We weren’t planning it, but we just couldn’t help it. Had we planned it, we might have made better arrangements.
Not only were we at her family’s house, sleeping in her old room with my in-laws asleep only twenty feet away, but also our infant was sleeping in his portable crib at the foot of the bed. Not exactly an opportune moment.
But the pillowy bed was a full size, forcing far more proximity than our king back home. We snuggled, then stroked, then caressed, and before we knew it, we were stark naked, trying to enjoy making love while terrified of making noise. A crying infant or an in-law knocking on the door — take your pick; either could kill the moment. We succeeded, however, and my wife later commented the experience was particularly hot.
The Sounds of Silence
Sometimes, sex is uninhibited, buck wild — moans of pleasure, screams of climax, shouted names, grunted commands, and lots of heavy panting. And sometimes the situation calls for a bit more discretion: a squeakless bed and peepless partners.
Here’s the question, though; how aggressively should a couple hide coital cacophony from their kids? Sure, you’re silent as death when your infant could wake, being mere inches away, but what about back home? The kids are in the next room, and you really want to enjoy a quickie while they enjoy cartoons (which aren’t just for kids, by the way).
Do you give it all you’ve got, unashamed of your marriage bed? Do you pray you’re quiet as a church mouse, lest you traumatize your children? Do you compromise, making reasonable noise but buying a solid door and stuffing a towel under it? Or do you avoid sex altogether, just to be safe? Obviously, the answer varies per couple.
A God-fearing man I know would never want his kids to know he and his wife even have sex; let them think they themselves came from test tubes. He won’t even have sex with the kids at home, much less establishing noise impediments.
He openly acknowledges the conservatism of this view, but as he put it, “Have a date night or something. Sex with kids in the house… that’s just wrong. But that’s just me.”
And whether it’s just him or not, James 4:17 says he’d be in sin if he ignored his conscience. So, for him, he’s best off drawing that line conservatively.
Meanwhile, a Christian psychiatrist friend was appalled at the notion of hiding the noise, saying, “Sounds are private and intimate, but muffling them seems ridiculous.” He explained some children may not be old enough to understand the noises, and the children that are old enough, far from being traumatized, have grown up with a healthy awareness (albeit an indirect one) of this aspect of marriage. Referring not only to intercourse but romance and sexuality in general, he added, “There should be a set-apart man/woman experience that is seen, felt, and known by the children. It’s out in the open, unsequestered, but it’s separate and distinctly for Mom and Dad.”
These holy truths provide a much-needed vaccination against a sexually-charged culture which holds no regard for the Creator of sexuality.
This distinction, he argues, offers a set of crucial, stabilizing truths: marriage is special and includes special privileges; sexual activity is nothing to be ashamed of when employed how God intended; and Mom and Dad love each other deeply and regularly express it in tangible, visible ways. These holy truths provide a much-needed vaccination against a sexually-charged culture which holds no regard for the Creator of sexuality.
This approach isn’t as off-base as some of our Western sensibilities might indicate. Throughout much of history — and for that matter much of the world today — children and parents share living quarters, often even with older generations, extended family, or even other families altogether. Yet they manage to still procreate like rabbits, raising generations of emotionally and mentally healthy children. The modern Western home with individual rooms for individual people and single-family tenancy are luxuries, not necessities. We’re so aggressive about privacy, we forget it’s endemic. We assume it’s vital for mental health.
In fact, many consider the idea of walking in on their parents to be the most traumatizing event imaginable. But these responses are not born out of biblical instruction but out of our upbringing, one that all too often had little to nothing to say about sexuality at all, leaving it awkward at best and evil at worst.
Yet depression, sexual addictions, pornography, dangerous sexual tendencies, and other psychological, spiritual, and relational ailments are far more prevalent in our homes built on privacy than some of the more open and honest cultures in history. Perhaps things are different when children are raised in an environment where sexuality is just part of reality.
As a “filterless” J. Parker wrote in her brilliant blog last year, “So what if the kids hear! You think that‘s what will cause them to seek therapy?”
Decide for Yourself
I’m not suggesting you give your children a demonstration of technique a la Monty Python, but why hide the sounds from them? Are you ashamed of what you’re doing? Are you afraid of having to explain that Mom and Dad have a special time (or, heaven forbid, if your kids are older, what that special time actually is)? Do you assume it might traumatize them? Perhaps you’re doing it because it’s what your parents did? Or is it just what you assume a Christian should do?
Or are you quiet just because you don’t want to wake the baby?