How I’m Personally Coping with the “You’re His Methadone” Message

by | Feb 5, 2021 | Faith | 64 comments

How I'm Coping with the Methadone Statement

What happens when shocking things lose the power to shock?

I want to pull back the curtain today and share the personal side of what’s going on in me right now, because so many of you poured out your stories yesterday here and on social media after the podcast. I’d like to share a bit of my emotional journey this week in particular.

But let me back up to the beginning. When I first read Love & Respect in January 2019, I’ve equated it with a nuclear bomb going off in my living room. I was not prepared for how terrible it was with regards to women and sex, and you can read all about that in my initial Love & Respect post, and my ultimate post, the Open Letter to Focus on the Family about it. I honestly couldn’t believe it. He talked about sex as only about a husband’s physical release; he made fun of a woman bringing up her husband’s porn use and doubled down that she should lose weight instead; and so much more.

It was honestly jarring. I didn’t know that the evangelical world said these things about women because I had never read it before.

A year later we embarked on our huge survey to try to get to the bottom of it, and The Great Sex Rescue was written.

(Wow, I just put that in the passive tense. Way to downplay how much work that was, Sheila!)

Anyway, we surveyed 20,000 women to see what teachings had harmed their sex lives, and I read all the evangelical best-sellers and applied our 12-point rubric of healthy sexuality teaching to them.

And so, as I read Every Man’s Battle, I came to the methadone lines that we talked about in the podcast yesterday.

“Your wife can be a methadone-like fix when your temperature is rising.” (p. 118)
“Once he tells you he’s going cold turkey, be like a merciful vial of methadone for him.” (p. 120)
Every Man's Battle

Naturally I freaked out, because a year earlier, we’d been trying to convey how dehumanizing the message was that said that using your wife in place of porn was a good recovery route. Rebecca came up with the idea that your wife is not methadone. We thought that was so awful, so gross, that people may get it.

But then I read it in Every Man’s Battle and saw that they thought it was a selling feature.

So of course I got on FaceTime and spent that day venting with Rebecca and Joanna.

Since then, I’ve read far more of the same type of thing in so many different evangelical books.

And to be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve FaceTimed either of them just to vent about how awful something is in a book.

That leads me to the story that I want to share of what happened to me on Wednesday.

I was recording an episode of The Worthy Podcast, with Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher.

We were talking about some of the really horrendous teachings about women in these evangelical books, and I rattled off the typical methadone quote–“once he goes cold turkey, be like a merciful vial of methadone for him,” and I kept going.

Well, Elyse looked like she was going to have a heart attack and cough up her tonsils all at the same time. She sputtered and spattered and made me repeat that, slowly.

They just couldn’t believe it. They were speechless and flabbergasted.

And a part of me mourned, because calling women methadone, as dehumanizing and awful as that is, doesn’t even register to me anymore.

I talked about this on Twitter, and a number of people told me that likely my body and my brain were protecting me from damaging messages and had just turned off my shock-o-meter, and that’s likely true. When I’m immersed in this all the time, as we’re gearing up for the release of The Great Sex Rescue (the book that will put all of this to rest once and for all!), it is tiring, and I do need to protect myself.

But over the last two days, since we recorded both yesterday’s podcast and the one with Elyse and Eric, I’ve let myself feel a bit.

The first thing I realized I felt was hopelessness. 

I took a look at who endorsed Every Man’s Battle. Max Lucado said “Every male needs to read this book.” Les & Leslie Parrott said it would transform marriages; Josh McDowell put his name to it. And so many more. These big name authors, that we don’t associate with bad things, thought it was important that women were called methadone.

How does that happen in the evangelical world?

And can our book start stemming the tide? Will people listen?

The next thing I realized I felt was loneliness.

Katie’s been home this week and we’ve been reminiscing about the past, and I realized that the last time I let myself feel part of a church body was when they were young. I threw myself heart and soul into that church, even though they didn’t treat me particularly well. I volunteered at all kinds of ministries, including leading a praise team and children’s ministry. I led women’s Bible studies. I made so many friends there. I loved people’s kids. We always went out to lunch with different families every week.

It felt like they were my family.

But after a while, I just couldn’t handle how they treated me as a woman (which is a long story; some of it is in this podcast). And i realized that at the church I went to next, though I really enjoyed it, I never let myself feel like they were my family. I’m not sure if i ever can again. I started making my family from friends outside of church, and forming my own little group, because it’s really hard to trust after you’ve given your whole heart to something, and then you realize that they see you in a degrading way. It was tough.

What I’m trying to feel right now is hope.

We’ve got 386 people on our Launch Team for The Great Sex Rescue, and way more than that have pre-ordered (thank you!). And if you want to join the Launch Team, it’s super easy. Just pre-order the book and email me the receipt (all the info and links are here), and you’ll get an email back with our awesome pre-order bonuses and an invite to the Facebook Group launch team! Plus Baker Books has The Great Sex Rescue on for just over $10, so it’s really affordable!

"A groundbreaking look into what true, sacred biblical sexuality is intended to be. A must-read." - Rachael Denhollander

What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?

It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.

Great Sex Rescue

And honestly, the book is hopeful. Sure, it shows how our resources have talked about marriage and sex in totally unhealthy ways, but it also points us to something better. And it validates all of you who always felt like something was off.

I want to believe that we can change things. I hate to think that most evangelical leaders think it’s okay to call women methadone for their husband’s porn addictions, and I am praying so hard that other evangelical leaders start speaking out, so it’s not just me. So many amazing counselors are speaking out (like Andrew Bauman and MIchael John Cusick, who have been on our podcasts), but I’d love to see some other authors speak out. Please pray with me about that, okay? We need to stop the evangelical machine where everybody endorses everybody else and speaks at the conferences and never says anything bad because no one wants to lose book deals.

People should matter more than money.

I think I’ll leave you with some comments today that have given me hope this week. But in the meantime, if you have anything to say that can help me see the light at the end of the tunnel, I’d love to hear it!

We used to have a LOT more issues before we came across Sheila’s page about 8 years ago. It’s taken a long time for me to change some of my mindsets I’ve had.

When my husband got a job that involved a lot of travel I worried constantly about him cheating on me even though he’d done nothing to give me reason to believe that he would. I bought into the whole “if you don’t give him enough sex he’ll cheat and it’ll be your fault.” After having 3 kids in rapid succession, I actually believed my husband had the right to cheat on me because I wasn’t meeting his needs and I felt like such a failure which killed my sex drive even more. Shortly after he got back from a business training trip I discovered “Bare Marriage” and it helped towards me being honest with my husband and our marriage healing. It would take years, though, before I finally realized that it didn’t matter how much I failed at being a wife my husband still would have no excuse to cheat and, finally, for the first time I didn’t worry about it constantly. Recently he and I talked about that mindset again and he told me how hurtful it was to him that I constantly believed that he had and would cheat when he’d done nothing to give me any indication that he had. I’m so thankful for  Sheila and her “team” and then changing the harmful mindset that so many of us grew up with.

I am personally excited about this book because I’m the guy who had to work to undo all the damage caused by poor teaching in evangelical churches and from reading books like Every Man’s Battle and from purity culture. I’m the guy who was taught that women’s bodies are for the man’s gratification and all that other nonsense. I’m the guy who was bullied and picked on for not being manly enough or never fitting into any “manliness” stereotypical category these books offered. I’m the guy who was molested as a child and introduced to porn at a young age and struggled with it (and other issues) for years.  I’m now also the guy who’s recovering from all this and is working to rebuild my marriage the way God intended for it to work, being the man God intended me to be while being comfortable with whom he created me to be, and treating my wife the way she deserves to be treated. There’s been a lot of reprogramming, undoing bad teaching, learning about and overcoming addictions, and dealing with trauma. Our marriage is a testimony to God’s healing, grace, love, mercy, faithfulness, and forgiveness, and I hope he can use that to encourage others as well.
I am also very invested in how Sheila, her husband, her daughters, and her sons-in-law have been talking about modesty and purity culture so as not to subject my own kids to the same garbage I was fed!

When I sought help for my marriage, a preacher told me that the only reason my ex used porn was due to the fact I wasn’t making myself available to him. I was too young and embarrassed to tell the preacher the length I had gone to in attempts to get my ex’s attention. I’m so glad you are telling the truth about this devastating addiction.

For three decades I’ve heard that my body is for his stress release, comfort, etc not just from my husband but from the church and so many women my age. This was so prevalent that women would worry about their husbands stress level without sex if they needed major surgery!! I just don’t get it. These are mature adult men who care about your physical health. Thank you for shedding light on these horrible messages in the church.

Such a great podcast episode. I love to hear that fire in Rebecca’s voice. As someone who has struggled with sex in her own marriage, it breaks my heart to think of all the men and women who have read these books and take them as gospel. Just because something is labeled “Christian” doesn’t mean it aligns with Jesus. Thank you for speaking truth into the lives of men and women and challenging “the man” (of the evangelical world).

Exactly. Just because something says it’s Christian doesn’t mean it aligns with Jesus!

Let’s always use Jesus as our plumb line.

He should be the ultimate guide. If something doesn’t walk like Jesus, talk like Jesus, or do things Jesus would do, that something is not of Jesus. 

Have any more encouragement for me? I’d love to hear it!

And remember–we’re going LIVE on Facebook to talk about this at noon today in the Launch Team Book Ambassador Group! So pre-order and send in your receipt for the invite!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

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

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  1. Katydid

    This is timely. Just this morning I was thinking about you,Sheila, and wondering how in the world you handle all the negativity and sorrow (and push-back and abuse) you get. You are in my prayers.
    I grew up in a family of cops, and when they get together and “blow off steam” it is shocking. But, it is an emotionally protective way of coping with the horror they experience. Honestly, it is a shame our law enforcement doesn’t have therapy built into their job benefits.
    I have decided to walk away from church completely for a time, mostly because I cannot encounter any Bible verse, problem, teaching, or prayer without literally hearing in my mind the darts of toxic, twisted teachings and contradictions. I need everyone to shut up so I can hear Jesus. Otherwise,I am too steeped in trying to figure out if a church is healthy or dealing with trying to navigate the culture and requirements (like having to go through rituals to join the Catholic Church). I just can’t right now.
    Yours is the only voice I can tolerate right now because it is in the healing path. We get each other. We get it!
    I’ve got your back because you’ve got mine.
    I think a lot of the push back you are receiving are from men who fit the marital rape definition and don’t want to face that reality, or from men who are afraid of losing what sex life they have, even though it is broken.
    I’m dealing with pushback now that I am done being a pushover. Unfortunately, it is like a russian nesting doll of layers of toxicity to work through. All the church is offering now is how sinful I am to not go to church.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      “I’ve got your back because you’ve got mine.” That’s lovely, Katydid! Thank you.

  2. Anon

    You may not feel you have ‘family’ in a local church, but you have a worldwide family of brothers & sisters in Christ who are so thankful for the work you are doing and who are cheering you on. You’ll never know until you get to heaven just how much you have been used by God to heal, help, restore and bless this ‘family’ and how much they are all rooting for you.
    We stand with you. May God bless you abundantly xxx
    (And a huge cyber hug is winging its way to you right now from me!)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Anon! And so fun to meet the “non-Anon” you on Facebook, too!

      • Anon

        Haha, maybe ‘NonAnon’ should be my new name here!

  3. Amy Hartle

    You’re doing amazing Sheila, tackling such incredibly hard topics and bringing new thoughts to light. I get that feeling of lacking a church home, and it’s largely what pushed me towards looking into Catholicism over the past few years. I’m entering the Catholic church in April and I love the depth and history I have found in it, plus the closeness I’m feeling to Jesus.
    I know most evangelicals have a ton of objections to catholicism (I sure did growing up Baptist!) But I will say that Catholics tend to have a beautiful view of sexuality and the human body. It might be worth looking into if you’re interested. Especially the Theology of the Body written by John Paul II. Obviously a very different perspective, but thought you might enjoy!
    Keep rocking !

  4. Ang

    Praying for you Shelia! Keep up the good work. We need men to realize that women deserve respect and that we have feelings and can get broken and aren’t meant just to please them. What happened to men learning that they are to love their wives as Christ loved the church?? You’ve been a help for me and my marriage . God bless you!

  5. This is a Pseudonym

    Sheila, thank you so much for speaking out against toxic teachings! It was your blog post about what to do if your husband ogles women that gave me the courage to finally put my foot down and set some boundaries. I needed that permission to stand up for myself. Thank you for starting me on the road to not allowing horrible things to happen to me!
    You know what’s really sad? When you first started talking about how Every Man’s Battle referred to women as methadone, it didn’t register as disgusting to me (probably partly because I wasn’t sure exactly what methadone was, ha! But I could tell by the context the general idea). I was so steeped in that ideology that it wasn’t shocking for me.
    That is such an awful feeling to realize that something horrific isn’t quite as horrific to you anymore. I’ll pray that you can find healing from that!

    • Louise

      Yes same!!! Now that I see how terrible the methadone analogy is, I can’t unsee it. But I was so blind before!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I’m just hoping that we make a big enough impact that whenever people hear “Every Man’s Battle” they’ll ask, “aren’t they the ones who called women methadone?”

  6. B, for Belinda

    I’ve said it before and I’ll likely keep saying it. You & your blog team, you opened the door that ended up freeing me from a covertly abusive marriage and saving my life. I may not ever have taken my life, but that marriage was slowly killing me. I was withering, like a plant denied sunlight. You guys not only brought back that sunlight, but you also provided spiritual food and support. You helped me see that God cares more about individual me than institutionalized marriage.

  7. Active Mom

    Have hope Sheila! You gave many of us a voice and a place to talk when the church kept trying to steamroll us with unhealthy teachings. You were willing to publicly stand in front of women and loudly call out the harmful and unbiblical teachings. The evangelical leaders will probably not listen and change. Maybe that’s ok. I firmly believe that the church has a sexism problem. They believe that women are less than. It dominates teachings on sexuality, when they have to deal with abuse etc. many churches are unwilling to point blank call out a mans sin. We hear the stories all the time. Sure a man is beating the heck out of his wife and when she goes for help she is advised on how to avoid triggering his temper, or if they support her and help her leave they in many cases will tell her that it’s ok to separate but God doesn’t permit divorce for abuse because he hates divorce. As they bleed members and lose people they wring their hands and blame the world. I know many women who have left the church and it isn’t because they embraced the world. They just couldn’t deal with the way women were talked about, treated or blamed for men’s sins.
    When I came here on your blog my faith was almost gone, I couldn’t imagine a God that would make me responsible for my husbands sexual sins. After reading a lot of your posts I realized Jesus was the Jesus I always thought he was. It was the church that has distorted him. Just know that your willingness to be bold and fight helped me to be at peace with losing faith in the church knowing that they were not always representing Jesus.

    • Louise

      This is so true. One of my close friends left the church and God because of the way she was treated when a youth leader raped her. She only told me about it many many years later and it made me so angry (angry at our church) and helped me understand her so much more. They had blamed her. 😭

  8. Sarah

    I’m replying here instead of FB since I want to remain anonymous. When I read those words, I had a visceral reaction. Then I realized that’s what I had allowed myself to be when I first discovered my husband’s porn use and then when told me he didn’t love me years later. Because of this type of teaching, I felt I had to make myself more appealing to him and perform any sexual acts he desired! We went through church premarital counseling in 2006 and the woman pastor gave us a book to read that was pretty old, I think…so not Love and Respect. In it I distinctly remember reading a section about a wife dressing in an attractive way or even remaining naked around the house to please her husband. I wish I could remember the name of the book, and I wish I had listened to my gut instincts then about how appalling that sounded!

    • Anonymous for this one

      The teachings I absorbed had me making myself very small in my marriage. Everything I did, said, or was was supposed to support, uplift, and exalt my husband. When troubles hit, teachings like Love and Respect made me feel like I had to keep getting smaller and smaller. Everything had to go through the filter of a husband’s preference and approval. Then, a wife would be loved and treated as she would like.
      Of course, that didn’t happen. I only got smaller and easily forgotten, unseen, and stepped on. Now, I am taking up space in my marriage. I have an opinion, preferences, a voice. I have talents, abilities, needs. I am my own human with personhood and dignity and autonomy.
      There’s a little push back. One gets used to feeling so big. There are benefits to being a god. But, overall he seems to be happy to be married to a human being instead of a household appliance or doormat.
      The other day he complained that I have too many houseplants (as if there is such a thing). Meanwhile, his hobby has completely taken over his man cave and spilled into our bedroom and family room. So, I bought another houseplant that I’ve wanted for over a year, now. Not out of spite, but because I enjoy houseplants, I wanted this one, and, I really don’t have very many plants (a dozen). Half are outdoor plants wintering over inside, anyway. In the past, I would have withered under his complaint and thrown away my plants. Not anymore!
      And when I introduced him to my newest plant, he just smiled and shook his head. He also noticed I did rearrange so the offending plant that triggered his outburst was no longer in his way. That’s a marriage. And, I made space for his bulging hobby.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        You’re a lovely writer! “Now, I am taking up space in my marriage.” That’s very insightful!

      • Anon

        Anonymous for this one, next time your husband complains about your houseplants, point him in my husband’s direction, who will tell him he has NOTHING to complain about. I have about 3 times the number of plants that you do!!! (-;

  9. Jane Eyre

    Thank you for your ministry, Sheila. Jesus affirmed the dignity of women in a radical manner, and Christian churches do not get to undo that.
    I think that people mistake short term effects for long term effects, which is particularly prevalent when you use a “stick” approach instead of a “carrot” approach. In the short term, most people will work very hard to avoid pain (being cheated on, having your parents yell at you, having your boss threaten your job). In the long term, they become numb to to the pain or threats of pain and become so resentful that they don’t care about carrots, either.
    Imagine if we told men: your wife will put her body in service to your family. The least you can do in return is make damn sure she orgasms as much or more than you do. If you aren’t going to get the job done, she will cheat on you with a man who isn’t selfish or incompetent in bed, and you have done to blame but yourself.
    Regardless of the short term effects, would that lead to a healthy marriage? I’m picturing a man at year five, in bed with his wife, thinking “She doesn’t climax through intercourse, so that’s out until she does climax. It’s been an hour and a half and she’s not there yet… maybe once she’s done I will just go to sleep because I am too tired for my own pleasure.” Year 10: “I don’t care anymore. I dread the nights when she is in the mood.” Year 15: “I will wait until the kids are out of the house to divorce.”
    Threats and fear are not a long term strategy for interpersonal relationships. Diets create weight gain long term. Controlled kids rebel or leave their families. Overworked employees quit. People who are harangued about sex lose their libido. News at 11.

  10. Nathan

    A small yet powerful stumbling block is the fact that some people are willing to accept ANYTHING as good Christian advice/philosophy just because somebody writes “A Christian marriage book” on the cover.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! That’s what I found so distressing in doing the scorecard for the evangelical marriage & sex books we reviewed for our book (you can get that scorecard immediately when you pre-order the book and send in your receipt).
      All the books said they were Christian, but on a scale of 0-48, the scores were all over the place, ranging from 0-47. The books didn’t have the same message at all. Like, it is not possible to like BOTH Love & Respect and Boundaries in Marriage, because they teach fundamentally different things. But we have this idea that because things are Christian, they’re the same, when they’re totally not.

  11. M

    Your teaching, honesty, transparency, courage, steadfastness etc. have been a huge blessing to me over the past couple years. It is influencing in a big way what I teach my kids. I have school aged kids up through adult children and grandchildren. You are influencing so many! My adult kids love it. I’ve used your stuff for teaching on puberty, preparation for honeymoons, modesty etc. I have also been able to sound the alarm to them and anyone else who will listen about toxic teachings in the church. You put into words, books and materials what I know in my heart to be true. Oh I also love your every novel novel guide:) Be encouraged!

  12. R

    Shiela, you’re making a huge difference in the world that will keep growing and affect GENERATIONS for the better as people learn to teach their children better than they were taught. My family appreciates you so much! Thank you to you and your team for fighting the good fights with grace and courage.

  13. EOF

    I hardly know where to begin! Your blog has helped me so much, and reading the advance review copy of your upcoming book is doing the same! I can’t wait for your message to get out there in the form of this book. I’m looking forward to sharing with my church leaders and friends.
    I’m really shocked at the names you dropped of people who promote Every Man’s Battle! I’ve been reading a lot of Max’s books lately and I was a student of Les & Leslie. I’ve even been in their home! Though I shouldn’t be surprised at the support they give the book. These teachings are (unfortunately) so prevalent! Without ever reading it, I believed it was a good book based on all the ravings I’d heard from church. In fact, I nearly picked a copy in church for my teenaged son when someone was giving it away. I’m glad I listened to the voice telling me to leave it there! (If only that voice had told me to take the book and trash it.)
    I used to think that these messages were primarily being taught from my denomination. I didn’t realize it was so widespread until coming across your blog. What a horrible mess! The people behind all of this should be ASHAMED for promoting such damaging teaching. Jesus treated women with respect. Why does the church have to undo everything he did in that regard??
    In the last week or so I’ve had a revelation. Background: in the early years of my marriage, my husband was filled with anger and had an explosive temper (which according to the church, I just needed to be more submissive and he would stop screaming at me for hours on end, week in and week out). Then we finally stopped reading the stupid books they recommended. (Don’t get me started on the horrible advice Christian books dole out to stepparents!! Equally as damaging as the sex advice to wives.) That helped our marriage somewhat. I was still miserable, but not AS miserable. Then my husband had some health issues – and THAT woke him up. Things have dramatically improved since then. I was so scared that he would revert, but thank God above that he hasn’t.
    Now to the revelation I had recently, from reading through the blog and your new book. I think that if we hadn’t received such horrible advice, my husband wouldn’t have behaved the way he did if he hadn’t been getting bombarded with the message that he had to make me submit or he wasn’t a real man. The church and these authors hold a part of the blame for my mistreatment. Yes, my husband is responsible for his actions, but I think that without all of the garbage the church fed us, our marriage would have been so different. He does have a kind heart, and he does care for me. That’s something I didn’t believe for so long, but now I can see it.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, EOF, this part: ” I think that if we hadn’t received such horrible advice, my husband wouldn’t have behaved the way he did if he hadn’t been getting bombarded with the message that he had to make me submit or he wasn’t a real man. The church and these authors hold a part of the blame for my mistreatment. ” Yes, I think that’s very likely true. We know that this advice hurts people, and that people who believe it act differently (on the whole, not each individual, obviously). We need better discernment.
      I’m glad your husband is of good character fundamentally, and things are getting better. So glad! And thank you for pre-ordering!

  14. Melissa

    Is it wrong that I’m kind of looking forward to seeing how many Christian marriage book authors lose their ever-loving minds when your book comes out? 😁
    Maybe it’s wrong. But it’s time to give Christian women their dignity back.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m wondering what’s going to happen, too! At this point I know people are going to hate me and dismiss me, so I’m just naming names left, right and center and let the chips fall where they may. It isn’t about me. It’s about the audience and the people who have been harmed, and now we have numbers and actual data. I’m hoping that starts to turn the tide!

    • Nathan

      No doubt, some people will explode with indignation and heap all sorts of indignities on Sheila and the book. But maybe with all of the controversy, some good will come out of it.
      Some might say that the book is unbiblical, since they’ll claim that the bible says that sex is all about the man’s physical release, and that women must perform whenever their husband wants, no matter what. Others might say that the book is anti-male, anti-sex, and so on.
      Both will be wrong, but let the storm come. It might just blow in some fresh air.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I actually wonder if anyone will actually claim I’m wrong? I mean, I don’t think even Eggerichs would try to defend the idea that sex is only about a man’s physical release. I think he likely wrote that and didn’t even realize this was a terrible thing to say, but I don’t know he’d defend it. I wonder if they’ll just call me mean or feminist but not make any actual argument? I mean, what are you going to say? God doesn’t care about women’s orgasms the way He cares about men’s? Or sex isn’t actually supposed to be mutual or intimate? I just don’t see how anyone could make that argument that blatantly (even if that’s what they said in their books).

  15. Nathan

    > > I just don’t see how anyone could make the argument of (X)
    I hope not, but history has shown us some bizarre things. It may be that many people have thought this unconsciously, though, and seeing it spelled out might help to start to change some people’s minds.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, that’s what I think is going on. I think they’ve never really challenged their assumptions, and when it’s in black and white, it’s obviously wrong (at least I sure hope it’s obvious!)

  16. HeirOfBlack

    I just want to say thank you Sheila, you and your family have been such a blessing to me and my marriage. Without your blog and podcasts, I would still be living a life where I thought I was worthless, nothing but a sperm receptacle, and that it was always my fault if I was sexually abused or if my husband cheated on me.
    Thanks to your writings, both me and my husband have grown immensely and have developed a healthy view of women, sex, and marriage. My husband used to follow only extremely conservative right wing media (Think jordan peterson, shapiro, trump etc.) But now he has unfollowed them and actually has told me that he is a new person and he can’t agree with that stuff anymore and that he finally sees how harmful his view of women was.
    Please don’t stop what you are doing because you are literally changing lives. Xx

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, my goodness! That’s amazing! Thank you so much for sharing that!

  17. Bre

    Thank you so much for everything you do Sheila! When I first found your blog, I was in the middle of my own personal bomb going off. I’d started looking into the argument for women in ministry/women in the church. I found out that the Bible has been mistranslated and misused and twisted by so many people and that the messages that are pushed on women about marriage and the church are not what was meant in the original context. It was…not a great time. Even though my denomination supports women in preaching and stuff, at my church, at lot of people bought into the Love and Respect/ headship ideas. And then I would go online to egalitarian websites and find openly misogynistic (They don’t even deserve to be called comp.) preachers from my denomination calling damnation upon the readers and saying that they basically infiltrated one of the few female-affirming denominations to “bring people back to God and remove the abomination of women in leadership”. This all triggered my anxiety and I basically thought; Christians suck, the church sucks, the “secular world” sucks…basically everything is awful. I was borderline depressed and just wanted to sleep all the time. I don’t remember what it was, but I googled something about marriage and ended up here at the start of your Love and Respect journey. I honestly sat and cried because I felt so relieved that other people saw why these general ideas on women and marriage were so dehumanizing and that there were people who didn’t think that my discomfort and aversion to these ideas were a sign of me being obsessed with worldly power and desiring to be in control. Seriously, finding you has made a world of a difference because I know that there are good, Jesus loving people out there who genuinely care about others. This website has been such a blessing for me to work through my thoughts, feelings, and fears about being a Christian female in the church. Even though I’m young , unmarried, and think that I want to stay single, you and everyone else one here has been so kind to me. Even though I go on really long rants and I don’t have the struggles of many others here, everyone has been nothing but loving and supportive. I can’t tell you how much of a blessing it is to just have a safe place where people actually understand my values, beliefs, and fears and take them seriously, even if I’m outside the typical demographic you target. What you are doing is SO important! You are giving people a safe space and helping them to realize they value that they have in God’s eyes. I’m sure you’ve helped a lot more people than you know. Honestly, you’re really one of the few people who are willing to face this problem head-on. Not that God can’t work through other people, but you’re definitely doing something that should have been done YEARS ago but people lacked the backbone to do. Keep doing what God is calling you to do! I’m so grateful for all you did to help me, and I’m praying for you and your family as things about to get crazy for you all!

  18. BL

    Thank you for your work Sheila! It’s been helpful for me to begin rebuilding what I believe and what’s been harmful in my life as I recover from betrayal trauma. My trauma group leader frequently sends your articles out to the whole group. Thank you!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s so encouraging to hear! Send me an email with the trauma group’s leader’s address, or tell them to email me, and I’ll make sure they get a copy of The Great Sex Rescue!

  19. MP

    I so agree with your feelings about church/women/feeling like family. Sadly so.
    Your work is so important, but the “vicarious trauma” you are describing is so real and predictable. I have been in healthcare for 30+ years and had seen so much tragedy and illness that struck both adults/children without warning. Then I changed to an area of practice where I also see the effects of the horrible things humans do to one another, including the adult effects of childhood trauma. I was initially aghast and in shock that this was really what happened out there. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I wasn’t sure I could continue doing this work, but I also couldn’t stop because of my compassion for the people I was caring for.
    Most importantly, you have to take care of yourself and be aware of vicarious trauma and PTSD.
    Where I eventually landed was that all the horrible things that were so shocking to me are, in fact, not shocking to God. He sees it all. He knows the reality of the world, including the parts of life that are so different from mine. This challenged my theology to consider where it was thin or assumed a privileged, modern, Western life/lifestyle. Does my theology work for the many people whose lives are so different than mine? If not, then it can’t be from God because He loves the whole world.
    My voice is more easily heard than the folks I see in my practice, so I am also challenged to use my voice to amplify those who aren’t heard.
    What I am saying is that losing your innocence and naivete about how dark the darkness in the world (including in the church) can really be, is painful. But I think it’s important that passionate Christians have their hearts utterly broken about the brokenness in the world, because it can be motivating towards a better understanding of God and a more fulsome and compassionate engagement with and for those who are hurting.
    That probably doesn’t sound hopeful, but it is meant to! An oncologist can’t be in a position to give people the hope that a cancer treatment could offer a cure unless they are also willing to tell people they have cancer and witness the challenging process of treatment. Hard and hope often go together in this world. You may have wandered into this unexpectedly in 2019, but I tend to believe those happenstances are providential.

      • MP

        Glad it was helpful. Feel free to contact offline if I can be of more help!
        Also, correction, there is a newer formulation that is already liquid and doesn’t need reconstitution. But the point remains that it’s oral and that is one of the harm reductions, as it hopefully replaces IV drug use, with all the associated harms.

      • MP

        Sorry, that comment was for “you’re not methadone” podcast, but the sentiment remains.

  20. Tory

    Sheila, I have read many books, blogs, articles, etc as well as listened to many focus on the family talks, and most of them just… I don’t know, made me roll my eyes a little bit. Made me think “all right, but I don’t agree with that.” Made me feel like I was not a good christian wife because I didn’t buy into their cookie cutter one-size-fits-all advice. When I found your blog, it was a breath of authenticity. Thanks for calling out the modern-day Pharisees. I’m grateful for your courage.
    And I tell all my friends about your blog!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, thank you, Tory! That’s great to know you’re telling your friends, too. I really think the only way The Great Sex Rescue is going to get out there is if people tell their friends, because the big names and big Christian media won’t recommend it. But we’ll get buzz, because it’s honestly a great book!

  21. Lisa

    I want to throw some love your way because the work you are doing is SO VERY IMPORTANT. It’s brave of you to take on evangelical culture and truly push back and SHOW these popular ideas about sex are hurting women.
    I was taught by the church, “sex is for him.” ” Do it or he will cheat.” “It takes so little time and makes him so happy.” “He needs it in a way you don’t.” And (my favorite) “he needs to think he rocked your world – even if he didn’t.”
    And it’s hard to ignore those messages when they’re coming from the CHURCH.
    Anyway, I’m married to a great guy influenced by a lot of bad teaching. Really he’s a wonderful husband outside of the bedroom. We’re working on it. I have hope. That’s in no small part because of you.
    I pray for you, your team, and your marriages every single day. I know the enemy will try to silence you. But truth cannot be silenced. Thank you for being brave.

  22. Belinda

    Paradigm shifts have historically been difficult for humanity, especially the one leading the shift. Galileo, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Marie Curie, the early Church, etc. You’re not alone.

  23. Eps

    I remember someone once said in a discussion about why they went to church – for the people. And another person replied, if I went for the people I would have stopped coming long ago. I go for Jesus.
    They have loved, pointed to Christ and served the church – while being a radical woman who spoke her mind. Sometimes she would say less, and bide her time while issues blew over. But when it counted she would act. But what she has always had, is ‘her’ church. A support network of christians from within or without the church she attended to minister to her.
    People can always disappoint in a corporate church. So I have sought out my church beyond the bricks and mortar building and corporate structures. It might be small, but I can be honest, vulnerable and question things while being built up and encouraged and doing the same in return. And THAT is what church is. The bible calls us to fellowship together with believers. We can do that beyond what we may traditionally believe as church. Seek this, especially if you need to heal.
    But as that wise lady has also told me – things don’t change if we quietly leave. Someone has to stay if we want change to happen – and if we do leave, we do it together over a big issue and make a stand.
    But of course, we need support and emotional safety first.
    I pray all who are seeking find their church. Their family.

  24. Mara R

    Sheila in the above post: “But after a while, I just couldn’t handle how they treated me as a woman… because it’s really hard to trust after you’ve given your whole heart to something, and then you realize that they see you in a degrading way. It was tough.”
    Sometimes I wonder how many women have left the church either physically, or just emotionally because of this experience. I know I have. I know many women who have.
    Sometimes I wonder if the number of women who have “checked out” of church life, if that number rivals the actual number that attend evangelical churches now.
    You know, like pet owners who neglect to sweep up the pet hair, then when they finally get around to it, they joke that they swept up enough hair to make a whole ‘nother dog?
    I wonder if the Evangelical Church has shed so many women though their disdain and mistreatment of women, that you could build a whole ‘nother church out of what they discarded.
    I am wondering if that whole other church would be as big or even bigger than the church that looks upon women in such a degrading way.
    Just thinking out loud here.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I actually think it likely would be bigger! I know the one big thing I wish is that I had left earlier. We’ve found a small little church right in our neighbourhood that isn’t trying to be flashy; it’s just trying to have community. We’ve been watching online and plan on going when things open up again. But I think if we told people, there are great churches out there! They just may be smaller than you’re used to, and they may not have as great a praise band, and the building may not be as nice. But they’re out there. And I think if we freed up people to go, then those large churches would often empty out (some large churches are amazing, I know, just in my area it tends to be true that the smaller ones are more community; the larger ones are more hierarchy).

  25. Lenny

    What was that thing Jesus said about prophets not being welcome in their home towns? 🙂
    I’ve been on a journey of deconstructing and reconstructing my faith and it just so happened I discovered your blog around the same time as I was dating and getting married. You’ve helped me deal with a lot of purity culture baggage and set my husband and I up for a much better marriage than we would have had if we just relied on the messages we heard in our past evangelical churches! (We made a “burn pile” of books to recycle in an ecologically friendly way).
    We probably all long for a church community that will feel like home, but I don’t know if you will find one. I don’t know if I will find one! We keep following Jesus wherever he takes us and know that he is worth trusting above all else.
    Please keep going, and also please take a holiday sometime!

  26. Oldtimer

    As I read through this article I was reminded how much damage the boys club (as we call the church organization need two pages to explain this) has done for women. They were and in some places still trying to run that organization like the old testament. For many years man ruled and women drooled. Even in this article I find some of the same concerns unless I read it wrong. Boys club PC teaching. Pron is a 2 sided coin. Not just men but women as well. So many things men and women need to do address this problem. We also have to look at it thru old testament eyes as well. The best martial counseling we received was from a organization with no boys club affiliation. They started in Gen 3 and went from there. Then they explained certain new testament passages in a new way we had never heard of and it works. Like the one where she belongs to U and vise versa was explained in a whole new light and many others as well. Explained without the boys club PC rules. I could go on for hours on what we learned. Men and women counselors did a great job for our marriage. We got a lot of info from both sides of the isles and very very very little (if any) boys club info. 50 plus years of practicing what they taught us gave us a great marriage and did wonders for DW. Well all I have time for. Like I said this could go on for hours but tri tip is calling.

  27. Phil

    Sheila -some how you have always been there for me as a spiritual e-mentor these many years. Never in my thoughts would I have planned it. I thoroughly enjoy watching you work to speak the words of Jesus And lead by his example. Thank you for all you do. You say people are going to say you’re mean when they read your new book. I counter that: single most descriptive word I would use to describe you: KIND.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Phil! I don’t always think of myself as a kind person, so I’m glad that I come across that way! And I’ve really appreciated your comments and community, too.

  28. Alex

    Isn’t there a more positive and uplifting way to reframe this, though? Something like, if a husband is really making an effort to stop using porn, he might suddenly become a lot more interested in both emotional and physical intimacy with his wife and so she should be prepared to be able to set healthy boundaries on one hand, but also not push him away on the other hand?

    • Ruth

      Sure, but we can’t in any way imply that a woman is a sexual resource/object for her husband, and the whole “his sex drive will skyrocket after going cold turkey and you’ll have to help accommodate that” can SOOO easily slip into methadone territory. I mean, if a man goes off porn while single, he has to find a way to handle it without a sexual partner. So if a married man finds himself in this situation with a wife who is still emotionally and spiritually raw from his betrayal and is not ready to be sexually intimate, he should be told that it’s frankly an act of fully undeserved mercy for his wife to help take the edge off his libido, and that he should not expect it from her.

  29. Anonymous

    I love my husband and I feel like our marriage and sex life are in a pretty good place right now, but there are some things about sex that have really been bothering me. My husband has a high sex drive and we have sex usually 5-9 times a week (although he would prefer more). He’s gotten much better about not making me feel guilty for saying no once in a while, but the fact that he says I get 3 days off for my period every month bothers me because it makes me feel like I owe him sex. He makes other similar comments about how I owe him sex if he does anything for me, no matter how small. I’ve tried telling him how it makes me feel (up until a few years ago, his attitude towards sex very much objectified me, he didn’t even realize I could should be able to enjoy it too, and there were some instances of marital rape when I said no because of pain and then cried through the whole experience because it hurt so much so I’m still dealing with the baggage from years of that even though he’s doing better), but he laughs it off and tells me that I know he doesn’t mean it and he’s just joking. Also, he has some very specific things he wants me to do and he wants to try during sex. He pressures me for them literally every day even though I’ve told him repeatedly and how much and why they bother me. His response is, “it’s always about you.” I have really been working on stepping outside of my comfort zone, but no matter what I do, it’s not enough for him. It’s very demoralizing and I feel like sex is just about pressure. Am I being selfish by not giving him what he wants? I’m at a loss at how to handle this and it really hurts me and is keeping me from being able to enjoy sex.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Anonymous, I am so, so sorry that you are going through this.
      But I need to be honest: this is abusive. This is not right. He is coming to you for sex often multiple times a day, and not considering your experience. That is wrong. And then, if you speak up and say you want to be considered, he says you’re making it all about you. That is gaslighting.
      It is okay to say, “I will no longer have sex with you where I feel like an object. I want to make love to you and have a passionate sex life, but that needs to be about both of us. My pleasure matters, but also, we have to connect intimately and emotionally as well or else sex feels like you’re using me. So until we get this sorted out, I am no longer willing to be used.”
      If that sounds too scary, please read a book like Boundaries in Marriage. And you may even need Is it Me? by Natalie Hoffman. But this is not normal or right.
      If saying something like that would lead to you being in danger, please call a domestic violence hotline.
      You are worth more than this. You are being treated badly. It isn’t okay. And I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

  30. Mike

    I read some of these comments, and as a man, I think to myself, “Wow, what I wouldn’t give to be treated like a sex object. And women complain about it.”

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’re walking down a street, alone, and a guy the size of Terry Crews starts yelling out lewd comments at you. How do you feel now?

  31. Anonymous305

    I just looked up The Worthy podcast because I wanted to hear her shock. When I first heard your “NOT methadone” podcast, I was used to the obligation message and I STILL felt shock at the content of EMB.
    It feels good to hear people be shocked about it, but I can’t blame people who aren’t shocked because they’re either numb as a coping mechanism or they don’t know anything better is possible. When I was in a highschool youth group where the girls were told to be modest so the old men wouldn’t struggle, it felt gross, but normal, like how eating kale is gross yet healthy. I wasn’t shocked because I thought the old men biologically didn’t have a choice. I didn’t know it was possible to teach men not to look at children “in that way”. (Clarification-I still didn’t think it was normal if the men physically acted on the lust or if they felt it for pre-pubescent girls). Of course, at the time, I didn’t see myself as a child needing protection, but as someone who was old enough to know right from wrong and who was “godly” enough not to dress like a stumbling block, unlike my “sinful” peers. Now, I look back and think “poor little kids ☹️☹️‼️!!”
    Also, in The Worthy podcast, I think you meant “make your wife soar”, but my first thought was “why would she say ‘sore’?”

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very true! It actually was really nice to hear someone be shocked by it again. It really was.


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