Arguments like those made by Mr Schraub, are really just one way of traveling down the path of intellectual dishonesty. This is not an unusual tactic, especially in today’s age in which we often lose sight or just plain don’t understand the reasons and assumptions made by the other side. So to compensate, reasons which oddly enough are easy to counter or caricature are substitute instead of meeting, understanding, and having any sort of discussion which will do anything but anger the “other” side, although if one is particularly lyrical in your rhetoric it will get acclaim and kudos from those in your particular choir.
In particular in this argument, the point is made that it is unacceptable to encourage one member of a relationship to engage in sex when they do not particularly feel like doing so at that time. One of the bloggers linked in the post of Mr Schraub’s offers that sex between married couples should only occur when both desire it at the same time. However, this leaves the question unanswered of how to respond to the myriad of other things we do for our spouse, which we don’t particularly desire. In the post linked above, I disputed the notion that property was any part of the argument on the right, suggested that marriage as unity is in fact their argument and why that argument is a better basis for marriage.
My wife’s father has a degenerative neuro-muscular disease which has not been well diagnosed, however none of the possibilities for the exact nature of the disease offer any cure so that failure is moot. Over the last 5 years his condition has continually degenerated. He is now confined to a wheelchair or bed and is fed via a feeding tube. Her mother (and she and her younger sister) are providing the primary care for him. Feeding, washing, suctioning his airway, wiping, and so forth. This is a lot of work, much of it can only be described as unpleasant.
So the question how does the liberal arguing against the notion that providing sexual availability “when you don’t want it” argue that the care provided above is also a natural marital responsibility? When you come home after a hard day at the office is it harder to have sex in the evening, or spend 2 hour pureeing food, feeding it to your husband, washing, wiping, trying to talk/communicate with him as well as taking care of housework less onerous than 20-40 minutes of sexual congress, which likely isn’t what one would describe as unpleasant (or at least far less unpleasant than that described above). The point here is that marriage is not a bargain of convenience. The arguments made by the liberals would encourage one to dump one’s spouse off in a nursing home in order to seek one’s one fulfillment in a situation like this. Similarly, when the kids get difficult … just walk? After all you need to live your own life … why take care of needy children when you can have stimulating intellectual conversations with the right company, and a teething 3 year old, can’t provide intellectual fulfillment, right? However, it should be noted, I don’t know the argument made by the other on this point. They do discuss fulfillment (“wanting it” as a primary normative indication of action) and intellectual freedom, so I’m guessing that comes in. But that is conjecture. So then, what is the argument on the other side, stated honestly?
The model that the conservative would use for marriage is not property but that one and one’s spouse are one. One person, not property except in the sense that your foot is property. It is this argument the left needs to confront, and at the same time defend their weak notions of commitment in hard times as essential to marital stability and the raising of children (a social necessity).
There is in fact a failure in marriage if consistently one or the other partner is engaging in sex when the other would not prefer to engage in it. I will not dispute that point. But the left in the arguments noted fail to locate the problem and its solution. Christian teaching on marriage enjoins each spouse to think of the other before themselves. The recommendation is not that sex should not be provided but that the other spouse be more empathetic to the needs and desires of the spouse. Perhaps for example, instead of requesting or desiring sex the husband should look to provide a massage, hot bath, and/or chocolate after a hard day’s work. The point is not my particularly uninspired suggestions but that if one is looking out for the needs and desires of your beloved before your own (on both sides) things will take care of themselves in this regard.
I should note that similar intellectual cowardice often occurs on both sides in many debates between right and left, for example on abortion.
We should all try to discourage it where it is found.