PODCAST: Marital Rape, Consent, and the Problem with “Obligation Sex”

by | Apr 23, 2020 | Libido, Uncategorized | 106 comments

Consent, Marital Rape, and Obligation Sex Podcast
Orgasm Course

What does consent mean in marriage? And is there marital rape?

On today’s podcast we’re going to tackle a touchy topic. Two weeks ago, in our podcast about the book The Act of Marriage, we read the story of “Aunt Matilda”, who was raped on her wedding night, and then repeatedly throughout her marriage. But Tim LaHaye didn’t see this as a bad thing. He instead chided Aunt Matilda for not enjoying sex and for seeing sex in such negative terms.

In response, a commenter wrote this interesting thought:

The rape part is incredibly disturbing. I find it so bizarre that the church so rarely talks about consent – in fact outside of this blog I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon or Sunday School lesson or *anything* church related that mentioned it. I grew up with the “sex before marriage = bad!” talks in church, and I’m assuming that youth leaders just assumed that teenagers would know that pressuring others into sex or sexual acts was wrong because those were wrong outside of marriage anyway? I think that the importance of sexual purity and sexual consent should be treated almost like two separate issues and that the church should begin education around consent as young as they do sexual purity.

As I think about this it saddens and baffles me that that even has to be addressed. My husband loses interest in having sex with me if I don’t seem very into it, let alone if I was crying or screaming! How exactly do the “Christian” men who do this to their wives view themselves as loving or caring for them? How do they see that as laying down their lives for their wives as Christ did for the church?

So in today’s podcast, and then tomorrow on the blog, we’d like to talk more about consent, marital rape, and the problem with “obligation sex”. Rebecca joins me for this one (and believe me, she got rather hot under the collar. If her shirt has collars. Which it probably doesn’t. But she got passionate, anyway!)

Listen in:

Let’s talk marital rape

We tackled three topics in the podcast: What marital rape looks like; what consent means; and why the obligation sex message hurts marriages.

In our segment on marital rape, we gave examples of things that constitute marital rape. We found in our Bare Marriage survey of 22,000 women, and in our subsequent focus groups, that far too many women experienced rape in marriage, especially on their wedding night. And yet they also didn’t have words for it, because we don’t talk about it as if it’s a thing.

Rebecca and I go into a lot of detail here, but you can read more in this post on marital rape.

Let’s talk consent

Sometimes the issue isn’t sexual assault, but it’s just simply consent. And here’s the point that Rebecca was making over and over:

You can’t truly say yes if you can’t also say no.

If you aren’t allowed to say no to sex, then you can’t freely say yes. And God set up intimacy so that free will is at the foundation. You can’t have real love, or real intimacy, without free will, which means the right to say no. 

You may also enjoy:

Let’s talk obligation sex

Now here’s the tricky one. When women grow up hearing that they aren’t allowed to say no to sex, or else their husbands will lust, have affairs, or else they won’t be good wives and they’ll be in sin, then that can really warp a woman’s view of sex.

We believe that sex is a passionate, mutual “knowing” of each other that encompasses physical intimacy, but also spiritual and emotional intimacy. That’s why God used the Hebrew word for “deep knowing” to describe sex, instead of just talking about it in physical terms. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, then, cannot be understood without a biblical view of sex. Those verses are not saying that you’re not allowed to refuse a husband’s desire for ejaculation (because ejaculation alone isn’t biblical sex). Those verses are saying that life-giving intimacy should be a regular part of your marriage. And that should be entirely mutual. 

We’ll be talking about this at length in The Great Sex Rescue (our upcoming book), but what we found in our surveys and focus groups is that believing that you have an obligation to give your husband sexual release is one of the most damaging beliefs to a woman’s sex drive and sexual response. It’s correlated with much higher rates of sexual pain, and much lower rates of orgasm.

And yet far too many books teach that women cannot say no (and we read a variety of quotes from them in the podcast).

There is a much better way of talking about the need for sexual intimacy in marriage–a way that does not make women feel invisible or used. And if we want to have healthy sex, we need to get back to speaking about sex in a healthy, holistic way, rather than simply an entitlement way.

Believe me–I am a huge proponent of wonderful, passionate, frequent sex in marriage! I’ve written The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. 31 Days to Great Sex is coming out again in August with Zondervan. I’ve created 24 Sexy Dares to spice up your marriage. I have a Boost Your Libido course for women who want to feel alive again.

But you can’t get to healthy sex through unhealthy teaching. And teaching that erases women’s experience and women’s needs is not healthy, and is not biblical.


God made sex to be AWESOME!

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

Feel like something’s missing?

I also mentioned these posts in the podcast:

UPDATE: I just listened to the podcast this morning, and I wish I had said more that it’s also okay to say no if you just don’t want to right now. We mentioned it at one point, but I wish we had said it more. I talked about saying no if you’re in pain, grieving, etc. etc. because I was trying to be hyperbolic–“they don’t even give caveats for pain!” But I really should have mentioned that it’s okay to say no if you just don’t want to right now. So sorry about that!

Yes, sex should be a vital part of your marriage. But that does not mean you have to say yes every single time your spouse wants it, because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. What God wants is for HEALTHY sexuality to be a vital part of your marriage, which means a mutual, passionate, “knowing” of each other. It doesn’t mean that your desires don’t matter. So I wanted to reiterate that here!

What do you think? How can we talk about consent in a healthier way? Why do we not talk about it in church? Let’s talk in the comments!

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.

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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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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  1. Sarah O

    Thank you both very much! I have seen now where educators are covering consent (in general, not in the context of sex) in early schools, and I saw one in particular that included why and when someone might say yes when they don’t want to and how to recognize it. I felt like you covered that here as well and I hope spouses might be able to recognize “fake yes” a little better (both men and women).
    I also really really appreciated Rebecca taking issue with “sexless marriage” needing to be covered as part of “don’t rape”. I agree both are bad, but I find it sort of outrageous that you of all people STILL have to reiterate that you believe in frequent sex as part of healthy marriage. Are there really still people translating “you can say no sometimes” to “you don’t have to have sex ever”? After everything you have written? I think at this point your work and reputation should speak for themselves and you shouldn’t have to work so hard to include disclaimers, but that’s just me.
    Great job!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Sarah! I know, I put a LOT of disclaimers everywhere. I wish it weren’t necessary, especially with issues like this. But unfortunately it is. If I don’t put those disclaimers in there, I get mountains of comments about it. So it’s easier this way. Thanks for your support!

      • Sarah O

        Also thank you very much for addressing the reader who was initiating every day and her husband was only responding if it somehow derailed her, I remember when that first came up and I had to do a lot of deep breathing exercises. 😂

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          It really does sound like he only gets pleasure when she’s uncomfortable or hating it. That’s just sick. It really is. But somehow I hear about it a lot.

      • Anonymous A

        I am a long time male reader. I must have started reading before 2012 because that is when I bought one of at least 3 books of yours that I own. As far as a disclaimer, sadly I don’t think it makes much difference. My perception is that you have been so negative towards other Christian authors as people, not just their ideas, the last year or so and so negative with some of your readers many of them female who have addressed concerns with you about your tone or how you have handled certain issues, and you have mentioned so many reasons to say no to sex- that putting all that together, at least in my mind- has diminished and overridden the positive sex message you used to have.
        If a man came to me and said he was thinking of marrying a woman who was an avid follower of yours, I would probably caution him to be very cautious before he married that woman, because I would be very concerned about what her possible attitude towards sex in marriage would be.

        • Angela

          Anonymous A, I’m glad you shared, as I suspect it reflects the opinion of a larger group of folks than just yourself. I’m curious to know – besides your concerns regarding tone and negativity (the ‘way’ Sheila is perceived to communicate) do you have any concern on a particular set of data (the ‘what’ Sheila is actually communicating)?
          What I’m hearing is that because you (and others) don’t like the ‘way’ she writes, you won’t engage in the importance if ‘what’ she writes. Clarification would help me out here.

          • Anonymous A

            Angela. Thanks for your comment. Pondering what you have said. See some of my other comments in this thread re my concerns re data.

          • Anonymous A

            Angela, if you read below in the comments you will see my concerns with one small thing she wrote in the comments re obligation not being biblical. You can see my two notes and hers back to me. You can also see my concerns about the data that was sent to Focus on the Family. I hope this helps you understand a couple of my concerns that go beyond tone- I have more, but not sure it is productive to go point by point. Sure appreciate your note.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’ve got to be honeset–the reason is that we did a huge survey, and what we uncovered was very alarming. When we make sex into an obligation, we ruin sex for women. And that’s also not what the Bible said.
          People enjoy sex more, and have richer sex lives, when sex is voluntary rather than “duty”.
          And most men would much rather that their wife be enthusiastic.
          Would you?
          And I hear you saying you’re upset with tone. What about content? Do you think I was wrong to talk about marital rape, then? Do you not think that this is an important issue to discuss?

          • Anonymous A

            Since I am a man and did not take the survey and my wife did not take it, I would really appreciate knowing what questions you asked. I am also very curious what the points, questions, statements, not sure how to say it, are in your rubric.
            I thought the study you sent to Focus was out of balance, because when you did the original posts, I felt commenters that disagreed with you were in many ways dismissed, so I suspect a lot of commenters that disagreed with you, quite commenting so by the time you did the study, of course the overwhelming number of comments were negative about Love and Respect.
            Maybe once I see the questions in your survey and the points in your rubric, I will be convinced that yes, those are really solid ways to look at things.
            Thanks for approving my post and for responding. I will be reviewing your other points.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            The survey was approximately 170 questions (it was more depending on whether you were in your first or second marriage). It was very comprehensive. We’ll be publishing it on our website to go along with the book later.
            The findings were very enlightening. Many, many women enjoy sex and have great sex lives (in fact, most), but many really don’t. And the thing that tends to separate them is what they believe about sex and marriage and men. When women believe that they are obligated to give men sex; when they believe their husbands will watch porn if they don’t have sex; when they believe many of the harmful things we’ve been talking about lately, sexual pain goes up and orgasm rates go down.
            Many of the things that we are teaching about marriage and sex actually hurt women, and, by extension, hurt couples. And there is a better way! When you look at the commonalities of the women with good sex lives, they’re far more likely to believe healthy things. So our suggestion is that the church start teaching things that lead to emotional maturity and relational health, because it does make a difference.
            As for the ratio of comments in the Love & Respect discussion, we created a report where we spelled out what percent of commenters/emailers said they liked the book and what said they didn’t like it. We were very up front. It’s just that the overwhelming majority who wrote in said that the book hurt them. Again, I’d encourage you to read the comments on the open letter and remember that those are real women who are hurting. Real women. And they do matter.

          • Anonymous A

            On bible hub I pulled up about 29 different English Translations of 1 Cor 7:3. Here is the NASB version. “New American Standard Bible
            The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.”
            In multiple translations the word duty, or due are used, others use obligation, and some other synonyms, but one of the most common was duty.
            Yes, I would rather have my wife be enthusiastic. Read my other comment to see why I have concerns or questions re your survey.
            Yes, marital rape is a serious issue to be addressed and one that has not been on my radar. I have not yet found my copy of The Act of Marriage to see the whole context of what Lahaye said.
            Yes I have had various concerns re content, however over time I have quit raising concerns because I have seen how you have treated others who very respectfully raised concerns with your content and I am pretty sure at one time in the past that I made a comment a couple times that I thought was respectful, it did not make it through moderation, I emailed privately about why it did not make it through moderation and I heard nothing back.
            BTW- I don’t disagree with everything you say. For instance, I have had a similar concern to yours re youth pastors, and I was touched the other day by your post from the medical professional re Covid-19.
            I have in the past read your post about do not deprive. Will try to review it later, but it bothers me when you say that the Bible does not say obligation when in some translations that is the word used and as I mentioned other translations use a similar concept.

          • Anonymous A

            Sheila, I did read your open letter at the time, and a lot of the comments. I do feel sad for women who have been the victim of good teaching being twisted or of women who have been hurt by human error in teaching.
            I do think the survey was skewed, because I think at least some people who would have commented more about positive things about Love and Respect did not feel safe here to make those comments.
            I will be very interested in seeing the 170 questions and I am also interested in your rubrik. Maybe I was not paying attention but I thought one time you said it was a 12 point rubrik and on time I thought you said 48 points. BTW- I lost my wallet between coming in for my shower and leaving for ice cream tonight, so my memory is not perfect.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            We surveyed 22,000 women. Over half of them were recruited by people other than me. We have a very wide cross-section of denominations, with a lot on the very conservative side. We made sure that the majority taking the survey were not from this blog. We will be publishing that, too.
            The rubric marks 12 measures of healthy sexuality on a 5 point scale, from 0-4. So the maximum you can score is 48; the minimum is 0.
            Love & Respect was the worst scoring book, so it is no surprise that it was also the one that women mentioned was the most harmful. Also, we did not name any resources. it was open-ended. The women volunteered it themselves.
            This is the largest survey that has ever been done like this of evangelical women. I hope that you will listen.

          • Anonymous A

            Sheila, when I quoted the scripture from 1 Corinthians it was in response to your statement in the comments. “When we make sex into an obligation, we ruin sex for women. And that’s also not what the Bible said.
            I had time now so I have linked to Bible Hub https://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/7-3.htm
            Hopefully this link comes up with about 29 versions of the scripture and at least one uses the word obligation and many use the word duty, due, or responsibility, debt or owed. All very similar words, so I disagree with you when you say that is not what the Bible said in regards to obligation.
            I have been some time rereading your original posts, reading comments, reading the comments you sent to FOF , and will probably re read some of Love and Respect.
            As for not having a personal beef with Eggerichs- I guess it sounded personal to me when you mentioned that you did not think he liked( loved) women- whichever word you used.
            Part of the theme of the New Testament is doing unto others as you would have them due unto you. Is the way you have treated Eggerichs in this whole manner really the way you would want to be treated if someone thought you were that off base?
            If your goal is to have Eggerich’s pull his first book or rewrite it, you might get farther if you went and talked to he and Sarah with you and your husband in front of someone that is neutral and good at helping people hear each other. I strongly suspect that you may both be misunderstanding each other to some extent, and if you really sat and talked, you might both be able to recognize the good each of you is doing, find some places of common agreement, and then at least hear each other out on things upon which you disagree. He might hear you more about the pain you are feeling for other women, if you were talking to him face to face electronically or in person and Sarah might hear you also and have influence. I strongly suspect that you are both upset enough now and your spouses maybe upset enough now, that a two way conversation without a mediator might not go well.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Hi Anonymous,
            I’ll try to do this in short form, but we’re misreading 1 Corinthians 7 for three reasons.
            1. The whole point of that passage is to show that sex is mutual. Everything that is granted one spouse is granted the other. Therefore, sex is supposed to be a mutual joining of two people, not a taking.
            2. It says “do not deprive”, not “do not refuse.” It’s not saying that if you have a headache you can’t say no, or that you can’t say “not now.” It’s saying that healthy sex is a vital part of a relationship, not that someone must have sex whenever the other wants it.
            3. And, most importantly, WHAT is it that we’re not supposed to deprive each other of? It’s not just male ejaculation. It’s sex in the way the Bible talks about it, which is a mutual, intimate knowing. If sex is something other than that, then there’s something wrong in your relationship.
            But even more than any of those three, it comes down to what you believe about Jesus. Do you believe that Jesus wants women having sex when they are in pain; when they are still recovering postpartum (even if the 6 weeks are up); when they are grieving; when they are being emotionally abused; when they are simply exhausted; when they get absolutely nothing out of sex because their husbands don’t care about their pleasure? Do you think Jesus looks down on a woman who is exhausted because she is up all night caring for toddlers, and her husband is not helping, and gets angry at her for not giving her husband ejaculation? Or do you think that he has compassion on her?
            Do you think, in that case, Jesus’ biggest concern is that she is not fulfilling her wifely duty? Or do you think that He may want the husband to help with the children, and He may have compassion on her and say that she needs some sleep? Do you think that He cares about her needs as well as her husband’s? And that’s what it really comes down to, I think.
            In terms of the Eggerichs, my only aim is to counter the harmful teaching that has come out of that book, and others. I believe that I am doing that well. My words are here for all to see. He is welcome to debate them. We have reached out to him, as we talked about in a podcast, and we have published those emails.
            I believe that God has given me something to say to free both women and men from unfair burdens that have been put on their marriages, and I will continue to do that, as I have been called.
            Thank you for saying that you will re-read Love & Respect. I suggest you re-read the sex chapter, and ask yourself, “If I were going to teach about a cross-centered theology of sex in marriage, would it look anything like this? How, in this chapter, do I see any concern for a wife? And how, in this chapter, do I see any advice that would help a husband’s character be transformed into that of Jesus”? (romans 8:29)
            From your comments, it sounds as if you truly want to get to the heart of what’s right, and that’s wonderful. I urge you to keep digging. Don’t assume that everything you’ve been taught your whole life is right. Look at it with new eyes. Like Paul wrote, “I resolved to know nothing while I was among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Ask yourself, what would a cross-centered theology of sex look like? What would passion look like? What would love look like?” And then ask if the obligation sex message, by which the husband’s needs for ejaculation are put ahead of the wife’s need to be pain-free; to get much-needed sleep; to be in an emotionally healthy marriage; to feel as if she matters; to receive pleasure herself; resembles Jesus’ teaching at all.

          • Anonymous A

            Sheila, thanks for your latest response. So what is your perspective on the word that is translated obligation, duty, due, etc?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I believe that I have written many comments here, and did a whole podcast, on what a healthy view of 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 is.
            Let me ask you: Which do you think leads to a healthy marriage and a healthy sex life? Telling couples that a wife is obligated to say yes, and that a husband is entitled to sex when he wants it, because it is her duty, or telling couples that God made sex to be a vital part of a healthy marriage, sex which is a passionate, intimate “knowing” of each other where you each feel pleasure and you each feel valued? And that marriage is supposed to reflect these things?
            Which do you think is more in line with Jesus?
            And do you think Jesus would tell a woman that she is obligated to have sex even if it hurts her; even if she is being abused in any way; even if she is grieving; even if she is absolutely exhausted; even if it isn’t pleasurable for her and her husband has made no effort to figure out her pleasure?
            Or do you think Jesus would actually care about her?
            Thank you for telling other commenters that you are reflecting. I encourage you to lean into that. Really pray. Ask for Jesus to give you His vision for what healthy marriage and healthy sex looks like. Ask Jesus to show you how entitlement is not part of the Christian life. Ask Jesus to show you His heart for those who are suffering, and for those who have been told that their pain and abuse don’t matter.
            And perhaps pray that God may show you His heart for those who are victims of marital rape, which is, after all, what this post was about. Thank you.

          • AJ

            “Duty” sex is caused not by the sex it itself but by the person fulfilling the “duty” role as having a negative view of sex because they have decided sex is not good. Because they have decided sex is not good, any attempt to make sex a positive or “feel good” experience by the other person in the marriage is futile. If a person views sex as positive there will never be “duty” or “obligation” sex. Either a man or woman can be in the “duty” role. The only way to solve the issue is for the person in the duty role to change the way they think and view sex. Until until sex Disclaimer: this only applies if the relationship is overakk okay and not abusive in any way.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            That’s true, AJ. I’d just add that the spouse needs to also not see it as a duty. If your spouse is telling you, “you need to do this because it’s your duty”, then it’s hard to stop feeling that it’s your duty (you insinuated this in the last sentence, but I wanted to be clear about it!). We’ll be talking about this more on our podcast on Thursday.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Okay, I have to say one other thing because I get this a lot from people.
          Everyone liked me when I was saying, “Sex is great! Women should have more sex!”
          But once I started saying, “You know, God made sex to be a mutual, passionate, intimate knowing of each other, and we need to get this right so that our focus is on our sexual relationships fitting with Christ,” people start not liking me.
          What our surveys showed is that, if you give the obligation sex message, you will get women to have sex more frequently. But their orgasm rates plummet, and their rates of sexual pain increase.
          And the people who are the most satisfied in their marriages feel as if they are valued.
          I believe in a HEALTHY sex life, not just a FREQUENT sex life. If people are getting upset that I am adding “healthy” and “biblical” and not just “frequent”, then perhaps you need to ask, “why do I find the “healthy” and “biblical” message so threatening?”

          • Sarah O

            When you find yourself facing evil, in this case an idea that is physically and mentally injuring people in the name of God, what is the correct tone to confront it? Is there a way to ask politely?
            Also, every author and institution Sheila has confronted has either doubled down or ignored her, in spite of her coming with data and corroborating testimony. They haven’t even been willing to speak with her.
            What should she do? What is the biblically correct thing to do? Just stop?
            I get it that negativity is draining, but for all those objecting I’d really like to know how you would handle this.

          • Anonymous A

            I don’t find a message that sex should be healthy and biblical threatening. I suspect if we were to sit down and go verse by verse we might disagree about what is the correct biblical view, but that is very common between two sincere Christians on many subjects.
            What really concerned me the other day was I think in your podcast you made a statement either that you did not think Emerson liked or women or you did not think he loved women. I can not remember which.
            I have read a couple of Emerson’s books, and reread Love and Respect last year. I have heard him live and on video and listened to some of his podcasts, and I think his wife was with him live one time I heard him and I have followed his daughter Joy over the years off and on.
            You are entitled to your opinion and observation re Emerson and women, but that has not been my perception at all.
            If you told me that you were going to take me to a very healthy place for dinner and then you said, we were heading to McDonald’s, I would surmise that we have a very different concept of healthy food.

          • Anonymous A

            Sarah O.
            Thanks for your comment. I don’t have the mental clarity and emotional energy right now to respond to all of your questions, but I am thinking.
            At this point in time, what I would love to see happen is for Sheila and her husband and Emerson and Sarah to meet, I guess by electronic means now- with a person who is a neutral third party and gifted in helping people hear one another and both the Gregoire’s and the Eggerich’s try to hear each other, and find some common ground.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            That really isn’t necessary. My concerns are not with Eggerichs himself. It is with his book, as I have repeatedly said. I have also found very problematic things on his website and in his sermons.
            I am addressing his teaching. This is not a personal issue. In the New Testament, when the problem is with teaching, you don’t treat it like a Matthew 18 issue. Instead, you announce to churches which teaching is harmful, why is it harmful, and you warn people to stay away from that teacher. That is the New Testament model.

          • Anonymous A

            Sarah O,
            So you said this. “Also, every author and institution Sheila has confronted has either doubled down or ignored her, in spite of her coming with data and corroborating testimony. They haven’t even been willing to speak with her.”
            So from what I have read in the posts and comments from Sheila she has had pretty strong words for multiple authors, publishers, including obviously Eggerichs and Love and Respect and Focus on the Family, but also, Stormi O Martian = ” Power of a Praying Wife”, Tim Lahaye’ The Act of Marriage’, “Every Man’s Battle with Steve Arterburn and his co author, medium concerns with “Intimacy Ignited by Dillow and Pintus. Are you aware if she has even contacted all of these authors and publishers? I am aware of her notes with Focus on the Family and I have seen some of Emerson’s indirect responses through video and posts and I saw where Rebecca engaged with one of Emerson’s assistants. If I remember correctly Sheila also had a cease and desist letter from Emerson’s agent. However, I am not aware of any letters or reach outs to all of the others I mentioned above, so I don’t know if all of those authors and publishers have doubled down or ignored her.
            You may read in my other comments more details about my some of my concerns with the data that Sheila shared with FOF.
            As to how I wish it had been handled, I really wish that when Sheila first had such an issue with what Emerson wrote that she would have taken the time to read his later book I think it was Communicating Love and Respect, and then reading his blog, watching some videos, and also attending either a live presentation or a video presentation. I think he has addressed some of her concerns in later works, even years before she raised the concerns.
            Then I wish she would have taken her husband and met with Emerson and Sarah and had a long face to face conversation to see where they could find mutual ground and where they sincerely just disagree.
            Then maybe based on how all of that went there would not have needed to be as much of an intense public discussion, and book contracts for Sheila which appear to be partly aimed at strongly disagreeing with Love and Respect.
            You will see further discussion down this thread of my concerns and some back and forth with Sheila.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Hi, I actually have read his blog. We’ve actually done podcasts looking at some of his posts. I’ve also watched some online sermons, and again was horrified at how he made a joke out of abuse.
            Here’s the issue: Even if his videos are great, most only read his book. His book is terrible. If he says things in the videos that he doesn’t say in the book to make it more palatable, then he should recall the book and change it.
            I’m wondering, though–have you spoken to Eggerichs about reaching out to me? You obviously think some of my critiques are correct. Have you asked him to change some of the ways he’s talked about abuse and talked about sex? Have you asked him to correct what he said about allowing physically abusive husbands back into the house?
            Are you as concerned with WHAT I am critiquing, or are you simply upset that I’m critiquing?
            I’ll leave you with Paul’s words, when he called out people doing harm by name to warn others:
            “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words” (Phil. 4:14,15).”
            And I’ll just simply say that Emerson Eggerichs has done many, many women great harm. We must all beware of him, because he has resisted those who have pointed out the harm in his words (which he himself reported in his very book, showing he already knew it was problematic when he published it).
            Do you think your comments may look different if you were showing as much compassion for those women as you were for Eggerichs? That may be something to think and pray about.

        • Madeline

          Anonymous A, I don’t really understand what about her content lately would make you think an avid follower of hers would have a negative attitude about sex. She still advocates for frequent, passionate sex; I see what she is doing as helping women to exactly that. Its really hard to have frequent or passionate sex if you’ve been taught that your husband can essentially rape you and that’s how God intended marriage to work.
          It really is unsettling to me that one of your objections is that she mentions “so many reasons to say no to sex.” Which of her reasons she presented are problematic to you? Do you think a husband has the right to sex when his wife is grieving the loss of a family member? Or should a wife not be allowed to say no when she is recovering from childbirth? Or do you simply think its not okay to talk about too many reasons to say no, so you don’t give women any ideas.
          In your latter comments you say that you think marital rape is a real issue, but I’m going to be honest, your first comment makes it sound like you think women shouldn’t be given freedom to say no, or at least without really good reason.

          • Anonymous A

            Thanks for your note. I am reflecting.

          • Anon

            Anonymous A, I’m aware that mine is just one story, but I’ll share it in case it is helpful to you. I grew up with some very damaging views on sex – I honestly thought I would never be able to marry, because I was concerned that it would be unfair to my spouse since we would be unlikely to be able to have a positive sexual relationship because of all my emotional ‘baggage’.
            I’m going to be married just as soon as lockdown allows us to. Obviously, I won’t know how sex will be for us until we try, but what I can say is this – I don’t think I would be contemplating marrying if it were not for the help from Sheila’s writings, and instead of viewing sex as something scary and horrible, I am now viewing it as something I am excited (if a little nervous!) to experience with my fiance, once we are married. So while I currently have no guarantee of the outcome, what I can say definitely is that far from making me view sex negatively, Sheila’s writings have given me a complete about turn from negative to positive.

    • Hopeful

      Wow, what an incredibly helpful, enlightening, refreshing discussion! I listened last night, and my husband listened with me again today. He wants to make sure our adult kids hear this. (We’ve been married over 30 years, together since our teen years, and have overcome a LOT so far!) One of the many things that struck me was this (and my husband, God bless him, fully sees this!): We recognize selfishness and self-centeredness in our young children, and call it SIN NATURE, and shepherd them towards gaining victory over it. HOW ON EARTH have we gone generation after generation NOT seeing this right in front of our eyes – that one “spouse’s” demand for instant gratification in this realm (using and objectifying the other spouse), is just as selfish/self-centered, and their selfishness is that same sin nature. We wouldn’t accept the excuse from a 5-yr-old’s thinking “I like cookies, I want them when I want them – it’s just the way God made me so you’ll just have to deal with it. This is just the way all kids are, Mom!” Thanks for doing this, Sheila and Rebecca – we will listen a few more times because it sparked several great conversations for us!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, I’m so glad! Thank you so much for encouraging us! And, yes, you’re right. We wouldn’t accept that behaviour from a child, and yet we think this is part of “maleness” (and, in fact, many of the Christian sex books said just that–“it’s part of being male.”). I really think more of men than that.

      • Sandy Beach

        As a woman married to a church-elder husband for 31 yrs who raped me a week after the wedding, I appreciate Sheila’s survey and many resources for marital intimacy including her survey which I was grateful to participate in.
        I have been separated/divorced for 5 yrs, ostracized by my church, smeared by my ex and pastor in my small home town who claimed I am mentally ill and spiritually dangerous. Both my ex and pastor worked hard to alienate my 3 adult children.
        I have a recording of my ex husband admitting to the rape, physical, verbal and emotional abuse over 30 yr.
        I also have a recording of the pastor telling a young couple who questioned why the wife had been warned not to associate with me. In the meeting he states the my ex was never an abusive husband or father.
        Fairly recently the pastor told my adult son and DIL that I had coerced his father into admitting things he never said. (How a survivor can make an abuser admit to a felony he didn’t commit is beyond me.)
        In the recording I clearly didn’t expect to have talked to the ex as I came to get the last of my things from the house. I had long before started recording all conversations to keep my sanity in the extreme gas lighting. I didn’t find the recording until 2 yrs later.
        After 5 yrs of skillful trauma work with a female Christian psychologist, my abusive marriage no longer shapes my thinking.
        I have read every book referenced above and was raised thoroughly steeped in Evangelical culture. I have had a master’s in counseling from a seminary for 30 yrs. I love the Lord deeply.
        All that said, I find Anonymous A’s comments disturbing. If he, as a man, doesn’t like Shiela’s tone or take for quite some time, he can move on to other resources.
        Instead, she has raised a crucial issue many Christian women struggle to correctly identify and respond to appropriately, marital rape and obligatory sex.
        Right out of the gate Shiela is expected to engage with and explain her survey to a man bringing criticism and concern. Exactly the kind of tone and passive agressive questioning my former husband would use
        Anon A, you are “raising concerns,” want to prove things with select Scripture and parse semantics in a logical sounding discussion.
        I believe you are missing the forest for the trees and somehow failing to empathize with the women for whom this podcast will be a sinificantly triggering and pivotal podcast.
        Shiela doesn’t owe you an explanation of her survey design. You can read it when the rest of us get the opporrunity as well.
        I object to your tone and timing in your comments cincerning Sheila’s materials. Your wife didn’t take the survey. You’ve been disgruntled for quite sometime. Your comments show neither love nor respect for fellow Christians dealing with a deeply painful and confusing area for many devoted wives.
        Words don’t need to be written in a strident tone to be damagimg or inappropriate.
        Love giving your books away and can’t wait to see all you learned from your survey, Sheila. Keep up your important work!

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Thank you, Sandy! I appreciate that. And thank you for all your support. I am so sorry for what you endured in your marriage, but I am so glad you had the foresight to record conversations.

  2. Nathan

    > > Are there really still people translating “you can say no sometimes” to “you don’t have to have sex ever”?
    It could be. This attitude is likely a version of the “take my ball and go home” attitude. That is, some people might say “well, if you won’t say YES every single time, then that means that you never want sex at all and I’ll just give up”.
    It’s a childish and selfish attitude, but it probably exists here and there.
    Most countries in the world outlaw marital rape, but some don’t.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think the problem actually is viewed the other way: “If we let women say no sometimes, then they won’t understand that they have to meet his sexual needs.” It’s a “if we give women an out, then men won’t get what they want.” I see that in the posts where men have said women have no right to say no during the postpartum phase, because it’s not “mutually agreed upon.” So you need two nos to say no, but only one yes to say yes. It’s really sick, but it’s very, very pervasive.

      • Nathan

        Sadly, that makes sense and is probably true in many cases.

        • Sarah O

          That’s one of the reasons I do appreciate all Sheilas efforts to redefine what sex is.
          It’s anxiety-inducing to have the definition be “something women exclusively have that men need to get from them.” It sets us up as offense/defense instead of on the same team.

      • Emmy

        They said WHAT?
        ” I see that in the posts where men have said women have no right to say no during the postpartum phase, because it’s not “mutually agreed upon.”
        So, they did not mutually agree to have a baby? It was only the wife who decided to become pregnant? In order to pester him and to refuse sex? And he had nothing to do with it?
        I thought it was one of the big mutual decisions when you get married: you will have children and you will become parents. And even if a pregnancy occurs without your planning it, as Christian parents it is your duty to receive the child and be parents. It is a commitment. A mutual one! And post partum periods are part of that commitment. You can’t have a baby without a post partum period.
        It seems that some guys still need education about Facts of Life.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Honestly, Emmy, I think some guys don’t care. Not most, but some. And Christian authors need to realize that those guys read their words, and interpret it through the lens of entitlement sex. And it fuels them. It’s so sad.

  3. Nathan

    Sheila says
    > > I put a LOT of disclaimers everywhere. I wish it weren’t necessary,
    Sadly, we live in a “disclaimer world” in many ways.

  4. Sarah O

    Would you also consider writing or linking to previous resources for wives who have great, supportive husbands but struggle with saying no, giving critical feedback, or have an internal belief in obligation sex?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It’s funny–that’s the chapter I’m editing for The Great Sex Rescue right now! I’ll try to write something else on it soon–we’re just so struggling to get this book in on time, and I’ve got most of the blog planned out for the next few weeks to give me some breathing room. But I’ll try!

      • Sarah O

        Thanks Sheila! No rush at all. Hope it’s a a good writing day! Let me know when the preorder link is up and running 😉

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That made me smile! 🙂

    • C

      I second this request!

  5. This is a Pseudonym

    Sheila, thank you so much for this! I was feeling like I could cry at the end of the podcast.
    Some things that stood out to me:
    Rebecca said that even if a woman can feel physical pleasure during a sexual encounter, that doesn’t mean it’s a positive things for her. This is so true! Even if you can get your wife to orgasm doesn’t mean she secretly wanted to have sex with you and she isn’t going to feel gross about it afterwards.
    Also what Rebecca said about it being right to not force your spouse to have sex with you even if it means they won’t want sex at all for a long time: YES! Do people that take issue with this think it’s more important that a man gets his “physical release” than he doesn’t pressure his wife into having sex? I understand why people would believe this, because I was taught (through Christian marriage books) that “do not deprive” meant never say no. It’s such a damaging teaching.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is indeed a damaging teaching! I’m so glad you liked the podcast. It was an important one, and Rebecca got really passionate about very good things!

    • Jane Eyre

      I’ve said this before, but the whole part about “needing” a “physical release” is inherently contrary to the notion of premarital chastity. As Christians, we expect that people will wait until they are married to engage in physical intimacy. You cannot square that with the idea that a man “needs a physical release,” because that need does not suddenly appear during marriage. It’s either different after marriage because it’s a mutual act that is intended to strengthen the marriage (although honestly, it’s so terrible for me that I feel like it just drives us apart), or it’s a physical release, in which case, we have no standing to tell young single men to do without for years and years.

      • Jo

        I may be too late to this discussion, but I think this is the idea that I have seen on TLHV that I have had the hardest time getting to compute for me. My husband abstained from sexual relations with women prior to marriage, but he masturbated frequently. My experience in marriage has been consistent with all the “bad” marriage advice in that I do think of ejaculation as a physical NEED for him. He frequently can’t sleep if he doesn’t, and once he does, he falls asleep immediately. As someone who has also struggled with insomnia, I concluded early in our marriage that if there was something my husband could do for me that would help me fall asleep, I would want him to do so. If I am wrong, I would love to be corrected, but I do see ejaculation (but not intercourse, often he doesn’t want it when he’s tired) as a physical need for at least my husband. Regarding the primary topic, I agree that consent is necessary, and my husband has never forced or coerced me. But I do think that if I don’t help him out, he will masturbate, and for some reason that makes me feel really bad. I don’t know if I am making too big of a deal of that?

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Hi Jo,
          That’s an excellent question, and I may feature it on a post or podcast soon. Lots to say about it, but I’d just like to highlight three things:
          1. It’s great that you’re showing genuine concern and love for your husband. Truly. That’s very admirable.
          2. There’s a bigger question, though, about whether he created this “need” in himself through masturbation. Has he developed some sort of sex addiction? Most people are able to sleep without daily sex. If he is not, then that could be because he spent so many years training himself to masturbate, and relying on masturbation to lead to sleep. One has to ask, then, if this is the best thing for your husband, or if it’s better to ask if the reliance on masturbation has actually hurt his life?
          3. Even if you’re happy helping him ejaculate, another question is how has masturbation affected how he views sex with you? Does he see it as intimate, or only a means to an end? Is sex mostly about his ejaculation, or is it a mutual, passionate experience?
          I’d ask those things first.

          • Jo

            I don’t know how much is his basic biology and how much is his own self-created habit. I truly think he is wired a bit differently; I don’t feel right sharing some details in a public forum, but I suspect that physically he is very different. I have never been with another person, so I don’t really know. I think we are dealing with a spectrum of challenges and I am not sure what is realistic to expect as far as change. And I really don’t know how typical or atypical we are. He doesn’t require release daily now that he’s older (or he might be masturbating at other times of the day and I am not aware of it). I think he’s embarrassed by his needs and doesn’t want to importune me if he can avoid it. I would like this to be something we are dealing with together and I feel like a failure when I discover he has masturbated, He’s a strong person and a kind and affirming husband in general, but I get the impression he would rather walk on hot coals than acknowledge that our sex life is less than stellar or really discuss interpersonal problems in general. I have asked him to read books, but it’s too much for him. Seeing a doctor or counselor is out of the question. I would like to take credit for being loving and caring, but the truth is, if he doesn’t sleep, I don’t sleep, and I want to go to sleep, too 🙂 Intimacy used to be completely one-sided in terms of physical pleasure, but we have made a little progress in the last few years and it’s better than it was. Those improvements have made me more hopeful and helped me to hang in there.

          • Jo

            Also wanted to add, for me, I framed it —am I treating him the way I would want to be treated? I don’t know, because I am not a man, but I have always imagined the need to ejaculate as feeling like the need to pee, you can put it off for a while, but then it gets desperate and at a certain point you lose physical control (at least that’s how I imagine a nocturnal emission). I imagine that my husband and I are on the road trip of life together and he tells me he needs to stop and pee. And if I am the driver and I tell him, too bad, I don’t have to go, you’re going to have to hold it… to me, that’s just about the most uncomfortable feeling I can imagine. Way more uncomfortable than a couple seconds of uncomfortable intercourse. But that’s us—if it were more prolonged or painful for me, I might feel differently.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Jo, it’s not that what you’re saying is wrong.
            It just sounds like a very small and lonely picture of what sex should be like. Where does mutuality come in? Where does intimacy? If it’s just a need he has or he will masturbate, and you simply want to prevent this, then it doesn’t sound like an act of love.
            Sex is a lot more than needing to ejaculate in the same way that we need to pee. Sex is supposed to be a deep and intimate longing to truly “know” each other. It sounds as if your husband’s masturbation habit has made sex very self-focused and very urgent for him, and it sounds like something precious may have been lost. If you’re not feeling as if you’re “known” when you make love, and if it doesn’t feel like making love but merely helping him ejaculate, then you are missing out, and perhaps that’s something worth talking to him about, or talking to a counselor about.

    • Christina Edwards

      I always understood “do not deprive” as do not make a habit of denying. Don’t let the marriage become sexless. Coerced sex or rape are not okay at all, they are sin, and obligation sex is not good, BUT…if a wife (or husband, to be fair) are frequently turning down sex without valid reasons, and that husband (or wife) is being patient, I believe they themselves are not showing their spouse sacrificial love. To make a habit of denying is selfish, even if you “aren’t in the mood”. It absolutely does NOT permit the spouse to force the issue or sin, but the denier is hurting their spouse by denying the loving physical connection that sex was designed for and that they may be needing. It’s fine to honestly tell your spouse, “I don’t really feel in the mood right now,” but don’t let that become the norm. If you truly care about your spouse, you will find ways to be intimate at least sometimes.
      And it is true that the reason husbands (and higher drive wives) swing to the “but if she (or he) has an out, it’ll never happen again” fear is because some people do take any out they can (give an inch and they’ll take a mile) and the marriage becomes sexless. Some people don’t really care about sex but are married to someone that does. That’s when they’ve got to find a healthy compromise and the low/no desire person may have to have sex at some point if they want to honor the marriage design. If you are in a normal, healthy marriage and you really love your spouse, you will find a way to “get in the mood” because you know they love you and need that intimacy with you!
      One other comment, let’s be careful as we assert that married sex is not to be about the husband’s ejaculation to remember that it’s just as much not about the wife’s orgasm either. If we’re going to be fair, let’s be fair. Married sex is about knowing intimacy together, not the climaxes.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Christina, that’s true that married sex is about knowing, not the climaxes. But women SHOULD climax. And if a man has never spent time learning how to bring his wife to climax, and if a woman has never felt like she deserved it, then that is not sex as God designed. (If they’ve never achieved it and they’re working on it, or if it only happens sometimes but they try, that’s different).
        Also, sometimes we do have to say no to sex when there’s a bigger marriage problem, like pornography or some kind of abuse. Sex is the culmination of intimacy; if the marriage is destructive, you should acknowledge that and deal with it.
        I completely agree that the low libido spouse should work on their issues and try to boost their libido (I wrote a whole course about it!). But what we found in our survey was that believing that sex was an obligation led to less marital satisfaction, more sexual pain, and fewer orgasms for women. This is not a healthy teaching. God does not want intercourse to be an obligation; instead, He sees healthy sexuality that is life giving as a vital part of marriage. (that’s how sex is seen in marriage–as about something that is mutual and life-giving, not soul-crushing). If you have libido issues or something else stopping you from having sex in an otherwise healthy marriage, work on those issues! But if you’re in an unhealthy marriage, or if your spouse is not caring about your pleasure at all, then those are the things that need to be dealt with first if you’re truly going to enjoy a life-giving, God honoring sexual life and marriage.

        • Christina Edwards

          I guess I have a skewed perspective as my husband and I have had a strong beautiful happy relationship and amazing sex life since the day we married. He’s always been generous, patient, understanding, and enthusiastic with me, so I can’t fathom a husband wouldn’t be that way! LOL I guess I have a very optimistic and generous view of married sex and how beneficial it is to have it even when I may not really feel up to it at first. I have had duty sex on occasion, but not out of any unhealthy sense of obligation or coercion…out of love and generosity for my husband because I know he loves me and needs that connection (if you buy into the Love Languages idea, his is physical touch). And usually I end up enjoying myself and very glad we did it. I do sometimes bow out, but I do not make a habit of it. As long as spouses care about each other and are trying to grow together they will do whatever they can to keep that intimacy alive and strong.

          • Sarah O

            Has anyone done the five love languages and NOT had the husband come up as a “physical touch” person? 😂

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            That actually sounds very much like my marriage, Christina! I would call it “duty sex” really, though, but more just kindness. I know he wants to, and even if I don’t at that moment, I know that with a good attitude I can turn it around and it will feel good for me.
            (And you’re very blessed that your husband has always cared about what you experience! Believe me, that is not the case for everyone, unfortunately).

        • Sexless

          Thank you. I was raped by my boyfriend … who got me pregnant … so I married him, since my family said I asked for it (I was a pretty naive teen)…in the marriage he got in the habit of seducing me… used porn…plied me with alcohol to get me to “satisfy him” … all in the name of obligation… 35+ years later it is a sexless marriage because of my physical and emotional pain … but we are finally “intimate” in the other realms. Will the sex come back? I don’t know … a lot of physical and emotional baggage! But I appreciate and love him more than ever now that I have permission to say no! I just wish we heard the truth decades ago! Could have prevented so much pain! And brought so much joy and pleasure!!

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, I’m so sorry for that terrible road you’ve had! What an awful mix of toxic teachings. I’m glad you’re able to finally be close to him in some ways. God is a God of reconciliation. He loves that more than anything. That is his heart. I pray that he will work on your husband to melt his heart towards you, and I pray that he will help you heal as well from all the harm. Bless you.

      • Madeline

        Christina, I think a huge reason why so many women have a low drive is because we’ve been taught that sex is about the man, sex is about his ejaculation, we can’t negotiate or find alternatives when something makes us uncomfortable or we’re depriving, etc etc etc. Generally, a lot of women have toxic views and even deep trauma around sex. So I recognize that some men are afraid to tell their wives they can say no, in case she does “take a mile” when given an inch, but to just *not* tell women that they have a choice is because of this is cruel. This only reinforces the same negative view of sex.
        Another commenter on the next post about teaching children consent raised the question: What is enjoyable about a forced hug that we force our kids to hug others when they don’t want to? Similarly, do men who desire loving and intimate sex really want to make their wives feel like they can’t say no? What would be so enjoyable about sex in that case?
        When I see comments like this, I’m like did you even listen to the podcast?

        • Christina Edwards

          I do believe that women need to have a choice for certain. And yes, consent is a very important topic that needs to be taught to all women and men. I certainly didn’t mean to be insensitive to those who have suffered trauma in relation to consent and martial rape. I was only responding to some things said in the podcast that could be misunderstood by some and taken to an unhealthy extreme. I want women to have wonderful sex lives with their husbands and their marriages be healthy and happy.

      • Madeline

        Sorry, Christina, it probably sounds like I’m picking on you and I do recognize that you clearly stated that you do not think coercion is okay, only that there is another side to the story and that is that refusing sex all the time is also not okay (correct me if that’s not a fair restatement of your position).
        I think I get fired up about this because I really see how the teaching that women have no choice in marriage CREATES many of the problems that lead women to have no sex drive. If we don’t first and foremost address that evil teaching that women don’t have a choice (which is rape), we won’t really be able to help women have a healthy sex drive. I know you said that you and your husband have a really happy sex life and that’s beautiful! But you couldn’t have that if you were married to someone who was coercive. I’m married to a man who has NEVER pressured or coerced me, but because I have a lot of trauma from my childhood I have to actively work through these things and seek true healing so that our sex life can be all that it can be. I actually *really* like sex! That’s how damaging sexual trauma is: I really do enjoy sex and I have an amazing husband and I STILL struggle sometimes. So when people make comments like “oh but women can’t just say no all the time” on a podcast about consent, it feels like they’re taking away from the importance of this central message, which is such a needed one.
        I truly believe that if we as a church (and even as a society) really get this consent thing down and make it a priority to teach everyone the importance of it, we can make huge strides in helping the women who don’t want to have sex at all.

      • This is a Pseudonym

        Here’s the thing: I think Christian women tend to want to do God’s will. Making women feel guilty for turning down their husband “too much” works. Women will agree to sex even if they really don’t want to because they’ll be a bad wife and Christian if they turn down their husband twice in a row. If you feel really guilty for saying no, how does that affect your ability to consent? Does that mindset build intimacy?
        I think a healthier approach, as Sheila has said before, is for the husband (or high drive wife) to get curious about WHY their spouse doesn’t want sex. If a man isn’t interested in sex, people assume there’s something off (porn, affair, health problems, stress, etc.). But if a woman isn’t interested, people assume it’s because she’s a woman. Why don’t we assume that there’s something wrong if a woman doesn’t want something that God created for her pleasure?
        I’m sure there are cases where a marriage is 100% healthy and happy but one spouse just doesn’t want sex more than once every two months. But is it really as common as we think? Or is there usually some underlying issue (trauma, damaging teaching, sex doesn’t feel good, spouse doesn’t treat them well, exhaustion, etc.) that needs to get resolved for healthy intimacy to be possible?

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          This is actually really true. In the surveys that we did, it’s clear that people start off marriage expecting to want sex, and then things happen and their libido gets killed. I think asking “why” is really important. In one of the chapters in our book, we’re looking at sexless marriages where the marriage is otherwise healthy (and someone is simply being selfish, or else they’re wounded and sex is either emotionally or physically painful), or else sexless marriages where the relationship is NOT emotionally healthy. And in those latter cases, there’s a reason that women don’t want sex, and if we addressed that, we’d get a lot further.

      • Jim

        As a man, I think that is so well said. Ironically, my experience is opposite of what Shelia is saying:
        First Wife: She would never agree that sex was an obligation and I never demanded sex. However, we had a sexless marriage and it drove me to despair, frustration, loss of confidence, etc. We tried therapy, discussed, etc. and I divorced after 15 years.
        Second Wife: She is more of the opinion that sex IS an obligation. Of course, I can handle “no”, but it is so rewarding when my attempts or romance, sweetness, kindness are met with sexual pleasure for both of us.
        I think there is so much about sex in marriage that can be applied to other aspects of the marriage such as communication, date night, each other’s interest, listening, etc. You should always be able to say “no” sometimes, but you can’t say “no” all of the time.
        Thanks Shelia for your work. I wish my first wife would have understood.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Jim, I’m so sorry about what you went through with your first marriage. That’s awful!
          In your second marriage, you say that your wife thinks sex is an obligation. I wonder if it’s more that your wife wants to prioritize sex? What you’re explaining sounds more like a healthy marriage. We don’t need to see sex as an obligation to be happy; we just have to see sex as a priority and something that is made for both of us.
          The problem with obligation is that it makes sex seem like a duty, as if you don’t matter. Saying “obligation” says, “no matter what I”m experiencing, I’ll ignore that because of your greater need for sex,” and that’s not healthy. But saying, “I believe God made sex to be a vital part of marriage where we each feel intimate and we each feel pleasure and I’m not going to miss out on that” is not seeing sex as an obligation but instead seeing sex as a gift. And I think that’s a healthy way to see it!

          • Jim

            Shelia – Perfectly said in that my 2nd wife sees it as a “priority” …. must better than my word choice of being an “obligation”.
            I also think as men we have to be smart enough to read the situation and know when its not the right time and be patient. In my first “sexless” marriage, it became such a monster that every rejection was like being denied a drink of water. It made me desperate which I now understand isn’t that sexy.
            Now in my second marriage where sex is a priority in our lives, its not hard to be patient because I know it will happen sometime in the near future.
            Thanks for helping us understand this complicated dynamic!

  6. Emily

    Another thing I’ve always thought of from the OT is that men (and women, obviously) were required to abstain during periods, AND men were ceremonially unclean after an emission. This was part of God saying sex should not be obsessed over! God never implied that sex was only for the men or that it should be done out of obligation at any point, but He did heavily imply that everyone needed to be careful about when they had sex and not just treat it like the man could do whatever to a possibly unconsenting wife and then go worship in the temple right after. It was always meant to be something sacred and blood was always meant to be respected as a representation of life that could have been. I have terrible periods and my husband probably wouldn’t want to do anything that would end up messy anyway. He’s perfectly fine with waiting a week and having even better sex at the end of it after that wait! I hate reading Christian books that say you can’t refuse for any reason (always based on 1 Corinthians) because it’s such a blatantly unbiblical belief.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So true, Emily! I think the modern evangelical view that men are incapable of remaining mentally pure during her period is just so OFF. It has no relation to the gospel whatsoever. And the idea that men are incapable of holding off on sex during her postpartum period is so insulting to men, too. We can think more of men. We really can.

      • Madeline

        I’ve actually wondered how the same men who write these terrible teachings don’t feel insulted. I think its pretty sexist to view men as so animalistic that their self-control completely goes out the window when he has to go without sex for a matter of days. That sounds so piggish.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Exactly! I think I think higher of men than many of these authors do. I believe that men can have the Holy Spirit and be transformed, redeemed, and Christlike.

  7. Madeline

    I could cry this whole podcast is so amazing! Thank you all so so much!
    I love so many aspects of this. I love that y’all repeatedly stated that if your ability to say ‘no’ is taken away, your ‘yes’ is meaningless. Its really so simple and so foundationally important.
    I also find it so healing and beautiful that you two actually brought Jesus himself into the conversation, rather than making the mistake of ONLY referring to the “do not deprive” verses written by Paul. I remember as a young girl asking my mom if God liked men better than women. These terrible teachings (that Rebecca rightfully called evil) basically tell women that they don’t matter. The church’s treatment of women and sexual assault victims was at the core of my struggle when I used to question my own faith as a young adult. As both a woman and a sexual assault victim, it felt like no one in the church genuinely cared about my pain. While what happened to me was *not* in the context of marriage, I have been very aware of the way Christian teachers treat choice and sex in marriage and I couldn’t believe that a good god would be okay with me (or anyone!) experiencing that same trauma I felt, regardless of their marital status. Yet when I read about who Jesus was in the gospel, I don’t see someone who views himself as more important than women or who would minimize the horror of sexual assault (for either gender!). Jesus was someone who saw women as people he would sacrifice his very life for, even when no one else in that culture even saw women as people.
    It means more than I can even put into words to hear you two, Christian leaders who have reach and influence, denounce these teachings as pharisaical and antithetical to the gospel itself. It means so much to me as a woman and a survivor to hear a Christian podcast treat the subject of consent with the gravity and dignity that it requires. Thank you so much.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Thank you, Madeline. You have no idea how much comments like this mean to us.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Madeline, that brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for that. I’ll make sure Rebecca reads this, too.
      It all comes back to Jesus. Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:20: I resolved to know nothing while I was among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
      We have to bring it back to the cross. This week, as I’ve been writing The Great Sex Rescue, I’ve been trying to fully anunciate a cross-centred view of sex. What does that look like? And I’ll tell you–it looks nothing like obligation sex or marital rape!
      I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through, too, Madeline. I’m so sorry.

  8. Nathan

    > > I remember as a young girl asking my mom if God liked men better than women.
    That is so heartbreaking. Not that you asked the question, but the fact that you were raised in a church that made you think that it might be true.

    • Madeline

      Yeah Nathan, that’s something that actually became a stumbling block to my very faith in God. Thank you for compassion regarding that.

  9. Bethany#2

    This made me think of the first month of marriage and how far we’ve come together! I was putting myself under the pressure of frequent obligation sex, and he kinda was too! We were scared of hurting each other, but it got so much better after we had the frequency discussion. We learned a rythm of how far apart we both prefer and now we don’t worry if something happens to change it.
    Deciding to mentally purge obligation/duty sex was extremely freeing and has made the quality go up! I realize now, that marital rape was the thing I was so unconsciously terrified of. I completely 200%, thought that good men turned into sexual animals towards their wives.
    And I was willing to sacrifice for my safety, to only be victimized by one man.
    Now I hope I can spare my daughter and younger sister from believing that.
    Thank you Sheila for building the path I’m on, into deep intimacy with my husband.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Bethany, that’s so heartbreaking but also so insightful! Thank you for sharing, and I’m so glad you’re on a better path now.

  10. Madeline

    I’m still thinking about the podcast today and I wanted to add that I never thought of the pharisees exactly the way Rebecca characterized them before. I think about something being pharisaical if it is legalistic or adds complications to the point that it becomes more of a burden rather than a help. I’ve also heard people describe churches as ministries as having a ‘pharisee spirit’ because ‘they focus more on head knowledge over relationship.’ All these are true, but perhaps the very heart of what it means to be like a pharisee is to take use one’s position of power to take advantage of the vulnerable. Something about that gives me chills. This is what it means to be a white-washed tomb full of death.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think that really is it. If you think about it, what is the purpose of rules? It’s so that people know who the “in” crowd is. And if you can be responsible for making the rules, you can make sure the rules affect those other than you. And you can also police the rules, while also making up rules so that people can’t police you. Rules are a way of keeping power.
      It all comes back to Matthew 20:25-28: ““You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

  11. Anonymous this time

    I am feeling really conflicted right now. I agreed with nearly everything in the podcast until the end when Rebecca started ad hominem attacks. So you’re a man in a sexless marriage? Well that means you don’t care about marital rape! Huh? Rebecca, being concerned about the travesty of marital rape (which yes I believe is real) and mourning the millions of sexless marriages out there, are not mutually exclusive. Being concerned with marital rape does not preclude you from being saddened and troubled by sexless marriages. Accusing men who are in a sexless marriage of bad character because what? Their priorities are out of wack? So you’re in a sexless marriage? Well just go help marital rape victims and you’re character will improve and you won’t care about your sexless marriage anymore? Uh, Rebecca, i think you jumped the shark there.
    Also, on a separate note. I really didn’t appreciate the way you spoke of wet dreams. I understood your point, that if the male body truly just needs to release it will happen in your sleep and isn’t that wonderful? I found that tone really harsh and shaming to men who have had to deal with it like myself. Atleast with masturbation you can control where the mess goes. Not so with a wet dream. My wet dreams are made worse by the fact that i will sometimes follow a wet dream (all while asleep) with wetting the bed. Big humiliating mess. I feel rather certain that you didn’t intend to shame anyone but your almost giddy, not a big deal, tone was very condescending.

  12. Rachael

    While I generally agree that, you can’t truly say yes if you can’t also say no, this is not alway the case. Sometimes you feel like you can’t say no but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your yes is invalid because your feelings are not always telling you the truth.

  13. Mhmc

    The sexless marriage topic always seem to focus on the wife who refused her husband, making him out to be a victim to an inconsiderate and controlling wife. This was the rhetoric I heard over and over in my twenties. So when my husband refused me, over and over, year after year- I became desperate for answers. I read many books- including love and respect. After years of these types of influences, my conclusion became: if I don’t submit, if I don’t work at being the perfect wife, if I don’t mark all the check boxes for what makes the ideal Christian wife- then my husband wouldnt want me- all of me- and he wouldn’t love me. In the end, he continued to reject me, and I continued to believe it was because I couldn’t be the wife I was expected to be. They say a sexless marriage is less than 10 times a year. I lived in a marriage where it was only 2 or 3 times a year- and 0 times the last 2 years. He eventually left, and I was left to believe I was defective. I didn’t know about this blog until after he left me. I really wish I had known about it years ago- I really needed to hear these things in the first years of marriage.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry. So very sorry. That’s really difficult. I hope that you are in a better place now. And what those books said being a perfect wife was was actually a very warped version. Just be who God made you to be. Run after Jesus, whether you’re single or married, and spur one another on to love and good deeds, because that’s the point!

  14. Marie

    This topice was so timely for me! I went into marriage super excited about sex and then found it incredibly frustrating. I tried learning everything I possibly improve things, but after 16 years, I was feeling incredibly discouraged. I didn’t realize how much pressure I was putting on myself to “fulfill my duty” to my husband, and to “be a godly wife” by always being available even when it was at best uncomfortable and sometimes painful. But finally I found that the times I could actually feel passionate and mutually enjoy sex was when my husband verbalized that he was totally willing to wait until I felt ready.
    And it was important for me to hear it from him without joking about having a sexless marriage or sending out vibes about how hard it was for him to be waiting. In the past month or so, I’ve been struggling again with complete lack of desire for sex and just now realized that it’s the sense of obligation that is killing my sexual desire again. Now I know what we need to talk about and I see a way forward. This post is truly an answer to prayer.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I’m so glad, Marie! Thank you for sharing that. I pray that things will be wonderful for you soon! Sex really was meant to be great for us, and don’t give up until you get there.

  15. Estelle

    Such a valuable conversation, thank you.
    I think something Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount is applicable, about your yes being yes and your no, no(Matt 5v37). It seems that many of these marriage advisors wish wives to lie and say yes to sex when in truth they want, and need, to say no.
    My own understanding of the verse about not depriving one another is that Paul was dealing with the situation where one spouse was saying, essentially, to the other ‘I’m too holy for your bod’ ( apologies to Right Said Fred) and refusing to have sex, ever, out of a mistaken belief that sex was bad and abstinence good. This idea was probably an understandable reaction to the Corinthian/Greco-Roman culture of sexual excesses and needed to be brought into balance with being sex being seen as part of a healthy mutual relationship between the spouses. I do not feel Paul is here forbidding couples from saying no for reasons unrelated to prayer life. There are many reasons for refusing sex unrelated to prayer but just as valid. I think that this verse is being misused to coerce women into sex.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love how applicable the “let your yes be yes” is! I’d never thought of it that way before, but that’s really neat.
      And, yes, I’ve read that, too, about the early church thinking that sex was less holy, and so pledging to go without sex. That really is not the same thing that is happening here, and I do believe that Paul would be appalled to see how his words have been twisted.

  16. Anonymous N

    First time reader/listener to this podcast. I was actually looking for the one that allows the woman to be the gate keeper of sex and wanting to know what that entailed and happened upon this one. I am 20 years out of a sexually, and emotionally and eventually physically abusive relations with my ex husband whom I had two kids with. I am still healing. I am now with and have been for 18 years a good man with a normal sex drive, which I’m not use to still. We we both were healing from bad relationships. Anyway, my life before consisted of constant manipulation with him using the Bible as his platform and saying I needed to be subservient and do as he says whenever and however he says. There were other abuses going on at the time but this was his drug. To give a light example my daughter who was 3 with asthma, pneumonia and staph was put in the hospital for two weeks. He told me the only way he would visit her was if I had sex with him. I didn’t and so he never showed. I found out after I told his mom I was leaving him she told me to watch out for the kids. She said he would have oral sex with his younger sister nightly for ten years. I was lost. I later found out that he had sexually abused our oldest daughter. Point is 20 years later I still feel insignificant. My husband tries and I am better than I was but I’m not where I need to be. I don’t feel attractive. I feel like a tool that gets used. No matter how hard my husband tries. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy it sometimes. I’m saying I’m still finding who I am. My husband isn’t great at verbalizing what he feels but he’s trying. I feel like I let him down. I know it’s my own head trip but I wonder why it’s taking me so long to get through this and find my footing. My husband had adopted my two girls and I did his as well long ago. We’ve been a family for almost 18 years. My daughter whom he abused just graduated with her degree in psychology. My ex and his family never made an attempt to connect in 15 years. I suppose that’s a lot of info but need advice or a resource to help me heal from the pain and guilt from that life?

    • Deborah

      On the topic of the right to say no. What would you say to both husband and wife agreeing to always say yes to each other? Is this a healthy idea or could it possibly lead to negative mind set and sex?

      • Charissa

        I would not recommend this agreement – I think it sets a marriage up for unhealthy interactions and duty sex. If you promise that you will ALWAYS say yes, then you can never say no – even if you are postpartum, even if you are sick, even if you are feeling distant. That WILL lead to duty sex, and it can increase anxiety between partners. Also, if you feel your partner can never say no, if you are kind, you will only want to initiate when you are SURE they want it, and that creates a whole weird indirect dynamic where you are trying to read each other before initiating instead of just communicating without pressure what you would enjoy. My husband and I have a fabulous sex life, but I honestly think one of the most key moments for us was the complete LACK of pressure policies we instituted. Very early on when we had tried something new that we talked about beforehand, afterwards he told me, “I really enjoyed doing that with you. And if you think about it later, and you never want to do that again, you just let me know.” I actually loved what we had decided to try, but in that moment I knew our mutual pleasure would always be more important than a particular act – which gave me a LOT of freedom to explore. In addition to this baseline policy, we also have a rule that any person can pull the plug on anything at any time. As a result, I have had ZERO pain in sex ever, and neither of us have pressure to orgasm if we decide we don’t want to (this is pretty rare, but every once in a while it happens that one of us if like – “I just don’t want to get there tonight, let’s make this about you”). These agreements create an environment where both of us feel incredibly safe, and both of us have experienced only pleasure in sex. We say yes a lot because we love being intimate together, and it is a priority for us. But I would NEVER ask my husband to agree to something like that, and I think it could definitely lead to unhealthy dynamics.

  17. Kim P

    I haven’t even listened to the podcast yet (can’t wait!), but as I read through this post I felt deeply grateful for you both ~ for your courage, authenticity and honesty in tackling this subject that no one seems to want to face head on. It’s so vital! This is not a side issue! I hope and pray one day this is normalized, as in as much as we talk ab purity, modesty etc we talk ab this and it’s completely normal and a healthy part of the discussion ab sex in marriage. You ladies are pioneers, and I know you’ve gotten a lot of flack! But keep on…. the vision and hope of the future being a safer, healthier place is right here in these conversations and standing up for Truth, standing up for the way Jesus lived His life on this earth, caring for and protecting the vulnerable and leading with Love. You clearly have the heart of Christ in all of your posts, and you have helped me immensely. Thank you!

  18. Charissa

    I know I’m late to this comment party, but Sheila, I just wanted to say thank you for this work. I got married later in life (age 36) and as a result I watched a LOT of my younger married friends’ sex lives suffer as a result of this messaging. I myself was engaged to a spiritually abusive man who used Love and Respect to turn the Bible into a weapon against me. Fortunately I was eventually able to see through that nonsense, called that wedding off, and am now married to one of the kindest humans I have ever known. But I know first hand how damaging that book is. When I started reading Christian sex books before my marriage, I was surprised at how truly terrible they were. One of my friends recommended Sheet Music, and I could only get through part of it before I threw it out and asked my therapist – are there ANY Christian sex books that believe women have sex drives and actually want to experience sexual pleasure?! Who don’t believe ONLY husbands have sex drives and women should give them sex to get emotional needs met? Who talk at ALL about women’s sexual pleasure? She recommended some books by the Penners, which were pretty good, but the overall Christian take on women and sex was SO disappointing, and many of these books have incredibly harmful messaging. I honestly considered changing careers and going into sex therapy because of my friends’ experiences and because the books were so bad. My husband and I have had a fabulous sex life from the beginning – mostly because I worked hard to deconstruct a LOT of purity culture before we got married. But I was SO GRATEFUL to find your blog as a resource for engaged couples. It is amazing to me how many people are calling you out for your tone – as if Christian books approving of situations that amount to marital rape should be less bothersome than addressing that teaching forcefully. I appreciate that you have put your focus on helping women who have been damaged – rather than tiptoeing about famous authors. Keep up the good work, and thanks for wading into these necessary conversations.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much, CHarissa! And you’re right–the books truly are terrible. In our upcoming book The Great Sex Rescue we’re going to mention them all by name, with plenty of quotes, to show how problematic many of them are, and to call the church to more. Let’s rescue the church from these messages and reframe them to what is truly biblical. It’s so sad that there have been so few wise books. I don’t understand it–except that I think the church is far too focused on gender roles than it is on marital intimacy.

  19. Diana Winkler

    Very well said. I used to have all of those horrible books. Tossed them when I left my abuser!
    Good friends of mine, a missionary family in Australia, just got a divorce. I used to hang out with them all the time. They were mentors, in fact. Little did I know that the wife was being forced by her husband to have sex several times a day. He’d say it was forbidden for her to refuse him. She finally filed for divorce, which was forbidden. Her 7 children were spread out all over the globe as missionaries. All of them but one supported her decision. Her oldest son, one who went to school with me, denied she was raped or abused and claimed she was sinning against God etc. She even went on Dateline to expose her husband’s sin. The sending church was dragged through the mud, even though they tried to help her. The oldest son looked like a nut job in the way he talked about submission and sex in marriage. I almost didn’t recognize him. She has a new life and looks happy. I saw a picture of her wearing pants on the beach, which was the first time I’ve ever seen her in pants. Yes, you can say no!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, were they on TV in Australia? The one where the son wouldn’t admit there could be rape in marriage? I saw that. It was stunning. Absolutely stunning. And they were missionaries from the U.S., right? So sad.

  20. Kimberley

    Thank you so much for bringing these things up. My husband and I were in couples therapy for 6 months before my therapist realized it was doing more damage than good. He is really set in his ways surrounding views of “Biblical” male headship, and all of these ideas that you mention from these damaging books. It was fairly early in our marriage that I started having constant yeast infections. One right after the other with no relief in between. Initially my husband would be understanding around this, but as time went on, he would make statements like “ok this is ridiculous… we can’t live like this”. So, because of guilt, I would just do it anyway even though it was painful/uncomfortable, or I’d make up some other excuse because I just didn’t know how to come to terms or explain this condition not going away. I felt gross and embarrassed and that he would just think I didn’t love him if I didn’t serve him in this way. I could only keep this up for so long, and then made more and more excuses to avoid it. It has only been this year, 20 years into our marriage, that I found out I have an underlying rare disease (lichen sclerosis) that contributed to and sometimes masqueraded as yeast infections. It is very rare and easy to miss. Unless treated, it never goes away. It has now been almost three years since we have had sex. At some point, my husband just gave up. I am thankful that he has not pressured me physically or crossed any physical boundaries like some have described, but he has also given up on having any kind of emotional connection with me as well. I’m only now realizing though that the things he has said to me regarding our lack of a sex life has not only wounded me, but made me completely aversive to sex. Where there may have been a way to navigate this together and find some solutions, his response to this problem has completely shut me down. Here are some things that he has said:
    – Sometimes in the past when I’ve asked him to do something for me or help me in some way, he will, but then he’ll say something like “you know, sometimes we just do things for someone else even though we don’t feel like it because we love them”. In other words, he is doing this thing he really doesn’t want to do for me, so I in turn should learn from this and apply this principle to sex. All this has done for me is make me stop going to him for help or things I need, because if I’m not doing that for him, why should he do that for me?
    – He hasn’t said anything recently but he used to come to me to confess anytime he would watch porn. At first I was thinking that this was him feeling bad and wanting to come to me to ask for forgiveness… but now that I think back, maybe it was him saying “see what happens when I don’t get regular sex?”
    – Sometimes we would talk about the issue. I didn’t know how to put it into words or explain that YES, I loved him.. and I don’t know why or what my problem is around sex. His response would be something like this “This isn’t some complicated thing. It’s something you do because you love me. You want to show me you love me…. so just do it. It isn’t rocket science.” Or… “it’s easy, the solution to not having sex…. Is to just have sex”.
    – This hasn’t happened in a long while, but he would hint around that even if I didn’t feel like it, I could do sexual favors. “There are other ways of doing things”.. he would say. To do this with someone you have absolutely no emotional connection with feels so wrong.
    My therapist validated me and explained how all these things are still a form of sexual coercion and are extremely unhealthy. While a sexless marriage is also unhealthy, a sexual relationship can’t resume until emotional connection is restored. This will have to nvolve my husband breaking down some of his ideas. Even then, I can’t imagine having a desire for sex again. It seems so far off… needing a miracle.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Kimberley, I’m so sorry that you’ve walked through this, and that your marriage has been so harmed by toxic teaching from the church. I pray that your husband can soften his heart towards you, and also that your condition can improve. Lichen sclerosis is not fun, and really is very painful. I’m sorry that you’re going through this!
      It sounds like you have a wise counselor, though, who is aware of these things now, and I hope that they will help you figure out a way forward.
      Thank you for sharing your story!

  21. scott

    how do Christian men / pastor get the idea women are second class citizens at best look no farther then whats written in the bible a book written by men in the bronze age
    “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male slave, his female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything which belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21)
    The wife is classified as her husband’s property, and so she’s listed with the slaves and work-animals. No were is it said do not covet thy neighbors husband
    living with a contentious woman is terrible, but never say the same about a contentious man (Proverbs 25:24
    a Hebrew sage named Ben Sira wrote “the birth of a daughter is a loss” and “better is the wickedness of a man than a woman who does good.”
    I could go on and on with this, but i think you get the point.

      • scott

        sheila, I didn’t realize the podcast was as long as it was , but anyway I caught the last half later
        this is more of IMO/ observation, you had made a statement at one point that men need to learn to have sexual control and learn to keep it there pants, as you so eloquent put it
        from my experience in the church there are plenty of christian women that can’t keep it in there pants or there dress ( some on the same ratio as men)
        women watching porn is one of the biggest growing demographics for it, and as far as affairs also almost even to men. (this self reporting of coarse so the numbers are probably higher.) (my apologies if this isn’t you that made the statement )

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Scott, definitely the demographic of women watching porn is the fastest growing one.
          However, at least four times as many Christian men report watching porn as Christian women. Not saying that it isn’t a female problem too, but just that it still is predominantly men.

  22. Ashley

    I have commented before but I have never been notified about replies in my email, and I can’t find my original comment.
    I am conflicted. My husband claims he has stopped watching porn and I believe him, HOWEVER, he now watches sexual videos of ME that I have allowed him to take over the years.
    I have no idea how many videos there are (probably close to 100) or how often he watches them. It’s a whole sexual experience he has with my image that I am not a part of. It honesty makes me feel like a whore, that I am in pornographic videos.
    I initially allowed it because I was terrified he would go back to watching porn with other women in it. I kind of shut it out – didn’t want to think about it. But I realize he just replaced those women with me, but the behavior is still the same, right?
    Is it okay for husbands to take sexual videos of their wives? Can that work in a godly marriage, and if so, what would it look like? I just don’t know if I can be comfortable with it.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Ashley, I’m sorry for this. It sounds as if he still has a very pornographic view of sex. And it also sounds like you are not currently consenting to him watching these videos of you. I think it’s perfectly okay to say, “this is making me uncomfortable. You need to see me as an object to get aroused, rather than seeing me as a person. We need help with this.” Then delete the videos (they are yours; you have every right to) and please see a licensed therapist with sex addiction training. Or read the books Surfing for God or The Sexually Healthy Man. These show how the issue is often at the very root of who he is as a person, and it needs to be dealt with, rather than just quitting porn.


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