As far as I can tell, most Christian advice about picking a spouse puts sex, or sexual spark, or whatever you want to call it, in last place. It may be because a lot of Christians have mediocre sex lives (just hypothesizing), or because traditionally it was more important for a woman to find a good provider than it was to find a good lover, or because Christians just assume that sexual attraction will be there in some form whenever you put a man and a woman together, but whatever the case may be, at least when I was growing up, sexual attraction was, like, the last thing to consider when checking off the list for husbandly attributes.
Things that are more important than sex:
- Loving Jesus
- Attending church regularly
- Submitting oneself to God’s will
- Reading the Bible and praying
- Having a good job and being a provider
- Not a smoker
- Not a drinker
- Not a gambler
- Not a swearer
- Not an abuser
- Not a porn-watcher
- Loves kids
- Would be a good father
- Gets along with his own family
- Gets along with your family
- Sexually pure
- Sexually faithful
- Completely loyal
(The female version just has opposite genders, and women aren’t required to be providers.)
So, once you have all of these items checked off, THEN you can consider if the other person is at least somewhat sexually attractive to you, and if the person ISN’T at least somewhat sexually attractive to you, then maybe it’s time to start praying and then God may enable you to become sexually attracted to that person.
And, in the churchly way of thinking, the reason this kind of advice works is because it’s “the world” that puts inordinate importance on sexual attraction, and Christians are not to be of “the world,” and that appeals to the whole counter-cultural instinct. Additionally, a lot of people ruin their lives by letting their sex drives do all the thinking, so there’s a precautionary aspect as well. Churches are in the business of fixing people, but it’s even better not to have to fix people. Also, nobody wants to think of all of the senior citizens at church ever having randy feelings.
The other thought that I had was that a lot of single Christians are not beautiful women or top-drawer men, and if churches can get singles to get past the requirement of throbbing physical attraction, more Christians will get married. And since marriage is good for society and the church and people, then everyone wins.
Take, for example, Candice Watters’ advice from this article from Marry Well:
If what he’s looking to hold his marriage together for “many, many, many years” is sexual attraction, he’s setting himself up for disappointment. The only way to keep the high-jinks of new love going is to keep starting over with new lovers.
But that’s the message we’re bombarded with in our culture. In Hollywood especially, the end of the emotional high signals the need to move on to a new relationship where the high-octane meter gets to start over. Sometimes that means serial dating. More often it means divorce and remarriage. Tragically one in five married couples won’t reach their 5th anniversary.
But it need not end this way. When two believers come together in marriage, they have the potential, when the giddy feelings ebb, to leave what C.S. Lewis calls the “thrill” phase of romance for the “quieter and more lasting kind of interest … and happiness that follows.” He encourages this process, noting it is “one little part of what Christ meant by saying a thing will not really live unless it first dies.”
But in order for that to happen, we need to have realistic expectations, and the awareness that those giddy feelings will ebb.
I suspect your friend would say his desire for a “zing-pop” connection is consistent with Song of Solomon. There certainly was chemistry between Solomon and his bride. But nowhere in Scripture is that given as a condition for a God-glorifying marriage. You can build a strong, godly, world changing marriage on many things. But you can never build that simply on looks. Good looks are a bonus.
I worry for men like your friend who may miss out on highly productive marriages and families that are fruitful for the kingdom, simply because the women God brings to them don’t, at first, cause a chemical reaction.
The problem with Watters’ argument is that she is jumping to the apex fallacy of sexual attraction being the sole reason to marry. Physical attraction is important to men, but only the most foolish men marry strictly for physical attraction. (And they really would be idiots, because everyone knows that senior citizens don’t pose for centerfolds.) But it’s amply evident from reading manosphere blogs that sexual attraction does help to keep marriages together in times when it would be easy to give up, because sex bonds people together. Just remove sex from a marriage and see how long it lasts with any degree of happiness on either side.
This kind of advice completely misunderstands (at best) and disregards (at worst) male sexuality and what motivates men to pursue women. When a man is sexually attracted to his wife in a functional marriage, he will be more productive, more open to her counsel, and all-around more content and happy. I think what Watters is really doing is projecting her desire for young women not to fall prey to alpha players (“he’s so hot that I have to be with him even though he’s a loser”) onto men and their interest in attractive women (“she’s an idiot who hates kids, is in credit card debt up to her eyeballs, and is an alcoholic, but man, I’ve gotta spend the rest of my life legally bound to those jugs!”).
Is society so broken that every piece of advice or persuasive argument must be presented using extreme examples as rationales? Can’t there be a happy medium where sex appeal is given its due while also encouraging the value of character? Sheesh.