Is Someone Stepping on Your Air Hose?

by | Mar 8, 2022 | Uncategorized | 15 comments

Has the church's teachings left you feeling desperate
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So many women–and many men as well–honestly feel like the church is hurting them.

I do not believe that it is Jesus that is hurting them, but the things that the church teaches, especially around sex and marriage, do cause harm. Our surveys have shown that definitively. Our interpretations of what sex is supposed to be too often leave women feeling erased and used, as if it is God who is telling us, “your needs don’t matter.”

That is such an awful feeling.

I like to give myself Tuesdays to work on big projects, so I don’t like to write big posts. But a comment came in yesterday that I did want to share, because I thought it was really well done.

The context of this was last week’s post, where I was saying that, if women have been hurt by believing bad teachings, or if men have believed those teachings and hurt their wives in return, then a good idea is to take a fast from sex for him and make it entirely about her for a while and go at her pace so she learns to associate sex with something that is for her.

Some were pushing back in the comments, saying that was too much to ask of men.

That’s where commenter Rising Strong piped in:

As I thought about the false and oppressive teachings about marriage and sex that Sheila and her team work tirelessly to combat, the Spirit gave me a word picture. Here goes:

As Christians, we agree that Jesus should be the very air we breathe. We are each connected to Him by our own personal “air hose.” Men and women alike are offered full, free access to His abundantly grace-ridden air when we decide to connect to Him through the Gospel.

But teachings—particularly those about marriage and sex—that reduce women and elevate men are like huge, heavy cement blocks being placed on a woman’s air hose.

Over time, the woman connected to Jesus via the blocked air hose cannot breathe Him in any longer, not His pure flowing air, anyway. She is left gasping.

One day, when enough false teachings have encumbered her air hose and she has simultaneously run her hardest to follow all the rules in order to “better love and connect to Jesus,” she finds herself LIFELESS. She literally cannot go another step or take another breath because nothing is flowing into her air hose. It has become fully compromised by cement block teachings, yet she doesn’t understand what has happened. She doesn’t yet see the cement blocks. They have become her norm.

All she knows is that she has worked so hard to please her husband (ie—“the lord”) in every. possible. way. Why doesn’t she feel free? What’s more, why does she feel as though she continually fails in her marriage?

Somehow, she learns about The Great Sex Rescue and its healthy, balanced, research-based, God-honoring teachings, and slowly but surely, she feels Jesus-air filling her lungs again. She has missed this air so very much. Life begins running through her entire body little by little as she ponders, reflects, and begins to realize what has happened.

She now notices and realizes she needs to work hard to remove the enormously heavy cement blocks, but when she tries to do so, she is called “disobedient,” “selfish,” “disrespectful,” “unsubmissive,” and worse by prominent Christian leaders, authors, and teachers.

People who say they love Jesus just keep replacing the cement blocks she works so hard to remove from her air hose, and they toss on a few (thousand) more for good measure.

When she tells them to stop because these teachings are sucking the very air from her body, they tell her she is asking too much, that she is swinging the pendulum too far, that she can’t possibly love Jesus AND believe this “heresy.” Allowing cement blocks on your air hose is “respecting and serving your husband,” and besides, suffering for Jesus is part of the Christian life.

When she screams in desperation—because she is dying from the inside out—she is called “untrusting,” “faithless,” and even “angry.” If she legitimately becomes angry—and she should given the reality of the oppression sitting on her air hose—she is called a “feminist who has no place for Jesus in her belief system.”

Essentially, she gets beaten down and her air hose is again compromised simply because she is REMOVING CEMENT BLOCKS SO THAT SHE CAN BREATHE MORE FREELY.

Here’s the truth:

Women have God-ordained access to the Gospel and are called to apply it to everything in our lives, including to our marriages.

We are recipients—heirs— of the gift of breathing the free-flowing grace-air of Christ in our individual lives AND in our marriages.

When those around us attempt to put cement blocks on our air hoses, they are interfering with God’s Gospel work in women’s lives.

From this vantage point, if a husband has contributed to robbing his wife of air for any length of time, I daresay him giving up sex long enough to let his wife “refill her lungs” is a minute offering, at the barest minimum.

If fasting temporarily from sex enables his wife to receive the unadulterated love and grace of Christ in her life, then how could any truly loving husband even consider NOT doing it?

Rising Strong

Commenter, How Can Men Fix Their Sex Lives if They've Gone Downhill?

Do you feel like someone is stepping on your air hose?

It’s okay to want to breathe. Jesus came to set the captives free, and that includes you. It does.

In church this past Sunday, the pastor was talking about what I’ll call an upside-down Lent.

Usually for Lent people give up something–chocolate; TV; video games; alcohol. But he was saying that over the last two years we’ve all given up a lot. Maybe this year we need to look at how we can share joy, and reach out to others.

That thought stayed with me and it jived with something I’d already been thinking about for Lent for myself this year: instead of giving up, I want to start caring for myself more. I haven’t been taking good care of myself. I haven’t been doing the stretches I need to do; I haven’t been doing other self-care things I need to do.

And God does love me so much–maybe Lent is a time that I start loving myself too.

Perhaps Lent could be the time that you figure out who, or what, is stepping on your air hose.

Good Friday is coming, and then Easter. There is new life, and rebirth. But perhaps this year God is calling you to an even bigger rebirth. Maybe He’s been nudging you for quite a while that something is hurting you, is holding you back. It could be your family; your church;  your job; your group of friends. In some cases it could even be an abusive marriage. And God wants you to have life and have it abundantly.

I don’t mean giving up responsibilities or living a hedonistic life simply focused on your own pleasure. I mean getting set free to live life as God intended so that you can serve God as He intended. We cannot serve; we cannot do the works that He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10), if we are constantly being hurt and minimized and erased by others.

So I invite you in this Lenten season to join with me in caring for yourself better, as God cares for you.

Is someone stepping on your air hose? Is someone chastising you for trying to breathe? That is a sign that that relationship, that church, that group is not healthy.

Maybe take this season to pray about what you will do about that.

Because it’s okay to want to breathe.

Have Toxic Teachings Left You Feeling Desperate?

At different times in my life I have had someone stepping on my air hose. I eventually needed the courage to stand up and refuse to let them. Have you ever gone through this? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Nessie

    I was hoping Rising Strong’s comment would get highlighted in a post! It was such amazing imagery!

    Love the concept of not giving something up but giving to others (self included) for Lent, however that manifests itself, so we can serve the Lord most effectively. Great post!

  2. A2bbethany

    I think I was able to let go so easily of the wrong marriage teachings, once married, because of my beliefs as a single woman.

    As a single person, I believed that I was *fully equal to men and I knew that if possible/needed, I was going to move out and be fully independent. I knew that in our old church, (left it when I was 15) single women never lived alone, and stayed with parents until marriage. I don’t know of a single woman who didn’t, inside the church. It was considered dangerous and her too niave for it. (Unlike single men)
    (*Fully equal but obviously differently sex wise and Im a physically weak person. But I didn’t want exscuses to hide at home.)

  3. Debbie

    Love this my air hose has been stepped on for years

  4. Michelle Stewart

    The traditional church instructions about my role in marriage – and even worse, my duty to love and submit MORE to rescue a deeply troubled marriage – placed undue responsibility upon the wife during my first marriage. After 25 years of striving so hard and repeatedly failing, all I wanted was to subsist in peace or die.

    I almost didn’t marry the love of my mature life because returning to the “three umbrellas lifestyle” was onerous to me. I understand the analogy of having the very life’s-breath removed from me by bad material advice. Thank God, we broke that mold! We’ve learned to TRULY love and respect one another in a balanced truly biblically defined Christian marriage that has lasted 24 joyful years, this far. When I sing “You are the air I breath” in church, I understand exactly how precious this gift is!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so lovely, Michelle! I’m so glad you’re in a good place now!

  5. Mark

    Great post — it’s hard for for all involved to realize what was bad teaching or no teaching, break negative cycles, get healing from dysfunction and sin, and to do the hard work to learn and re-learn healthy patterns. So thankful for Sheila and her team that have brought such good and wholesome teaching to the World. I have devoured books by Andrew Bauman, Michael Cusick, the blog posts on this site, the new Good Guy’s and Good Girl’s guide, etc. With the Lord’s help we have deconstructed so much bad teaching and are currently in “build from scratch” mode. We have taken in the advice with a humble heart, done the fasts, focused on building heart intimacy and friendship, and it’s a wonderful place to be! Looking forward to the future. If there are Men reading this and you have caused pain/issues in your marriage, I highly recommend taking the step of putting the brakes on sex, dive deep into resources, pray for strength & patience, focus on building true connection and heart intimacy with your wife. Ask deep questions on what she needs from you, how you can show up for her, and then make it your goal to make those things happen. It’s hard work, but is well worth the effort. You can do hard things!

  6. OscarMikeMama

    I have read this several times today and I want to cry. It explains my past year perfectly.

    My husband and I had to make a decision about relocating for his job and could not come to an agreement. What should have been a time of prayerfully seeking God’s will together became screaming matches, name-calling, and debates about leadership and submission. When we asked for counsel, NOBODY told us to get on our knees and petition God for unity. We were told that we weren’t going to agree, so we should pray about who should win and who should lose. I wish I were making this up. It didn’t sound biblical to me at all. Where did God say marriage is a zero-sum game? But I was too overloaded to think much about it.

    Long story short, I decided to “lose.” Ever since then I’ve felt a brick wall when I try to pray. After months of chastising myself for being stiff-necked, selfish, unsubmissive, resentful, and self-righteous (none of which are entirely untrue, candidly), I now see that my attitude wasn’t the whole problem. My air hose was cut off.

    I don’t know how exactly to get these concrete blocks off my air hose. Shoot, I’m still identifying my concrete blocks. I do know that I have hope for the first time in way too long. I’m giving up my concrete blocks for Lent and one day I will breathe freely again.

  7. CMT

    I just read a story on Julie Roys’ site that made me think of this post. A courageous woman named Eileen Gray has come forward to say that, years ago, John Macarthur’s church harassed and publicly shamed her. Why? For refusing to take back her husband, who AT THE TIME admitted to physically abusing their kids, and later went to jail for sexually abusing them as well. Talk about blocking her air hose then blaming her for trying to fix the problem. It’s worth a read

    Trigger warning-gets specific about some of the physical abuse.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks for that. John MacArthur is so problematic. I’m glad this is being exposed.

      • CMT

        I grew up listening to Christian radio because my mom always had it on. I remember talking to my dad recently about some of the weird stuff I absorbed from it and he remarked, “yeah, I was never as into those guys as your mom. Dobson is weird and MacArthur is an arrogant a$$.”

        Yet people like this continue to get airtime and book deals. The evangelical industrial complex in action!

        • Laura


          Your dad sounds like an awesome man! I’m sure my dad would have agreed with him about Dobson and MacArthur.

    • Jo R

      😱 😱 😱 😱 😱 😱

  8. Rising Strong

    “And God does love me so much–maybe Lent is a time that I start loving myself too.”

    This is such a needed exhortation, Sheila! Thank you for this reminder of freedom to BE LOVED!

    I remember reading somewhere (wish I could remember!) that, when Jesus says to, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” He is assuming we are already loving ourselves well. 😳

    (Raise your hand if being in an abusive relationship caused you to forget you were even worthy of God’s love? ✋)

    So simple and yet so lost under the cement blocks of “die to self,” “turn the other cheek,” “forgive endlessly,” “suffer for Christ,” messages.

    Thank you for this profoundly needed reminder for our weary souls. ❤️

  9. Dorothy

    I have been married for 4 years. It is a good marriage if I submit completely to my husband. He has pushed this thought more and more over the years, he now says to honor God and be his true ‘helper’ and a’good Christian wife’ I need to submit to him in everything. I convinced myself this was Gods will for me and I did this externally, inside I definitely felt like someone was stepping on my air hose. The sad reality is that in doing this it still has not made my husband happy, he still gets angry and is emotionally distant with me if he believes I have an opinion different to his. It has left me feeling empty and knowing even me trying to be totally passive and submissive it’s never enough. This goes totally against my nature as I was very independent before I met my spouse. Friends, my young adult children and my family have all been alienated or made to feel unwelcome and if I say anything about this I am reprimanded and reminded who is the head of the household(who knows best). When I am alone with my husband and I remain passive we have a very nice relationship, he is kind and good company but it’s conditional on my submission.
    I am worn out, depressed, sad, confused and definitely harboring resentment/anger towards my husband.
    This is my second marriage and I had such high hopes for it as we are both Christians and I thought this would be so different.
    I definitely feel like cement blocks are in my airways and I feel a huge sense of guilt as a Christian that my relationship is not working and everyone around us clearly sees it.
    It’s very sad and disappointing. My husband is adamant that a Christian wife should submit in every area.


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