It would be pretty ridiculous if Bayly said that for a married couple to have sex without romantic love or sexual attraction is sinful, but he didn’t say that. Bayly said sex that is not mutual is not as God designed and commands. It is not at all clear that “mutual” means “with romantic love” or “with sexual attraction”. From context, “mutual” seems to mean that both spouses freely agree to engage in sex; that neither spouse feels forced or coerced.
It is Gudeman who is missing the context though. Pastor Bayly’s claim that:
sex that is not mutual is not sex as God designed and commands it.
came after he wrote (emphasis mine):
I responded: “Sex is a matter of love—not command. If your wife doesn’t want to love you, that’s a fundamental problem unlikely to yield to command without becoming brutish and degraded.
So Bayly was talking about love. This leaves the question what kind of love? Romantic (eros)? Familial? Agape? Keep in mind that Bayly is talking about the wife not feeling love. So perhaps he meant the wife is in violation of Titus 2:4. But if the wife is sinning in this way, why would one sin require that she also commit the sin of defrauding her husband (1 Cor 7:5)?
5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
Pastor Bayly is of course free to clarify this. Perhaps he really meant one sin by a wife demanded that she commit another, but I don’t think that is what he meant. I also don’t think he meant a husband shouldn’t have sex with his wife if she isn’t showing agape love for him.
Given the context, romantic love is the obvious choice. But again, Bayly could easily clear up any misunderstanding, either on his own blog, as a comment at Brain Legions, or in the comments section here.
Also, and just as importantly, there is no talk of sin. Bayly seems to be quite deliberately making a weaker statement that does not imply sin. God’s design and command is for us to enjoy food. If you have to go on a diet that you do not enjoy are you sinning?
This is terrible logic coming from a post that sets out to teach logic. Bayly wrote:
…sex that is not mutual is not sex as God designed and commands it.
If God commands that we have sex a certain way, and we have sex a different way, this would be a sin. A proper food analogy would be if God commanded us to have meat with every meal. Going vegan would be a sin, but dieting would not.
Grudeman continues, switching to my characterization of Milton’s argument:
First, note that word “brutish” which does not appear in the quote by Milton. Second, it would be pretty ridiculous if Milton said that X is the act of animals and therefore sinful. We do all kinds of things that animals do, and not only bodily functions. Animals play, enjoy the company of others, explore, and build homes, so it would be ridiculous to say that since something is an act of animals it is “therefore” sinful, but Milton didn’t say that either. The word “sinful” appears nowhere in the Milton quote, nor does any equivalent word. Like Bayly, Milton seems to be deliberately choosing a weaker way to say “not the best you could do” rather than “sinful”. It is a straw man to strengthen this deliberately weakened statement to something that makes it ridiculous.
I agree that Milton’s argument is ridiculous, but it is still the argument Milton is making. If Grudeman had followed the link I provided when quoting Milton he would have found this out for himself. However, the text/font in the link I provided was somewhat difficult to follow, so perhaps it will help Grudeman if I quote this source instead. I’ll also expand the quote out slightly (emphasis mine):
And although copulation be considered among the ends of marriage, yet the act thereof in a right esteem can no longer be matrimonial, than it is an effect of conjugal love. When love finds itself utterly unmatched, and justly vanishes, nay rather cannot but vanish, the fleshly act indeed may continue, but not holy, not pure, not beseeming the sacred bond of marriage; being at best but an animal excretion, but more truely worse and more ignoble than that mute kindliness among the herds and flocks; in that proceeding as it ought from intellective principles, it participates of nothing rational, but that which the field and the fold equals. For in human actions the soul is the agent, the body in a manner passive. If then the body do out of sensitive force, what the soul complies not with how can man, and not rather something beneath man, be thought the doer?
Note that while “brutish” isn’t included in the quote, this really is what Milton is saying sex without romantic love is.
Next Grudeman follows up with a straw man of his own:
Both quotes he is discussing are about what makes sex good, not what sanctifies marriage. Bayly cannot reasonably be said to be talking about sanctification at all. Milton could arguably be paraphrased as saying that conjugal love sanctifies sex (not marriage), but that is a very implausible reading. A better reading is that sex without conjugal love is a violation of what is already sanctified.
I didn’t claim that Milton argued that romantic love sanctified marriage. I do however have a guess at why he is confused in this way*. What I wrote was:
The Puritan poet John Milton wrote in Tetrachordon (1645) that sex without romantic love in marriage was brutish, the act of animals, and therefore sinful:
But even given Dalrock’s hostile reading–that conjugal love sanctified sex–it is not at all clear that Milton would therefore deny that marriage sanctifies sex because these are not contrary statements.
Again it is Grudeman who is twisting my arguments. I didn’t say Milton denied that marriage sanctified sex. What I said was that Milton argued that romantic love was required to sanctify married sex. Normally I wouldn’t split hairs here, but it is appropriate in this case. Milton is very clearly arguing that married sex without romantic love is brutish, and not befitting Christian marriage. He argues that without romantic love:
the fleshly act indeed may continue, but not holy, not pure, not beseeming the sacred bond of marriage
Note that Milton asserts that without romantic love marital sex is “not holy, not pure”. This is another way of saying that romantic love sanctifies marital sex.
*Milton makes his argument that married sex requires the sanctification of romantic love in the context of a piece he wrote to Parliament urging them to permit an early form of no fault divorce. So Milton’s argument that if romantic love disappears marital sex is no longer sanctified is intended to bolster his argument that once romantic love disappears the marriage is no longer binding.