Jump directly to the content
Stay Sexy or Else? Well, Please Forgive These Mommy Hips

Stay Sexy or Else? Well, Please Forgive These Mommy Hips


May 17 2013
When the joy of sex gets replaced by the fear of not being sexy enough.

Some Christian marriage conferences and self-help books tell us it's up to the wife to stay looking great and try new things in the bedroom, to keep her husband satisfied and her marriage strong.

Mary DeMuth recently critiqued the popular "smoking hot wife" line, pointing out that for the many Christian wives recovering from experiences of sexual abuse, this kind of imperative makes the difficult path towards healthy intimacy even harder. For a woman trying to find a way to lower defenses, shake off memories, and find true, godly communion with a spouse, being told to act the part of the sexy wife is 11 steps in the wrong direction.

But the real problem with all this evangelical sex talk is even bigger than that. Any woman trying to live intimately with her husband gets damaged by these sorts of claims, not just those who are recovering from abuse. It's antithetical to the Christian view of marriage altogether.

As we remind Christian couples to "stay in shape and try new things," we can play into a broader cultural premise on sex—that it's all right to leave a spouse once the spark of sexual excitement and attraction has dissipated, that couples who don't find sex exciting anymore don't, won't, or even shouldn't, stay together. An adventurous sex life becomes the unspoken requirement for lifelong monogamy.

Once that idea gets in a woman's head, it's hard to shake it. In the back of her mind, she knows the choice to have children also means changing her body forever. Her shape will become different. The sex will be different. Amid the vulnerability of pregnancy and childbirth, women face the fear of becoming less attractive to their husbands, who are meant to find them sexy for years and years to come if they want their marriage to last.

In other cultures, motherhood is seen as the self-sacrificial, dangerous, and difficult role that endears a wife to her husband, solidifies the family unit and elevates her. This used to be the story in America too, but the more we buy into this cultural mandate, the more pregnancy comes with baggage. Motherhood, with its extra stress and pounds, can begin to lessen a woman's esteem, making her seem less valuable to her husband, and putting her at risk of being left behind if he chooses to move on. Forget about the veneration of motherhood, having babies makes you look frumpy in lingerie.

Even more, the stay-sexy-or-else message ultimately admits that marriage may be a conditional arrangement. The bottom line: Your husband can leave at any time… unless you give him a reason to stay. What effect will this even tacit admission have on the relationship? I think of Anna Karenina. As the story progresses, no amount of sensual passion and no amount of beauty can act as cement in Anna and Vronsky's relationship. All the pleasures of beauty and sensuality become tainted.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
Don’t Call Me Out at Your Wedding for Being Single

Don’t Call Me Out at Your Wedding for Being Single

The church can model a more inclusive community, one that doesn’t divide over marital status.
Why Google and BuzzFeed Need the Church

Why Google and BuzzFeed Need the Church

When big corporations make big moral decisions, where is the church’s voice?
Timehop Helps Me See God’s Providence

Timehop Helps Me See God’s Providence

How a social media app reminds me of God’s faithfulness in my life.
How Grandparenting Redeemed Our Family

How Grandparenting Redeemed Our Family

This Father’s Day, I celebrate my parents’ choice to move close to my kids.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

I’m a Woman Who Got Kicked Out of Women’s Bathrooms

Our zealous policing of gender norms can have unintended and hurtful consequences.

Twitter

  • RT @DailyKeller: 201cGod doesn't just love you unconditionally. He loves you counter-conditionally-in spite of your conditions.201d
  • RT @michellevanloon: What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. - @AWTozer_
  • @JBsTwoCents d83dde17 Keep up the great work!
  • Timehop can offer us more than nostalgia https://t.co/3f6VdMUTeM
  • Shoutout to @sarahthebarge for her words of wisdom about navigating wedding season as a single person https://t.co/KW00sw9ghU


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
Stay Sexy or Else? Well, Please Forgive These Mommy Hips