Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Blissful Ignorance

Recently my friend Christina received the gift of yet another explicit book about physical intimacy. Christina is to be married in December, and apparently some friends feel that she ought to be as knowledgeable as possible about sexuality beforehand. In response, Christina and I have been toying with the idea of writing a book titled “Blissful Ignorance” or “Ignorance is Bliss”. We recognise that people recommend explicit books with the best of intentions. However, we would like to respectfully put forward a different point of view.

These books are unhelpful to unmarried people who are trying to remain emotionally and mentally pure in preparation for the one they love. They are also a product of the world’s obsession with the mechanics of sexuality. God has made a man and his wife to enjoy one another, and we can trust that under ordinary circumstances this will be the case.

Christina and I are not, of course, arguing for complete ignorance: some knowledge of human anatomy and reproduction, and of the Bible’s teaching on physical intimacy, is important. It is the pedalling of very detailed material to unmarried people that we consider both unnecessary and harmful. This material can cause unnecessary temptation, and even worry about unpleasant problems that may not occur. It is our opinion that people will be happier if they do not read it.

Dave and I had a fantastic honeymoon without the aid of any shared reading of explicit books. Neither of us could claim to being blissfully ignorant beforehand, but we don’t think that most knowledge we did have was of much use to us. Really, the honeymoon would have been just as blissful if we’d been less knowledgeable.

My advice to unmarried people is this: trust that God has made physical intimacy great, and you don’t need to know much more than that! You can be happily ignorant, trusting that God has an excellent plan for you to know your future partner in a more wonderful and exciting way than you can imagine. After marriage, you have the rest of your lives to explore his plan.


  1. I'm single, so I've never had this issue as an immediate concern. Still, I'm already convinced that what you say is wise--that reading things too explicit would be unwise and unnecessary (I mean, how short of a time period ago would people generally have not even had access to such information?). I stopped by your old blog at times, so I had to stop by the new one :) Congratulations on being joined in marriage with another child of God!!!

  2. I shall be the first post on your new blog! Needless to say, I agree that we had a perfectly wonderful honeymoon, and I think you have put your (our) point of view about this extremely well. I personally think that there is just too much Christian literature in general, not just on this subject. I have a feeling we have "academised" or "technicalised" things that should be much simpler...

  3. Hmmm. I disagree with you a little.

    I was totally ignorant when I was married. My honeymoon was a horrible painful experience and I cried every night.My poor husband. There was no pleasure. It tooks weeks to consumate our marriage and months for me to get any pleasure from s*x. I ended up seeing a dr (who was a Christian and a woman). Part of the reason I had this experience is because I was so "blissfully ignorant." She was well aware of the myth that all honeymoons are wonderful experiences and reassured me that I was "normal". I ended up having panic attacks if my husband and I ever even approached s*x. My husband started to think I had some kind of abuse history that I had suppressed. I didn't. I just didn't have a clue. Think: Loretta Lynn, "Coal Miner's Daughter" except my husband wasn't a jerk.

    I knew about the basics of reproduction. I am a nurse, but I didn't know the technicalities. That it could be a painful experience for a virgin and there are some things virgins should know to help the honeymoon not be so traumatic.

    I don't think young Christians should be reading intimacy books if they are not engaged. However, I wish I had spoken with my dr before the honeymoon. She had offered to have an honest conversation with me about s*x and give me some info about methods that would make it easier for me. I was of the opinion that this stuff was wrong and refused it. Then I had a horrific honeymoon and wish I had taken her advice. I did a lot of book reading an internet serfing to try to figure out what in the world my problem was only to find that this was very normal for virgins.

    My husband and I are sad that we never really had a honeymoon. I am still very upset that that time was stolen from me.

    Sorry to pour my soul out here, but some of these books are good for engaged men and women and the girl (especially) needs to be aware what to expect (especially if it is her first time!). I didn't and I will make sure that my daughters (if I ever have any) will know what to expect.

    I agree that there are too many detailed books out there. I think these discussions can be done tactifully, but I don't think the subject should be avoided all together.


  4. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Zan. I am aware that some people do have awful experiences, and I agree that it is important to share knowledge that can prevent that. I am sure that most people who recommend the books I am thinking of have that in mind. However, I think that one-on-one conversation that gives each particular person the information they need to know and that applies to their situation is a better way to go. This is not always possible, so I think these books have a place . . . it is just that they definitely should not be the first option in regard to gaining information. I would prefer to encourage engaged people to talk one-on-one with a trusted person who can be open about these things. Only if such a person is completely unavailable would I recommend reading books on it as they usually give much more information than is necessary.

    I completely agree with you that these subjects should not be avoided. Rather, there should be much more open communication between Christians about these things. Then, such conversations that could help prevent problems will be more frequent and easier to have.

    I am sure that the fact that Dave and I communicate really easily about these things helped us a lot on our honeymoon - I can imagine that it could be a total nightmare if one finds it very difficult to talk about.

    Thank you very much for being so open in sharing your experiences - I think that you could have a real ministry in being open with other women and letting them know that you are willing to talk to them about this topic.

  5. Unfortunately what you propose Sherrin is not particualrly part of Christian culture. For this reason the books play an important role.

    People see and view these books as a non threatening/embarrassing way of learning the basics and of avoiding the problem bravely outlined above.

    Having said that I was grateful for a frank talk I had from a mate in Sydney before I left for Germany... but by enlarge this doesn't happen.

    I'm happy to play my part in talking with blokes but in the short term I also see the importance of books such as those you have been often critical of.

  6. Innocent of the graphic descriptions and diagrams, but educated enough to not feel entirely scared and uncomfortable, seems like a good place to be. I think communication between the 2 people involved and patience are the most important things. As a Christian I need to be careful what what my motives are for learning about this aspect of relationship. I need to recognize the difference between magazines that claim to educate me and personal discussions with honest people that actually will be helpful to my experiences.

  7. I do think that a one on one conversation with my pastor's wife, who was very honest about the subject, was what I should have done **before** the honeymoon, not after. A lot of Christians don't like to talk about s*x, period. I think that is why they give out books. For me, seeing my dr/pastor's wife was a lot better than any of the books. She told me that as she saw me off on my honeymoon she told her husband, "This will either be the best week in their life or the worst." It was the worse week in my life and I was totally surprised and figured that I was malformed. (a great nurse I am! **sarcasm**)

    All you get from the world is that the first time is great and that s*x is wonderful. Just check out any worldly tv show, unless you arent' willing which wasn't the case with me.


  8. Thanks Mike, Genny and Zan for sharing your thoughts.

    Mike, I really don't think books would help people like Zan. If Zan even thought that it was wrong to talk with her pastor's wife or doctor, I doubt she would have been keen on reading very detailed books!!!! In addition, I don't remember One Flesh going into much detail about what to do about pain or fear . . . apart from to focus on expressing love in other physical ways. This was a very good tip, and perhaps one that would be worth reading the book for . . . if no one was available to communicate this truth in one or two sentences instead :). Having said all that, I do understand where you are coming from and I do understand why people recommend books. I am just trying to advocate what I see as a better way. I pray that God will use you in one-to-one relationships with other guys, and I'm glad you are open to that.

    Genny, your comment shows a lot of wisdom! I'll be praying for you as you seek to strike this balance.

    Zan, thanks for sharing more about what was helpful to you. I am grateful that your pastor's wife was available to be of help, and willing to talk with you.

  9. The best place for a young woman (or older single who is still a virgin) to gain useful info about sex would be her own mother! (assuming the woman has a mother and that the mother is comfortable in talking about sexual intercourse and all it entails). I plan on having a very frank discussion with my girls when they are older and engaged, if they should become engaged that is! (prayerfully and hopefully! :) ). right now, they are only 14 and 8 and just getting them through puberty is challenging enough! God's blessings to you....enjoyed seeing your wedding photos. Got your blog from Sower's Corner, a friend of mine.