The Chapter That Got Cut from The Great Sex Rescue

by | May 18, 2021 | Sex, Theology of Marriage and Sex, Uncategorized | 50 comments

Are Christian Best-Sellers Ruining Couple's Sex Lives?
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Our first draft of The Great Sex Rescue was almost 80,000 words. 

We had to cut a lot to get it down to 65,000. 

So we started with cutting big chunks (which is often easier than cutting a sentence here or there.) And one chapter that we removed was sex as transaction. Our obligation sex message originally had three chapters: Sex as transactional; sex as obligation; sex as coercion. They’re all on the spectrum of the same message–you need to give your husband sex when he wants it.

The problem was that the transactional section was the least well defended in terms of quotes from our bestsellers. We had tons of quotes about women being obligated to have sex; tons of quotes about marital rape (unfortunately). But making the case that sex for men and talking for women are equivalent, and that if  you want him to talk to you, you need to give him sex? That was a little more nebulous. It was everywhere in the books, and yet it was hard to find a one or two sentence quote that said just that. 

So we ended up taking the part of the chapter that was about using sex to reward him–he does the dishes and you have sex with him–and got that down to a page and a half, and kept it in.

Fathom Mag recently asked us if we had left anything on the cutting room floor after writing The Great Sex Rescue–if there was anything we wanted to say that didn’t make it in.

And we thought of that chapter that got cut, and we decided we’d love to do something with it. So we took the idea, edited it here and there, added some more quotes we’ve since found, and sent it in.

Here, for instance, are some anecdotes that didn’t make it into the book:

But couples aren’t free from this message when they leave the Christian book store. This idea that women need to be cajoled into sex permeates the wider evangelical culture. Pastor Ted Cunningham, in a video produced by Focus on the Family, advised men that doing housework will get her in the mood for sex. In fact, it’s so likely to get her in the mood that they don’t even have to actually do the housework! Cunningham says, “I have found that the sound of the dishwasher turns my wife on. And the secret is: you don’t even need dishes in it. Just get the dishwasher on; spray some 409 around the house.”

Perhaps most blatant of all, pastor and comedian Mark Gungor, in his highly popular A Tale of Two Brains event, explains, “Now, at some fundamental level, this is every man’s basic interest in a woman.” He draws an arrow toward a smiley face representing her vulva, pauses for laughter, and then continues. “Women say, ‘Well that’s terrible . . . It should be about companionship and fellowship and sharing.’” He continues, “Girls, if your husband was interested in companionship, fellowship, and sharing, he’d have gotten a golden retriever.”

Then Gungor, in this curriculum that is widely used in the US military, goes on to explain, “The reason [his sex drive] keeps coming back is to motivate him to be nice to the girl . . . be nice to the girl . . . be nice to the girl.” He finishes with a flourish, “And I gotta tell you girls, if it weren’t for [sex], we probably wouldn’t really deal with y’all.”

Want to Ruin Your Sex Life? Read a Christian Best-seller

Fathom Mag

We’re so grateful to them for running our piece in this issue. Can you help us out and give them some traffic and read the whole thing? 

And look around a bit while you’re there! There’s an article by Beth Alison Barr in that issue on how Christian Patriarchy is Just Patriarchy. There’s an article about deconstructing–what if you start doubting some of what you believe, but you still cling to Jesus and Scriptures? I know so many of you are going through that–you’re questioning what you’ve heard about gender roles or power or parenting or more. There’s an article on How to Fight Racism. Just click on “Next Story” at the bottom of each article and you’ll get sent to many different great articles to keep you chewing on stuff all day.

One more quote from our article:

What would happen if, instead of threatening and cajoling women into sex, we talked to couples about personal responsibility and consent? What if, instead of portraying men as frat boys who are just being nice to you to get in your pants, we call out men’s capacity for deep emotional intimacy? And what if, instead of portraying women as frigid, we teach couples the location of the clitoris?
Want to Ruin Your Sex Life? Read a Christian Best-seller

Fathom Mag

Read the whole thing! 

And PS: Our survey closes tomorrow! So if you’re a woman and you haven’t taken it yet, please do. It will help us tremendously with our mothers of daughters book (and you don’t have to be a mom to take it! Or even married. Just an adult woman).  

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.

Are Christian BestSellers Ruining Our Sex Lives?

We’d love to get in even more Christian publications, or be on even more podcasts! If you have a lead of someone who may want to interview us or write about our book, let us know in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

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

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

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

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50 Comments

  1. Andrea

    It works out well — he fakes doing the dishes and she fakes having orgasms. Tit for tat.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Andrea, exactly! What was the old Soviet workers joke? “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us”. 🤣

      Reply
    • SLS

      I didn’t see the video in question but is it possible that Mr. Cunningham was merely joking for effect rather than seriously suggesting that men fake doing housework?

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I think he was joking. But jokes like this actually matter. And it’s part of a longer segment where he does joke about how when you do housework your wife wants sex. That’s actually not true. You don’t do the dishes to get sex. Instead, when people are invested in the family and are acting as part of a team, they create the dynamics in a relationship where sex can flourish. It’s not that doing housework gets you sex; it’s that being part of a team makes your relationship stronger. Even joking about it like that contributes to the stereotype that sex is transactional.

        Reply
      • Maria Bernadette

        Joke or not, toxic messages are still harmful.

        Reply
      • Emmy

        It probably was a joke, sure, but it was not funny. At least not for women. The hidden message under the pun was that women are stupid and don’t recognize fake dish-washing from a real one.
        And if any guy takes it as a real advice…just wait until she finds out about the fake dishes!
        What is this pastor comedian anyway? Never heard of such a profession before.
        We should remember jokes are usually on someone’s expenses.

        Reply
  2. Amy

    Thank you for continuing this fight. I pre-ordered The Great Sex Rescue and it was great. I’m now on the last chapter of Beth Allison Barr’s wonderful new book, The Making of Biblical Womanhood. I’ve realized that I have some deconstructing to do and these resources have been very helpful in that quest.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love Beth Barr’s book! We’re talking about getting her on the podcast soon, too!

      Reply
      • Dorthea

        I just finished her book too. It was sooo good! I hope you get her on the podcast soon!

        Reply
  3. Bethany#2

    I’m reminded of the course my church offers 2ce yearly for engaged and seriously dating couples. They have excellent advice and reality checks for the other topics, in-laws, finances, etc, and not all the sex information is bad. They talk about imbalanced libidos and that you’ll be negotiating a middle ground. But the only other thing I remember is that it’s was all fairly male focused. Even though it was an older married couple, for each topic, they didn’t have too much to say about the female side of things. I always thought that minor adjustment would make it better for the couples!

    Reply
    • Natalie

      I really don’t think that’s such a minor adjustment. If I had to pick the one thing that’s probably been the biggest hinderance to premarital Christian teaching and just Christian sex teachings in general, it’s the overemphasis on the male’s pleasure and male’s “right” to sex because he has the higher desire for sex always (which is a lie in nearly half of marriages). By not giving the female desire component more attention, it sets the whole tone for how an individual or a couple views sex: as something primarily for the man, and if the woman likes it or gets physical pleasure of out it, that’s just an added bonus. Really, that way of thinking is the foundation for all the bad teaching the church does on sex imo.

      Reply
  4. Jane Eyre

    Mark Gungor seems like one nasty person. We are told over and over that Jesus’ relationship to the Church is like that of a husband to his wife. If you cannot imagine Jesus saying it about His flock, don’t say it about wives.
    Not exactly a Biblical scholar, but I do not recall our Saviour saying that if it weren’t for hedonistic pleasure, He would not bother with us humans at all.

    Reply
    • Anon

      “If you cannot imagine Jesus saying it about His flock, don’t say it about wives.”
      This! 1000% this!

      Reply
    • Bonnie.

      Excellent comment!

      Reply
  5. AspenP

    As a young married couple, we loved Mark Gungor. We invited several young married friends over to watch his brand new Laugh Your Way and we laughed a lot that night. Lots of jokes seemed to ring true in our experience already. *I can think of a funny story where his wife is talking to him and keeps sticking her head in the dryer emptying laundry and the joke is about communicating and sometimes not realizing we can’t be heard. It was funny. There was lots of funny stuff. I was a huge fan because he was the first pastor I’d ever heard even acknowledge that women have orgasms.
    What we didn’t anticipate was the conclusion our best friends came to—“SPs.” Sex points “SPs” started out as a joke from Laugh Your Way. They’re not specifically stated as such, but Gungor absolutely implies transactional sex as you write about. On a camping trip together, we started joking about SPs like when we found something attractive in our spouse “oh yeah, that’s an SP.” It was all goofy and playful, until it wasn’t. Later we found out that the SP system truly became transactional in their marriage where SPs were owed and collected upon. Rather than their newlywed years be fun and exploratory, the wife found herself owing the husband sexual favors because of ways he had provided for her. We were horrified and she naturally felt like a prostitute at her own home always having to pay him back with her body.
    Even their marriage counselor supported this view amplifying that he was unable to go more than 72 hours without ejaculating again or he would be in pain. He coupled that with scripture that she was denying him sexually—so the SPs continued and she ALWAYS owed him. She ended up not even wanting SPs he offered back. Why would she?
    I’m not going to pretend like they didn’t have a lot of other issues going on in their marriage too to get to this point, but the SPs were specifically derived and inspired by Mark Gungor’s message. I hate that we introduced that to them and it reminds me now of your message about Christian resources being even a little bit dysfunctional. It can ruin people’s lives.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow, Aspen. Thanks for sharing that story. It’s a perfect example of the harm that these resources can do. That’s so sad.

      Reply
    • Lea

      This is horrifying! You can see how a joke devolved into abuse.

      Reply
  6. Melissa

    So the only thing that separates me from a Golden Retriever is my ability to have sex with a man. Thanks, Mark Gungor. 🙄

    Reply
    • Jane Eyre

      Well, Mark, now that there are vibrators, sperm banks, and equal pay laws, your half of the species isn’t really needed.
      (Note that I do not believe that a husband can be replaced with a job and a piece of plastic, just that the shoe fits even better on the other foot.)

      Reply
      • Melissa

        Touché! 😂

        Reply
    • Lea

      Do they hear themselves really? Any man who would rather have a golden retriever should get one.
      You can only presume from that they want a companion that can’t talk back. Yikes.

      Reply
  7. Cynthia

    I’ve seen transactional stuff so many times on some other blogs. Things like saying “well, your husband isn’t always in the mood to work all day to support the family, but he does it anyway” (keep in mind that these same sources then discourage wives from working, thinking that it might lead to fewer women choosing to get and stay married), or “well, you don’t always feel like doing the dishses, but you do it anyway”.
    It’s like the idea that people may want to do something they both enjoy never occurred to them. Yes, you need to make an effort to make time for each other and set the stage, but it should feel different from working all day or doing the dishes!

    Reply
    • M

      So true!

      Reply
    • Wild Honey

      Maybe if we told men they had to submit to a prostate exam every 72 hours even if they weren’t “in the mood” (because it’s good for his marriage, don’t you know, provides “emotional release” to reassure his wife that he doesn’t have prostate cancer, which is a leading killer of men, so she knows he can continue to be a good provider for her), fewer men would push this kind of apples-to-oranges comparison.

      Reply
      • Chris

        Wild Honey, in all honesty no one cares much about prostate cancer. If they really cared, they would put their money where there mouth is and we would not see the 900% difference in funding for research that we see between prostate cancer and breast cancer. Heck, even I don’t care much and I am a man. As men we are wired to be sacrificial and since research money is finite, i say spend it on women’s health issues.
        Also the Ted guy was joking. What he was really saying in man speak was “guys, help out around the house” yup. That’s it. That’s what he was really saying.
        Also, men do not have a lock on the transactional sex thing. Not even close. Most men just want sex given freely and passionately. It seems to be more women who use it as a tool to get whatever. But its deep in the culture. When I went to my pastor seeking guidance on my sexless marriage what he said was “do you do chores?” It felt so much like he was implying a sort of legalized prostitution. Like I had to pay for sex. The choice of currency is certainly very unique, but it still felt like he was saying I had to pay my wife for it.

        Reply
      • Lea

        People bring up this prostate cancer comparison as if it’s all about sex and I wish they wouldn’t. Yes prostate cancer should be funded but breast cancer hits much younger, prostate cancer is rarely diagnosed below 40, average in the 60s. Breast cancer also had a higher death count yearly and more new cases.
        It affects 13% of women so yes, people contribute.
        Please stop pretending this is proof that everyone favors women in some way (also men can get breast cancer) or the history of medicine does when actually the history of medicine ignored women in research for a very long time and there are still disparities.

        Reply
    • Anon

      But the husband has holidays. And time off sick when he’s too ill to work.
      But the wife is never allowed a holiday or ‘sick leave’
      So even if you accept the ‘we all have to do jobs when we don’t feel like them’ argument, it still breaks down when you try to apply it to wives never being allowed to say no to sex.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I know! As soon as we paint sex as transactional, then we say that it’s something that at least one person really won’t want to do, and needs to be bribed into it.

      Reply
  8. Kayla

    The quote from Mark Gungor is horrible! My husband isn’t like that, and probably most Christian men I know are not like that. It’s not at all like Jesus and the church. It’s a basic principle that we don’t marry for what we can get from someone, but to love. So he hasn’t learned how to love… and those who don’t love, don’t know God.

    Reply
    • Jeff

      Yes, agreed. And what’s becoming disturbing about the content on this site is that it’s becoming a place that heavily bashes not just these men, but starts to portray (and maybe even convince women) that all men are like this.
      TV sitcoms got into this a lot portraying all men as dopes who can’t do anything right, that they drink beer and watch sports all day, and are constantly obtuse about their roles as fathers and husbands.
      It’s dangerous.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        But, Jeff, it’s not me who is bashing men. It’s Ted Cunningham, and Mark Gungor, and Emerson Eggerichs. I’m the one saying that men aren’t like that!
        Which is worse to men: To portray men as slobs who leave wet towels on the bed and then freeze out their wives if their wives ask them to stop doing that, or to say, “most men aren’t like this, and to portray men like this hurts everyone.” Or what’s worse to men: to say, “just spray cleaner around so she’ll think you’ve cleaned, and then she’ll have sex with you,” or to say, “most men aren’t like that, and we need to call this out, because it isn’t funny. Most men want real intimacy, and are capable of being true partners in the marriage.”
        I think you’ve got it wrong about who is bashing men. I’m saying men are better, they’re capable of more, they’re not like this and we need to stop.

        Reply
      • Maria Bernadette

        Jeff, I’m not seeing any man bashing. Shiela quoted toxic statements from two men without implying that all men think that way. She has repeatedly said that men are rational, loving, human beings, not sex-crazed animals. Calling out the lie that men only think about sex is not man bashing.
        She’s quoted women saying toxic things, and women saying good things. She’s quoted men saying toxic things, and men saying good things. She’s called out both misogynistic beliefs and misandristic ones.
        So it’s not like she always portrays men in a bad light and women in a good light.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep. Exactly. What I hope and pray is that male Christian leaders will start calling him out. It gets tiring being the main one doing so, and they don’t listen to women anyway. So if most men aren’t like that–then stop being silent, men with platforms!

      Reply
      • Bonnie

        It is necessary to bring these issues foreward but word usage is important. Eg. There is a difference b/w saying, “he is worse than I thought” (words to that effect) vs “this issue or comments by these Christian authors and speakers is worse than I thought.” The former deals with emotion, the latter with concrete facts. A line gets crossed when commenters speak of the individual and all their terrible ways. This may look like “men bashing” to Jeff. The line becomes thin or blurred. As women to be sensitive to this.

        Reply
      • Bonnie

        Oops… “as women( we need ) to be sensitive to this”

        Reply
  9. Boone

    Transactional sex reminded me of a divorce case I handle about 15 years ago. Spouses were a good Baptist homeschooling family with three children. As the children got grown the wife developed a hobby of adopting children from third world countries. Nothing wrong with that by itself. Now, wife actually bragged to friends that that her method of persuading her husband to agree to the adoption was to dig out the stiletto heel, stockings and garter belt. The husband, my client, told me that she got wilder and more sexually aggressive the closer it got to the actual adoption and the money was needed. The wilder she got the more money was required. By the time she was screaming F bombs and begging for what some might say are unnatural affections the bill was up to $50K. After the adoption was final she barely gave the husband the time of day. They adopted four children from around the world. At that point the husband was done. No more kids. After trying her usual tactics with no success the wife filed for divorce so that she could continue to adopt on her own. She adopted two more kids since the divorce was final. Husband paid her off and paid his child support faithfully until the last child that he adopted turned 18.

    Reply
    • Melissa

      Crikey that’s terrible!!!

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So manipulative and degrading. That’s really sad, but I do think many people use sex like that.

      Reply
  10. Tory

    Wow! So Gungor says that men only “deal with” women to get sex? How bizarre. What if a woman speaker said “frankly gentlemen, we women can earn our own incomes, have female friends for companionship, and have a fabulous vibrator collection for sexual pleasure, and if it weren’t for us needing help with the grill or putting air in our tires, we wouldn’t even deal with men.” !!!

    Reply
  11. JAG

    I am about 2/3 of the way through The Great Sex Rescue and find it fascinating. I haven’t seen anything similar to it in its approach or content. It certainly would have come in handy 35 years ago for me. Of course, I would have needed the maturity to seek out that understanding and act on it. Both my wife and I have been negatively impacted by the old Christian “teachings” on this important subject. Our marriage has been sexless for many years and, upon reflection, I can understand how that came to be. Now, with your book, I believe I see the root cause(s), which is crucial to fixing the problem. Fortunately, we have an otherwise spectacular marriage and are absolutely committed to each other for life. “Conventional wisdom” would have put the burden of fixing this problem on my wife as the one with the lower libido, but I see so clearly now how I could have unlocked her desire early on. I have always bristled when I heard scriptures used against the lower libido spouse (generally the woman) to guilt them into sex. It never felt right to me that sex needed to be dutifully given. It should be mutually enjoyed. Thank you for digging deeper and seeing past traditional Christian teachings to uncover a more mature understanding of sex in marriage. You will help many! I’m sure you already have.

    Reply
      • JAG

        I’ve finished the book and have found it to be eye-opening, to say the least. I’m sad to say that I never before saw the teachings that you exposed as dangerous, but it always felt to me that there was a certain level of perspective missing. Similarly, I’ve heard sermons in the past on marriage where most of the admonishments were directed to the wives and those tips given to husbands were essentially how to better control their wives. After your book, I see this subject with a fresh set of eyes and it is refreshing. You’ve done something important here and I appreciate it. I’m sure you’ve received a heaping helping of pushback from those you’ve exposed and those who are still entrenched in that mindset. On the flip side, have you received praise from any of those authors for perhaps deepening their understanding of the subject? I would love to hear that some of those minds were changed as a result of your work.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Hi JAG! Thanks for your kind words! Really appreciate it.
          We have heard from one author who is reconsidering some of what that author said, but we don’t have permission to go public yet. Unfortunately, we’ve heard that Shaunti Feldhahn, Kevin Leman, and Emerson Eggerichs specifically have been speaking behind the scenes about what to do about our book. Others have as well, although that hasn’t been made public. So it is sad.

          Reply
      • JAG

        I have to assume that the “behind the scenes” commentary of those individuals discussing “what to do about your book” is more along the lines of damage control than it is an introspective look at their own writings. Your book did take direct aim at some of them. Perhaps their natural inclination is to become defensive and protective of their published work, but I’m sure it at least made them think about (if not actually consider) a different point of view. You planted the seed in their mind. Whether it takes root is up to them.

        Reply

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