10 Times You’re Allowed to Say No to Sex

by | Mar 12, 2019 | Uncategorized | 102 comments

When you're allowed to say NO to sex in marriage. It needs to be about more than just what one spouse wants! It's about what BOTH need
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You’re allowed to say no to sex.

Unfortunately that can be a radical thing to say in some church circles, and I’ve been writing lately about God created sex to be a mutual experience, not just a one-sided experience. Women’s pleasure matters, too, and women’s experience of sex matters as well.

If one person is doing all the giving sexually, and one person all the receiving, that is not mutual sex. We need to frame sex differently.

I know that the do not deprive verses of the bible are often used to make women feel as if they cannot say no to sex, and I’ve written more about that here:

I do believe that sex is a vitally important part of marriage, and that it should be frequent. We should not aim for the minimum, and we should not just try to fulfill our obligation. Nevertheless, it’s important that women understand that they matter when it comes to sex. The more women realize that, the more we can escape the shame often feel, and then free ourselves up to actually feel sexual pleasure and sexual desire! When you feel as if sex is somehow obliged or coerced, it’s very difficult to get excited about it.

Here, for instance, is a question that was recently sent in:

Reader Question

I’m pregnant with my fourth, and it’s a very high risk pregnancy. I’m supposed to be on bed rest, and my blood pressure is high and I’m not feeling well, but I still have to look after our other three as well. My husband is really struggling with not having sex (we’ve been told we’re not supposed to), and I’m wondering what I can do to help him out, the poor guy, because he’s expressing a lot of frustration and he’s really hurting.

Now, it’s wonderful that she wants to help her husband. And there’s nothing wrong with “giving him a gift” and helping him feel good. But at the same time, she is in a high risk pregnancy with his child, and she is exhausted and not feeling well, and she really, really needs to take care of herself for her sake, as well as for the baby’s sake. But what’s she concerned about? The fact that he is expressing sexual frustration.

This is what I see over and over again: because women are told that we can never, ever understand a man’s sex drive and a man’s sexual needs, then when we are experiencing something really bad, we assume that men have it still worse. I just want to say: You matter, too!

So let’s look at 10 times it’s okay to say no to sex.

1. It’s Okay to Say No to Sex…When You Don’t Feel Like It

Yep. I want to begin with this most important one. If you don’t want to tonight, it’s honestly okay to say no. It is. You are not being unbiblical. I have written about how “do not deprive” is not the equivalent of “do not refuse”, and that distinction matters in the bible and the bedroom.

That being said, I don’t advise doing this routinely. It’s going to be very difficult to have an intimate marriage if you are frequently turning down sex. You aren’t going to feel close to your husband if you’re running away from sex. And you are hurting your husband (and he matters!) if you routinely say no. If you need to say no, I think a rain check is great: “I’d love to, but I’m too tired right now. But let’s put it on our calendar for tomorrow.”

If you routinely find yourself wanting to turn your husband down, here are some posts to help you say yes more often!

2. It’s Okay to Say No to Sex…When your husband doesn’t care about your pleasure

God intended sex to be mutual, which means that both parties should be giving and receiving. Now, some encounters may be mostly about giving a gift to one of you, but if sex, as a whole, is only about one person receiving pleasure, then that’s not right.

If she’s having a difficult time reaching orgasm, and he’s trying, that’s a different thing. But I’ve had countless women report how sexually frustrated they are because their husbands will have sex with them, it doesn’t last very long, and they make no effort to bring any pleasure to their wives. It’s not okay to leave her sexually unsatisfied!

In that case, I would simply say:

“I want a passionate sex life with you. I want to make love frequently! But I am not willing to be used as a sexual object when you make no effort to make me feel pleasure. I matter, too, and I think we’re missing out on what passion is supposed to be like. Why don’t we try learning how to make me feel good, too? Because I am no longer willing to have one-sided sex with you.”

Many men honestly don’t realize that women need foreplay or that women take longer to get warmed up, or that women don’t always climax with intercourse. You may need to speak up. But if you have, repeatedly, and he still won’t listen, then it’s okay to say, “I’m not having sex until we can agree that it needs to be about me, too.”

3. It’s Okay to Say No to Sex…when your husband routinely insists on things other than intercourse

I’ve also had women write in saying that their husbands aren’t interested in intercourse, but only in oral sex or in other forms of sexual stimulation that often are not intimate and that give the wife no pleasure. And then he’s not interested in giving her any pleasure, either. It’s okay to say:

“I want our sex life to be great, but making love is about both of us, and it should involve intercourse. I am not willing to be used as a masturbatory toy for you. I think God wants us to be truly intimate, and to have sex bring us together, but right now it is all about you, and that is wrong.”

4. It’s Okay to Say No to Sex…when sex hurts

If sex itself is hurting you, it’s okay to say “no”. As I shared last week in my story about having vaginismus, I didn’t do that. I forced myself to have sex, even when it did hurt, because I was afraid of Keith rejecting me (he would never have done that; my fears were based on what I had been taught about sex, not on what my husband was like.)

What I ended up doing, I believe, was prolonging my problem with vaginismus because I cemented in my head the idea that sex was painful, which made me tense up even worse.

My suggestion? Seek out a pelvic floor physiotherapist and work on your pain, and at the same time, find ways to be intimate and pleasure each other without intercourse while you’re seeking out a solution.

5. It’s Okay to Say No to Sex….when you hurt

What if sex itself is not hurting, but YOU hurt? Or you’re nauseous from being pregnant? Or you have health concerns (like our letter writer above). Or what if you’ve just had a baby? I had several commenters on the blog a few years ago taking issue with the fact that women should not get to withhold sex for the six weeks after the birth of a baby, because they heal up faster than that and their husbands need sex. The Bible doesn’t say you can deprive your husband when your doctor tells you to–it says you can’t deprive except by “MUTUAL” consent, and if the husband isn’t consenting, you can’t say no, regardless!

What a terrible viewpoint to say. My heart bleeds for their wives (and unfortunately, far too many past commenters have had this view).

When you are in a high risk pregnancy, you need to be the focus of the marriage. You need to be stress free. Your husband needs to exercise self-control (which is, after all, a fruit of the Spirit) on behalf of you and his unborn child. If you wish to be intimate in other ways, by all means do so. But if you need bed rest and are not doing well, then it is up to your husband to be an adult and look out for your needs.

What if it’s that you’ve got chronic pain, or you’re feeling nauseous a lot with pregnancy? It’s not that sex is dangerous, but that you just don’t feel well? Sometimes you just have to reject sex. But other times, maybe think about it less as sex and more as a time to pamper each other and feel relaxed. Start with a bath. Ask for a massage. And then try sex. It has been shown that orgasm can relieve both nausea and migraines. That’s only possible if you’re really relaxed and you’re able to keep your breathing even and try to “ride” the pleasure. You’ll have to stay very passive during the encounter. Yet sometimes it is just what the doctor ordered!

Sex is a vital part of marriage and should be frequent but there are times when completely appropriate to say “Not tonight.”

6. It’s Okay to Say No to Sex…when your husband is using pornography to get aroused

You are not required to cement or enable a porn addiction. If your husband uses porn, then he is rewiring his brain to get aroused by an image or a video, rather than you. And then often he gets aroused and needs an outlet, and turns to you. If he’s routinely waking you up for sex after watching porn, or you know he’s continuously watching it, it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to say, “We need to get this sorted out first. You need to quit the porn, get an accountability partner, and show me I can trust you again.”

If you keep having sex after he’s watched porn, you’re cementing that addiction, and that will only hurt him.

7. It’s Okay to Say No to Sex….when your husband routinely asks you to violate your boundaries

If your husband routinely tries things you have said no to, or insists on things you have said no to, it’s okay to say that you won’t have sex with him until this is sorted out. We received a letter from a woman saying, “I told my husband I wasn’t comfortable with sex toys, but in the middle of sex he’ll use one on me suddenly with no warning, after whipping it out from under a pillow.” That is wrong. In fact, it is a form of marital rape.

Similarly, if your husband pressures you or belittles you when you don’t do something that you find objectionable, it’s okay to say no. In some cases, wives find themselves in horrible situations like this reader who sent in this question:

Reader Question

My husband of 10 years has recently told me he plans to take another wife. Not marry her legally, because that’s not possible in the US, but to have a lifelong relationship with her and be married in the eyes of God, as well as continuing his relationship with me. I love my husband greatly, and we have 4 kids together. The thought of him being with someone else part of the time is causing me deep emotional distress. He says he loves me, but that he believes God created him to be a husband to more than one person, and to possibly even have children with her. I’ve researched and researched and I can’t find anything definitive that says God disapproves of a man being in a committed relationship with more than one woman at the same time.

What a horrible question! And, yes, she can say no!

Here’s the thing: if in your heart of hearts you are experiencing great distress and anxiety over something, that’s often the Spirit’s leading. Scripture doesn’t have explicit commands for everything (It does forbid polygamy, but even in other cases, it’s not always clear cut). And if your husband is asking you to do something that goes against your conscience, you can (and should!) say no.

Sex should be a deep “knowing” and deep intimacy. Pressuring someone into making sex degrading is actually a REFUSAL to know you. It’s saying, “I don’t care what you feel; I only care about what you give me.” It’s a rejection of intimacy entirely, and is thus a rejection of sex the way God intended. And so it’s okay to say no.

8. It’s Okay to Say No to Sex…when you are trying to rebuild trust in your relationship

When your husband has had an affair, or is trying to recover from a porn addiction, it’s okay to take a hiatus from sex while you rebuild trust, especially if your heart is very hurting. You may need to work on your emotional connection first before you rebuild your sexual life. In many cases, counsellors will recommend that. If you want to work on emotional connection, I have a free 5-week email course you can take here.

9. It’s Okay to Say No to Sex…when your husband has been being abusive in any way

If your husband is verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive, it is okay to say no to sex. Sex should be the outward expression of the intimacy you feel. If he is abusing you, then the marriage is not intimate and it is not pleasing to God, and this must be dealt with first.

If it would be dangerous to refuse sex, then the relationship itself is dangerous. Please get out and get help.

When you're allowed to say NO to sex in marriage. It needs to be about more than just what one spouse wants! It's about what BOTH need

10. It’s Okay to Say No to Sex…when you’re dealing with emotional baggage or grief and are in a fragile place

Finally, sometimes we just need space because God is working on our hearts and gently healing some pretty big hurts. Sexuality is all about our identity; it’s really the most private and important pieces of our souls. When something there is hurt, whether because of sexual abuse or trauma, or even grief, we sometimes need time to heal these deep places so that we can experience real intimacy again. If you are going through a time of intense healing or intense counseling, it may be time to step back from that kind of intimacy and vulnerability until some of that work is done. A counsellor should be able to guide and advise you in this. And then I would say:

“I want to grow an amazing sex life with you, where I can truly share myself with you. Right now I’m not there. I’m just so fragile. But that’s what I’m working towards. I need to take a step back and do that hard work, because I don’t want to be stuck here. But I want you to know that’s what I’m aiming for, and I am praying that this work will be short and temporary.”

So there you go–10 times when it’s okay, and even wise, to refuse sex in marriage. If sex is supposed to be about mutual intimacy and a deep knowing, then we should not make sex into something that endangers that mutuality or that rejects “knowing” or replaces it with something that devalues the other.

Again, I’m all in favour of a healthy sex life! But let’s keep everything in perspective, the way that God does. Healthy sex means mutual sex that is intimate physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. It’s not just one-sided physical giving. So let’s work towards healthy sex!

What do you think? Did I miss #11? If so, what would it be? Or do you disagree with one of the reasons I have here? Let’s talk in the comments! 

UPDATE: Don’t miss the follow-up to this post: Why We Need a New Definition of Sex

The Obligation Sex Debunking Posts

Some posts that have also dealt with obligation sex and coercion

And check out The Great Sex Rescue–with two chapters looking at where the obligation sex message has been taught, what our survey of 20,000 women told us about how it affected us, and what we should teach instead.

God made sex to be AWESOME!

It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Feel like something’s missing?

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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102 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for this. I have heard that it is not okay to say no in most of these situations from either husband or a spiritually abusive church that we left. I now know that all of these are okay reasons. I’m in a season of no while hopefully spouse finally deals with a sexual addiction that is longer than our marriage. I’ve stopped reading most marriage blogs during this time because it’s too painful to read about what can’t be in this season of separation, but this one often has posts like today that are healing to me. I have one tiny little semantics thing to add- saying no while trust is rebuilt. It is the burden of the spouse who broke the trust to do the rebuilding not the burden of the spouse who was betrayed.
    Thanks for a freeing post!

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Clapping!!! Yes!!!

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, thank you for your comment! I’m glad I could be an encouragement for you at such a difficult time. I hope that your husband really does rebuild trust. And I hope you have a good counsellor to walk this road with you. I know it seems awful, but remember that you’re closer to healing now, no matter how bad it looks, than before you stood your ground. Now the bad stuff is being dealt with. I pray it goes well with you!

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I want to stand and applaud! All of your points are spot on and desperately need to be heard in today’s Christianity.

    That being said, I will encourage those with chronic illnesses… Having suffered for 15+ years now with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, POTS, etc… Sometimes I say no when my husband asks. Sometimes I say, “I’m going to be in pain no matter what and at least this way one of us gets some happiness and that will make me happy.” My husband has told me repeatedly that because I have made an effort at times when it was a sacrifice for me, he trusts me that when I say no, it’s because I really can’t handle it and it’s okay. Bonus to go ahead when able, not only can it build trust, sometimes sex can help me relax enough for the full body pain to ease. I might not climax, but any decrease in my pain level is a win to me.

    Oh and fainting during sex due to chronic illness is an interesting experience. There’s something you only want to do with a very trusted partner… My husband will wait until I come back to my senses before continuing. He stops and makes sure I’m safe. I know of others who wouldn’t… Again, if he takes advantage of you because of your illness, that is also rape. If there isn’t consistent, continued consent, then it’s rape.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very good word, Anonymous! Thank you.

      Reply
  3. Lynsi

    Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.
    I Corinthians 7:2 NKJV

    Your reader whose husband wants another wife needs to see this verse. The Bible says let each have their own, not let each wife have a husband and each husband have a few wives!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I know! Wasn’t that comment so sad? Where do these men come from who think stuff like this?

      Reply
      • Kelly

        My guess is they get this idea from shows like Sister Wives on TLC.

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          Or maybe they learned of it from Esau, Moses and Samuel?

          Reply
          • Mary

            Nothing Esau ever did was commended in the Bible. His taking of pagan wives was a cause of great grief to his parents. Moses married once. To my knowledge, Samuel’s marriage is not mentioned although his two sons are.
            You might want to check your Biblical facts.
            Yes, some of the Old Testament figures were polygamists, but only because of the culture of the times in which they lived. God never commended them for the practise – in fact, He warned against it.

  4. Noel Lokaychuk

    I have never understood this attitude so many people (including my mother-in-law, whose marital advise was “never refuse him in bed, and make sure there is always food in the table”) put forward in Christian marriages. While I realize we are not bound by Old Testament law, it is a fact that at least 12 days of each month an Israelite man not only could not have intercourse, he couldn’t even touch his wife. They survived. And that was not due to polygamy, because remember, women in the same household have their cycle around the same time.
    I tutored the children in a semi-Hassidic rabbi’s family for three years. The master bedroom had two beds-they were pushed together when marital relations were allowed, and pushed apart during the wife’s “uncleaness” (biblically speaking.) The rabbi also survived. (And they had 7 kids at last count.)
    I have read a lot about NFP (it doesn’t work for me, wish it did), and the personal testimony of those who use it for conscience’ sake is that it improves their marriage, because it increases their respect and unity in what sex is for.
    And speaking of Catholicism, countless men have taken vows of celibacy, and kept them. Without exploding.
    I feel like this is another aspect of modern culture where we have no self-control, discipline or fortitude. That said, I have rarely said no, even when I really didn’t want to- societal pressure is strong!

    Reply
  5. Desire

    I agree with all of the items on the list. (neither of us want to hurt the other, both of us are faithful in all respects, selfishness doesn’t feel like a problem)

    Unfortunately, a couple of them apply 100% of the time and have for many many years. “Pain”, “nausea & pain unrelated to sex”, “don’t feel like it” or “no available time”. Because of those blocks, working to “fix it” isn’t much of a priority for her. In fact, sometimes I hear that “there is nothing wrong, we’re just different.”

    It is true that some men are jerks, selfish and rude. But for us guys that want to be everything for our wife, would love to give our wives awesome pleasure and orgasm, but our wife won’t receive or work to be able to receive, we’re are in a bind.

    It’s fairly easy to blame a number of the items on the list on the husband (and rightly so), and at the same time, there is sooooo much a wife can do if she wants to (when the guy is very willing). But when it’s not a priority, then sometimes the guy becomes the excuse.

    I respect all the reasons above. Actually, with any of them in the picture both “no” or “yes” doesn’t result in intimacy. Unfortunately, when it’s painful sex, other health issues, and that results in “indifference”, any solution out of reach. There has to be a desire that leads to action.

    Without desire that leads to action, building an intimate relationship on “one sided sex” is really hard.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally get it. I do. And I’ll be writing more about that tomorrow–how it’s not okay to refuse intimacy (which is more than just refusing intercourse; it’s refusing to throw yourself into intimacy). I hope you find that one helpful.

      Reply
  6. KellyK

    The only one I could add is that it’s ok to say no to sex………when you’re having your period. I know on my first day of my cycle, when it’s the heaviest, I want nothing to do with sex.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great #11! Yes. For some women, period sex is fun. For others, it’s just beyond icky. Much depends upon the nature of your flow and your cramps. And that should count.

      Reply
      • KellyK

        And some men just won’t have sex when their wife is menstruating. I know mine won’t.

        Reply
        • A

          Mine won’t even on the last day of spotting and its a tiny tiny spot, it’s just gross to him, and I have a pretty long cycle plus NFP….. I’m trying to talk him into condoms during the last few days of spotting after the period and the fertile window.

          He’s very high drive and I’m low but I also don’t wanna just do “other” things during those two windows.

          Reply
  7. Andrea

    Sheila, I just started reading your blog recently and I can’t stop. I appreciate you so much, you are doing God’s work, but don’t you think it’s so sad that in 2019 in North America we are still in need of a blog giving women permission to turn down sex that is painful, degrading, etc.? I hope you don’t misunderstand me, Christendom needs your voice so badly, but the very fact that we need it, the fact that respecting a woman’s bodily integrity is a revolutionary message makes me so sad (and, of course, all the more grateful for you).

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Andrea, it makes me so, so very sad, too. I shouldn’t have to write this stuff. It shouldn’t be that the best-selling marriage books in evangelical Christianity make it sound like a woman can never say no. This isn’t right. It’s just awful, really.

      Reply
  8. Sarah

    I wish I had heard this years ago. I said yes many times when I should have said no. It weakened both my husband’s and my own respect for me.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m sorry, Sarah. And that is a dynamic that is all too prevalent. When we allow ourselves to be treated primarily as receptacles, then that can be the way that we start to see ourselves, and that our husbands start to see us. And it is very damaging.

      Reply
  9. Kate

    I’m sorry the guy wanting a 2nd wife really pissed me off! Show me just ONE polygamist family in the Bible who lived happily ever after? Their marriages were filled with chaos, heartache, dysfunction of the highest order, etc. Plus we need to keep in mind that 95% of the people mentioned in the Bible were in MONOGAMOUS marriages. We just remember the few polygamist marriages because they were filled with drama! And most of those polygamist marriages came about in a sinful manner, like Jacob getting tricked by his father-in-law, Abraham listening to wife who doubted God, David being driven by his lust, etc. Just like this lady’s husband who is operating through his penis and not through righteousness.

    She also said she dug through scripture and couldn’t find anything that forbid a man taking on second wife, clearly she didn’t dig deep enough. Because i have one memorized in my head, here it is, “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” – 1 Corn. 7:2

    Jesus also always brought His creation back to the primacy and perfection of the original design. “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” – Matthew 19:8. All these sins humans commit is because of the hardness of hearts but it was never to happen from the beginning. People also need to learn the difference between Prescriptive and Descriptive situations in the Bible. Just because God mentions something doesn’t mean you go and do it. Lot’s daughters for example is descriptive not prescriptive.

    Great article Sheila!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very well said, Kate. Thank you!

      Reply
    • Mary

      Oh thank you Kate! I’m applauding!
      I found that comment so disturbing too – for all of the reasons you have given. The failures of the patriarchs are recorded for our learning, not so that we can imitate their disasters!
      Even Solomon who was perhaps the worst polygamist of ancient times was specifically warned by God NOT to multiply wives. The influence of his wives was the major factor in his decline into idolatry later in life.
      Also, it’s worth mentioning the apostle Paul specifically says that an elder in the church should be “the husband of ONE wife” – setting a godly precedent for the church.

      Reply
      • Sarah O

        How bout this one?

        “Every person should place themselves under the authority of the government. There isn’t any authority unless it comes from God, and the authorities that are there have been put in place by God.”
        ‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:1‬ ‭CEB‬‬

        Polygamy is illegal in both the US and Canada.

        Or this one?

        “As for husbands, love your wives just like Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.”
        ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:25‬ ‭CEB‬‬

        How exactly is taking a second wife “laying down his life” and benefitting the first wife?

        Or this one:

        “This is why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the TWO of them will be one body.”
        ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:31‬ ‭CEB‬‬

        Note TWO – not three, not four, not five.

        God is not calling your husband to take another wife. And 10-1 odds your husband DOES NOT BELIEVE God is calling him to do that. Your husband has probably been feeding lustful thoughts for some time now and is nearing the point where he will not be able to avoid acting on them – but he doesn’t want to face the consequences. The consequences are the last gate restraining him, so he’s trying to abolish them.

        Writer wife – bring those consequences, not for the sake of your marriage but for the sake of your husband’s soul.

        “No, you cannot have a second wife, and there is no scenario where sex with someone other than me is not adultery. If you follow through with this plan, you will be ending our marriage and I will pursue divorce. In the meantime, we need individual and marital counseling to heal the damage you have already caused by your hard-hearted ness toward me.”

        You may also consider temporary separation at this time until his heart condition improves. You are right to be hurt.

        Reply
        • Madeline

          I was also repulsed by that comment. I absolutely believe there is plenty of scriptural evidence that polygomy is biblically wrong but my main thought was how on earth is this man a loving, self-sacrificial husband if he is okay with hurting his wife like this?? Why on earth would you really think you’re called to more than one wife if you can’t be a faithful and caring husband to one?? The bringing God’s calling on his life into it just stinks of spiritual abuse to me.

          Reply
  10. Lyndall Cave

    This particular section leapt off the page at me: “It’s saying, “I don’t care what you feel; I only care about what you give me.” It’s a rejection of intimacy entirely, and is thus a rejection of sex the way God intended. And so it’s okay to say no.” That first sentence especially.

    “I don’t care what you feel, I only care what you give me,” is the message I received from some churches and legalistic books about GOD and what He thinks of me. A messed up view of God leads to a messed up view of sex. And thankfully, learning about what healthy sexual relationships look like is teaching me a lot about what God is truly like. Theology and sexuality inform one another, and that’s why it’s so crucial to have a life-giving view of both. I’m slowly learning that what I feel and think matters A LOT to God.

    Thank you for doing your part to bring healing to people’s views of God and sex.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love this, Lyndall! “And thankfully, learning about what healthy sexual relationships look like is teaching me a lot about what God is truly like. Theology and sexuality inform one another, and that’s why it’s so crucial to have a life-giving view of both.”

      Yes, so true. Our sexuality and our spirituality is so very linked, because both relate to deepest desires and deepest identity. When one is messed up, the other one invariably is, too. That’s why I think that those who run away from intimacy during sex (either by making sex impersonal or by rejecting sex) are also simultaneously afraid of intimacy with God. It is linked. And the more we distort what God intended sex to be, the more we wreck our relationship with Him.

      Reply
  11. Kay

    I’m so glad you shared on Facebook that article about what bad sex means to men (less pleasure) versus women (pain). I’ve realized I absolutely have believed that his pleasure is more important than my pain or discomfort since reading it. It is SO hard for me, but on a few occasions since then I’ve managed to say, “Hey, this isn’t working for me; can we try ___?” Because this absolutely is not my husband making me feel like my pain doesn’t matter! He would be horrified to know how often I have just pushed through what didn’t feel good hoping it would be over soon. But my husband cares about my pain and pleasure! More than I do, I’m realizing. So… I’m trying. It’s growth.

    I am really struggling with how to move away from fear-based sex, that my husband needs it and I’d better give it to him even though I don’t really want it because he needs it to feel loved. I’ve actually been initiating less lately and asked him to initiate more, because I find it much easier to respond with desire as I am being pursued, whereas he is pretty passive so I’ve initiated for most of our marriage, but mostly out of that pesky sense of obligation. I enjoy it once we get started, so I’d say we have a pretty good sex life. (I’m not making it sound very good right now, but it really is. This is just an area for growth right now.) I just know there’s still a lot of fear/guilt there, that he needs sex or else it’s my fault if he starts lusting. I’m not really sure how to break free from it to having sex for me/us instead of him.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad you feel like you’re growing, Kay! This has been a growing month or two for me, too, as I’ve just solidified a lot that has been going on in my mind for a while now. It is hard to turn off that fear based message about sex because it’s so pervasive. But we have to push through to freedom. Thanks for sharing your journey! Always appreciate you.

      Reply
    • EM

      Hi Kay! I can totally relate to your comment. Have you expressed this fear of “I’d better I initiate or else my husband will lust” to your husband? After 15 years I finally had that conversation with my husband and it was so healing. He was really sweet and told me that was way too big of a burden for me to be carrying. I know I have carried so much emotional burden over the years so that he doesn’t have to, but I am learning that I matter as much as he does. We are growing in intimacy in ways that I had only dreamed of before. Your husband sounds like a good guy so I would encourage you to share your heart with him if you haven’t yet!

      Reply
  12. Natalie

    Wow! Well according to this, I would’ve been justified to say no to my husband pretty much at every sexual encounter we’ve ever had. (And I’ve said no frequently, especially in the beginning of our marriage when I especially felt like a masturbatory tool for him and he was secretly using porn daily). I can count on my 10 fingers and 10 toes the times where I would’ve been wrong to refuse him in our 5 year marriage. Concerning giving your husband the “gift” of one-sided sex, what if that’s the majority of the sex you have? Is it wrong to keep on giving him that gift because, otherwise, you two would literally never have sex?

    For example, in our case, I’ve been not using the vibrator (purchased in late November) for the past month, which means I haven’t been orgasming. (But it’s not like I had a chance to get used to the vibrator really. We only used it a handful of times and only for a couple months). I know my husband does care about my pleasure; it’s not like he’s completely selfish in bed. And he does feel bad that he can’t make me orgasm. He sometimes tries to make an effort to pleasure me, but since our sex frequency is about once every one to two weeks (per his request cuz he says he’s too tired to do much more), he doesn’t “practice” with me or on me very frequently and, thus, he hasn’t figured out yet how to make me orgasm. I think we’ve had “her night” 2 or 3 times since the new year, both/all of which were in the middle of the afternoon on weekends and which I initiated and told him I wanted him to practice pleasuring me. He doesn’t initiate that on his own… but of course, he doesn’t really initiate anything sexual anymore on his own like he did the first year we were married. Usually, I’ll be horny and want that closeness and that release (now that I know what an orgasm feels like) so I’ll initiate even though I know there’s a 99.9% chance it’ll end with me still not reaching climax. He’ll accept my offer if he’s feeling up to it. Maybe he’ll try touching my vagina and fiddling around down there with his fingers, but then he’ll get impatient and penetrate me, and then 5-10 minutes later, we’re done and cleaning up. I’m happy that I got some physical contact with him, since we don’t do much besides hugging a couple times a day and pecking each other on the lips (which he will initiate). But I’m always left wanting, frustrated because I’m still very sexually aroused and wanting more, and sad because I know he can’t give that to me right now due to whatever his issues are (stamina, hormones/libido, his own body issues, etc). I mean, better a bad sex life than no sex life at all, right?

    But then a part of me is like, “Well, what if I just stopped giving it to him unless he gave it to me first?” I genuinely enjoy pleasuring him, in part because I know exactly what he likes and I like having that power over his pleasure and making him feel so good. We’ve discussed many times before, and I know he wants to feel the same way about my pleasure, but I don’t know if he’s willing to put in the effort or even thinks it’s worth it, since I’ve proven to be very difficult to make orgasm (at least in our experience so far. I think that’s largely to do with our lack of foreplay due to body issues, but that’s another topic I’ve talked about in previous comments of mine). I’ve refused him before because he wouldn’t try to pleasure me. and that’s when his porn habit went to its peak. AND, I still wasn’t getting any sex, even if that just meant a little emotional closeness for me (even though I know it was nowhere near the level of emotional closeness we could have been experiencing). He didn’t take the initiative and improve our relationship; he gave up and hid and satisfied his sexual release with porn. So there’s also a part of me that gives him sex so he doesn’t turn to porn again, even though we now have Covenant Eyes and he hasn’t looked at porn in 8-9 months.

    Reply
    • Natalie

      I guess my question is: when is it okay to say yes to sex that doesn’t do anything for you, because (by these 10 times listed) the alternative would be to never have sex in your marriage?

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        I’m so sorry, I pray your marriage will experience healing.

        Reply
      • Healing from betrayal

        As a wife who believed her husband that his porn use was in the past on many occasions only to recently find out that it was fairly constant for a couple of decades, I would caution you to be sure that he is really free from sexual sin. Did he just quit? Or did he walk through recovery? Are you sure you aren’t being lied to? Please make sure you are safe before engaging more. And, you can’t have enough sex with him to prevent porn. That’s a lie. It isn’t a lack of sex that creates a sexual addiction. Arm yourself with good information and set boundaries that you need for your safety.

        Reply
    • Laura

      Natalie,
      There’s so much in what you’re saying to unpack. Probably too much to address well enough with a passing comment, unfortunately. My husband has struggled with a porn addiction for probably 25 years. We’ve been married 15+. He’s been “clean” for 2 years, which might not be the longest stretch in our marriage, but there is more trust now than previously because he’s attending addiction recovery meetings and I’m going to a support group for spouses of addicts. I’ve learned so much there! One thing is that porn can be a way to self medicate shame and feelings of worthlessness. There’s no “failure” with porn. There’s no need to pleasure the other person or have dereference. I find myself wondering if your husband gives up on pleasuring you because he figures he’s going to fail, so why try? And if every time you’re expecting to fail, why would you want to participate in that activity anymore? Especially when porn has no risk of failure and only acceptance?
      Please consider going to an addiction recovery group to understand the dynamics of addiction and learn more of what might be happening. It took me 14 years to get to one. Wish I would have gone sooner. I hope you’re able to find more answers than my comment is able to give.

      Reply
      • Natalie

        Thanks Laura. That’s a good point. By bets would be on him feeling like a failure and thus not even trying. It’s a pattern in his personal life as a whole. I’ll see if there are any porn addiction recovery programs in our area (may be difficult, since we live in a boom town in the middle of nowhere), and if not, maybe just a general addiction recovery program.

        Reply
        • Kate

          Natalie, I’m glad you stopped using the vibrator. That has, i’m sure of it, contributed significantly to him feeling like a failure. He probably feels heartbroken that a machine brings you to orgasm instead of him a human being, as your husband. Since you have only stopped using it for a month don’t expect change to happen in a month. If the problem didn’t arise overnight don’t expect change overnight. Give it time, he probably thinks it won’t be long before you go back to the vibrator, he doubts your sincerity. Patience is a virtue. But you will get there in time.

          Reply
          • Natalie

            Actually, I’d disagree Kate. My husband was the one who said, “are you sure you want to stop using it?” He said he enjoyed using it on me because it relieved stress for him and also made me orgasm. He’s a very techie, gadget sort of guy, so I think he saw the vibrator as an extension of himself, since I’d only use it if we were having sex and 90% of the time, it’d be in his hand and he’d be using it on me. If anything, I think removing the vibrator from the equation has made his sexual stress and feelings of inadequacy return. Perhaps that’s why we’ve had sex twice since we stopped using it. Oh well. He’ll need to get over it. Now we both know I can orgasm (which was a legit concern and question of ours before), and it’s gonna be up to him to 1) work on himself so he’s healthy enough to maintain a basic level of physical fitness and a libido that is compatible with mine (which I really don’t think is too much to ask. I think I have a very average female libido, maybe slightly above average while pregnant due to hormones), and 2) he’ll need to spend more time having sex and more time dedicated to me and learning my body and my body’s queues.

        • Healing from Betrayal

          There are online programs. False Love by Brad Hambrick might be one to check out. From my research, a general recovery program isn’t always successful with sexual addiction.

          Reply
          • Natalie

            I don’t think he has/had a true addiction though. I heard Dr. Phil once ask a “sex addict” on his show if he thought what the man was experiencing was “an irresistible impulse or an impulse not resisted”. I think there’s definitely a difference: the first stems from actual addiction and the second stems from a lack of self-control and giving in to habits/sin nature. My husband and I have talked a lot about this and, since he’s quit porn, he’s been extremely open and upfront with me about his history with porn, what type of porn he watched and why he liked that, and why he felt he needed it and watched it so regularly (he usually watched 4-7x/week depending on his stress levels or how bored he was).

            To answer your question from early this morning, I do believe that he’s currently porn free. We have Covenant Eyes on all our devices and his weekly reports are always clean. He is a very techie guy, so if anyone could hack Covenant Eyes, I’m sure it’d be him. But honestly, which his seeming lack of libido, I find it hard to believe he’d spend the time doing that when he knows he can have more gratifying sex with me whenever he wants. Since he quit porn several months ago, I’ve noticed his erections are much harder and he lasts for almost 3x as long as this time last year… all things that point to him no longer using porn. He’s also become more verbal during sex and a little more engaged with me, which is a step in the right direction, since before he’d pretty much be silent and not interact with me very much. (However, I did also tell him I want him to talk to me during sex and tell me what he’s feeling, so maybe it’s just that he’s doing what I asked).

            I think, if anything, he needs more of a general therapist to just talk about life with, since he had a very rough upbringing that has not only affected his porn use but also very much affected his self-image and self-worth and eating habits. I’ve encouraged him to go see one, but it’s hard to find one in our area with a solid biblical outlook too. Also, I don’t want to push or force it on him. I want him to go in his own time when he’s ready.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Natalie, I’m so sorry! Yes, I think a lot of your trouble is likely due to the fact that you haven’t spent enough time on foreplay and figuring out what feels good, and on his body issues.

      But just because he’s a larger man does not mean that he can’t figure out how to make you feel good. I understand that the issue here is one of differences in libido as well–he’s just not interested very often, and when he is, to make more demands on him (like “can we spend a lot of time warming me up”?) may make him retreat altogether.

      I do think that this is important, though. You do matter. It’s just a very multi-faceted problem, and I think likely working on getting him healthy is really important. But you may have to take a more active role in showing him what makes you feel good. And if he plays around “down there” a bit, and then wants to start, it’s okay to say, “I’m not ready yet. Let’s keep going with this for a while.” And it’s also okay to take his hand and put it where it feels good, so he learns. I know that’s super awkward, but you’re going to have to be firmer if you want to have a good sex life one day! I hope you can do it, and I hope he listens!

      Reply
      • Natalie

        I agree. I know I need to be more forceful and demanding and an advocate for my needs in bed. But I find that sometimes we can be experimenting for as long as two hours and I’m still no more aroused than I was 10 minutes into the encounter. It’s just so frustrating. I agree, in our specific case, I think 95% of the issues will resolve themselves once he’s at a healthy weight, has a normal healthy libido and has more confidence in bed and in life in general. Right now, he just has none of that “go get ‘em” attitude in any part of his life except for work (largely because he’s rewarded with money lol.)

        Reply
    • B.O.

      Have you heard of “rebounding”? I got a rebounder 2 months ago…the Cellerciser. Oh, my!! Your hubby will benefit and so will you!!! It helps soooo much with physical ability and strength to engage and orgasm! Boy, oh, boy! Everyone needs to rebound! Seriously! There ain’t no going back!

      Reply
  13. Anonymous

    I agree with the 10 plus the 11th reader given reasons. I will also say that by agreeing with these reasons have led to 40 year sex starved marriage. I still love my wife and know that Heaven will be far greater than any temporary pleasure on earth.

    Reply
  14. Bob

    Better to make sure your husband agrees with this list before marriage or you’ll be in just as much turmoil.

    Reply
    • Bob

      I should add I would not marry a woman who agrees with this. Egalitarianism throws everything out of whack in my opinion. As if men and women want the same things out marriage. They don’t. My wife married because she wanted a rock, friendship, family and security. I married because I wanted sex, friendship and a family. We don’t bring the same things to the table nor do we want to. Yes, of course I care about and deeply my wife. But she could live with sex once every two weeks. I need it at least every other day even after twenty years. I could live out of an old RV. She needs a home and financial security. She sacrifices to meet my sexual needs. I sacrifice to meet your rock and security needs. And we are both happy.

      As usual this seems to be split upon egalitarianism vs headship theology lines. Better know who you are marrying because this list would lead to divorce in our marriage.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Bob, this has nothing to do with complementarianism or headship. This has to do with treating your wife like an actual person and not a receptacle. It has to do with not wanting to use her.

        I completely agree that women should give sacrificially in the bedroom, and I linked to many, many posts on why frequency is important and why she should get enthusiastic about sex. I never, ever have said that I think once every two weeks is a good idea (and, in fact, I’ve said the exact opposite many times). I don’t know how I could be more clear on this one.

        But at the same time, sex needs to be about both people, which means that you need to be concerned about her experience. You should work to make sure she’s receiving pleasure. That’s not a complementarianism/egalitarianism thing; that’s a human thing. If you are a kind man, you would want your wife to experience pleasure. You would care if she were in pain. If you do not, then you should likely fall on your knees before God and ask Him to convict you of your selfishness. I have another post up today on how we need to change the definition of sex so that it’s something that is mutual. That means that the onus is on women to get enthusiastic, but the onus is on men to consider her experience. If you can’t do that–if you honestly don’t care about her experience–then you are not interested in sex as the Bible portrays. You are only interested in taking from her. And that is not loving at all, nor does that attitude have anything to do with Christianity.

        Reply
        • Bob

          I find it interesting that the first thing you’d do is insult my character. My wife would tell you I am the most giving and sacrificial husband she has ever met. But your “theology” dictates you see it the way you do. Which is why I stated this comes down to theology. Just as your own subheading indicates. Your biblical view point, your world view simply do not agree with my wife and I or a vast amount of Christians. You make so many assumptions about both my wife and I it’s astounding! You need to get out of your echo chamber bubble if you really love Christ more than your “theology”. Your a known name now. You think all these awful patriarchs and their loving wives wouldn’t meet you? You don’t think my wife would tell you that you are 100% wrong? Ask yourself this please. Why is the only pushback you get from Christian men? Christ said if you were preaching His message the world would hate you. Yet the world applauds you. Why is that? Why is it everyday you want to throw Christian men under your traveling touring bus. Whose work are you doing?

          Reply
          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            You know what, let’s just break this down here.

            I find it interesting that the first thing you’d do is insult my character.
            Nope. She didn’t. She’s talking hypothetically, as you were. She said “IF you do not care that your wife is in pain, then I hope God convicts you.” Conditional statement.

            Why is the only pushback you get from Christian men?
            Frankly, it’s not. She gets pushback from secular sources all the time. Her biggest cheerleaders are actually Christian woman AND men who have been pushed down by patriarchal teachings that have kept them in the religious bondage that Jesus promises to free us from. If you read literally any of her comments you’ll see it’s Christians who are thrilled with finally having someone say the truth instead of more religious mandates.

            Christ said if you were preaching His message the world would hate you.
            Just as a note, Christ was not put to death at the will of the secular authorities. He was executed at the orders of the religious majority. Yes, the world will also hate us when we speak truth. But Sheila is attacked every day by pro pornography sites. And she’s also attacked by people who care more about the religious mandates they have made out of scripture than she is by Christians who are just looking for Jesus.

            You know who Jesus’ followers were? Prostitutes, tax collectors, fishermen. They weren’t your theologians, pastors, and other religious elite. But according to your logic, this means that Jesus must have been in the wrong since the already religious didn’t flock to him. I find it so humorous that people find it so offensive to say that maybe we should have compassion and grace for each other and question a religious mandate that is causing abuse, marital rape, and dehumanization in so many marriages–and then they back that up with what Jesus said without taking into context his entire ministry.

            As well, you’re talking to a woman who wrote “31 Days to Great Sex” and “24 Spicy Dares for Married Couples.” Pretty sure she’s not trying to throw Christian men under the bus–she’s just trying to make sex more about intimacy and less about the weird marital rape (because what else do you call a woman crying through sex because her husband demands it even though she’s in pain) that is so often espoused from pulpits.

            If we make this less about nit-picking theology and more about trying to emulate how Jesus treated each other I think we’ll leave behind a lot of these Pharisaical ideologies that lead to this kind of thinking.

          • Madeline

            It really doesn’t matter if you’re a “generous lover” at this point, Bob. You’re saying you would divorce a women who believes she has the right to ever say no to sex. You are advocating rape. Rape is rape, regardless of what theology you want to attach to it.

            Can we please stop with the “majority of Christians would disagree with Sheila” argument? At one point the “majority” of European and North American Christians were fine with some ethnicities being enslaved or even massacred, in the case of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, and Australia. Similarly, at one point the “majority” of Christian men in North America did not believe women should be allowed to vote. We simply cannot reliably look to the “majority” of Christendom for all the answers or use it as evidence that any particular stance is right or wrong.

            Also, Sheila has produced a LOT of content encouraging women to embrace their sexuality in their marriages. She has written many, many pieces giving advice and tips ranging from how to recover from physical issues that cause pain, to other challenges in life that cause lower sex drives, like being just plain tired. Ask yourself: what does a woman have to do to prove that she is pro sex?? Are you only going to be happy when she gives up the notion that women’s needs and desires should also be taken into consideration in the marriage bed? Because it sounds like you think anyone who asserts that women are people to be cared for, and not just objects to be used, must have *bad theology.* Any ideology that claims that women should not ever be allowed to say no to sex clearly does not hold that women are of any value outside of how they can be used by men. Is that the only position you would consider acceptable?

          • Josh

            Hey Bob, man to man? You really should just be quiet and listen to all this rather than jumping in to give your two cents.

      • Andrea

        Well, here comes Andrea again, going for the jugular (and again, no offense if this gets deleted OR edited – just keep what you deem helpful). I agree with Rebecca, Bob, that nobody was questioning your character, but I would add that a lot of us are questioning your bedroom skills. You’re telling us that your wife, whom God has given an organ that is designed exclusively for pleasure, that has twice as many nerve endings as your penis (and is therefore capable of that much stronger orgasms), and needs no recovery period like your penis before firing up again – she married you for friendship, security, etc. and not sex? She might very well think so if she was brought up in the church, but it’s still supremely unfortunate that you have not managed to convince her otherwise. And, if she “sacrifices to meet [your] sexual needs” because you provide for her financially, then you are treating her like a prostitute. Seriously, people, this is the definition of prostitution – exchanging sexual favors for financial security.

        Also, while I agree with Sheila that this has nothing to do with complementarians or egalitarians, but merely with treating women as human beings created in the image of God, I am wondering why it is that the complementarians are the ones bothered by this idea. Sheila, in your survey for A Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, did you ask people what denominations they belong to? I’d be really curious to know because it seems reasonable that there might be a connection. But nothing would make me happier than to receive a torrent of angry responses by offended complementarian men who do care about their wives’ pleasure and want to let us know that they’re not all like Bob. (You know that hashtag #NotAllMen? How about #NotAllBob?)

        There is one point, though, on which I support Bob and it’s this: “Better to make sure your husband agrees with this list before marriage.” Yes! For all the single women who read this blog, yes, ask your boyfriend before you make a life-time commitment to him whether he thinks women owe men sex, etc. Evangelicals get married much younger than the rest of the population and they take their vows more seriously. That, in combination with the fact that we can expect to live over 80 means many many years of bad sex if you marry someone who thinks your bodily safety and pleasure are less important than his.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Andrea, no, I didn’t ask about denomination. If I were to do another survey, I think I would like to dig down deep on some of these belief systems and see if they have a correlation with porn use and women’s sexual pleasure. And I agree–I’d love to hear from any man who isn’t like Bob (and I think there are a ton of them on this blog!). It really isn’t an egalitarian/complementarian thing. It’s just a human being love thing.

          Reply
      • B.O.

        A virgin woman can’t truly agree or not to this list before marriage. If she does, she may change her mind later. You never know what you are in for without ever experiencing it first. She may later change her mind yet again as she grows in intimacy and gets her mind and body back in shape after childbirth etc. And as her husband grows in intimacy and true stronger love that seeks the best for her.

        Reply
    • Kay

      Bob, can you share more specifically which of these 10 reasons you object to? All 10? Or only several of them?

      Reply
  15. Bob

    Rebecca, I find your beliefs no less pharisaical. Like your mother you jump to the extremes- crying during rape sex- rather than address what I actually said.

    So I will address what you actually said.

    First, who said I didn’t care about my wife’s pleasure. It’s your ideology that makes you think this. Because we aren’t in your camp then I must not care about my wife’s pleasure. You make a lot of faulty assumptions here daily.

    Second, your mother has steadily said she prefers the secular atmosphere and men to the Christian on multiple occasions. It’s almost a daily occurrence to throw Christian men under the bus. It is a money making proposition after all. I have yet to see a secular article or blog condemning her teaching. But see a lot of Christian men doing that. Can’t say what goes on behind the scenes but I know what comments get through and what don’t. So I can’t say I trust your perception or interpretation of the facts as it’s extremely biased. You’ve got a business…I mean ministry to uphold after all.

    Sure she’s written a lot of stuff. And it’s all about this egalitarianism feminist theology. Even the “pro sex”. It’s 95% her ideology with a small caveat but I’m pro sex- ALL OF IT!

    You know who those tax collectors and sinners became? Pastors and elders. The same ones she’s trying to undermine for the kingdom and not the Kingdom.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Bob, as for caring about your wife’s pleasure, let me just point out that YOU were the one to comment on a post about 10 times you’re allowed to say no to sex, which talked about how sex should be mutual, and said that this was unbiblical. The only logical conclusion is that you think that sex should be totally on your terms, since you believe that men should be able to reject their wives’ concerns. I don’t care if you’re the most generous lover in the world; the fact that you disagree with these beliefs means that you promote a theology that allows men to basically rape their wives in marriage.

      Yes, we are jumping to extremes. But we get these extremes in emails all the time because they happen! And you have not shown any sympathy, compassion, or kindness towards these women. How is that like Jesus that you can hear a woman cries during sex because it’s so painful and you think, “But she shouldn’t say no though.”

      You’re making this personal; I am not. I am challenging ideologies; you have continued to attack me. You may be the nicest husband in the world, but when I said that women should be allowed to say no to sex sometimes, you disagreed. This, to me, shows that you theology of sex is much more akin to porn’s idea of sex than it is to God’s instruction in the Bible.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I want to say one more thing.

        To reiterate, most of the criticism and attacks on this blog come from two sources: pro pornography websites, and religious men with a very patriarchal view of marriage. Why would that be?

        I believe that it’s because the underlying current for both of these viewpoints is male entitlement. The patriarchal view says that men should dominate in marriage; that they get to make the decisions, and that they are entitled to sex. Women’s concerns and experiences are not valued the way that men’s are. And porn? It shows sex that is entirely for men, without concern for what women experience, either.

        When I try to counter and say, “women matter, too!”, I get attacked. I am not saying that women are more important, either. I am not saying that women’s concerns should dominate. I am just saying that women should matter as well.

        So let’s think about this. One viewpoint says that males are entitled to what they want, including sex. The other says that God wants mutuality and relationship, and created men and women in the image of God so that we could cleave to each other.

        Which is likely closer to the truth?

        When your theology more closely resembles pornography than it does the Bible, quite frankly, I stop listening. You lost the right to be heard long ago. When you start arguing that women do matter, and that women are precious to God, just as men matter and are also precious to God, then we can have a conversation. But a theology that resembles porn is really not a theology at all.

        Reply
        • Kari

          Thank you Sheila, for sharing your wisdom. I know it comes as a sacrifice for you as you are attacked for our benefit.

          Because of your blog and transparency, I have been greatly encouraged in my marriage. I found your blog while in a desperate time about 6 years ago. I can’t put into words how much I have been able to reconcile in my mind and heart because of your willingness to share what God has been teaching you. He has been opening my heart to many similar issues but it feels so counter-cultural, even in our Christian culture, and the process can be confusing. It is reassuring to read how God is moving in you and especially encouraging to learn how to have healthy relationships/marriages. You are truly precious.

          Reply
        • Andrea

          Sheila, this is going to sound weird, but I am ecstatic to hear that you get criticism and attacks from the pro pornography websites. Here’s why: Pornhub gets more daily visitors than Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime combined, so if makers of porn are bothering to contact you, that means they perceive you as a threat to their business and given how much of it they have, this is a huge feat on your part. So I applaud you, Sheila; keep giving ‘em hell!

          As to the disturbing parallel between the porn industry and religious men with very patriarchal views, have you seen Google’s results on which parts of the U.S. have the most internet searches for porn? The most conservative ones. I would have been tempted to think this was some sort of liberal conspiracy theory, but my secular friends who have no issue with pre-marital sex are teaching their sons that porn is evil because of how it degrades women, whereas too many of my Christian friends have an “Every Man’s Battle” attitude about it.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thanks, Andrea! Yeah, we had to disavow a whole bunch of links from porn sites where they were trying to harm my ranking with Google on a whole bunch of search terms. And every now and then I get a DDS attack from porn sites. It is kinda scary, actually, so if people could pray protection over my site that would be great! That’s why I had to move to a much more secure and bigger server. I now pay about 6 times per month for my server than I used to, all to protect it. But it’s worth it.

            I’ve seen those studies, too, about the links between porn use and patriarchal views, and it is quite indisputable. About a decade ago I would have said that the church was ahead of the world on how they handled porn, because the church was sounding the alarm, while the world was saying that it was harmless (my husband was taught in medical school that advising struggling couples to watch porn would enhance their sex life). Now, however, the world has caught up and surpassed the church in many ways, because the world is at least calling attention to human trafficking and to the violence and degradation of women, whereas the church still sees it mostly as an issue of sexual temptation and sin (which it is, but it is also so much more than that). There are great Christian organizations fighting against porn and human trafficking, but they tend to be small. And our language around porn use needs to change. It isn’t just a temptation; it isn’t a victimless crime. It fuels human trafficking; it is violent; it cements negative views of women; and it warps people’s sexuality. I think if we talked more about that instead of just “it’s a sin and a HUGE temptation” we might get farther.

  16. Pastor Brown

    I have watched this back and forth with interest. Your last post Sheila kind of made Bob’s point I believe. You just called tens of millionsAmerican & Canadian (all first world), and hundreds of millions Christians men worldwide theology akin to porn theology. To say nothing of almost every church reformer, missionary and great man of God from the last several hundred years (two thousand?). You have a guy whose been married twenty years whose wife is happy with him (or do you only believe women when they comment and email?) and says he is sacrificial towards his wife and you tell him his very mainstream theology is porn theology and he has lost the right to be heard. Yikes. He is the one off the reservation?

    Sincerely, Pastor Eric Brown

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      When mainstream Christianity was pro slavery, was THAT ok just because it was mainstream? Of course not.

      Sometimes what is mainstream is wrong. And it’s important to call it out and say, “No, this isn’t acceptable, and isn’t what God wants.”

      When you are more concerned with circling the bandwagons than listening to the voices of people who are hurting because of these damaging messages (men, too, I may add–we gets lots of emails from husbands who are suffering due to this damaging teaching that men’s pleasure is all that matters), that’s a problem.

      You know, let’s just lay out what you’re defending here: we’re saying that both men and women’s sexual pleasure and experience during sex matters. You are arguing against that and instead for a theology that views that men are entitled to sex even at the expense of their wives (e.g., pain, discomfort, fear, coercion, abuse). That’s what you’re arguing for. I don’t really care about the theology you cling to–can you actually see Jesus promoting that? If our theology doesn’t line up with how Jesus treated the least of these, our theology is not Christian. Paul explicitly explains this in the beginning of 1 Corinthians 13:

      “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

      The theology you are supporting with your comment is void of love.

      It’s not that we don’t believe that Bob is a good husband. The problem is that he is espousing a philosophy that causes damage. He may very well have the happiest marriage in the world. But his ideology is still wrong. If I believed that kicking puppies was OK, even if I was a great dog owner myself, my ideology would still be wrong because obviously it’s not OK to kick puppies. Same logic here.

      He may be a great husband. But he believes that women should not be able to refuse sex, which takes away their basic human dignity. He may not act that out in his marriage and gives his wife the freedom to feel safe sexually. But his ideology was still wrong, which is why it needs to be challenged.

      We need to stop focusing on “us” versus “them.” It’s not men versus women, it’s not all Christian men against all Christian women. It’s people who believe both partners are important when it comes to sex versus people who believe only the man matters in the bed. That’s it. You’re making this into gender politics when it’s really not–it’s just about basic human dignity and treating everyone like the beloved children of Christ they are–men and women alike.

      Reply
      • Pastor Brown

        To address all of your comment.

        First, if this is biblical remember that almost every important Old Testament “character “ owned slaves. We also find God both giving his own people and other people to His people as slaves. We also don’t hear either Christ or Peter or Paul say slavery is unacceptable. I find your argument both Biblicaly inaccurate and using your modern lense of right and wrong. Which is why we need to consider what two thousand years of Christians do when interpreting theology. First, what does the Book say. Second how has every great Christian interpret this?

        Second, all the Bobs in the world do not support a theology that hurts women. Patriarchal theology is what you will find through two thousand years of church of Christ (and before to those who looked for the Christ). What is a small portion of sinners who use and abuse patriarchy to hurt women. Just as there will be sinful women who use this theology to hurt their husbands.

        I’m sorry when your mom calls the overwhelming amount of Christians since Christ having something akin to porn theology you have lost the right to be heard. You both far from Christ and off the rails. It is you right now doing the men vs women. 70% of those in the pew on Sunday morning are women. 40% in leadership. 80% of all Christian content buyers are women. First world numbers- you now where the church is dying. Now go to the third world where patriarchy is still the norm and the church is growing.

        Your mom thinks she’s doing good. But in fact she’s helping to gut the church and harming Christ.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Pastor Brown–are you seriously saying that slavery is okay? Seriously?

          Shame on you. You have absolutely no right to call yourself a Pastor. Please stop. I am glad in a way that you left this comment, because it shows how morally bankrupt those who disagree with this post are.

          I am absolutely outraged. Do you have any idea the harm that you are doing to the gospel of Christ? Please, in the name of God, stop. About 25% of my readers are from Nigeria and South Africa and from Kenya. Did you even think of them when you left that comment? How about those descended from slaves who live in the United States and the Caribbean (where a lot of my readers also live). Did they even cross your mind?

          If not, perhaps you had better go on a retreat and commit yourself to praying and asking God to break your heart with the things that break His.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            To anyone who reads this, please know that this man is not representative of Christ. I attend a denomination that fought against slavery from its very inception, and split from other denominations because those churches refused to outlaw slavery. I choose to align myself with those who live out Galatians 3:28: “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”

            I know that Western Christianity often looks very racist and terrible, but please know that that is not true of followers of Jesus. I deleted this comment because I didn’t want it to harm, but then I decided to let it back through just so that you can all see why it was necessary for me to write this article in the first place–because too many live under the teaching of people like this. But please know–this is the minority. They are the loudest, but increasingly they are the minority. And just as Wilberforce worked tirelessly to end slavery in the British empire, and is now looked at as a hero, so one day these people will be relegated to the ash heaps of the church’s history, and the church will move more towards looking like Christ.

            God is doing a great shaking of the church right now. That is causing a lot of anger among people who want to retain power. But please, don’t let people like this taint your view of Christianity, because this is not Christ.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Finally, one other thing. As soon as you bring out the “slavery wasn’t that bad” or “God never really condemns slavery” line of thinking, you’ve already lost the argument. So just stop.

          • Mixed

            What denominations are you talking about that do or do not support slavery? As a mixed person I have always wondered about the whole slavery in the Bible thing because sometimes it can look like the Bible supports slavery, but that breaks my heart because some of my ancestors were enslaved. I have just never known how to feel about this but it is pretty fundamental to who I am as a person because I am part black.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            If you look at the history of some denominations in the U.S., many split off into different denominations because of support/opposition to slavery. The Wesleyans left the Methodists, for example, because the Methodists wouldn’t condemn slavery and the Wesleyans thought it was unconscionable. The Baptists split into different denominations, too, with the Southern Baptists supporting slavery and other Baptists (you’d have to Google it; I can’t remember offhand) opposing it. The Quakers have always opposed slavery. But if you look it up, you will find that some denominations, from their very inception, were against slavery, while others were born during the fight to keep slavery (like the Southern Baptists). Doesn’t mean that’s how they feel now, of course; just that that is the history of it.

          • Matilda

            Here is a fantastic video from the Bible project showing how being in Christ freed slaves.

            https://youtu.be/aW9Q3Jt6Yvk

            It was God’s plan all along!

        • Chris

          Every now and then i think “now i have heard everything “ but no, it seems I haven’t. I can just tune in to a blog and read a shocking comment from a “pastor”.

          Reply
          • Natalie

            And to think of all the poor people who go to a church that preaches stuff like that from their pulpit! No wonder there are so many Christian women feeling unsatisfied, alone, undesired and used in their marriages!!! And he wonders why Sheila’s message is so resonant. Sigh…. It’s not cuz of women being more faith-focused or more spiritual than men. It’s because women need to hear that they and their needs matter too to God, and they were created by Him sexually to work just as they do.

          • Misty Griffin

            I must say that in some ways I am shocked to read what Pastor Brown wrote about slavery and patriarchy, in other ways I am not. As someone who left the Amish, I saw patriarchy fully enforced. There was no other option, patriarchy was enforced like it was back in the 1600s, women have no voice, sexual abuse victims were forced to forgive their abusers, females had to do what their ministers, husbands, and fathers told them. As Pastor Brown says, this worked for 2000 years, what could be wrong with it? It works right? Yes, it works, but in return, I saw some of the most depressed women on the planet, and I am not kidding about that. Also, we can say for thousands of years having a king or dictator worked depending on the country, just because something works does not make it right 🙁

            As for slavery, I think if pastor Brown was the slave he would have a different take on the whole idea of slavery. This is so sad that someone would say something like this. On twitter I once had someone mention that the bible does not go into detail on child rape, child marriages etc. Should we also interpret this to be Okay? I think we can all agree the answer is absolutely not 🙁

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I’m not shocked anymore, Misty. I have had people defend slavery so many times on this blog, whenever we get into these debates. It’s just insane.

            By the way, everyone, Misty wrote that great book Tears of the Silenced about the Amish! I talked about it in this post.

        • LHW

          Pastor Brown and Bob,

          Proverbs 12:15-23 might be of interest to you both:

          15 Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. 16 A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted. 17 An honest witness tells the truth; a false witness tells lies. 18 Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. 19 Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed. 20 Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil; joy fills hearts that are planning peace! 21 No harm comes to the godly, but the wicked have their fill of trouble. 22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth. 23 The wise don’t make a show of their knowledge, but fools broadcast their foolishness.

          Reply
        • Anonymous

          I’m sorry but as a male and a Christian and an African I find your comment incredibly ignorant and insulting especially since you claim to be a Man of God.

          Reply
    • Sarah O

      Trying to honestly find understanding here….so I’m going to turn the question around.

      Pastor Eric and/or Bob, do you believe that husbands have the right to say no to sex with their wives? If not, why not?

      If so, under what conditions? How and why would that be different for wives?

      Reply
      • Pastor Eric Brown

        Pastor Brown here. I cannot speak for Bob but I believe both husbands and wives can say, “hey can we do this tomorrow” on occasion.” But if it’s happening more than 1/10 there’s a problem. Yes, is supposed to be the go to answer.

        Again not speaking for the other commentator but my problem with the original article is that the go to answer is not yes and those that have a problem with that are wife rapists. I’m as patriarchal as they come and if my wife says can we wait till tomorrow I’m more than happy and I care deeply about my wife’s pleasure. But like Bob 3/4 of the time sex is more me in marriage because if the hormones aren’t in the right gear my wife- well it’s just not important to her and the O ain’t going to happen. She willingly and joyfully “sacrifices “ for me, just as I do for her.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Eric, thanks for commenting. I have written many times that our default should be yes, and I linked to many of those posts in this article. I simply said that women are allowed to say no. I don’t think they realize that, and it needed to be said.

          One more thing: It’s simply not true that 75% of the time a woman’s hormones are in the wrong place to orgasm. There’s about a week after ovulation when hormones aren’t as engaged in libido, but it’s not true that she can’t orgasm (if it were true, then no woman after menopause would ever orgasm). All it means is that you need to take a lot more time. If 75% of the time your wife is having sex only for your pleasure, that’s a problem. Do you start with a back rub so that at least she comes away feeling relaxed, even if she doesn’t orgasm? Do you spend a lot of time on foreplay? Do you talk to her first and help her unload the things in her brain, so that she’s better able to concentrate during sex? Do you ask her to show you what she likes?

          It’s wonderful that she wants to be giving, but honestly, men, if 75% of the time she’s not aroused, then that should signal to you that you can do a better job!

          If a woman can never, ever get aroused, then that’s one thing. It may be a mental block that she has. Even then, though, it’s important to help her. But if 25% of the time she can, and 75% of the time she can’t, then that’s an issue, and it’s incumbent on you to make sure that she at least feels some pleasure.

          Reply
          • Matilda

            I really wish you had a like button! So many great comments in this thread!

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I know! But I get so many people sent over from the manosphere on a daily basis that I couldn’t do that. 🙁

  17. Carol

    Okay, good! I hadn’t heard this before. There are some things I don’t like doing. They don’t make me feel closer. Now I can say what I feel. And I won’t abuse it, either.

    Reply
  18. Anonymous

    I just want your readers to know that I personally know a few Christian men who would agree with these reasons for women to say no to sex. However, all but one have a sexually satisfying relationship which makes me sad for them. Loving and serving their wife is more important to them than their sexual needs being met.

    Reply
  19. Anonymous A

    As for number 2- what about being proactive about your pleasure rather than saying no. Google for phrases such as “How to slow a man down in bed” or “How to speed up a woman’s orgasm” .

    Lots of good ideas and some not so good. But I bet most men would be thrilled if their wives rather than saying no because they weren’t getting enough pleasure- used their womanly skills to slow him down and increase his pleasure or learned to speed themselves up which would also increase his pleasure. And in both cases, your pleasure would likely be higher if done right.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Why is the onus on the woman to slow down her husband or speed herself up in order to increase his pleasure? Why shouldn’t the husband be involved in learning how to sexually satisfy his wife? If he took the time to do this then (to echo your closing sentence), “[the husband’s] pleasure would likely be higher if done right.”

      Reply
      • Anonymous A

        The goal of slowing your husband down or speeding yourself up would be to increase your pleasure- and a side benefit might be increasing his pleasure.

        Yes, ideally, he would care about learning to give you pleasure, however, if a woman is reading this blog, and has this frustration with her husband, most likely he is not reading blogs like this.

        Sheila has proposed one way of inspiring change- ie refusing sex until he focuses more on the woman’s pleasure.

        I am proposing another possible way of inspiring change, that is a lot within the woman’s control- ie slowing her husband down or speeding herself up.

        I have read in some secular literature that a woman’s orgasm is her responsibility. That is sort of a radical thought- but maybe there is some truth to it.

        Reply
        • Natalie

          Wow, how sad if the woman’s orgasm is completely her responsibility! 🙁 Yes, the woman should know about her body and ideally what turns her on and feels good. But even if she doesn’t, the husband should still be loving and attentive enough to take the time to LEARN his wife’s body and bodily queues. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes practice, Yes, it takes patience! And coming from someone who’s husband still has yet to make her orgasm, I find that many men nowadays simply aren’t willing to put in all that time and effort. (Actually, technically, he has “made” me orgasm with a vibrator that was his suggestion. He liked that method because it meant he could bypass the “learning my body” step and just give me an orgasm. He was satisfied with that, but I wasn’t. I felt like those orgasms were cheap and meaningless because he wasn’t willing to put the time into figuring out how to make me feel good… like it was too much work and too time consuming for him). Sure, the woman could figure out a way to get herself off, but where’s the mutuality in that? Then, it just becomes about both spouses orgasming instead of both spouses attending to the other’s needs and pleasure in such a way that RESULTS in the other reaching ultimate pleasure. To me, the latter is what results in ideal, biblical sex.

          Reply
          • Anonymous A

            So sad for your pain. So what has your husband said when you have asked him to learn your body more to help you orgasm?

            I listen to Sexy Marriage Radio with Corey Allan. Shannon Ethridge used to be his cohost and I always appreciated her concept of “Inspiring, not requiring” with our partners.

            Corey quotes a lot from Dr. Schnarch and especially likes Snarch’s concept of the higher desire/lower desire spouse. We usually think of it as one partner is higher desire and one is lower desire for sex. However, is a relative concept that can apply to anything between two partners and is a natural part of life. One is a higher desire for Chinese and one partner is a higher desire for Barbecue. One is a higher desire for romance movies and one is a higher desire for action movies.

            Apparently in your marriage- you are a higher desire for non toy female orgasms.

            So what have you tried in the past to inspire your husband to be more involved with helping you get there, and what new ideas do you have that you might try?

    • Matilda

      Maybe stay away from google when it comes to sex. The internet is a cesspool. How about communicating with each other, make time to learn one another. You are the best teachers of your own bodies.

      Reply
  20. Blessed Wife

    If I “don’t really feel like it”, I say “Persuade me” or “you’re going to have to do more work on me than usual.” If he knows I’m sick, sleep-deprived, or otherwise likely indisposed, he doesn’t ask; not because he thinks he’d be rejected, but because asking in such circumstances makes him feel like a selfish jerk. He knows I’ll initiate as soon as I’m ready​. There is sometimes a question of when and how, but I almost never say no outright (though I fully support a woman’s right to say no in most of these circumstances.)

    The only time I would give my husband an absolute no is if he were actively engaging in destructive behavior, which brings me to my #11: if the husband is acting out in addiction. Alcoholism, gambling, drugs, porn..these things are incredibly destructive, not only to the person doing them, but to the whole fabric of the family. A spouse who is choosing to engage in these addictive behaviors is putting the destruction of their marriage above the well-being of the family. I frankly couldn’t respect or feel attracted to a person who was actively choosing that, and would feel completely disgusted with myself afterward if I gave in.

    For the most part though, I WANT to have sex with my husband, because he’s a really terrific man! My drive is naturally high, but I also just want to be really close to him, so “no” hardly ever crosses my mind!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That sounds so healthy! I love it. And I love your approach to, “you’re going to have to persuade me.” I’ll remember that!

      Reply
  21. Anonymous

    Reason #2 hit pretty close to home for me. I’ve been married 15 years, but when we were newlyweds my husband didn’t seem to care much for my pleasure at all. He wanted it almost every night, but he’d rush through it and go back to watching football. The whole process lasted 10 minutes, if that. He came from a very strict evangelical background, where he was taught the wife was supposed to be “always available”. On the other hand, my parents are atheists and my upbringing was very secular, to put it mildly. I didn’t find the Lord until I was 25, and I had prior relationships. So the attitude he brought to the marriage was appalling to me. I tried gently explaining to him several times, but it fell on deaf ears. Finally I just told him we weren’t having sex until he at least made an effort to make it pleasurable for me as well. That went over like a lead balloon. He got angry. He sulked. He consulted our pastor, who got his wife to take me aside for a chat. She told me “As women, our job is to be available whenever called upon.” I remember getting angry and telling her that I ought to just buy him a flesh light. He can call on that, because he’s treating me like one.
    The thing is, I’m the kind of girl who likes her husband to take the lead in the bedroom. But I had to take the reins myself and insist that he learn how to make love to me instead of using me. And I mean insist as in “I won’t let you inside me until you put forth your best effort at making me feel good.” Eventually his libido got the better of him and he gave in. It was a long process but he slowly and steadily got better. And as he improved, our overall intimacy improved as well. He later confessed that growing up he was told that the only thing women really get out of sex is babies. It makes me so angry that some people actually believe that.
    On a positive note, nowadays things are 1000% better. He’s a wonderful husband and lover. But back then I was a very new Christian, and I had doubts about whether or not I was doing the right thing. I’m so glad I found your post, Sheila. It’s good to know that I refused him for the right reason. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story! That’s amazing. I may email you because I’d like to put this in my new book. It’s exactly on point for something I’m trying to say. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Feel free to use it Sheila. I’m happy to help. And thank you for what you do here.

        Reply
  22. NK

    I’ve followed the comments with keen interest. Just to say I was born and raised in a 3rd world country and have never had any international travel. I’m truly amazed to find that these are still big issues in North America. But why should I be? The devil is the same everywhere; twisting truth and offering half truths and empty religious practices that can’t really save. But I’m a Christian raised majorly in evangelical settings. Now I do know that there’s a certain “western” context to most perspectives that I may not understand but here’s what I want to say to Bob and pastor Erik and other readers: it really doesn’t matter whether you’re happily married or a great lover by your standards or your spouse’s. God’s goal in sending Jesus to redeem us was not so we could simply be “happy”, it was to reconcile us to himself (for heaven) and to make like Jesus (while we’re on earth) So while being mostly inconsiderate of a wife’s needs may work out fine in several marriages and may leave several women contented (many women also don’t understand the fullness God intends for them in marriage. You need to see how this plays out in many 3rd world nations), does living like that make you more like Jesus? is it Christlike to be consistently inconsiderate (75% of the time) simply because the other person doesn’t mind? Husbands, Love your wife *as Christ loves the church and gave his life for her*, wives, submit to your own husbands in everything. It’s a delicate balance of mutual sacrifice that brings about much beauty and glory to God. We should strive to help each other to be more like the master. I think the principles in these 10 reasons and in other posts on this blog, overall, aim at that.
    Thanks Sheila for all you do. So many readers like me may not get to comment always but know that you’re helping marriages and spreading the fragrance of God’s presence across the globe. Been a fairly regular reader for over 4 years and married for 6. Don’t worry, the message you bring is not appointed to every reader so opposition is bound to come.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, NK. That was such an encouragement to me! And I think your comments about being more Christlike are spot on. I feel like women need to learn this in lots of areas as well, especially in the area of passion. We need to learn to embrace life with passion, rather than trying to deny it, because so often women do that. And then we also need to consider our husbands as well, and try to embrace our sexuality for our husband’s sake as well as our own. But that only works if he is similarly being giving in the bedroom. When only one person is giving, it’s not real intimacy, and it just won’t work.

      Reply
  23. DR

    Question from a husband on this issue:
    My wife and I have been married for 16+ years, and have had a great sex life. Even better in recent years, than early on. Unfortunately, she is experiencing some medical issues in her pelvic area, and is currently unable to have intercourse. She is working with her Dr.’s, and this will pass, and we will get back to our normal, intimate marriage. She has not intentionally refused me, and I know she wants to get back to being physical with each other, as well.
    However….in the meantime, I’m a male with physical desires. As wives, do you think it would be inappropriate for me to ask her for sexual release in other ways? Ask her to “lend a hand” or cuddle her naked body against me as I masturbate?
    It’s a delicate matter, and I don’t want her to feel guilty as she works through her issues.
    Just looking for some advice from Christian wives. If this isn’t an appropriate comment for this post, I understand.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I don’t think that’s inappropriate, DR. And even if she isn’t able to have intercourse, is she able to experience pleasure herself? It could be that you could both stimulate each other in other ways, and that’s a perfectly healthy thing to do!

      Reply
  24. Paul

    Hi, I disagree with a few things here. While sex should be mutual, the very mutualism of sex means that you focus on pleasing your partner and vice versa, even when you are not getting immediate pleasure from the activity. For example, you mentioned in another article that clitoral stimulation is the most effective way to get most women to orgasm, and that he should do it selflessly even though it gives him no sexual pleasure at that moment. In the spirit of pleasing one another, I see nothing wrong with her giving oral or using hands to help him out when intercourse is dangerous or painful. She will get no sexual pleasure from it, but such a love sacrifice will mean the world to him. I also think doing it once in a while without having to feel like it is okay. I appreciate the woman’s perspective and that sex should not be all about him, there’s a risk that if used wrongly, your advice could make it to be all about her, which will and hurt and starve the man.

    Reply
  25. Kathleen

    I think you make a lot of good points. However, it’s important to clarify that no one ever has to have a justification for saying no to sex. It’s always ok to say no, because it’s your body and you have control over it. If women don’t have the right to say no to sex in any situation, then they are not being treated as autonomous human beings. And I firmly believe that women ARE autonomous humans who should be treated with equal respect to men. I think you’re saying the same thing, and I probably don’t need to be publishing this comment.

    Both women and men want and don’t want sex at times, and if women can exercise self-restraint and not violate or pressure their men, then men can do the same. To suggest otherwise is insulting to men, and unfair to women. Again, not really judging this piece, but instead people who are misguided in thinking that men can’t control themselves.

    I think your article is reinforcing what I’ve expressed in this comment. But I just want to emphasize that we need to empower women to know they have a right to say no – no matter what.

    Reply

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