Next Steps after Reading The Great Sex Rescue

by | Nov 9, 2021 | Bare Marriage, Sex | 18 comments

Next Steps After Reading The Great Sex Rescue
Merchandise is Here!

If you’ve read The Great Sex Rescue, it may have opened your eyes to so much that’s holding you back.

But where do you go from here?

Sheila here!

Today Dr. Camden Morgante, a clinical psychologist and good friend, is joining us to suggest next steps after reading The Great Sex Rescue. I know I said that I wasn’t going to run posts on Tuesday anymore, but I have a quick two-post mini-series about counseling that I thought I’d run today and tomorrow. 

Dr. Camden was actually on the podcast the week that the book launched talking about how much she enjoyed it, and I thought that, as we’re talking in our series about building confidence, I’d ask her to share her professional expertise in where to get more help if you have more work to do and you want to thrive.

So here’s Dr. Camden!

What came up for you when reading The Great Sex Rescue?

Validation? Anger? Hurt?

Hope and a desire for healing?

Reading The Great Sex Rescue may have brought up many painful emotions for you as you recognized yourself in some of the case studies or identified with several of the toxic teachings. Self-help in the form of reading other healthy, research-based books, listening to podcasts, and online courses can be a great first step to working through your beliefs and sexual issues.

What are some next steps you can take for to find a path forward?

In The Great Sex Rescue, Sheila, Rebecca, and Joanna helpfully uncover the lies we have been taught by popular evangelical marriage and sex books over the years. For my therapy clients who read The Great Sex Rescue, they often recognize how toxic these teachings were for the first time. That can unearth some problems that had been hiding below the surface in their marriage or sex life.

Here are some of the common problems I see arising from toxic teachings about sexuality:

Shame.

I call shame “the universal experience of purity culture.” Perhaps you experience shame because your married sex life hasn’t been as great as you’d been promised. Maybe you or your spouse struggle with shame over your sexual pasts. Or you may feel shame because you are single and struggle with sexual urges and desires. As The Great Sex Rescue taught us, the teachings in many Christian books perpetuate this shame.

Sexual pain.

Sheila has written extensively about vaginismus and its correlation with the “obligation sex” message and other harmful teachings. If you experience sexual pain, you may have just chosen to “grin and bear it” for years. But now that you’ve learned that it is not normal (although common) and does not have to be endured, you can seek help for it.

Sexual trauma.

If you have experienced sexual abuse or trauma in your past, popular books, pastors, and other Christians may have made you feel like you are damaged goods. Please know that you are valuable and beloved by God regardless of what was done to you in the past. You can experience healing from your trauma and a sense of peace in your sexuality.

Low desire or pleasure.

It’s not hard to see how a lack of focus on women’s pleasure and insufficient sex education have led many Christian couples to an unsatisfying sex life. Low desire or difficulty reaching orgasm can have a variety of contributors. Read on to see some options for treatment in the next section.

Relationship issues.

You may realize that your sexual intimacy is one-sided and become resentful of your spouse. Or you may have difficulty communicating about sex since you weren’t allowed to talk about it growing up. I am not surprised when relationship issues like these start to surface for a couple after they begin working on their sex life.

Disillusionment in your faith.

“Deconstruction” has become a popular and debated buzz term on social media, but essentially it means examining your beliefs and separating what is truth from what is cultural or man-made. The Great Sex Rescue is a deconstruction book—the entire purpose of the book is helping us take apart toxic teachings about marriage and sex and “rescue and reframe” those with healthy, biblical, and research-supported truth. This can lead to some confusion, doubt, and disillusionment in our faith as we try to sift through what was lie and what was truth.

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.

Finding the Path Forward from toxic teachings about sexuality

If you identify with some of the common problems I described above, there are several options for getting help. Please know that improving intimacy is rarely a quick and one-size-fits-all process. You may need to pursue several options before finding the best fit.

Here are some of the options I recommend to my clients:

Medical interventions

Whenever there is a sexual issue, it’s always good to first rule out any physical causes with a visit to your primary care provider, gynecologist, or urologist. Issues of sexual pain, low sex drive, or erectile difficulties can have both physiological and psychological causes. Often treating the physical causes is simpler, so talking with your medical provider is a good first step. They may refer you to pelvic floor physical therapist for issues of sexual pain; prescribe or make modifications to your medication; or refer you to a mental health therapist as a next step.

Therapy

I strongly recommend you see a licensed mental health professional for any of the above sexual issues. While a pastoral or biblical counselor may be able to pray with you and share biblical guidance about sexuality, they are not trained in treating sexual disorders, sexual trauma, or even complex relationship issues. I often hear from my therapy clients that seeing a biblical counselor did more harm than good.

Options for licensed professionals: A licensed mental health professional has at least a Masters degree and several years of counseling experience. Find someone trained in couples therapy, trauma, or sex therapy depending on your presenting concern. The degree (Masters or Doctorate) or license type (licensed counselor, social worker, psychologist, etc.) of the professional is often not as important as their specialization. It is important to note that licensing laws typically only allow clinicians to practice in their home state, so your options can be geographically limited.

Therapy can take as few as 8 to 10 sessions or last several years depending on the history and severity of your problem. You may want to find a therapist who takes your insurance, but also don’t be afraid to see someone who is “out of network” or “self-pay only”. While you may pay more out of pocket, this can be worth it in the long run because you can select someone who is highly trained and specialized in sexual issues and who is not restricted or limited by insurance.

You can find a therapist by asking your medical provider or friends for a referral, seeing if your work has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that covers a few sessions, or check with your insurance if you wish to use this as payment. Therapist databases like Psychology Today will allow you to search for all different types of mental health professionals in your area by specialty.

Coaching

Coaching is a professional relationship that offers the convenience of online help without the licensing restrictions of being in the same state as the professional. Coaching is unregulated—meaning anyone and everyone can call themselves a “coach”—so you’ll want to look for someone with credibility and an established record of speaking to the issues you face. Coaching may not be appropriate for those with a complex trauma history, untreated mental illness, or suicidal thoughts, so check with your coach or consider coaching in addition to licensed therapy. After years of writing and speaking about the effects of purity culture and sexuality, I received email after email from couples and women wanting to see me for therapy. I had to turn down so many people because they are outside of my home state, and I didn’t know anyone in their state to refer them to. By offering coaching for purity culture recovery, relationships, and faith, I can reach people in any state who want my help. You have a lot of choices for coaching, so I recommend you look for a coach who specializes in your issues and whose values and mission align with your goals.

Recognizing how many toxic beliefs you had been taught and the lasting effects can lead to painful feelings, but there is hope. Working with a medical professional, licensed mental health professional, and/or a competent coach can help you get the treatment you need. You can learn the strategies, tools, and resources for resolving your problems.

Let’s build on the groundwork of Sheila, Rebecca, and Joanna by taking the next steps toward healing.

Next Steps after Reading The Great Sex Rescue

What have you done to continue the work of The Great Sex Rescue? Did you seek out counseling? Do more journaling? See a professional? Purge your bookshelf? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

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

Take Dr. Camden's free quiz, Which Purity Culture Myth Affects You?. You can find Camden on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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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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18 Comments

  1. Jen

    I am in therapy and am actively working on getting rid of these painful messages from the Church. My therapist agrees about the toxicity of books like Love and Respect, saying it’s obvious that the author is traumatized himself. Examining what made me susceptible to these teachings and then how to unhook from them will be a process, but I’m feeling so much freedom already. Reading The Great Sex Rescue started me on this amazing journey!

    The sticking point for me is the whole “headship” and “submission” discussion that seems to be the linchpin to all of the nastiness if purity culture. I’m not sure how to release the negative teachings about sex and male/female relationships AND understand the verses about women not leading in church. Once you say yes to women not being able to lead, it seems like the whole ball of snakes of submission in marriage and sex comes wriggling in.

    Logically, one should be able to separate church leadership structure from relationships between husbands and wives, and yet . . . Perhaps it is because the same verses used to discuss church leadership are used to enforce male dominance in the home?

    At any rate, my eyes and my husband’s eyes are open now, and Jesus is setting us free. No more false Jesus – only the Truth, and I trust the He will reveal it because He loves us.

    Thank you Sheila and team for your ministry!!

    Reply
    • Laura

      I have always struggled with the headship and submission doctrine in marriage. It’s hard to express these struggles to other Christians, even Christian women because they claim to strongly believe it’s biblical for husbands to be in charge and for wives to just abide by the husbands’ wishes. I felt like I wasn’t a good Christian because I just could not agree with these teachings. I was told (indirectly) that if I believed that men and women were equal that I was just in “rebellion to God.”

      In my first (and only) marriage, I tried to abide by the headship and submission doctrine because that’s what my husband wanted. Whenever I gave him what he wanted (sex and let him be the boss), he treated me better. Yet, I still had my limits by working a full-time job, managing the money because that was my strength, and insisting that I should be allowed to have contact with my family. Maybe, to some people, I did not sound like a “submissive” enough wife.

      After my divorce, I decided that if I ever marry again, I want an equal partnership, not a hierarchy marriage that the church still wants to peddle.

      Reply
      • Phil

        Hi Laura – I wish you were in my Sunday school class with me and my wife as leaders. We are in Genesis and we are at 3:16 and about to talk about Adam in 3:17. We have spent 2 weeks talking about just 3:16 and I suspect we will spend 2 talking about 3:17. We will see where it goes but it has been pretty cool. We just wander wherever any wants to go on the topic in our class. It is fun. Interestingly enough there has not been any public push back to me rebuking that idea of headship and authority and hierarchy and yes we have been studying Ephesians 5: 15- 31 where the epiphany is 🙂 that I have yet to slam dunk on folks. It has been read and talked about but what I haven’t said yet is this: It is there in plain ink – The 2 become ONE – eh duh? How can there be hierarchy if you are ONE? We have a lady whom I love who shared a beautiful summary of Gen 3:16 and 3:17 as well as Ephesians 5: 15-31 where she dissected it all and told about this loving give and take and working together and Gods love for us however she mucked it all up at the end and said but my husband gets the final answer. YUK. And she is our pianist so she misses portions of the class to practice with folks before church and I told her how beautiful her summary was but that I am going to challenge her on something but she hasn’t been there at the right moment to hear what I want her to hear yet….anyway hopefully she will be there this week. I wish I could get everyone here in on the discussion….

        Reply
        • Laura

          Phil,
          You brought up an excellent point that I need to remember. When two become ONE, there really cannot be a hierarchy. Love this!

          Reply
          • Anonymous305

            Once, I saw “2 become 1” used to justify marital rape because “you can’t rape yourself”, and besides wanting to run and hide, I could not comprehend that a woman said it. How is it possible to be so heartless and cruel about something that could happen to you? My brain does not process.

          • Laura

            I never heard “2 become 1” used to justify marital rape. That’s a horrible thought. Whoever said this obviously forgot these verses from Ephesians 5:

            No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body the Church, of which we are parts (v. 29-30).

    • NM

      Hi Jen! I have been on a very similar journey, and I have landed in a place where I believe women are biblically qualified to lead. So much of the teaching in the New Testament had been interpreted through a patriarchal lens. When you really go back to what Jesus taught, and read the epistles in the context in which they were written, the meaning can be the opposite of what we’ve been taught. It took me a lot of re-reading, but it’s like once I saw the truth, I can’t un-see it! I highly recommend Marg Mowczko’s blog to learn more. And the new book The Making of Biblical Womanhood was hugely helpful too. It hasn’t been easy – we are getting ready to leave our patriarchal church right now, and it’s really sad and unsettling. But we are no longer willing to accept women being treated as second class Christians. Blessings to you on your journey.

      Reply
      • CMT

        Second the recommendations for Marg Mowzko and Beth Allison Barr (Making of Biblical Womanhood)!

        It was such a relief to me personally to read their work, because I previously had the fear that the only way to be egalitarian was to stop taking the Bible seriously (since that’s what you hear in conservative church spaces). Those two demolished that idea for me.

        Reply
        • Laura

          Me three! I loved reading The Making of Biblical Womanhood and I’ve read Marg’s blog. For years I used to believe that if I thought men and women were equal that I wasn’t taking the Bible seriously. How did we get to a place where we think what we believe about the roles of men and women are the litmus test of our faith in Christ?

          If we were to use that as a litmus test of our faith, there’s plenty of other issues that so many in the church believe to be the litmus test of whether a person is truly a Christian. Such issues include what political party we support (I think that’s mostly an American issue), how we view end times’ prophecies, higher education (should we trust science and medicine?), etc.

          I have come to the conclusion that as long as I accept Jesus as my Savior, that is the litmus test of my faith in Him, rather than man made ideas that have seeped into the church many centuries ago.

          Reply
    • Renae

      I’m still wrestling with these things myself, but I do not believe that saying women can’t lead in the church will necessarily result in submission in marriage & sex getting so out of wack. If the submission argument is coming from Ephesians 5, the command for the husband to love is stronger there. If a man loves his wife, he WILL NOT force her to do anything she doesn’t want to sexually.

      Reply
  2. Anon

    Has anyone ever seen the Designing Women episode “How Great Thou Art” from Season 2? It beautifully deals with the subject of women being ministers (and the very patriarchy discussed here): Charlene has always felt a calling to minister to others and to maybe even be a pastor one day, but the minister of her church (a man who rigidly holds to the patriarchal view) says women are not to be ministers. There’s a brilliant scene where their friend Bernice (the one known for being “a little off the beam”) affirms God’s celebration of women and biblical equality by quoting supporting Scriptures – and uses them to refute the pastor’s view! Well worth a watch if you’ve never seen it.

    Reply
    • Nathan

      Yes, my brain has a faint memory of that episode. It was very good

      Reply
    • Phil

      That subject came up in our Sunday school class – My Pastor sits in our class and he has been Studying the surge of women in the early church and the reasons why – Mainly – protection…but enough he quoted Paul from 1 Timothy 2:12 as the root “quoted verse” on that subject but 1 Timothy 11-15 is the entire thing… he said that the interpretation is obviously incorrect and that Paul was talking about the culture of his time..I haven’t gotten to that Study yet..

      Reply
  3. Jim

    One needs to be careful with using the word ‘deconstruction’ in Christian circles. When I have seen it, it is used as an explanation/reason by those that have either embraced ‘progressive’ Christianity (which is not Biblically based, it appears to be a co-opting of Christianity by political ideologies) or have walked away from the faith altogether.

    We are supposed to be discerning in the teachings that we are given in the Church and we need to look to the Bible first and foremost to determine if what we are being taught meets that standard. I know that many have been hurt by the Church due to misreading and flat out false teaching. This is unfortunately not new. Most of the New Testament letters are calls for correction to the early Church.

    I have worked at my church as a deacon for several years. The way that our church looks at leadership roles is that the husband may have the title but the responsibility is taken on by the couple. For instance, both the husband and the wife are interviewed and go thru deacon training and are encouraged to work together when possible.

    I would advise everyone to examine closely what is being taught and not to rely solely on our feelings but think about things objectively. Feelings are transient and can lead us astray just as much as false teachings.

    It is also important to look at other influences in our lives and as ourselves, ‘Am I thinking/believing this because this is what the Bible actually says or it is what I want it to say?’

    Reply
    • Carla Eble

      I believe that we have come see scripture through very thick cultural lenses. Deconstruction is the process of removing them and seeing more clearly. We should all be continually striving toward greater clarity. Also, our feelings are part of being “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Intellect and intuition are the two wings of thought. (John Paul II) Both are necessary for greater understanding.

      Reply

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