Women Shouldn’t Have to Suffer So Men Don’t Feel Shame

by | Nov 17, 2021 | Uncategorized | 55 comments

Women Shouldn't Carry the Shame for Men's Lust
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The results on Instagram about how the “all men struggle with lust” message affected you dealt a big emotional wallop on me.

I told you about it yesterday, but I’d like to explore it a little more today.

I received hundreds upon hundreds of answers on Instagram, and they were heartbreaking. Being afraid of snuggling with dad. Feeling to blame for my own sexual assaults. Developing an eating disorder to stay attractive for my husband. Mistrusting my husband. Developing terrible posture to not let people see my chest. Judging other women. Losing friendships with any women who may be rivals. And it went on and on and on.

This is the fruit. This is what happens when we teach that “all men struggle with lust; it’s every man’s battle.”

When we surveyed 20,000 women for The Great Sex Rescue, we found that THIS was the one teaching that affected women if they merely were taught it, even if they never believed it. Just being in a culture where this is widely believed has negative effects on our marriages and our sex lives. And believing it? That’s one of the big reasons that women’s libidos plummet. Seriously–who wants to have sex when this is what men are like?

But here’s where it gets sad.

I spoke to a big name author about this, and I said:

EVEN IF it were true, teaching it has such negative effects on women. Shouldn’t we change how we teach it?

And his response? We wouldn’t want men to feel shame. We have to tell the truth so men don’t feel shame.

It is better for women to experience all of this–the low libido; the low sexual satisfaction; the lack of trust in their husbands; the lack of safety overall; the lack of friendships; the inability to trust family members; feeling responsible for their own sexual assaults; hating their bodies–it is better for women to experience all of that than to have men feel shame over lust.

So that’s what I’d like to explore today. Does that argument even hold water?

Biblically, it is not true that all men struggle with lust.

It just isn’t. There isn’t one category of sin that men can’t defeat or have victory over. In fact, here’s what Paul wrote:


It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-6

So it is every believer’s responsibility to deal with their own lust, and the expectation is that they will. And why should they do it? So they do not take advantage of someone else.

And throughout the New Testament, it says over and over again that the expectation is that we will live by the Spirit, not the flesh. We will have victory!

This does not mean we never sin, and lust could be a stronghold in some people’s lives. But when we say it’s a stronghold in EVERY man’s life, we make it sound like a sin that you can never, ever get over.

And if you can never get over it, you give men an excuse to keep practising it. 

Do you hear me on this? When we say it’s “every man’s battle”, then we make it into an acceptable sin, because it’s impossible to get over.

That’s what Gary Thomas believes. In a post he wrote in 2016, he said this:

…some form of sexual sin is a universal struggle among all men. There isn’t a man alive who isn’t bent in his sexual desires. While the vast majority of us do not have homosexual desires, we have other desires that do not honor God. That’s the burden of being a man. Women have untoward desires as well, but they are different.
Gary Thomas

What Your Husband May Never Tell You (and one thing every husband needs to do accordingly)

Think about that: there’s not a single man who isn’t “bent”–but there are plenty of women who aren’t “bent.”

Where, exactly, in the Bible is this? Where, exactly, in science is this? Nowhere. There is no Bible verse supporting this, and there is no scientific study that supports this.

In fact, Paul tells us that we should “greet one another with a holy kiss.” That doesn’t sound like a man who is nervous around women! He had female co-workers that he appreciated and loved very much. In fact, 10/29 people who are mentioned by name in Romans 16 are female, and a higher proportion of the women are mentioned in relation to their ministry than with men. Paul worked alongside women, valued women, and treated women as real sisters in Christ. Why do we think that’s so impossible?

If men cannot be with a woman without struggling to lust after her, then we should not have men in pulpits, men in leadership over women, or male bosses. We should have a female-led church or a female-led society, because men can’t be trusted.

You can’t simultaneously believe in male leadership and also believe that men cannot achieve victory in the way they look at women or act towards women. God did not mean women to be unsafe, and this makes women unsafe.

What is universal–almost–is sexual attraction.

Lust may not be a special category of sin that is universal, but noticing attractive people is almost universal (some asexual people may not). I still think the root of much of this issue is that we’ve conflated noticing with lusting. Incidentally, that’s what we found in our survey of men, too, that’s coming out in the Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex (which you can preorder now!). Many (though not all) men say they struggle with lust, when their answers to follow-up questions look like they only struggle with noticing, not actually lusting. About half of the men who say they struggle with lust show no other signs of it. We think we’ve made men feel guilty for normal male sexuality.

Men should feel conviction for lust!

I DO NOT want men to feel shame for being attracted to women, and I hope that we can change the conversation so that we set men free from this, because I think so many men have been living under burdens that they were never meant to bear.

But I equally believe that those burdens should not be heaped on women–and worse–simply because we want men to feel free.

When we spread the “all men struggle with lust” message, we heap the shame and guilt that men feel onto women. We tell women they need to wear modest clothes; have sex frequently in marriage; watch their demeanor, etc etc etc all to protect men from lusting.

Why can’t we just tell men to respect women and treat women as whole people, made in the image of God?

Indeed, THAT is what scientific studies show reduces lust–thinking of someone as a whole person, with relationships, with thoughts, with opinions, rather than just as body parts.

Paul also wrote:


Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

2 Corinthians 7:10

Conviction for sin is actually a good thing! It leads to repentance and to life! But worldly sorrow–shame–isn’t.

By spreading the message that all men struggle with lust, we are taking the conviction that men should feel away, and we are heaping shame that women shouldn’t feel on women. 

Women are worth more than this!

We do not deserve to live with this kind of fear, guilt, shame, lack of relational connection, mistrust, suspicion, and more, simply so that men don’t have to feel conviction about sin.

It is wrong to put this on women. Women do not deserve this.

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.

What would I say instead about lust?

We talk about this a lot in chapters 5 and 6 of The Great Sex Rescue, but I would say something like this:

It is normal to have sexual feelings and to feel attracted to the opposite sex. It is normal to notice that someone else is attractive. Noticing is not lusting. Thoughts can enter into our heads, and that is not our fault. But it is our responsibility to choose what to do with those thoughts.

It is entirely possible, and even normal, to notice that someone else is attractive, but then to move on with your day and think nothing more of it. In fact, this is what most people do. 

If you struggle with lust, though, that’s okay. Everyone struggles with something. Please know, though, that this is something that you can get victory over. And the way you do it is by training yourself to respect people as whole people, made in the image of God. Instead of seeing body parts, practise seeing who is truly in front of you. Treat them as a fellow child of God. 

Please see The Great Sex Rescue for more!

You know, we surveyed 20,000 women so that our results would be unassailable.

I thought that would be enough. When I spoke to this author, I thought he would get it–that if this message hurt women so much, we needed to stop spreading it. I thought he would care.

I thought the problem was that we just didn’t realize how harmful this was, and as soon as we realized it, things would change.

I was wrong. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that they wanted men to avoid feeling badly at all costs. And they honestly didn’t care what it did to women, because they refused to let go of the unbiblical and unscientific idea that all men struggle in this area.

Women deserve better, but so do men.

I read another article this week by Barbara Rainey, where she said that men are like barbarians without women, and they need women to stabilize them. Men are open to any convenient sexual offer, and are barbarians when it comes to sex.

How can people talk about God’s sons this way? I would never say this about my husband, about my sons-in-law. I don’t want to be in a church that believes my grandson will grow up this way. This is misandry.

Men are good people. Men were not made more naturally evil than women. Women are not men’s saviours. Jesus is men’s Saviour.

So stop heaping the guilt and shame on women. Stop heaping shame on men for normal sexual feelings. And start calling men to more, rather than burdening women with things they were never meant to carry.

I truly don’t understand why that’s too much to ask.

Women Shouldn't Have to Carry the Shame for Men's Lust

Help me with this one! Why doesn’t women’s pain matter to pastors and authors? How else can I help them to see? Let me know in the comments!

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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. Anon

    “Why doesn’t women’s pain matter to pastors and authors?” I suspect that male pastors and authors don’t want to listen to this message because they don’t want to have to consider taking responsibility for their own behaviour. Tell men that it is not a woman’s fault if they lust after her, and that they CAN control their behaviour and they might actually have to do something about changing. Whereas with things as they are, they can lust all they want because ‘they can’t help themselves – it’s hard-wired into them so if a woman attracts them there’s nothing they can do.’ And I wonder if the women who spread the message do so because they’ve had to put up with a lifetime of altering their behaviour in an attempt to avoid ‘making’ men sin, so they don’t see why other women should be freed from living with those restrictions – I’ve actually had this comment from older Christian women regarding unwanted sexual attention from ‘Christian’ men: “We had to put up with it in our younger days, so why shouldn’t you?”

    Your ‘big name author’ doesn’t want men to feel ashamed? Sorry, but if you are lusting over a woman or girl who has no thought of attracting your attention, and you are trying to make HER feel guilty because of YOUR lust…you SHOULD be ashamed. How about recognising that ‘shame’ as conviction of sin and repenting from it. Maybe we wouldn’t be seeing so many allegations of sexual abuse within church if we hadn’t been giving men a ‘free pass’ for the past couple of generations to think, feel and act toward women any way they want to because ‘it’s part of being a man’.

    • Andrea

      The older Christian women … yes. The reverse, which I read about just the other day, is “If my daughter didn’t have to do this, did I?” I can see how it would build some resentment, but wouldn’t one actually want something better fro one’s children?

      • Anon

        Yes, I really don’t get it. I don’t have children, but I’m passionate about seeing my friends’ kids grow up in a better environment than we had. Why a mother wouldn’t want that for her own kids is beyond me.

  2. Nathan

    First, I’ll fix the comment by Gary Thomas

    > > There isn’t a man alive who isn’t bent in his sexual desires.

    Try this: There isn’t a PERSON alive who hasn’t experienced some sexual desires.

    And even then, there are some people who have virtually no sex drive.

    I believe that there are two primary causes of all this…

    1. Sticking to the “all men lust constantly” belief since it enables bad behavior and means that men don’t have to improve themselves, because they can’t.

    2. Lowering the bar of defining lust to the point where even being in the same room with a woman is lusting. This leads to problems (like Sheila has noted) like having pastors who won’t even talk to women in their church.

  3. Jen

    Bingo! The ridiculousness of mixing the ideologies of “men can’t control themselves” AND “only men are capable of leading” is disgustingly hilarious. These teachers want it all: an excuse for their own issues with lust and unquestioned power.

      • Carlamariee

        “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”

        • Mara R

          My Bible reading schedule has me in a difficult portion of the Bible, for me, at least. Part of me wants to just skip it. But instead, I am working through it slowly and trying to see it with new eyes. It is Genesis 19, the story of Lot. Reading about the men who wanted to have relations with the Angels/Messengers, Lot offering his daughters, then the men threatening to abuse Lot caused me to write “Consent, anyone?” in my journal.
          The last part of the small section that I read was where the Angels struck the men blind. I had always wondered why the men kept searching for Lot’s door when they were blind. If I had been struck blind, I think that is what would consume me, not continuing to look for some dude’s door.
          Then the thought hit me today: Did they even know that they were blind?
          So now I’m reading this thread and your (Carlamariee’s) response in particular about this religious blindness that is so insidious, people don’t even know they have it.
          These men who claim to be teachers of the Bible and experts on relationships are just as blind as the men who were searching for Lot’s door and just as oblivious as those men to their own blindness.

      • Anonymous305

        I didn’t see the disconnect until someone else pointed it out to me, but then I wondered why I didn’t see it sooner because it should have been obvious. Maybe because I grew up where certain contradictions were normalized, like “men are 100% responsible, but women should help them.”

      • Abby

        We have an adversary who is seeking whom he may devour. I am learning to recognize the realness of the spiritual battle we are in. Darkness is hard at work trying to keep these people blind. I believe they are being blinded and deceived. I’ve begun praying fervently for their eyes to be opened and for no weapon formed against them to stand!

    • EOF

      That’s why they need misogynistic patriarchy — to keep the women from standing up and pointing those facts out.

  4. Nathan

    This also reinforces the idea that only men and their feeling matter. Women and their feelings DON’T matter.

    Or, to put it another way, it’s better to have ALL women suffer A LOT, so that SOME men won’t have to suffer A LITTLE.

  5. Carrie Breault

    Women are to blame, always have been. It’s men are superior, women inferior, patriarchy, it’s a lack of taking responsibility and a lack of accountability, it’s not allowing God to speak truth to themselves and instead believing Satan’s lies, it’s the claim of being Godly but bearing no form, it’s not allowing for the renewal of their minds, it’s reading scripture in a way that covers (excuses) themselves and shifting blame (and responsibility). It’s denial of the truth and a lack of humbling themselves and admitting that they are wrong in their thinking and behaviors.

    I like how the distinction was made between noticing and lusting and that not all men (and women) who notice, lust. Noticing is not wrong, God made men and women just the way they are. Lusting after and not taking our thoughts captive and turning from that can lead to sinful behavior. And no where in the bible does God allow for men to have excuses and women not. We are ALL responsible for self, we are all to have SELF control.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That is what it seems like, isn’t it? Women are always to blame. And we will be until we stop accepting this, and start speaking up. I know that’s a lot to ask of those who are being trodden upon, but that’s the only way things will change. If we stop buying the books. If we stop giving people who preach this platforms. If we look for those doing it right.

      I had a lovely, heartwarming interaction on twitter yesterday with a great pastor that renewed my faith:

  6. Laura

    Unfortunately, it’s too much to ask male evangelicals in power to own up to the flaws of their messages regarding gender, marriage, and sex. They seem comfortable with the status quo which keeps them in power. It also did not help that in the US, we had a misogynistic President who bragged about grabbing women by their genitals and many evangelicals supported this President.

    Before I ever became a Christian and got involved in church culture, I thought only the secular world acted this way regarding sex. After believing that “all men care about is sex,” “people of the opposite sex cannot be friends,” “it’s up to women to keep men from acting like horndogs,” etc., I find these attitudes in Christian culture. Yet, many like to quote Romans 12:1-2 about not being like the world.

    I enjoyed the Instagram video, which I watched long after it went live. What I found eye-opening is that while the church has had misogynistic attitudes for so long, we are now doing the same to men: misandry.

    Examples of misandry that I’ve found in Christian books and blogs: We (women) have to be so sensitive of what we say to men because they have such fragile egos. In order to get men to engage with their families, we need to honor and respect his position as the head of the household. We cannot say no to sex because that will destroy our husband’s self-esteem and he will feel rejected.

    Um, how many times do women experience rejection from husbands when husbands promise that they will do this major household project which has not gotten accomplished 5 years after it was first brought up? Oh wait, we cannot bring up important issues to husbands until 10-20 days after we first mention them…then 5 years later, nothing gets accomplished. At least, none of that has been my experience because I’m a long-time single. However, I hear a lot of women experience numerous rejections by their husbands BUT it is never okay to say no to sex.

  7. Owen M

    Spot on Sheila. I suspect that the reason for the lack of acknowledgement for your sound reasoning is protection of the ivory tower that is the evangelical money machine. One of its foundations is patriarchy, which is the root of this horrible teaching.

    I always suspected that such a big industry was probably corrupted with people who were wolves in shepherd’s clothing but didn’t ever expect to find out who they were (except through scandal). Thank you for shining the light of Truth on this issue; it enables men who actually want to emulate Jesus something to stand for (equality) and against (those who continue to deny the reality of the harm caused by patriarchy).

    Also, it was extremely freeing to finally accept that noticing and lusting are different things. I suspected that for a long time, but your book really helped solidify my thinking about it. It helps me to feel more like a good human, which is what Jesus death enables me to become.

  8. Lyn Farris

    Just a suggestion:

    Where you wrote: “By spreading the message that all men struggle with lust, we are taking the conviction that men should feel away, and we are heaping shame that women shouldn’t feel on women. ” This would be clearer if you stated, “….we are *taking away* the conviction…. ”

    Appreciate your work. ❤ 🙏

  9. Anon

    I feel like everything I’ve read from you the past year has led up to this! This should be posted everything and read by everyone!

  10. Mamabear

    I didn’t get the chance to reply to your inquiry but I want to now. I had my own version of issues from this. So much shame about my body! But worse yet I’m seeing my daughter who suffered with these sentiments from my ex husband and has since believed all men are sick perverts and so has decided she is gay or trans. Some days both, some days less trans. She is hiding behind a mask, oversized ugly clothes and a boys name to shield herself from the guys who see objects when they see women. She is rejecting femininity mostly because it’s both weak and dangerous. This is the fallout of this ideology! Girls hating men and femininity so much they altogether reject themselves.

    • Amber

      It’s awful, but an almost logical reaction.

  11. April

    The church is comfortable in what they have taught that all men lust after women. They do not want to take responsibility for their own actions. So they continually blame women. This is never ending, all we can do is continue to speak out against the toxic teachings.

  12. Laura

    Author such a scary Thomas and Steve arterburn (Every Man’s Battle) have done a huge great Disservice to men. This concept that all men must not be able to conquer battles between lust and morality is an afront to God! It says God screwed up and you are an uncontrollable animal if you are a man, after all he made you that way with uncontrollable urges that you cannot be in control of but yet he tells you you need to be. When I met my boyfriend, who lives in another state, I told him he could stay at my house but I wasn’t going to have sex with him. I reiterated this several times. He finally looked at me and said something like,”God made me a man with a brain and self-control. I am not an animal who reacts purely by instinct and drive.” Truthfully it sounds like these men are writing things to excuse their own bad behaviors and lustful thoughts. Imagine a man carrying a big heavy tote full of shiny heavy brass objects. Each of the objects is marked shame and guilt and a particular instance is recorded on each of them where the guilt shame comes from. He he walks he comes across more objects he has a choice with her he’s going to pick them up or not or if he’s going to pick them up if he’s going to carry them or hand them over to Jesus. If he wanted to he could work on each of these objects he picks up and is holding on to and then either get rid of it or hand it off to Christ to carry or put it down. With Gary Thomas’s logic what he needs to do is hand objects from his tote over to the women in his life or better yet he shouldn’t pick them up he should make the women around him pick them up they should be responsible for cleaning up the objects then they should carry them for him. After all we wouldn’t want men carrying their own burdens.

  13. A2bbethany

    Honestly I thought it was an ironic fact. Men who write about this, are trying to shield and protect men. Willing to write like a breakfast of ice cream(what men would like to hear), instead of the healthy fiber muffins (the truth that men are responsible for their own problems).

    While you are trying to be fair and put responsibility on the individual, regardless of gender. You don’t believe in the force shield of manhood, that is supposed to make all males untouchable. “Because nobody likes us men anymore”.

  14. Wild Honey

    “ If men cannot be with a woman without struggling to lust after her, then we should not have men in pulpits, men in leadership over women, or male bosses. We should have a female-led church or a female-led society, because men can’t be trusted.”

    Preach it, Sheila!

    I’ll mention it again. My former complementarian church that literally would not allow men serving in kids’ ministry to change diapers, but only allowed men as pastors or elders. If a man (or women, for that matter) cannot be trusted around an innocent child, they cannot be trusted with the spiritual development of church attendees.

    • Sage

      What I think you’ll find, though, in most evangelical churches, is that this will be framed as an “avoiding the appearance of evil/protecting one’s testimony from false accusations” policy. Our men would never ACTUALLY do anything wrong, you understand, we just don’t want malicious *others* to be able to accuse them of wrongdoing. And, of course, who wrongly accuses men of sexual wrongdoing? Disgruntled women. We’re still the problem. At least, that’s how it’s come across to me.

  15. Joel Horst

    I love this article so much that I hate sounding like a devil’s advocate. But I did want to point out one small correction because these are the things that that the other side likes to pick on.

    Barbara Rainey said: “Women are designed to be the stabilizing force in the lives of men.

    “Far from being insignificant, we are instead supremely important. Without the stabilizing commitment of women in marriage, men are more likely to live like barbarians, wandering impulsively through life, fighting, competing, and chasing after power they might not even be able to define.”

    So as I read it, she’s not saying that men ARE like barbarians without women—just that it’s more likely that they will be.

    Now that I’ve pointed that out, I want to throw out my perspective on her words.

    I’m a single man in my early 30’s. Whoops! I guess I’m really in trouble, because as a single man, I’m more likely to act like a sexual barbarian, uncontrollably having sex with women around me. Keep the kids away. Keep your daughter away. You never know what I might do!

    That’s the message that comes through. Oh, and as a single man, I’m more likely to be unstable because I don’t have a woman’s influence in my life. Really?

    In the end, Sheila, I definitely agree that this is a grievous way to speak about men. And to anyone like myself who has been unable to find a wife, it sends the message that we are less-than, screwed up, and shameful. Why would anyone want to marry us?

    I do believe that marriage is wonderful and that a great couple has a special synergy that gives them a strength that neither would have separately. But that’s a far cry from saying that a man without a woman (or a woman without a man) is screwed.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Joel–exactly! You are not an insatiable monster just because you’re single. It’s crazy.

    • Anon

      The issue I have with her saying that women are designed to have a stabilising influence on men is that it’s giving a position to women that should only be given to God. Christian men should be looking to God to help them live right, not to a wife. Yes, wives and husbands can encourage each other to keep close to the Lord, but as a wife, I’m not the one who makes my husband be caring, trustworthy, honest, kind…Jesus is the one who does that. (And it was my husband’s love for the Lord and his heart desire to live a Godly life that first attracted me to him. So different from all the guys who told me they needed a ‘good wife’ so they could live a godly life!)

      Whether the message is that men are helpless beings unable to resist lusting over women or that men are helpless beings who are unable to live good lives without the help of women, the message is the same – men are weak, men are controlled by their feelings toward women – and worst of all, these ‘Christian’ messages leave the transforming power of Jesus completely out of the equation!

      As a single man, you are 100% able to live a Godly life through the power of Jesus.

  16. Viva

    My husband of 25 years is fully committed to the idea of entitlement to lust. He has practiced and cultivated lustful behaviors over the years and developed clever ways of denying and rationalizing them.
    One of the ways that he has done this is by terming his physical and emotional betrayals of me “attractions”.
    He says things like, “I was engaged in an attraction with her, and I stopped it”.
    I bring this up because words are important. Especially as we attempt to speak truth to those engaged in oppressive behaviors in which their main tactics are to twist words and deceive.
    I have found some of your discussion of attraction and attractiveness to be problematic as I listen to it through my husband’s ears.
    Having long experience with his equivocation, I can easily imagine him using your word choices and descriptions as a huge justification for his behaviors which have directly impacted me and shredded the unity of our relationship. I have felt the violation in my spirit and know that he violates the Spirit that was given to us when we were joined (Malachi 2:15-16).
    When I attempt to address his unfaithfulness, he admits to “attraction” as a justification.
    I believe that it is important to distinguish between noticing attractiveness as a fact from attraction which is more defined by beginning to engage one’s mind, body and spirit which opens the door to violating the safety of one’s spouse and planting a seed of infidelity.
    We actually can hold ourselves to honorable behavior through self control. That begins at a neurobiological level. We are responsible for our feelings, thoughts and responses.

    • Anonymous305


    • M.


      I agree with you 100%, and I hear you. I think this is the flaw in what is otherwise very good teaching from Sheila. It is her blind spot. But I want you to know that just because she never addresses it (it has been brought up in other comment sections, and she says she’s had conversations with other people about this one topic, but in a way that often feels rushed and perhaps with not as much thought or consideration as her other topics for articles) doesn’t mean that your concern does not matter, your emphasis on this vital distinction does not matter, or that YOU don’t matter. You are not wrong. I just don’t think Sheila has really stopped to consider this weird middle-ground in her teaching because she’s focused on other teachings and messages. But YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And I have spoken with many of my Christian friends and family about this and they agree with you (and me) on this matter. You word the issue very well here. So please do not be disheartened if you do not receive what you feel is an adequate response on this comment section. This just might not be where a lot of the focus is right now when people are dealing with other concerns that, to them, overshadow what they might consider an issue of semantics. (For the record, I do not consider it “just” an issue of semantics. I have felt your hurt. I know the agony of feeling alone on this issue. I will pray for you, and hopefully you can find healing through the council of a wise trauma therapist and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.) Much love!

  17. Julie

    Men in the church typically have more power, make the decisions, write the rules, etc, so they get to define the sexual narrative in ways more advantageous to them. So either intentionally or unintentionally, men are conveniently allowed shame-free lust and women get the blame. I think churches are also cautious about offending men, and don’t want them to leave because they fear the whole family will follow. It’s easier and they probably receive less push back when they challenge women. Also, I think churches understand that women bear more of the pain of men’s wandering eyes and none of the pleasure, so women are more motivated to try to solve the problem, even when the control does not lie with them. For women, taking the responsibility onto themselves, instead of holding men to higher standards, can also be easier. It requires less confrontation and less boundary -setting….and both of these things can be anxiety-producing, difficult, and can lead to extreme disappointment.

  18. G.G.

    I’m not on Instagram and so did not get to answer your question. I am sooo tired of “every man’s battle” and so is my husband. After hearing this teaching, he felt like something was wrong with him as he didn’t struggle with it. (Maybe he wasn’t masculine enough? He had more female friend’s than male in high school…) This teaching also caused problems for me in my relationship with my husband because even though he said he didn’t struggle and never gave me reason to believe he did, the “experts” said he did so he must be lying! If he didn’t want sex one night, or didn’t compliment me, or he came home late from work my thoughts went to “Is he watching porn? Is he attracted to someone else? What can I do to keep him from ‘straying’? ” So exhausting. Not to mention my husband didn’t appreciate me not believing and trusting him.

  19. Codec

    If the idea is as a man that I should feel less shame as I am getting it then even in that weird screwed up regard it doesnt work.

    You know it is one tjing to laugh at a character like Miroku in Inuyasha for his antics.

    It is another to honestly break drown crying wondering why you keep doing something that is not good for you. I do not want to feel like an animal that needs to be chained up.

  20. Anon today!

    As a person with a mild form of OCD (intrusive thoughts), l see a connection to this unhealthy teaching about lust. In learning to manage my condition I have had to recognize that some thoughts are just thoughts. They pop in to my head with no volition of mine, and if I let them go, they leave just as quickly.

    Stressing over intrusive thoughts is completely counterproductive. The more you blame yourself for them, worry about triggering them and rearrange your life to try to avoid them, the worse they get. I wonder if equating noticing or fleeting attraction with lust is like that. Basically this teaching sounds like a good way to induce a kind of OCD in otherwise healthy, reasonably well-adjusted people.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s EXACTLY what my team and I talk about a lot. Much of the language we use around lust sounds like it’s the breeding ground for OCD (and I mean no disrespect to people struggling with OCD).

  21. Jo

    “You say, ‘Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.’ (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies.”
    1 Corinthians 6:13 NLT

    Just wanted to add this verse to the discussion, because I want to always build my beliefs on Truth. Jesus says God’s word is truth. This verse says exactly the opposite of “struggling with lust is part of how God made me as a man.”

    I have yet to find any support in the Bible for the belief that all men will always struggle with lust, and that that’s how God designed them. Instead, God calls us to put lust to death (Colossians 3:5).

  22. Anonymous305

    I “love” when people say that feminism is the reason that women disrespect men without considering men’s own behavior as a factor, and without noticing the women who give men more respect than they’ve earned because “good Christian wives” do that.

    Recently, I finally asked my parents if they were aware that youth group warned me about being a temptation and stumbling block to old men (in the context of clothing). They weren’t aware, but they weren’t horrified (like I’d hoped). They were thinking about boys my age, but when I brought up old men, they thought it was wise to consider the leaders as well. If I didn’t know them, I’d think they were cruel and heartless to hold minors responsible for the sins of adults (or anyone), but they’re not heartless. They’re just loving, caring, and oblivious. Oblivious to the creepiness and shame. SIGH!!!!

    Sometimes the modesty/lust message feels normal, and sometimes I’m in shock that it was ever normal.

    I also “love” it when churches promote “Every Man’s Battle” and sing “I’m no longer a slave to fear” as if those aren’t 2 opposite messages. 🤦🏾‍♀️🤦🏾‍♀️🤦🏾‍♀️

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s too funny (in a horrible way) about the song choice. Exactly!

  23. Tory

    I did hear the message that “all men struggle with lust” growing up, but my boyfriend— now husband— wasn’t like that, and still isn’t, so I didn’t internalize it too much. Where the message harmed me is the way lust was framed as a male issue. I personally have struggled with lust as a female, and it made me feel dirty, like because I was female it was unthinkable for me, but for a man it was more acceptable since “all men do”. Don’t secular studies show that women and men watch porn, masturbate, have affairs, etc at relatively similar rates? Why can’t we acknowledge that lust is not a male-only issue? Can’t the message be, “both men and women may be tempted to lust or be tempted to sin sexually, but we are not slaves to sin and there is freedom in Christ”?

  24. Brittany

    I could not agree with this more. In church youth group this was the main theme of any of our “purity retreats.” I remember them reading out a list of the things that men “lust after” in regards to women and the way we dress. However now I think what they really meant was “notice” about women. Our bra straps shouldn’t show, even the outline of the front of our bra seen through our t-shirts. I used to feel like my breast were something I should feel ashamed for having! I remember being so annoyed with this feeling like it was an impossible task to keep myself so buttoned up so that the men around me wouldn’t fall into sin because of my bra strap poking through my shirt. I also realize now it made me feel grossed out by men! Like I was just surrounded by creeps everywhere. I wish I could confront the women who shoved this message in my face throughout my junior high and high school years.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! So much of this. It really is “noticing”, not “lusting”, and guys can control themselves.

  25. LindaB

    It’s interesting, in my daily devotional, I’ve been reading through the Bible in a year. I was in 1 Thessalonians last week. When I came upon that passage you quoted above, I immediately thought of “the big name author” & the others…. Scripture is crystal clear, that we are all responsible for our OWN sin, no matter what. We will ALL give an account to God one day for our OWN lives, not someone else’s. Especially if we claim to be a Christian, then we held up to the standard of self-control, which The Lord says we have. Our Creator must believe men have self-control, as He stated that if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he’s already committed adultery with her in his heart. He did not add stipulations to that statement that included “unless a woman dresses a certain way, etc.”. I don’t believe that Jesus would state that if He had “purposely” wired a man’s brain that way. I do know that this lustful thinking is not true of all men. I am reminded that we take “every thought captive to obey Christ”. He is willing to help us in our weaknesses, so why are some Authors throwing in the towel so to speak, claiming this is too big?
    I believe it’s 3 things: 1) I think that often people believe because they think a certain way or struggle with certain areas, then everyone must think that way & struggle with the same issues. They can’t see beyond themselves & if they have problems with a certain are, then everyone must. I fear that the big name author has a bigger struggle than we realize – yet his heart is deceived about the reality of his sin. He is looking for ways to justify & even shift blame. Almost sounds like Adam in the garden…blaming God…”the woman you gave me”… “men’s brains are wired this was, so every man struggles with lust – God gave me this brain…”
    2) Pride – he can’t look at anything another way, because it would shine a glaring light on his own sin & credibility. I’ve heard comparisons with men’s lust battle to King David’s sin with Bathsheba – yet David was still a man after God’s own heart… the difference is that King David did actually repent – once he came to terms with his own deception.
    3) These big authors are so focused on what they believe is true doctrine, that they don’t care about the accounts of 2 women, let alone 20,000. They don’t want to see it, because they truly think it goes against the their beliefs. Yet their understanding of Scripture is flawed. If “Love always protects”, “ the big authors have failed miserably.
    I am absolutely disgusted with Gary – I feel sick to my stomach after reading the comments he made a few years ago (as you mentioned above). I am disgusted by the graphic nature of his most recent book. I’m thankful for the reviews, as I need to guard my heart & mind & I cannot do that if I am made to think about the apparent explicit experiences of the couples in his book…a Christian book… which clearly requires a label on it with a warning. For many reasons, I cannot read it, even though I am in a healthy marriage. Sadly, he has objectify his own Wife… how is that protecting her…how is that love?
    No, until women are viewed as whole people, these teachings changed, & the mindset altered, we (women) will continue to be expected to jump through hoops to try & prevent someone else’s sin, which is wrong.
    I pray that these authors would truly lose the pride & be willing to boldly ask God to search them & know them & to find anyway in them that offends Him. They must be willing to allow God to show them, which takes a lot of humbling & letting go of pride.

  26. Diana

    For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is NOT from the Father, but is from the WORLD.~1 John 2:16… In other words, stop blaming God and tripping up men!

  27. Anonymous

    Sheila what I think some recent viewers are missing is that you have such a great response to porn use and true struggles with lust on your blog; what to do about it, how to be set free, but also with the truth that it destroys marriages and hurts women. Far from shaming men, this sets then free and gets them the help they need from the bondage of lust and porn.

    My honest take on The Great Sex Rescue is that for men who DO struggle with lust, countering with “but not all men struggle” doesn’t really help those who DO, find the help they need (but it’s on your blog, just not in TGSR). I would love it if TGSR could have a section following the chapter about lust with your super crucial porn recovery articles, because then it would bring it full circle to, yes it’s the man’s responsibility, but there is hope and healing, and here’s how.
    For wives readings TGSR who have husbands who are porn users or recovered porn users, the chapter falls a bit short, which is why I was so glad to have already read your blog articles prior to reading TGSR. These husbands do struggle with lust so they don’t need to hear “it’s every man’s battle” or even “it’s NOT every man’s battle.” They need to hear it’s harmful and needs to stop, but be encouraged that there is so much hope and healing on the other side when they put lust to death in their heart and refuse to look at women as objects anymore.

  28. Marius

    I am a man, and a pastor. I despair at what some – most – of my fellow pastors teach.
    I think the real problem isn’t that they don’t want men to feel shame, I think the reality is, they do. Evangelical churches ‘thrive’ on heaping guilt and shame on people. It’s even in our hymns – ‘oh, I’m so unworthy…’
    So they make men feel guilt and shame for noticing women’s beauty. They then shame women for being beautiful.

    I’ll never understand this. Jesus came to free us from guilt and shame, and ‘his’ church invents ever new ways to guilt trip people!

  29. esbee

    what is it with these christians who think that christian domestic discipline as god’s will? when i read about a wife being spanked with the wire end of a fly swatter because she did not do the laundry right or had a bad attitude that day, i think do these people not know what grace and redemption is? they claim it is a picture of god judging his people when they do wrong—the husband is god, the wife is israel….would not a truer picture be the husband spanking himself as a picture of jesus taking our sins and punishment on himself?

  30. Blessed

    ‘In fact, Paul tells us that we should “greet one another with a holy kiss.” ‘

    In the spirit of desiring to help so no one can dismiss your post, I would say that perhaps this isn’t a valid argument—I understand that a man would have never greeted a woman with a kiss in these Roman times, but that kissing on the cheek was a common salutation between men, perhaps it’s worth double checking

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That advice was given twice, I believe, and his letters were not written just to men, so I don’t think the advice excluded women. They were to the community as a whole.


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