10 Fringe Toxic Christian Beliefs about Sex That Aren’t So Fringe

by | May 21, 2021 | Sex, Theology of Marriage and Sex, Uncategorized | 83 comments

10 Fringe Christian Beliefs about Sex
Merchandise is Here!

We all know there are lots of crazies on the internet saying super toxic things using biblical language.

And it’s generally best to ignore those people, I figure. We shouldn’t give fringe people traffic!

This week, though, about 20 different people have sent me an article about 10 rules of sex for Christian wives. It’s from a gross misogynist website, and I wasn’t going to talk about it–but people keep leaving the link on Facebook and in my Instagram messages, so obviously it’s resonating!

I was thinking about how to address it, and here’s the thing: It actually doesn’t bother me that much that weird anonymous fringe sites say horrible things. I don’t think it’s worth our time really.

But in reading this particular article, what struck me is that its 10 points are echoed in our Christian bestsellers.

When you see the 10 points written out, with no context, you can tell they’re toxic and gross. But when those same points are used in books, we don’t notice it as much. Maybe the toxic stuff is only 5%, and it’s couched with great anecdotes and stories and other reasonable parts, so we don’t tend to notice that it’s toxic.

But it still is toxic.

Today what I’d like to do, then, is to take those 10 points and show where they’re echoed in our best-selling books and on mainstream Christian websites.

And Trigger Warning–they’re pretty gross. I edited them down for length and left the most disgusting parts out.

I’m NOT going to link to the original fringe article. My blog gets lots of Google juice, and if I link to it, I give it credibility with Google, and I will not do that. If you really want to find it, you can search for it, but I’d advise against it. And please–don’t link to it or share it on social media. That’s what the guy who writes it wants. Just let it be.

Instead of focusing on this fringe stuff, which we can so easily see is gross, let’s call out our best-sellers which say the same things, just in prettier language.

I’m also not going to refute any of these points. Honestly, I’ve done that enough; just read The Great Sex Rescue for why all of this is toxic! My main aim is to show how our best-sellers often say the same thing. Just like Meghan Tschanz shared on yesterday’s podcast, often the beliefs that contribute to sex trafficking and abuse are actually based on mainstream teachings in the evangelical world. (And that podcast was awesome if you haven’t listened to it yet!)

So here we go! The 10 points the fringe blog post mentions–and how they’re echoed in our “mainstream” evangelical culture. Let’s not let this be acceptable anymore!

1. You Must Obey Your Husband.

“Obedience means complete obedience. No exceptions….Respect your husband’s authority over you in every aspect of your life.”

“Scripture commands wives to give their husbands unconditional respect.”

“Will a man take advantage of being head of the family by putting down and even abusing his wife and children? Yes, this is possible, but because it is possible does not mean a woman should refuse to allow her husband to be the head.”

“What your husband wants is your acknowledgment that he is the leader, the one in authority…No smoothly running organization can have two heads. To set up a marriage with two equals at the head is to set it up for failure…In essence, these marriages do not have anyone who is in charge. God knew someone had to be in charge, and that is why Scripture clearly teaches that, in order for things to work, the wife is called upon to defer to her husband.”

Love & Respect

“Submission never came naturally to me,” she said. “It was even harder to submit when my respect for Fred’s spirituality was at its all-time low. During our days of severe fighting and in-law problems, I would ask myself, Why should I submit to someone who is worse off spiritually than I am? But I knew I should submit for the sake of the Lord. I knew His ways were for the best.”
 
Every Heart Restored

“Part of making a house a home is allowing your husband to be the head…God placed the husband as the head over the family, whether he deserves it or not…It’s God’s order of things…If your husband is to be the head of the house, you must allow him that headship.”
Power of a Praying Wife


2. Your main pleasure from sex comes from pleasing your husband.

“Sometimes sex will be physically pleasureful for you and sometimes it won’t be physically pleasureful for you, but either way if you satisfy your husband then you will be fulfilled knowing that you have pleased your man.”

“If your husband is typical, he has a need you don’t have.”

“She decided to minister to her husband sexually, not because she particularly wanted to, but because she wanted to do it as unto Jesus Christ. She just didn’t have that need for sex.”

Love & Respect

“A wise and considerate woman goes out of her way to let her man know that he is a good lover and that she enjoys their relations together.” (so she must tell him he’s a good lover, but he doesn’t necessarily need to be one.)
 
The Act of Marriage

“If responding physically is out of the question, let your words be heart words—reassuring, affirming, adoring.”
 
For Women Only

So many books stress his need for sex, and his need for her to reassure him even if she’s not enjoying herself. Many simultaneously say that she doesn’t need sex. 


3. Your husband, as leader and provider, needs sex to relieve stress.

“Sometimes your husband is going to demand sex at an inconvenient time, or when you are tired.”

“Though you know you should pray for him and fulfill him sexually, sometimes you won’t want to. Talk to each other openly and honestly, then do the right thing.”
Every Man's Battle

“The only activity that is to break regular sexual relations is prayer and fasting for some specific cause, and this is to be only by mutual consent for a very limited time.”

“When you are not having intercourse as frequently as you were prior to pregnancy, you should offer manual stimulation to him—particularly during the period of abstention.”

Intended for Pleasure

“This means that there may be times when you have sex out of mercy, obligation, or commitment and without any real desire. Yes, it may feel forced. It might feel planned, and you may fight to stop yourself from just shoving your partner away and saying, “Enough already!” But the root issue is this: You’re acting out of love. You’re honouring your commitment. And that’s a wonderful thing to do.”

“There are times for whatever reason that a wife may choose to make use of what younger men affectionately refer to as “hand jobs”. A woman with heavy periods that last six or seven days, or who has just gotten through a pregnancy, or perhaps is simply not feeling her best, may genuinely feel that sex is more than she can handle. But with a minimum of effort, she can help her husband who feels like he’s about ready to climb the walls because it’s been so long.”

Sheet Music

In our 12-point rubric of healthy sexuality teaching, the element that our books as a whole scored the worst on was giving women the ability to say no when they don’t want to have sex. Many books say that women are obligated to give their husbands sex, and many books even contain examples of marital rape without calling them that, or without saying that marital rape is bad.


4. You must submit to him, even if he wants something degrading or humiliating.

“A man wants an enthusiastic sexual partner.”
 

“The husband must be 100 percent committed to loving his wife. The wife must be 100 percent committed to being submissive.”

“Submission is the most important gift a wife can give her husband. A responsive and receptive wife willingly demonstrates that she surrenders her freedom for his love, adoration, protection, and provision.”

Intended for Pleasure

“Without foreplay, he raped me–if that can happen when you’re married.” (The authors fail to note that rape actually CAN happen in marriage).
 
Every Heart Restored

Too many of our books stress the responsibility of the wife to be submissive to the husband, often without giving any caveat about drawing boundaries around dangerous, unwanted, or degrading behavior. 


5. You must meet his sexual needs the way your husband chooses.

“He is going to train you to please him the way he wants and you need to work your hardest to learn what he likes and to always be attentive to his particular needs and preferences.”
 

“Their maidenly inhibitions and misconceptions compel them to lie on their backs and allow the vigorous young husbands to satisfy themselves.”

“Young wives may equate their husbands’ youthful passion with bestiality, not realizing that their husbands’ drives are not unique, but characteristic of most normal men.”

The Act of Marriage

“You absolutely must learn how your husband is sexually wired if you ever want to escape your pain and rebuild a satisfying marriage.”
 
Every Heart Restored

Many books portray men as understanding sex, while women need to be taught about it–primarily because men masturbate when they are teens, and so that somehow teaches them more about sex, or because men watch porn so they understand better how things work. Women are often portrayed as naive, needing to be students of their husbands.

The Great Sex Rescue

Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.

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.

6. Keep your body in shape and look your best.

“Men are visual creatures.”

“Sometimes it is so hard for us to look away. It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort. But it helps me so much if I see that my wife is willing to do her part and purposefully work toward staying in shape and looking good.”
 
For Women Only

“Look pretty. Keep smiling. Don’t complain. Receive your husband with open arms!”
Intended for Pleasure

“What am I doing to make myself attractive to my husband? Do I keep myself clean and smelling good? Do I see that my internal self is cleansed and rejuvenated with regular exercise?…Do I dress attractively?”
Power of a Praying Wife

Most books we looked at stressed the importance of a woman keeping up her appearance, without the same instruction to men.


7. Wear clothing your husband instructs, even if you feel embarrassed.

“Men like to show off their wives. Wearing revealing clothes does not make you a slut. “
 

“She should try to look the way her husband likes her to look. She should resemble the woman he married. Does that mean a woman must stay eternally young? Of course not, but getting old is not an excuse for gaining weight and dressing like a bag lady.”
His Needs, Her Needs

We need to discover what makes us attractive to our husbands. What clothing, hairstyle, or makeup do they find most appealing? (As always, the standard of “modesty and self-control” set forth in 1 Timothy 2:8-10 applies.) And we should strive to care for our appearance — not only when we go out, but also at home where only our husbands see us. As my childhood pastor used to say, “If the barn needs painting, paint it!” Well, what color should that barn be painted? The answer is, whatever is attractive to our husbands!

Desiring God National Conference

Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Wife Needs to Know

While the books didn’t explicitly say that you should wear revealing clothing, many tell women that they must obey their husbands (see other points), and that they should not have boundaries with their husbands. 


8. Your husband is your master.

“God expects you to always respect his absolute authority over you,”
 

“A man may have many bosses outside the home, but inside the home, he has the opportunity to kindly provide authority and to receive his rightful respect.”
Sheet Music

“God designed man to be the aggressor, provider, and leader of his family. Somehow that is tied to his sex drive.”
 
The Act of Marriage

“Grant your husband authority, as Scripture describes it, and things are much more likely to fall into place. If you try to undermine his authority or subtly rebel against it, the Crazy Cycle will spring to life.”
 
Love & Respect

So many of the books talked about submission as being tied to his sex drive, and never showed how women could draw boundaries if the husband was doing something hurtful or bad. 


9. Your husband may punish you if you fall short.

“Be grateful that he takes the time to correct your behavior and thank him for helping to make you a better Christian wife.”

“Husbands are to do everything in their power to promote their wives’ holiness….At times, though, it will also include correction. We all still fight with sin. We all need to be progressively sanctified. Even the most Christlike wives will sometimes need an honest, loving word to get back on course…So, if we want a marriage that brings glory to Christ, we’ll need to correct our wives by speaking the truth in love.” -(I refute this article here).
 
Desiring God Website

Husbands, Get Her Ready for Jesus

Love & Respect records many instances of Eggerichs withholding love from his wife when she tried to draw an appropriate boundary to teach her how he wanted her to act–for instance, telling her he didn’t miss her when she left for a week because he was glad she wasn’t nagging him about leaving wet towels on the bed. (the result? He gets to keep leaving wet towels on the bed, and she stops complaining).

 

Love & Respect

When books treat men as the absolute authority in marriage, it’s not a far stretch to say that they are also responsible for correcting and punishing their wives–since the wives are seen more like children. 


10. Be your husband’s sexual pet.

“A sexually satisfied husband makes for a happy home and marriage, and the key to a sexually satisfied husband is a wife who thinks of his sexual pleasure and embraces her submission to him.”
 

“The very nature of the act of marriage involves feminine surrender.”

“As we know, in sexual intercourse, as in life, man is the actor, woman the passive one, the receiver, the acted upon.”

The Act of Marriage

“If you call yourself a Christian, and if you’re committed to being obedient to what the Bible teaches, then you’ll have to learn to fulfill sexual obligations within marriage.”
Sheet Music

Many books match a woman’s meeting his sexual needs with a woman’s submission. She submits to him in the bedroom, as she does in the rest of life. 


Hopefully you can see how the “fringe” toxic beliefs actually have their roots in mainstream evangelical advice.

Am I saying that the books are as bad as this website? No, not in most cases. But the roots of toxic beliefs within the church are in the misguided way we talk about marriage–where the husband’s needs are paramount, and the wife can’t say no to him.

If you want to see more about how these books (and others) scored on our rubric of healthy sexuality teaching, you can access it here!

Some Books Are Great

In that rubric, that we used to analyze the books we looked at for The Great Sex Rescue, the highest score a book could receive was 48. The Gift of Sex by the Penners received 47/48, and is a great book. Boundaries in Marriage also scored really well, at 42. So scoring well was certainly not out of reach. It just meant that you considered women’s needs as much as you considered husband’s, and you didn’t blame women for men’s sins.

But all of the books I mentioned in this post scored in the harmful category (Intended for Pleasure did a little bit better, but only because it didn’t mention affairs at all, and so didn’t get docked points for handling them badly. But it did handle other things quite badly).

We have some really, really good books in the evangelical world that you could never use to support such fringe, toxic teachings. The Great Sex Rescue, especially, dispells so many of these myths.

So, please, if we want to get rid of the toxic websites, instead of focusing on them, let’s clean up what Christian resources we recommend.

Let’s stop perpetuating the books that and websites that feed into these same lines of thinking, and let’s promote healthy ones. Then everyone will be able to see what toxic really is, and people won’t get sucked in by gross websites anymore.

10 Fringe Christian Beliefs about Sex
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

Related Posts

PODCAST: Bring Back Vanilla Sex

What's Wrong with Vanilla Sex? Valentine's Day is coming up just around the corner, and that means...

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

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!

83 Comments

  1. Meredith

    A more honest title for that nasty “list” would be “The Incel’s Manifesto.”
    Guys like that don’t want a wife. They want a slave. They try to dress it up in God-talk but in their hearts they hate women. Their fantasy is to return to the days when women were property and could be treated worse than animals.

    Reply
    • Meredith

      Actually, I just had a lightbulb moment. This is *why* the misogynists dress up their hatred of women in God-talk– because they no longer have the legal power over women to treat them however they want. Doug Wilson, Owen Strachan, Mark Gungor, Emerson Eggerich– to get their power over women they have to brainwash women into voluntarily giving up their own agency, and the easiest way is to manipulate them into believing that it’s God’s will for them to be men’s slaves.
      We really need to stop calling this toxic teaching “unbiblical” and start calling it what it is: brainwashing.

      Reply
      • KH

        Agreed!

        Reply
      • Sarah

        Can anyone point me to the kerfuffle around Wilson? I know he had a plagiarism scandle a while back with his Omnibus Curriculum, but I’m assuming that’s not what has gotten him on this list.
        Is it just that he’s a complimentarian?

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          He covered up for a pedophile, ignored abuse, and encouraged a woman in his church to marry a known pedophile. He also has written and said disgusting things about women and sex. A quick google search will find a lot of it, but you can start here!

          Reply
      • Cynthia

        With Doug Wilson, the whole point seems to be enforcing a rigid power structure that puts people like him on top. This includes his treatment of race. He will deny being racist, of course, but he also wrote “Southern Slavery As It Was”, which claims that the antebellum south was just the most harmonious example of race relations ever.

        Reply
      • Grace

        Wilson isn’t a complementarian. He’s a patriarchalist. Period. He would even embrace the title. He’d likely call complementarians like the pastors of my church soft, effeminate, weak sissies — and cruder words besides. He’s used the b-word and the c-word to describe women, and defended his use of those words.
        I taught at a school in his “convention” for a decade. He seems gentle, avuncular, thoughtful; his curriculum seems clever, well-rounded, broad-minded — but all that is a Trojan horse for hard-right conservatism and abuse of every kind, and it is poisonous.

        Reply
      • Lisa

        Wilson also believes in slavery and wrote and entire book on how the best relations EVER in the history of the world, between blacks and whites, was during slavery in the American South. An entire book. He’s truly deranged and many adore him. I cannot fathom how anyone can buy his materials.

        Reply
      • Nathan M

        Yeah that’s what I was thinking. I found the original article, and it honestly sounds like a BDSM type relationship.

        Reply
    • Meredith

      Sorry, I keep having thoughts about this!
      Why I say we should stop calling it “unbiblical” is because that makes it sound like these guys are trying to be Biblical. We need to stop using language that presupposes the intent of these men is good. It isn’t. They don’t have goodwill toward women and are just terribly mistaken. Their goal is the subjugation of women and misusing the Bible is just the most convenient way of doing it.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, exactly. But they justify it using the Bible, and they can get away with it because too many mainstream teachings mimic it.

      Reply
      • Martha

        Sheila, when you just mentioned the term sexually obedient wife, I knew which blogger must have written that. I was not mistaken but as you asked I won’t reveal his website. Some time ago I came across his articles. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I think this guy has some unresolved BDSM issues. Suffice it to say, he is for polygamy, women getting married as early as possible to be easily groomed, physical discipline, men being the masters etc. He even encourages wives to take part in some kind of private porn for their husbands and having sexual relations with husbands who got STD by cheating . Everything of course is ‘supported’ by biblical quotes. The guy claims to be on his second marriage. Such a sick man is hard to find, fortunately. I wish his platform would be closed.

        Reply
  2. Rachel Berkheiser

    This teaching is so gross, so nauseating, so blasphemous against the nature of God. Moreover it is blatant idolatry and anti-Christ for anyone to elevate the husband in such a way that allows his “headship” to be interpreted as permission to obliterate his wife’s identity as a person, made in the image of God with free will and autonomous access to a divine Saviour, an all-powerful Holy Spirit, and an avenging Father who will NOT hold them guiltless. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    Reply
    • MW

      This sounds more like a BDSM relationship than a healthy marriage. I am horrified!

      Reply
  3. Jane Eyre

    That’s porn. They think porn is not just real, but ideal: a totally submissive woman who is “trained” to please him, lacks needs of her own, is always available, wears revealing clothing, and derives her pleasure from getting him off.

    Reply
    • Jonathan

      A good response to such a fly would be “she’s not the droid you’re looking for. Move along, move along.”

      Reply
  4. Carmon Conover

    Thank you for continuing to educate people on this! There is a stir from Kansas of a young woman at a small Christian college who was raped during an encounter that began as consensual. She is bravely fighting to have her case heard. The need to understand the issues of consent is highlighted in this story. How much harder to get people to understand it in the context of marriage! https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9597357/amp/Kansas-college-student-convenes-grand-jury-bring-charges-against-rapist.html

    Reply
    • Amy

      Carmen – I wish there actually was a stir in Kansas about this. I live in Kansas and this is the first I have heard of this case – a link to a UK news article in the comments of a Canadian based blog…

      Reply
    • Lynne'

      Gosh reading these teachings makes me feel squished and small. This is what I was taught as a teen about how to be a good wife some day (minus the overtly sexual stuff, but the submission was all totally there.) Thankfully, my husband was not taught that and did not want to take the power over. He wanted an equal partner, but I didn’t know how to do that. For years it felt like we were both trying to give power to the other while backing away ourselves (like if two people are co-dependant and can’t decide what they want to do … how do you make decisions? Even if it is where to go on a date…)
      Anyway, once we learned what was going on and I started to realize what loving really is… do you know what? Loving someone isn’t never telling them what you need or want. And the person loving you WANTS to know if you are hurting or in need. I truly love my husband and I want him to tell me what he does or doesn’t want or like and if he truly loves me than he wouldn’t want me just to submit and keep silent. He would want to know what I have to say. These teachings often skip over the bit about loving ones wife, but they usually do have it there. They just don’t know what it means to love another person. It isn’t controling them (because the authority of course knows better what their underling needs) no.. it takes humility and asking and not knowing what another needs and listening. And that can be painful and require growth, but that is really loving another and it doesn’t fit into this power-over dynamic. I distinctly remember my dad teaching me in my late teens that if I wanted to talk to him I needed to manipulate him by starting soft, like asking for when we could talk later or rubbing his shoulders before asking him a question. He said it was good training for when I had a husband some day. It felt terrible though. I wasn’t loved or free enough to just ask my question.. or start a conversation, without jumping through hoops, without him being angry that I didn’t follow the “rules” that he put in place to try and keep himself happy. My parents are the best example of headship/submission that I have ever seen and even in the best circumstance, I just don’t see it as healthy or biblical. The complementarian relarionships that are biblical are the ones that are so equal and loving and mutually submissive that you probably wouldn’t call them complementarian at all.

      Reply
      • Maggie

        This is exactly how my husband and I have felt for 10 years. We are frustrated by the terrible teaching and the lack of real discipleship within the church and it’s leadership.

        Reply
      • David

        Lynne … YES … you have done a great job of describing my personal view on marriage & included many points that I sought in my own marriage.
        I never tried to control my wife. I never viewed her as lesser than me. I never would have married her if I did. I need someone that can lead & run my family in my absence … “End Game” way of thinking here … a fit replacement after I’m “retired”. I actually view her as an extremely intelligent woman and sought her input in everything that we did as a family, work/career, & direction in life. You know the saying about “Two heads being” … some kind of weird monster. No, but seriously, I don’t know everything. I don’t always make the best & most appropriate decisions for my entire family. Nor can I possibly see every side to all situations. We had many discussions where we couldn’t make a decision because our desire to fulfill each other would result in not making a decision or choosing a direction. Many conversations included what I wanted, what she wanted, and what was best for the kids. And as “head”, after weighing both sides, & gathering all the different considerations, I may have decided to go with her desires. Not specifically because I wanted to please her, but that maybe her logic was more sound, or that her version fit our family dynamics better, or maybe I didn’t know the issues from her perspective, or maybe I needed her to take the ball & run with it and I would be assured better success if done from her perspective rather than her grudgingly doing it my way … or maybe even that I decided to put my desires to the side & let them wait for another day.
        This article being about controlling others & the prostitution of the marital bed totally disgusts me. I was never a big self-help book reader, so I was completely unaware of the propaganda that persists across that platform. I never understood the “desire” for people to be in control of another person & how on earth that could possibly be fulfilling. I always had the viewpoint of my needs, her needs, and the exciting discovery of finding & fulfilling those sexual needs TOGETHER. Sure, I’d pressure her from time to time … sometimes she’d agree … sometimes she wasn’t interested. But I never wanted her when she was unwilling or because she “owed” it to me because I did something for her. No thank you, that’s what prostitutes do. My desire is to meet her wants, desires, & fantasies. My need is for ME to BE her wants, desires, & fantasies. When she isn’t wanting or desiring me … well … that can lead to selfishness, self-centeredness, & ultimately unloving … & there are other words for that. So no, as heart-breaking as it is for me when she rejects me in bed, I wasn’t interested in superficial “fake” sex either. You can’t connect physically, mentally, & emotionally when 1 side is just going thru the motions. Sex is so much more than an act. It’s about that deeper, intimate, vulnerable connection with each other.
        I didn’t get married to control another person. I got married to find a partner to share life with. To build a family together. To love & be loved by someone that wanted me as a person … not for a house, car, or bank account. I got married in order to leave a legacy behind for our future generations. To grow old together while leading our family to Heaven’s gates.
        God’s Peace & Blessings to you.

        Reply
    • Maria Bernadette

      So it was consensual until he started strangling her. She could not tell him to stop because he was strangling her. The Prosecutor refuses to bring charges because she could not communicate her withdrawal of consent? And whose fault was that?!

      Reply
      • Maria Bernadette

        That was meant as a reply to the article about a rape case in Kansas

        Reply
      • Maria Bernadette

        And I should have said “allegedly” when talking about the accusations against that man. I’m not going to presume that he’s guilty, or presume that she’s lying. In fact, I don’t have to make any presumptions at all.

        Reply
    • Michele

      This was my marriage during the first 30 years. To make matters worse, our pastor perpetuated this sickness when we sought counseling help. I once told my pastor that I was emotionally and physically exhausted, felt unloved and disrespected by my husband because of his constant lies, porn use and gaslighting, and felt suffocated and raped during sex. Instead of counseling us to help build mutual love and respect, he advised me sex was one of men’s greatest needs and my obligation was to fulfill it. The one time my husband ran, actually crying, to the pastor because I couldn’t even kiss him for fear of a forced sexual encounter, I was called into his office for a talk about how I wasn’t meeting my husband’s needs for sex and respect. The pastor cried while advising me because he felt so bad for my husband. He recommended 2 of the books on the list, but only focused on the male needs. I always left counseling confused and feeling guilty like a “disrespectful, bad wife” and would try to behave, until I just couldn’t take it anymore and desperately try to get some of my own needs met. Because I was taught that the marriage vows were permanent and I was the problem, this cycle repeated for 30 insane years! God finally opened my husband’s eyes and we renewed our wedding vows at 30 years. The real kicker? In my trauma-induced confusion and grasping for reality, we had the same pastor for our renewal ceremony. Now, even with professional counseling, we are still struggling 6 years later. The trauma from his admitted daily lies (every day of our marriage, including the honeymoon), secret addictions, porn use, emotional abuse and affair, plus pastor-induced counseling trauma, have left me with PTSD and our marriage with major damage and trust issues.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, Michele, I’m so sorry. Are you in a safer church community now? Can you seek out a licensed counselor to help you unpack some of these things? That’s so tough. I’m glad things are better now, but I’m so sorry it took this long and that your pastor made it so much worse.

        Reply
  5. KH

    Another interesting thing to point out, that they say there has to be authority. There has to be one in charge. There cannot be two equal heads.
    … with a triune God as our creator…

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep! That’s why so many who believe in complementarianism also promote the Eternal Subordination of the Son heresy. I even saw shades of it in Tim Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage–that the Son is always submissive to the Father and subordinate to the Father. That’s against the doctrine of the Trinity.

      Reply
    • Maria Bernadette

      “ No smoothly running organization can have two heads”
      News flash, Eggerichs: marriage is a RELATIONSHIP, not an organization.

      Reply
      • Lea

        Yeah I can’t handle that bit about somebody had to be in charge. No they literally don’t? People manage relationships every day from a equal/peer point of view.
        Also ‘ she surrenders her freedom for his love, adoration, protection, and provision.’
        This one gives me the shivers.

        Reply
      • Lisa

        Do you know what you call an organization with two equal heads?
        A PARTNERSHIP!

        Reply
    • Renee

      Or even just that God is the head of both husband and wife!

      Reply
    • Estelle

      Good point

      Reply
      • MJ

        The thing I find really uncomfortable and toxic is when people say “You should let your husband make all decisions on how you look. If he doesn’t like long dresses, don’t wear them ever again. If he doesn’t like short hair, you should have long hair.” Ect.
        It’s as if you are not allowed to have any autonomy. Don’t get me wrong, I think if your spouse likes a specific type of clothing or hairstyle, it’s considerate to do that thing on occasion, if that’s not normal for you. My husband loves when I wear my hair in a ponytail. I’m not a big ponytail fan. But when I’m trying to make an effort for my hubby, I’ll put my hair in a ponytail because I know he likes it.

        Reply
  6. Active Mom

    My teenage daughter made the best point. I have spoken pretty openly with her about things she may hear in church regarding sex and to be prepared that just because someone in an authority role in church makes a statement it doesn’t make it correct or more importantly biblical. She has read some of the bad stuff (looking at you Love and Respect) and just quietly said “and your generation really doesn’t understand why so many people have left the church and ultimately the faith?” She is right when we wrap this gross teaching up as “Christian” or biblical people don’t feel like leaving a specific church is enough to break free. They associate this garbage with Christianity and decide they want nothing to do with a God who tells his people that a woman’s husband is allowed to sexually force her to do things that she does not want to do. Or that she must dress the way he wants to show her off even if she is uncomfortable. I firmly believe that if we lived in a different country a large number of Christian men would have us wearing things that resembled a burka and have many laws granting us legal rights rolled back faster than we could imagine. It always comes down to power and control.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is exactly why so many young people are leaving the church. What makes me so happy is the emails I get from people telling me that hearing me call out this stuff is helping them not leave Jesus, but reconsider that maybe it was their church culture, not Jesus, who was to blame.

      Reply
      • Anonymous for this one

        I grew up absorbing some level of these toxic teachings in the church and under strict parenting. While it shielded me from the usual sins, troubles, and regrettable actions of many youth, it created a lifetime of problems I am still unpacking and battling. I actually wish I grew up typical like my school peers. They may have some “sins under their belts” that I don’t, but they are healthier more whole people today than I am.
        I won’t say it ruined my life, but it has caused a lot of problems and even mental illness for me. I can’t wait to fully break free. It’s like trying to get out of a tar pit.

        Reply
      • Carolee Harding

        Yes it is your culture that tells you how to behave as a man or woman. Both sexes are born with the same relational intelligence. Sheila, this would be a great future podcast topic!

        Reply
  7. Kya

    Yesterday’s podcast, and this list, just make me so sad. What a cheap thing so many people think marriage and sex are. Marriage and sex as God intended are a great blessing we can experience, and we whittle that greatness down to this drivel that robs even the men of the gifts God wants to give them (to say nothing of the crimes done against the women).

    Reply
  8. Katydid

    I seriously doubt when we get to Heaven we are asked, “did your husband beat you into sanctification?” Or, “did you smile while you subjected yourself to degrading sexual practices your husband saw in porn? No? Well, guess it’s hell for you.”
    Whether it is this overt poison or the sugar-coated diluted kind prescribed as medicine to heal marriages, it is wrong. What kills me is the huge list of dos and don’ts for women, but men get an arbitrary “love her as Christ loved the Church,” which they somehow interpret as “put her in her place and sex the heck out of her whether she likes it or not.”

    Reply
  9. Natalie

    7. Wear clothing your husband instructs, even if you feel embarrassed.
    “Men like to show off their wives. Wearing revealing clothes does not make you a slut. “
    Um, weren’t we all specifically taught that dressing “sluttily” was a sin because we were making men stare and gawk at us, causing umpire thoughts in their minds, leading them to sin? I’m confused 🤨 So it’s good to dress like a slut if your husband likes it or picks out which slutty thing he wants you to wear in public, but it’s bad and a sin if we choose of our own free wills to wear something that’s deemed too slutty because then we’re causing other men to sin?
    Good grief!!! 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️ Alllllll the facepalms!!!

    Reply
    • Nathan

      Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it isn’t. Well, nobody ever accused this philosophy of being internally consistent.

      Reply
    • exwifeofasexaddict

      My ex did this. He convinced me to buy something that I intended only for bedroom use, but he wanted me to wear it out. He wanted to show me off, for other men to be jealous of him getting to take me home. It made me feel so objectified and disregarded that I never even wore the thing. I took it back to the store. Reason number 45938 why we are now divorced.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Good for you for saying no! And I am so sorry you were ever treated that way.

        Reply
    • A

      I just can’t get past the concept of somebody picking my clothes out for me to wear! 😂

      Reply
  10. Nathan

    Quotes from above…
    > > in their hearts they hate women.
    > > misogynists dress up their hatred of women
    I used to think that much of this was just these men passing on what they had been taught from earlier generations. While that may be true to some degree, I’m now wondering just how much pure hatred of women in general is involved in all this.

    Reply
    • CJ

      Not that I know much about it, but these “rules” look more like something you’d find in a BDSM contract (minus the mutual and consensual bits) than anything that should be found in marriage vows. Actually, that’s the only light to read them in to make them make any kind of reasonable sense.

      Reply
  11. Anonymous

    First, these ‘rules’ would apply to women in a harem. It makes me think of a religion that offers countless women as an eternal reward…
    Second, having wrestled with the concept of wifely submission the last few years (Thank you SO much for your insight!), it DOES seem like having a wife and children who obey, obey, obey is an idea put in front of boys and men as some kind of reward for being a man who gets married. Hey, if you follow the rules, stay in church, and get married, you’ll get to be king of the castle. (Also, to me, when I hear unconditional respect, I translate that to unconditional obedience – that’s the idea that’s being conveyed).
    My husband was brought up with headship ideas and, when I balked, he said I was robbing him of who God wanted him to be. I’ve explained to him how, under that teaching, a little girl gets to be under Daddy’s rule, then gets married and be under her husband’s rule, only to some day, when she’s old and gray, full of wisdom and understanding, she can … still be under her husband’s rule. You, as a woman, don’t have the chance to ever advance your position. Little boys have the “out” of growing up and becoming their own person, but females (unless they aren’t married) would possibly NEVER get that opportunity. I think he’s coming around. Slowly.
    Also, I don’t see how headship can be free from the covering theology – that the husband will one day answer to God on the wife’s behalf – and THAT soooo goes against what the Bible teaches.
    It seems that you have to choose – either women are 100% their own person and have a complete relationship with God or they don’t.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I agree, Anonymous. And it comes down to 1 Timothy 2:5–there is only one mediator between us and God, and it’s Jesus, not our husbands.

      Reply
      • Carolee Harding

        Yes, so true Sheila! I was raised with this belief but fortunately and blessedly didn’t marry a man with those beliefs. We discussed headship at length before getting married and agreed that we would make decisions together and that husband’s being the ‘head’ of the wife did not denote authority, but mutual service, just as the heart and brain serve and sustain each other in a human or animal’s body. If only Paul had said “as Christ is the heart of the church” instead of “head” we might have understood his analogy better!

        Reply
  12. EOF

    Funny how Jesus never said anything remotely like that. “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” Anyone truly living like that would never dominate or punish or rape his wife.
    I read that 10 rules article last night. Everything on that blog is completely disgusting and degrading. There is nothing godly about any of it.
    If I understood the depth of the patriarchal teachings in the church prior to getting married, I’d have chosen to stay single and have children through medical insemination. The abuse I suffered in the early years of my marriage due to these teachings has damaged me deeply. It made me consider walking away from God countless times just to get away from the church-approved abuse.
    I thank God that he moved my husband to see the light and start treating me with respect and seeing me through a new set of eyes. My heart hurts for the many women living my old life. This HAS to stop. Thank God for people like Sheila, Beth Allison Barr, and others spreading this message.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That is so amazing about your husband! I’m so glad that he’s allowing Jesus to break through all this toxicity. That’s wonderful.

      Reply
  13. Melissa

    It just really makes me sick to my stomach when I see teachings like this that put a man’s “need” for sex above the literal health and wellbeing of his wife. The eight week waiting period after childbirth isn’t just a suggestion so she can rest, it’s because her bodily tissues have been through a physical trauma akin to being in a serious car accident. Having intercourse before she is fully healed could cause more injury or lead to her getting an infection. Not to mention the fact that her internal organs and her abdominal muscles have been rearranged and stretched out and can be extremely tender and painful while they’re all going back to where they were before. And yeah her breasts may fill up with milk and become huge and attractive to her husband, but bro, those things can really HURT. And on the subject of “heavy periods”, my periods as a young woman were debilitating. I would get anemic, nauseous, shaky, and the cramps were so bad I ended up curled in the fetal position on my bed crying. Women who have conditions like endometriosis or PCOS have it even worse.
    Instead of making the narrative about the poor deprived men who have to put having sex on hold, I would love to see Christian teachings make the narrative about how husbands can be loving and caring towards their wives during these times. We didn’t ask for these painful, uncomfortable, miserable processes our bodies go through, and we don’t enjoy it any more than men enjoy putting sex on hold for a little while. Marriage is MUTUAL. Caring for each other’s needs should be MUTUAL. Educate men about female health, teach them how to care for their wives while they go through difficult menstrual cycles or recovery from childbirth. Stop with the just telling women to suck it up and give him a hand job because this is just soooooo difficult for him. *Eyeroll*
    Thank you for coming to my rant.

    Reply
      • S

        Yes!
        “Mutual”
        In crying to a counselor about my loneliness for romance and connection in my marriage, she told me it was a result of the Curse. Wives are doomed to long for their husbands. *shrug* it’s just the way things are. *pats my hand, can I pray with you?*
        And in these rules, it would seem the author is attempting to avoid the “doom” of longing for a wife’s body by demanding and dictating acquiescence. But a wife’s satisfaction is denied?!
        Double standard if I ever saw one.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yes, indeed. When the main aim is to keep the marriage together at all costs, they must tell the woman (who is more likely to work on the relationship) to stop having any expectations at all, but to simultaneously meet her husband’s expectations. It is wrong.
          (And women can be awful in marriages, too! It’s just that this is the way Christian marriage advice tends to go).

          Reply
    • Natalie

      Funny. As I recall, the husband is called to be the servant leader for his family… that includes his wife. One could equally use plenty of different passages to teach men they should learn their wives and figure out how best to serve her (in every facet of life, but particularly sexually in this case), as she does the same for him and is encouraged to do so out of love (not obligation or duty) after seeing him do the same for her. It always takes at least one spouse to get the process started, and from a biblical perspective, I’d argue it’s actually the man who is called to go out of his comfort zone and gets things started first (but of course, if he’s not doing it first, the wife can and should fill in the void left, otherwise the relationship stagnates). After all, that to me sounds like one of the best ways a husband could “lead” his family: lead as Christ led, which was through love and service to others, not boasting about his biblical authority or having an ego around his family about how important his role as man/husband/father is and how they should all serve him and tend to him first before themselves cuz he’s the man of the house.
      All it takes is a quick google search to find that servant leadership is kinda the definition of biblical leadership in the New Testament. But that’s difficult for lots of men in the church, particularly those raised in denominations and sects that seem to value the submission of the wife as a paramount virtue over the virtue of the husband being the servant leader of his family.
      https://www.openbible.info/topics/servant_leaders

      Reply
  14. Lea

    “In essence, these marriages do not have anyone who is in charge.”
    I love how Emmerson says this like that’s a bad thing.
    Nobody needs to be in charge of two people. I’m definitely not going to chose to be perpetually ruled over just because of my sex.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly. The fact that he can’t even conceive of making decisions together and having a partner in life shows what kind of marriage he must have. We’ve been married 30 years this December. We’ve never had to have someone in charge. Our marriage works great as a partnership. And, as our survey showed, so do 78.9% of marriages. The idea that marriages need someone in charge is not borne out by research. In fact, research shows the opposite (both ours and others’).

      Reply
  15. Wild Honey

    I’m realizing a lot of marriage advice can be tested by asking, “How do you communicate to your spouse that they have unrealistic expectations?”
    Blank stare = bad news bears

    Reply
  16. Anon

    “He is going to train you to please him the way he wants”
    Maybe he should just get a labrador?

    Reply
  17. Emma

    The thing is, the original article on the website was 100 times worse than what is quoted here. It was clear you edited most of the disgusting things out. Trigger warning for anyone who reads the article.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I did. I just didn’t want them here. Plus I didn’t want to quote too much word for word or else Google won’t like me!

      Reply
  18. Laura

    I cannot believe these teachings are still prevalent in the church. Sheila, I clicked on the link to your article “Are Husbands Supposed to ‘Get Their Wives Ready for Jesus'”? Very interesting and I see why there are pastors telling husbands they need to correct their wives due to some of the verses in Ephesians 5. Maybe there are husbands who think that in order to follow God, they must do this. Unfortunately, I think these verses are used by the church to manipulate women. I was married to a sexually abusive man who often corrected me telling me it was for my own good. As if I didn’t have a mind of my own. This is why I cannot adhere to the church’s teachings on submission in marriage. It is just too toxic and damaging.

    Reply
  19. Dorthea

    They promote a religion bearing the name Christian that has nothing to do with the one true God. It is a false religion that unfortunately has deep roots. It’s good we are calling this stuff out for what it truly is: lies from the pit of hell. I like how Beth Allison Barr put it in her book that the church looks more like the world than like Christ. And that tells us there is something very wrong with what is being taught. Instead of looking through the Bible for verses to support your beliefs look to Jesus and how he treated people. All people. Maybe he didn’t come right out and say that women are to be treated as men’s equals but he treated women as equals. Look to his behavior and model that.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      When the church’s attitude towards sex and women resembles porn culture, we have a big problem. Basically Every Man’s Battle and books like that see relationships between men and women exactly the same way porn does. We do resemble the world–the worst parts of the world.

      Reply
      • Dorthea

        If any teaching can’t be traced directly back to Jesus in what he said and did, as a whole person not just what someone likes about him, then it’s not of Christ and it’s to be rejected. That is exactly what the authors of the New Testament did- he was their model.
        And if any teacher/pastor/author relies mostly on Paul then that’s a sign of some toxic beliefs.

        Reply
      • Maria Bernadette

        Dorthea, I don’t think that St. Paul’s teachings are the problem. Because it looks to me like they would be a step forward, towards equality, when applied in his day and age. As for the ones that are a step backward when applied to OUR DAY, maybe they were not timeless truths, but help for people trying to deal with their circumstances.

        Reply
  20. Dorthea

    Also as I read these quotes what leaps out to me is how incredibly insecure these authors are! The thought of treating others, male or female as equals with whom you share power would send them into a major panic attack because of their lack of confidence in themselves. They come across as confident, even arrogant making sure they are known by the letters that come after their names (at least the ones who are Drs) but underneath it all I think they’re a quaking mass of fear and insecurity.

    Reply
  21. Sarah K.

    What that blog post/those books are describing sounds a lot more like slavery and a lot less like a partnership created by God for the MUTUAL benefit of both people. When God created Eve, He didn’t create a slave for Adam. He created a partner. If all I knew was the harmful things in those books, I’d never want to get married.

    Reply
  22. Louise

    Woah, these quotes make me feel sick! So glad my hubby never read these books. He does feel he needs to be “the head” but mainly in providing finances and we’ve always made decisions together.
    Funny, my hubby *didn’t/doesn’t* want me to dress revealing. And the part about keeping slim and not dressing baggy hits a nerve with me. After 2 kids I’ve put on weight and looser clothing/tops is much comfier and flattering. Thankfully my hubby just tells me he loves me no matter what.

    Reply
  23. Gisele Noel

    👏👏👏
    Ephesians 5:11
    Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

    Reply
  24. Christina

    If those toxic teachings were just in one or two books, they wouldn’t have had so much power. But I read them in book after book trying to be a good wife and Christian and they destroyed us. My husband is becoming aware of how much they’ve hurt him too. If this is what a godly man looks like, then (he felt), a man who loves his wife and cares about her needs must be effeminate or whipped. 😳 He and I both bought into these lies for years and it brought nothing but heartache.
    One of the reasons I keep reading your writings is because I need to hear it over and over again to counteract the impression left by that stuff. God did not intend for us to be married so we could manipulate and control or be objectified and defiled. God is LOVE and his design for marriage was to be a holy representation of the passionate unity he wants with us. It’s supposed to be joyful!

    Reply
  25. PATRICIA

    Oh my goodness! If that’s what a Christian marriage looks like, then I’ll pass. That is just so sickening.

    Reply
  26. Christ's Kintsugi

    “Their maidenly inhibitions and misconceptions compel them to lie on their backs and allow the vigorous young husbands to satisfy themselves.” (Act of Marriage)
    “As we know, in sexual intercourse, as in life, man is the actor, woman the passive one, the receiver, the acted upon.” (Act of Marriage)
    This is RAPE described in flowery language. How did this EVER passed a Christian editorial team? (Don’t answer that; I’ve read enough of the “damaging” books to know. *head shake*)

    Reply
  27. Rachel

    I wanted to say thank you for this and your blog. Thank you for being a voice. I’ve been married 9 years and from the beginning my husband has been struggling with porn (most of it I didn’t know… I thought it ended quickly after he told me early on). For years I felt used, very alone, and unloved without really understanding why, and my husband’s treatment of me wasn’t overtly terrible. He was and still is well regarded amongst our (now former) church community. I actually thought our marriage was godly, and my discontentment was the issue. Three of the above books had been recommended (and read) during premarital counseling. They meant well. In hindsight they did so much damage to us both, but especially me. I prayed harder, tried harder, compromised, expected less, yielded to his decision.
    When his porn problem came to light again last year, I came across so much garbage Christian advice. I wish I would have found this site sooner. Beyond simply the pain and all that comes with your spouse using porn, I was having to scrap my belief system and figure out what I really believe overall. Between my faith and my husband being huge parts of my identity/purpose/security, my world crumbled and I didn’t know what think or trust. God is faithful though. He eventually led me to good professionals and resources, and He’s walking me through healing and reconstruction of my belief system.
    Again thank you so much for sharing! I ask God to give me the courage to share boldly with others. I pray these teachings fall away and stop hurting people and relationships.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad you found me, Rachel, even though it was later than you would have liked! And I’m so sorry that the church set you up for so much pain. I wish your story was unique, but it’s not. That needs to stop. I pray you b oth find healing. God really can do that when we let go of so many of these things!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

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