The PODCAST On Sex and the New Reformation

by | Aug 5, 2021 | Podcasts | 31 comments

Podcast Sex and the New Reformation
Merchandise is Here!

The Bare Marriage Podcast is back for Season 4! And we thought we’d start with a little victory dance.

I didn’t actually know this was season 4, but Katie (my daughter who does all the editing for the podcasts) informed me that we were now starting season 4. So yay!

After taking a month off, Rebecca and I are back to give a big picture look at what we see happening in the evangelical world as we talk about sex and marriage. And there’s a lot to be encouraged about. (Plus some things you just have to laugh at!)

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:


Main Segment: Let’s Do a Victory Dance!

Rebecca and I quickly run through some of the cool things that have happened over the last few weeks since we stopped recording podcasts.

  • Matthew West was made to take down his Modest is Hottest video (I was quoted in a Religious News Service article about that).
  • A number of people sent in personal stories about standing up to summer camps with shaming dress codes for girls, or speaking up to their churches about Love & Respect
  • The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast covered toxic teaching in the church about sex

Want to bring up your concerns to your church?

Access a quick synopsis of the findings from The Great Sex Rescue survey, with some quick stats–along with our rubric of healthy sexuality teaching and our scorecard.

Then use it to bring your concerns to church leadership!

Question: Why do many men assume women are hitting on them when women smile?

A funny sidenote came out of that Mars Hill podcast: they shared a quick anecdote where James Dobson said that he was at a stoplight when a woman smiled at him. He knew she was propositioning him for sex. She then turned down a side street, and he knew he was supposed to follow–but he didn’t take the bait.

Twitter erupted wanting to dissect this. So we invited Laura Robinson, a Duke University PhD candidate in New Testament, to come on the podcast with us. She wrote a few incredible threads about how this would actually play out in real life if it happened (Imagine him pulling up in her driveway after following her and then saying, “do we do sex now?” I think police would soon be involved).

We try to get to the bigger issues of why it is that it’s assumed that women are hitting on men all the time. (not saying it doesn’t happen–but it is often assumed when it’s not).

Big Picture Question: Are We Going Through a Fourth (or Second, or Sixth) Reformation?

Of course it depends how you measure these things, but it seems as if every 400-500 years something big happens to disrupt the church as a whole, and changes the direction. The last huge change was the Protestant Reformation. Could we be going through another such change again?

Rebecca and I read a few comments from the blog that show the chaos that we’re experiencing as a wider faith community. Some people are “deconstructing” and leaving evangelicalism for mainline churches. Some are deconstructing and staying in evangelical churches. Some are deconstructing and leaving Jesus altogether.

We know that many of you are deconstructing; we want to show that you can do this and still hold on to Jesus, and I do think that’s part of what this podcast is for. With millennials and Generation Z leaving the church in droves, we want to show that there is another way.

And so we ask some big picture questions about church and faith right now, and I hope you enjoy the discussion!

Things Mentioned in This Podcast:


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Sex and the New Reformation
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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  1. Chris

    “Question: Why do many men assume women are hitting on them when women smile?” I don’t know. Why do women think men are always looking at them? Wishful thinking perhaps? I have never had a woman hit on me and I’m married. Women truly enjoy the burden of initiating/hitting on being on men. Its just natures way that men have the testosterone that motivates them to be the pursuer. I suspect with more and more young men growing up being satiated by internet porn they will/have lose their interest in pursuing. You see this happening in Japan already. That combined with young women being increasingly unapproachable and I predict a further drop in relationships and marriages in our society’s future.

  2. Jo

    My theory on James Dobson’s response to the woman’s smile is more that the church has essentially reduced women to their unique biological function. Since only women can become pregnant, then a woman’s entire life must be focused on and revolve around the sole activity that men can’t possibly do.

    And of course sex—well, PIV—is required, so if a woman isn’t neutral or outright hostile to every man she meets, then she must, in his mind at least, be interested in sex in the hope that she’ll “fulfill her function.”

    Since a woman’s orgasm isn’t necessary for procreation (more’s the pity), then why should husbands bother with all that extra work to make sex good for her, despite the fact that SHE’S the one with the dedicated pleasure structure?

    I watch way too many documentaries, and the ones on women’s efforts in both world wars in factories, farm harvesting, and other roles traditionally performed by men have been absolutely fascinating. One in particular (and unfortunately I don’t remember which one) showed a room of about thirty drafting tables, all with women doing the drawings. Women built planes and tanks, wielding wrenches and torches, and operated all manner of heavy machinery. They piloted the planes from the factories to the bases. They were involved in the gruesome work of patching up battlefield injuries.

    When men in the church try to squeeze women in the church into one little box, they may succeed for a time. Decades, or even centuries. But women are more than life-support systems for “orifice A” (and “orifice B”!).

    As for pastors and other leaders who have perpetuated the gross misinterpretation of Scripture to enforce keeping women in that box, they ought to be afraid, very afraid (James 3:1).

    • Jo

      Elders, deacons, and other lay leaders might be excused, but pastors who are seminary trained generally learn Greek and Hebrew, so they ought to be reading the original languages during sermon prep. The fact that they rely on questionable translations of key passages is inexcusable. Pastors especially ought to be pointing out when English translation are really NOT capturing the original Greek and Hebrew and/or that the cultural differences of when the various books of the Bible were written means that what is being said to those people at those times in those places cannot be viewed primarily through a twenty-first-century lens.

      If even half (or a quarter!) of Marg Mowczko’s cultural descriptions of first-century Mediterranean life are remotely accurate, then those marriage passages (1 Cor 7, Eph 5) so heavily relied on by so many pastors and teachers are being taken so far out of context as to make squishy oatmeal look like solid concrete.

      And again, shame on pastors for not pointing all this out!!!

      • Katydid

        There are many pastors of non denoms and their own pop-ip churches who aren’t trained in Biblical exegesis let alone original language. The pastor of my church 2 churches ago actually told the congregation to stop questioning him. He was the one with years of seminary training, not us. That didn’t sit well with me, despite having some truth to it. I think the problem was he was a certain drnomination, but had a very diverse congregation and would get challenged ad nauseam on the dogmas the denomination believes.

      • Wild Honey

        A couple men in my family have an M.Div, from two different seminaries. Their language training is actually pretty minimal; I did more in preparation for a Masters in classical history. I didn’t end up pursuing a Masters, just completed a Bachelors with an emphasis in classical history. But there have been a number of times I’ve winced during a sermon or Sunday school class led by a seminary-trained pastor at some blatant mis-understandings of ancient Mediterranean culture and history.

  3. A2bbethany

    The debate around being friends with the opposite sex has always been an interesting one. In my family, when I was a teen, I had a male coworker who was my friend. But I couldn’t talk about him at home without them assuming it was romantic. So I just had this friendship that I never mentioned hardly at all to my family. One time I invited him to watch a Christmas play, and my dad made it awkward…🙄

    But then my younger brothers who are now 14-19 all have female friends and it’s way more understood that it’s only platonic. It’s nice seeing my parents understanding of this change.

    Basically so long as everyone involved has a good self-control and not an exaggerated thought life of imaginary romance, it’s not an issue.

    Though I’m still not sure of the way spouses should play a part. Because that “emotional affair” is usually an ambiguous term. A few times as a newly wed, I’d be upset and chat with my male friend instead of hubby(or a family bestie), because I didn’t want to (can’t remember why). I felt guilty like I might’ve been “emotionally cheating”. I think that’s because that’s the one kind of cheating, not well defined. (This friend was casual and only contact was insta. And I felt comfortable that anything said would die in the conversation and never resurrect.)
    (Early marriage we had issues around his former pastor, in-laws and then my abuser. Could’ve been any of these!)
    Maybe in the future, you could try and define emotional cheating?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a good idea, Bethany! I’ll write it down as a possible future blog post idea.

      • Laura

        In addition to talking about emotional cheating, have you done discussions about opposite-sex friendships? That would make for an interesting podcast because as a single woman in my 40’s, I still struggle with that.

        Any time I hang out with a man, who also happens to be single, people automatically assume we’re dating. This is not just in church circles, but in general society as well.

  4. Jessica H

    On the James Dobson stoplight seduction – the story is wayyy too similar to the Christie Brinkley “Ferrari girl” bit in National Lampoon’s Family Vacation to be a coincidence!

    • Laura

      Jessica H,

      When I heard about Dobson’s comment about a woman smiling at him while he was driving, I also thought of that scene from National Lampoon’s Vacation. I think some of these male head honchos like Dobson and Driscoll have inflated egos. When I listened to one of the episodes of Mars Hill podcast, I heard a clip of Driscoll talking about how some women in his congregation hand him notes with their phone numbers. Seriously? I think that man is full of himself.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yeah, that incident with Dobson was on the same podcast as Driscoll saying that about the notes in his pocket. So weird. (I’m not saying women can never do that; but my husband is a pediatrician, so he’s a doctor surrounded by women. He’s pretty good looking. He’s a wonderful person. And he rarely gets hit on. It just isn’t that common that women say, “hey, I want to have sex with you” out of the blue).

    • Laura

      I think it was Dobson who came up with the idea that men need sexual release every 72 hours, then other Christian authors put that in their books. For the man who made up this idea, it does not surprise me that he thought any woman who smiles at him wants him.

  5. Melissa

    Is it any wonder so many of us women walk around with permanent scowls on our faces, because we’ve been conditioned by influential men like Dobson to believe that if we smile at a man he’s going to think we want to have sex with him.

    Did it ever occur to leaders like Dobson ow terrifying they have made the world for women? He shares his thought process, but what about a woman who has been indoctrinated into this way of thinking? “Keep your head down, do not make eye contact, DO NOT smile because if you smile a man will think you want to have sex with him and he will follow you and you will get raped.”

    But please, Dr. Dobson, tell me more about how dangerous it is to YOU for a woman to smile. 🙄

    • Jessica H

      It’s funny how the subspoken expectation is that Evangelical women should be cheerful and smiling (scowling being what angry unfulfilled feminists do, you know), yet smiling in a man’s general direction can make you appear a brazen temptress. So, no-win!

  6. Anon

    Oh my! I’m someone who was brought up in a rural community where you smiled and said ‘hi’ to EVERYONE, whether you know them or not…on the basis of James Dobson’s assumptions, I’ve probably already ‘propositioned’ at least a dozen guys today! Guess I should be relieved that none of them ‘took the bait’!

    • Laura


      That’s so funny! I live in a small town too and we all wave and smile at each other when driving. Yeah, I guess I could say I might have unintentionally propositioned a lot of men, both young and old.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Too funny! REbecca tweeted out something pretty much exactly like this in response to Laura when we first saw Laura’s thread!

  7. Phil

    Have not gotten to listen to the podcast yet been struggling with getting to the articles fast enough to be able to participate in the conversation…however when a woman smiles at me say at a stoplight and or wherever I dont assume she is hitting on me…I assume she must be a nice person!

      • Phil

        Thank you 😬

    • Anon

      Please keep thinking that Phil – we need more men like you! It does my heart good every time I hear of a man who can just treat women as normal human beings instead of dangerous ‘traps’. Now I’m in my 40s, it’s not an issue any more (one great thing about getting older!) but when I was in my 20s, I got SO tired of every Christian guy I met thinking that I was ‘after’ him.

      I had a job working in a Christian bookstore for a while, and if a customer ordered an out of stock book, I had to take their number so we could call them when it came in. I used to feel sick every time a male customer did this, because 99 times out of 100, I knew when I asked him for his number he would act like I was showing an interest in him (like, how else were we supposed to let them know the book had arrived – carrier pigeon?)

  8. Mara R

    Concerning The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast.

    What Mark told women from the pulpit was awful.

    Just think what he told them when counseling women about marriage in private.

    WenatcheeTheHatchet is my go to Mars Hill info source. He attended the church for a time but got out, I think before 2010. But he kept following it and talking to people who were part of it for years afterward.

  9. Amy

    I suspect that marital rape is all too common in Christian marriages, but since it’s not talked about or if it is, it’s reality is denied, people don’t have language to describe it. I was raped in my former marriage. At the time, I knew I felt violated, but never fully grasped that rape was an accurate description of my experience. A couple years post divorce, I attended an out-of-state week long intensive trauma recovery event. Ten years later and I can still picture and hear in my mind my group leader saying, “you were raped” after I told my story. That validation was essential in my healing journey. By dismissing or denying the reality of marital rape, the church is doing great harm to these victims. Looking back, I can see how I desperately needed another person to acknowledge and care for me in that experience to find true healing.

    On another note, my 13 year old daughter recently attended a church camp. The packing list said “swimsuit” with no specifics about one-piece only, etc. She does have a one-piece swimsuit, but prefers her two-piece swimsuit. While part of her belly shows on the two-piece, it’s has a ruffly top which I think is less revealing than the one-piece. I was so disappointed when she got home and told me that the camp required them to wear t-shirts over their two-piece swimsuits. The camp was sponsored by her dad’s church and not mine, so I didn’t say anything to the church about it. However, it did open a door for me to have a healthier talk with her on modesty and was a reminder that there is much work to be done in the church to provide our daughters a better culture than the one we experienced.

  10. Hannah

    So, it’s past midnight and I can’t sleep because I’ve been buried in theology for the past few days. Can someone check me on this? In 1 Corinthians 14:34 and in 1 Peter 2:13-3:7 it seems to literally say that wives submitting to husbands is just because of the law at the time. No ambiguity. It just states that wifely submission is because the local/Roman? law requires it. And in the other verses (Like Ephesians), it’s Paul writing to Timothy, who he has had ongoing conversations with. So, he wouldn’t need to restate the entire argument/reasoning to Timothy (he stated it in 1 Corinthians already), since Timothy can explain the rest of the context to the church at Ephesus in person. I need to go to bed 🙁

    • Em

      You might like Bruce Fleming’s podcast “The Eden Podcast.” He was on Sheila’s and Rebecca’s podcast several weeks ago. He talks about 1 Corinthians 14 in Season 4 Episode 5.

      • Hannah


  11. Em

    This podcast was so good, thank you! Thanks, Rebecca for sharing your perspective of raising your son in church.

  12. Amy

    My brother and I are CRYING laughing at the #Ididnttakethebait segment. He’s like “Wouldn’t it be worse if she just smiled and didn’t move?!” And I’m saying “Was she just supposed to miss her turn for him??”


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