Tea and Tent Pegs, “All Men Struggle with Lust”, and More!

by | Nov 19, 2021 | Uncategorized | 17 comments

Merchandise is Here!

This week has been taken up by two things: talking about the problems with the “all men struggle with lust” message, and telling you all about our Tea and Tent Pegs event!

It’s time for another edition fo my Friday Round-Up, where I cover what’s been going on on my social media platforms (because lots of the best stuff, and the best conversations, happen there!).

To start, this week I announced our awesome FREE webinar December 6 at 9 pm EST with Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Beth Allison Barr, and me! Hosted by Devi Abraham from the Where Do We Go from Here podcast!

Tea and Tent Pegs

We’re going to do things a little bit differently for the webinar, because instead of just talking about our own books, we’ll also talk about what we found interesting about each other’s! So it won’t just be a rehash of what you’ve heard us say on other podcasts.

1000 people registered in the first 24 hours, so I upped our plan to cover 3000. But once 3000 register, it’s gone. So grab your slot!

And you can always listen to the recording afterwards if you can’t make it live. (But I hope you can, because we’ll have door prizes and more!).

Many have been asking about the name “Tea and Tent Pegs.”

The Tent Pegs reference comes from a story in Judges 4:17-22. Israel is being attacked by its enemies, and Deborah, who is judging Israel, tells Barak, the leader of the army, to fight. Because he hesitates, Deborah tells him that the leader will be killed by a woman. 

In the battle, the enemy is routed, and Sisera, the enemy general, escapes. He tries to hide, and passes by a tent where Jael, a woman, beckons him inside. He thinks he’s safe (she’s just a woman, of course), and he lies down to rest. She nails a tent peg through his skull and kills him.

The point of the story? Women who are underestimated will often defeat the enemies of God. 

So, yeah, that’s why we’re all Tea and Tent Pegs!

Let’s talk “All Men Struggle with Lust”

I asked on Instagram stories on Monday how the “all men struggle with lust” message affected women, and I had hundreds upon hundreds of heartbreaking answers. I ended up posting about it on Tuesday (even though I said I wasn’t going to post on the blog anymore on Tuesdays!). And then I followed that up with a bigger question about why so many authors think it’s more important that men don’t feel shame about lusting than it is that women are spared these horrible effects. That’s kind of what I was thinking a lot this week, and it spilled over onto my Fixed It For Yous:


Gary Thomas Saying All Men Lust

Here’s what I found so strange about the conversations we were having. Women were by and large insisting that noticing is not lusting; that many men were feeling guilty for things they shouldn’t. That lust is something that can be overcome, because women do not have the Holy Spirit more than men do.

But then several men kept insisting that this message is shameful for men. The only way men can not feel shame is to feel as if this is a universal problem men have that women will never understand. If you say anything less, you cause men shame. And they were insisting that men do lust, all the time. (to be fair, many men pushed back too).

I find this line of thought strange. If it’s a universal problem, then no one ever achieves victory. So it makes me wonder: is it that they don’t want men to feel shame, or is it that they want to convince themselves they don’t need to get over it, because no man ever can? Seriously, we have to talk about this better.

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.

Want almost a SECOND podcast? Plus a look at my granddaughter?

I recorded a half hour Instagram Live where we went over this concept that women are being asked to suffer so that men don’t feel shame–even though what we’re teaching is both unbiblical and unscientific. And I dissected an article by Barbara Rainey claiming that men are barbarians without women to stabilize them (which is such a low view of men!). 


Let’s Talk about Aunt Matilda, and My Dedication in The Great Sex Rescue

Many of you may not know what my dedication in The Great Sex Rescue is. It reads: 


To The Act of Marriage’s Aunt Matilda, and all the women like her. We see you. We hear you. And we are so, so sorry.

You can watch the video for the story: 

Or you can read what I wrote on Facebook:

I dedicated The Great Sex Rescue to Tim LaHaye’s “Aunt Matilda” character from his book The Act of Marriage.

Can I tell you about Aunt Matilda?

She’s central in an anecdote that Tim shares. A young woman is getting married, and her Aunt Matilda tells her that marriage is just legalized rape, and that sex is awful. Aunt Matilda is portrayed as the ANTAGONIST in this story, because she wrecks sex for her niece.

Tim then recounts that Aunt Matilda’s husband stripped & raped her on their wedding night while she fought & screamed.

Tim excuses it, saying her husband was older, clumsy, embarrassed, from the old country, a farmer. (I’m pretty sure most older farmers don’t rape their wives).

And then he talks about Aunt Matilda and her “equally unhappy” husband.

That’s right.

He called the rapist equally unhappy as his rape victim.

The book was written when marital rape was largely not illegal. By the time the 4th edition was published (the one I read), marital rape was illegal pretty much everywhere. But no one thought to remove that story. No one thought “we shouldn’t make Aunt Matilda the bad guy.”

In our survey of evangelical marriage & sex bestsellers for The Great Sex Rescue, we found far too many cavalier, dismissive attitudes towards marital rape.

Aunt Matilda deserved better. YOU deserve better.

No more toxic books.

Facebook Update

That’s it for this week! Please remember to support my wonderful sponsor Femallay. They’re a Christian women’s wellness company with a unique take on what products can help women. They have menstrual cups with valves so they can be emptied without always having to be removed. They have vaginal melts that work way better than just lubricants because they actually help nourish the vagina. And so much more! Check them out. 

And have a great weekend, everybody!

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

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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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  1. Jo R

    Husbands will never be able to understand why their wives might never want sex, so men need to stop shaming women about this topic and just accept that their wives will never change in this matter. 🙄🙄🙄

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, exactly! They’d never accept that, so why should women accept the other? NEITHER position is biblical or scientific. It’s crazy.

  2. Phil

    Hey There Sheila – You know what happened this week? Actually some rather large impactful stuff in many areas. Some was tough to swallow and some was quite cool when I reflect actually. This is one of the things that happened last Sunday that I thought was apropos to your tea and tent pegs except there was no tea! So this guy in my church who I have shared about around here in the past who puts his political agenda before God was back at it again this past Sunday. Only this time he engaged my wife. I have previously addressed this issue within my church and was what I thought prepared to address it again should it come up – except: My wife was leading the conversation. I wanted to step in but why? She was doing such a great job. I did enter the conversation but my wife had the lead and she put down the tent peg! She stood her ground and for what it was worth got the last word in as he got up and walked away. It was an uncomfortable exchange but she DID defeat a message from a man that undermined the message of GOD. And I told her so! I pulled the man aside later to re-enforce our message is of God and Jesus not politics. But that was just 2 men talking. The bigger point that applies he is that my wife stood up for God and defeated a message. It can be done and is! Thats what you are talking about here.

  3. Nathan

    I used to think that the idea of male hierarchy in marriage was the root problem of all this. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe the root problem is the bar-lowering definition of lust. If we define lust as ANY sexual attraction, or ANY sexual thoughts, or ANY noticing, then nearly all men DO lust.

    Or maybe it’s the idea that sexual sin is fundamentally different from others, in that it’s far worse, and unforgiveable.

    Or maybe ALL of these (and a few other things) combine to form the root of the problem.

    • Jo R

      Actually, Nathan (appreciate your comments!), I wonder if the problem is that saying that all men lust is supposed to somehow excuse this particular sin, since if everyone does it, then there’s no point in trying to avoid it. And in addition, everyone who’s affected by it (i.e., wives in particular and women in general) should just stop being upset by it.

      But if we take that attitude more generally to any sin, or any category of sin, then we all get to sit back and make zero attempt at self-control, goodness, kindness, or any of those other pesky fruits of the Spirit. (And I’m not trying to start any discussion about who produces fruit in us, we ourselves or the Holy Spirit. Clearly, spiritual growth and sanctification are a team effort per Philippians 2:12–13. Romans 6 comes to mind too.)

      It’s the difference between “Everyone does it, so I’m not even go to try to stop” and “Everyone does it, but that doesn’t mean I get to slack off in my own efforts, and I need to start doing something about it.”

  4. Estelle

    Why are women expected to not be straightforward about not wanting sex? Why are men expected to take rejection nearly always personally? I think Jesus would have some very simple advice: Let your yes be yes and your no, no.

  5. Andrea

    I might have already mentioned this earlier, but I suspect that the reason Christian men put so much emphasis on lust (even more than secular men) is because they feel emasculated by sleeping with one woman only for their entire lives. Just think about the concept of masculinity in our culture — it is defined by bedding as many women as possible. Even all the other trappings of modern masculinity (the Casanova complex), like the swanky bachelor pad, flashy car, etc. are in the service of bedding as many women as possible. So how are good Christian men supposed to compete? They exaggerate how lustful they naturally are and they frame it as a “battle” to give it that masculine sheen. This is also why they prefer the Jesus of Revelation, the warrior, to the meek and mild Jesus of the Gospel. The only traditionally masculine/violent thing Jesus ever did in the Gospels was drive the merchants out of the temple, only once. But you’ll hear that story much more than the one about turning the other cheek, chastising the disciples when they tried to prevent mothers and children from flocking to Him, healing the ear of the Roman soldier Peter cut off…

    If I had to do it all over again I would become a sociologist of religion and write about evangelical masculinity. Kristin Du Mez has done that as a historian. Sam Perry also, he has a book on evangelical men and porn, and guess what — evangelicals watch it more than any other demographic. And is that really surprising given the writings and behavior of the men in charge of the movement, from Mark Driscoll to Gary Thomas. Mark just used harsher language, but Gary has the same pornographic imagination.

    • Anon

      “I suspect that the reason Christian men put so much emphasis on lust (even more than secular men) is because they feel emasculated by sleeping with one woman only for their entire lives.” I think you may be on to something there. When I was in my early 20s, I dated a guy from my church and we were talking about getting married. After a while, he seemed to cool off to the point where I was hardly seeing him, so I asked him if he still wanted the relationship to continue. He was adamant that he did and said he couldn’t imagine ever being with anyone else, it was just that he was having to work a lot of overtime. Shortly after this conversation, he announced his engagement to another woman – he’d been dating both of us and talking marriage to both of us at the same time.

      Without exception, the male Christians defended him on the basis that ‘Christian guys are supposed to save sex for marriage and to stay married to the same woman for life – how else is he supposed to get the temptation to cheat out of his system other than by dating multiple women at the same time?’ This guy ended up doing the same thing to his fiancee and to at least 2 other women after that – the church leadership continued to justify it on the basis that he wasn’t having sex with any of them, so it was a ‘harmless’ way of dealing with the temptation to lust.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh that’s disgusting. Yes, I think it is true, though. If you’re only with one woman, and being sexually promiscuous is a sign of manliness, then the only way to prove manliness is to lust–or to be a creep like this guy.

        • Codec

          I dont think it is necessarilly masculine to do things like that. If anything it seems like a twisting of a healthy masculinity.

          Lets look at a character example.

          Conan the Cimmerian. In many ways he is the epitome of this problem. Yet in a lot of ways he also displays qualities that are respectable. We see him as king of Aquilonia in the books and he tries to be a good king.

          I fear sometimes that we fall into the error of pendulums.

          For example a lot of men feel odd if they are considered more feminine. Yet the solution is not to swing the pendulum , but to develop a healthier more holistic view of masculinity.

          I see good in characters like Conan Wolverine Kenshiro Yusuke and Gimli.

          I see good as well in Legolas Kurama Otacon Kenshin Mr Darcy Etc.

          I think that people can learn much from characters vecause characters reflect what is human.

          Please, tell me what you think.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I love this! I think this is why Jesus spoke in parables. It’s about the story, the whole person. Definitely! I think it’s also why the Old Testament is so much about story. We understand God through story. After all, God Himself took on human form so that we wouldn’t just hear about the characteristics of God; we could see them in the flesh.

          • Codec

            Yes, yes exactly.

  6. S

    Sheila, I’ve been thinking on this post by Gary Thomas and the all men lust message that you’ve been fighting against for a while. I want to give a bit of background:

    *I am the wife and the higher drive spouse in my marriage.
    *My husband struggled with pornography for many years of our marriage.

    Contrary to what many of these authors may say, my drive is very physical. I begin to feel a tension building–after about a week I sometimes joke to my husband that if he were to bump into me in the hallway that might be all it takes. There is a physical need and drive that I experience as a wife.

    That being said, there are times that I have gotten “my needs met” without my husband having his. Those times are very unsatisfying as they only address the physical need, not the emotional need. There is a very real physical need, but I will turn around and still feel like I need it almost immediately after.

    There are times in my life where I have felt unsatiable sexually.

    But I have learned that this is largely due to my seeking out comfort, security, love, connection, acceptance, etc. through sex. My body has a high drive, but my emotions actually play into that as well.

    I learned this about myself when my husband and I went to counseling and the counselor helped him identify what he was really searching for online when looking at porn. He wasn’t searching for women. He wasn’t searching for sexual satisfaction–He readily admitted it was always lacking for him. He was searching to fill a void in his soul that he couldn’t figure out. It was a place only Jesus could come in and heal. But He hadn’t figured that out yet. He has now and he is so much happier.

    I reflected on my own seeking of sex in my life. While I’ve always kept it to the confines of my own marriage, I still wanted it to be things for me that it never could. As I’ve improved my relationship with God, my relationship with sex has changed. I still struggle with a high drive and wishing I could have more sex than I get, but it’s so much better–for both of us now. Sex is far more satisfying.

    I think that for me, the messaging out there from the world (and the evangelical church–I am not an evangelical Christian, but I still follow and appreciate your blog. I haven’t found these teachings in my church) toward men and sex has very much normalized this unsatiable appetite in men. If a men experiences this, he thinks he is normal. He thinks this is just being a man. I wonder if men are more emotional than they realize (I know you are saying this all the time, but I think they’ve become desensitized to their emotional selves). I think they have these appetites for reasons beyond just a physical drive for sex.

    Just some thoughts that have been circling my mind the past few days. I think the world has lied to me and told them who they were–CS Lewis would have a hay day with this if he were here and men and the church have believed it because they could relate to the truth behind the lies–if that makes any sense.

    • A2bbethany

      I think you’ve hit it! That’s very likely it, accounting for the individuals who develop an emotional withdrawal from the world. I agree!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So very insightful! Yes, we sexualize our needs for connection, affection, stress relief–so many things. Thank you for sharing that!

      • Codec

        Ever seen Inuyasha?

        Miroku has a literal black hole connected to his soul and part of how he tries to fill it is by asking women if they will ” Please, bear my children”.

        He gets better, but he really is a great character example of the above.

        A deeply lonely man frightened by the horrific death of his dad his own lifespan being cut short a naturally high drive and some very interesting ideas about legacy and responsibility culminate in a fascinating character.

  7. Codec

    I feel that a big part of christianity is that we are being made not only new, but more of ourselves.

    C.S Lewis had that in The Great Divorce.

    So if a man were to be like say Spiderman he would become more of a spiderman in the best of ways.

    I hope this makes sense.


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