marriage bed symbol

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Secret Sexual Sins in Marriage - Part 6

WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Reader discretion is advised.
 
If you missed part [1] , [2] [3], [4], or [5] you can go back to any of them here.


This is our continuing discussion concerning President Kimball's thoughts on 'secret sexual sins in marriage', as he wrote about in The Miracle of Forgiveness

So far, we've discussed what some of those 'secret sexual sins' might be - what could be a sexual sin inside of marriage? It's an intriguing question, and some of my thoughts on what these might be have been addressed in the previous articles linked above.

Some further thoughts I have are regarding...

Secrets and Selfishness
 
The last scripture used in this section of The Miracle of Forgiveness directly referenced with the phrase ‘secret sexual sins’ was a scripture directed to Emma Smith, as the Lord was introducing the practice of plural marriage to Joseph and Emma: 
  
"And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God." (D&C 132:52.)
To give some context to what is happening here in this scripture, the Lord was encouraging Emma to accept those who were being given to Joseph as plural wives. The Lord was giving an added protection to her (since she was in the more vulnerable position of the two) that if any of the new wives lied about their worthiness to enter into this marriage, the Lord would destroy them. In case any are still confused, by ‘virtuous and pure’, the Lord meant sexual purity. 

If any of the women who had agreed to be sealed to Joseph had been involved in immoral sexual activity, and then told Joseph they were clean and worthy, they would be in hot water with God. The protection for Emma was that promiscuity ran the risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases as well as creating other psychological and relationship issues. 

Syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases were around during Joseph Smith’s time and often incapacitating or deadly.[i] The church was small, but it was growing.  The people coming into the church were from all walks of life, and their background and family history was not always known to the local members. Where the women were concerned, previous involvement in prostitution was a very real possibility. So this was a clear protection provided for Emma and the sacrifice she was making to be obedient to the Lord.

So what does that have to do with us today, in our marriages?

Lying about or failing to disclose information about previous sexual transgressions to a potential spouse could be considered one of the “secret sexual sins” President Kimball was referring to, based on the context of this scripture. Engaging in immoral behavior after marriage and trying to hide it from a spouse could also count as a secret sexual sin.

As the scripture suggests, this is especially serious if a couple are entering into a sealing covenant in the temple and one or both enter into the covenant and have unrepented sexual sins.

Not only could this lead to an invalid sealing covenant, but it’s also selfish by not disclosing sexual transgressions that could potentially harm the new husband or wife, or not give them the opportunity to make an informed decision on their marriage based on knowing the whole situation. 

If we carry unrepentant sin into the temple, and into our marriages, it can destroy us.[ii] If we try to keep sexual secrets from our spouses after marriage, the wedge it drives between you is not worth the effort to keep the secret.[iii]

Being unworthy ourselves denies promised eternal blessings to both spouses. We should repent quickly to free ourselves from such burdens.

There are no acceptable secrets in a marriage – at least, there shouldn’t be. The health of any given marriage relationship often correlates with how open a couple can be with each other (with kindness and respect) in every area of life, including sex.[iv]


[i] For some historical background on this issues, see Jackson, April L. The History of Prostitution Reform in the United States. Thesis. University of Tennessee Knoxville. May 2004: http://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1754&context=utk_chanhonoproj

[ii]1 Corinthians 3:17; also see Packer, Boyd K. ”Ye Are the Temple of God”, October 2000 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2000/10/ye-are-the-temple-of-god?lang=eng
[iii] Monson, Thomas, “Hidden Wedges”, April 2002 Conference: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2002/04/hidden-wedges?lang=eng

[iv] See my article on secrets in a marriage, and how it can be a killer to a relationship: http://ldsmarriagebed.blogspot.com/2011/06/four-marriage-killers-secrets.html

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Board-Approved Elementary-School Textbook = Pornography?



"...also trust no one to be your teacher...except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments..." - Mosiah 23:14

There was another news article that came out April 15th , 2016 that (I felt) illustrated –once again- the problem with the term “pornography”.  

How do we draw the line between “art” and “pornography”? Where is the line between ‘educational material” and “pornography”?

Who should make those decisions for us…and our children? Can I make that decision for yourself, and explain my reasons in a way that makes sense? Do I feel spiritually comfortable acting on such a decision?

I was only going to post the video clip of this new report and a link to my article “Mormons Take Pleasure In Sacred Erotica”, but my wife also felt I needed to also say a few words to help show how this illustrates the problem with the word “pornography”, and how I approach such moment. I posted the videos pertaining to this new report below. Hopefully, such a personal indulgence will be helpful to someone.

When I see an article like this, I can hear the arguments on both sides. One side saying, “If prisoners are not allowed to read this book, why are children allowed to read it? Society is going crazy with pornography, and we need to protect our children.”

Another side might say, “Mark Twain’s book, Huckleberry Finn, was once a banned book in public school libraries for being too obscene. This book has beautiful and tasteful illustrations and good information, and ‘church’ or ‘spirituality’ shouldn’t be a factor in children’s decisions about their bodies. Using cartoons to teach sexuality is not using real people, so therefore how can you count it as pornography?Our society hasn’t advanced enough to realize that sex is normal, and children need to learn about it without shame.”

When I then read the full article or listen to the full newscast (which we must – reading just the headline doesn’t count as reading the full article), I see elements within that help me make my decision one way or the other.

In this case, from my perspective, and based upon my past research and my understanding of and belief in LDS doctrine, I would say that this particular book is not appropriate for children to learn about sexuality – I would not recommend it for prisoners or children. 

The information within the book presents what I feel to be an inaccurate and partial picture of sexuality in general - especially the highlighted statement on masturbation.

Many people who come from a worldly viewpoint focus strictly on the physical, and argue that masturbation ‘cannot hurt you’. That may be true when it comes to the physical body, but we are more than our physical bodies. We have minds and spirits as well.

Masturbation is not the greatest sexual sin that can possibly be committed, but that doesn’t mean it has no consequences. It makes it much harder for those who are trying to live the law of chastity to be successful at it. It has ramifications in relationships, both in and out of marriage. It stunts spiritual growth and progression. For example, I’ve read and heard too many examples of wives crying to their therapists and Church leaders, complaining that their husband prefers masturbation to having sex with them. Why create a future problem to satiate a present desire? Marriage counselor and sex educator Mark Gungor may agree with me: 
 

Additionally, the instructions within the book are inappropriate for people who are not married, whether they be adults or children. Others may feel differently, but that is where I stand.

How can I make such a firm decision at all, and so quickly, based on what I’ve seen in this article?

Because I reject the word ‘pornography’ entirely, and I use instead the Lord’s terms of ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’. I would encourage all my readers to consider doing the same, and teaching their children to do likewise.

If I tried to do what the world does, and what many in Christian churches (including ours) do, and tried to make a decision on whether or not this book is ‘pornography’, the debate would go on and on within myself, and with others, ad nauseum. I can come to no definitive answer, with no firm explanation, if I rely on ‘pornography’ as an acceptable term. Pornography avoids consideration of ‘sacred’ or ‘profane’ in order to support secular agendas.


"And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things..." - Alma 5:57
 Please consider my article on the sacred and the profane, if you haven't already done so. The link to the news article previously mentioned is here:

Explicit sex ed book causes controversy at Oregon elementary school

And the additional video pertaining to this article: 

 






Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Secret Sexual Sins in Marriage - Part 5



WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Reader discretion is advised.
If you missed part [1] , [2] [3] or [4], the links are here for you to review.


We're still talking about what President Kimball may have meant, when he referred to 'secret sexual sins' in marriage, and what can be done to avoid them.  Another aspect of this refers to...


Protecting the Body of Your Spouse

Physically abusing a spouse during sex is a sin. Keeping it a secret between the husband and wife only makes it worse.[i]

Another scripture that Elder Kimball referenced in this section[ii] was Paul’s counsel to married couples:

“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself…(Ephesians 5:28)

Just as we protect our own bodies from physical harm, we should protect our spouse’s body as well. If doing a particular sexual practice causes physical harm or discomfort to our spouse, that practice should be discontinued until we know enough to not harm them in that way.

Any sexual practice can be uncomfortable, depending on the circumstances. Even missionary position can hurt if spouses aren’t properly communicating with each other. Other practices, such as oral or anal sex, can be done comfortably and safely with proper knowledge, preparation, and communication. Effective communication overall is the key to keeping each other safe physically

Some kinds of extreme sexual practices, whose very nature involves harming the body or that can even threaten life itself (burning, bloodletting, erotic-asphyxiation, S&M, etc.) have absolutely no place in an LDS marriage. The body is sacred, and should always be treated as such by both spouses.[iii]



[i] “Our behavior in public must be above reproach. Our behavior in private is even more important.” – Gordon B. Hinckley, April 2002 Conference
[ii] Kimball, Spencer W., The Miracle of Forgiveness, Bookcraft, UT, 1969, 73-74
[iii] 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20; also 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. The talk on the Word of Wisdom given by Boyd K. Packer in April 1996 talks about blessings that come from protecting the body, which can also apply to our sexual practices, even though sex practices are not specifically spelled out in the Word of Wisdom. The spirit of this law is there: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1996/04/the-word-of-wisdom-the-principle-and-the-promises?lang=eng


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Secret Sexual Sins In Marriage - Part 4



 Here's the links in case you missed part [1] , [2]  and [3]

Protect the Emotional Life of Our Spouse

The answer to sexual incompatibility is not to end the sexual relationship entirely (see my article on Sexless Marriage and the Sacrament). Intimacy has a needed and eternal function in marriage beyond procreation.

President Joseph F. Smith said “The lawful association of the sexes is ordained of God, not only as the sole means of race perpetuation, but for the development of the higher faculties and nobler traits of human nature, which the love inspired companionship of man and woman alone can insure.” (1917,739)[i]

Forcing celibacy on our spouses or avoiding sex in order to avoid the challenges that go with it is not only detrimental to the health of the marriage but it is also a ‘secret sexual sin’ of omission by being silent about it and hoping it will go away or your spouse will eventually give up.

And on the other hand, coercion[ii] is a ‘secret sexual sin’ as well – ie. emotionally manipulating one’s spouse into sexual acts they don’t want to do through guilt or anger. How would this be a “secret sexual sin”. Coercion is abuse. It’s emotional abuse, but still abuse. If your spouse feels coerced into a sexual act that is repulsive to them, that’s sexual abuse.

However, most men communicate love through their sexuality. They also obtain much needed emotional intimacy through sex. This can also be true for many women. Denying a spouse this intimate form of connection and bonding is also a form of sexual abuse and can be a form of unrighteous dominion. [iii] Both are not bonding and marital edifying attributes that will ensure an eternally happy marriage.

Not repenting for it and then lying about it in a temple recommend interview makes it a “secret sexual sin.” We’re all human. We make mistakes as we learn in the laboratory of marriage. This is a sin easily remedied by repenting and striving to be more Christlike in our interaction with our spouse – on both sides.

If our spouse is reluctant to engage sexually with us, what are the reasons? There can be a multitude of reasons. Reasons anywhere from physical problems to just needing to feel like what they say or think matters. Can we talk about them openly, or would some professional assistance be helpful? 

Both spouses will sometimes go out of their comfort zones in order to expand intimacy – it’s a growth process, which is sometimes painful even in the best of relationships, but that is what marriage is for. It’s to get us our of our comfort zones. It’s purpose is to stretch us and help us to grow.

 Men and women connect differently, and in ways they are not familiar with. It’s an awkward and deliberate process that takes a lot of loving negotiation and communication in order to be successful in a long-term relationship.

Michele Weiner Davis, marriage and family therapist and author of “The Sex Starved Marriage” said:

“A good sexual relationship is a two-person job. If your spouse has put effort into being more sexual, you’ve been doing something to promote and inspire him or her. You’ve got to keep doing it.

Relationship problem solving requires a trial-and-error mind-set. You try something and then you watch your spouse’s reaction carefully. If you get a positive reaction, you know you’re on the right track and you keep going.

If you get nothing, you might try once more. But if your spouse reacts negatively, quit it. It’s as simple as that: you do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work. If more people understood this philosophy, I’d be out of business.”[iv]



[i] Smith, Joseph Fielding, Unchastity the Dominant Evil of the Age, Improvement Era, June 1917, 739
[ii] Kimball, Spencer W., The Miracle of Forgiveness, Bookcraft, UT, 1969, 73-74
[iii] Doctrine and Covenants 121:36-44
[iv] Weiner-David, Michele, The Sex Starved Marriage, Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, NY, 2003,136-137