Love and Respect is Being Recommended to Coerce Women into BDSM Relationships

by | Aug 2, 2021 | Uncategorized | 56 comments

Love Respect BDSM Abuse
Merchandise is Here!

Can we please stop pretending that Love & Respect empowers women?

I get the best stuff from readers who send me links, etc.. And this weekend a male reader, who has been doing some research into domestic violence, sent me his notes after watching a YouTube video of a BDSM talk given at a huge men’s conference last year. The book Love & Respect was highly recommended as a “gateway” to get your wife to submit sexually in a BDSM style relationship.

I’m going to get to that in a minute, but first allow me to give some background:

For two and a half years now, I’ve been trying to draw attention to how dangerous the book Love & Respect is.

In fact, it was reading that book that inspired us to write The Great Sex Rescue–to try to measure the harm that is being done by specific teachings in bestselling evangelical sex and marriage books.

In The Great Sex Rescue, our critiques focus on how author Emerson Eggerichs handled sex–how he made it entirely into a male need, and never once mentioned that women can feel pleasure or that women can want sex, too. Instead, he said things like, “if your husband is typical, he has a need you don’t have.” He talked about how sex is about a man’s physical release (while women don’t need that). He talked about how men will come under satanic attack if deprived of release (and presumably have affairs as well). He said nothing about intimacy; nothing about a woman’s pleasure; nothing about a woman’s right to say no.

We included all this in The Great Sex Rescue, noting that Love & Respect literally scored 0/48 on our 12-point rubric of healthy sexuality (while other Christian books, like The Gift of Sex by the Penners or Boundaries in Marriage, scored 47/48 and 42/48 respectively). It was very possible to score well, but he literally could not have been worse.

(Download our rubric and scorecard here). 

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.

But as bad as his treatment of sex was, that is actually not my primary concern with Emerson Eggerichs’ Love & Respect or with Eggerichs’ ministry.

What I am really concerned about is abuse. 

Ever since I started writing about Love & Respect, I have had women send me their stories of how this book enabled their abuse. I have collected over 1000 of them now. The 20,000 women who took our survey named Love & Respect as the most harmful resource (and we didn’t have a drop down menu where they could choose the book; it was an open-ended question).

My big critique reading Love & Respect is that women are being told that they must “respect” their husbands, which equals submitting to their authority and speaking respectfully. That means that they cannot bring up anything that is wrong in the marriage, but they must listen to any critiques their husbands have of their disrespectful behaviour. In fact, in the appendix Eggerichs gives a model for what women should do if their husbands are doing something that endangers the marriage and family, such as extreme workaholism. They should say 2-3 sentences in a pleasant voice, couched with praise, and then say nothing else for 10-20 days about it.

That’s not iron sharpening iron. That’s enabling bad behaviour. That’s leaving her absolutely helpless if there are major problems in the marriage (and indeed, in the book, he says that she must offer unconditional respect, which includes sex on demand, even if he is “drinking and straying”, or even if he has “withering rage” so much so that she wants to “get away and hide.”)

She had no recourse. He gets to define what is good or bad about her behaviour; she doesn’t get to say anything at all because she must be in submission to him.

If she asks him to stop putting wet towels on the bed (seriously, even leaving them on the floor is better), she’s disrespectful and he’s justified in withholding love. If she gets upset that he forgot her birthday, she’s disrespectful. Any time that she is upset at him for something that he did, she is being disrespectful. So she has absolutely no way of asking for change in the marriage.

When I have raised these issues, I have been told that I am misrespresenting the book.

Focus on the Family specifically said, in their statement where they lied about me, that Love & Respect contains a “biblically sound, empowering message for husbands and wives.” (their statement is linked in mine, though they never directly link to me. You can read my statement and theirs here).

I have had so many people (especially men) tell me that the book is the best marriage book that they have ever read, and it saved their marriage.

That very well may be true; we talked in this podcast (starting around minute 33) about what makes some marriage books help, even though they also harm a number of people.


Please also see:


But setting up a marriage dynamic where he can label anything he doesn’t like “disrespectful”, while she is unable to raise any issues that are making her uncomfortable without being called unsubmissive, is inherently unhealthy because it sets up marriage as a power-over dynamic. It gives him power over her to define the relationship and make corrections, while she is entirely unable to do anything to bring up her own issues.

If she’s married to a good and generous man that may not have ill-effects. But for many couples, this gives him a heady sense of power, and gives her a real sense of helplessness.

Others keep telling me that I am wrong; that the book is empowering to women because submission is empowering to women.

But now I have validation from a very unusual source.

BDSM practitioners and trainers are recommending Love & Respect as a gateway to convince women to participate in these relationships.

I am going to try to keep the rest of this post as clean as I can, and I have decided not to link the YouTube video here (although if anyone wants proof of what I’m saying, if you email me I’ll send you the link). I just don’t want to promote this stuff, or send people onto rabbit trails they really don’t want to go on.

But let me try to set the stage for what was going on.

*** And MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING. I’m not going to discuss the sexual acts very much below, but I am going to sketch out what we’re talking about. ***

The 21 Convention is billed as the men’s convention of the century. It’s going to be taking place in October 2021 in Orlando, with a stream for fathers and for men, as well as for women (“Make Women Great Again”). It’s about reinstating the patriarchy. (That’s not my critique of their conference; that’s actually on their promo materials).

In advertising it, they’ve posted some videos from their 2020 convention, and one such video is of a talk given by a man in a dominant sexual relationship with his wife. He has a very large website promoting this lifestyle, which, again, I will not name. This talk was about the benefits of a BDSM type relationship and marriage, and how it is the more natural form and makes everyone happier. Think 50 Shades of Grey on steroids. He has complete control over her, and can order her around and threaten to leave if she doesn’t comply; she has to comply in everything. And he physically punishes her if she doesn’t. Sex is a dominant-submissive thing, where he inflicts pain.

(Not all BDSM relationships are violent; I’m summarizing from his talk. And this post is not meant to be a treatise on the ethics of BDSM, but merely how Love & Respect intersects with it.

In addition, anyone who is pro-BDSM should also be outraged by what I’m about to say, because BDSM is supposed to be completely consensual–you shouldn’t have to convince your wife. I’m also not critiquing things like blindfolding someone or anything like that–merely the power-over marriage dynamic that is being set up here.). 

In this particular talk, he’s discussing the benefits of this type of relationship, which is often written as D/s (or Dominant/submissive; The D is capitalized because it’s dominant, while the s isn’t because it’s submissive).

Here is some of what he’s saying (and I’ve taken out the swearing and really sexual stuff, which is the majority of the talk):

  • He talks about how sex dried up in marriage because he neglected to lead. “The king abdicated the throne.”
  • They did a Total Power Exchange: she trusts him enough to give up all her power and control.
  • This fits with “masculine and feminine energy”, and is “The Natural Order”
  • “She refers to me as her warrior. I am her warrior. I’m also her master. . . . We do a little master/slave stuff, where she literally is my slave. And sometimes we’ll carry that on for a week or two.”
  • “Your girl follows you around like a lovesick puppy for a month after a couple of these sessions. You’re a god. You literally are a god.”

Believe me, this is extremely truncated, but I just want to give you an idea of what we’re talking about: A relationship where the husband has total power, and the wife must obey him, to the point of being his slave. He feels like “a god” in the relationship. 

Then, at the end, he switches to answering the question, “how do you introduce this to your wife?”

Here’s his answer:

“There’s a great book out there written by a guy named Emerich [sic] and it’s called Love and Respect. And it’s got some blue pill stuff in it. It’s written by a pastor, so it’s got some biblical things; so if your wife or girl’s got some little biblical stuff in her past, it might resonate with her. But it talks about, from a biblical standpoint, of women submitting to their men. It’s her duty to respect you; and it’s a man’s duty to love her…I call it, D/s 101 for rookies, for newbies. Give your wife that book and let her read it, see if it works for her…It will get you closer to where you want to be than not reading it at all.”

Do we get the significance of this?

I am not arguing that Emerson Eggerichs promotes BDSM relationships; but the fact that BDSM practitioners consider his book a gateway to convince unsettled wives should tell us something.

If Love & Respect were a book which truly empowered women, it could not be used by BDSM practitioners to convince women to surrender all power to their husbands.

If Love & Respect truly is about mutuality, it could not be used to convince women to enter into a relationship where her husband is her god.

If Love & Respect truly is about both partners giving for the other, it could not be used as a gateway into a relationship where one person completely surrenders to the other’s wishes.

If Love & Respect taught women how to speak up and advocate for their own legitimate needs, it could not be used as a gateway where she willingly ignores all her needs. 

Again–I’m not trying to comment on BDSM, and I know some BDSM practitioners won’t like my characterizations here. My only purpose is to show that the whole argument that Love & Respect empowers BOTH husbands and wives, as Focus on the Family said, is complete and utter bunk.

It’s garbage.

It needs to be called out.

The only way you can say that Love & Respect empowers women is if you believe that giving up all of her power and living in total submission to another human being is actually empowering.

And I think that this is what Focus on the Family, and Eggerichs, truly believe is true for women. They think that women can only be empowered and can only live a full life if they stop trying to live a life at all, and simply surrender to their husbands.

They actually don’t see a problem with a relationship where the husband has all the power and the wife has none. They agree that this is “The Natural Order.”

That’s the only explanation I can find for how reticent they are to listening to the thousands upon thousands of women who have cried out that this book has hurt them and made abuse worse.

We now have BDSM practitioners saying that Love & Respect is an awesome gateway book to help convince your wife to be your slave.

What else do we need?

Is anyone listening?


For more information on the harms of Love & Respect:

Love & Respect and BDSM Relationships

What do you think? What will it take to get people to see that a power-over dynamic in marriage is harmful? Is the conversation around Love & Respect changing where you are?

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

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56 Comments

  1. Anon

    I’d like to think that everyone reading this will go ‘wow, how awful’ and drop L&R style teaching forthwith. But I have a nasty feeling that the people who most need to hear the message are more likely to go on about how terrible it is that you have ‘discussed’ BDSM on your blog and how no Godly woman would even mention that… But personally I find it chilling that the book is being used in this way – I really, really hope this acts as a wakeup call, especially to the authors and publishers. And I’m not interested in how they ‘meant’ their book to be interpreted – the fact that it IS being used in this way should be all they need to do some immediate revision. Other writers who have discovered that their work was being misapplied, however unjustly, haven’t hesitated to come out very strongly with corrections and revisions – I hope EE will do the same.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Me, too, Anon! But I have absolutely no faith that they will. What I’m simply hoping for is that churches see this and stop doing the marriage studies and stop recommending it. I don’t expect Focus on the Family or Eggerichs to change–to do so would mean they’d have to recant pretty much everything, and I don’t think they can do that. But the rest of us can speak up.

      And, yes, I think people will likely be more concerned that I talked about this on my blog than they are that women are actually being abused and raped.

      Reply
    • Em

      As the wife in a Christian couple who really enjoys BDSM in the bedroom – this is HORRIFYING. Playing with the Dom/sub dynamic is fun for us not because I’ve been guilted and shamed into thinking that being the sub is my natural place, but because it’s just enjoyable FOR ME to release that kind of control to someone I trust with my whole being. If there was a hint of him expecting me to do this because I had to, not because I wanted to, it would take all the fun out of it. BDSM has to be 100% consensual for both parties at all times (which is why there are safe words).

      I find it noteable that this overall conference isn’t focused on the BDSM community. I think if it were this speaker would probably be run out of town. No one should EVER be coerced into any part of the lifestyle – one of the reasons why the community hates 50 Shades of Grey with a burning passion.

      (Thank you for being overall very respectful toward BDSM practitioners even though it’s clearly not your kink and affirming the importance of consent that is taught by the community.)

      Reply
      • Bonnie

        I’m re reading this post after a lengthy time. I’ve just read a couple of articles on the BDSM stuff. Web MD defines SM not just submission but bdSM to mean sado masochism (which I assumed correctly). Thus the giving and receiving of pain. HOW can this be? I don’t believe any practice of BDSM s God’s design fora healthy, loving, mutual sexual expression in HOLY matrimony.

        Reply
  2. A2bbethany

    Of all the article titles to wake up to, I was actually surprised to see this one! I’m not surprised because that’s the unconscious language I was using for marriage in my head. First 6 months of marriage, I was disoriented and figuring life out, because my husband was nothing like L&R.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I know, Bethany. It is the language that many use. And it does not work, because it goes against everything we know about emotionally healthy relationships.

      Reply
  3. Laura

    His instructions make me feel sick. The name for what he’s describing is “trauma bonding.” It’s incredibly abusive to purposely set up those dynamics.

    On a separate note, since that post didn’t appear to have comments: I understood Focus on the Family’s reference to “nefarious intentions” to be talking about the ABUSER’S motives, not the abused twisting L&R.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, it very much is trauma bonding.

      And i seriously hope that’s what Focus on the fAmily meant. I took it to mean that they were saying I had nefarious intent to imply such things.

      Reply
  4. Nathan

    > > It was very possible to score well

    Very true, but in order to do that, the book must be based on the idea that men and women are equal in marriage, and that sex is about the physical, emotional and spiritual pleasure of both partners.

    I haven’t read L&R, but I’ve thumbed through it enough to know that it does NOT come from such a place.

    As for who’s using this book, I’m horrified, but not completely surprised.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, you’re right, Nathan. The books that scored poorly all were about setting up very unequal gender dynamics. That’s the root of un-health, really.

      Reply
  5. Bek

    I WISH I could be surprised by this.
    Your conclusion about Emerson Eggerichs and FoF is SPOT on. They think that women are non-human until they have husbands or some man to serve like a slave. Women have no inherent value or worth it is all relative to our relationship with men.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I hope that those who support Focus on the Family will understand that THIS is the #1 marriage resource they support. THIS is what Focus on the Family thinks is a healthy marriage.

      Reply
  6. Rachel

    Sweet Jesus –
    I pray for Sheila & her family & coworkerd- for strength & perseverance as thhe continue the fight you have set before them. May they not grow weary. May they see every small victory & know that each is a win for your kingdom.
    I pray for Focus on the Family and EE – their influence is wide! Redirect their teachings so that they bring FREEDOM to your people rather than bondage. Strip them of pride. Open the ears of the listeners and show them your truth.
    For the church at large – I ask for your Spirit to be active in guiding us to your truth. Too many people are suffering under bondage and our hearts break fir them. You, Jesus, bring freedom.to all your sons and daughters. Please shut down those that speak lies in your name.
    Thank for hearing. Help our hearts believe in your goodness.
    Anes

    Reply
  7. Kris

    The other issue is that Focus on the Family does not address abuse in marriage well. They put little focus on it as rampant as it is in the church. This is greatly needed as well as training in this area. You are right that Love and Respect enables abuse. You are spot on on this one!

    What are BDSM practitioners? I have never heard this term before.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Sorry, Kris, guess I should have defined it. It stands for sexual or erotic play that encompasses bondage & discipline/domination & submission/sadism & masochism.

      There are ethical guidelines that BDSM practitioners tend to use, including total consent, the use of safe words, etc. And not all “bondage” includes discipline. Sometimes just blindfolding someone and touching them can be a form of play that isn’t weird or anything.

      There can just be extremes in anything, and many abusive, patriarchal men are coopting BDSM to use it to abuse women.

      Reply
      • Bonnie

        Thanks for clarifying Sheila. I’m re reading this post after a lengthy time. That the initials refer to sado masochism which I assume most would know refers to inflicting and receiving pain. This contradicts what proponents suggests. This is terrible and potentially abusive and dangerous and has no place in healthy, loving mutually respectful marriage. It is an oxymoron in Christian marriage particularly. (Referring to a comment above)

        Reply
  8. Jane Eyre

    The best thing I could say about L&R is that it is overkill in trying to solve a very specific problem. If you have other problems, or the opposite problem, the book is not going to help you and may hurt you.

    Spouses who routinely deny each other sexually will cause a lot of pain and hurt. Maybe a stereotype or pseudo science (“men have needs”) is easier than talking about the emotional reasons for this. Maybe a woman who is unwittingly destroying her marriage by constantly turning her husband down will stop doing so. The problem is that she is doing it for the wrong reasons and other women with other problems will be pushed into doing this.

    It also shortcuts a discussion from first principles: WHY did God make sex this way?

    Which gets us into BDSM. I’m not going to shame people for their kinks, except to say that if you are coercing your own spouse into your kink, that is gross and evil. Since L&R shortcuts or ignores discussions of healthy human sexuality and the deep emotions people feel about it, it can be used in this way.

    Reply
  9. Stephanie

    Wow. Just… wow.
    Is Focus aware of this? How can we let them know?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I would suggest going to their website or their Facebook page and leaving an email or message. On their website, Under “About”, there’s an email address. This is especially important for anyone who currently gives Focus on the Family money–and I’d seriously reconsider, anyone who does. Transfer your giving to an organization that fights sex trafficking instead.

      Reply
      • Stephanie

        Sorry – I meant more should we link to THIS article? Not that I want to send them a link to a bdsm conference, lol. Ok, I’ll link to here. Thanks!

        Reply
      • Bonnie

        Wonderful suggestion Sheila.

        Canadian readers may not know but the Salvation Army has an undisclosed home/safe house in Vancouver BC for this purpose. I have donated to this cause and would ask others to prayerfully consider this.

        Reply
  10. ZombieWarriorMom

    Oh my goodness…. This should be a huge wake-up call for any person who still considers L&R to be a book that is “helpful” to struggling marriages. I don’t believe my husband has actually read the book but has heard it discussed many times by FotF. He actually has said “I’m the King…” and has made it clear that my opinion in weighty matters is not even up for consideration. He’s fine with me making decisions about food and laundry.
    This toxic garbage has provided justification for decades of abuse. I tried so hard to be what I believed was a “good wife,” while he felt perfectly secure in his place of authority. It nearly destroyed me. And I’m just one story. EE and FotF have much damage for which to answer!! Sickening.
    (Note: we are in counseling. We’ll see how it goes.)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry you’ve gone through that, and I’m so glad you’re in counseling! Please make sure it’s a licensed counselor who understands abuse dynamics, and not just someone through your church who may have been trained using Love & Respect (as many biblical counselors are).

      Reply
  11. Melissa

    I was so happy when you first called out Love and Respect on your blog. I already hated it! It led to this dynamic in my marriage where I could never be respectful enough, every single disagreement my husband and I had ended with him explaining how he had felt “disrespected” during the conversation and with me apologizing, even if he was the one in the wrong, even if I was justifiably hurt or angry. My husband is a good man – he has the biggest most generous heart – but Love and Respect had him convinced this was THE Biblical way to be. It had me too, for a while. Until it got to a point where I exploded. I was so frustrated because no matter how I said anything he still pulled the “I feel disrespected” card and I ended up being the one apologizing. I could be sweet as peaches and cream and STILL end up somehow being the one in the wrong. The other issue was that he wasn’t taking any of my concerns or hurts seriously when I presented them in the sweet-as-peaches-and-cream manner. We kept having the same conversations over and over and over again because nothing was getting resolved, because I was barred by the Love and Respect philosophy from truly expressing the depth of how much things mattered to me. He had no such restrictions. I lost it. And I drew a boundary. I refused to apologize just for expressing my emotion any more. It wasn’t easy. My husband was stunned the first time I said “I have been very careful in presenting this to you to be respectful – I have not said anything hurtful or demeaning in this conversation. I am hurt and angry and I have a right to be and you need to see how these actions of yours affected me. I cannot be sweet and neutral all the time and for you to expect me to be is unfair and unrealistic.” That was the beginning of us abandoning the Love and Respect model and I just about jumped off the couch and cheered when you publicly called it out. Keep it up.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow, Melissa! That’s awesome. I think I’m going to take this comment and use it for a post this month for my series. I want to talk about Direct Communication and the many barriers we face–including women being told that we’re being disrespectful if we’re being direct.

      Reply
      • Melissa

        Yes!!!! I only in the past several years have started being direct in my communication and it is literally life changing!

        Reply
  12. Kris Huettemann

    Sheila can you email me the link for this? We are the young adult leaders at our church and I also counsel sexual abuse victims- our Pastor deeply supports and promotes this book at all conferences. I need more ammo to push “this book is dangerous, please stop promoting it”. I would appreciate the links to this video of the BdSM info so I can share it with him. I’m not at all shocked- but deeply sickened.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      A long time ago in a city not so far away my husband and I were introduced to this book through an MLM we were in, then it was taught at the church we were attending. Prior to these “teachings” I thought we had a pretty good relationship, we treated each other with respect and kindness for the most part, due to some issues in my past I struggled feeling secure so would get pushy. Of course I didn’t realize where the issue was coming from at the time and thought “here’s the answers to all our problems!” So we (mostly I) began reading all sorts of things along the same vein, Marriage On the Rock was also highly influential, things should be golden now right?!

      Not so much! See my husband isn’t an “Alpha male”, my way or the highway kinda guy. So I’m stepping back, zipping my lip, submitting, etc and HE’S NOT STEPPING UP!!! What is wrong with him? And I’m struggling not to express myself and my frustration because well I’m not supposed to say anything! He’s not leading devotions with our children! Shock and horror! Must mean he’s weak in his faith!

      Along comes a website on Domestic Discipline, wife spanking yep! After much convincing from me my husband agrees to try it out, maintenance, rules, I even suggested a tracking app so he could hold me even more accountable, the whole shebang! There are lots of websites and FB groups where you can learn all kinds of things you never knew you “needed” to know. I will say it’s amazing how many women are pushing their husbands into this and how many husbands still “aren’t leading” or “dominating.” It’s looked at as a flaw for the most part which is so sad because these men aren’t wanting to spank their wives, they aren’t wanting to come up with rules and expectations. These men should be applauded but no they’re seen as weak in their faith.

      For awhile it was great, we both felt like ok this is how we will be the people we are supposed to be according to scripture! Because that’s what it’s based on after all right? It lead to some light BDSM and honestly if my husband was a different man would have lead to so heavy BDSM.

      BUT it also had me start asking what is the purpose of sex? Because as much as I honestly enjoyed some of the things we were doing it’s a very self centred kind of sex.

      Thankfully right when things were starting to lose their shine I started a Bible study that absolutely shook the foundations of my and subsequently my husband’s beliefs about the Creation story, about the curse, and about our “roles”. Follow that up with your book and well let’s just say “free at last!”

      This is a shortened version of things, this period of our lives was over a decade and a half from when we read L&R until that Bible study. That’s a long time to feel like you (& your spouse) just aren’t “getting” it when really the very essence of who we were created to be is longing for right relationship with our partner.

      I’m so thankful for the changes I am seeing in the faith community thanks to those who are bold enough to examine themselves and what they’ve been taught, realize they were wrong and throw a line out to those around them.

      Thank you Sheila and the warriors like you!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Wow, Anonymous! Thanks for sharing your story. And I know a LOT of women who pushed their husbands into wife spanking/BDSM too in hopes that it would make him become more dominant like all the books said he should be. So you’re not alone.

        I’m glad you’ve come out on the other side and finally found freedom!

        Reply
      • Bonnie

        Dear Anon

        Can you please direct me to that Bible study if it has published materials?

        Thanks in case

        Reply
  13. Laura

    Wow! I’m shocked, but not shocked at the same time to hear this. How is it empowering for a person (usually the woman) to be in submission to another (the man) who is in charge? Yet, I’ve heard Christian women talk about submission being liberating and empowering for them. In what sense? I do not know and don’t want to find out.
    I also find it hard to believe that people have been telling Sheila that the L & R “is empowering to women because submission is empowering to women.” If that be the case, how is it empowering for a woman who cannot wear jeans or cut her hair? I know a pastor’s wife who is not allowed to do those things, but she told me that she thought submission was liberating.

    So, I’m wondering if the BDSM community considers L & R to be the Christian version of 50 Shades of Grey? (My attempt at sarcasm here.)

    Reply
    • Laura

      When people have told Sheila and team that they believe L & R “is empowering to women because submission is empowering to women”, do they ever give a reason about why they think submission is empowering?

      Reply
      • NoLongerSilent

        I have been told by my church, within the last 12 months, that when a woman is submissive it is empowering to her because she is behaving in the God appointed way for her to behave and therefore she is choosing God over herself and therefore empowered in living her most Godly life.

        Reply
      • JennD

        Laura, I think sometime women find it “liberating” because it puts all the decision making and thus the consequences from those decisions, on the men. Especially for young moms who spend all day making decisions about everything from when to feed to what type of diapers to buy to how to handle a tantrum throwing child, it can feel like somewhat of a relief to have a husband come home and make all the big decisions. Definitely not saying this is ok. Just that I have experienced a bit of that myself, when I was in those years and have seen other women who just seem to like not having the responsibility.

        Reply
    • ZombieWarriorMom

      I grew up in a church which placed lots of silly rules on women such as not wearing pants, not cutting hair, not wearing jewelry or makeup…
      I believe that any woman saying that it’s “empowering” or “liberating” to live in what the church considered “submission” is probably just trying to create a narrative that she can live with. Kind of like Stockholm syndrome. If I can make it seem less toxic in my mind, it helps me survive.

      Reply
    • Wild Honey

      It is “liberating” in the sense that it absolves women of the responsibility of making adult decisions. Some women seem to like this. Personally, I found it more stressful than liberating, because I had to bear the consequences of decisions in which I felt as though I had little say.

      Reply
  14. EOF

    Is this what will finally wake up Christians who continue to promote this book?? Sadly, I doubt it.

    Along with other commenters, I wish I could say this surprises me. But given my personal experience and my trauma response to anything remotely BDSM, I’m not surprised in the least.

    Because L&R encouraged that type of experience in my own life during the time when my husband and I were following the manual that teaches men how to abuse their wives. (L&R)

    Thank God my husband and I stopped reading garbage like that, and things have changed. Not perfect, but a far cry from my past misery I suffered.

    It doesn’t help that churches try to blame women for men’s sin. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “If you’d just be more submissive, then he wouldn’t [fill in the sin here].”

    No, no, no! Just no. We are all responsible for our sin.

    It is okay for women to stand up against sin. We do not have to suffer through abuse.

    Abigail hid her actions from Nabal. David fled from his king, Saul. Moses’s parents defied their king’s orders to save him. Joseph and Mary fled with the baby Jesus to save him. Christians in Acts fled persecution. What about Annanias and Saphira? If she’d have defied her husband and not lied, she’d have spared her life.

    The Bible is full of these examples. We do NOT have to put up with abuse. We do not. The church needs to start following the Bible and stop cherry picking verses and stop promoting these abusive authors.

    Wake up, church!

    Reply
  15. Pippa

    Found this such a difficult blog to read as what you describe does not reflect a healthy loving marriage nor a healthy BDSM relationship.
    I’ll admit my own bias here but a healthy BDSM relationship reflects the same values of a healthy Christian marriage – trust, honesty, consent, communication, being known, vulnerability, satisfaction, respect, love and ALL OF THOSE MUTUAL. Anything less risks abuse, manipulation and ultimately less than each one of us deserve in a marriage.
    My heart breaks for each woman (and man) who has been convinced otherwise by that abhorrent book or that dodgy video.

    Reply
  16. Wild Honey

    Is there a particular reason why wives are not allowed to pull out the “I feel unloved” card to get their way every single time?

    Just saying.

    Reply
    • M

      Hmmm good point!

      Reply
    • EOF

      Because that would be too close to telling them what to do, and not allowing them the freedom to do whatever they want.

      We were in the middle of the L&R teachings, I told my husband that he was supposed to love me like Christ loved the church. He told me, “Jesus rebuked the church, woman!”

      This is the “Christian” attitudes L&R encourages from husbands.

      Reply
      • M

        Why would a woman marry in the church if this is the way it is?

        Reply
      • EOF

        Most of us have no idea what it’ll be like. Or at least I didn’t. The message I heard from the pulpit as a single woman was, “Men, you need to treat the sisters as princesses because they’re God’s daughters. Ladies, you need to treat the brothers as princes because they’re God’s sons.”

        Then after marriage, the message became, “Husbands, you must make your wives submit or you aren’t a real man.”

        This L&R garbage really needs to go. It’s done too much damage for too long.

        Reply
  17. Stefanie

    Sheila, you are doing a great work! I’m confident that God is working through you, and we will see a big change. Maybe not at FotF, but individuals are waking up, and they will create the change as they reject bad teachings. I’ve been sharing your book with all my married friends at church. I’m going to tell my church’s leadership team that they need to read your book.

    I first heard of you on the Image Bearers podcast, and a lot of the ideas presented resonated with me. Then I read your book, and I was hooked. I spent the last month or so bingeing on all of your content. The way I described it to my husband was at your book felt like Oxygen – Like I was slowly suffocating and dying, and your book was a breath of pure oxygen. And I instinctually ran towards it. Other women are having that same reaction. My husband has now finished the book, and he’s recommending it to our married friends too. We’re throwing out all of the books with bad teaching (not even donating them because they’re not fit for human consumption), and reviewing other books to see what they say with a more critical eye.

    Thank you for your work. It’s helped my marriage more than anything. I’ve been married 10 years, and we have a decent marriage, but we’ve had a lot of trouble in the sex department. I’m so happy that God led us to you!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Stefanie, that’s so amazing! Thank you for that encouragement this morning. I really needed it!

      Reply
  18. Lisa

    I think it was only a matter of time.

    Focus on the Family— do you still stand behind this book?

    I will try to contact them but critical thinking does not seem to be in their toolbox.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Good luck contacting FOF! You’re right; the more I learn about this supposed “Christian” organization, it would not surprise me that they don’t think outside their box. Maybe, the more responses they see about where the L & R teaching is going (outside church and into BDSM communities), it’s possible the wool may get pulled from their eyes.

      God is greater than all of this so we all must fight the good fight!

      Reply
  19. Ela Meadows

    Unfortunatly even just from the title (and I read the whole post which tries to walk a fine line but doesn’t) BDSM is very inaccurately portrayed. One cannot “coerce” another into a BDSM relationship because if there is anything hampering freely given consent than it is abuse NOT BDSM. Just as many purport to be “Christians” but teach a gospel other than Jesus are not Christians, people who purport themselves to be practitioners of BDSM and teach abuse are abusers not BDSM practitioners. Referring to BDSM in this way is to imply it is inherently abusive when the opposite is the case.

    There are many acronyms for how to know if something is consensual in the BDSM community including RACK and Safe, Sane, Consensual both of which highlight that everyone has to be not just an adult but in a good state of mind (not drunk/high/coerced/etc.)

    Why is this misrepresentation a problem? One: how can I trust that you are accurately representing the problems with Love & Respect and other “Christian” marriage books if you are clearly misrepresenting a community that is easy to research and find accurate information on? Two: if your point is that Love & Respect misrepresents Christian marriage yet are yourself misrepresenting an entire community to make your point how can I trust the veracity of any of your claims?

    I actually agree that L&R is not a healthy book but how this post and the image posts on Facebook were constructed about the topic are incredibly disappointing. I’d encourage you to take down this blog, do some research and re-write it with an accurate representation of the issue. Lots of organizations use a platform/label to promote abuse just because this group/speaker calls itself BDSM does not mean it is at all a representation of BDSM and it is unfair of you to conflate the two.

    Reply
    • Anon

      In reading ‘the whole post’, I think you may have missed Sheila’s comment that “anyone who is pro-BDSM should also be outraged by what I’m about to say, because BDSM is supposed to be completely consensual”

      Reply
      • Ela Meadows

        Oh I agree there is a very small caveat however the title specifically claims that its a BDSM conference and the entire rest of the blog also refers to it as if its how BDSM is – note that this is clearly *not* a legitimate BDSM conference and that the “bad” is constantly referred to as BDSM *not* as abuse which is a constant inappropriate and inaccurate conflation. There’s also a series of memes that contain no caveat.

        Additionally, if you look at a lot of the (good) critiques Sheila has made of the many toxic “Christian” marriage books one of the significant points she makes is that a brief caveat doesn’t really matter if the rest of the entire message is misleading/inappropriate/dangerous. What then is the rationale of repeatedly using the term BDSM as a replacement for saying abusive teachings in the title and throughout the blog post instead of correctly identifying that the issue is not BDSM but toxic pick up/patriarchy culture?

        Additionally Sheila makes no attempt to correct commenters who are clearly demonizing people who participate in BDSM/calling BDSM evil. There are many so its pretty obvious a significant number of people didn’t see/understand the caveat you mentioned (or are commenting on the meme which doesn’t have one at all). As the author of the post its her responsibility to ensure she is clearly communicating her point. If that does include that this is not a legitimate BDSM conference but an abusive/toxic masculinity event using the term as a hot button term to draw a crowd why is she also using the term in the same inaccurate way in the title of her post and throughout it? Why is there not more correction of the many people who clearly misunderstood that she wasn’t trying to demonize the entire BDSM community? Why has this comment not been responded to, where a concern has been politely raised when that is what she is asking of so many popular authors?

        To be clear I’ve actually known Sheila in person for a very long time and have no issue with her as a person and respect much of her work. My critique in this case is not of Sheila but how the post is titled and worded.

        Reply
      • Anon

        I have just read carefully through every single one of these comments without seeing anyone refer to BDSM as ‘evil’ (on the contrary, I have read two comments from people who say they use BDSM in their own marriages). Nor can I see these ‘memes’ you are referring to. It seems we are reading two totally different articles.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I think she’s referring to the graphics I put on Instagram. I did call it a BDSM conference rather than a BDSM talk. I should have done the latter. But I also linked to this post for the full picture. And, again, I made it clear that the issue was consent, and that BDSM practitioners should be the first to call this out, because they’d agree this was wrong.

          Reply
  20. just ... K

    Sheila, you are one of my all time heroes ♥️.

    For a while, I have been wanting to send you some thoughts about L&R in light of Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That? – inside the minds of angry and controlling men.” Lundy’s work is recognized in both the American and Canadian justice systems, his specialty is domestic violence.

    I know that some people like to mention that Eggerich specifically points out that his book is not for abusive relationships – but how valid is this when men who have put their partners into ICU through their own violent behaviour still don’t see themselves as being abusive? Or will frame the course of events to make it appear that they are the real victim?

    I think anyone who is willing to do a side by side analysis of these two books would be in for a bit if a shock.

    Sex exists for him and she OWES him sex are most certainly in there.

    Apparently the men who were sent to Bancroft for rehabilitation aren’t actually abusers. Apparently, they’ve been the epitome of genuine “Christian” manhood all along? God help us.

    Sorry that I haven’t been able to come through on the work of this to send it in. My life is still a mess of protection orders!

    May God bless you and encourage you! This is a GOOD fight!!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much, K! And I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through. So sorry. I’m glad you’re in a better place now.

      Reply
  21. Nathan

    I can understand not wanting to promote misogyny and abuse, but did you post a link to the YouTube video in question?

    This is a serious accusation to post unsourced. Not an L&R guy at all, but only posting your summary of the video weakens your point.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I did say that I would send the link to anyone who emailed me and asked (and I have sent it out to quite a few people). I simply won’t put it online. I thought long and hard about it, but this video is toxic and I don’t want to spread it. But again, I’ll send the link to anyone who asks.

      Reply

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