Against “Duty Sex”

When I wrote about conjugal rights I mentioned that the term includes more than a right to sex:

In addition to exclusive sexual relations, conjugal rights also include affection and companionship, shared property, presumed legitimacy of offspring, co-habitation, domestic and labor services, and affinity with your spouse’s family. The Greek word is opheilē and it refers to a an obligation or a debt that is owed to another. When we choose to get married, we voluntarily take on this obligation to our spouse. If we deprive our spouses of these rights we are in sin and need to repent.

So there’s more than the right to sexual relations, but sex is certainly an important component of conjugal rights. If sex with your spouse is an obligation, then some people have coined a term for when you force yourself to have sex when you aren’t really interested: “duty sex”. Ugh! And let’s be honest… it’s usually wives who are expected to have “duty sex” with their husbands.

Dan at Frankly Speaking has written a great series on this unappealing concept, with four posts so far. (That link takes you to part four, and it includes links to the first three parts.) No one wants “duty sex”, neither giver nor receiver, neither husband nor wife, so how do we grow past it? How do we fulfill our obligation to satisfy our partner without making everyone miserable?

Dan’s target audience is wives, but I’m sure there are plenty of instances in which the husband is the one losing interest. Let me whet your appetite with a brief excerpt:

What does a wife who enjoys sexual pleasure feel like?

She feels in touch with her sensuous nature; her sexuality. She feels as if she is waiting for your touch and will ignite when that happens. A wife who enjoys sexual pleasure feels like an arched back, hips rising and pushing to meet you. She feels like her body is always seeking the best position, just the right angle; constantly in motion to maximize both of your pleasures. A wife who feels sexual pleasure enjoys the feel of differing textures against her body. She feels warm and wet in all the right places. She feels as if she would take all of you in her if it were possible. A wife who enjoys sexual pleasure feels inviting toward and desirous of her husband’s attentions.  Her body feels as if it is swelling with anticipation in preparation for those attentions. A wife who enjoys sexual pleasure shows her husband so by not only finding pleasure in her orgasms but in seeing her husband wear those orgasms like a badge on his chest.

This is good stuff, especially for wives who just don’t know what their husbands will respond to — and husbands who may not know how to express their desires. There’s a lot more, so go read the whole series.

Fulfilling our spouse sexually is an obligation, but it should not and need not be done grudgingly. Our obligation is more than allowing our bodies to be used as sexual props. We also need to engage mentally and emotionally with our spouse and to pour our whole selves into the sexual relationship. The result should look nothing like “duty sex”.

2 comments

  1. Thank you for the link, but most of all thank you for the positive review and kind words. It is sad that more recent forms of feminism have preached equality and egalitarianism to the exclusion of submission and obligation. That doctrine only see the last two as one-sided giving by women with no benefit to them. There also seems to be an inordinate number of people, both Christians and non-believers, who read Ephesians 5 and stop at verse 24. The wives ask, “what’s in it for me,” and the husbands feel it says “Do whatever you husband says.” Both have a wrong attitude. You cannot teach submission to wives without teaching it to husbands too. Both need to have realistic expectations and respect boundaries for submission to work in a reciprocal, reinforcing circular pattern.

  2. I think the “duty sex” series is really valuable because you give so many specific examples of what real sexy-sex should look like. That so much better than just saying “bet into it!” because a lot of people just don’t know what that means.

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