Why is Focus on the Family Supporting Pressuring Wives to Send Nude Pictures?

by | Feb 11, 2022 | Pornography | 65 comments

Focus on the Family Pressuring Women Send Nude Photos
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Yesterday Focus on the Family had Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta promoting their book Married Sex, and I’m just depressed.

On Fridays I usually do a round-up of social media for the week, but I was awake so much last night in turmoil about this.

At some point we need to make it stop. This can’t go on.

I posted this last night:

Married Sex Nude Photos Gary Thomas

And I just have to talk about this, because this is serious. 

I’ve written a thorough book review of Married Sex, and much of it is actually okay, but a lot of it is bizarre, some of it is harmful, and then there are the parts like this that are just plain dangerous.

Lots of people listen to Focus on the Family, and apparently Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta sounded good and healthy. So now people will buy their book, and they’ll read the passages pressuring women to send nude photos, and then they’ll feel guilty and ashamed if they don’t want to, or abusive husbands will use this to pressure wives.

We can’t do this, people. We can’t. It needs to stop.

So let me explain the problems with how Gary Thomas talked about sending nude photos in Married Sex.

(and it was in Gary’s chapters, not Debra’s).

First, let me explain how Keith and I both talked about this in The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex (which are available for pre-order now! And you can join the launch team too and get instant access!)

We said, if you want to do it there’s no injunction against it, but please be very, very careful because of two things:

  1. You can’t defeat porn by becoming porn, and if he especially is used to objectifying women, this only solidifies it
  2. Pictures can easily fall into the wrong hands. You do NOT want that to happen.

These were the two things we stressed, and we never said that anyone SHOULD do it. We simply said it wasn’t wrong, but it was very dangerous, so our approach was, “if you really want to proceed, use caution.”

Now, how did Gary describe it? Like this:

Sight can be used to create sexual excitement even when you’re not together. Abby’s husband, Kyle, loves to receive provocative body shots texted to him. “I’m careful about where I open up any text from Abby,” he says, “and when she sends me a picture in the middle of the day, I can’t wait to get home to her. I’m thinking about her all day.”

Abby was at first reluctant to do this. What changed her mind? “It makes him so happy,” she said. “He works really hard for us, and if I can sweeten his day a little bit, I didn’t want to unnecessarily deny him something as long as God is okay with it.”

She took the question to her women’s Bible study where the opinion was mixed. The most common objection was, “What if it leads to him doing porn?”

Consider the Latin philosophical dictum abusus non tollit usum, which roughly translated means “abuse doesn’t negate the proper use.” Just because something can be abused doesn’t mean it can’t be used. In Abby and Kyle’s case, the texting is creating intense desire for his wife, not for other women, and it hasn’t led him to seek out porn. It also becomes all-day foreplay, so that when Kyle comes home at night, he’s ready to go.

Shortly after they got married, Izzy did a boudoir photo shoot for her husband, Scott (the photographer was a woman). Scott calls the photos “awesome” and says they draw him toward Izzy again and again. With those pictures seared in his mind, his sexual interest is centered on Izzy, and neurologically he’s less likely to be drawn to other women.

Gary Thomas

Married Sex

So let me sum up his argument:

  1. Sending photos can be sexy
  2. Husbands really like it
  3. Women who didn’t want to do it are glad when they finally do
  4. Just because some people may abuse this doesn’t mean it’s wrong to do
  5. If you do it, he’s neurologically less likely to be drawn to other women, or to porn.

He completely discounts the very, very real problem with porn.

If a man has a pornified style of relating where he objectifies women and where sex is about him possessing or taking, and he feels entitled, sending nude photos only cements that. And you can have a pornified style of relating even if you don’t use porn.

Can people use nude photos properly? Sure. But our study found that 50% of men currently have a relationship with porn. That’s a huge number, and they still gave this advice. What were they thinking?

He is encouraging women to send nude photos to stop a porn problem.

This dovetails quite nicely into one of the most toxic teachings we measured in The Great Sex Rescue–a wife should have frequent sex to keep her husband from watching porn. This is a big theme in Married Sex–guys are visual; guys are tempted; women have to stop the guys from sinning.

This is coercion. When you have to do something in order to stop someone from sinning against you and doing something bad to you, that is actually a form of coercion.

He is using persuasion tactics on women here to convince them to do it.

Note how he says that Abby was initially reluctant, but then she did it anyway, and now look at how happy her husband was! And look at the wording–she didn’t want to “unnecessarily deny him”. To deny implies that he has a right to this, that this is his due.

So let’s think about two readers.

One is a wife who really is uncomfortable with this.

She doesn’t want to do it. She feels a little icky and a little exposed and thinks that it might reignite a porn problem. But then she reads this, and she’s pressured to get over her reluctance. Look at how hot a wife Abby is! She doesn’t deny her husband. Look at how amazing Izzy is! She makes sure that her husband is only looking at her and not other women.

The other is a husband who wants nude photos while his wife doesn’t.

He’s going to feel emboldened to pressure her for it. “See? Gary thinks this is fine! And he’s a pastor! And he says that neurologically it will help me think about you instead of being tempted by anyone else!” This whole passage smacks of pressure and coercion.

Does the book ever deal with her reluctance? Yes, in a footnote. 

It’s not even part of the main text! It says this:


Note that some counselors strongly object to this advice, insisting that it’s too dangerous for a wife to put photos of herself like this anywhere, lest they fall into the wrong hands. There are ways (and apps) to guard against this, but husbands, if your wife isn’t comfortable with this, please don’t pressure her.

Gary Thomas

Married Sex

Most people will not read this footnote until after they read the two stories about how awesome it is to send nude photos.

But look what the footnote is acknowledging: counselors strongly object, and it could be very dangerous. 

Don’t you think it would be good to lead with that? Rather than stick it in a footnote?

I’m honestly so angry I’m shaking right now.

Do women even matter to Gary? I thought he was better than this. Does he have no concept of revenge porn? Of how many women get their photos stolen from the cloud? Of how many abusive husbands can use these photos to blackmail their wives? Of how abusive this can be?

And to stick it in a footnote, like it’s not the main thing?

Because the main thing, of course, is that guys get to look at nude photos of reluctant wives. In fact, the whole passage is centered over how much fun he’s having. Abby sends photos so Kyle is raring to go! No mention of how Abby may feel, or how Izzy may feel. They’re not the main characters,  you see.

Plus, like Rebecca said to me when we were talking about this, who is this passage aimed at?

It’s not aimed at people who want to send nude photos, because they’d be doing it anyway, and they don’t need to be convinced! (They just need to be told, like we did, that you need to be careful).

No, it’s aimed at women who don’t want to, and it’s written in such a way to pressure them into it. In fact, later in the book Gary talks about Erica and Timothy, where Timothy starts taking the mental load for the household JUST ON FRIDAYS so that they can have great sex that night. So he will be an engaged partner on one day so that he can get sex, and then things go back to normal.

Anyway, in that passage, Gary writes: “She and Timothy started sharing some text messages and even, on occasion, a photo or two.” So again, he’s normalizing sending nude photos.

When does women’s emotional and physical safety get to matter more than men’s desire to objectify their wives?


Is this really so much to ask?

Where was Zondervan’s editing team when Gary wrote this? Where was Debra?

Do they not care how many women are victimized in this way? Do they think it’s okay to pressure women like this?

And now Focus on the Family is promoting this book which will pressure women into sending nude photos, and some of those women will have those photos used against them.

We know that. That’s simply a statistical reality. And many of those women will feel cheap and used because of their husbands’ pornified style of relating and porn issues which Gary is so quick to minimize.

And Focus on the Family doesn’t care.

It could be that they will never listen. But I believe that you all will.

You all see that this stuff is toxic and wrong and dangerous. And so please speak up. Ask Focus on the Family why they are promoting this book. Comment on their Facebook Page with their recent posts about Married Sex.  If you ever see anyone talk about Married Sex on social media, set them straight. If you’ve read it, or read excerpts, leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. We can’t stop it from being published. We can’t stop Focus on the Family from promoting toxic stuff. But we can warn others not to buy it. And then hopefully it will just shrink away.

Again, you can read my whole review of Married Sex here. 

Also, if you want to change the evangelical conversation about sex, please keep talking about The Great Sex Rescue! And check out our two new books which make AWESOME wedding gifts or shower gifts, and which are awesome for couples starting out or who have been married for a while and want to get this right!


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We’ll never be able to stop people from writing and publishing and promoting harmful stuff entirely.

But hopefully we can shrink their numbers to much that their influence is minimal. Are you with me?

Married Sex Gary Thomas Pressuring Women Send Nude Photos

Do women ever get to matter? What do you think? How should we respond to this? Why does this stuff get promoted? Let’s talk 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. As a precaution

    Someone I know, made a *cough cough* suggestive piece of art. They wanted to for themselves and hubby! I’m sure knowing this person, they had fun doing it! But I only know about it, because after moving houses, her 2 yr old had been carrying this “painting”, around the house! When I asked her what it was, she was mortified and told me.(we’re close like that, lol but it wasn’t supposed to be out!)

    Things always happen and I’d never trust my photos to stay hidden. I’d never trust my husband, because anytime we’re mad at each other, I’d be like: “well I can ever leave now, he’s got leverage over me!” And not understanding technology, makes me even more vulnerable. Which is a lot of women…..

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! You can’t trust those photos. And so many women are blackmailed by abusive husbands. This is a real problem, and it did not deserve to be in a footnote.

  2. Active Mom

    As a pastor scratches his head and looks around his emptying church reading the latest poll numbers on church attendance “I wonder why people are leaving the church and what can I do about it?” As his book shelves are filled with nonsense like Gary’s book and he has focus on the family podcast playing in the background. I don’t feel sorry for them anymore. I have had a chance to live in a lot of places and attend a lot of different churches. Many were very very good individually. The problem seems to stem from the “church” institutions. Not the board or elders board but these outside groups. Focus on the family etc. They are treated like they are the mouthpieces for God when we have seen they are actually the mouthpieces for men. Churches will take what they produce without their own thoughts and discernment’s and just feed it to their congregation. I am done being force fed unhealthy nonsense and I certainly won’t let these charlatans near my daughters and son.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We’re writing a mother-daughter book right now that will talk about how to protect your kids from these toxic messages in the church.

      I know there are healthy churches out there. There really are. But we need to flock to them and stop propping up the churches that are supporting these parachurch ministries.

      • CMT

        I will read the heck out of that book.

    • Laura

      It’s all part of the Evangelical Industrial Complex which FOTF is a huge part of. I didn’t even know this (Evangelical Industrial Complex) was a thing until I started listening to the Holy Post podcast. This complex is what produces these XO Marriage conferences that are still platforming people like Mark Driscoll.

  3. Natalie Hoffman

    When a woman sends her porn addicted husband nude photos of herself, she is putting herself in a position of being exposed on the Internet as well. Many of these men are spiritually and emotionally abusive. And if she ever stands up to the abuse or decides to leave, he can use her nude photos as leverage to control her.

    But Gary Thomas isn’t interested in the well being of his sisters. Just how their bodies can be used to serve his brothers in the Boy’s Club.

    It’s depraved on so many levels. This is just one more Christian book serving as a Trojan horse to destroy the church from the inside out by targeting the female half. It’s satanic to the core.

    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Not to mention, becoming porn to keep him from watching porn is…. dumb.

  4. Laura

    That footnote is extremely important. I had a sexy boudoir shot shortly after marrying my porn-addict husband. (Thankfully my photo shoot was more suggestive than revealing, but he also took non-consensual naked photos of me.) Years later, his abuse and addictions escalated to the point where I had to escape.

    I still wonder if those images of me are floating around the internet somewhere, if my body has been the currency of his ego-building. Or, perhaps even more disturbing, if he uses them to masturbate, even though it’s been three years since we were together. (And much more than that since there was any actual *intimacy*, not just sex.) It makes me feel dirty and violated.

  5. CMT

    Some people will read this post and dismiss what you’re saying, Sheila, because they will assume you just have a beef with this author. Personally, I hadn’t heard of him prior to the controversy on this blog. Imo, if a healthy couple wants to sext and they have fun with it and are cautious about digital security, more power to ‘em. But if someone is saying a woman should send her husband racy photos because “neurologically he’s less likely to be drawn to other women” if she does, well, I don’t care who they are, I call BS.

    “Neurologically less likely?” What does that mean? What evidence is there that there is some beneficial neurobiological effect for men here? What about the neurological effect on a woman of doing something so intimate that she maybe doesn’t really feel comfortable doing?

    As a person with a healthcare background, I am really bothered when people use scientific-sounding terminology to give their opinions the veneer of scientific fact.

  6. Emmy

    Gary’s reasons number 1 and 2 may be good, fun and innocent reasons to send naked pictures to your spouse. It would be very naive to assume, though, it would be safe to do it just because you’d find it an innocent piece of sexy fun. Pictures really can get into wrong hands. It does happen. It is not a joke.

    If she feels uncomfortable she should not be persuaded or talked over because there may be reasons she feels uncomfortable. There may be things going on in their lives and marriages Gary Thomas and FOTF are not aware of. She may have a hunch that makes her reluctant to send any pictures, and that hunch may be right!

    • CMT

      Yes. She shouldn’t be persuaded or talked over whatever her reasons are! Maybe he’s not porn addicted and honestly just does think it would be hot and fun. And maybe she trusts him and is confident in her skin but just does not feel comfy with nudes JUST BECAUSE SHE DOESNT WANT TO. And that needs to be fine and valid through the whole discussion, not just in a footnote. “Neurologically” it’s potentially traumatizing to be pressured, even subtly, into doing something vulnerable and intimate with your body that you actually don’t feel safe doing. It’s the same reasoning why I as a parent don’t force my kids to give hugs or kisses when they don’t want to. Consent, people!

      • CMT

        Okay now I re-read that footnote and I’m more annoyed. Is that the whole text of the footnote? Because basically it seems like the only acknowledged reason a woman might be reluctant is that she would worry about photos “falling into the wrong hands.”
        That’s a reason, sure. But maybe she just. Doesn’t. Want. To. Is that not valid??

          • CMT

            Okay then. I see how it is.


  7. Nathan

    If a building is on fire, you don’t put it out by pouring gasoline on it.

    Also, given the addictive nature of porn, if a wife sends her husband nude photos, he’s likely to INCREASE his porn watching.

    • Chris

      Nathan, fires are fought with fires all the time. Oil rig fires are even fought with explosives. I agree with your main point, but just sayin..

      • Nathan

        True enough, for example, we often use fire to create fire breaks.

  8. Jill

    Thank you for the informed review! Very helpful.

  9. Alittlebitograce

    Just some random thoughts here, but some big questions came up.
    1) Why would I want my husband to come home “raring to go”? I mean, when my husband worked outside the home, he came home at peak arsenic hour. I did not want to get naked, rather I needed to put the finishing touches on dinner and keep the babies from destroying each other and my sanity. Pre-Covid, we had activities to do. Why on earth do I want him coming home horny? I mean, maybe if we were TTC and I was ovulating, but otherwise that is not my desired outcome.
    2) Why am I trying to keep my husband thinking about sex and getting him interested in this when apparently that’s all he thinks about anyways? Why would I need to fuel that by sending him sexy pics? Either he thinks about sex all the time or he needs motivation, not both. Make up your mind, Gary.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great thoughts! And again evidence that he wasn’t thinking about this from a woman’s point of view at all.

    • Anon

      Exactly! I sometimes send a provocative pic of myself to my husband…but it’s when he’s in the other room and we have time and space to enjoy the benefits of him raring to go! It’s me telling him, hey, I’m ready for fun if you are! But I don’t want him hot and bothered at work! And then HOURS before we’re able to have fun! That seems…ew to me.

      And I’m a military wife…though he’s a civilian now. We dealt with deployments and field exercises back when there was little to no internet service, he didn’t have a cell phone, and our phone calls were ten min blocks while I was at battalion hq on post, and he was in the battalion hq tent, in the middle of some war torn country. We had letters. I didn’t send him any pics cause back then they’d have to be developed and printed at the photo lab on post!😳 So yeah, others would see! We’re about to hit 25yrs of marriage, and we made it without sexting for the vast majority of that time! (And sexting is a once in a great while event. Heaven help me if HE ever sends a pic!😂) Oh, and in 10 yrs of service, with dh gone nearly half of it, neither of us cheated, and no one became a porn addict. I won’t say there wasn’t masturbation for us…cause some of those letters were wow! (I prolly should go thru them so the kids’ eyes won’t need to be bleached when we keel over!😂) And because we both are sexual beings who like a bit of release! But this idea that without wives turning themselves into porn, men can’t be faithful…🙄🙄🙄 And the onus being on US to keep our husbands from turning to porn or from cheating…🙄🙄🙄 Men are capable of self control. And I’m tired of the religious spirit and religious abuse which tells us otherwise!!!

      • CMT

        “Make sure our kids eyes won’t need to be bleached when we keel over” pfft hahaha

        Funny thing is, the fun, flirty, energetic relationship you are describing is probably what most people actually want when they think “yeah it would be so hot if my spouse would send me pics sometimes.” But if you get hung up on the pics (or any other specific act, really) and start focusing on how to get your spouse to do that one thing, you’re actually sabotaging the relational health that might make it possible for them to feel safe doing the thing!

      • Debbie

        Spot on!

    • Laura

      That paradox has perplexed me recently: “Apparently” all that men can think about is sex. But it’s every wife’s job to do sexy stuff to turn him on. 🧐

    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Right? My ex never had any trouble getting aroused. He could be “raring to go” in less than a minute. I didn’t need to send him pictures all day long to make sure he was ready when he walked in the door.

    • Fiona

      Yes, I wondered that too. There is so much ‘crockpot and micowave advice’ out there, it makes me wonder whether he has considered the crockpot at all.

    • Karena Hamm

      My thoughts exactly! I was thinking “why in the world would I want my husband to be ‘raring to go’ the moment he walked in the door? How irritating!” I can’t believe how shallow the people (characters?) in this book appear to be. I haven’t read it (and I don’t plan to…sounds like a supreme waste of my time and would just rile me up terribly), but from the excerpts and reviews I’ve read, it sounds like just a remix of caricatures and male-focused “advice” from all the other toxic Christian marriage and sex books that have caused so much harm to date.

  10. Elsie

    So we’ll-said, Sheila!

    Abby’s quote about “denying her husband” really jumped out to me as well. It’s a shocking level of entitlement that men would expect their wives to do this. It’s so dangerous and risky.

    I 100% trust my husband and I would still never send nude pictures (my husband would also never ask me to do this). We have a great and enjoyable sex life without exchanging naked pictures. (Like you said, Sheila, I don’t object to couples who strongly want to do this if it’s truly mutually consensual. But its crazy that this is being treated like a normal marital activity, most couples don’t do this and don’t need to do this to have a great sex life)

  11. Anon

    This book ought to be titled ‘The Dummies Guide to Coercing Your Wife. Even the footnote oozes with it:

    “There are ways (and apps) to guard against this [subtext: the counsellors are making a fuss about nothing], but husbands, if your wife isn’t comfortable with this [subtext: your wife is also making a fuss about nothing], please don’t pressure her [subtext: it’s ok to pressure her to do sexual things she’s uncomfortable with sometimes (if it weren’t, there’d be no point in telling you not to pressure her in this one specific instance) but even though she’s making a fuss about nothing, you need to be a great guy and not make her feel (too) guilty for refusing].”

  12. Jo R

    The first time a husband suggests naked pics and gets mad when his wife refuses, she should seriously consider doing periodic checks of her bedroom (and wherever else they have sex) to make sure the husband hasn’t installed a hidden camera, whether for stills or video. 😳😳😳

    And searching the internet for “hidden camera detector” and making a purchase might also be an excellent idea. (One result showed a camera hidden in the smoke detector. 🙄🙄🙄)

    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Absolutely. My ex took pictures and video of me/us without my knowledge.

  13. Jo R

    What is FotF’s stance on human trafficking and pornography? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re opposed to both.

    What is one of the main components of human trafficking and especially pornography? Pictures of naked women.

    So the idea that we need to add to the world yet more pictures of naked women is colossally naive at best and borderline promoting human trafficking at worst.

    And to think an app will keep such photos safe is laughable in the extreme. Are Focus execs willing to take some naked pics of themselves and have them uploaded to any of these apps, just to prove how safe it is? I thought not.

    Once something is on the internet, it can be copied to countless destinations instantly, and there is zero ability to delete all of them.

    I’m also imagining a husband out with his buddies and maybe a little tipsy after a couple of deinks: “Oh, fellas, let me show you something…” 😳😳😳😳

    • Katie

      or when his friend grabs his phone, or he loses it and someone else picks it up…

    • Rael

      I’m a female in a male-dominated field, and I’ve got more than one story of “Oh, fellas, lemme show you something.” My work buddies are like my big brothers most of the time, but they sure do make me wary of men in general sometimes.

  14. Mara R

    So Focus on the Family should be renamed “Focus on the needs and wants of husbands” with a subtitle of “Focus away from the health and safety of wives”

  15. Sarah O

    Is sex sacred, or not?

    My problem with pictures and videos is that once they are handed over, they can be used at the discretion of the new owner. Even if they aren’t leaked or used to blackmail, the owner now has access to something of their partner’s sexuality without having to go through the risky rigamarole of connection and consent that comes with a physical encounter. They provide an alternative sexual outlet.

    I understand deployments and separation and I’m not trying to shame anyone. However, I have a hard time understanding how one can be fully engaging the dignity and personhood of your partner, respecting the sacredness and mystery of sexuality, putting your partner’s needs above your own and still have license to ASK for nude pictures. Rather than arguing about whether it causes harm, maybe ask what is the actual benefit is? Who benefits? And how?

    What is your wife’s body worth to you?

    • Jo R

      And especially if we mix this naked photo pile of 💩 with the whole “the husband is in absolute charge and the wife must respect him,” which in many men’s minds means she has to defer to his every wish and want, no matter the effect on her. Then she literally cannot say no to the naked photo, or anything else.

  16. Emily

    SO frustrating and dangerous! Thank you for continuing to sound the alarm on damaging teachings like this. It’s just so appalling to see such a lack of common sense and concern for women from such a “big name” Christian author and a LICENSED counselor.

  17. Ali

    I sort of wish you had not named the new books “The GOOD guys and GOOD girls…” Good will feel very subjective and even judgmental to this younger generation. Maybe “The HEALTHY guys or The LIBERATED or FULFILLED girls…”

    • Anon

      The point is that we are constantly being bombarded with messages that say if you save sex for marriage, don’t push boundaries, don’t have multiple sexual partners etc you are going to ‘miss out’ or not be able to enjoy a healthy sex life. I lost track of the number of people who told me that I either wouldn’t be able to cope with having sex or that I would really hate it because I was waiting for marriage. And the phrase that is frequently (and sneeringly) used about such women, by their critics, is that they are ‘good girls’. And I know men who have been told ‘good guys (i.e. ones who save sex for marriage) make bad lovers’. When being ‘good’ is something used by the world to tell us we are doomed to unsatisfactory sex in marriage, it’s high time there was a contrary message out there, telling people that they can try to follow Biblical principles in relationships and STILL have a great sex life. So I think calling them the Good Girls’ Guide and the Good Guys’ Guide is spot on.

      Using words like ‘healthy’ or ‘liberated’ in the title, would just make them sound like every other ‘make sure you have lots of safe sexual experience’ guides.

    • CMT

      I know what you mean. I had a similar thought reading the first edition. The phrase good girl was used a lot in the text of the book and I did feel like it got a bit old. Like, okay, good girls DO want it, I got the message. Maybe that’s one of the things that’s been edited, haha! But, I figured it was mostly tongue in cheek and also as anon said below taking back a term that’s used to shame women (from both directions!). So I see the logic of keeping it.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I would have preferred to change the title in a way, but it was still selling very well in conservative evangelical spaces that really need the book! So I rewrote the intro to explain it better, and I hope I did a good job with that.

        • Anon

          I guess everyone has their own experience of the phrase. All I can say is that as a woman on the receiving end of sniping ‘good girl’ comments for years (because I was saving sex for marriage), and who was frequently told my wedding night would be traumatic and horrible because I was a ‘good girl’ and wouldn’t enjoy sex, I found the title of the book very healing.

  18. Phil

    Just wanted to pipe in today and let everyone know I am here reading and I support you all Sheila – sorry about your friendship with Gary and I am even more sorry for what he wrote. It really is disappointing. The sad thing for me is that I could see myself in my past saying see! Look what he said…see my thinking isnt so bad….there is so much trouble with this writting…in my past I could have fallen victim to this writting just as much as my wife.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I can see myself in many of the things he says too. I really can. I do have sympathy. The difference is that when I realized it, I took steps to correct it. I spent a lot of time trying to explain this to him, and he ignored me.

    • Sarah O

      Appreciate your input Phil and good to see you. I had this experience re-reading every man’s battle. Like…how did I miss all this??? I remember thinking a lot of the vignettes were really bad but just waiving it off like “could’ve picked a better example there”.

      It is really easy to miss the gravity of what’s begin said with the flowery, positive, pseudo-scriptural language. Like does the word “deprive” ever get used conversationally anymore outside of this topic?

      It’s weird to see so many authors and speakers emphasize how IMPORTANT sex is, but then treat it cheaply. It’s like heading up to communion and the pastor asks you if you’d like some whipped cream or peanut butter on top of your wafer.

      I know sex is not always a super spiritual experience, but there should be some reverence tossed in there somewhere…

      • Phil

        What is astounding to me here is that Sheila explained it to him ( a supposed friend) and it would have been so easy to look at this and realize you know what? Maybe I should find a more healthy example. Like really how important is this example….and if it could potentially hurt someone just change it. Oh and btw I trust my friend…That simple. Yet then insist on and double down. It makes no sense to me. When people in my circle tell me I need to make changes I look at that real hard. And yes I eat my hat and make the change.

  19. Nathan

    A comment from yesterday that I forgot to post about.

    > > God luck trying to convince men that their sexual desires
    > > are easily controlled, though. I have proof they aren’t.

    We can’t really control our DESIRES (not all that much, anyway), but we can control our lust, actions and impulses. In other words, we can control how we RESPOND to our natural desires and urges.

  20. Jo R

    If men have a “visual rolodex” (according to whichever book that is), why does a husband need an actual pic that would be infinitely damaging to his wife if it got out onto the everlasting internet? 🤔🤔🤔

  21. Tori Rask

    Two things.

    #1 Your comment about women not being the main characters here. Wow. That is so true and so revealing and a really good question to ask when reading advice books about sex. Who is being centered here?

    #2 I don’t think we can say enough about the “neurologically more likely” part and how this man is basically suggesting a woman send her husband a crutch rather than him learning to walk on his own.

    “To keep him from cheating or looking at other women” should NEVER be a reason for a woman to do something sexual. “Because he loves me, doesn’t cheat, and doesn’t look at other women” should be.

    So backward. So harmful.

  22. Healing

    My husband does not admit to ever using porn. There was a time when my husband and I were apart for 9 weeks due to a job transfer. During that time, I was requested to send some sexy photos since he was lonely. I agreed and at the start, I didn’t feel it was a problem. What happened was that there was the constant request for more and more and more photos. It started to feel “dirty”… like I was just feeding his addiction. The pressure to do it was similar to obligation sex feeling. Like, “Since we are away from each other, you need to do this to satisfy my sexual needs.” I then find out that he was getting off to the pictures up to EIGHT TIMES A DAY. Omg! Yes, he was looking at pictures of his WIFE and not a porn star so in his mind it wasn’t bad. Looking back, I feel like the photos caused more harm than good.

      • Healing

        Thanks to you Sheila and The Great Sex Rescue we are! It brought to light some of the damaging messages we were taught. We are now on our healing journey. I am so glad that when I looked up Christian marriage books on Amazon, I found yours. I couldn’t imagine what the outcome would have been if I found one of the toxic books you mentioned in TGSR. God put your book in front of me for a reason.

  23. Codec

    Revenge porn is a thing and it can be very illegal.

  24. Jenni

    Aren’t there porn websites where people basically upload their own photos/videos to trade with the rest of the group? My first thought was that a husband who uses porn would use his wife’s photos for this.

    • Codec

      I would not know, but i could see that being a thing.

  25. Leigh

    Recently the topic of sending nude pictures (and using them to masturbate on business trips!!) came up in a men’s small group study my husband attended (from the church we’ve started attending in the last year). I was so horrified they were discussing this like its a good option I couldn’t get out an articulate response to my own husband!

    We do have a history of porn use early in our marriage. Occasionally the temptation returns. I generally prefer to leave old wounds in the past and not think about them but I can’t help but remember knowing how much damage it did to us. We were also a young military family that had to deal with deployments. It was rough. We dealt with it together and separately with the help of our pastor (who was an elderly widow woman; now with Jesus. She was amazing!) and another elder of our old church who had been my youth pastor and performed our wedding. Back then digital cameras were barely a thing. And fortunately I didn’t grow up in a church that did a lot of popular book reading.

    A picture of me is not ME. You’re one hack away from being extorted or killing your career and reputation. Its happened to school teachers. If I’m not there; its not ME. I am more than flesh. There is nothing intimate about masturbating to a picture of me. Thats degrading. Especially if its an old picture! My body has changed over the years with age and childbirth. I’m not who I was.

    I used to go with a few other teens to help our youth pastor and his wife minister at youth conferences. One time I had to travel separately and somehow I was the only girl there when he was talking with the guys. I eventually slipped out so they could talk freely but I did hear him teaching them about things like the addictive side to masturbation. It’s not innocent and simple. He was very practical with what he taught all of us.

    I wish we had the term pornified style of relating back then. I look back and see how that was why I was interested in certain things. It wasn’t really coming from me; but the influence porn had on us. It really separates God-designed use of our bodies from corrupt. Learning how many people in pornography are actually victims of sex trafficking really deflates that bubble as well!!

    I can’t tell you how healing and relieving it is to lose the burden of someone else’s sin. But even more; to know that God is not setting unreasonable or unattainable standards on us. Look at Jesus and everything He has done for you. Instead of focusing on yourself or your sin; look at the one who conquered it for you! It makes things so much easier. You lose the condemnation that keeps you stuck in the same patterns of shame and defeat.

    So no; no nudes. Careful or not. Its not worth the cost. We’ve been through some things in our 20 years. I get that its hard sometimes. And i see we’ve been taught to expect it to be hard. But real intimacy is SO worth it.

  26. Paige

    Thank you for writing this post, Sheila. It’s such an important message!

    I’m in an emotionally destructive marriage (working on seeing God’s truth & praying about staying or leaving).

    There’s been a boatload of spiritual & emotional abuse for the entire 25 year marriage. What I’ve come to realize is how much seriously skewed Christian marriage teaching I’ve (& my H) bought into that kept me stuck.

    Now to my point, as far as texting nude pics – my H (struggles with porn addiction btw) pushed for pics a few years ago. I gave in a few times & received texts back like, “send more” or “I can’t see anything” (when I sent some that weren’t as graphic as he wanted). It makes me feel icky just to think about that!

    He promised he deleted them – then, our 16 year old daughter saw them.
    That was the end of that.
    It’s been about 3 years since I sent anything.

    I told him:
    1) You lied – you kept them & OUR DAUGHTER SAW THEM.
    2) Those pics didn’t feel like something between you & I, I felt like a replacement for porn.

    Since then, from time to time (& we’re in one right now), he’ll bring up how I just weilded my power & took something away. And that I won’t give him a chance to honor me & show me he’s different. And that if we’re apart, couldn’t we just talk dirty on the phone if I won’t send pics…etc.

    He feels justified by other Christian men who struggle with porn & have been fed the lies that their wives have a responsibility to be sexy & hot & ready & willing to keep them on the straight & narrow.


    If you made it to the end, thanks for reading my mini novel. I just needed to write this.♡

    Thank you for putting into words what I couldn’t ever put my finger on in our married sex life.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Paige, I’m so sorry. That’s just terrible. THIS is what happens when we normalize sending nude photos, and pressure women into doing it. Men can read Married Sex and turn to their wives and say, “See, Gary Thomas said it was good for us to do this!” And then this is the result.

      Again, I’m so sorry.

      • Melissa

        I made a comment similar to this. I recently (before I saw this article) explained my situation to fotf and asked for help. Now I am wondering if their response is something I can follow. Thanks for enlightening me.

  27. Melissa

    Christian husband used porn for years even while in ministry. Caught, stopped, caught again. Finally said he went through a course and was free. Asked while still using for pics to help him not use porn. Reluctantly agreed. Recently, found him playing sexually explicit game. He said we could play together. No! Deleted but later loaded another game. Intimacy is few and far between but he thinks it is because I am prude and frigid, words he used in the past. Lost for any answers he might hear, especially with obligation mindset. Help!


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