Sex in the village? What's there to talk about? A lot, actually!

Jeremy was recently asked to lead a day long retreat for couples to discuss the one topic  Zambian Pastors are squeamish about: SEX. It’s a topic that many of our partner churches are happy to hand off. As one pastor said to us, “We know you can talk about this because we’ve seen the American movies… we know how you people are…”


Uh. Thanks Hollywood. All Americans are flirtatious hussies, apparently.


This is actually the second time we’ve been asked to speak on this topic and I think word has traveled that the Colvins will not shy away from the word SEX or anything pertaining to it. Our strength here, however, lies not in our American spiciness, but in our understanding of Bemba cultural expectations of marital intimacy.


When we were first married, I, Bethany, received very thorough training on how to be a "good" wife. Don’t burn the nshima. Sweep the house before the sun comes up. Make your husband happy. (I'm half way decent, I think.)


I was actually sworn to secrecy regarding the details of how to make my husband happy, (its ok American ladies, your hips don’t move like that anyway) but the take-away message of the training summarizes a lot: do it right, or he will find someone who can.


One of the features of the tribal culture is that there is a rule for everything. There is a right way to shake hands, a right way to cut vegetables, a right way to carry a baby and yes, a right way to make love. The consequences of wrong action are relationally heavy – dismissal, rejection, even anger.


Because a wife is taught how to “do it right,” it is expected that she will perform well, and not only that, at the end, she’s expected to kneel and clap for her husband and tell him that he did a good job.


As we’ve spent a lot of time learning and working to understand the motivation behind these techniques, it stands out to us that, from a Christian/Biblical standpoint, there are a few features of village sex that are missing, namely:






Mutual Respect



And so when Jeremy organized his sessions, his aim was to bring to light what it means to bring Jesus into the bedroom.


Some of the key points included:


Dear husbands, sex is not about what you are receiving, but what you are giving. Does your wife feel cherished by you? (And all the women clapped.)


Dear husbands, Jesus says to consider your spouse better than yourself, which means her satisfaction is MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOURS. (And all the women clapped.)


Dear husbands, did you know that your wives have the ability to orgasm? (And all the people blushed and stared at Jeremy with the widest eyes possible).


Dear husbands, children are not the measure of your manhood and you should not aim to produce more children than you can care for. (And all the women clapped.)


Dear husbands, you ought to love your wife’s body more than you love your own, and should therefore not rush her to get pregnant until her body has rested and is ready. (And all the women clapped.)


Dear husbands, sex is an act of worship. Therefore, when you are finished, it is not for your wife to kneel before you, but for both of you to kneel before God and tell Him that He has done a good job. (And all the women clapped.)


The emphasis of every session was that of relationship. God’s relationship with us, and our relationship with each other, helping both men and women to see how our culture ought not define the way we love and make love, but rather God’s great love for us.


IMG_1987 2.jpg