Presbyterian Sex

Decency and order come to mind but I am not sure you want to create a bumper sticker about how Presbyterians have sex.

Reading Emily Suzanne Johnson’s new book, This is Our Message: Women’s Leadership in the New Christian Right (Oxford University Press), took me to quotations from Marabel Morgan’s Total Woman and Tim and Beverly LaHaye’s Act of Marriage. Morgan wrote in 1973:

For super sex tonight, respond eagerly to your husband’s advances. Don’t just endure. . . . He may enjoy making love even when you’re a limp dishrag, but if you’re eager, and love to make love, watch out! If you seduce him, there will be no words to describe his joy. Loving you will become sheer ecstasy. (75)

That’s not very graphic, but it’s way more explicit than anything that H. L. Mencken printed and that subsequently landed him in a Boston jail under the charge of publishing obscenity.

But the LaHayes discussed the subject in ways that likely forced parents to hide their book, Act of Marriage (1976), from adolescent boys:

The husband who would be a good lover will not advance too quickly but will learn to enjoy loveplay. He will not only wait until his wife is well-lubricated, but reserve his entrance until her inner lips are engorged with blood and swollen at least twice their normal size.

Yowza!

Morgan was some kind of fundamentalist, a graduate from Florida Bible College. The LaHayes were Southern Baptists (Tim is deceased, Beverly is still alive). That kind of discussion of sexual intimacy is not what I learned was fitting in the Baptist fundamentalist home and congregation in which I grew up.

Meanwhile, Tim and Kathy Keller arguably discussed briefly and more openly than I would care to do their sexual history, but the theme is restraint:

Kathy and I were virgins when we were married. Even in our day, that may have been a minority experience, but that meant that on our wedding night we were not in any position to try to entice or impress one another. All we were trying to do was to tenderly express with our bodies the oneness we had first begun feeling as friends and which had then grown stronger and deeper as we fell in love. Frankly, that night I was clumsy and awkward and fell asleep anxious and discouraged. Sex was frustrating at first. It was the frustration of an artist who has in his head a picture or a story but lacks the skills to express it. (Meaning of Marriage, 79-80)

That is still TMI for my own comfort. But it is a very different picture of sexual intimacy than what the fundamentalist Morgan and Baptist LaHayes presented.

Which raises the question: if you can be a Presbyterian in the bedroom, why not in worship?

13 thoughts on “Presbyterian Sex

  1. I suspect you are not being square with me Darryl. 🙂 Because you’re a smart guy and you knew where I was going with this.

    There is nothing dirty or off limits about sex in itself. Quite the contrary. It is the glorious design and gift of the thrice holy God.

    It is this morally decomposing culture with it’s headquarters in Hollywood you love so much, and it’s treatment of that design and gift as a frivolous plaything, that makes it “dirty.”

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  2. Dr. Hart asks: “Greg, so this is about Hollywood?”

    No sir, it’s about the inconsistent application of unbiblical and anti-reformed morality.
    =============================================
    “Now that Trump is in the White House aren’t we all polluted by your logic?”

    I have no idea what this means. I did not support, nor did I vote for Donald Trump. However, “my logic” as you call it, is thoroughly biblical and stands squarely on the shoulders of your own denomination’s also thoroughly biblical “logic”, as I have repeatedly and unassailably demonstrated during the time we’ve known each other. Yes, you do know that. Which is why my simple challenges stand to this day, unaddressed by you.

    So, seeing my thoroughly biblical and thoroughly reformed so called “logic” as pollution, continues to reveal where your heart is. You do err if you hear the same sneering tone I had when we first stumbled over one another five years ago. A tactic which I regret and which I would not repeat in the same way if I had it to do over again. .

    I’m not giving up on you and you continue in my prayers.

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  3. Greg, you don’t know my heart from the internet. Puhleeze (though I can appreciate your concern for another’s soul.)

    Here’s the connection between the USA and you (and me) and Hollywood and me. You only see wickedness in my viewing certain shows or movies and assume that the entire edifice of movie and television production is wicked. Well, the same could go for the United States. In which case, by your participation in the United States (currency, laws, elections) you are tainted by Trump.

    As for the Bible, you don’t seem to have grasped the idea that Christians may eat meat offered to idols.

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  4. “…for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” (NASB) Jesus Christ speaking in Luke 6:45
    And by extension, what the keyboard types. Same way everybody knew and knows Paul’s heart for instance by what he wrote. No man can see another another’s heart directly and perfectly like God can, but we sure can hear and see what they show us.
    ==================================
    Dr. Hart says: “Here’s the connection between the USA and you (and me) and Hollywood and me. You only see wickedness in my viewing certain shows or movies and assume that the entire edifice of movie and television production is wicked. Well, the same could go for the United States. In which case, by your participation in the United States (currency, laws, elections) you are tainted by Trump.”

    Dr. Hart, there is no way a smart guy like you can earnestly be expected to be taken seriously when making a truly pitiful argument like this. Participation in the pagan state is an unavoidable given throughout the whole of the New Testament. Jesus Himself commanded the paying of taxes to the Roman emperor. Paul invoked his Roman citizenship In Acts chapters 16 and 21. He also commanded obedience to the ever shifting powers of the numerous city states on the island of Crete, which at the time was an outpost of near anarchic barbarism.

    Paul also stated in his directions for excommunication in the 5th of 1st Corinthians that he wasn’t at all talking about sinners in the world because we’d have to leave the world to avoid them. No, we are to interact with them filled with the Spirit and righteousness as a testimony to the transforming holy power of the resurrection life of Jesus Christ.

    Are you an elder in the OPC and know not these things that a 3rd grade Sunday School student knew only a generation ago? I think not. You DO know and being a historian, far better than most.

    ==========================================
    Dr. Hart says: “As for the Bible, you don’t seem to have grasped the idea that Christians may eat meat offered to idols.”

    Come on Daryl, we’ve been through all this. Numerous times. Even your own crew knows that.

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  5. Try this from here: https://oldlife.org/2017/04/15/united-statesist-christianity/#comment-155487

    ================================================
    SDB says: “Your claim above would imply that it is wrong to pay money to the pagan to subsidize his idolatry.”
    ——————————————————————-
    You would be paying him for a perfectly legitimate morally neutral product, which in itself is entirely indistinguishable from the same product obtained from any other source, including fellow believers. No sinner uses the money you give them in any business transaction for righteous God glorifying purposes by biblical standards.

    Such transactions are morally indifferent to you unless the product itself is sinful or sin was required for that type of product to exist. Meat is neither sinful in itself, nor is sin required in order to raise or process it as food for the nourishment of the body. A God designed necessity of life, without which we would die

    None of the above pertains in the case of cinematic entertainment featuring divine image bearing moral agents whose sin was both intrinsic to the production of the merchandise AND which sin persists in the merchandise itself.

    When someone buys meat from a man, they are paying him for meat. What he did with the meat beforehand has nothing inherently to do with the meat. When someone buys entertainment, they ARE directly paying their neighbor, whom they are commanded to love as themselves, to do and say what is sinful in itself, AND that sin goes with the merchandise wherever the merchandise goes, both of which because that sin is a feature OF the merchandise itself.

    Not to mention that the very notion of “entertainment,” especially on demand as it is today, Like indoor plumbing, does not even exist in the scriptures. It’s maybe PG rated theatrical ancestors were also universally shunned by historic reformed orthodoxy. It is a modern western and particularly American luxury indulged in by pampered shallow professors of Christ who would wet themselves if they had to face 10 minutes of actual hardship or persecution.

    Go to a man in the middle east whose wife is being gang raped and children beheaded in the name of Jesus and compare with him the spiritual truths gleaned from modern American secular entertainment. Ask him who he thinks will win the awards this year and see what he says. How pathetic and nauseating and thoroughly American. (I’m speaking generally sdb, not to you)

    ” let’s … see if we can agree that it is wrong to say that if x is wrong to do, then it is wrong to pay for x after the fact.”

    See all of the above please.

    Understand too please, that this is a principle drawn from the scriptures as understood in reformed history, but especially the Westminster larger catechism, for the bare bones discernment of what modern entertainment, if any, is acceptable for the disciple of Christ. I consider the untenable defense of liberal consumption by the invoking of Romans 14 and other similar passages to be a separate though related discussion.

    I have been through every last fathomable rationalization and justification from every last possible passage of scripture. I also have committed to writing either a book or an extensive series of blog posts dealing with every aspect of this family of topics all in one place. Starting with the perversion of “liberty of conscience” itself.

    The frustrating thing is that this is a spectacular waste of God’s time, just like entertainment itself. This would have been a non-starting no-brainer for the champions of the faith who went before us. Like homosexuality. “We don’t have to debate this, of course this bloody, blasphemous debauchery is wrong.” That’s what they would have said if confronted with today’s entertainment industry, and once again, Darryl absolutely knows that.

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  6. “Even your own crew knows that.”
    Not sure whether I count as part of Darryl’s crew (probably not cool enough), but your argument here remains unconvincing.

    “Such transactions are morally indifferent to you unless the product itself is sinful or sin was required for that type of product to exist.”
    The product, meat sacrificed to idols, requires sin to produce (namely idolatry). As long as consuming this product does not cause you to sin (fall tempted to idolatry) it is not sinful to consume. A particular type of entertainment may require sin to produce, but as long as it does not cause you to sin, then it is not sinful to consume. Your hidden premise is that it is intrinsically sinful to consume the entertainment you condemn. But that is begging the question.

    “and which sin persists in the merchandise itself.”
    The sin does not persist in the merchandise whether it is a dvd or a slab of meat.

    “Not to mention that the very notion of “entertainment,” especially on demand as it is today, Like indoor plumbing, does not even exist in the scriptures.”
    Well, of course they didn’t have cable and streaming services, but the coliseum, theater, and literature were very much a part of the Hellenistic culture Paul lived in. And it clearly was not “PG” (you might find Dryden’s description of Lucretius of interest to contextualize what some 17th century Anglicans thought of erotic poetry). “Entertainment” as we know it was a central part of Roman culture which makes the silence of scripture on this matter deafening.

    “I have been through every last fathomable rationalization and justification from every last possible passage of scripture. I also have committed to writing either a book or an extensive series of blog posts dealing with every aspect of this family of topics all in one place. Starting with the perversion of “liberty of conscience” itself.”
    And you remain incorrect. If God, in his infinite wisdom and perfect foresight, saw fit to remain silent on a matter, it would be wise for you to do so as well.

    “The frustrating thing is that this is a spectacular waste of God’s time, just like entertainment itself.”
    Perhaps standing in judgment of someone else’s servant is the spectacular waste of time…particularly how little you know of commenters here.

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  7. Greg, by extension I have no say in how the writers for tv and movies think about what to put in their otherwise artful and thoughtful creative expressions. I’m only paying taxes when I watch The Wire.

    But if you counter that I have the choice not to watch, I respond, you have agency to move to Kenya.

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  8. Greg,

    When someone buys entertainment, they ARE directly paying their neighbor, whom they are commanded to love as themselves, to do and say what is sinful in itself

    how does that not apply to taxes?

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