the imagery was interesting. I think it starts with a het, or has one in it. There are other words for sinning too with different connotations.

          *Oh just checked, it is het-taw-alef-hey, to miss the mark

    • I’m rather of the opinion that Paul’s personification of his sinfulness (however that’s parsed out) is a more harmful metaphor than otherwise. If it actually helps, yay, I guess, but I see a lot more room for it to be used in a dualistic, mind-good-body-evil way that leads to toxic bullshit, like total depravity (specifically, the total depravity as understood and taught by the douchier Calvinists I find IRL or online).

  • Tim

    I look forward to your Friday post. I agree with you regarding the definition of sin you’re comfortable with – failing to love God and our neighbor – and distinguishing it conceptually from the less helpful “doing things God has forbidden”. I appreciate where you’re going in your second part with the argument that Paul’s instructions wrt extra-marital sex were contextualized by the social structure of marriage at the time. I agree they were. However, that doesn’t logically exclude that there may have been other additional reasons for his instructions.

    I think Elizabeth’s comment is spot-on; part of the question of whether the marital status of people engaging in sex has any bearing on the goodness of the act hinges on what we mean by marriage. Is it Roman marriage (placing people in legal relationship to the paterfamilias)? Is it mystical marriage (imaging the relationship between God and redeemed humanity)? Is it Victorian marriage (legally binding potential parents to each other to provide certain rights and protections to potential progeny)? Is it post-1960s American marriage (providing legal rights to long-term partners for their mutual benefit)? If it is the last, I think it’s easy to make the case that sex and marriage are two entirely separable categories. Someone else’s marital status might have some bearing on whether sex with them might be wrong in some sense, but only coincidentally (i.e. as a part of their particular marriage, they coincidentally happened to choose to promise sexual fidelity to their marriage partner, so sex with them could be “wrong” on the grounds that their breaking a promise might do harm to the one they’ve broken a promise to) rather than fundamentally (i.e. that marriage definitionally implies fidelity). But does the Bible merely imply that we should do our best to love each other within the context of whatever legal systems prevail? Or does it imply that not only should we do that, but additionally we should look to ideals of justice and mercy (and perhaps fidelity) that transcend any contemporary systems of laws? I’m not suggesting an answer but just throwing it out there.

    You say, “I don’t shame, judge, or condemn those who are (or are not) having sex, regardless of their life circumstances.” And I think there’s a sense in which “many Christians” could agree with you. If someone else’s actions seem to be causing obvious harm to an innocent victim, then we, as Christians, may have an obligation to do some shaming, judging or condemning in order to protect the innocent depending on our position and ability. Absent the condition of harm, I can’t see a warrant for shaming, judging or condemning.

    I think “many Christians” look to the guidelines of “sex within marriage ok; sex outside marriage not ok” not as the only criteria by which sex may be good or bad (as an alternative to “consent”, for example) but rather as a useful first approximation of whether consensual sex within a particular context is very likely to be loving or not, or harmful or not to put it another way, and probably find it personally practical.

  • Interesting. I like what you have written and very much support “do no harm” and enthusiastic consent. However, I’ll probably always come down on the more conservative side of the issue. I think abstinence has some value; sex is spiritual and so emotionally and psychologically charged that (IMO) wise restraint is a good practice. At the same time, choosing to have premarital sex doesn’t (IMO) make one immoral or damaged goods. Sex is wired into our biology. God made it; it is good. I think a good Christian sexual ethic both respects and honors sex as God’s design and gift to mankind, using the body in a way that brings glory to its Creator.

    • I tend to agree with you. I think my problem is that I’d prefer to hear an answer that goes a little deeper than “Because God said so.” Because sex can have consequences, I understand why the *ideal* standard is marriage, but not everyone who has premarital sex ends up scarred for life.

      • I agree- I think the “ideal” situation is to be married (in a healthy, loving marriage) to have sex. But for all the people who aren’t married, the next best option is something like having sex while in a committed relationship. If sex really is such a wonderful gift from God, like a lot of Christians say, then how on earth could the 2nd-best-case scenario be NEVER HAVE SEX EVER?

        • I think it’s because if Christians see couples living in sin who nevertheless have good relationships it destroys the illusion that their own married sex is the holiestest spiritualestest thing ever.

  • I LOVE YOUR BLOG. I am just so thankful for you. Thank you for having these conversations, for sharing your experiences and thoughts and beliefs and studies and conclusions. I just love hearing from people! I was talking today with friends about how there are so many conversations I want to have that the majority of my Christian friends are just not equipped to have (or not interested in having). I want to know the truth and live according to it, but it’s not easy. It’s not black and white. We have to learn from each other and listen to each other and match it all up against the Word and the Spirit that lives inside us. Bless the internet.

    We have to widen our scope, widen the conversation, go deeper and broader and more realistic. “Don’t do it,” is not enough, not nearly enough, even if you believe that sex before marriage is against God’s plan for Christians everywhere. I am so pumped for this series. You are the kind of woman I want to surround myself with. A great cloud of witness and wisdom and processing and thinking and listening and sharing.

  • The discussion of ownership is very important – the Biblical writers, as you say, were living in a culture that certainly accepted the concept of one person being the property of another.

    And this is why I have a feeling that 1 Corinthians 7:4 is a startlingly radical verse. Firstly, because rather than rejecting the idea of ownership, Paul doubles down on it. Yes, he says, husbands have authority and ownership over their wives, but equally wives have authority and ownership over their husbands.

    Elsewhere, Paul can sound worryingly reactionary when he discusses gender roles. But here, when he starts talking about the bedroom, are the three most egalitarian verses he ever wrote. In the Greek, in verses 2-4, each time he uses a verb he uses it twice: once from male to female and once from female to male. “echetō” – ownership, “exousiazei” -authority, “opheilēn” – duty.

    My Greek isn’t good, but when I started reading these verses this parallelism struck me deeply. But I have a feeling that trying to work out what a sex-positive Christian theology would look like may take these verses into account, especially this idea of complete reflective mutuality. Paul seems to hint at this idea that partnered sexuality can transcend the limitations of our societies gender roles; that it’s possible to have a sexual relationship where both parties paradoxically own and are owned, command and are commanded, serve and are served.

    On a separate note, have you read “Just Love” by Margaret Farley? It’s the most comprehensive work I’ve encountered on constructing a cohesive Christian sexual ethic.

  • Thank you so much for beginning this series! I’m a vocal Christian feminist in my evangelical church and I mentor several teens with my youth group. I have tried to articulate a discussion about this exact topic so many time and I have just never found the right vocabulary. It is so important to me that my teen girls know that sex is good and useful and yet still something they should be thoughtful about and, IMO, save for the commitment of long term relationships when they are more ready developmentally. I’m so greatly looking forward to the rest of this series. Thank you.

  • I too have been curious about what makes two people “married” in God’s eyes. I always thought sex was the glue that binds two people together (hence why sex with anyone but your spouse is traditionally considered adultery, even if you are single – you are sleeping with someone else’s potential spouse). As for my husband and I, we knew we would get married after our second date. It just didn’t happen for another three years, but we were making financial decisions and other big life choices long before the wedding.

    Considering too that life expectancy wasn’t very long in biblical times, the average age an American gets married today would be around the time a biblical person would get their AARP card (so to speak).

    • magnusmagnolius

      My parents said something the day of my brother’s wedding that really stuck with me: “You’re married when you say you’re married.” It sounds weird, but I think it is logical. If a couple mutually declares themselves to be married, it is likely that they are serious about it, and if they are indeed serious about it and are going to live their lives together as if they were married, then I would wager a guess that God considers them married too. That’s why I think that a marriage license is not necessary and that engagement is the same as being married. The intent is the same as the action.

    • Tim

      I think the question, “what makes people married in God’s eyes” is pretty relevant to the question of whether marital status is a factor in the morality of any sex act.

      I think there are clues that God looks at it from at least three perspectives: first from the standpoint of cultural norms – what does marriage mean, legally and socially, when and where you live? God cares about us acting in a loving way when and where we are and that may be part of the rationale behind some of the specific instructions Paul gives per Samantha’s discussion above. Second, from the standpoint of biological design, there are sex-related hormones whose function is actually to serve as glue binding people together, and in the absence of a larger cultural definition of marriage, I think sex, in itself, creates a kind of marriage which God acknowledges. Third, from the standpoint of the individuals involved, I think there is a sense in which God sees each marriage as similar to all other marriages, but in the end, unique; each set of partners creating their own definition of what marriage is specifically for them. These definitions aren’t exclusive of each other but each contextualizes the others.

      In the third sense (marriage as unique individual relationship between people who have committed themselves to each other in a way that they mutually understand) marriage is an organic thing. It grows from the first germinated seed into the mature tree, and although the life of the relationship may die, if it lives and thrives, it is hard to point to a specific instant even along its timeline and say, “This! this is when it passed from non-marriage to marriage.” It’s in this sense that Magnus’s parents’ comment, “you’re married when you say you’re married” makes sense.

      But I think there’s wisdom in being mindful of the other senses in which marriage is defined as well.

  • Reblogged this on katyandtheword and commented:
    Sex and the bible…the older I get the more sec positive I am

  • Loved everything you’ve said so far! Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  • Stef

    I used to have a really black and white view of the world and the Bible. Everything was on a sin or not sin check list for me. When I went to college I studied Anabaptist theology. We talked about the 4 relationships and it was so interesting, because all of a sudden i could not put a check list on sin or not sin anymore. The idea is basically that there are for 4 main relationships: your relationship with God, others, creation and yourself and breaking those relationships is sin. And God always wants to restore those relationships. But all of a sudden stuff that was on my no sin check list was sin, because it would either hurt me, others or other parts of creation which would ultimately hurt my relationship with God. But then stuff that was “clearly” sin in the Bible wasn’t sin anymore. That radically changed my view on same sex marriage, because the truth is no one is hurt in a loving consensual relationship between to people of the same sex. Anyway so now before I do something and I want to know if it would be sin, I just ask my self is what I am doing going to hurt me, some one else or God’s creation in anyway and if the answer is yes I consider it sin. Thinking like that has made being a Christian easier and harder at the same time. Because now I am responsible for my actions and I can’t just say: well the Bible says its okay. And at the same time when the Bible seems to say something is not okay I try to figure out why and how is it harmful. (English is my second language so sorry for grammar and punctuation mistakes)

  • Thank you so much for writing this. I have recently changed my beliefs about this- I no longer believe premarital sex is a sin, but harming people is a sin. I’m looking forward to reading your take on it and the reasons why.

  • I really wish Charles Shedd’s book The Stork is Dead, were still in print. His premise of the book is not if premarital sex is a sin, but if it is the best or smart thing to do. God wants what is best for us. Will having sex harm your relationship with the woman or man you finally marry when you compare him/her in bed to the dozen other women or men?
    My own question here:
    Did having premarital sex with the person you married cause harm or did it help you decide if he/she was the right one?
    Sometimes we get so caught up in the abstract thought of SIN, and forget the law was made for us, and not us for the law.

    • A Person

      I can’t answer your question for Sam, but I can answer for myself that having premarital sex with my future spouse did not harm our relationship in the least. I also don’t think it really helped me decide that she was “the one” either. It was simply another step in our continually developing relationship. I think it also helped ease my sex anxiety that would probably have been through the roof if I had waited another year and a half for the wedding night. Instead, I got to look forward to and enjoy our honeymoon with confidence without pressures or fears, and without the awkwardness of trying to figure it out for the first time. So I don’t think it changed our relationship, I think it was just good for me and, as far as I can tell from my wife, she felt very similarly.
      As for comparing one’s current partner in bed with previous ones… I think that would be a personal problem that one would need to address. I don’t spend my time comparing my current partner with previous partners (or non-partners) in non-sexual ways. If I did, it would be a sign that there’s a serious problem in the relationship. If I’m setting aside special time with my wife (not talking about sex here) then I make it about the two of us. I don’t go on dates and think “geez, my ex and I had such a better conversation” or “I wish I was talking with my friends right now instead.” Maybe I’ve had good dates with my ex (not really) or enjoy talking with my friends, but when I’m with her, I’m focused on her and invested in my time with her. I suspect that most people feel the same way about sex. You can perfectly well go into the bedroom with your 30th partner and just enjoy that experience with them without running all of your other favorite partners through your head. And if your partner is truly not doing it for you in bed at all, that sounds like a great time for some communication… particularly since you hopefully already know what you like after having other partners. How about “I really want you to do ____” or “I really like ____”? That’s a great way to use your previous sexual experience to build up your relationship rather than tearing it down.

  • Reblogged this on I Solomnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good and commented:
    This is a very interesting take on the issue.