Marital debt not marital exchange

Doug Wilson is operating from false premises in his most recent post on the economics of sexual purity.

One of the things that radical feminists got right, and which doe-eyed romantics got wrong, is the fact that sex within marriage is manifestly an economic institution. But they then went on to wreck this insight by saying that this made marriage a glorified form of prostitution, when they should actually have made the connection in the opposite direction—pointing out that prostitution is of course a grotesque parody of marriage.

“They indeed will tell you that their researches have proved that if two things are similar, the fair one is always a copy of the foul one” (The Pilgrim’s Regress, p. 67).

In the meantime, the doe-eyed romantics have resolutely insisted that marriage is about “true love” only, and that to bring any economic considerations to bear on a subject like this makes it all seem pretty tawdry, and more to the point, a little bit sad. They don’t like “mercenaries” talking about love. It anchors everything right in the middle of real life, and the wrong kind of romantic can only take real life in small doses.

Doug is wrong here. Feminists got it wrong, and romantics got it wrong.

It’s good that he can see romantics got it wrong, but much of his conclusions elsewhere (e.g. wifely happiness being the measure of a husband’s godliness) betrays that conclusion. This has been discussed elsewhere, so I’m not going to go over that again.

What does the Scripture say about sex in marriage:

1 Cor 7:2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3 The husband must [a]fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and [b]come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command.

The husband and wife owe each other sex. In other word, it’s a marital debt. That which is owed cannot be used as a bargaining chip for exchange because you do not retain the rights to use it the way you want. If you have a mortgage or loan debt, banks would laugh you out of their establishment if you tried to bargain or make an exchange with the monthly payment you owe them.

Any form of “exchange” in marriage is prostitution. Love, sex, respect, submission, etc are all commanded by God to be given without reservation, even if a husband or wife is acting poorly. Wives are commanded to obey their husband in all things (Eph 5), and even if their husbands are not believers they should win them with submission, a gentle and quiet spirit, and chaste and respectful behavior (1 Pet 3). Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the Church: unconditionally (Eph 5).

This is again works and desire. We obey God’s commands because we desire to follow Him. If we start placing conditions on God’s commands, we fail to follow them and enter into a marital prostitution by holding the husband or the wife hostage to our demands lest we won’t give them what they are owed.

Marriages are not businesses and do not operate on exchanges.

Aside from Wilson’s mistake, there’s one other point you should take away from this. If you ever find yourself agreeing with feminists, then you had better take a deep long hard spiritual look at why you’re agreeing with them because they’re never spiritually on God’s side. They always aim to destroy marriages through wifely rebellion.


In the survey, 31 percent of the women said they watched porn every week, another 30 percent said they did so a few times a month and 10 percent of respondents gets a daily fix. Modern technology is a major factor: 90 percent of respondents said they watch porn on the internet, preferably on their smartphone (62 percent) or laptop (53 percent).

Despite being pooh-poohed as lowbrow literature for middle-aged women, romance novels comprised nearly one-third — 29 percent — of the 2015 fiction market. In 2013, romance novel sales exceeded $1 billion, according to Romance Writers of America. There are even entire bookstores devoted to romance novels!

Romance novels: 35% are long term addicted, and 84 percent are female

Romance is a genre about women, by women and pored over by women — 84 percent of readers are female, according to Romance Writers of America. It’s a $1 billion industry, and 35 percent of romance book buyers have been reading them for 20 years or more, according to RWA.

And don’t forget all of those Christian women who were out buying 50 shades of grey.

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12 Responses to Marital debt not marital exchange

  1. earl says:

    Yeah I think we are seeing taking marriage and sex out of the context God created it to be is a fallable arguement.

  2. @ earl

    Sometimes I think the pastors writing this stuff haven’t read the Scriptures on the topic that they’re trying to talk about in years.

    There’s no way you can say that “sex is exchanged in a biblical marriage” if you actually just read the plain text of 1 Cor 7.

  3. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    Any form of “exchange” in marriage is prostitution. Love, sex, respect, submission, etc are all commanded by God to be given without reservation, even if a husband or wife is acting poorly.

    It seems so simple. Perhaps concepts like duty and obligation tarnish the sparkle of chivalry and romance. Love (from women), it seems, must be presented as a spontaneous feeling and not volitional commitment and sacrifice. For men, however, love must be unconditional. Honor, likewise for must be miserly doled out by women to protect their dignity and independence from men. Men must unconditionally honor their wives as the weaker but superior vessal. Any insistence of submission by any man is de facto narrisistic abuse or in church-speak, “lording it over”. Submission can only be given by a choice like a gift, but unlike a gift submission can be withdrawn when feelings require it.

    When folks like AL Mohler tell husbands and wives that the marriage bed must be earned, the church listens, at least the women and white-knight enablers listen. The result is in the church’s teachings are that sex is transactional, women regulate sex, if a wife doesn’t desire sex it is evidence that her husband is failing to provide to her the correct fee for her services and is a spiritually retard.

    We rarely ever hear about Adam being condemned for heading the woman, but do hear the constant drumb beat that men (husbands) are: wanton perverts, abusive, controling, passive, lazy, have no emotional competence, cannot be trusted with children, and are spiritual cripples. The church scornfully laughs at those who God commands to honor, it stirs up discontent in wives and then blames husbands for their wives lack of gratitude, it shames men for desiring their wives and then blames them for a lack of oneness in their marriage, it cautions husbands about being controlling and then holds them responsible for not having control. The church has laid out a mine field for husbands of contradiction and gyno-idolatry, a single wrong step could cost a man his children, home, income and good name. But scripture seems much less confused. It is shameful that the ground and pillar of truth has subordinated scripture for the primacy of their principles of gyno-idolatry. Only let us heed God and not the woman. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the fear of women is worldly wisdom and enmity with God. The choice is often obedience to God and peace with him, but conflict in this world or happy wife – happy life and conflict with God.

  4. And what of the wife who has no interest (for whatever reason) in “calling in” her husband’s debt to her? Aside from receiving her debt to him (and alongside same), how is her husband recommended to approach discharging what he owes her, sexually?

  5. Novaseeker says:

    Women also view porn, so it’s not just a “male” problem.

    Yes, this has been hiding in plain sight for a while now, particularly since the advent of ubiquitous smartphones. Women’s porn viewing has been skyrocketing. It is less than it is for men because women have generally lower libidos than men and are less purely visual than men are, but some people took this to mean that women pretty much had no interest in visual porn, which is quite false. Women watch porn, and they have certain kinds of porn they prefer (which unsurprisingly is different from men), and, importantly, porn is also shaping *women’s* views about sex, male sexual performance and physical preferences, and so on, in a way that is as distorting, in different ways, as it is for men who view porn.

    No-one likes to discuss this because it’s easier, as Doug Wilson generally does, to pretend that because women have a lower libido generally than men do, that there is no need to address problems relating to female sexual sins. And so it goes completely unaddressed, together with the other sexual sins being committed by women left and right.

  6. @ J. J. Griffing

    What’s the actual situation?

    Low sex drive? Frigidity? Confronted with the Scriptures but not being obedient? Attraction issues?

  7. Zero sex drive, plus pain in the act.
    (Maybe husband’s best COA would be a doctor?)

  8. bdash 77 says:

    do people not remember the hordes of Christian women watching Magic Mike?

    I saw pastors telling husbands to serve their wives by caring for the kids and cooking dinner so the wife could have a night out with her friends watching Magic Mike…

  9. @ J. J. Griffing

    Pain the act would be OBGYN to get a diagnosis. Maybe physical therapist if it’s too tight pelvic floor muscles.

    Zero sex drive can be a lot of things which you probably want to get checked by a doc for as well. Diet, stress, and things like that can play a negative role.

  10. Paul says:

    Read Wilson’s article again and notice the glaring omission: not a single word on women’s responsibilities. As if women are not moral agents. Shift all the blame on men.

  11. Paul says:

    @JJG: “how is her husband recommended to approach discharging what he owes her, sexually?”

    It all starts from the mindset: “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” 1 Co 7

  12. earl says:

    not a single word on women’s responsibilities.

    It’s Churchianity 101. It’s all on the man…well at least when it comes to being the one responsible for sins and too weak to pursue these pure prized princesses.

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