PODCAST: When Does Explicit Sex Advice Become Gross?

by | Apr 16, 2020 | Uncategorized | 83 comments

Podcast: When Christian Sex Advice Becomes Gross
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Instructional sex advice is wonderful in Christian books.

But sometimes explicit crosses the line.

In last week’s podcast, we read The Act of Marriage so you didn’t have to! And in this week’s podcast, we want to look at a broader theme about why sometimes you can be reading a book, and think, “eeeewwwww.” We’re going to be reading some passages from Sheet Music by Kevin Leman, and look at how explicit can become too explicit when you start using weird euphemisms and emotionally-laden language.

For our upcoming book The Great Sex Rescue, we read all the best selling Christian books about sex and marriage, and rated them on 12 different aspects of healthy sexuality teaching. Sheet Music scored middle of the pack. It wasn’t a terrible book, by any means at all (The Gift of Sex scored really, really well, by the way!). But there were some disturbing elements that we talk about today:

By the way, we recorded THIS one before we recorded the one on the Act of Marriage, and I originally intended that to be a 2-week podcast with both Becca & Connor, but it didn’t work out that way. So my intro is a little off! But you know what I mean. 🙂

WARNING: We’re going to be reading REALLY explicit passages on the podcast so that Rebecca can react to them. Please don’t listen with children near, or if you find this difficult, maybe skip this one!

Main Segment: When Does Explicitness Cross a Line?

Here’s what we decided. Explicit, in and of itself, isn’t bad. It’s actually good! When you talk about different body parts, and how to stimulate them, etc., all is peachy keen.

The problem comes when you add in emotionally laden words. Kevin Leman in Sheet Music gives very explicit, detailed instructions on sex, which sound voyeuristic. Ideas about what works well, or different things you can try, are all great. Treating sex like a paint-by-number, where you do A,B,C, and then D happens, cross a line. It’s hard to define that, so I read it to Rebecca and just got her emotional reaction. 

Christians have a difficult time talking about sex. I know–I’ve had to do it from the stage for years when I give my Girl Talk. But we have to find the right balance between not making something sound shameful, but also not making others uncomfortable. Keeping things explicit without verging into the personal seems a good balance. (and seriously–we had to give examples in this podcast to show what we were talking about, but it was super awkward. This is REALLY too explicit).

Because it’s mostly men who write about sex for couples, too, I think it’s important that men listen to what women find uncomfortable, and honour women when they’re writing. We conducted three different focus groups about this topic yesterday, and had some great feedback that we’ll be including in our book.

But listen in and tell us what you think, too!

Reader Question: Is it wrong for me to imagine our wedding night?

A woman writes in with a two-part question about her upcoming wedding–whether it’s okay to delay it; and whether it’s okay to think about the wedding night. She asks:

I am engaged to an amazing godly man. I can’t wait to marry him! But also, we were trying for a short engagement but I asked to make it longer because I just feel emotionally unready. I have moved a lot lately, finished studies, am looking for a job, and with so many changes and money being tight I didn’t want to get married just yet. I like to feel settled. But i also just don’t feel ready to make this massive jump! How can I emotionally prepare for marriage? We are going to start some premarital counselling with a pastor and his wife soon which I hope will help.

Second of all is really personal. I am so keen to have sex, I feel like I have a really high sex drive which is great! Except we’re not able to express it yet. Which I’m okay with, but I find myself imagining our wedding night. Is that wrong? And how can I stop? I feel like it’s lusting but I don’t know how to prepare physically for marriage without thinking through what I’m looking forward to / what will he like / what to wear etc. I don’t want to justify my actions though.”

Okay, first part: how do you feel emotionally ready for marriage?

If you feel like you should delay, you likely should. And then take this time to really work on how to connect emotionally and how to make sure you really know each other. I’ve got some posts that can help here:

Now, the second part about imagining your wedding night.

I don’t think you should obsess over it or deliberately daydream, but I do think that it’s natural. Don’t beat yourself up over it, but don’t feed it.

But there are benefits to thinking about how things will go and knowing what to expect, which is why I do advise reading The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and also taking a look at our Honeymoon Prep Course It’s got some great videos you can watch together (or separately if you’d prefer) and then discussion questions to talk about together.

Are you ready for the honeymoon you always dreamed of?

The Honeymoon Course is here to help you plan the perfect honeymoon and start your marriage (and your sex life!) off with laughter, joy and fun!

Don’t make the same mistakes other couples have–get it right from the beginning! 

Finally, some other posts on this:

Reader Question: We can’t reach orgasm without me touching myself

Okay, here’s another reader question about newlyweds! And this one shows I don’t mind getting explicit. Seriously. There’s just no reason to call a clitoris a “tender little friend.”

But this woman asks:

I’m reaching out with a “problem” that my husband and I have been trying to navigate. I got married in the fall and had a lovely wedding/wedding night. Our sex life has been great and we’re enjoying learning as we go. There’s one thing, however, we can’t quite figure out. For the first couple of months, my husband wasn’t able to get me to orgasm at all. We decided to try me touching myself on the honeymoon with him there and working up from there. That worked just fine but our goal of getting him physically involved wasn’t successful. About a month ago, we found out him rubbing my g-spot while I rub my clitoris works like a charm and gets me there a lot faster than I was used to. The problem is that I still can’t reach my point unless my hand is somehow involved. We’ve seemingly tried it all and while oral is nice, it doesn’t get me to orgasm. Is there any way that my husband can stimulate my g-spot and clitoris simultaneously so that’s we can get over this hurdle? We’re both getting a little discouraged. Thanks in advance! (Ps: Before marriage, I rarely, if ever, touched myself. It was only when I was engaged and reading up on stuff that I started trying to figure myself out)

Okay, such a common issue!

My quick take: First, don’t feel like a failure. You’re able to orgasm; that’s wonderful! If you’re both feeling good, enjoy that. We don’t have to live up to an ideal.

I’ve got some specific advice on the podcast about how to give him feedback about how you need to be touched, and also how to silence the voices inside of our heads that are telling us, “it’s taking too long and he must be getting bored.”

Also, pay attention to your body yourself when you’re stimulating yourself, because some women, right before orgasm, tense up and stop breathing. Some keep breathing and relax. Everyone’s different. But know what you naturally do, because often we’re not as natural when someone else is stimulating us, and that impedes it, too.

Listen in to some more advice! And here are some more posts that can help:

When Explicit Christian Sex Advice becomes gross to women: Kevin Leman's Sheet Music

Okay, that’s it for today. Let me know in the comments: What do you think of a book that gives these sort of explicit, prescriptive instructions? Or what would you say to the young woman wondering about imagining her wedding night? Let’s talk in the comments!

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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83 Comments

  1. Nathan

    As you like to say, Sheila, be adventurous and don’t be afraid to try new things. On the other hand, anything harmful or dangerous should be avoided. And of course for Christians, anything outside of marriage should be avoided as well.
    Basically, my short definition of “gross” is anything that either partner feels uncomfortable with. We’ve discussed before how girls raised as Christian are often taught there’s a while list of things that “nice girls” don’t do. So while nobody should feel compelled to do something that they just don’t want to do, I would encourage people to explore the reason WHY they aren’t comfortable with something. Is it because it’s really bad? Or is it just because you’ve been taught that you aren’t supposed to like it?
    Overall, I’d say make each other happy, have boundaries when you need them, but don’t be afraid to push into new territory

    Reply
    • Recovering from betrayal

      Thank you for addressing the leman book. It was pushed really hard in the women’s group at church when it came out and I tried to get behind it – even gave it as gifts to newlyweds- but just couldn’t read it without feeling creepy. So glad for the validation today!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I really think that women need to feel welcome to announce when something is creepy. So often pastors recommend something, and then women feel as if we can’t speak up. Or we assume it’s good because the pastor says it is, and then we question ourselves.
        But it’s okay to say no to something you find creepy! It really is. We’ll be talking about that more on next week’s podcast, too.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree, Nathan.
      In this case, what was gross was just the way he was talking about things. It wasn’t the acts themselves, or anything like that. It was the way they were being talked about. Treating women as if we are paint-by-numbers when it comes to sex is really creepy. It just felt very “off”. And Rebecca’s reaction was even stronger than my own!

      Reply
      • Sandra M

        Yes, Leman makes it sound very mechanical and porn-ish all rolled up in one!! And boastful too – Ewwwww! It’s somehow impersonal, objectifying, and all about this-part, that-part, the way he says it. We aren’t a collection of parts, AND each woman has different likes/dislikes and preferences – and we are all different shapes and sizes. Not everything is comfortable for every person. Your books are light-years better, without a doubt!

        Reply
  2. Active Mom

    Great post today! I just want to chime in that I love the photo you used. The woman’s expression says it all.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you! 🙂 Yes, I love that stock photo, too. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Andrea

    I’m so glad you addressed this book. I also appreciate your charitable attitude towards the author (he probably doesn’t mean to be offensive). When he says to women who feel insecure about their bodies to “try to begin listening to the man who loves you rather than all the men who want to sell you something,” like fashion magazines and clothing, that’s great. But that is preceded with: “Maybe your problem isn’t being flat-chested. On the contrary, you’ve become a victim of gravity, and you feel like your husband would need to be a weight lifter to keep your breasts from falling down, should you remove your bra.” I call it locker room talk for Christians, whether it’s bragging about your technique or dissecting a women’s body for imperfections.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that is really gross. There’s a lot of gross things in there.
      I also think some of it would be funny if said by a fellow woman, but is just completely inappropriate from a man. That’s part of the problem of Christian resources thinking that it is only men who can write to couples, or that it’s okay for a man to speak to couples. It’s like the difference between the FamilyLife USA marriage conferences and the FamilyLife Canada marriage conferences. In Canada, we’ve had couples speaking for 30 years. Never just a man on stage. But in the U.S., it’s still common for just a man to speak, and then for a couple team to do some of the other talks. So men can speak to couples, but women can’t. And that means that a whole perspective is often missing–and it creates really inappropriate things like this.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I also still laugh at the irony of that one big-name male author refusing to endorse The Good Girl’s Guide because I didn’t understand women the way he did! 🙂

        Reply
        • Andrea

          Yeah, talk about mansplaining! There was also that time on the blog when Rebecca wrote about what turned women on and some guy disputed it. The two of you addressed it on a subsequent podcast.
          I don’t mean to be too charitable to men (men up, men!), but they are socialized since a young age to speak about women’s bodies in an inappropriate way that is so common it doesn’t even register. When I re-read his passage on gravity and women’s bodies, I thought, does gravity not affect men? How come sex books written by women don’t make jokes about gravity and E.D., pecs turning into man-boobs, sagging testicles, etc. etc. ? I’m not saying they should, but it may give men a hint as to what it feels like. Let’s all be respectful towards each other. Even with ourselves. I agree with you that people should only make fun of themselves (so a woman commenting on her own aging is OK), but even that is sometimes painful to read/watch. Let’s respect the bodies God gave us and, as another commenter once brilliantly said, treat them as instruments instead of ornaments.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Amen, Andrea! I think when we’re disparaging of ourselves it’s one thing (talking about how my hot flashes are affecting me, for instance), but when we get to disparaging others, or disparaging the other gender, that’s just crossing a real line. And even with ourselves, it’s fine to laugh about the foibles, but it’s not fine to laugh about feeling shame you aren’t supposed to feel in the first place. We’re all supposed to give each other grace, and that includes giving ourselves grace.

  4. Nathan

    > > In this case, what was gross was just the way he was talking about things. It wasn’t the acts themselves, or anything like that.
    I think I missed that subtle point. But, close enough 🙂
    > > refusing to endorse The Good Girl’s Guide because I didn’t understand women the way he did!
    That’s just hilarious!

    Reply
  5. Andrea

    Urgh, if I could go into the office and not work from home, I wouldn’t be browsing through Sheet Music on my Kindle right now instead of working… He also seems to uphold the prostitution model of marriage — she gives him sex in exchange for financial support. When a couple comes to him for counseling because after 34 years of bad sex the wife doesn’t want to do it anymore, Dr. Lehman asks her how she would feel if after 34 years of marriage her husband kicked her out of the house and expected her to support herself financially.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly. So much wrong. He also says that a wife should give her husband sex during her period (through oral sex or hand jobs) if he struggles with pornography, because she should have sympathy for “that difficult time” for him. And his logic is that “faithfulness is a two-way street”, so you shouldn’t expect him to be able to be faithful to you during your period. Or your postpartum phase, either.

      Reply
      • Andrea

        Oh yeah, and here’s another gem to the woman who cannot put up with decades of unpleasurable sex any more: “Has he ever been unfaithful to you?” asks the good doctor. When she replies “no,” he says, “And this is how you reward him?” Fidelity is not assumed, but something to be rewarded.

        Reply
      • Madeline

        “Faithfulness is a two-way street.” Um..what? Shouldn’t that mean both spouses are faithful to one another?? By that logic shouldn’t he also have to give her sex when she’s on her period so that she will remain faithful?
        So weird.

        Reply
    • EOF

      Sex in exchange for financial support? Seriously? Not only is that wrong, but what about the women who work and have husbands who don’t? I’ve been in that situation for over a decade, and I’m hardly alone. At a church women’s group, I was surprised at how many other women were in the same boat as me. Yet every single Christian marriage book assumes the hulk of husband brings home all the bacon and the waif of wife does nothing financially. Do we get to say no sex since we work? Nope, because we have to submit in all things.

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    My husband and I have only benefitted from extremely explicit sex information, as we were completely clueless about how to help me get aroused, and the things my husband has tried orally and manually have only gotten me partly there. I have always been a rule-follower, and I still have no clue how to use my own hands to bring myself to orgasm. (Why is masturbating wrong before marriage and okay afterward? I feel completely uncomfortable with the idea of masturbating alone or with my husband. None of my friends who were “naughty girls” before marriage have trouble with arousal or orgasm. Something feels unfair to me about this, like I was sold a bill of goods that staying pure before marriage would result in bliss.) My husband and I are completely comfortable with explicitness as long as the language used is classy and respectful. We liked She Goes First for this reason. It somehow hits a perfect balance between poetic and clinical. Using those techniques for one to two hours, my husband is able to get me maybe 50% of the way there rather than 30%. We always have to use a vibrator to help me orgasm, and that still takes a minimum of another 45 minutes to an hour. Some people really do need much more detailed help that easy-orgasmers (haha!) can’t understand. The trick seems to be HOW to relay the desperately-needed helpful information without crossing the line into ick.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally hear you, Anonymous. And I have no problem at all with detail. Really. It was the emotionally laden words, and the idea that it must be done in this paint-by-numbers way. If you an author were to say, for instance, “some people like a, b, and c, and others like d, e, and f, but you could also try p” that’s great. But to say, “do a, b, and c” is problematic, because we are not all the same, and it should not be paint-by-numbers. Part of the reason that many have trouble reaching orgasm, for instance, is that it ISN’T a discovery. It’s more of a “we have to do a, b and c.” The secret to reaching orgasm is really learning to pay attention to your body, figure out what feels good, do more of that, and then somehow relax and “ride” it. That isn’t something you can learn from a book. You can get ideas from a book, yes, but the key is really learning to relax and learning to listen to your body. It’s learning the art of discovery. Making something formulaic can actually impede orgasm if you can’t just do it based on what your body is registering and feeling.
      If you’re really struggling, or if you can’t figure out what your hands should do, try to work on arousal rather than orgasm. Don’t worry about whether or not you orgasm; don’t even try. Just try to figure out: “am I feeling good?” Ask yourself that question. And then do it while you touch yourself, while he touches you, or, better still, take his hand in yours and touch yourself using his hand. And just let yourself feel. Is it better here or there? Lightly or stronger? (and this will vary as you get more aroused). But just concentrate on what actually feels good. Once we learn how to read our own arousal, it’s easier to “ride” it to orgasm. But it needs to be something that your body registers.
      I completely hear you about trying to stay pure before you were married, and then struggling now. I think that’s very common. And I’m so sorry that you’re frustrated, but I’m glad you’re here! I think I’ll write tomorrow’s post more on this because I think it is really important to talk more about. But, honestly, once you know what the body parts are and how they work, there is no perfect formula for orgasm that someone else can give you. It really does flow from being able to let your body carry you along, and by reading your body and doing more of what your body is wanting. That means you have to pay attention to your body, and many of us find that very difficult to do. So I’ll tackle that more tomorrow!

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Thank you, Sheila! We’ll very much look forward to that! We have tried the technique of me using his hands at times over the many years. It feels good for a little while, then it levels off and feels like nothing, then no matter how we switch it up, it starts to hurt. Yes, plenty of lube, music, candles, mental focus, etc. He is not intuitive and doesn’t “get” subtlety at all. He tries to figure out what works and then wants to stick with that but gets frustrated when it results in a mere flicker of good feeling before having to be switched up. He feels like all the rules change constantly, and he feels like a failure and gets frustrated when I have to keep telling him “this” instead of “that.” It’s to his credit that he’s been willing to try for as many hours as he has, especially as we get older and tireder. Once we stuck with manual stimulation until I orgasmed, and that took four hours. It was grueling, and neither of us wants to do that again. We’d love to hear from others in our shoes who have made progress. We just haven’t figured out where to go from here (other than the recent discovery of the vibrator, which is frowned on but has finally allowed me to experience orgasm at my great age). We would love to hear advice that’s not “hang in there and do more of the same for another 30 years.”
        I would love to hear your thoughts about this, if not tomorrow, then in some upcoming post. After reading your recent post explaining that female brains are wired to become aroused through the mental pathway (which I never knew), I rebelliously tried fantasizing about erotic scenarios with my husband while he attempted to help me orgasm, and that worked to cut the time down to less than an hour. I told him what I was fantasizing about. Saying we have this amazing ability that would help us orgasm, then saying that we must not use it because this innate ability is innately harmful, feels wrong to me, almost like female circumcision. “You are innately dirty and must deny or cut off this part of yourself in order to be pure.” Isn’t there a way to learn to use what sounds to me like an awesome ability to strengthen the marriage bond rather than weaken it?? I hope you can hear the cry of my heart in what I am writing.

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          It feels frustrating to be told that the one thing that works for me (vibrator) is second rate at best, and the other thing that helps me (fantasizing) is bad because I must only stay mentally in the present physical feeling. I am being completely vulnerable and honest with you right now.

          Reply
          • Wren

            I am right there with ya! After 33 years of marriage, I finally (after discussing it with my husband) got a vibrator. Such mixed feelings! But it definitely helps, and takes the pressure off both of us, and has made sex FUN! I also use my imagination to keep my brain engaged in the moment. I imagine we are at a secluded beach, private forest, luxury hotel in Paris… Otherwise I can tend to think things like, “Shoot! I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer…” 😄

          • Wren

            Shelia, please hear me when I say I appreciate your work so much! I am just guessing I am one of your older readers, 55, married 34 years. For most of those years, there was no where to go for sex help. So we struggled. For y e a r s! When Sheet Music came out, I just about ran to the Christian book store to buy it! I had listened to Dr Leman for years on the radio and really liked his parenting advice, and his personality. He was very down to earth. And like another poster on facebook said, it was very refreshing and liberating to have Christian sex explained and celebrated as hot, passionate, and fun. There were no blogs back then! Yes, I felt uncomfortable with some of it (ahem, Mr Happy) but it filled a huge info void, and I appreciated it “back in the day.” And while I understand your desire to recommend/NOTrecommend resources, well, I feel a little icky about doing this “behind the author’s back.” Does the book need to be revised, updated? Sure, probably. But something about this very public discussion without the author being involved doesn’t quite feel right.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I’m so glad that it helped you, Wren. Like I said, it did rank in the middle–it wasn’t a terrible book by any means. The big problems that I had with it weren’t actually the ones in this podcast. It was the idea that women must give sexual favours during their period/postpartum phase if their husbands were tempted by porn, because “faithfulness is a two-person job.” Also, he reiterates over and over again that sex is an obligation and a duty. All of these things are linked to sexual dissatisfaction in marriage, and are teachings that need to be rethought. That’s why I can’t recommend Sheet Music.
            I do know that many were helped by it, though! I will say that in reading all of these books, The Gift of Sex really stood out as an excellent resource, and I strongly recommend that.

          • Cynthia

            I’m not Sheila, but in my humble opinion, just focus on what and who matters.
            Does what you are doing work for you and your husband? Does it make you both happy? Do you treat each other well and respect each other? Are you committed to each other? If the answers are “yes”, great!
            Suggestions in a blog are just that. Neither Sheila nor anybody else other than your husband is in the bedroom with you. If the big stuff (consent, commitment, love, respect, caring, happiness and satisfaction) is fine and you and your husband are both happy, you can ignore anyone else’s opinion on the details.
            In a way, I think that was the point of the first part of the podcast. There is no set blueprint, and each couple gets to have some privacy and flexibility to do what works for them.

          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            Yes, that’s exactly it, Cynthia. Our issue was the paint-by-numbers approach because these books DO seem to assume they know what’s happening in your bedroom! Plus that with the emotionally laden words (e.g., it’s not just explicit with clear instruction but it more reads like an erotic novel which I believe is unnecessary. We shouldn’t have to get “turned on” by our advice, preferably just by our spouses!!).

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That’s an excellent point about how we’re able to reach orgasm through fantasy, and how to use our brains in a healthy way.
          I also want to say, too, that I don’t think vibrators are a sin. I really don’t. And in your case, if you’ve been trying for years and just can’t get there, then a vibrator may honestly be a great option. I’m just worried that for many people they short circuit the process. But if you’ve been trying for years, and literally for hours at a time, that is different.
          Let me think about how to best express the idea of fantasy. There is healthy fantasy for sure, but often when it’s paired with erotica, etc., then it does become counterproductive and wrong as well. Great thoughts!

          Reply
        • Andrea

          I want to follow up on your female circumcision analogy because I’ve heard it described as “psychological clitoridectomy.” I’m afraid it might be horribly insensitive to the women who have undergone actual, literal, physical genital mutilation, but the point of the phrase is to expose the range of suppression of female sexuality — from its most extreme, such as the actual physical cutting, to the less severe but also damaging psychological forces that make women ashamed and ignorant of their bodies.

          Reply
  7. JW

    I’m disappointed with the combative attitude so many of your recent blogs and podcasts have had. I agree with so many of your viewpoints, but in the last year, you seem to have taken on the mantle of the arbiter of what’s right and what’s wrong.
    Instead of telling us how bad and wrong everyone else is, convince us that your approach is the best. You’re just dumping so much vitriol on all these other authors, that any desire my wife and I had to read your other books (we’ve already bought and read “The Good Girls Guide”).
    I hope you modify your approach by talking about what you believe is the right way to approach intimacy, not just a clearinghouse for why you think almost every other Christian sex book is bad.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      JW, I’ll be honest. The problem was that when we started looking at other marriage books, we saw so much that was actually harmful. So then we measured it–we decided that we didn’t want to go with only our own opinions. We surveyed 22,000 women and asked them. And now we’re in the middle of focus groups.
      You see, it isn’t enough to just give good information if the bad information is still out there. If there are things that are harmful, that needs to be called out before the good can take over.
      I blogged for eleven years, and wrote most of my books, before I started taking on some of this stuff. I worked really hard to get healthy information out there. And I still get the same emails from women, over and over again, about the same issues that they learn from these books. And it simply has to be stopped. What we’re looking at in our new book is the teachings that have hurt–where they’ve come from, and the effect they’ve had (because we’re now able to measure it. If people believe X, this is what happens to orgasm rates, rates of sexual pain, and marital satisfaction). And then we’re going to point them to something better, to what we believe is actually biblical, that honours both and that reflects true intimacy as God intended. Sometimes you have to call out what’s wrong and not just call out what’s right. If you read both the Old Testament and the New Testament, you’ll see that they are full of calling out specific wrong teachings, and setting the record straight, not just explaining what is good. You need both.
      Ten years ago, I believe pretty much all Christian books taught the same thing, but they just went about it differently. After all, they were all “Christian”, right? But what I’ve realized is that they actually don’t. Love & Respect, for instance, is diametrically opposed to the book Boundaries. Both claim to be Christian, but they teach absolutely opposite principles. It’s important for people to know that, so that they can be discerning and discard that which isn’t true. I hope you understand.

      Reply
      • JW

        I agree mostly. Except for this. “If there are things that are harmful, that needs to be called out before the good can take over.”
        Do they? Why do they need to be called out first? Have you become the primary conscience of what’s appropriate in a Christian sex life? So you need to denounce what’s wrong before arguing for what’s right.
        Especially now, as you’ve seemed to taken on this role of telling your readers how bad so many other Christian writers are, the insistent voice you’ve created for yourself comes across as a bit self-righteous, and certainly prideful. Almost as though you’re pointing out all these perceived flaws so you can point out how right you are.
        Even here in these comments here you’ve seen how your posts have created a perceived understanding by readers: that you think vibrators are inappropriate; that explicit language can only be harmful; that any fantasies are wrong. Maybe there are times you are perceiving and projecting things that other authors would take some exception to. Just as you said in your response to a comment here, “Let me think about how to best express the idea of fantasy,” maybe you shouldn’t pass your summary judgement on these authors before giving them the benefit of the doubt.
        Briefly put, I’m just saying that the WAY you’re saying it is overshadowing what you’re actually trying to communicate. The negative, condemning voice you’ve created in your podcast and blog over the last year (starting with your long Love and Respect situation) is louder than the positive things you try to say. I look forward to more positivity in your future posts and podcasts.
        (Why am i responding now if I’ve been thinking about this for awhile? Well, the book Sheet Music was a game changer for my wife and I… and to hear you dismiss it because it’s “explicit” was surprising and disheartening! It did wonders for a young couple brought up in the purity movement to hear a Christian talk so freely and clearly about what sex could look like.)

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          JW, the vibrator comment is a continuation of this much longer post, where I laid it all out. The fantasy post is a continuation of this post last week, where we were talking about women porn users. It is not only in these comments. These are longer conversations, where I was trying to teach something that was healthy. I don’t believe that porn use is healthy for women. I do believe that vibrators can be dangerous (even in that post, I did say that they were not sinful). I believe that healthy sexuality is about intimacy, pleasure, and passion, and those things must all be present. I also believe that porn, vibrators, and shame, among many, many other things, can get in the way of those things. I’ll be talking more tomorrow about how to try to listen to your body and get back in touch with what your body wants, and I hope that will help the conversation.
          As for being negative, I believe the outpouring of support for my Love & Respect series and the open letter speak for themselves. Real women are hurting, and that matters.

          Reply
          • JW

            As I mentioned in my previous comment, I’m not disagreeing with you and the details you pulled out. I agree with you on all your points! I was pointing out how easily readers can take something you said/wrote and find themselves at an understanding you didn’t mean for them to take.
            To be clear, my point is general, not specific. I wish you would stop bashing all these other books in long-format podcasts, and approach your solutions with positivity.
            Your perspective is becoming a single note of frustration with every other book but your own. You have such good things to say… I wish you would have a conversation with people who’ve found these books to be positive so WE can discern the authors instead of filtering it through your lens.
            While I doubt Emerson Eggerichs would agree to be on your podcast, perhaps someone like Kevin Leman, or Shannon Ethridge, would agree. Let’s make things more about a conversation on these topics, so that your listeners can discern what you and these authors are saying and intending.
            It’s why a podcast like Unbelievable (which takes two opposing points of view–usually a christian and non-christian–and has real, thoughtful, and clear conversations) is so effective.

          • Matilda

            So glad you are doing what you are doing Shelia! You are helping so many people esp women! and it is very much needed. I love how balanced you are and believe that you and your daughters are spot on in expressing God’s heart for sex, & intimacy.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thank you, Matilda!

        • Gina

          She is calling out what is actively HARMFUL, not what she personally believes is wrong. There is a big difference. Just because these teachings were helpful for you does not mean they were not harmful for others. And she has the research to back up the fact that these teachings were actively harming people’s sex lives.

          Reply
          • Tory

            JW, I don’t think Sheila is bashing “sheet music”. But I hear what you’re saying. How I’m hearing Sheila: it’s really a good book with many great messages. But there are also some passages that are problematic or plain weird. I’m glad it helped you and your wife. I skimmed it because I was curious as a result of this discussion and I thought some parts were lovely and educational and very useful… but other parts were just weird. In fact it was like two different authors wrote the book.

    • EOF

      Sheila is doing a good thing standing up FOR women who have experience church-approved abuse and mistreatment for decades. It’s about time someone calls out the truth in these matters.

      Reply
      • Janalin Leach

        That was an interesting listen. I agree with you both that the “paint by numbers” approach is damaging. In addition to the reasons you listed, I think really detailed descriptions can set up false expectations and breed insecurity. Let’s take that explicit description of the husband preforming oral sex on his wife for example. What happens if a husband and wife read that passage together and decide to give it a go exactly as described? Does she have to respond exactly as described for it to have been a success? Will she have to bite the pillow and all just to prove to her husband that he’s doing it right? Will she be tempted to fake it just to not let him down? And if she doesn’t like it will she be confident enough to say so or will she wonder if something is wrong with her? After all, the book said it’s supposed to feel amazing.
        I think there has to be room in any sex instruction for what actually happens in the moment. Suggest what might feel good, don’t tell what will feel good. There are enough unrealistic expectations for women in our world as it is; Christian books should be creating more.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Exactly, Janalin! You have to listen to your body. I think giving people ideas of the sorts of things that tend to work is great, but the big thing is that we have to listen to our bodies. I talked more about that here.

          Reply
  8. Chris

    My husband and I were given this book at our wedding shower with $100 bills tucked in passages the couple wanted us to read. That just made it even worse as I knew the couple from Junior high!!!! and my husband didn’t!!! We shredded the book and burned it. I agree with that amount of details, it just seemed really gross to me, pornographic under the guise of “Christian.” Thank you for being a female author writing to us girls. 😘

    Reply
    • Janalin Leach

      Ewwww

      Reply
  9. Tory

    For the new wife who is frustrated that she needs her own hand to orgasm, I would recommend the following: try using your hand to get yourself to the “point of no return”, then have him quickly take over to finish off. Practice this, and then move your own hand out of the way sooner and sooner. Also try putting your fingers over his so you are still using your hand, but he is learning what kind of pressure and angle you like. Do not get discouraged because it really does take a lot of time. It took my husband years to learn how to do it successfully and reliably, but it is so worth it! 🙂

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! Excellent advice. And I really do think taking his hand and using his finger is such a good exercise. It really does help!

      Reply
    • Ina

      I’m sorry, but this the exact kind of advice that is not helpful for a woman starting from scratch. It’s actually just frustrating to hear “get yourself to the point of no return.” What’s the point of no return? How do I get there? This does nothing to help.

      Reply
      • Madeline

        The girl already said that she can bring herself to orgasm through masturbating so she already knows “the point of no return.”

        Reply
        • Ina

          Ah, so she does. I think I assumed this was an answer to the first anonymous above. Thanks for pointing that out.

          Reply
        • Madeline

          I don’t know why I said girl when she’s clearly a woman.

          Reply
      • Natalie

        Agree. That’s really not helpful advice for the wife who’s never experienced an orgasm at all, and I’d guess they’re very larger in number, especially in the Christian community. I’m 30, very open about sexuality and sex-positive (within marriage, of course), and even I’ve never experienced an orgasm before from anything other than a vibrator (which I finally broke down and purchased cuz I was just so sick and tired of never orgasming). It frickin’ SUCKS!!! And saying stuff like “don’t give up. You’ll get it” is SO not helpful!!!!

        Reply
        • Tory

          Natalie, my advice was for the woman who COULD have an orgasm but only if she stimulated herself with her hand. I agree that if you’ve never had one and don’t know what one feels like, my advice probably wouldn’t work. I do like sheilas advice of focusing on arousal, not orgasm— it’s not a “rub here for ten minutes and it will work” thing— it is as much mental as it is physical

          Reply
  10. Ina

    I echo Anonymous, for a woman who never masturbated and has a hard time figuring things out, vague language is more frustrating than helpful. Clear steps to try to start things off is more helpful than “do clitoral stimulation.” I literally needed descriptions for where to place my hand what finger to use etc to start feeling anything at all. The whole asking “am I feeling good? ” while he touches me has never ever done anything helpful for us. Clinical, mechanical descriptions? Those have given us a starting point to work off of.
    Mr. Happy though? Blech. That makes me feel talked down to and I hate being talked down to. And the way he describes things…. uhgh. Not a fan of his sex stuff. Love the birth order stuff though!

    Reply
    • Tory

      Ina, I have read your posts before, and I’m so sorry you are going through this. That must be really frustrating. Can I be honest here? I think you are an excellent candidate to try a vibrator. If you really have tried everything else, it’s not working, you don’t know what it feels like to have an orgasm, I think trying something different is the sane choice. Maybe get a few different ones to experiment with, since they are all so different. Many women just cannot orgasm any other way, and that doesn’t mean you are broken. It could be a breakthrough for you 🙂 think of it as a tool. If someone needs glasses to see better, would you tell them to just try harder and have more faith and take vitamins to improve their vision? Or would you just be grateful that glasses exist for those who need them? Good luck 🙂

      Reply
      • Natalie

        But watch out, Ina. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get a vibrator and experience your first orgasm and be SUPER overjoyed at the fact your body isn’t broken. But then you’ll start thinking “why couldn’t I get there without it? Is it mental? Is it me? Is it my husband’s stimulation/technique that’s lacking?” Just cuz you experience an orgasm doesn’t mean your problems aren’t magically solved. Plus, I think there’s something to be said for being able to orgasm without a vibrator. Somehow, a vibrator-less orgasm just seems more intimate and connected and natural to me. I seem to go through this cycle of not carrying that I require a vibrator to orgasm, and then going into this really negative mindset about how I’m still broken cuz I can’t orgasm without a vibrator. It’s not fun. Even if you’re orgasming, there’s still a lot of stuff to work on sexually.

        Reply
    • Natalie

      Ina, your comment 100% applies to me too. I’ve recently been able to get really close to orgasm from self stimulation (finally!! Hallelujah!), but that was all due to reading about specific, explicit detailed suggestions. Still haven’t gone over the edge without a vibrator, but maybe it’ll happen someday. The past couple days, I’ve been in the downward/pessimistic part of “the attempting orgasm cycle” as I call it. But hopefully I’ll become optimistic again and maybe I’ll orgasm someday. It’d be nice. 😕

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Natalie, you sound so much like me. Except I haven’t gotten past my inner “ick” factor enough to try to manually masturbate to orgasm, either alone or with my husband. Wow, this stuff is so hard and so heavy for some of us. I’m glad there’s a safe place for us to speak up, because if all I heard was the easy, glowing success stories of fabulous 0 to 60 in one night, I would still be figuring I was broken and not even try. It was honest comments to this blog by other struggling women that first gave me real hope.

        Reply
  11. David

    Interesting and very helpful opinions on your Podcast.
    I think sites like this one, has boundaries that needs to be respected.
    If a man is detailing how he is intimately pleasuring his spouse in any intimate site like this one, it might be best that we understand that sometimes a woman doesn’t want a man to be explicit in a site that is typically designed for “girl talk” and is free game for criticism.
    There are also buzz words we men have to respect as it never occurred to me, that the word “caress” is one of those words that some women and maybe most women. If the daughter doesn’t like it and the mom is Ok with it, I myself would take the high road and avoiding the word “caress” is best.
    Trust me there are buzz words that I here that I don’t like that is being used liberally, especially by the millennial and younger generation.
    My personal advice to myself (and other men) is that when we comment like we are an “expert” in a site like this, it isn’t always going to be well received and we need to understand the boundaries, in order to avoid the reader of our comments, to think “ewww”.
    We men also need to be smart enough to understand that explicit comments being made between women are different than a man sharing to other women his own explicit techniques, when he wasn’t directly asked to be so explicit.
    I think, it might be best that if a man is wanting to educate himself from a nice site like this, maybe its best that he reads and avoids adding descriptive input (unless asked) and play it safe and respond, “this is a really good article” or “thanks, this is very helpful”.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s very thoughtful, David. Thank you.
      yes, the buzz words are important. Caress is a weird word to a lot of people.
      I do want to reiterate that I actually appreciate many (most?) men’s comments, and most men here are really good guys and add a lot to the conversation.
      It’s just that it does cross boundaries sometimes, and that’s when I cut it off. I do think that there is a sense for women, perhaps moreso than for men, that our bodies are very private. When other people start talking about it explicitly, it feels weird, especially when emotionally laden terms are used. I’m not sure many men would see it that way, and so that may very well be a gender preference difference. But it is something I come across a lot in how other people complain to me about comments.

      Reply
      • David

        Thanks Sheila, though I’ve hardly used the word caress in my lifetime (I’m 60) and decided to look the word up.
        When used as a verb it means to touch or stroke gently or lovingly.
        When used as a noun it means a gentle or loving touch.
        Never used the word when I was in my dating years in the 70’s, as we used more explicit words. It seemed like the word “caress” was a vanilla term.
        But I do see it as a romantic or a more old fashion word that seems to live on.
        It seems like the word “caress” would be in Romance novels my wife likes to read.
        But I do have my own buzz word myself when it involves intimacy and that word is “wonderful”. Long story that had absolutely nothing to do with intimacy, but an expression I heard someone say whom I didn’t particularly care for, at a sporting event.

        Reply
  12. Emmy

    Perhaps I’m a terrible person, but I was not as schocked with those examples as I thought I would. My husband, on the other hand, he would just faint, so I’m not going to tell him that book even exists.
    Perhaps it is true men tend to be more explicit than women, but me and my husband seem to live in a Reversed Universum and I still have no clue how to cope and what to do about it. It has been a problem right from the beginning. At least, it is a problem for ME. There is no way for me to communicate what I would like. Everything I say or do is too direct or too explicit and it makes him nervous and embarrassed.
    By the way, was this Mr Happy also from “Sheet Music”? THAT was really weird. That kind of talk would really put me off. Mr Happy? Sounds like Weggie Tales!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, Mr. Happy was from Sheet Music! Kinda weird.
      I hear you about your husband. I think we do need to be able to talk directly to our spouses. And, again, the problem with the quotes was not the body parts used. It was more the prescriptive nature of it–do this, then this, then this, with a lot of emotionally laden words in there. That was odd. But we should be able to communicate with our spouses. If they don’t like saying the words, hopefully they’re okay with you at least moving his hand or shifting position!
      Even having a conversation like, “I know some words make you feel awkward, but what’s the best way to tell you that I want something, like something, or DON’T like something?” I think that’s a really common problem people have. Maybe others can chime in here?

      Reply
      • Emmy

        Words, no words, does not matter. I have tried. Moving his hands and stuff like that has the same chilling effect.
        And I don’t want to force things. I’m afraid I’ll break something if I push too hard.
        I’m beginning to think more and more that something bad happened to him when he was a child or a teen ager.

        Reply
  13. Tory

    This isn’t really related to the post but a lot of people are saying which christian sex books they received as wedding gifts. I haven’t read most (any?) of them. But my husband and I were married as 21 year old virgins and the only sex book we got as a wedding gift was a fully illustrated (with photos) sort of like a “positions / Kama sutra” book presented to us at our reception by my uncle (a bawdy character; he gave all of us cousins this same book) during his toast to us… 😀 I think the book was published in the ‘80s because the men had mullets and the women all had perms. It was literally just photos of different positions. So not helpful whatsoever! We had a good laugh and stashed it somewhere and never looked at it again 🙂 literally the least helpful sex resource that two virgins could have! I still laugh about that book!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s hilarious, Tory!

      Reply
  14. Anon

    It’s been interesting to read this article (I’ve given the podcast a miss, as I don’t think that much ‘detail’ is appropriate for me right now!) especially as Sheet Music has been recommended to me elsewhere – although I was a little suspicious when the recommendation came with the instruction that I should take it on honeymoon and and read it AFTER the wedding night…so I did wonder at the time if it contained a bit too much detail!!!
    It would be really helpful at some point to have a list of marriage books with the pros and cons for each one – I tried looking at reviews on amazon, but so many of them don’t give specifics, so being told ‘this book is a must-read for every engaged couple’ or ‘this book is terrible – don’t buy it’ doesn’t really help! It would also be useful to have guidelines on what books are appropriate for those about to marry and which are best for those who’ve been married for a while. I found it a bit of a minefield, as I didn’t want to read ‘too much’ before I’m married, but at the same time, want to be well prepared. (I’ve been very grateful for GGGTGS and also for the wedding prep stuff on this blog, which I’ve found has been the perfect balance for me between clear explanations and ‘just too much’ information!)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, we’re trying to figure out what to do with the rubric results that we’ve compiled of all the books that we read. We’ll likely publish it in short form in the book, and then make the long form available on a new website we’re setting up for the book that will focus on research on what makes sex great. We likely won’t publish it until the book is almost ready, though. But we will get it out there!
      The problematic elements of Sheet Music to me, actually, are not the prescriptive nature of a lot of the explicit detail (that’s annoying, but it’s not the main problem). It’s really how he says that women don’t have a choice with sex, and how they need to give their husbands sexual favours during their periods or the postpartum phase (which he calls a “difficult period for him”), without any talk of how men need to develop self-control, and how sometimes a woman’s needs takes precedence. He also says that men’s porn use is caused by women not having sex, and that’s why sexual favors during your period are important if you don’t want him to relapse. That’s actually the toxic part of the book, and the big reason that I’m uncomfortable with it.
      Again, though, it did not score at the bottom of the pack. It was in the middle. There are many that are far worse, and there actually aren’t a lot that are better! (Gift of Sex is very good, though!)

      Reply
      • Natalie

        Ooo, that second paragraph. 😬 Yikes! Looks like I’ll be skipping reading this one too.
        I feel like you can tell a lot about the male author and their marriage based on what they say about the wife’s sexual role compared to the husband’s sexual role. Very telling.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          It really is!

          Reply
      • Anon

        SERIOUSLY??!!! Periods and post-partum can be quite ‘difficult periods’ for women too! That book is DEFINITELY off my ‘to read’ list! (And if the man can’t cope for a few days while his wife has her period, what does the author say about marriages where the wife becomes seriously ill, maybe hospitalized for weeks? I’d love to know if he thinks unfaithfulness is ‘acceptable’ at that point or if he expects the man to miraculously be able to cope, even though he couldn’t cope with a week off while his wife has her period…)

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I know. It is really depressing that so many think this way.

          Reply
  15. Natalie

    I bought Sheet Music along with some others (a couple of yours included) a couple years ago and never got around to reading it. Funny enough, it’s been on my nightstand waiting to be started for the past 2 weeks… still haven’t gotten around to it. Lol
    While I do think the content you mentioned in the podcast is borderline too much, I also think there are some spouses (men especially) who simply have NO idea and no imagination when it comes to how to touch their wives. I know my husband certainly falls into that category. If he were more of a reader, I like to think that maybe something like this would help point him in the right direction and give him some ideas of what to try. I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving more explicit/specific pointers. Sometimes our imaginations only go so far on their own without something to ignite them. And it’s not like this content is making a reader fantisize about someone other than their spouse, right? It’s all going towards helping the reader’s marriage. That’s at least how I see it.
    Then again, I’m also completely fine with words like “caress” and find them to be good, specific verbs to include. A caress is different than a touch… more sensual, more romantic. I wish there were a “risqué ranking” on Christian marriage literature so those who want to keep things more G-PG could do so, and those who kinda need to be told explicitly what to do and try because they can’t think it up themselves would have resources too.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Got it, Natalie. Again, I don’t think the words are the problem. Explicit is great and instructional is great. But when you present sex as paint-by-numbers, it will backfire. That’s the problem. Sex has to be something that flows out of what your body is feeling. We have to learn to both listen to our bodies, and to communicate about what our bodies are feeling and wanting. Otherwise you can do all the step-by-step stuff you want, and it won’t necessarily have the desired effect. So telling people, Try something like X or Y is great. Telling people: if you do A, B, and C, then D will happen just doesn’t work.
      I know this has been so difficult for you. I wish there were an easier way to explain it or get to the bottom of it. I’ll keep trying! But the key really is to listen to your body.

      Reply
      • Natalie

        I agree. Cuz then also, if you follow A, B & C perfectly and then D doesn’t happen, it’s super defeating. Been there, done that (like, pretty much every time I’ve had sex or tried to masturbate 🤦🏻‍♀️). And once you’re in that negative, doubting mindset, it’s really hard to break out of it. I still haven’t fully. I go through cycles of being positive about my sex life and marriage and then going through cycles of being negative about my body and my husband and his technique/willingness to up his game/willingness to really let me in and express his love with/for me. Ugh, so many layers. It’s just exhausting to always be trying and hoping things will change. Sometimes it’s best to just forget about them and stop trying and stop reading books and articles about things to try next.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’m sorry, Natalie! I do wonder how much of your husband’s past porn use (I seem to remember that was an issue?) has played a role in his unwillingness to work on technique? Have you talked about that?

          Reply
  16. Daniela

    Sheet music was given to me on my wedding night (bit late in many ways 😉) and I remember reading it and thinking it would be totally inappropriate for engaged couples to read because it’s explicitness would be really unhelpful before marriage…

    Reply
  17. JOY

    This explains a lot about the start of our marriage. The 2 books we were given were explicit and gave a very high standard. 10 years in I can say we have come a long way but man those messed things up initially. Thank you for addressing this.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad it helped you!

      Reply
  18. Emma

    Alright, late to the party, but I just wanted to throw in my thoughts…
    One issue I see with books this explicit is what they have in common with porn: false expectations. When the author is saying “kiss her there and she’ll be writhing” and that doesn’t happen, then it opens the door for spouses to start feeling like there is something wrong with the woman, or that the man is unable to follow even the most obvious advice!

    Reply
  19. Lisa M

    My husband and I have read Sheet Music and actually thought it was really good. It’s very detailed which is good for those just starting out. What I’m disappointed in is the way you reacted to the book. For people who talk about sex for a living, you were both very childish and rude. I wish you would’ve been able to critique the book with kindness and facts. If you want to reach Christian couples and encourage great intimacy, I think you need to be kinder, more gracious, and just plain factual in your reviews. I’m just disappointed because I have often sent brides to your website for encouragement, but this makes me question your advice now.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m sorry you felt that way, Lisa, but in our focus groups for our upcoming book The Great Sex Rescue, and in our follow-up surveys, some of the passages we read from the book were almost universally hated by the participants. In addition, Sheet Music contains many dangerous teachings about sex, including that wives need to give their husbands sexual favours while on their periods or during the postpartum phase so that the husbands don’t watch porn; that wives are obligated to have sex and must do so even if they feel as if they’re forcing themselves (a message highly correlated with increases in sexual pain and decreases in orgasm rates), and more. Talking about the importance of sex in marriage is great; telling women they’re obligated no matter what is correlated with many negative outcomes.
      In our upcoming book (The Great Sex Rescue, Baker Books 2021), we’ll have graphs, charts, statistics, and multiple passages from this book and many others to show how sexual teaching in evangelical circles has often harmed women, and we’ll point to ways to reframe and rescue this teaching so it’s more in line with Jesus.
      I hope that will be factual enough.

      Reply
  20. Stella

    Hello! fist i just want to say how much your podcasts have had a positive impact on my life. This past week i have listened to at least one a day and I just found you!
    I was just now listening to the “Sheet Music” episode and I have some mixed feelings but I haven’t read it so I can’t comment on the book but I can comment on the type of book it is and the manner in which the content was written based on what I heard you quote.
    So, here it is….my husband is really sweet. Extremely generous in bed and his goal is to please me. He connects his masculinity to whether or not i enjoy his lovemaking and is always concerned about how i feel during and afterward.
    I have had such a hard time with sex for nearly every reason you address. We have really struggled but something miraculous has happened. I cant explain it. Its just God.So were having sex nearly every night and loving it. But….
    My husband is a dude and there is not one romantic bone in his body. He has spent his adult life with me focused on being a Godly husband, bringing home the bacon and serving me and our family, but some things just don’t occur to him like how to do certain things with my body. And I would go so far as to say what it means to find out “how” to do certain things with my body. First of all thats a turn on and romantic to me. It says he cares about ME and our maritial/sexual relationship!
    This book is good for guys like him. Hes one of those guys like needs it spelled out and to the point. That absolutely does not make me feel like its not natural or that the one giving instruction is “watching” us. I dont think that its voyeuristic.
    Some guys, most guys, if you ask the average blue collar bloke, need it spelled out for them. The naturally romantic, relational guy, it may come easy to him. But I think he’s the exception.
    I will read things and then pass the info along to my husband, and he always reads it and we will talk about it, but, its nice if men have Godly resources that they can turn to for that information. It can become tiresome to be the only one who is romantically invested. Its nice and to me romantic when he has access to stuff i am thinking about and then he surprises me by taking initiative in the bedroom. I have found the few times that he has a HUGE blessing and turn on. I have ZERO problems submitting to it because he is very kind.
    I am wondering if the book was written by a well-known female from the same POV, with the same content and style if it would still be considered pornographic. I can see how from the POV of someone who has struggled with porn or whose spouse has, that this book could really offend and possibly set someone back who is in process of healing or rooting out sin. That serious.
    But for myself, as one who has struggled to NOT hate their body and anatomy, and wants so badly to believe that God made us sexual beings and that we GET to enjoy the body HE made and put is in, along with that one person, our husband, in covenant marriage it’s liberating to read and hear information like that.
    It tells me that I’m like everyone else. I have special anatomy that was created uniquely for my spouse and we can enjoy that together.I can and am allowed to enjoy the good things He thought up for us, for His Glory. How exciting!
    So long opinion short, I am not settled on whether or not it’s pornographic because i haven’t read it but i don’t have a problem with a man or woman writing those things in that way.
    Just a thought…recipe books serve a purpose and tell us how to cook a recipe as it should be eaten. To enjoy and fellowship over. We have to learn certain techniques to do it well.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I think you bring up a great point! And I agree that “recipe books” are also important 🙂 And I’m glad that Sheet Music really helped you and your husband. Truly!! That’s awesome, and I can see how that book can really help couples in your situation, totally.
      But there are examples of other Christian books that are still explicit “recipe books” without using emotional, erotic language. So you get the same teaching, but without the more uncomfortable language that can feel a bit off-putting to many. The Gift of Sex, I believe, by the Penners is one of them if I’m remembering correctly. Very explicit in what to do, what to try, but without all the erotic explanations that use emotional language, or throwaway teases like “she’ll be biting the pillow to keep from screaming” kind of language which is just uncomfortable for a lot of us, and can come across as very vouyeristic.
      We did some focus groups with women on this very topic, and we found that, like you said, very specific instruction is great! What does the author mean by “touch the clitoris,” or “adjust her legs” for example, the book can be really graphic in descriptions and that can be super helpful. No need to be shy! But women did tend to be more comfortable with books that steered clear of emotional language during those passages–the whole “She’ll be biting the pillow to keep from screaming” seemed a bit unnecessary for many of the women in the focus group. But of course, not all of the women found it uncomfortable, like you said! However, all the women were in agreement that the books that had that same level of explicitness but without the erotic/pornographic language were good, helpful, and appropriate. So our suggestion is not that we get less specific, but that we are careful to be honoring and respectful in our language when we talk about explicit things so that the reader (a) gets the information they need, but also (b) isn’t uncomfortable or feels pressured to live up to some arbitrary idea of a “hot” sexual standard. In other words, not everyone may be offended by Leman’s language in Sheet Music. But there is another way of writing that doesn’t diminish the teaching capacity but also is more successful among women in terms of making them feel respected. I hope that makes sense! 🙂

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