Should we, or shouldn't we?
Got a couple of intriguing questions recently from some of my married readers.
- 1. What are Christian Scientists supposed to do for birth control?
- 2. What is your take on oral sex?
I'm going to tackle the second question first, because frankly, that's where my attention went! I'll probably write on the first question tomorrow.
And, just to reiterate, both my answers will address the issues within the context of marriage. The people asking are married, so let's assume that. Possibly I'll write another entry covering some of the non-married issues.
So, oral sex—right, or wrong? The issue tends to come up when one spouse enjoys being on the receiving end, but the other spouse isn't too keen on providing it. What to do?
When I work as a practitioner with people regarding anything to do with their marriage, I try to orient the discussion toward the marriage itself. Meaning, there's you, there's your spouse, and then there's this third thing—your marriage. The idea is to make the *marriage* happy and strong. It's not about making each other happy and successful, it's about the two of you working together to make the marriage happy and successful.
I'll also pull out a few passages from Mary Baker Eddy, just to put us all on the same page, so to speak. People were asking her this kind of question all the time—it's amazing how obsessed Christendom has historically been with sexuality.
When asked by a wife or a husband important questions concerning their happiness, the substance of my reply is: God will guide you. Be faithful over home relations; they lead to higher joys: obey the Golden Rule for human life, and it will spare you much bitterness. It is pleasanter to do right than wrong; it makes one ruler over one's self and hallows home, — which is woman's world. Please your husband, and he will be apt to please you; preserve affection on both sides.
Great mischief comes from attempts to steady other people's altars, venturing on valor without discretion, which is virtually meddlesomeness. Even your sincere and courageous convictions regarding what is best for others may be mistaken; you must be demonstratively right yourself, and work out the greatest good to the greatest number, before you are sure of being a fit counsellor.
--Miscellaneous Writings, p. 287
Apparently there were some wives in the early days of Eddy's movement who felt they had "overcome" sexuality, so were denying it to their husbands. I've always felt her short essay "A Christian Science Statute" was in response to that. Here are two passages from that essay.
A man or woman, having voluntarily entered into wedlock, and accepted the claims of the marriage covenant, is held in Christian Science as morally bound to fulfil all the claims growing out of this contract, unless such claims are relinquished by mutual consent of both parties, or this contract is legally dissolved. …
When causing others to go astray, we also are wanderers. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Ask yourself: Under the same circumstances, in the same spiritual ignorance and power of passion, would I be strengthened by having my best friend break troth with me?
--Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 297, 298
The question of which sexual acts are "right" or "wrong" to me is too narrow a question. When you're dealing with a marriage, the issue is much bigger than a laundry list of "this is okay, this isn't." In fact, I believe one of the fallacies of Christendom has been to try to delineate and then enforce the prohibition of external behaviors, supposedly as a way to lead to greater spirituality. I don't think it works that way. I think it's the greater spirituality that leads to the appropriate external behavior. The behavior is the result of spiritual growth, not the cause of it.
So, as Eddy says, "God will guide you." The oral sex decision is one you can actually take to God, moment by moment. What will make the marriage stronger? What will express the most love? What will increase the harmony between the spouses? Can this be an opportunity for the spouses to communicate honestly and work together on their issues, sexual and otherwise?
Orienting yourself within a marriage toward God can bring some perspective to "should I or shouldn't I" questions. God will guide you moment by moment, and you can trust that that will add up to years. We make the mistake of thinking each decision is a policy statement for all time, when in fact we're only responsible for right now.
Fill your "right nows" with God, and let His loving guidance motivate your actions. I'm convinced this applies even in the most intimate of circumstances.
Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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