Faulty Core Beliefs – Is sex a need?

Is sex a need?

This is one of those issues that, month-after-month, sparks a great conversation at the Every Mans Battle workshops. I thoroughly enjoy the discussion, even though sometimes it can get pretty heated. It is amazing to see how many different angles there are to answer the question too; biblical, single vs. married, natural/instinctual, physiological, psychological.

In an effort to start a discussion [not an argument] I’d like to invite feedback on this post.

Dr. Patrick Carnes, guru of sex addiction work, says in Out of the Shadows that people who are sexually addicted believe sex is their most important need. A lot of guys argue this point. At face value it is in fact easy to argue; especially when we apply Christian principles and understand that God designed sex, it is good, and it is part and parcel to marriage. But the more we unpack what it means to believe sex is a need, the more we see how our lives reflect our beliefs.  Let me explain:

Is sex a need to perpetuate the species and “go forth and multiply”?  Yes, it is. The species and multiplication cannot occur without it. (Ok, we can debate the logistics and mechanics of modern medicine related to reproduction, but at the end of the day a sexual act is still involved). So, in this sense, sex is a need. But, does that mean every time we engage sex with our spouse we are doing so to reproduce? No. So is sex a need for us personally?

Is sex a need based on physiology? Yes, there is a cycle to the development of sperm/semen that requires release. While the interval varies, for most men there is a regular cycle of production that physiologically requires a release. In this sense too, sex is a need. However, this assumes sex is the only vehicle to appropriately provide release. And by sex, I mean sexual acts – from masturbation to sexual intercourse. But is this true? What about nonsexual nocturnal emissions; where the body releases without a sexual stimulus? If you’ve talked to someone who has had a vasectomy, you know that once a vasectomy happens, sperm production does not immediately stop. Instead, the body has ways of dealing with the production through absorption and excretion. So, here we are again, asking the question: is sex a need in this regard?

What about if you’re married? If the person we love the most on the planet changes her last name, does sex automatically become a need? God ordained sexual intimacy in marriage and in fact encourages it. Some would say He commands it! Does this make it a need? And if it does, what about marriages where one spouse or the other cannot physically engage in sexual intimacy? I digress. Can we agree that marital status neither confirms nor denies whether sex is a need?

Do we need sex to feel loved? There is a cultural saying thrown around that goes, Women need to feel loved to have sex, Men need to have sex to feel loved”. Do you believe this? Is that to say that there are no other ways for men to feel loved other than to have sex? Is it the chicken or the egg – do men only know how to feel loved via sex because they’ve never know true intimacy and thus love without sex? I’ve digressed.

If we don’t get food, we die. If we don’t get water, we die. If we don’t get air, we die. Those are needs. We all believe, at a core level, that we need them. As such, we’ll go to great lengths to get them. We would cross lines we swore we’d never cross, go places we promised to never go, do things to people we never imagined ourselves doing, and breaking vows we swore we would never break.

Want to guess what a lot of guys have done to get sexual pleasure?

Most guys I talk to have crossed lines, gone places, broken vows (that they truly meant) and have done things to themselves and others they swore they would never do. Why?

Because they have a core belief that sex is a need, and fear the negative consequence on their life if they surrender it.

Do you believe sex is a need?
Do you fear negative consequences on your life if you surrender it?

Have you crossed lines or broken vows you swore you’d never transgress?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ShameShifting

We’ve talked about blame shifting before and how hurtful it is to a betrayed spouse. Unfortunately, blame shifting has a close cousin: shame shifting.

Shame shifting occurs, at my house, when I feel ashamed of my self for something that I’ve done wrong, or didn’t do right, and my wife calls attention to it. Not because she is trying to poke at my shame, but because my choices have affected her. Instead of owning it and being humble, I’ll instead shame her about something, usually related but tangential, in an effort to avoid dealing with my own insecurities.

I had a knack for doing this in the beginning of our journey. When something would happen and Shelley was triggered, she would share it with me. Sometimes calmly, sometimes not so much. Either way I was reminded that my poor choices and infidelity deeply hurt her. Enter shame. And guilt, which was healthy, but not the shame. Rather than practicing empathy, apologizing (again) and trying to be present in her pain I would pop-off calling out something I perceived her doing wrong. Statements like these, that I made,  are indicative of shame shifting:

“You’ve moved past sharing your pain; now you’re just being mean”

“My sin against you doesn’t give you the right to sin back”

“If you wouldn’t yell at me I wouldn’t get angry”

“Are we STILL not past this? We won’t get past it til you let it go”

For a few minutes it felt really good to put her in her place. Then, like a boomerang, the shame would come right back. Only now it was amplified, because not only had I hurt her by my past actions but now I’ve hurt her again by my response in the current conversation. That’s the problem with shame shifting: it always comes back worse than before.

A couple of suggestions should you find yourself shame shifting.

1 – Stop It!

2 – If only it were that easy. Try to recognize the thought patterns of shame shifting. If, when reminded of your sin, your thoughts quickly move to criticism of the person calling attention to it, you’re probably beginning to shift it.

3 – Own it. If you can’t seem to pull the ripcord and stop the words from coming out of your mouth, then when you do realize you said what you said, own it. “I just shamed you instead of owning my own junk. I’m sorry”.

4 – Many people can be the recipient of our shame shifting. For me, it was Shelley, my bosses, people in traffic, baristas, you name it. No matter who it is, we harm ourselves by shifting it. When we allow ourselves to bear the full burden of our sin, we give ourselves a chance to grasp the gravity of its impact on us and those around us. That will get us a step closer to hating our sin.