As couples therapist that primarily works with Christian couples I have seen how being raised in purity culture can ruin the sex life of christian couples.
I’ve listen to couples who were told that sex is to be saved FOR marriage and information about sex is kept highly secretive. Who were raised to believe in the divine right of male leadership in both church roles and in marriage.
Women raised in a conservative christian home who internalized the belief that sex and sexual desire are for men alone.
Women who were so deprived of information about their own sexuality and told over and over again about the struggles men face against lust that they feel certain that it is completely normal and to be expected that men are sex crazed and that sex is for men.
This lack of information and warped perspective on male sexuality can lead women to deny their sexuality and have no concept of their sexual wants or needs. These women often act in a codependent manner and are focused on caring for their spouses sexual needs without concern for their own needs.
This leads them to be vulnerable to be taken advantage of and say yes to sex when they really don’t want it because they have been told they need to appease and please their husband sexually. It is also easy to be taken advantage of because it is hard to consent to sex when you don’t know what your sexual needs/desires are.
Let me repeat that: It is hard to consent to sex when you don’t know what your sexual needs/desires are and have been trained to ignore and dismiss your own sexuality.
It is therefore not hard to see where the line can be blurred between acquiescing and marital rape and why the occurrence of marital rape and domestic violence in complementarian marriages is so high.
Women raised in purity culture and to be wives in complementarian marriages have been raised to be taken advantage of making them perfect for unhealthy sexist husbands that only benefit from their wives submissive nature.
Unfortunately, they also tend to be pretty terrible sexual partners for healthy respectful husbands. Men who are healthy and respectful report feeling downright disgusted with themselves when they hear their wives are consenting to sex only to appease them and that their wives have no concept of their own sexual desire.
These good men feel awful and dissatisfied with their sex lives and are so eager to please their wives and feel saddened when they hear how out of touch their wives are when it comes to their sex life.
Once these women begin to discover their frustration & realize the warped nature of their sex lives they often share they feel like a prostitute having detached sex & feeling that acquiescing when they don’t want to has made them feel their spouses only view them as sex objects.
They feel their spouses view them as sex objects because when it comes down to it that is what they have been conditioned to believe through purity culture and conservative evangelical and complementarian views.
They feel dehumanized and dirty. Sex which has been painted to be dirty outside of marriage and beautiful inside of marriage feels tainted and dirty inside of marriage and an enormous disappointment from the gift it was promised to be. It comes as no shock then that many of these women experience sexual dysfunction such as low desire, painful intercourse, and inability to achieve orgasm.
These couples have an intense process ahead of them that involves re-examining their experiences in academia, how their parents raised them, and how their faith system has ultimately harmed them.
In essence, this is an experience we call ambiguous loss and something the couple will need to grieve in order to reconstruct a healthy narrative around sex, marriage, and their faith. It saddens me to see how the faith and church culture these couples have been raised in has let them down and harmed them.
Many have been saying it and I’m here to repeat it: Purity Culture, Patriarchy, and Complementarian marriages harm women and their marriages.
*As a couples therapist that primarily works with Christian couples I have seen enough couples to report on trends and generalizations instead of specific couples which is very important to me as one bound by ethics.