Just out of curiosity, why would a couple choose to abstain for such a long period of time? What is the point of being married then? Why even get married? Is it for a lifetime of companionship? B/c single people have friends and don’t have sex with them. These questions are not meant to be offensive to anyone, I just really wondered what the point of getting married only to be celibate is.
When we become Christians we promise to “do good, and avoid evil.”
Participating in the marital embrace **is **doing good. I would say that it would be unwise to abstain, unless there is something better to replace it.
Even if a couple is currently not having relations for some reason, I think the spousal relationship remains different from friendship. It is an enriching and valuable. The set of commitments is different, for example.
I didn’t get married with the intent to never have relations, so I can’t answer for people who make that choice. Perhaps examples are like if one person is sick at the time. They expect the person might die, but if they live, then the marriage will have relations. Or perhaps it is a state marriage (Kings and the like)?
The Orthodox Church has been impacted a great deal less by western secularized beliefs on sex than Catholics or Protestants have. Technically if you follow the fasts to the canons roughly half the year would be abstaining from sex. I admit we’re no were close to that, getting through Holy Week was a bit of a challange. However, there certainly is a tradition within Orthodoxy of married couples abandoning sexual relations as a means of further distancing themselves from the pleasures of the flesh. It’s completely on a volunteer basis.
In Orthodoxy, we believe the marriage bond to extend beyond physical death, and as we believe there will be no sex in Heaven, this bond is real and meaningful “even” without sex. The point is that two are made one, and not just physically.
White marriages are voluntary. Not all couples are called to this. Sex is something a couple can renounce after raising a family in order to concentrate more fully on their prayer life. They could also renounce TV. :shrug:
Growing spiritually could certainly be considered a genuine need. The problem with your ideology is first that you’ve bought into secularized views of sex and second while you think you’re trying to “reaffirm” sex what you are really doing is telling people that can’t they have less of a marriage. Equally so you’re telling people that aren’t interested something is wrong with them. It’s simply putting a small cart before the horse.
Marital sex was created to be important in uniting a couple to each other and with God. A marriage is not just 2 persons, it’s three - husband, wife, and God.
First, a marriage is one person not three. Second, if sex was such an important thing it would seem odd that it will be gone in the world to come and yet Jesus is clear that people will “be as angels.” Angels are genderless beings and do not have sex. Sex, even within marriage, can often become problematic. Not to mention that sex is the cause of a huge amount of pain in this world.
The couple does not need to sacrifice the marital embrace to embrace God more fully. If anything the marital embrace allows them to more fully embrace God.
Again, this bit of “sex is the most import thing ever” theology is merely Catholic and Protestant reaction to a very sexualized secular world. It’s a disordered view of sex and can be very unhealthy.
This is also not something a couple “grows out of”. That is a huge myth. Yes, some couples do reach a point where their health becomes a barrier in some way or another, but that is not a choice on the couples part.
No, it’s certainly not a myth. It is simply biology. It is perfectly natural for sex drive to decrease as one ages. As women become older it becomes increasingly dangerous for the woman to become pregnant and for the child of such a pregnancy. If this were unnatural it would be the exception rather than the rule, and people wouldn’t need dangerous drugs because they think they “need” to continue having sex.
The sexual side of their relationship does change, but outside of health, there is rarely a couple that chooses to just never do it again.
And you have some proof of that assertation?
Menopause does not mean a woman never wants sex again either. Many women actually say they were surprised at wanting it MORE.
And how many is “many?” Maybe it does happen for some, and for just as many the opposite. These are matters for couples and spiritual fathers. It’s not for you to say they need to have sex or for anyone to say they have to give up.
Not meaning to offend anyone, but if you are married, you cannot then be celibate. Being celibate is in itself, not being married. The correct term, is abstaining from relations. People often think ‘celibate’ means you don’t have sex. Indirectly, this is true, but it actually means you don’t marry.
Sorry…don’t mean to be rude or anything.
Thank you, Jules! A very good point, since the linguistics of it could be the root to the confusion.
We all know that Theotokos - the Most Holy Virgin Mary - was married to St. Joseph. It is the Protestants who often argue that she must have had relations with him for it was their marital duty.
Why would you get married for any other reason?
Fortunately, this is a myth.
Married men do not give up the marital bed when they become priests. It is actually one of the greatest sources of future priests!
There are regular fasts throughout the church year where abstention from marital relations are included, but priests are not any more restricted than lay men in that regard.
There are actual church fasts when they ask you to abstain from marital relations? When are these and how come I don’t know about them?
The thread title really annoys me.
A marriage without the embrace ought to be termed “dark” or “grim” or “gray” or something. “White” implies that abstinance within a marriage is a noble goal.
Oh, a ‘grim’ marriage! That’s what I aspire to! LOL
Cold marriage would probably be an apt term.
I agree. The term “white marriage” seems to mean that a marriage that includes a sex life is somehow less pure.
There comes a time in all marriages where sex is put on the back burner and a couple abstains. If it is for the rest of their lives, OK. Marriage isn’t all about sex, but I don’t see why sex would be permanently discouraged without a REALLY good reason.
If it is for the rest of their lives,
Unless you die during the embrace, you abstained for the rest of your life. Most of marriage is abstaining. It’s just that some times the abstenance gets burdensome.
I had to read that a couple of times to get it. I agree, abstinence gets burdensome (been there, am in the middle of it:rolleyes: ). It shouldn’t be encouraged without proper consideration.
The term I have always heard is Josephite Marriage. It has a noble tradition in east and west for those who are called to it.
In the Eastern Catholic Churches, all fasts include an abstention from the passions that excite, of which spicy food and the marital bed are included among many other things. If you are Eastern Catholic, you probably haven’t heard of them because of a reluctance to discuss this ‘private’ issue publicly. If you are Roman Catholic, it is probably because you are not yet familiar with the Eastern Catholic Churches.
Oh goodness, no not on my part. The act of sex in marriage is part of the Sacrament, part of your duty to each other, part of the wholeness that is marriage. But then I am only 32. I just can’t see a day that I dont find my husband of ten years to be the most attractive, wonderful man in the world. Just looking at him is enough for me to get in the mood. Intimacy is a very important part of our marriage, it’s something him and I share alone, it’s sacred. Yes we are friends, best friends, but our friendship is only this deep due to the emotional and physical intimacy we share with each other solely.
I wonder why you ask? Are you afraid to be married if it should “fizzle out?” Do you feel there are a lot of sexless marriages? And furthermore, I don’t know about other’s but again, refraining from intimacy to be “more spiritual” is in direct violation of the description of marriage within the cathechism. You choose a spiritual life (such as the sacrament of Holy Orders) or you choose a married life (the sacrament of Matrimony) and each one has their own “requirements” – so to say. Intimacy is a requirement of matrimony.
I really need ot go get coffee now, I hope I made sense!
Well…with all the sexual temptations out there today, I don’t think this is recommended by many spiritual directors.
When one spouse quits working properly due to age, then it is a decision the spouses need to make through prayer and spiritual guidance.
It is not a sin to use medicine to get things working that aren’t working properly. If either spouse still struggles with sexual temptations at that time in the future, then these medicines should be looked into, and relations continued until no longer possible, even with medications.
If neither spouse struggles with sexual temptations at that time, and one or both spouses no longer work properly, then there is no sin in ceasing relations altogether, so long as it will not endanger either spiritually or emotionally.