What is with all of the abstinence threads lately? It seems there are a lot of people advocating extended abstinence as being good for a marriage. Those of us who say that sex is good and important in marriage are accused of not having self control or placing undue importance on it.
Here are positions that I have stated or have agreed with that have been attacked:
-More sex might actually be good for your marriage.
-You should go out of your way, even sacrifice, to make sure you and your spouse are having physical intimacy.
-Sex is a distinguishing physical mark of married love which separates it from other types of love. (Notice I said "distinguishing", not that sex is the only or most important mark of marital love).
-Extended abstinence while practicing NFP might put negative stress on a marriage.
There is more, but I think this is a good start. When people defend prolonged abstinence it seems to me to be with a holier-than-thou type attitude- "I can control my appetities, why can't you?"
This seems to me to "angelism". Here is a passage from Christopher West that sums up my thinking:
The human body is not "crude matter" housing our true "luminous" selves! This is the heresy of "dualism" which introduces a false split in the human being between body and soul. In the authentic Christian view of things, the human being is an incarnate spirit or a spiritualized body.
As the Catechism says, "The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the ‘form’ of the body: that is, it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body." Furthermore, "spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature" (CCC, n. 365).
John Paul II insisted that the "body can never be reduced to mere matter: it is a spiritualized body, just as man’s spirit is so closely united to the body that he can be described as an embodied spirit" (Letter to Families, 19).
It is only because of original sin that we experience a rupture within us between the physical and the spiritual. Lacking the reintegration of spirit and flesh to which we are called in Christ, we inevitably lean towards one side of the divide or the other, towards "angelism" or "animalism." One promotes a "spiritual" life at the expense of the body and the other a "carnal" life to the neglect of the spirit.
Angelism views the human person as a spirit merely housed or even imprisoned in the body. Since the "real person" is something purely spiritual, angelism not only considers the body external to the person, it tends to view the body as an obstacle to spiritual fulfillment. The angelistic moral code is rigorism; it tends towards prudishness and a fearful repression of bodily feelings and desires. Many Christians throughout history have fallen prey to this distortion. Even today people make the calamitous mistake of considering this "holiness."