Keith’s Manifesto: Guys, It’s Time to Jump Out of the Boiling Water

by | Jan 26, 2022 | Theology of Marriage and Sex | 98 comments

Keith's Manifesto: Misogyny in the Evangelical Church

Our series this month is “putting Christ back in Christian marriage advice.” 

When I told Keith that, he said that there’s something he’s been wanting say for a while, but it would be intense.

I told him to go for it. And so I’ve named this post Keith’s manifesto! Here’s what’s been haunting and bothering him, especially over the last year. May we all see change come.

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Keith’s Manifesto

I vividly remember going to a Summer Youth Rally just weeks after I accepted Christ after a long period as an atheist.

Together with all the other wide-eyed teens, I heard the pastor explain the “Boiling Frog Analogy”:


“If you drop a frog into boiling water, it will of course immediately jump out. But if you put it in warm water and turn the heat up slowly enough, it won’t recognize the danger and it will be cooked alive.”

Now I recognize this analogy is scientifically untrue (not to mention cruel). But as a teenager it resonated. I vowed to do my best to not conform to my culture lest it slowly draw me away from God again.

That’s the first tidbit you need to know as background. The second is this:

With the exception of one brief period, I have always believed that God did not design hierarchy into the relationship between men and women, either in marriage or in the church.

To me the clear reading of Genesis is that male and female were created to rule over creation together under God (Gen 1:28) and men ruling over women is clearly a result of the fall (Gen 3:16). Paul tells us that Jesus lifted the curse (Gal 3:13) which has restored men and women to right relationship together under God (Gal 3:28), a fact Paul lived out in his own life as seen in Romans 16 where a full third of the people he lists working with him in the service of God are women (in a time when women’s legal rights were few and far between!)

However, I recognize that there are diverse opinions about this in the church. My view, while completely orthodox, is not the only view. Some believe that men were placed by God hierarchically in a position above women, including some of my early mentors in the faith. In fact, the reason I briefly believed in the hierarchy viewpoint was people using the “Boiling Frog Analogy” to convince me that I was conforming to our “feminist culture” rather than following “God’s true way”. How I came to recognize that was not true and get back to my original belief is a post in itself, but let me stick to the point I want to make today:

The fact is that the cultural creep, the ungodly compromise, the true danger in the church these days is now in exactly the opposite direction.

A culture of misogyny has been percolating in the evangelical church for decades. It has now reached a level of overtness and sinfulness – a “boiling point”, if you will, but somehow the people inside don’t seem to realize it.

Take, for example the discussions around the idea of the husband being the spiritual leader of the home. The Gospel Coalition recently posted on Instagram about how “easy it is for men to be passive” and how women need to reassure their husbands about how much they respect them so their husbands will be able to “take some of the risks that are involved in spiritual leadership”. They proceed to spell out these risky behaviors:

  • “Being the main person getting the family to go to church on Sunday”,
  • “praying and reading the Scriptures” and
  • “thinking about things from a Biblical perspective”.

Seriously?!? Think about that. The Gospel Coalition is identifying a crisis in the church – that men are so passive that they won’t do what everybody agrees are basic and fundamental aspects of following the faith – and their solution: women need to do better at making men feel respected.

Now I agree wholeheartedly that we should not be passive in our faith but we should all (men and women) be “pressing on toward the goal” (Phil 3:14). I don’t even have a problem (though I might disagree with them) with men who feel it is their specific God-given duty to take initiative in their family in a way that their wife doesn’t need to. If that is how you see it, then by all means, take the initiative!

But when we got to the point where men started to shift blame to women for their own lack of engagement and even for their failure to do the basic elements of the Christian faith, we should have jumped out of the water.

Leaders lead; they don’t shout through megaphones for people to submit.

If you read books on leadership, you will find chapters on getting your own house in order, working on your own moral character, thinking about others and being open to other perspectives. What you will NOT find is a chapter on how to use propaganda to convince people to follow you even if you are a manifestly bad leader. Yet that is what so many evangelical Christian resources are teaching. It doesn’t matter if your husband is terrible, un-Christlike, even abusive, God has ordained that you respect him because God has woven male preeminence into the very fabric of creation.

The fruits of this teaching are stunningly awful to anyone who has jumped out of the boiling water. It has created an army of what Patrick Weaver calls “dysfunctional man-boys”, men who feel they deserve deference from women despite their own bad character and husbands who feel they can chalk up any failures on their own part to their wives’ “lack of respect”.

If we have ears to hear, a man blaming a woman for his own sin will sound familiar and will instantly be seen for what it is.

But if you think that is a stunning example of how we have learned nothing since Genesis chapter 3, take a look at how the church handles lust.

In the evangelical church, the idea that lust is “every man’s battle” is ubiquitous.

What is the solution? Women need to “top up” their husbands and cover up themselves. Both are dangerous doctrinal errors. And both have gone unrecognized as such because the movement toward these beliefs was so insidious.

In the first case, it has become common teaching that wives need to “top up their husband’s cup” – that is, have sex as often as their husbands say they need it, otherwise men will inevitably be tempted to stray. They can’t help it; they are men. You wives need to stand in the gap. This is your God-given duty.

Seriously?!? What happened to self-control? Apparently that fruit of the Spirit is off the table if you were born with a Y chromosome!

How did we get to this point without jumping out of the water?


It is clearly a doctrinal error on at least two counts. First, it makes one person accountable for another person’s sin. (And let me ask: how did we not realize that the “misogyny thermometer” in the evangelical church was near the top when we started believing a woman should be held responsible for a husband’s unfaithfulness?)

And second, it is clearly an error to portray any sin as an endless struggle without victory apart from the assistance of your wife. Paul says to “put lust to death” (Col 3:5) not to “push lust below the surface where it will continue to fester your entire male life”, but that is precisely what the evangelical church is teaching. All because we have swallowed the lie that sexual sin is “rooted in our maleness”.

We are straying from sound doctrine in order to cling to an idea about masculinity that is clearly and unmistakably flawed.

Which brings me to the second point: women need to cover up. Sheila has already talked about why the modesty message is toxic, so let me keep this short. The “misogyny thermometer” in the evangelical church has reached the boiling point in the modesty message.

Now certainly being modest in our dress and habits is a Christian ideal (though “modest” doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it means).

However, it is clear to me that the evangelical church sees women dressing immodestly as a worse sin than men lusting after them.

Every time Sheila talks about lust, someone always chimes in with how the real problem is with how immodest women are in their dress. We should all instantly recognize that saying one sin excuses another is blatantly antithetical to Biblical morality. But we do this in the case of men lusting after women so effortlessly, shamelessly and unironically that it is a marvel to behold. Again, it comes down to our flawed view of masculinity that we refuse to relinquish:

Women can choose how to dress and must be held accountable. Men, however, get a pass, for they cannot choose not to lust; God made them that way.

This teaching is everywhere. For example, take the recent book “Married Sex”, where Gary Thomas explains to women that by God’s design, men’s brains are wired in such a way that “sexual thoughts flicker in the background of a man’s visual cortex all day and night, making him always at the ready for seizing sexual opportunity”.

Is this what we hold up as the model of what a redeemed and Spirit-filled man looks like?

Even if it were presented as “less than ideal, but the best we can hope for”, it would be disheartening. Yes, of course men are going to be sexually attracted to women. That is how God made us and we shouldn’t be ashamed of a healthy male sexuality. But to me this passage sounds predatory and frightening. I can only imagine how it sounds to a woman!

Worse still, there is a horrific doctrinal issue here that I am trying to wrap my head around. If we believe that this is inherently what all men are like and if we believe that Jesus was “tempted in every way just as we are” (Heb 4:15)…I hesitate to put the next words in writing…then we must conclude that as Jesus walked the byways of Galilee with his female followers that He too had sexual thoughts flickering in his visual cortex, “making him always at the ready for seizing sexual opportunity”.

Do we actually think that about our Lord and Saviour?

If we believe this was untrue of Jesus, then we have only two choices.

  1. It can also be untrue for us men today (and so we need to stop talking about lust the way we do) or
  2. Jesus was different from today’s men in a fundamental way. In other words, he was human, but not a human completely like us.

I talked in a recent post about how some people are willing to sacrifice the divinity of Christ to cling to distorted views of gender relations. Is sacrificing the humanity of Christ the next step?

No, Church! We must do better!

We can jump out of the boiling water.

We can stop blaming women for men’s sin. We can refuse to see the objectification of women and male sexuality as the same thing.

And part of that – in my opinion – is realizing that by teaching that women are in any way less than men, we are training men to see women as objects for their use rather than equal partners working together for God’s kingdom.

Let me finish by telling you about the moment when the memory of that Youth Rally and the “Boiling Frog Analogy” came back into my mind.

It was last year while the hideous story of abuse and human trafficking committed by Ravi Zacharias was being unearthed. Owen Strachan, a former president of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, tweeted about it:

“An unbeliever reads about an awful scandal and thinks, ‘That person is so awful! I hate people like that.’ A Christian reads about an awful scandal and thinks, ‘That could EASILY be me. God be merciful to me.’”

Owen Strachan


I remember people reacting with “Oh, yeah, Owen. I could wake up some morning and OOOPS! I seem to have created a human trafficking ring to indulge my sexual deviance!” But my first thought was to agree 100% with Owen Strachan.

Ravi Zacharias abused hundreds of women while simultaneously claiming to be a spokesperson for God. More than that, his victims report that he considered his interactions with these women “his reward for his service to God”.

How does anyone get to the point where their conscience is so seared that they can see sexual abuse in this light?

He did not see these women as human beings. In his own words, they were “rewards”, things, objects for his consumption.

Believing women are less than men, that women exist primarily to help and benefit men turns on the stove. To get to a Ravi Zacharias from that point is merely a matter of slowly turning up the heat.

So, yes, I agree with Owen Strachan’s self -assessment: anyone who preaches that God has designed men to be over women is only a short series of bad choices away from becoming a monster. Strachan was wiser than he realized.

I have an idea: How about instead we start to see women as co-heirs of the gospel, as sisters in Christ and full participants in God’s kingdom?

How about we see misogyny as a sin and stand up for God’s daughters? How about when we hear about a man sexually abusing a woman in the church we identify with the victim rather than the perpetrator and work to see she gets to safety and he gets brought to justice?

If even after all I have said, you still can’t let go of the idea of male preeminence, then please know this:

To those of us who have jumped out of the boiling water, when you shout about women needing to submit while failing to work on your own moral failings, we do not see a protector of Biblical truth. We see a scared little boy trying to feel strong by making others feel weak. Similarly, when you shame and chastise women for immodest dress and “being a stumbling block”, we do not see those women as the harlots you try to paint them. Instead, we see you as a man who is not safe to be around.

And, most of all, when you push patriarchy and male privilege and then say you could EASILY become an abuser, know this: We believe you.

Thankfully, the tide is turning.

Despite what anyone may try to tell you, you can reject misogyny and still be a Christian.

In fact, the number of Christians who believe male preeminence is a “hill worth dying on” is very small – and getting smaller by the day. The voices of men like Owen Strachan and his ilk are being drowned out by the voices of strong women like Kristen Kobes DuMez, Beth Allison Barr and my amazing wife, Sheila Wray Gregoire. Women are finding freedom after years of church-sanctioned abuse by listening to voices like Leslie Vernick, Sarah McDugal and Gretchen Baskerville. And I get to stand shoulder to shoulder with men like Andrew Baumann, Patrick Weaver and Scott Coley as we try to rediscover a healthy Christian male sexual ethic – one that refuses to believe men are irredeemably bent in our sexuality or that our identity as men is so fragile that it demands women make themselves small.

We aren’t there yet, but we have begun to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Heb 12:1) and are beginning to witness a new birth of freedom in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:2). And I am excited so see how much farther we get in 2022!

Keith's Manifesto: Misogyny in the Evangelical Church

Did you have a “jump out of the water” moment? Do you have encouragement to share about how things are changing? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Written by

Keith Gregoire


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Keith Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Keith has been married to Sheila for over 30 years! They met while he was in pre-med at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He has served as Chief of Pediatrics in the Quinte Region, and has been the chair of undergraduate pediatric medical education at Queen's University, and participated in the Royal College examination board for new pediatricians. He is the co-author with Sheila of The Good Guy's Guide to Great Sex, and a new marriage book they're working on. An avid birder, he loves traveling with Sheila all over North America in their RV.

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  1. R

    Preach it, Keith!

    • DrPrAW

      I am thankful for this article, and it’s a really helpful warning. But do you think it is possible to hold to the conviction that God gave different roles to men and women in the home and in the church (also based on Bible passages, as your views are), and not be a misogynist? Are you saying the only godly way forward is to agree with your reading of scripture? Because if that’s the case then I fear it is losing sight of a pursuit of truth for the sake of love (which itself undermines love) rather than a pursuit of truth in love.

      • Terry

        Check the Scriptures for every verse that is addresses directly to husbands. I believe there are about 5 verses that start with “Husbands…” Read those verses and what they tell husbands to do with regard to their wives.

        Any verses directed toward wives are for wives. Your business is the verses directed to husbands. And none of them, not one in the entire Bible, tells husbands to be the boss of their wives, tell them what to do, make sure they comply, etc. Quite the opposite.

        Christianity has built an entire theology around something that husbands are never once ordered to do in the Bible.

        Also, husbands in general, be suspicious of your own self if you are seeking power over your wife in your marriage. There is nothing in the Bible that commands or allows you do that either. Your job as a husband is (as those verses say) to love, serve, and *lift up* your wife. Not to have whatever level of control of her that you seek.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Well said!

  2. Luke Perry

    I jumped out of the water on September 18th of 2021. My marriage was all but over. We had been through the same frustrating cycle for many years and we were at the worst point ever. My wife had given up. IFB indoctrination had ruined us. I was given “Every Man’s Battle” early in our marriage after I went to a pastor for help when I watched pornography for the first time. I didn’t want to go down that road so I confessed and sought help. I soaked up every word of that book. My wife read it as well so she could better understand me. We went through “Love and Respect” with that same pastor and his wife as well. For years I devoured Christian marriage books trying to figure out why we weren’t blissfully happy in our marriage. 15 years later my wife was emotionally destroyed. We took a sabbatical from sex for several months because that’s where our problems manifested them selves. I surrendered all to Christ and sought to love my wife no matter what. And then I came across “The Great Sex Rescue”. How I came across the book is a story for another day. Let it suffice to say it was a GOD THING! I listened to the entire audio book in one day. And all of the sudden the scales fell off my eyes! All the pieces of the puzzle, we had for so long not been able to put together, suddenly fit perfectly together and revealed the picture of marriage and sex we had been searching for. It also revealed some sobering truths; I was an abuser and it was now solely up to me to win back my wife’s heart by radically changing everything. Long story short; we are thriving and healing in a way that can only be described as MIRACULOUS! God’s grace through all this is undeniable. Keith, thank you for speaking out. Your wife is God-send. I shared “The Great Sex Rescue” with my current pastor. He read it in a matter of days and has already recommended it to others. God is already using our story to help other couples struggling in our church. To God be the glory, great things He has done!!!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Luke, that’s amazing! Thank you so much! I’m so excited to hear that!

    • Nathan

      It’s also wonderful how your pastor is recommending “The Great Sex Rescue” to others!

      • R

        Yeah, like when does this ever happen? Kudos to that pastor for being willing to open his eyes.

    • Jean

      Thank you for sharing this, Luke. Your story is so encouraging. Blessings to you and your wife, and prayers for continued healing in your marriage!

    • Rachel dos Santos

      This is just so so encouraging to hear! Praise God for the turn around in your life!

  3. Anon

    THANK YOU!!!!

  4. A2bbethany

    Reminds me of All the comments over the years that showed my dad’s unequal view of genders.

    In spite of wanting to, we were forbidden to play paintball. Reason? We might mar our beauty by losing teeth or getting scars.(terrain dangers…that we already played in) Or the painful bruises from being shot. He said it might ruin our chances of getting married, because men like girls pretty. While men are considered attractive with scars. I never got the chance to play, but someday I intend to… Simply to defy it.

    Similarly we were forbidden to learn basic carpentry from him, Because it’s dangerous. Yet my brothers learned to, as young boys. I always felt like he missed an opportunity to teach us vital skills. Because he felt nail guns and saws were too dangerous for a female of any age.(ironically his sister’s grew up doing it all with him. As his dad taught them all equally and worked them as a team.)

    • Nathan

      > > Similarly we were forbidden to learn basic carpentry from him,

      Wow, the exact same thing happened with my wife. As a child, her grandfather was a carpenter and had a huge workshop where he would work on things for neighbors and himself. She always wanted to learn and help, but he would tell her “no, tools are for boys, not girls”. Ironically, her brother did NOT want work with tools, which made grandpa very upset.

    • Jo R

      “saws were too dangerous for a female of any age”

      The first time I used a reciprocating saw (generally called a “saws all” after the brand name), I exclaimed, “Baby, where have you been all my life???!!!”

      Sorry, gotta run to the store because my new dual bevel compound miter saw was broken out of the box… 🙄🙄🙄🤣🤣🤣

      • Carla

        You speak my language!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So sad, Bethany! Your father missed out on so much too. He missed out on the relationship he could have had with you.

      • A2bbethany

        He a custom homebuilder and formerly a framer for his dad, who also built houses. I did have a pretty good relationship with him growing up, and going on dates.

        But things changed as an adult and now we stay very casual. He’s one of those sincerely good guys, but believing some bad things too.(those leading him to be hurtful rather than supportive of my abuse experiences)
        He tried to be intentional about relationships with us, but it was a hit and miss success rate. Of the girls: the oldest married an abuser(though he is possibly no longer?), One is codependent and 29, one rebelled a bit because of never liking dad, I had my own issues and am probably the healthiest of the adult women.
        The 2 younger girls have a much closer relationship with mom that I never could, because she was touched out.(touchy feely family of 12 and a mom who didn’t share dad’s love language of physical touch)

  5. Nathan

    Good to see another post of yours, Keith. You and Sheila are a great dynamic!

    The discussion of lust and sexual temptation with Jesus has always been very confusing for me. We’re told that Jesus was fully human, and although He didn’t sin, He WAS capable of sinning and was subject to temptation just like we are (He just chose not to sin).

    So I’m confident in saying that Jesus never lusted, but did He ever have any sexual thoughts at all? From what we know in the bible, He never married, never had sex, never had children, never expressed any interest in any woman, and was never sexually attracted to any woman. He ONLY saw people (men and women) as children of God, and nothing else.

    I’m disregarding extrabiblical rumors about Jesus that I don’t need to go into here.

    Jesus never lusted, although that doesn’t make Him different. He just didn’t sin. But I’m also fairly sure that He had no sex drive of any kind. Some people think that God “turned that off” in Jesus, as He had a specific mission on Earth, and that would have interfered with it.

    That doesn’t make sexual feelings, attractions and desires wrong, though, as we’ve often said on this thread. I do believe, however, that it’s possible for us mortals to refrain from lusting even as we have a healthy sexual drive and feel desires now and again

    • NM

      Of course I can’t know for sure, but I’m pretty sure I disagree, Nathan. The Bible says Jesus was tempted in every way we are, and to leave sexual temptation out of that seems like a big oversight. He went through puberty, and I believe he could have experienced noticing girls his age, wrestling through those feelings, and having victory without sinning. If noticing really isn’t lusting, I don’t think that’s too big to expect of His perfect humanity.

    • Keith R Gregoire

      Very interesting points – – which have got me thinking about another post! I have always assumed that Jesus had a healthy male sexual drive, but I have no theological justification for this. I would say that he must have had a drive that was at least sufficient to make Him, “tempted in all ways such as we are”. The bigger question (which is the post I am thinking about) is: “At what point do sexual thoughts/attractions become sin?”

      • Nathan

        There’s definitely line between thoughts/attraction/desire and lust. Deciding where that line is may be difficult to do.

        The one thing about Jesus having a healthy male sex drive is that it leads to a contradiction…

        1. Jesus had a healthy male sex drive
        2. Jesus never engaged in any kind of activity to “satisfy” that drive
        3. Jesus was never bothered by this.

        To me, that just doesn’t make sense.

        • Sarah O

          This is total speculation, but I really think Jesus “not being bothered” by sexual desire came down to three things:

          1) Clear, correct definition of sex

          2) Clarity of purpose

          3) Perfect love

          None of us has #1 and I don’t think we will this side of heaven, but we can ascertain that there is something deeply personal, relational, and literally life-giving about sex design. Sex is meant to be an expression of relationship, not a means to relationship. If you start with that understanding, it’s easy to see how gross many forms of sexual temptation are and no longer find them tempting. For example, I think it’s very possible Jesus may have been tempted by the possibility of a loving marriage and children with a woman, I don’t think he would have been tempted to purchase services from a prostitute. I don’t think He would have been tempted by sex itself outside of emotional connection/attachment.

          #2 – Jesus knew who He was and what He came to do. He was passionate about it. Have you ever been so excited about something that you couldn’t sleep, or eat? His purpose was so important that it was…more gratifying than sex would be. This harkens back to a point that Sheila and Keith have made a few times – we have often framed sex as the greatest good people, and especially men can experience in life. We need to stop that.

          3) Perfect love. Jesus proved his love for humanity and that’s been discussed far better than I can do here, but let’s pretend there was a woman, a particular woman, that tempted Him in this way. Let’s say maybe there was a woman He was in love with, as some have speculated, and He was sometimes tempted to imagine a different, ordinary kind of life with a wife and babies and grandchildren. Knowing who He was and what He had to do, I think He would have chosen not to indulge that because of His love for HER. If He’d had a wife and family at the time of His death, they would have been alternately deified and persecuted, not to mention grieved and vulnerable. He wouldn’t have asked that of her.

          So yeah, I believe all three of those things:

          1. Jesus had a healthy male sex drive
          2. Jesus never engaged in any kind of activity to “satisfy” that drive
          3. Jesus was never bothered by this.

          And I also believe church history shows us many celibate believers, both men and women, who were able to accomplish the same by His spirit.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            This is amazing, Sarah. What you said about #1 was what Keith and I were discussing over lunch!

          • Sarah O

            Thank you Sheila – in short, if you can believe Jesus would sacrifice His LIFE out of love, why is it so hard to believe he would sacrifice SEX out of love?

          • D

            Haha, I think we have a hard time believing this because of how easy it is to treat sex as “ultimate” and a reflection of adulthood and full personhood in the society and in the church. From those assumptions, we end up with some pretty flawed conclusions or thought processes!

          • D

            Thank you, Sarah. So true. As a long-time single (though now married), I can testify that God guides human sexuality through the three ways you mentioned. I was certainly not perfect in terms of never having had a sinful thought etc, whereas Jesus was perfect. But the moments and seasons in which I felt that I was fully walking in sexual purity would all have been closely tied to those three things. Sex is not ultimate; Christ is.

          • Terry

            Sarah, so true. I have always believed (and the Bible seems to indicate in that Christ was tempted like us on every point) that Jesus had a normal, healthy sex drive.

            But there’s something men (and some women) OFTEN forget: Jesus saw women as people, the same as He saw men.

            In my personal observation at church, there aren’t that many men who literally see women as people, the same as they see men.

            Jesus would’ve found it *difficult to lust after a woman because it’s humiliating and degrading to lust after someone you respect as a person. It’s not that temptation never knocked at the door, but if love and respect answer the door, as was always the case with Jesus, that would’ve taken care of it.

            See women as literal, full people, just as you see men, with the same care and respect you give to men, and it becomes much more difficult to view them in a low way.

        • Lisa M

          How do we know Jesus wasn’t bothered by this? Being bothered isn’t wrong. He clearly was bothered by the way his own disciples acted at times, he was incredibly bothered by the Pharisees. He experienced extreme hunger and pain in his life, also. I don’t have a problem with thinking it’s likely he experienced sexual frustration at times.

      • Ladybug

        Keith, start digging into Christopher West’s podcast and books. He does a great job answering questions like these, from a redemptive, not stoic perspective. It is something along the lines of the fullness of the sexual nature of humanity directing us toward the same kind of union with God that the Trinity experienced within itself. Desire (not lust) as a foretaste of the fulfillment to come. We hunger, but earthly food never fills. We desire, but earthly pleasure does not sustain. The good news is that Christ came to make the fullness of human longing a possible reality.

        Some places to start are Sexual Redemption and the New Evangelization:

      • Darryl

        Scripturally, temptation is not sin. James delineates this in 1:14-15. Jesus was tempted in every point. Jesus also invited every person to follow him by first “denying himself.” So, it would be a cop out to say I can’t follow Jesus (he invited me to do so and showed me the way and helps me in it). So, the question of temptation leading to sin–it’s a temptation because it appeals to something desirable. Yet, if it’s a violation of God’s heart (at the expense of my value or someone else’s value, which sexual perversion always is), I do not have to pursue the temptation. In fact, the victory is in living by faith, putting that which is pure and true before me, renewing my mind according to the truth instead of the lie (i.e. that this temptation is “good”). When Jesus was tempted, he only had to assert the truth over the lie that the temptation offered and continue to walk in righteousness. His path is the same one each of us is invited and empowered to walk.

  6. Jo R


    🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥

  7. Susanna

    I love this! I can’t wait to share it with my husband. We so rarely hear his opinions in another’s voice! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Lori Tischler

    Wow. Amen! Amen amen amen. Every word is spot on. God bless you, gentleman Keith—a true, biblical, Christlike, nobleman. Thank you.

  9. G.G.

    May I just say, “AMEN!” and “Hallelujah”!

  10. Melissa W

    Well said Keith! It has always been baffling to me that people fell for the Love & Respect stuff. The cover itself is a dead give away that is is toxic because it frames love as a desire and respect as a need. However, the thing that is even more of a give away of its toxic nature is his acronyms. What a woman needs in a relationship is COUPLE and what a man needs is CHAIRS. I know it is an acronym but still. A chair is something you own for the sole purpose of using for your own comfort. You have no obligation to the chair or even have to care for a chair in anyway other than to use it. Yes, you might have to clean it a bit or make repairs but those things are still only a means to your use of the chair for selfish reasons. And if it breaks you can fix it or you can throw it away for something new. It’s totally up to you what you do with a chair that is broken because of your use of it. The acronym alone should be alarming before you ever get into what each letter stands for, which in reality is little more than what I just described in relationship to an actual chair. No wonder so many Christian marriages are so broken. Keep up the good work Sheila & Keith as lives are being changed!

  11. L.F.

    Doesn’t it go both ways? I agree that men should never use immodest dress (her sin) as an excuse to lust (his sin). But, nor should a women saying a man’s lust (his sin) is his own problem be an excuse for her dressing immodestly (her sin). While not responsible for others’ sin, the Bible does talk about us not being a stumbling block. While, I agree men have been given a pass far too many times, swinging the pendulum too far the other way is also dangerous. Men and women should be equally responsible for the sin in their life, so women shouldn’t get a pass either, right? Am I misunderstanding?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think this is a bit of a red herring. How many women are actually “sinning” by their dress?

      • Jim

        Is it possible that a women dressing immodestly to get attention from men be considered a sin? There are examples of women using their looks to seduce men.

        One example is described in Proverbs 7. The clothing by itself may not be sinful but the motivations behind it could be.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Sure. But that’s not usually what’s happening when 14-year-old girls are called stumbling blocks in church and accused of being immodest. The vast majority of women who are accused of being immodest are merely dressing normally. There is simply not an epidemic of women dressing to deliberately seduce and entice men to lust during a worship service. There, is however, an epidemic of sexual abuse in the church.

        • SB

          If you have a chance. listen up on Sheila’s podcast interview with the founder of Exodus cry. To your question, women who are dressing and, more importantly, behaving deliberately to attract and entice men into sexual exchange are more likely than not being trafficked and not of their own choosing. Even under our own noses. The stats are unnerving and the reality to anyone with a conscience is heartbreaking.

          Other stats say the US is the number 1 consumer of sex trafficking worldwide. It’s not all due to sex tourism either. Where there is demand there will be supply.

          At the end of the day, it’s still about men lusting and creating a dehumanizing culture around their supposed entitlement to satisfy that lust, to virtually and actually consume women and children (porn and trafficking). This isn’t a problem of how our teens dress (which is decidedly not to entice the sleazy uncle or indulge the creepy deacon) but that we lust towards them.

        • Terry

          Jim, men lust after women in full robes and head coverings. It is not about the clothes. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE CLOTHES. It’s about the disrespect you have for a woman. A woman you genuinely respect, you find you can’t think of her in that low way.

          This is the kind of love and respect Christ had for women. He saw them as people, just as he saw men as people. Many Christian men *don’t see women as full people because conservative Christian teaching puts women in a position of inferiority of status, inferiority of position, inferiority of respect, but superiority of responsibility.

    • R

      A persons dress does not cause someone to lust. Lust begins in the heart, just like basically every other sin.
      And the verse about not being a stumbling block is SO taken out of context in this discussion. Firstly, it’s not just addressed to women, and it’s not about lust or modesty. It’s about being considerate of the weaker brother or sister (ie the less mature Christian).

      The discussion about modesty in the Bible is not connected to lust at all, so why do we connect it?
      It can’t “go both ways” because it’s a completely different topic!

    • Anon

      “Men and women should be equally responsible for the sin in their life, so women shouldn’t get a pass either, right?”

      Right. No one gets a pass for sin. And no one is saying that lust being a sin means that immodest behaviour isn’t. But they are two separate things. A man can lust over a woman who is covered from head to toe in loose baggy clothing. And a woman can intentionally dress provocatively to gain attention or to shock while men around her see her as a whole person and treat her with respect.

      Every time you say “women aren’t responsible for men’s sin, but women should still not be doing what men claim makes them sin”, you are landing the blame right back on the women. Think about it. Say I’ve had a row with my friend – I’ll call her Helen. If I go round telling people “I am to blame for my lack of self control and Helen is not responsible for it, but that still doesn’t mean Helen isn’t sinning when she acts selfishly and inconsiderately to her friends”…have I REALLY taken responsibility for my own sin? Or am I subtly trying to push the blame onto Helen?

      That’s what happens every time someone says ‘Women aren’t responsible for men’s lust, but they do have a responsibility to dress modestly.’

      Oh, and if immodest dress were truly the cause of lust, how come so many super-modest girls get sexually assaulted? Growing up, I gave myself backache hunching my shoulders to try to conceal my breasts, and I’d have had to wear a duvet cover to be more completely and baggily covered, but it still didn’t stop guys sexually assaulting me. So please can we STOP connecting these two things.

      • Anon

        Precisely. A woman could be covered head to toe, not a speck of skin showing, and a man could still lust after her purely because she’s female. Look at women in Muslim countries – most of them are wearing burqas and that doesn’t stop them from being sexually assaulted.

    • Hannah

      The Bible does NOT say for a person to not BE a stumbling block. This is the twisted way it has been used. Rather, the Bible says not to put a stumbling block in another Christian’s way. A stumbling block is something that we DO that lessens the faith of another Christian. To say that a PERSON can lessen another Christian’s faith by what they wear or how they look is VERY dehumanizing. The fact that usually the person who is accusing a girl of being a stumbling block is supposedly the mature Christian leader – is just disgusting. As a young woman who was regularly reminded that she is a stumbling block just by existing – this 100% reduced my faith constantly.

      Also – dress is NOT sinning. Just nope. Nowhere in the ten commandments etc.

  12. Stephanie

    Thank you!!! I’ve been especially aware when raising my kids, that boys don’t just get to boss the girls around. They must speak respectfully. And girls, they are welcome to have their opinion without being put down by others. Disagreeing is ok. Shaming an opinion is not. These things are SO SUBTLE and it’s taken me years to be aware of how much we, as women, believe we are not to be trusted, our opinions aren’t really valid, our dreams are secondary to those of men, and that we can actually refuse to believe these lies and stand up for ourselves. Thank you for seeing us as sisters in Christ! That word sister is so heartwarming! It changes us from feeling like possible sexual partners to men to sharing a friendship as Christ sees us.

  13. Jane Eyre

    Lovely post, Keith.

    I think some of the evangelical problems with marriage arise from its problems with singleness. Back in the ’90s, the dating world went crazy and evangelicals “solved” the problem by pushing courtship and marriage HARD. They equate being single with living a degenerate life, being sexually active outside of marriage, and deliberately refusing the responsibilities of home and children.

    Except that isn’t how the world works. Instead of developing an ethic of how to be Christian and unmarried, they just push marriage. It ends up warping their view of marriage.

    If you are not finding the right person, you’re still supposed to be chaste. These days, many Christian adults go without sex for years, sometimes decades. We are called to do that, even if it sucks, even if we are curious, even if we wonder if we will ever be able to have licit sex.

    From that perspective, all the nonsense about women “topping off” their husbands and giving postpartum hand jobs is just that – obvious nonsense.

    Women who aren’t going to get married by age 21 need to be able to fend for themselves, which involves everything from a stable job that pays the bills to figuring out how to check the oil in the car.

    Both single men and single women should cultivate interests, attend church, contribute to their communities, and build a network of friends.

    From that perspective, a woman can actually have a really great life before she gets married! And if that is true, how much garbage should she put up with in marriage? Why should marriage make her life worse? Why should her husband boss her around when she’s proven herself to be a capable adult? Why would she put up with church busybodies telling her that she needs to ditch her career and be a helpmeet? Why wouldn’t the pressure be on men to do their part to make the marriage work?

    Maybe evangelicals should present a vision of marriage that women want to be a part of.

    • Jo R

      Why, indeed?

      Genius, Jane Eyre. 😘😘😘

    • Anon

      I remember saying in the early 90s that I didn’t want to get married (meaning that I wanted to stay single) Our youth leaders immediately jumped to the conclusion that I was planning on living an immoral life, and I got a tirade on the evils of sex before marriage, sleeping around, promiscuity… I was totally bamboozled, especially as I’d just been reading biographies of Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward and other single missionaries. I couldn’t understand why ‘singleness’ was seen as so evil – especially as Paul speaks so highly of it in the Bible!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        What an awful response! Exactly. Singleness doesn’t mean immorality. It might just mean being totally sold out for Jesus!

        • Anon

          Exactly. Not to mention it stigmatizes singleness and makes anyone who still might be looking for their husband/wife (translation, someone who didn’t settle for a lazy or abusive so-and-so). And it makes anyone who is still single feel like they’re committing some kind of crime.

  14. Molly

    “And second, it is clearly an error to portray any sin as an endless struggle without victory apart from the assistance of your wife.”

    Love this! It’s surprising how little power some Christians think the Holy Spirit has to bring victory from lust yet how much they rely on women to do that work. I, for one, am no match for the Holy Spirit!

  15. Heather Klein

    This same thinking applies to treating spouses and children as “God’s gift to you”. Of course hot wife jokes always got under my skin, but it wasn’t until later when I realized it’s because men were making it sound as if God gifted them A PERSON. Like – their service to Jesus meant Jesus provided a wife to them – a hot wife.
    This is theologically inaccurate. People are not objects to be gifted. Neither spouses or children. You can thank God for “bringing them into your life” for “providing children” – but not for handing them to you like a gift.
    My dog is a gift from God (maybe, but even that is pushing it.) My husband is his own person who God perhaps had a hand in us meeting and marrying. But it was both of our choice.

  16. Sarah

    So good, Keith! And such an interesting point about Owen Strachan’s Tweet. That makes total sense. I get so frustrated with tweets like that (and around the time of the Ravi news breaking, it seemed every Christian leader I knew of was saying things like that). I get the wanting to be humble and admit that we’re still sinful, but if Jesus in the gospels and then Peter, Paul and others were not afraid to call evil evil without caveat (all described such people as wolves, without saying ‘watch out, you could become a wolf too’) we should be able to as well. We don’t look at unbelievers who act this way with ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ (where was Owen’s Tweet in defence of Harvey Weinstein?) but we’re so ready to excuse abuse in the church. It’s sickening.

    On a slightly tangential note, I’ve heard several Christian thinkers I actually respect say that the works of Jean Vanier, Ravi Zacharias and Bill Hybels, among other abusers, should still be read as we can still take some good from them – the old ‘ don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater‘ argument.

    My point is, when there are so many Christian authors who did not abuse people, why would you ever read the ones who did again? No author in the Christian world is perfect – AW Tozer by all accounts wasn’t a great husband and father, Martin Luther was an antisemite, et cetera – but my clear cut off is keeping in circulation the the works of people who are clearly wolves in sheep‘s clothing.

    Why would we bother when there are so many good books on Christian doctrine and life by others who are not wolves? Wondering what your take would be.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I totally agree, Sarah. When there are so many great books by others, there’s no need to prop up those written by people we know were abusing their position they got by using Christ’s name in vain. Absolutely.

    • Sarah O

      I struggle with this one too. I trust that God works all things together for good, and I believe there is only one perfect human – and he didn’t personally author any books. So we have to engage Christian literature with a critical eye, understanding that 100% of what we read is written by sinners, though inspired by God.

      When this question comes up, it tends to be relatively modern and western focused. Specifically it comes up with modern sex scandals and American/British slaveholders. But when I apply the plumb line to all of Christendom, as a woman…Do we not read St. Augustine? Martin Luther? St. Thomas? Tertullian? Do we skip Proverbs and Eccelsiastes entirely, since it was written by Solomon?

      I hate thinking about it, because it depresses me. These are my brothers, who I admire. And they see me as a womb # 1283746378 with unfortunate, totally sinful appendages. How do Christian female historians and theologians deal?

      • CMT

        “When this question comes up, it tends to be relatively modern and western-focused… Do we not read St. Augustine? Martin Luther? St. Thomas? Tertullian? Do we skip Proverbs and Eccelsiastes entirely, since it was written by Solomon?”

        I thought of the same questions. If we are to be consistent and intellectually honest, do we have to throw out all these historic writings? After chewing it over a bit, here’s my two cents:

        1) I’m not going to buy a book by a “wolf” that someone is still getting royalties for. Nor will I support anything that I know is still benefiting people who condoned abuse, even if the abuser is gone.

        2) I don’t think we can hold writers from centuries ago to the same standard as modern teachers. In most times and places, misogynist (or antisemitic or racist or etc) beliefs and practices were just the way things were. It would take a truly exceptional person (like Jesus?) to see beyond those cultural blinders. We have our own cultural blinders, we just don’t happen to share that one. Modern teachers have a lot less excuse for the mental gymnastics required to justify misogyny.

        3) There is a big difference between someone whose thought is influenced by cultural biases we no longer accept, and someone who engages in abusive and/or criminal behavior privately while publicly posing as a messenger of the gospel. The one I can read critically for the timeless truths they articulated. The other doesn’t deserve that investment. They might tick the right doctrinal boxes, but if I know their words are coming from a deeply hypocritical heart why would I waste my time parsing them for anything of value?

    • Jane Eyre

      It’s a lot like being in a workplace with a huge jerk. Some companies take the view that “he’s too important” to replace; others take the view that you can easily find a competent manager who is NOT a jerk. Are we so starved for resources that we need to look to abusers, or can we find people to talk about marriage who are also emotionally healthy?

      • Anon

        I think the problem is that a lot of the men (and some women) who have written these self-help books that promote toxic marriage advice are terrified of either being exposed or knocked off that pedestal of power they’ve held for so long (both would actually be my guess). Not to mention it also stings to be proven wrong, and they’d rather double down than admit mistakes and change their teachings. Sheila, if I’m being too harsh here, my apologies. 🙂

  17. Lisa Manske

    Excellent post Keith! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it.

  18. Lisa Manske

    I’ll throw a plug for a book I recently read. “A Celebration of Sex” by Dr. Rosenau, a licensed sex therapist. The book is about 20 years old and I’d love to see it updated with current research (the book doesn’t address mental load at all, it cites research that was current at the time of publication on women’s ability to multi-task, research that is now far more comprehensive). But on the issues of lust and blame for sexual sin, it’s FANTASTIC. And it’s written by an evangelical. This book was ahead of its time but didn’t get the platform that the harmful books did. And we all should be asking WHY. Why did those holding power CHOOSE to promote harmful books written by pastors with no credentials in marriage or sex over a book written by an experienced sex therapist! Why? The book clearly communicates an evangelical view of sexuality and gender.

    We need to continue communicating to publishers, with our purchase dollars, that we won’t buy garbage anymore. No matter what those in power try to force on us.

  19. Rebecca Miller

    Hi! Such a great subject you have chosen to talk about. Being 59 and a Christian in ministry, I can really connect with the issues over the years. I think the thing that has hurt me the most is not being respected and not having a voice as a student of the Word and an ability to teach. I was good to teach children. It felt like I wasn’t valued or ever noticed even when I tried to promote myself. There was no room in ministry for a woman. It is nice to see things changing!

  20. Lydia

    Hi Sheila and Keith. I love what the Lord is doing through you. Misogyny has become institutionalised in many churches and has gone on seriously unchallenged biblical for far too long causing untold misery to many. I did an online course that is freely offered by women for the nations called She shall be called woman which I found very helpful in understanding why women have been subjugated due to misinterpretation of scriptures. Kindly if able, I would appreciate your critique of this course as I greatly value your insights. Coming from Africa where talking about sex is taboo and a culture that supports misogyny, debunking some of these long held beliefs would rescue many and the Lord has already given you a wonderful platform.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi, Lydia! I’ll try to take a look at the course, and thank you for your kind words.

  21. Amy

    My pastor told me and his wife parroted to me that Ravi’s problem was that his board wasn’t holding him accountable. What!!?? Ravi creates an international human trafficking ring and we shift the blame to his board of directors as if the leader of massive Christian ministry can’t be expected to not start a human trafficking ring without help from his board.

    There are several comments like that have me thinking that my pastor and his wife are both deep in the pan of boiling water…

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I would think “not starting a human trafficking ring” is a pretty low bar that we should all be expected to cross, with or without a board.

      Maybe you could ask your pastor, “so if you didn’t have elders to keep you accountable, would you go out and start a sex trafficking ring?”

  22. Darryl

    Well said, Keith!

    I jumped out of the pot many years ago because the emphasis on male dominance in marriage and in the church just didn’t seem right. My value and love for my wife didn’t allow me to assert my perspective and desires over hers. I didn’t want to be selfish like that. And fundamentally, it is a very selfish position to think that I’m preeminent or that being “the head” means I’m in charge. In the area of sex, there are a lot of justifications within “Christianity” for self-centered men in marriage.

    We need real leaders to emerge, to live and love like Jesus. There is no place for selfishness in that. My role is to bring the fullness of Christ in me to my marriage for the benefit of my wife, never at her expense. Sex is not an area excepted from that. In light of the two becoming one (which is more than sex, of course), sex separated from the fullness of Christ is a perversion.

  23. Mike

    Every mans battle isn’t lust, it is trying wade through all the unbiblical chauvinistic teaching to find the truth. Learning how to love our wives like Christ loves the Church. Unlearning all the unChristian teachings and stereotypes. Thank you to Keith and Sheila for helping us as men to sort out the misinformation from His truth. Thank you for teaching me to take responsibility for my actions and inactions. My desire is to love my wife unequivocally, any your books, articles, and podcasts have helped me immensely on my journey. Keep up this amazing work and may God bless you and your ministry.

  24. Marius

    Regarding the ‘God made men like this’ idea – think about it: it actually blames God for sin – it claims God is the author of sin!
    Because if God made men incapable of self-control, then it’s all His fault.

    Thank you Keith – it’s all so common sense, it’s amazing so many people in the Evangelical church can’t see it.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Marius! And it is hard to fight against frustration and despondency when so many don’t see it. But I’m so grateful to see so many here that do!

  25. Danielle

    I’ve been thinking about your article and the impossible expectations the church has had of women due to the church’s toxic beliefs and actions.

    If a person has an issue with lust and sexual addiction they will usually as a result have an increased drive. The church in general has smiled on that unhealthy level of drive rather than recognizing what is of God and healthy and what is driven by sin.

    The church who teaches this puts women in a difficult scenario where they have been expected to physically be the drug for a man’s addiction – available whenever his addiction calls and treated like an object for his using. This addiction will
    only increase until there is nothing that will truly meet the selfishness.

    God has much better for men and women, but first people have to stop believing these excuses for addiction and seek God’s Word, His healing and His restoration.

    Thank you Keith for identifying and speaking boldly to these packs of lies that need to be completely removed from the body of Christ. Thank you for being a voice to other men who can’t hear women yet.

  26. Maureen Horrocks

    Thank you so much for this! My husband, who is a Senior Pastor at a church, shared this on our church’s social media and in our online Bible study today! We want this conversation to continue and to grow!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s amazing! I’ll make sure Keith knows that. That will encourage him.

  27. Tyler Ashworth

    Thank you Keith for sharing your voice and wisdom on this important topic. I appreciate the definition of a healthy Christian male sex ethic given at the conclusion. My family and I have benefited greatly from this message and from Sheila’s work. I am now refusing to buy into the lies that are harmful to women. It grieves me that both my wife and I were misdirected by popular Christian literature as we were growing up. I have seen the benefits in my marriage of co-leading, making room for her voice/choice, and having a desire for her to shine versus trying to make her small. I still have much to learn but I want you to know that I am in this battle with you. I love the church but we have to do better collectively as men. What a tragedy it would be for women to continue to suffer because of the blame shifting of men! Thank you Keith for being a leading voice for us men out there who want better!!

  28. Meri

    I love your voice and you’re passion, it fills me with great hope. I like to think there is just a small group of Nth American evangelical men who believe in male preeminence. Placed in greater Christian history these thoughts have plagued the church for centuries. Tertullian in the first century called women the ‘devils gateway’ (google the rest of that quote) Martin Luther 1500’s in his arguments referred to women in terms of either wives or prostitutes, Calvin saw them as ‘ornaments of of men’. (There are so many others)

    Changing beliefs affects behaviors but it also requires a heart change or they just risk becoming more covert when they’re called out. We’ve been
    slow to implement the offer of Jesus Christ for radical transformation. John 13:3-5 is powerful. At the Passover meal and footwashing, it states Jesus knew who he was, then he stepped down and served. In Luke’s version at this point the disciples are still arguing for power. Jesus must be very patient.
    Only through Christ in us is brokenness made whole, the Jacob wrestle, manhood restored, raised up in strength, to give up power for love and service like Jesus.
    The great paradox, just imagine!!

  29. Angela Rowe

    Wow this was awesome. Thank you for standing up for true manliness and for ecognizing that we are co-heirs in this journey with Jesus.

  30. L

    I completely agree that men are to not treat women as second class citizens. Nor abuse them. Nor blame women for lack of self-control or passivity. HOWEVER, God is consistent. Throughout the Old & New Testament, God established the order of men being the leaders of the household, including pre-curse in Genesis 3. “Adam where are you?” (not Adam & Eve).

    1 Corinthians 11:3 is clear: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

    It has nothing to do with equality. Males are NOT more important than females. Christ, who was equal with the God, still submitted (Philippians 2:6-8) because it was His role. It’s about ROLES, NOT EQUALITY. There is glory that comes through submission (v9). The same goes for wives. If a man doesn’t treat his wife as a joint heir, his prayers won’t be heard (1 Peter 3:7).

    For clarity, women MUST have a personal relationship with God through Christ. Women are NOT objects. Women do hear from God. Women preach/minister & are led by the Holy Spirit. Again, I’m not about holding women down/back. We must follow God’s word and not ignore or cherry pick scriptures to fit an agenda or narrative. It’s GOD’s order, not mine.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I just want to point out, L, that you’re reading and assuming a lot into the text that isn’t actually there. The Greek word for head that is used did not have a connotation of authority (there was a Greek word for head that DID have a connotation of authority, but Paul deliberately did not use that one). So this is not setting up a hierarchy at all.

      In addition, if it is just different roles, then we should have some things that men do and some things that women do. But there is nothing that women do that men aren’t allowed to do; there are only things that men do that women aren’t allowed to do. Therefore, it’s not really about different roles, but rather about restricting what women can do. Generally, when one person is restricted in what they can do and one person isn’t, we don’t call that “equal.”

      • L

        Sheila, is Christ not the head of the church from a hierarchal perspective, or does it mean something else? The same “head” in Greek (used in 1 Corinthians 11:3) was used by Paul in Ephesians 1:20-23 (very authoritative language). So either Christ isn’t really in authority over the church or your argument doesn’t align with the totality of scripture.

        God has blessed women to be able to carry children, something that a man can never experience. To have life growing inside of you is amazing. Does that mean that women are greater than men? No. It’s the role/function that God has given to women, and that’s beautiful.

        There are things that I’m restricted on because I’m not the president, king, governor, mayor, military General, etc. Does that mean I’m less than a person? No. They have a specific position/role. That doesn’t mean they are better than me or anyone else.

        I presume most don’t have a problem with restrictions in other aspects. Why is very plain and direct scripture argued with? By the way, your restricted argument is the same that LGTBQ community used to redefine marriage.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          L, I won’t go into detail about the Greek, because that’s not my forte and so many have done it better–Marg Mowczko has a wonderful site where you can look up certain Bible passages, and she’s dealt with all of these. Cynthia Westfall’s book Paul and Gender is also very complete, although very academic to read.

          I will say that you seem to be conflating two different things: a social construct (leader) with a biological function (breastfeeding). You can’t say “God made men to lead and women to breastfeed” because those are not the same thing at all. Breastfeeding doesn’t mean that one can’t make a decision or can’t hear Jesus. Biologically, women carry children and women breastfeed. But that is not their “role”; that is their biological function. Leading is not a man’s biological function, unless he leads with his penis (which is a rather disturbing thought).

          What is my forte, though, and what I can speak to is what our survey data found about hierarchical relationships in marriage, and it was rather stark. When men make the final decision, even if they consult with their wives first, they are 7.4 times more likely to divorce. When make the final decision, women are 26 times less likely to feel like their opinions matter just as much in marriage. And when women feel like their opinions are less important? All kinds of terrible things happen–fewer orgasms; less marital satisfaction; it’s really very, very bleak.

          What works is when people go through life as real partners, following Jesus together. Multiple studies have found this; not only ours. In hierarchy, what you’re saying is: One person’s opinion matters more. Therefore, it is possible to disregard another person. That inherently is unequal, and being in a relationship where your opinion does not count as much hinders intimacy, because intimacy is about two people totally knowing each other. You can’t truly know someone if their needs are less important than yours.

          That’s what our survey found, and we rarely found such huge outcome differentials in anything as we did in hierarchy in marriage. So I understand that you believe that hierarchy is not essentially unequal, and that this works for you. I simply say that research shows that it does not work for very many, and that other forms of marriage result in much better fruit. And Jesus told us that we should judge things by the fruit.

          • L

            I appreciate the civil dialogue Sheila. Your material has been helpful to my marriage throughout the years (we’ve purchased a few of your materials).

            My clumsy example of women with childbirth was definitely not to insinuate men lead with their penises. However, the LGBT equality point on marriage is pretty solid.

            I absolutely believe: when the roles are not handled properly according to God’s design and instruction by either/both spouses, disaster will ensue. As I initially stated, husband and wife are joint heirs in Christ, and when it isn’t so, God won’t hear the husband’s prayers (1 Peter 3:7). The husband is to dwell with their wife with understanding (not vice versa). God is balanced and His system works when applied properly within the Christian marriage.

            I have to put my trust and confidence in God and His word. I NEVER claim to be an expert on it, but I am a studier of it (I plan to check out those resources too). So, while the stats may suggest one thing, I believe in what God says. That’s why it’s called faith.

            If Christ submitted Himself to God’s order, why can’t we?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Exactly! Christ submitted himself to God’s order–which meant submitting to God.

            Like Peter said in Acts 5:29, we must obey God rather than man.

            We all should be submitting to God!

    • Zed

      I think we tend to interpret ‘roles’ through a lens we adopted fairly recently. Victorian-era stuff and 1950s stuff.

      What WERE the roles of men and women of Biblical times? I believe they were very much divided into PHYSICAL abilities. Men went to war, worked the fields, built the houses. Makes sense. Women ran the household affairs as managers (Paul actually says they ‘rule’ the home), carried and nurtured children and took care of food, etc. But we still find examples of men who can cook (Jacob and Esau) and wash dishes (2 Kings 21:13) and women who were physically strong and stepped into more masculine ‘roles’ when the need arose (Jael, Deborah, Ruth and the woman of Judges 9:53). I think we focus way too much on what’s a man’s role and what’s a woman’s role nowadays. We’re a TEAM. We naturally perform to our strengths. Hand-to-hand combat is the strength of very few women. Nurturing infants is the strength of very few men. In our modern society, where we have been divorced from our historical roles that play to our strengths, especially men, some folks have made artificial roles and pushed them as Biblical manhood and womanhood. The vast majority of these ‘roles’ are or Biblical, they’re an effort to enforce rules that feel safe, rather than bringing Biblical principles to the fore and learning to apply them in a modern context.

  31. Israel A

    I was so tempted to share my story here in the comments because it confirms Keith’s sentiment and some of the great comments included here. But as I began to write, it was too long. I feared it might not be posted (I read the ‘rules’ and want to honor them).

    Suffice it to say this: I came to Christ on the brink of suicide as a freshmen in college. Through a powerful encounter with a Living God, I was delivered from lust, masturbation, and pornography addiction, which I had been enslaved to from 10-18 years of age. I was immediately confronted by the unbelief of Christians who had been programmed to believe that such freedom was impossible. Within that first year, I failed to meet anyone who had the freedom I was enjoying and therefore believed my persecutors who assaulted me with the idea that I was just on the “honeymoon”. I would cast off my confidence…and it’s reward.

    Falling back into lust, masturbation, and pornography, I tried many of the “remedies” for “every man’s battle”. I call all this human effort to ‘cast out the flesh’ SIN MANAGEMENT. It was a miserable 3-1/2 years of no freedom and no joy. However, it led me to a powerful crossroads where I dared to Believe The Word for what it says and dared to take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for my Life in God and my sin-filled CHOICES.

    Seeking God, pursuing Truth at all costs, fasting, and prayer led me to the end of myself and the baptism of The Holy Spirit, something I wasn’t specifically pursuing or aware that I needed. It (the baptism) and HE (the Holy Spirit) changed everything.

    I walked in total freedom from the bondage that owned me for 11+ years (8 as an unbeliever & 3+ as a Christian). I was so caught up in the majesty of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that it took me 7 months to realize I was free. I didn’t see women the same. They were DE-objectified. They were daughters of The King, my sisters, and The Future Bride of Messiah! At the realization that I could actually be married and not destroy that marriage through MY sin, I received a call from God out of Matthew 19:12…And I became a “eunuch for The Kingdom”. This further served to undo the hardwiring that I had participated in programming into myself that sexualized the relationship between men and women, even in “healthy, covenant-marriage”.

    I regularly recall the grief I experienced in my spirit when a pastor asked me about my walk with The Lord as a single ‘eunuch-for-the-Kingdom’…”IN THIS DAY AND AGE”. He went on to explain how difficult it was for him back in the 80’s when he was in his early 20’s, even after marrying at 21. The grief came when he said that he was grateful that he had a “healthy outlet for his sexual desire” in his marriage. While I understood then, and understand now what he was trying to say, it still seemed that he (and countless men in Christianity) was objectifying his wife and essentially using her to gratify himself or satisfy his lust.

    All this to say that when Keith and Sarah O assert in the comments that Jesus both had a healthy sex-drive (he was a fully functioning MAN with a full MASCULINE experience) who was indeed “tempted in every way just as we are”, AND that he had (1) a clear, correct definition of sex, (2) clarity of purpose, and (3) had become Perfect Love, not only do I agree but I also have my own experience of this.

    I, too had a healthy sex-drive as a fully functioning young person transitioning into manhood. It was mixed with unhealthy programming through the fall of man, religion, rebellion, and principally MY OWN CHOICES. I fed myself of the media of the world. I sowed aggressively to the flesh, and from it I reaped all manner of corruption. Then I met Jesus. I began making radically different choices. I stopped sowing to the flesh and immediately began getting different results. However, after allowing myself to become discouraged by my environment, instead of Believing and Obeying God’s Word, I began to sow to the flesh again.

    It was small things at first, subtle compromises. A little leaven. Eventually, I was reaping all the same garbage. But then I was Biblically born-again and filled with The Spirit; I had my carnal nature circumcised away (Rom. 6; Col. 2) and became a new tree! When I sowed to the spirit, I reaped Eternal Life and the Fruit of The Spriit. When I quit feeding from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, when I quit drinking the cup of Hollywood, television, and the music of this world, and when I quit practicing religion (self-improvement in God’s Name), then I realized all the lies I had believed and got radically re-wired.

    My calling to be a eunuch was only a season. But the years I spent unmarried and in FREEDOM, having dominion over myself as Paul described, prepared me to be in a marriage where I am FREE TO GIVE…not seek my own. I married a woman who came out of all the terrible junk that religion and the perversion of Yah’s Design can do to people. She was a virgin but filled with fears and insecurities and horrible perspectives on the sexual relationship between married couples. And I had so subdued this aspect of my life, that I had to be reawakened…yet for the first time since where I came from was so perverted. All that is another story for another time, but our struggles together led my wife to this blog To Love Honor and Vacuum (great title)!

    We’ve been married for 17 years and have a 13-year-old miracle of a son, and every area of our lives, marriage, and walk with Jesus continue to grow and improve. I Love my wife MUCH more today than when we married. This area of sexual union continues to be one of the most challenging for us to navigate, as well as the most rewarding. We appreciate all that everyone involved in this fight to restore Biblical Intimacy—with God, in Marriage, AND in the bedroom—have done! The restoration of Marriage, Family, and Community are critical here in the Last Days. They are the IMAGE OF GOD. Thank you! (And bless you for reading this far…I said more than I intended.)

  32. Kathleen

    I am a big fan of Sheila’s work! Although I am unmarried her writing has opened my eyes to a better way to think about sexuality, a way that gave me hope about my future marriage. However, I must confess I am disappointed in the political nature recent posts have taken. You seem to be taking the same stance as some people you criticize by putting people in a bucket. Sexuality will never be the most important thing, the Gospel is. Maybe I feel that more strongly as a single woman haha, but I think it’s true across the board. Let’s support brothers and sisters (because women can be happily conservative, these things are on a spectrum), and not name names as if John Piper is out to hurt anyone. I am personally unafraid of deconstruction. I am still trying how to best understand male-female roles but I hope to glean what is good from those who have made mistakes, because ultimately we all do. I am beyond grateful for Sheila and Keith’s work but wanted to post in hopes that you would consider that your readership includes those who might feel as I do.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      The issue with John Piper, Kathleen, is that he told women that they can’t give directions to men to the freeway. He said that women need to endure getting smacked around for a season. This isn’t political; this is really the whole point. Any time we say that women need to put up with abuse, make their voice small, or diminish their needs, we won’t have healthy relationships or healthy sex. This is the root. That’s why we can’t stop talking about it! I hope you understand, and I’m glad you like what I say about sex, but we honestly can’t have healthy sex until people realize that both men and women matter.

  33. Carrie

    Thank you both Keith and Sheila! I have lived much of this for too long…that my now ex-husband’s problems were all my fault. I was not submissive enough, I was not respectful enough, I was not a good “Christian” wife. And on and on….So Thank you for finally saying this. It is so true. I do hope you get the message out to more and more churches and cause people to really read scripture and not just take what is taught from the pulpit at face value. Thank you again.

  34. Lizzy

    We need more men like Keith to raise their voices. Thank you for standing with your sisters in Christ and calling others to join you.

  35. Esther

    Hi Keith and Sheila
    Awesome article, would it be possible to have short bullet point summaries to share on your blogs- my husband doesn’t have/take the time to read long blogs/books but might take in a short summary easier. Thanks so much and be blessed!

  36. Jon

    Read Jesus and John Wayne, the NYT’s best seller by Kristen Kobes Du Mez!

  37. Gail

    Thank you so much, Keith!

    • Lisa Manske

      Yes! Peach it, Keith!

  38. Dan Ewing

    This resonates with me so much. I have been on this journey since Dec 5th 2021 when I confessed to my wife my unfaithfulness to her. I hurt my wife so deeply that for the first time I began to see her humanity. I was raised in the typical complementarian home and seeing woman as less than me allowed me to slowly see them as only for my benefit. I am so heartbroken over how I treated my wife and saw her as less than my equal partner in Christ.
    Thank you for standing up, it’s going to take men to change this epidemic. Many blessings and prayers to you and your amazing wife Sheila.

  39. Virginia Allen

    Jesus is God and men are NOT!


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