The “Watch Out for Boys Who Want to Push Your Sexual Boundaries” Podcast

by | Jan 21, 2021 | Abuse, Podcasts | 32 comments

Rape Culture in Evangelicalism

I believe that we can eradicate rape culture from the evangelical church.

In fact, I’m committed to it! And in this week’s podcast we’re looking at how to do that.

But first, some background. Today marks the beginning of our debunking series, where we take one unhealthy teaching each week and look at why it’s dangerous and what we can replace it with instead.

It’s all leading up to the release of The Great Sex Rescue on March 2! Our book asked 20,000 women about their marital & sexual satisfaction, and measured that against common evangelical teachings. And we identified some key teachings that did terrible things to women’s sex lives.

One of those teachings, the one we’re tackling first, is what we call the “gatekeeping” message: that girls and women are responsible for making sure men don’t cross their sexual boundaries.

To talk about this, Rebecca’s going to do her nifty let’s-take-a-closer-look at this survey question from a popular book, and show how it doesn’t say what it claimed to say. But first, I interviewed Ruth Everhart, author of The #MeToo Reckoning. 

Listen in!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube!


Timeline of the Podcast

0:39 What’s on the schedule today!
4:00 Ruth Everhart joins us to have a conversation on safety, boundaries, and what we perceive as valuable in church culture (*warning * there are tellings of traumatic events such as rape in this interview)
26:10 What does the research say? Stats on those whose first sexual encounter is not consensual
31:41 Rebecca breaks down another bad survey question
39:48 Why these stats seem so agenda driven with bad interpretation
43:05 How this message REALLY plays out negatively when internalized

Main Segment: The #MeToo Reckoning

Ruth wrote a great post for me on The #MeToo Reckoning earlier this month, but today I had a chance to talk to her about some of the stories in her book, and ask her a question that’s plagued me since I had a rather disturbing encounter myself on a missions trip: Why is it that we think the price of spreading the gospel sometimes must be women’s safety? So the reader question this week was actually one from me!

And do check out her book!

The #MeToo Reckoning

New Research: 1/16 women report their first encounter with sex is rape

We looked at a study from the Journal of Internal Medicine, and asked what the church can do given this reality in their pews.

Some highlights from the study:

  • If sex was forced, average age was 15.6 years compared with 17.4 years
  • Average age of the partner/assailant at first sexual encounter was 6 years older for women with forced vs voluntary sexual initiation
  • Women with forced sexual initiation were more likely to experience an unwanted first pregnancy; endometriosis;  pelvic inflammatory disease; problems with ovulation or menstruation
  • Survivors of forced sexual initiation more frequently reported illicit drug use; fair or poor health; and difficulty completing tasks owing to a physical or mental health condition.
Association Between Forced Sexual Initiation and Health Outcomes Among US Women

JAMA Internal Medicine

Are We Promoting Rape Culture?

Next, Rebecca joined us and we analyzed a survey question in Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice’s book For Young Women Only. The way the authors present these conclusions is highly problematic, and the survey results do not warrant the conclusions drawn from it. 

Here’s the question and the response:

For Young Women Only Rape Culture

In the book, this was framed as “82% percent of guys reporting serious difficulties in bringing things to a halt in a make-out situation–or no desire to halt things at all!” 

The headings used were that guys had “little ability” and “little responsibility” to stop. And the lesson girls needed to learn from this? “With a guy, if you want to be able to stop it, it’s safest to not even start.”

Do you see any red flags here or problematic elements? Let me know in the comments! And then listen in to what Rebecca says as she analyzes this question from a psychometrics point of view.

Just as we looked at the survey question that made love & respect a thing, and showed how it doesn’t mean what they said it means, so this one is highly problematic as well.

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Things Mentioned in This Podcast

I truly believe that we can talk about sexual assault better.

And things are changing! When we stop making girls responsible for boys’ behaviour; when we start acknowledging that sexual assault leaves lasting wounds and is important; when we start valuing women’s safety and not just the “ministry”, I think we’ll grow to look more like a community that follows Christ. I have hope, and I hope you will, too, after listening in, even if this is heavy.

Things are changing. They are getting better. We are making a difference!

The Great Sex Rescue

Launches March 2!

What if YOU’RE not the problem with your sex life?

What if the things that you’ve been taught have messed things up–and what if there’s a way to escape these messages?

Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.

You’ll feel: Validated. Seen. Heard.

You’ll have a roadmap to escape the lies.

Plus it’s a super fun read!

Because you deserve real freedom and intimacy.

The Rape Culture in Evangelicalism: How to stop making women feel like gatekeepers

What do you think? Have any thoughts on why that survey question was problematic? What about the results of the study on the repercussions of rape being your first sexual experience? Or anything else stand out to you? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of 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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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. Katydid

    Sheila, I’m going to ask a favor of you. You are doing a tremendous job and service pulling all this apart for us. However, I have found that it a having a domino effect on me and I’m opening up and hashing out a lot of toxic stuff that is reaching far beyond evangelicalism and sexuality, because this stuff affects every part of our lives.
    If I am struggling through this healing and knowledge process, other women are. Could you please share trustworthy tips and resources where we might find counsel and help? Many of us only ever had the option of an untrained pastor who perpetuated the toxicity.
    Maybe even a private group? Maybe even a pay-of-it private group run by a trusted psychologist or therapist in your circle?
    Just throwing out ideas.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Hi, Katydid. I totally understand, and I’m simultaneously glad you’re dealing with all this stuff but also so sorry you’re dealing with all this!!! Does that make sense?
      We’ve thought about doing a private group for this kind of thing, but counselling services are very highly regulated in Ontario (which is a great thing!) and an online private group to work out trauma, spiritual gaslighting, and all sorts of really heavy topics in more than just an information setting but as a therapeutic tool just seems like something our jurisdiction may not like so much.
      Instead, we really recommend looking for a counsellor either online or in your area. If you want to do something in a group, there are lots of group therapy options in most cities, you just have to look for them! But when I was in school studying psychology, here’s what my professors told me about finding a good therapist:
      FIRST: FIND A LICENSED THERAPIST. Licensing is a protection for you, as the client, because it means that you know what kind of training this person has and that if they engage in professional misconduct they are punished by the licensing bodies or even have their license revoked. But after that very basic given of what you should look for:
      1: Start with people you know and trust. Did your best friend see a therapist when she was dealing with mental health? Did she find him/her helpful? Try that therapist first.
      2: Look for someone who has experience in what you’re dealing with, especially if you’re talking about a very specific or fringe topic. If you have sexual trauma, seek out a trauma-informed therapist and don’t be afraid to ask questions like, “Do you have any specialized training in trauma therapies?” or “How often do you deal with sexual trauma in your practice, and do you think you’re the best fit for someone like me who has sexual trauma to work through or do you have other colleagues you’d recommend?”
      3: One prof told me that therapists are like a pair of jeans: you may be able to do up the zipper on quite a few, but only one or two will be that *perfect* fit. So if it doesn’t feel right, just try another one! Trust me, therapists don’t always “click” with clients, either, so they totally get it and will not be offended if you have two sessions and then just don’t book anymore because you found a better fit. They’ll just be happy you’re getting help.
      4: Remember when looking for a therapist that you are hiring them. The first session is a bit like a job interview in a sense, you’re just getting a feel for each other, doing an overview of what you’d like to talk about so that you can gauge whether or not this will work for you. Be confident and know that you’re the one in charge of if the session goes on or ends, and so don’t be afraid to ask any question you want because most of all, the therapist wants you to feel safe, secure, and informed.
      5: Consider if you want your counsellor to be a Christian or not. There are positives and negatives depending on what you’re dealing with, to be completely honest. If you’re working through spiritual deconstruction and reworking your faith, you may want to find a counsellor who is a Christian but then in your intake appointment talk about views on the church to make sure you aren’t seeing a therapist who is going to try to convince you to not question the evangelical powers that be. Again, you are hiring THEM. So don’t be afraid to be pointed and blunt, because you need honest answers.
      6: Finally, write down all the questions you want to ask ahead of time so that if you get nervous, or people-pleasing tendencies get in the way you have a physical proof of what you wanted to ask. One of my profs actually requests that clients, if they’re comfortable, bring in a letter with all the questions to give it to her at the beginning of the session instead of just reading off it themselves, because that means they can’t back out of asking any big questions that are just uncomfortable but important. It helps her put them at ease first appointment, but of course it’s optional. 🙂
      Many counsellors won’t charge for an intake conversation or will charge less money, but you can also send a few preliminary questions either over the phone or by email. Nothing that would take an hour to respond to, but just “Here’s what I’m dealing with, do you have specialized training in this area, and what do you think about XYZ.”
      I know this was long, but I hope it helps! Individual or group therapy in a regulated environment really is the best way to handle anything that requires a licensed professional, and I just don’t think we could successfully do that in a private group.

      • Katydid

        Thanks, birthday beauty! 🙂
        This helps out a LOT! And yes, I understand what you mean. I’m excited to be tearing apart the toxicity, but I would like to be done with it and get on with my life and a healthy mindset.

  2. Anon

    Interested by your comments about keeping women safe versus continuing outreach to unsaved men. I’ve volunteered for a homeless outreach which involved serving meals to guys who had been in prison for violent crimes and I was a member of a youth group in my teens which had a number of non Christian boys attending who already had criminal records. I never once had an uneasy moment around any of these guys. All my experiences of assault have been from ‘respectable’ men within the church. The danger is not always ‘out there’. Sometimes, it’s closer to home than you like to think. And I do think the teaching that men ‘can’t help themselves’ and that woman are responsible for ‘keeping things right’ just encourages this kind of behaviour, because the predatory guys can excuse themselves with ‘it’s her fault for not stopping me’.
    Regarding being expected to ‘put up with’ being groped on public transport – I wonder if the male leaders would have had the same view if THEY had been experiencing it…

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I actually did prison ministry for a few years in university, and I never felt unsafe there either. They actually treated me quite well. The places where I’ve felt uneasy have generally been around “respectable” people, too. And, as I mentioned in the podcast, even though there were some rather unsavory characters hanging around the youth groups the girls went to, the people who did cross boundaries that we heard of in youth group situations tended to be the youth pastors.
      Nevertheless, I don’t think girls should feel unsafe at youth group. I think that should matter. Yet the leadership at the time didn’t see it; it was the other guys who did who came to Rebecca’s defence. All those games they play in youth group where they turn off the lights and you run around the church and try to find something hidden or whatever–you’re supposed to go alone, but many girls wouldn’t do it without a guy with them because they didn’t want one of the weird guys to corner them in the dark. Just strange situations all round.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, one other thing–I don’t think the girls were wrong to be creeped out by the particular boys they were creeped out by. I was pretty creeped out by them, too! I think the difference is that those guys never had the opportunity to do something. Had they the opportunity, they very well might have. But many predatory youth pastors DO have opportunity, because they have trust, and so can get girls alone and groom them.

      • Anon

        Totally agree, youth group MUST be a place where girls are safe to be. Saying they need to ‘put up with’ risk so they don’t hinder someone getting saved is rubbish. Much better for the boys to be witnessing to other boys anyway (still with safeguards in place though, because they can still be vulnerable) – any guy who will only listen to the Gospel if vulnerable young girls are sharing it…well, how much is he truly listening? So often, churches are seen as good ‘hunting grounds’ for predators, because they know most church folk will be so concerned to be accepting that they are not always wise.
        It was just my personal observation that all my unpleasant experiences have been from guys within the church. And when I have raised it with the leadership, it’s been brushed off as ‘just what guys do’ or else I’ve been told I ‘must have encouraged it’.

  3. Elissa

    I am confused by your statements about the importance of being safe versus the importance of people’s salvation. I personally know many people who are missionaries to unreached people groups (unreached meaning people who have absolutely no other access to the gospel). Many of those people groups are located in places that are hostile to the gospel, or otherwise have many threats to personal safety, but these people consider the salvation of the people they are trying to reach worth that risk. Are you saying they are wrong to do so, or are wrongly portraying the gospel by doing so? I doubt the early church would have been so effective at spreading the gospel if Paul had been more concerned with not being stoned or physically mistreated than he was with the salvation of the people around him. I am not saying you should go out of your way to put yourself in danger, I am just looking for clarification on what you meant, and how you see that fitting with examples of church planters throughout church history.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I don’t know, Elissa. I really struggle with it. But I know that the feeling that I need to keep ministering to someone, even at risk of rape, because their salvation matters more than me is just a very, very damaging message.
      Now, I do believe people are called into dangerous situations. But to tell a girl in the youth group that she has to put up with predatory behaviour because the guy doesn’t know Jesus yet is highly problematic.
      We need a bigger picture of the “kingdom of God”. God is not only interested in people saying the prayer; God is interested in creating a world of justice and love that reflects Him, and in that world, women matter.
      Again, I do think people can be called to go to dangerous situations, and many were. But to make a blanket statement that women shouldn’t complain if they feel unsafe in some people’s presences because those people don’t know Jesus yet–well, I can’t see Jesus saying that to a teen girl.
      Maybe in some situations, sending teenage girls or young women is not the right call!

      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        The difference is saying, “I personally feel called to minister to X people even though it puts me at risk” versus telling young girls in your church, “You need to put yourself at risk to minister to X person because their salvation is more important to me than you not being violated.”
        As someone who was put in a very, very uncomfortable position with a very unsafe adult man when I was only 15 years old in church, I can say that it is inappropriate to force other people to do that. Allowing and supporting people as they sacrificially choose to do so, yes. But it was wrong that when I was in the church basement with someone who I never should have been in a blacked-out basement with, the only people who thought of my safety and protection were two of my grade 11 guy-friends who literally acted as my bodyguards (one stood on either side of me) and didn’t let him be in a room alone with me. The leaders were more concerned that he thought church was fun than that I felt safe. That was wrong.
        We can choose to put ourselves at risk, of course. But it is wrong and inappropriate to throw vulnerable people to wolves in order to further our own ministry agenda. We do not sacrifice people, but we do choose self-sacrifice. What my leaders were doing was not self-sacrificial behaviour, they were “sacrificing” the good of others (in this case, my and the other girls’ safety), and it is not our right to make that decision for other people.

        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          To explain more, what we’re saying is that although individually we can choose to be self-sacrificial and we do need to do that, our churches need to be a place that do not feed sheep to wolves. And that means we don’t allow pedophiles to work in children’s ministry, we don’t allow racism even if the racist doesn’t know Christ yet (i.e., I hope none of us would say “you have to put up with being called slurs at church because we want that man to come to know Jesus”), and we don’t give dangerous men unfettered access to women and young girls.
          There is nothing holy or praiseworthy about being a congregation where the vulnerable are exploited in the name of the gospel, and that’s what we’re talking about here. Self-sacrifice and exploitation are two different things, and the latter is often what happens when girls’ safety is considered less important than men’s church attendance because it’s a suggestion or ask coming down from someone who is not himself having to be self-sacrificial, but is asking more of the vulnerable in the congregation than he is having to give himself.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Wow, this is really good. I should have had you on that segment of the podcast! Maybe I’ll take this whole thread and put it out on Facebook later!

      • M

        Don’t you think church should be safe? -Maybe not the mission field but church should certainly be a safe place for everyone. Shepherds should keep the sheep safe. If you are an unsafe sheep or an unsafe unsaved person or a wolf, the flock needs to be protected. The unsafe people need ministry in a different setting with leaders who are equipped to help them. This is about boundaries and safety. You are even keeping the unsafe people safe from themselves when you give them the boundaries their behavior deserves.

      • Elissa

        I think self-sacrifice is the key distinction, like you said Rebecca. Another factor may be whether you can actually do anything about it. In other cultures and times there may not be/have been systems in place to bring justice or provide protection to people who are being mistreated (sexually or otherwise). An argument could be made for patiently enduring mistreatment for Christ if there is nothing that can be done about it. However, since we live in a time and culture where we can do something about it (from a legal standpoint) we should! There is no reason to just put up with it.

        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          And I think that if we are in a culture/system where people are not able to be safe, we work to make our churches stand out as places where people ARE safe. So if in general, women are abused/mistreated, let our churches stand up against the culture, not just tell women “that’s how life is.” Imagine if our churches were the one place women were NOT objectified, seen as less-than, or abused even if the whole culture were the other way. That would be a much better demonstration of the redemptive, counter-cultural love of Christ than dooming the vulnerable to a life of mistreatment in the name of Christ!

      • M

        Even early on Paul was trying to keep all women safe from the unsafe cultural norms. When he said all women could wear veils in the church he was offering slaves and prostitutes the same protection as married women and women with status. The men who were able to take advantage of unveiled women with no penalty were the ones protesting Paul’s instruction to allow ALL women to veil. (Paul and Gender by westfall )

      • Elissa

        So I guess, my takeaway would be, mistreatment should not take place in the church for ANY reason – it certainly doesn’t glorify God or give a good example to outsiders. However, self-sacrifice can and should be a part of personal calling and service to a lost world.

    • Jane Eyre

      Have not listened to the podcast. Here is my assessment of the sexual progression question:
      There is a huge gap between “easy to stop” and “massive effort.” It does not acknowledge that some men may find it challenging but not unduly so. In all things in life, some things are a bit tough or not what we want to do, but we do it without much complaint.
      I really resent the underlying mentality on two levels: when dating, it makes everything enormously stressful, and in marriage, it makes it seem like low-level affection (backrub, cuddling, deep kissing) is an invitation to sex. So if you aren’t up for sex, you don’t touch each other. What could possibly go wrong?

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        HAHA! We didn’t make the leap to how that affects marriage in this particular podcast (though we have in others) but you’re absolutely right! What could possible go wrong indeed.

    • Jane Eyre

      Paul converted to Christianity around the age of 30.
      There is a huge difference between a 30 year old man being a missionary and a 17 year old girl doing the same. Many men prey on young women; a decade later, the women are often far more adept at understanding the danger, extracting themselves from situations, rebuffing advances, etc. Because of that, men are less predatory.
      I’m not certain I would send a teenage boy our for missionary work, either. The physical and sexual risks are less, but still higher than if the young man waits a few years.

      • Jane Eyre

        That was to the missionary question above….

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I think the big issue for me is that our view of God is such that we often think all that He cares about is our salvation. Once we’re “in”, then he just doesn’t care about our well-being, because only our souls matter. And yet Jesus fed people. He healed people. Our physical selves, our well-being, mattered to Jesus when He walked this earth. I think it’s a very sad and traumatic view of God to think that He just doesn’t care about us now. And yet I do think this is what I grew up believing in part.

  4. Joanna Sawatsky

    Sorry to add yet another reply to this conversation but it’s an important one and I have some thoughts. 😉
    I think that if a person wants to do missions with a people group and they are very ANTI being contacted… we should respect that. We can try to contact them in non-coercive ways, etc. But if they truly do NOT want contact with Westerners, the Canadian charter enshrines “respect for persons” as a major tenant of good governance and I think it matters that we respect their ability to choose. There can be extenuating circumstances, but respecting indigenous peoples’ rights to stay out of contact if that’s what they want is important.
    This also important for individuals. Though, if you’re super close to people and they don’t want to hear about your faith it’s going to affect your relationship, simply because faith is important to you and they don’t want to have anything to do with it. But that (major) caveat aside, I think it’s important to respect people’s desires when it comes to hearing about my faith.
    And for what it’s worth, my experience is that my many athiest friends have ALL been super supportive of my faith. That’s not true everywhere or for everyone, but I’ve been able to have meaningful conversations about things of import with many colleagues and friends, even those who are more on the “anti-religion” side of things. Mutual respect goes a LONG way.
    When I was in college, I attended a church that had a weekly round table discussion between Christians and athiests. They loved it. Everyone was friends and they’d have sprawling conversations. You know who didn’t get traction? The pastors with bullhorns who came to campus to preach hellfire and damnation.
    Respect matters. So many Christians treat those of different faiths as pet projects instead of seeing them as people. All of our efforts go to fixing them and we count it as a “win” for us if we convert them. Instead, we should just love the people God has given us to love and give them the courtesy of letting them choose for themselves. God treats us with that courtesy, we should do the same.

  5. M

    Just another comment on keeping people safe at church…. we had a mom at our church that we helped divorce her unfaithful husband. He came to church with a new woman. She was very upset and rattled to see him there. My husband and I respectfully told the couple to leave because she needed to have a safe place to worship and fellowship. They left. There are plenty of churches for them to attend. It would have been wrong to ask her to be concerned about their salvation. She was a wreck. We were her pastors not his. We were responsible to shepherd and nurture her. If he was truly interested in a relationship with Jesus that needed to happen elsewhere. I see the church as a safe haven and the streets as outreach.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so beautiful! I’m so glad. It’s so wonderful to hear of churches doing the right thing. Seriously, you have no idea. I hear so many stories on the other side, I just love comments like this one!

  6. Wild Honey

    Thank you for another affirming podcast!
    The senior pastor of the church we just left shared a struggle during Sunday school once. His teenage daughter did not want a friend’s new boyfriend to come to a celebration at their home because the boyfriend had been inappropriate with a different friend (who was also attending the party) and a number of other girls on campus. The pastor believed his daughter, but “wanted his home to be a welcoming place for the sake of ministry.”
    I think every woman in that Sunday school class collectively held their breaths as the pastor continued with his story.
    He ended up disinviting the boy and hosting the party at a restaurant. But he was clearly still very troubled and really uncertain as to whether this was the right call.
    My husband and I said later to each other, “Why was this even a question?!”
    I think the pastor was asking the wrong question. What about the sake of ministry to every girl there that they are made in the image of God and deserve to be safe in a friend’s home? Or to the current girlfriend of the teenaged predator that she, too, is made in the image of God and deserves to be with someone who treats her with respect? Or to the teenaged predator himself, that there are serious consequences for sin, and a consequence of not treating girls well is that you don’t get to be around them?
    Before I finish this rant, the absolute WORST dating relationship I had (zero respect for physical boundaries coupled with emotional abuse) was with a Christian guy who was a church goer and member of a Christian fraternity. The two non-believers I dated respected my boundaries more than he did. It was so bad I was actually really hesitant later to date my now-husband because he was another “super Christian,” being a seminary grad. So, I second Rebecca’s observation about teaching girls what is normal and what is predatory so they can make better relationship choices!

  7. Anon

    How do you help someone who has been through this but didn’t realize it was rape/assault?
    My wife and I have been open about our sexual past. I didn’t have one more than a handjob but my wife has a sexual past and her first time sounds a lot like sexual assault. She says the guy didn’t take no for an answer, kept pushing for it and in the end got what he wanted by manipulating her and telling her that she isn’t mature enoug etc. after he got what he wanted he ditched her and left her with a lot of guilt and shame. Her second encounter sounded a lot like that too.
    I will be honest we sadly had the same mentality as you describe here, that he was just a “typical guy” but now I understand more and from what my wife told me this wasn’t sex between two consenting persons. The guys were also some years older than her, she was just a teenager.
    She has never called it sexual assault. She feels sad for it but doesn’t talk about it a lot . I just wonder if I should bring it up somehow or just let it be since she doesn’t talk about it at all. She did tell a couple we know before we got married and she cried because she has felt a lot of shame because of it but again, she says it like it was her choice. I am starting to wonder if she needs therapy?
    Also it kind of explains her behavior when we started dating. She was the one pushing for the sexual things. At that point I didn’t know about her first time. I only knew about her last relationship where she says that she wanted to have sex. It was a sexual relationship. She kept pushing me for sex even if I said no. I live with the guilt and shame over the fact that I finally said yes when she one day started to take of her clothes and started to beg me to let her do sexual acts on me. Makes me angry at myself and a little on her. She shoudnt have pushed but I most of all should have run out. I also
    Enjoyed it afterwards but felt a lot of guilt and shame at the same time. It shouldn’t have happened.
    At the same time I understand. She has her whole life has had guys push her to do things. Even in her past relationship it seems the guy pushed her to do some things she didn’t want to do in bed.
    I do believe that Christ can heal and restore. All this happened to her before she met Christ. But I wonder if it would be helpful for her to be able to realize that this was sexual assault and be able to say it.
    We haven’t had much problem with sex after getting married but I still wonder if it would bring healing to her. Or maybe it’s better not to bring it up and pray that God helps her heal.

  8. Anon

    I am a regular reader and semi regular commenter but due to the nature of this comment I am going to be anon here.
    I have two things I have been thinking a lot about and that this podcast has raised again.
    Firstly, I totally understand the need to believe victims of abuse but am also so very torn sometimes. It’s seems that the idea of innocent until proven guilty does not apply to people who have been accused of sexual abuse. Is it possible that sometimes women lie? I’m not saying it’s frequent or by any means the majority but sometimes can women/teens be vindictive and want to hurt a man/boy by making false accusations? As many of these things can rarely be proven, where do we as a church and as individuals, go from here? And how do we mitigate unintended consequences on the accused’s family? I have seen the hurt that can be caused on the other side of this issue and it is brutal and there is insufficient evidence so the case has been dismissed but that is not the same as being found not guilty…
    Also, a recent conversation with a childhood sexual assault survivor has left me unspeakably sad about how this harmful teaching hurts people. A man who was abused as a child has now been made to feel like a sexual deviant (for absolutely no reason, just because of this teaching) and really struggles as a single man to know how to interact with women because he has been told that him giving me (a married woman with kids, significantly older than him) a lift somewhere is entirely inappropriate, or him being around a married woman to drop something off or wait for her husband to get home is horrifyingly inappropriate. As well as hugely unhelpful comments and advice about breastfeeding mothers. He lives in fear of doing the wrong thing and being perceived badly even though these things never cross his mind because of his past. The angst this has caused a young christian who is already struggling with so much is absolutely heartbreaking.
    It needs to stop. He is a human being not a walking, uncontrollable penis.
    On a totally other topic, I really wish I could sit down and have a cuppa with you ladies and talk. I would love that so much.

  9. Demo318

    I don’t know if I can take much more of these discussions analyzing. My wife has for years had me convinced that I was 100% at fault for the sexlessness of our marriage. Living through my mid-twenties, turning down interested women at work to come home to a disinterested wife built up a lot of shame over the years.
    Listening to this has been on the one hand freeing. My wife very clearly fits into several of the categories you described, disassociating herself from her sexual desire in general due to the toxic teachings of her conservative Christian upbringing.
    I don’t see any way forward, though. She’s conceited enough to maintain her focus on me as the sole or primary problem. I consider divorce about once a week, and I think I’m’ ready to pull he trigger. Finally free to entertain the other women in my life who seem to enjoy my company so much.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Demo, I’m sorry. That’s a very lonely place to be. Yes, you’re right. These teachings have really hurt so many women’s sex drives and views of sex, and it is really harming marriages. I hope we can get rid of them!
      One thing we found from our focus groups and interviewing women that may help, though. Many women felt deep shame about sex, or an inability to relax and just experience. The root of this is these negative teachings–that guys want it all the time; that guys only want this; that sex is bad, etc.
      The women who got over it tended to get over it because their husbands were very deliberate in showing the women that they did not believe these things themselves. They showed the wife, “you don’t have to have sex to keep me. I want YOU, not just your body.” they told her, “I’m not going to lust after other women, because I truly love you.” That sort of thing. And then she felt safe and free enough to examine her beliefs and discard them, because her husband was showing her they weren’t true.
      However, in other marriages the husband unwittingly showed the wife that these beliefs were true. When husbands were constantly angry and grumpy and frustrated, they learned, “yes, my husband only wants one thing. He doesn’t really love me. Sex isn’t something that’s about me, it’s only for him.” Etc.
      So I’d just ask: have you spent time deliberately showing your wife that these things aren’t true? Have you talked to her about these beliefs? It could be that she’d really benefit from reading The Great Sex Rescue and seeing how these things were taught and how they’re likely immpacting her. But what we found again and again is that it’s husbands who have the most power to help their wives find freedom by showing their wives unconditional acceptance.
      I know that’s hard when you’re so lonely, and it likely seems unfair. But that’s really what women need.


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