Family and Society: August 2006 Archives

"It's always a disaster."

| | TrackBacks (1)

The Chi-Trib has a sad piece (originally from the Boston Globe) on the views of black youth on marriage. The verdict: few desire it.

Bookmark and Share

Husbands, lust after your wives?

| | Comments (1)

As part of a larger look at the sin of lust, Beliefnet is rerunning a 2002 piece by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (whom I disagreed with last week). The upshot is that lust is OK if it's directed towards your wife.

Lust, per se, is not a sin. What is sinful is focusing our lust on strangers, instead of those to whom we are married. Lust for someone who is not your spouse is a sin, because it degrades your husband or wife. This lust is, indeed, the kind the ancients worried about--lust that demeans and debases, the kind that 32 percent of those responding to the Beliefnet poll say they are guilty of.

But there is no reason people should feel guilty if they focus their lust in the right direction. By restoring lust to the marriage bed, we can avoid adultery and broken marriages.

Now, if the rabbi is using "lust" merely as a synonym for "desire," then there's no problem with these words. Indeed, defines it as simply "Intense or unrestrained sexual craving." (Although even here we see a difference between "intense" and "unrestrained.")

However, we think of lust with a fairly negative connotation for reasons that are not puritanical. For although desire is perfectly normal and even necessary for a healthy marriage, it can be corrupted by selfishness to the point where a man no longer desires his wife as a person, but as an object.

Boteach's point is that the kind of desire that is sinful when directed outside the marriage isn't necessarily sinful if it's directed towards the spouse. That's all fine and good, but the seven deadly sins are not just external expressions, they are also internal dispositions, meaning they can corrupt the heart, even if not acted out. This is why the Rabbi Boteach's contrarian position does more harm than good.

Men should desire their wives, and surely many marriages flounder due to a loss of such desire. But in an age where utilitarian sex is the norm, we should be wary of giving the green light to all of man's sexual impulses.

There is much else that is wrong, or at the very least weird with Boteach's article, but alas, work calls.

Bookmark and Share

Soft in the head

| | Comments (7)

WARNING: The following post is for mature audiences only.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (of Shalom in the Home fame) has lost his mind.

The science section of The New York Times recently featured a lengthy study on breast-feeding and its benefits. Breast-feeding, the study found, helps reduce the chances of infection, cold, diarrhea, illness, and even later childhood obesity. No one argues with any of these benefits, but what the report neglects to mention, and what I have personally witnessed when counseling couples, is how breast-feeding can come between a husband and wife.

I want to say right off the bat that this is a sensible thesis. It's a legitimate question that I have no problem being raised, but the good Rabbi's take is, I believe, bass-ackwards.

In the end, there are two effects of breast-feeding that we often refuse to acknowledge. One is the de-eroticization of a woman's body, as her husband witnesses one of the most attractive parts of her body serving a utilitarian rather than romantic purpose. This is not to say that breast-feeding isn't sexy. Indeed, the maternal dimension is a central part of womanliness. But public breast-feeding is profoundly de-eroticizing, and I believe that wives should cover up, even when they nurse their babies in their husband's presence. [Emphasis added]

Now, I am ordinarily loathe to throw this word around, but we have here is a plainly sexist argument. Here's why:

Bookmark and Share


Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Family and Society category from August 2006.

Family and Society: July 2006 is the previous archive.

Family and Society: September 2006 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.