Women, You Can Trust the Evidence in Front of You | The “All the Books” Short Film

by | Aug 2, 2022 | Marriage, Sex | 11 comments

What is the story that Christian marriage books are writing? 

We know what they’re telling–it’s right there in the pages! But what if the books we read are also a part of writing our own stories? 

It’s Rebecca here today (Sheila’s down with COVID, she’s doing fine but is quite miserable and is taking it easy) and I wanted to share this amazing short film that was made about evangelical books about sex and marriage–and they feature our research! 

Watching the video, I’ve been thinking a lot about the weeds in the parable of the sower and the seeds.

Matthew 13 includes Jesus’ parable about a sower who goes out and spreads some seeds, but a lot of them die out. Not enough soil, birds eat them before they can root, and thistles choke them out.

It’s hard not to see these books and harmful teachings as those thistles. 

What many of these books have done is it’s told women, “You can’t trust the evidence in front of you, you have to believe something else.” Some books tell women to overlook red flags like anger, controlling behaviour, or sexual entitlement so that they discount their intuition, push aside the uneasiness, and just figure “this is how men are.”

But others have also told women that they can’t trust the evidence of goodness, either. Women in love with men who have given them no reason to doubt their goodness, who are faithful and respectful, who see women as whole people, are told that they can’t trust the evidence in front of them, either, because all men have a sexual depravity that women cannot understand.

So we can’t trust ourselves if we see red flags. But we can’t trust the green flags, either.

Today I just want to say, you can trust the evidence in front of you.

Steve Arterburn is wrong–struggling to not masturbate at the sight of hot women in public is not “every man’s battle.” Feldhahn is wrong when she says your love is not enough, but that your deference to him as a man is also needed. Eggerichs is wrong when he teaches that God commands wives to be sexually available as a sign of respect with zero consideration for her sexual needs at all, her dignity, or her safety and wellbeing.

There are good men out there who are safe, who are respectful, who don’t see women as objects. And I believe that the reason these big-names and pastors cannot admit that fact is that it would shine a light on their own unrepentant mistreatment of God’s daughters. But if you are in a relationship with a man who has given you no reason to doubt, no reason to question, no reason to feel uneasy–rejoice! Be glad! Don’t allow false teachings to steal your joy.

But the other side is also true–some men are bad. They are selfish, they revel in their objectification of women, they want to use you as an object in the name of love. This is not simply “God-designed masculinity,” or whatever they’re saying today to excuse men’s abuse and sin. You are not being unsubmissive, quarrelsome, proud, or judgmental if you recognize red flags in someone.

May we raise the next generation to know and seek truth, with a lot fewer thorns in their way.


Thank you Mailli Brown and Abbi Fisher for such an amazing job done on this video. I hope it impacts many people, and thank you for helping change the conversation! For more information on the short film and its creators, check out their instagram.

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. Phil

    Awesome Becca – congratulations to you and your team. You know? I really wish I could take this video and put it on a GIANT big screen tv in the sky for the world to watch. Yesterday I was thinking about the blog and how I still wish I could help in some giant way. I have grandiose ideas. And I told myself Phil – not your problem. That was self talk to get myself off the hook. But it is my problem! I am not just not misogynistic I am pro egalitarian. Recently we were at a wedding and it was presided by 2 pastors. My pastor and the pastor of the man. I was quite bothered by the mans pastors focus on submission. My wife picked up on it ( I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve). Apparently I was breathing heavy and sighing. I never said anything to my wife until the next day. She already knew. Then I found out the origin of the mans faith tradition and I was correct in my gut. We can only pray for that woman and her marriage. I hope the best. I will be weaving this video into our Sunday school lesson this week even if we have to go off topic. Thank you for reminding me this is my problem and not only do I not want to be like that but I want to push the message even if its small. Love your writing Becca. Best to your Mom. Be well.

  2. Laura

    “Some books tell women to overlook red flags like anger, controlling behavior, or sexual entitlement so that they discount their intuition, push aside the uneasiness, and just figure “this is how men are.”

    This right here has been taught in women’s Bible studies I’ve attended in the past. Especially, the part about controlling behavior. Any time a woman has expressed how controlling her husband was, the Bible study leader told the woman to remain “submissive” to her husband. Basically, the leader was saying to the woman, “If he won’t let you get a job to help with debt [won’t let you see the doctor in spite of having chronic pain OR won’t let you drive the car to Bible study unless he is the one driving], you need to keep obeying him.” If I ever tried to speak out against this, I was told I was in the wrong and needed to get alone with God so I could learn how to be submissive.

    It’s not only the marriage books that cause harm, it’s the indoctrination of centuries of patriarchal teachings that have brought on these books and Bibel study teachings. For many years, I avoided Christian marriage books after reading several chapters of some of these books and just wanting to throw them across the room in anger and frustration.

    I cannot thank you all (Sheila, Rebecca, and the Bare Marriage team) enough for ministering to me and many others. I wish I had discovered you years ago, but it has been over a year ago that I found you all. I was doing a Google search for something along the lines of egalitarian marriages. Reading The Making of Biblical Womanhood prompted me to do my search.

  3. Cynthia

    Hope Sheila feels better soon and nobody else comes down with COVID!

  4. Jo R

    How do women start listening to themselves, start believing the evidence?

    So many of us have been taught to ignore what we think, what we feel, even what we see that we don’t even know which way is up and which way is down. We’re out of the habit of believing the reality around us, because we’ve been gaslit for years and even decades, all based on threats about not trusting our hearts. We’ve been gaslit by others for so long, we wind up gaslighting ourselves.

    Of course, changing our thinking will not be made easier if our husbands, pastors, teachers, fathers, and even other women drinking the kool-aid continue to browbeat us into accepting the “conventional wisdom.”

    So how do we stop? How do we break these deep-rooted habits? How do we learn to trust ourselves when we’ve spent so long doing exactly the opposite?

    • EOF

      This is a question I struggle with as well. While my husband is 100x better than he was in the early years of our marriage, he (and much of our church leadership) still believe many of the same patriarchal beliefs — even though it’s far better than it used to be.

      There are times when my husband slips into “my decision is final” mode, and I find myself slipping back into tail-between-my-legs mode, not knowing how to respond and feeling as helpless as before. (Other times, though, I do stand up and have managed to get through to him.) It’s SO hard to break decades-old habits and mindsets. Learned Helplessness is a real thing, and it’s powerful.

      I was also highly disappointed by a gender study my church held not long ago. While it was a big improvement in many ways, it fell very short. I was excited when one leader got up to preach. He is always very pro-woman and egalitarian. But then his wife got up to share, and she sang the praises of wifely submission. I was confused until I realized — of course she can find submission a blessing. Look at how pro-women her husband is! She has no clue what message she’s sending to wives of misogynists. It’s heartbreaking and I don’t know what to do.

      • Stefanie

        Yes. I’ve found the same thing when trying to talk to people at church about the obligation sex teachings. They don’t get how it’s bad if it hasn’t hurt them personally. And it’s like they think you’re trying to attack the Bible because they think the teachings are biblical, and they don’t have the personal experience to tell them it’s bad fruit. And apparently it’s too much cognitive dissonance to look at the data that would show them that half of all evangelical marriages have been harmed by these teachings.

        • Laura

          “And apparently it’s too much cognitive dissonance to look at the data that would show them that half of all evangelical marriages have been harmed by these teachings.”

          This here is evident because many people do not want to take the time to do research and view statistics showing how harmful certain teachings have been in the church.

          I understand the pushback from people at church when I have told them how I have been harmed by certain teachings that are claimed as “biblical.” It’s hard to get them to understand that I am NOT attacking God or Jesus. Yet, they see attacking the Bible as the equivalent of attacking God or Jesus who did not say certain things that people claim God said. This all here is why I have stopped attending women’s Bible studies and regardless of marital status, I don’t want anything to do with marriage ministries.

    • Andrea

      Jo, your comment makes me think of a passage from Andrea Dworkin’s book Intercourse. (She was an infamous radical feminist and anti-porn crusader whose work has become relevant again in the #metoo era and I just wish she had lived long enough to see that.)
      “Male sexual discourse on the meaning of intercourse becomes our language. It is not a second language even though it is not our native language; it is the only language we speak, however, with perfect fluency even though it does not say what we mean or what we think we might know if only we could find the right word and
      enough privacy in which to articulate it even just in our own minds. We know only this one language of these folks who enter and occupy us: they keep telling us that we are different from them; yet we speak only their language and have none, or none that we remember, of our own; and we do not dare, it seems, invent one, even in signs and gestures. Our bodies speak their language. Our minds think in it. The men are inside us through and through.”

  5. Mara R

    So sorry Sheila is down with the Covid.

    I can relate. I had it last week with lingering symptoms this week.

    Had the privilege of watching the video over the weekend from a link on Facebook. Great video. We need it and more. We are having to shout down a lot of loud noxious stubborn weeds that think they own the place. God’s Kingdom, I mean. They think they own God’s Kingdom and have the right to put down God’s women. And it needs to stop.

  6. Nathan

    > > of course she can find submission a blessing. Look at how
    > > pro-women her husband is! She has no clue what message
    > > she’s sending to wives of misogynists.

    Yeah, this has been discussed before. When your husband is very equality minded, it’s not all that bad being submissive (though still not healthy). When you’re married to an abuser of any kind, though, it can be brutal. ESPECIALLY when you’re always told that the problem is “you’re not being submissive ENOUGH”.

    I don’t know how to start the healing either.

    And finally, prayers to Sheila to get past COVID!

  7. Jen

    Invoking the name of the Lord to justify treating your wife in an unloving or evil way is taking the name of the Lord in vain. Men who do not confront this in themselves are breaking one of the 10 commandments. Those in the Church who support them in doing this are participating in that, too. The work you all are doing to address this situation is remarkable. Thank you for everything you are doing!


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