Podcast: Christian Sex Books & the Backlash Against the Sexual Revolution

by | Apr 22, 2021 | Uncategorized | 11 comments

Podcast Weird 1970s Sex Books and the Culture
Merchandise is Here!

How did the 1950s Kinsey Report & the 1960s and 1970s sexual revolution all contribute to the earliest Christian sex books?

We talk about it in today’s podcast!

And I do need to say, TRIGGER WARNING: We did talk about some pretty intense examples of sexual abuse that were considered “normal” and no big deal in the past, that we found quite horrifying. 

We didn’t get a video for this week’s podcast, sorry! But that will continue as usual next week. There were just some glitches this week.

What culture were Christian sex books originally speaking into?

We’ve been on quite the journey the last few weeks, looking at:

And then this week on the blog we looked at 12 things a 1970s sex manual taught us (some of which were beyond cringey and some which were downright illegal and coercive), and then we turned to what Tim LaHaye said in The Act of Marriage, one of evangelicalism’s first bestselling Christian sex books of the modern era.

We were summarizing a lot of that in today’s podcast, but we also wanted to further set the stage for the culture into which the first evangelical sex books were written.

So in this podcast, we talked first about The Kinsey Report, the 1950s “scientific” reports on human sexual behavior. We looked at how they changed the conversation about sex, by allowing things done in private to actually be discussed widely for the first time, but also how problematic the methods were, and how downright abusive and pedophilic much of it was (and Connor got quite emotional describing it).

When we move to the late 1970s when evangelicals were finally writing sex books, they were entering into a cultural fray where:

  • Sex was being discussed and could no longer be kept hidden
  • People wanted to enjoy sex
  • Divorce was rising
  • “Free love” was the rage–meaning sexual experimentation
  • Feminism was on the rise, and it was seen as the evil that was promoting societal breakdown.

These books, then, were largely reactionary. They were trying to fight against family breakdown by preserving the need for marriage and by doubling down on the need for gender roles–but at the same time they were trying to make sure that sex in marriage was really fun so that nobody would want to stray, and thus break apart the family.

The focus, then, was not on growing intimacy, or helping women reach fulfillment, or helping both partners overcome shame and find true love as much as it was keeping marriages together at all costs. That should help us understand some of the emphases in The Act of Marriage.

But as Connor said–secular books in the 1970s were talking about issues that evangelicals STILL haven’t grappled well with–until our book

Even the book he looked at treated sex as intimate (though they forgot about that commitment thing), and it recognized the orgasm gap. Why is it that 50 years later many of our bestsellers still aren’t doing that?

It was a much more hard-hitting discussion than I thought it would be, but it was an important one, and the conclusion is important too–not everything that the world does is automatically wrong. 

Reader Question: How do I protect my younger brothers from the lust message?

A woman who grew up in the purity culture writes in with this problem:

I have been married for a decade and my husband and I have an amazing marriage and an amazing sex life. I am so grateful, because honestly, it feels like we are the complete NOT norm in our conservative Christian circle. I am from the reformed church where purity culture is rampant and women and held in a certain esteem that is hard to explain. In my church, beautiful women are viewed as dangerous. It is very clear in how men speak of them, as if the very state of being beautiful is slutty.

Anyways, I am from a family of amazing parents. They’re wonderful, but from a very very early age, i was clearly taught that my body was a dangerous weapon to be hidden, to be ashamed of and a thing that would cause many men to stumble. I know they did their best with what they had. And i love them. But this is one particular area of growing up that was damaging.

I remember one particular incident. I had recently lost about 30 pounds and I was grocery shopping at night. A man approached me and wouldn’t stop harassing me. He ended up waiting for me at the doors with a group of men. I waited long enough to leave that they finally seemed to leave. When i got outside, i realized they were still lurking – I ran to my car and locked the doors. I drove away so fast and so terrified i ended up going the wrong way down a one way street. (That’s beside the point, but just goes to show how terrified I was. )When I told my parents, my dad is particular was so angry with me. He immediately brought up how my style of dress had changed with my weight loss – that I MUST have been wearing something tight, showing my arms. I was in fact, wearing a long coat as it was fall season. Not that it should matter. This is just one example of many instances similar.

I have several brothers at home, and I am very concerned about the approach in which my parents/church are taking with how they speak of lust and porn. It is just so typical of the ‘every mans battle’ mindset, and i can already see the damage it is doing. I want to give my parents some resources to start having a new conversation about this, but I don’t even know where to start. Porn is taking over because our teachings don’t work. I am sick to death over youth retreats have boy’s seminars on lust and girl’s seminars on modesty and how to make boys not lust. It’s wrong and we need help. I am so worried about our younger generation. 

And, again, you can find our rubric and scorecard here to share with those who may need it, but also–don’t be afraid to talk to your brothers yourself!

Encouraging Review for The Great Sex Rescue!

I do like to end with something encouraging:

I didn’t realise until I got married just how deeply I had absorbed the pervasive evangelical teachings about sex and marriage. The obligation sex message and the teachings around lust in particular have caused so much hurt for me and my marriage, so I was thrilled to hear that Sheila, Rebecca and Joanna were writing The Great Sex Rescue to help challenge these teachings in a big way!

They explore the evangelical teachings about sex, lust and more, and with clarity explain where the teachings go wrong, how they objectify women and hurt men and women in general, and how we can reframe them in a healthy way. I am so thankful for the courage with which these authors are boldly challenging the evangelical literature which has caused so much heartache!

I love how the book focuses on encouraging us to behave more like Jesus and to evaluate our teachings by their fruits. The Great Sex Rescue minces no words in defence of the many of us that have been hurt, it replaces harmful teachings with healthy ones and ends with great hope. It helped me understand so many things about myself, it was healing, and I would 100% recommend it to anyone that has grown up in the evangelical church.

Amazon Review

Great Sex Rescue

The Great Sex Rescue

Now Available!

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.

Weird 1970s Sex Books and the Culture: A Podcast on the Sexual Revolution

What do you think? Did the Kinsey report horrify you, too? Anything stand out to you? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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

Related Posts

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

Related Posts

Is Someone Stepping on Your Air Hose?

So many women--and many men as well--honestly feel like the church is hurting them. I do not believe that it is Jesus that is hurting them, but the things that the church teaches, especially around sex and marriage, do cause harm. Our surveys have shown that...

Can Sex Be Hot and Holy at the Same Time?

Can sex be hot and holy at the same time? One of my big picture passions that I want people to understand is that sex is more than just physical--it's supposed to be deeply intimate too. And maybe to understand that, we need to take a step back to see what God thinks...

Comments

We welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion. Comments that are rude, profane, or abusive will not be allowed. Comments that are unrelated to the current post may be deleted. Comments above 300 words in length are let through at the moderator’s discretion and may be shortened to the first 300 words or deleted. By commenting you are agreeing to the terms outlined in our comment and privacy policy, which you can read in full here!

11 Comments

  1. Katydid

    I just gotta say, Connor’s voice! He’s like the Canadian Benedict Cumberbatch! (I listen to a lot of audio books and appreciate a top notch speaking voice.)

    Reply
  2. Bethany#2

    This trigger warning was well deserved. Wow, that will never not be gut wrenching to hear. I’ve heard about the churches fear of losing control of the family structure, as the reason for alot of new books. In that they feared that almost every single new trend was encouraging individual isolation from the family unit.
    One book that my dad liked, was about why so many people are leaving the church in college.(something like “already gone” was the title) I guess this is one big category the author didn’t consider. Sexual abuse being mishandled in every way possible, and few exceptions in individual church’s.

    Reply
  3. Jane Eyre

    The grocery shopping incident is just awful on several levels. The father should have told her that next time, she should alert a store manager. Go to the customer service desk and ask for assistance. They can even escort her to her car and wait while she loads her groceries. Same at a mall: the customer service desk is there for problems like this.
    There’s a strain of old school thinking that basically believes that if something bad happens to you, you MUST have done something wrong. That is hardly the same thing as saying that wise choices reduce the problems in your life; we live in such a fallen world that the only perfect person to walk the Earth was crucified.
    Maybe for a lot of these people it was true: in post WWII America, people who graduated high school, showed up on time and sober at their jobs, and got married often had pretty great lives. They lived right and in turn, life did well by them. For many, they tended to not have problems that weren’t self inflicted. When their daughter has a problem with creeps, it must be because she did something wrong.
    But that doesn’t mean every problem needs blame assigned to it. You seem to operate under the belief that a husband and wife can struggle in the bedroom as a result of everything from their upbringing to porn to, well, sometimes sex is tough.
    What disturbs me about many of the authors you cite is the focus on blame and not problem solving. Or they act like if you both save yourselves for marriage, you will have mind blowing sex. Modestly dressed women can still be harassed, just as chaste couples can struggle with sex. Virtue is its own reward.

    Reply
  4. Chris

    QUOTE OF THE DAY, (maybe of the whole year) : “Purting cocaine on the tip of your penis…thats very ‘70s”.
    Connor Lindenbach. 🤣🤣🤣

    Reply
    • Chris

      Meant to say “putting” not purting”

      Reply
  5. Chris

    As mentioned in the podcast, the 1920s would have been another interesting time to cover.
    I read recently the book “The fires of autumn”. Its about France in the 1920s….mostly. The author died in the holocaust so most of her works were published posthumously. But reading about France in the 1920s in that book, the sense of what we would now call “rape culture” is so strong. Why? Because nearly half of the French men of marrying age were dead. Another quarter maimed or wounded. So the ones who were left? Ya they could run crazy. It is eerily like college campuses today that are 60-70-80% female. When men are in short supply, women have to compete for them on men’s terms. That’s not good. But what the absence of men in Europe did in the 1920s? Fascinating time to study.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That is really interesting, Chris. I’ve often thought about the problems with higher education being predominantly female. I think of all the girls who go to Bible college hoping to meet a husband who don’t realize that often over 70% of the student body is female.

      Reply
  6. Emmy

    A very interesting podcast again, than you so much.
    While listening to the podcast and browsing on the works on your score card I realized some very popular Christian sources from the 1960s-80s where not there.
    I wonder whether you, I mean Sheila and your team, are familiar with the writings of Walter and Ingrid Trobisch. They have been very influential, at least in Europe. I wonder how they would score.
    I wonder if anyone else here has read any of them: I loved a girl; The joy of being a woman; The misunderstood man, and many others. I’d be very interesting in your opinion.

    Reply
  7. Lisa M

    This podcast was FASCINATING and I almost skipped over it. The theories about the evangelical marriage and sex books being a reaction to the secular sexual revolution were particularly interesting. “Enjoy sex in marriage but women better not forget their place. We cannot have women understanding their rights as humans.” (My paraphrase.). Great podcast!! Thank you Connor!!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *