A pair of articles in the New York Times that address the issue (from a secular perspective) that there is still a profoundly misogynistic culture about female sexuality in society.
This is a new series we feel is important to start writing because we feel we are getting new insights into Christian sexuality through our studies and reflections all of the time. The key function of this blog is to address the distorted view of traditional sexuality which has been promoted by the complementarian theological school. As we have noted in previous posts, complementarianism reduces and minimises the roles of women both in the Church and in society as a whole, and it fits quite neatly with misogynistic prejudices that have existed in society for a very long time. Indeed the prevalence of Christian egalitarianism has been low until the 20th century and its ascendancy to become more mainstream seems to have paralleled the rise of secular feminism.
The key issue for womanhood in all contexts is this understanding that you are more or less equal to men in practically all respect and that in societies such as in Australasia you can enjoy access to practically all the same rights and roles as men do. The one key difference is of course related to the biological, sexual difference in the design of your body that enables you to bear children. Unfortunately that has been the key reason over the course of history why women have been treated differently and still are in many societies worldwide. For Christian womanhood, these issues are much the same as in society in that as we mentioned above, the development and prevalence of theology has followed the overall trends in the world. However the main issue is that as society has changed, some churches have continued to cling to their traditional theological viewpoints and are resisting patriarchal roles and structures.
Regardless of what type of theology applies in the church you are in, as a woman of God, He has created you to be equal in participation in all aspects of Christian life, but if you wish to have the opportunity to take part in all aspects of ministry, you will need to choose a church community that respects and upholds your God given gifts and talents. We aren’t specifically addressing those issues in this particular blog post. Instead we are intending to focus on how God created you and how He saw you and continues to see you as a woman of God. At some level this can be related to what you do in a ministry role or how faithful you are at using the gifts and abilities He has given to you. At another level it can simply relate more to your sexuality as a whole and how God created it to be very good and beautiful. That is certainly the most important matter that we want to discuss here.
You have been created with a physical body that is distinctly different from a male body. These particular differences are really only relevant to your ability to bear children and not to a great deal else, although it is well known that you have a different temperament from a male and react in different ways to the same situation. In respect of how God sees you and values you, there is no difference except for the particular female-specific role that relates to procreation. However, those differences in your physical body seem to be responsible for a constant stream of negativity, denigration and unwanted physical attention from males. Sadly, whilst feminism as a whole has made great strides in addressing these prejudices, manhood has yet to fully catch up and there is a continuing resentment at many levels, coupled with a seemingly perpetually ingrained opposition to feminist gains and respect of womanhood as a whole. An example of this prejudice is some of the rather coarse and vulgar terminology used to describe key female body parts, including the c-word, which is in fact derived from words used in other languages and not as the intended swear word it has become in the English language. We believe that womanhood as a whole should make every effort to reclaim this word from the misuse and denigration that is part of the wider and concerning trend of physical, verbal and sexual abuse that is overwhelmingly directed at females by males.
God created you as a Christian woman to be beautiful and He calls you beautiful in many ways. So your body is beautiful in all aspects. This especially applies to the distinctly female parts of your body, and the parts that are particularly unique are of course the genitalia and reproductive organs, the former partly external and partly internal and the latter internal. You also have parts that are similar to those that males have, but which have a distinctly female appearance, such as your breasts, buttocks and thighs. As a woman, you are likely to be very sensitive about the perception of physical beauty associated with these key areas, and others, of your body. These areas are part of the distinct sexual characteristics of your feminine body. God created them to be different in your body in order to complement the appearance of the male body and that is all that matters in this context. These appearance related and other characteristics of your body parts are a part of what makes you beautiful in God’s eyes.
We understand that most Christian women are sensitive about their physical appearance and some of the other distinctly female characteristics of their bodies and we understand that these sensitivities have many aspects, one part of which is how wider society, particularly males, relate to these characteristics. Our aim in writing this post is to encourage women of God to value their distinctly female characteristics, including their sexual aspects. Part of the key theological distortions of complementarianism, overwhelmingly amplified by wider society prior to the 20th century, has been to make women feel inferior by denigrating or minimising the worth of these aspects. They say that women aren’t supposed to have any sexual feelings and that their main role is to provide for the sexual needs of a husband and bear children to him. These claims greatly minimise the roles and also value of women as a whole. The most important concept we could hope to be able to address in this article is that as Christian woman, you are in no way beholden to a man to find your purpose and worth either in society or in the Church. Whilst the sexual parts of your body can be used within the context of marriage, if you choose to marry, to form an intimate bond with your husband and to procreate and raise children, these parts also have a context in their own right without that expectation. During any phase of your life when you are single, including in adolescence, young adulthood or at any other time, including if you make a conscious choice to remain single for any reason, your sexual body parts can be used in relation to a life of worship and submission solely to God. God created your body just for this purpose, and when you are single, or when you choose times to be alone if you are married, your body can be fully submitted to God and focused on worship of Him.
As we have made clear in our views expressed in other series of articles posted on this blog, we believe that God has given you the various parts of your body, including the sexual parts, to be used in acts of worship to Him. In relation to the parts that are considered to be sexual, actual sexual acts carried out using these parts are those acts that involve another person who may be physically or non-physically present during the act(s). However, a godly woman who chooses to engage with God whilst at the same time making use of those body parts is able to use them in worship to God, just as every other action in your physical body such as eating, exercise or sleeping is able to be considered as an act of worship to God. We therefore have consistently throughout this site expressed our view that physical arousal and the response of physical stimulation of genitalia and other body parts that increase sexual arousal can be considered as an act of worship when carried out solely in submission to God and when focusing solely on Him.
We use the generic term “sexual devotion” to describe a time when a man or woman of God is engaging in this manner with God. We emphasise that these sexual parts of your body belong first and foremost to you and were created for distinct purposes that you alone have choice and ownership over. When you choose to enter a time of sexual devotion with God you can then choose to be physically aroused and to respond to that arousal by touching various parts of your body in a way that increases arousal to a point of physical climax. This in itself is not a sinful practice, provided that care is taken not to introduce any sinful practices as part of the arousal session. We use the term “sexual development” to describe what we believe is a key reason for a Christian woman or man to engage in times of sexual devotion. This means that these times are a great opportunity to develop your sexuality for any roles you may undertake in future, and to overcome negative perceptions. When you enter adolescence you are just starting to become aware of key aspects of your womanhood and just like the development of physical bodily characteristics, sexuality characteristics need time and experience to reach their full potential.
Sexual development is very important during adolescence, but also at other times, for example for women who need a time of healing from sexual abuse that they may have experienced during their lives. It is also very important as an ongoing activity for Christian women to practice throughout their lives simply in order to deal with the constant negative messages and actions that are directed against women in our society, or merely by a sense of being challenged by what these body parts look like or some of their particular functions, such as menstruation. We are writing this blog in particular to any woman of God who is in a space where you have negative perceptions of specific feminine body parts which have been shaped or influenced by such messages or by sexual abuse or some other circumstance. We want to encourage you to believe that God created your body as beautiful in His eyes and that He wants you to feel beautiful in all parts of your body. We encourage you to engage in times of sexual devotion to God by affirming of your body parts, such as by physical stimulation and arousal to the point of climax and orgasm. We believe that the physical pleasure that you receive in your body at the time of such stimulation is in itself an affirmation of the beautiful nature of these body parts and also of the physical and spiritual value of engaging in the acts of devotion.
We conclude this article by encouraging you as a woman of God to begin engaging in sexual devotion if it is something you haven’t done before or if it is something that you need to do more of in order to give and receive affirmation of the specifically feminine parts of your body, that they are very beautiful body parts and are of great worth in God’s sight. We encourage you to speak words and prayers of affirmation over those body parts in response to the physical pleasure that you receive as you touch and stroke them. We encourage you to let God minister deeply into your spirit as you receive messages of affirmation of physical and spiritual beauty through the pleasure of arousal and orgasm. As you become more knowledgeable in sexual devotion and how much your body needs, ask God how much is appropriate for you. This may vary from weekly or less, to daily or more. It is important to discover this especially if you are in a marriage because it is of prime importance to focus on how sexual devotion can enhance rather than detract from your marital relationship. You may find that as you become more assured and confident in your times of devotion that you want to have them more often and provided that these times are truly devotional and don’t detract from other parts of your life, then more regular timing or frequency may be beneficial to you.
Soon we’ll be starting two new series on the Sexuality of Christian Womanhood and the Sexuality of Christian Manhood. We just feel that we need to keep writing the blog posts and talking about the insights we have into sexuality from a Christian perspective and in particular, the need to escape all of the considerable harm caused to womanhood by complementarian theological teachings. That type of theology has simply played into existing misogynistic viewpoints in society as a whole in which female sexuality is denigrated and downplayed in a major way. Male and female Christians in an evangelical context need to know and understand the key aspects of their sexuality in a way that allows each gender to respect, value and honour the other and truly be equals in the church and in society as a whole.
There are a couple of key changes in these series from the way we’ve written on this blog up until now. One is that we will not be planning out a fixed number of articles in a certain order, instead there will be an unknown number of articles that each address a random topic. The second change is that the articles will be written in the second person rather than the third person, addressing the issue from the perspective of the reader. We just want to make the blog a bit more personable and easier to relate to. The first article is going up very shortly.
This topic is rather interesting due to work done by Debra Pascali-Bonaro as detailed in her Orgasmic Birth website and publications. The basis of Pascali-Bonaro’s premise is that all stages of pregnancy, including birth, should be considered sexual acts by the pregnant mother. Her work is based on the natural birth movement but also compels us to consider the inevitability of labour and birth becoming sexual acts with the knowledge that some women do experience sexual pleasure during these activities, whether it is sought out or occurring spontaneously. Particularly in respect to the former, is there a role for sexual pleasure to be introduced into these stages of pregnancy, and this is something that our blog is certainly interested in exploring, as we believe that the entire journey of procreation in a mother’s life is something that is to be explored and celebrated in the light of the fullness of female sexuality as God created it.
Angela Gallo’s advocacy of masturbation during labour is different, yet related to Pascali-Bonaro’s work. Gallo made use of the practice as part of her own natural birth in her desire to use more natural forms of pain relief.
Whilst Gallo, at least, comes across as a radical new age feminist, some of whose views are likely incompatible with evangelical Christian belief, we feel it’s instinctual for us on this site to open our minds to a more open viewpoint of God’s design of female sexuality through pregnancy and childbirth which doesn’t limit the sexual aspect to the beginning of the procreative journey. This is something we’ll explore a part of more fully in our next post.
This is a topic we’ve touched on before. We are drawing information from some third party websites as well as offering some insights of our own. It has become a particular focus for us recently in supporting some pregnant women in our community.
Sex in the context of pregnancy isn’t solely limited to the act that began the pregnancy, and there is plenty of support for views that a healthy amount of sex during the pregnancy is quite beneficial. However a key challenge for pregnant mothers is maintaining enough sexual desire for the husband to have regular intercourse throughout pregnancy. It’s not particularly unusual for a pregnant wife to lose the desire for her husband whilst at the same time becoming increasingly horny due to changes in hormones, blood flow and other factors. During third trimester in particular, sexual intercourse can also become physically awkward due to the growing size of the pregnant belly. Some men can also lose physical desire for their wife during pregnancy. Because of these reasons, masturbation may become the preferable option for satisfying sexual desire consistently throughout the pregnancy. Because masturbation has other benefits that are of the type outlined in the MFC101 series, this article focuses primarily on masturbation rather than sexual intercourse.
The key benefits of masturbation during pregnancy are outlined below. It’s useful to remember that what is good for the mother is usually good for her baby as well, therefore masturbation can actually be positive for the baby’s development as well as helping her to overcome the various strains and struggles of those nine months.
- Helps to reduce stress and increase relaxation after orgasm by releasing oxytocin
- Increased orgasmic pleasure
- Natural pain relief from morning sickness etc
- Helps to make sleep easier due to release of endorphins and lowering blood pressure
- Helps to strengthen pelvic floor for easier labour
- Helps restores female sexuality and self image that can be damaged due to physical changes in appearance, size etc. A woman can feel sexy again when she can experience sexual pleasure and orgasm.
Masturbation has the advantage that it can be scheduled at any convenient time and is especially helpful for mothers who need to masturbate throughout the day rather than being limited by husband’s availability and stamina. Masturbation is also beneficial for the reasons outlined in our Masturbation For Christians 101 Series in the particular circumstances where a woman needs to reconnect herself with her own body or to have her own space to focus on her own issues, rather than sharing her body with her husband for the sexual encounter. During the six week post natal recovery period when sexual intercourse is medically proscribed, this is particularly important, as it is also a great opportunity for a woman to restore her personal sexual development after the challenges that have occurred during the pregnancy and birth.
In addition to all of the previously documented benefits, one that does specifically accrue to masturbation for a pregnant woman is the act of rubbing her belly, something that has been proven to specifically increase her sense of physical connection with and love of her unborn child. During masturbation, rubbing her pregnant belly can be very beneficial for increasing her arousal and pleasure, therefore being another situation in which the act of masturbation is actually physically beneficial for the baby.
In totality, everything that a mother does during pregnancy has to be considered for its ability to benefit and support her unborn child, and in terms of a godly mandate to lay down our lives in service of others, it is appropriate in a faith context to consider how the development of the baby can be enhanced by making this a greater priority than the mother’s own needs. Given that there are provable benefits to fetal development from masturbating during pregnancy, it is highly beneficial for a pregnant mother to focus her thoughts and prayers on “servicing her womb” or providing for her baby’s needs during masturbation, and this change of focus can make the act of masturbation that much more fulfilling to her, especially from a faith perspective.
We are considering at the moment whether to add another article or two in exploring this subject further to the MFC101 series, or perhaps a different series on procreation sexuality.