FAITH

YES! OH GOD! YES!

KEN MACQUEEN September 11 2006
FAITH

YES! OH GOD! YES!

KEN MACQUEEN September 11 2006

YES! OH GOD! YES!

FAITH

For some Christians, better sex is the best way to save marriage

KEN MACQUEEN

Conservative Chris-

tians—who see marriage under attack from infidelity and divorce, from common-law and same-sex unions—are increasingly taking to the bedrooms in a stirring and often joyfully kinky defence of the institution. Bedrooms, in fact, are the least of it. Kitchens are hot. So are garages, the back seat of the family sedan, and maybe a secluded corner of a public park, if the spirit so moves. The point being: sex within a monogamous marriage has plenty to offer the amorous adventurer, so why deviate?

The image of the Christian marriage as a dutiful vehicle for procreation or, worse, as the institution where sex goes to die, is obviously a bum rap. Not that there’s anything wrong with bum raps between consenting marital partners, judging by the spicy menu on offer at church-sponsored marital enrichment classes, in religious self-help books, and at conferences. Then there’s the new breed of websites, where scripture coexists with unblushing advice on spanking, bondage and oral sex—and where the product line ranges from lace-up leathers to restraint chairs. The new openness is not just an attempt to keep the oh God! oh God! oh God! in the Christian marriage. It’s a way of fostering intimacy, honesty, joy and fidelity.

“It’s a litde slower in Canada, but the church is, by and large, ready for some healthy sex,” says Doug Weiss, a Colorado-based author and marital counsellor. He travels extensively in both the U.S. and the Canadian West, and offers advice at www.intimatematters.com.

He spoke at 44 conferences last year, mostly in churches, offering seminars on building happy, healthy sexual relationships as an alternative to pornography and infidelity. Congregations, he says, “are tired about the old message that sex is bad and nasty, but save it for the one you love.”

Weiss was a featured speaker in June at the annual Smarter Families conference staged by six theological schools at Trinity Western University, a private Christian university in B.C.’s Fraser Valley. The conferences are billed as a way to “strengthen the institution of traditional marriage, to reduce the prevalence of divorce in our churches and communities.” Or, as Weiss puts it: “If you’re going to have sex, you might as well have good sex.” Make love with the lights on, he advised conference goers. Communicate with each other and keep your eyes open during orgasm, the better to store memories of your partner’s pleasure. Couples should draft a “sexual agreement” as to how often they will have sex, and to share responsibility for initiating it. He also advises they create a “sexual garden” of acceptable acts. “Then, play with the fruits they agree are in the garden,” he says. “That cuts down a lot of wear and tear sexually.” Other conference participants included Anne and Brian Bercht, an Abbotsford, B.C., couple and co-authors of their tell-all book

My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me! The book, and their website, www.passionatelife.ca, focus on strategies to prevent affairs, or to rebuild trust and intimacy in damaged relationships. Happy marriages offer longer life, better health and “a lot more sex,” the Berchts promise. Weiss offers a similar pitch for traditional marriage. “If Christians are having as good a marriage as they could, it wouldn’t matter what the government did about [samesex] marriages, people would be teased into Christian marriages because this guy is having more sex.” Studies show, he adds, “the people who have the highest frequency and quality of sex are religious women.”

Tap into www.themarriagebed.com—a forum for married Christian couples—and you’ll see they may be onto something. The site, created by a Texas couple, Rev. Paul Byerly and his wife, Lori, is a fetching mix of the chaste and the downright randy. A case in point: the site’s ex cathedra musings on “What’s Okay? What’s Not?” The general consensus— from sex toys to sexual position—is that married couples can make all the joyful noise they wish. It’s in the Bible. That said, coveting thy neighbour’s spouse is still out of bounds. So is sex before marriage. And homosexuality? Not a chance. Still, to judge by the chat forums, Christian marriage is one fun club remarkably free of Thou Shalt Nots. The thread on striptease, one of the more demure, would make Carmen Electra blush.

Then there’s www.mybelovedsgarden.net, based in White Rock, B.C. The site has a bawdy charm all its own. It sells devices from penis pumps to the “Butterfly of Love,” and enough leather and chains to clothe a bikers’ club. Yet it abjectly apologizes for displaying its lingerie line on female models. To limit their sexual allure, photos of breasts and belly buttons are electronically blurred, and heads and legs are cut off. Still, the site advises: “Wives, may we suggest that you look alone at the lingerie pictures if this is an issue for your spouse.”

For at least one satisfied customer, who signs himself “Father of Six,” this seems not a concern. While it may be true that sex is bad, he writes in the customer comment section, it gets better with practice. M