Why Do Some “Christian” Leaders Believe it’s Better for Women to be Killed than Raped?

by | Aug 3, 2022 | Abuse | 149 comments

There’s been an alarming and disturbing conversation happening on social media lately about how women should choose death over being raped.

An abuse advocate was talking to me about it, and how scary this trend was. I then began to see it all over Twitter, and became quite alarmed myself.

Now, from the image and title alone it should be very clear, but I have a MAJOR trigger warning for this post. We’ll be talking about assault, but also about abusive responses pastors have to women’s assault.

To give you an example, Nathaniel Jolly, who is a fundamentalist pastor who was part of the SBC until quite recently when he resigned publicly because the SBC is “too liberal”, made waves in March by declaring that Bathsheba wasn’t raped, but it was merely an affair. (I’m going to share screenshots rather than the actual tweets because I don’t want to boost his engagement stats).

For more context, Jolly, though he pastors a small church in Alaska, is influential online, and is close with the Conservative Baptist Network and Tom Ascol, who ran for President of the SBC on a more fundamentalist platform. When he resigned from the SBC, he made headlines in many media outlets because of his online influence. Jolly is not the only one to be saying such things recently, but I’m going to use him as an example.

Nathaniel Jolly Bathsheba Guilty

Of course people were insisting that it was indeed rape, but he negated that, saying that if she hadn’t wanted it, she would have simply chosen to die instead.

And this was the standard that he took on social media–that you should choose death over sin, and so if you don’t kill yourself, you have participated in the sin.

Shadrach tweet
Wife Choose Death tweet

He culminated in this poll, where people agree you should choose death (or death) over being raped. He frames it as an affair, but he was using a circular argument–since you should kill yourself rather than have an affair, if you didn’t kill yourself, you consented, and therefore it wasn’t rape.

Poll Rape nathaniel Jolly

The definition of whether or not it was rape, then, is whether or not you allow yourself to be killed.

If you aren’t killed, it’s not rape. It’s sin, because you didn’t resist enough. That must mean you wanted it and you participated in it.

The only way to prove that it was assault, then, is to be killed. After all, if it was truly assault, as Jolly argues, then Bathsheba would have allowed herself to be killed. Since she didn’t end up dead, she must have wanted it.

I want to explore this today, because I think it’s vitally important, but warning: this is going to be really triggering!

And, yes, I still have COVID, but I want to get this post out, and this is likely all the work I’m going to do this week!

5 Facts that Are Indisputable about Rape

1. God designed women’s bodies to have a good chance of surviving sexual assault.

We see two ways that women’s bodies especially were designed to survive sexual assault. First, when facing trauma, the body goes into a “fight, flight, freeze, or fawn” mode, depending on which one will protect you the most. Many women, when faced with assault, freeze up or start fawning over him, to avoid being more hurt.

Experts will tell you that you lessen your chances of being hurt during a sexual assault if you don’t fight back–UNLESS the person is trying to move you to a secondary location. In that case, it’s best to fight (I will always remember a show Oprah did on this!).

But second, women have much higher arousal non-concordance than men, meaning that our bodies can have physical signs of arousal when our minds are repulsed or devastated or terrified. In fact, some have posited that terror can actually increase some signs of physical arousal.

Why? Because when women get lubricated, it lowers the chance of tissue damage or internal organ damage. This does not mean that all women become lubricated when assaulted; it is just a recognized phenomenon that is fairly common.

God designed women’s bodies this way.

And He also designed our psyches to protect ourselves. Often during sexual assault victims experience “dissociation” where the mind seems to leave the body so you can ignore what is happening to you. This helps protect the mind from trauma, though it can be a difficult trauma response to disentangle later. 

2. Being raped is not a sin

I really don’t have much to say about this. It is self-evident. When someone does something to you against your will, it is not on you. It is on them. Period.

3. Being raped is not shameful

Though many sexual assault survivors feel shame, and that’s understandable, being raped is not shameful. That is on the perpetrator, not on the victim. The victim did nothing wrong, and so the shame is not theirs to bear. When someone rapes, they are at fault, and so all guilt and shame is on them.

4. Our choices are usually not be raped or be killed

Most rapists do not kill their victims. And if a victim fights back, it is very likely that the rapist will overpower them and assault them anyway (though self-defence classes can help!). It is not as if one can “choose death”, as it were.

5. There are non-physical ways to coerce sex

You can threaten the life or well-being of someone else. You can use psychological and spiritual coercion. I won’t belabor the point, but many are raped, even in marriage, and it looks nothing like holding a woman down while she’s kicking and screaming.

And that’s not even scratching the surface of the problems with his philosophy! What does this say to child victims to claim they should die rather than be assaulted? Especially if the perpetrator is a family member? What does this say to victims of power imbalances who are so confused and don’t understand what is happening to them?

A quick synopsis of how God sees rape:

It is not God’s will that women be killed from rape; it is not a sin to be raped; and women (or children or men, as the case may be) are the victims, not the ones in the wrong. These are indisputable.

If someone believes, then, that a woman should kill herself rather than allow herself to be raped, then what does that say about how they see women? That’s the more important question, and that’s what I’d like to look at:


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What are the implications of saying someone should kill themselves rather than be raped?

They believe that women live or die at the whim of men

Here we have a pastor declaring that a woman should choose death over the “sin” of having sex with another man, and if she doesn’t choose death, she’s in sin–meaning that she can’t really be raped.

Therefore, the pastor is deciding whether women should live or die.

But so is the rapist. If a man decides to rape a woman, even a stranger, then she now must kill herself. She must die.

So women only live at the whim of bad men. If bad men ever decide to attack a woman, then her life is over. She must end it. Men hold the keys to whether she deserves to live or not.

They believe that women’s lives are not inherently worthy, in and of themselves

Jolly was proudly stating that his wife would choose death over rape, and in the conversations that month declared that this would be the right thing to do.

So he would rather have a dead wife than a wife who had been raped. And he would rather his children be motherless.

This means that women’s lives are disposable. Women don’t deserve life, simply because they exist. They only deserve life if they prove themselves worthy.

They believe that women are merely objects

If women exist at the whim of men, and can have their right to life snuffed out by a man deciding to attack them, then women aren’t fully human. They are merely objects.

They are extensions of the men in their lives, they are not worth anything, in and of themselves.

They believe in honour killings–that being raped is the capital offence

To see all the “Christians” echoing Nathaniel Jolly was chilling, because honour killings are a huge evil injustice throughout the world. Women are killed for being raped. Being raped is a capital offence in many countries.

And now they want to make it a capital offence in Christianity too, with one caveat. While in other countries they kill women after the fact, here they are demanding women kill themselves before the fact, to prove it was actually non-consensual. The end result is the same. Women deserve death for being raped.

They believe that men should be off the hook for sexual assault–though they may claim they aren’t saying this

Jolly kept claiming he wasn’t talking about rape–he was only talking about an affair. You should kill yourself rather than sin.

But here’s the thing–if you DON’T kill yourself, then you’re saying you consented. So the only proof that it was rape is your death. If you’re not dead, it isn’t really rape.

That was his whole point about Bathsheba–she couldn’t have been raped, because if it was really rape, she would have resisted unto death.

If the only proof that it was assault is that you are dead, then if you are alive you weren’t assaulted. And if you weren’t assaulted, then you aren’t a victim. And if you aren’t a victim, then there wasn’t a perpetrator.

See how convenient that is?

They believe in the Myth of the Magical Penis

Okay, here’s one that I’d like to explore for a moment, because while my other points have been talked about frequently, here’s something else under the surface that I think is going on.

I think some men believe the penis is far more powerful than it actually is. 

Why is it that some men become so insecure and incensed about a woman having had another man’s penis in her body? They think she deserves death rather than experience another man’s penis.


Okay, let’s leave this conversation for a minute and turn to something else.

What do men who think like this believe 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 means in regards to women? In those verses, Paul tells both men and women not to deprive each other. We talked at length in The Great Sex Rescue about how this does not mean “don’t deprive each other of one-sided sexual intercourse, where she feels no pleasure,” because that makes no sense. The only way she is being deprived is if sex is actually good for her–she feels pleasure; she feels intimate and close with him. If sex is merely one-sided intercourse, she is already being deprived!


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But we know that in marriages like these, heavily patriarchal marriages where the wife has no say in anything (seriously, just watch this video with Nathaniel Jolly and his wife and see how creepy it is with her submissive and in the background), it’s highly unlikely that she is enjoying sex. (I obviously don’t know anything about the Jollys personally, but we do know from our survey that it is very likely that in a marriage like this, where a wife is seen as subordinate, that she is not enjoying herself).

Yet men still feel that they are giving their wives a huge gift by having intercourse with them, because they are bestowing on these women the chance to experience his penis. 

Like, it’s not about whether or not she feels pleasure. It’s not about what she wants sexually. It’s merely about experiencing his penis, which is supposed to be this amazing thing.

It’s why some men send dick pics (well, aside from the shock value, and the sexual assault aspect, by exposing them to something without their consent). Some men honestly think women will enjoy this or be impressed, because they assume that women feel about their penis the same way that men do.

If this is true, then maybe the reason that rape doesn’t seem like rape to them is because it doesn’t look a whole lot different from the way sex happens in their marriage. 

They have no context for understanding a mutually intimate, pleasurable experience. They merely know what it’s like to “conquer” their wives, as Doug Wilson says, and so what’s really the difference between another man doing this to your wife?

That’s why rape is seen as an affair–because it looks pretty much the same as sex in their own marriage.

Final Thoughts on Men Who Say Women Should Die Rather Than Be Raped

All of this is happening when women are demanding justice for sexual assault

Just as the SBC is finally talking about making steps to address sexual abuse in their congregations (though I agree with Christa Brown that it is far too little, and they are not giving it the emphasis it deserves in terms of money and hiring professionals), some influential members in these circles are now putting up even more hoops for women to “prove” sexual assault took place.

I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Men who believe this aren’t Christians.

Some of you are going to take more offence to me saying that than you are to the fact that men are saying that women should be killed rather than raped.

But we need to start saying this. What these men are saying looks exactly like honour killings, and looks nothing like Jesus. Just because someone can recite the Apostle’s Creed does not mean that they have surrendered their life to Christ and are living by the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, they can be using Scripture to have power and control over others, using it for their own personal gain.

That is not of Christ; that is anti-Christ.

And we do not call those who are anti-Christ Christians.

When Paul said to expel the wicked man from among us, this is exactly what he’s talking about. When people show you their true colours, believe them. Don’t say, “well, I owe him honor as a fellow brother in Christ.”

No, you owe his wife honour.

You owe the women in his congregation honour.

You owe Jesus honour.

And what the wicked man really needs to know is that he is in sin, and that will not happen if we continue to coddle men who hold these abhorrent views.

If you are married to a man like this, and you are reading this, please know there are safe places to go.

If you live in Homer, Alaska, and you know the Jollys, please make sure his wife and children are safe, because they do not look like it. If you live in Moscow, Idaho, where Doug Wilson preaches stuff just like this, please tell every woman you know that if she ever needs help, you are there for her. Let’s let those who are stuck in cults like this know that they can be free.

And if you are living with a man like this, and you need help, please call a domestic violence hotline (just google “domestic violence hotline” and enter your state or country).

If you believe you may be a victim of abuse, please contact your local Domestic Violence Hotline

  • Canada: 800.799.SAFE (7233)
  • United States: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673).
  • United Kingdom: 08 08 16 89 111
  • Australia: 1 800 737 732
  • New Zealand: 0800 456 450
  • Kenya: 0-800-720-072
  • Nigeria: 0800 033 3333
  • South Africa: 0800 428 428

There is evil in the evangelical church right now. 

It will continue to grow until we excise it. And so it’s incumbent on all of us: Will we support denominations with so many people who agree with this line of thinking? Will we follow pastors who agree, or who don’t call this out? Will we follow social media accounts who espouse this, because “some of what they say is really good”? Or will we say, “enough is enough”?

Pastor Nathaniel Jolly advocates for rape victims to die because if they choose to be raped instead of choosing death, they must have wanted it. It's horrifying. Here's our response.

What do you think? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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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. Angharad

    Every time I think I’ve reached the depths of the filth that ‘Christian’ men produce under the guise of ‘Godly advice’, I realise there is a lower level still. This is just beyond…

    I fear for these men. One day, they are going to have to face God and answer for the way they have treated His daughters.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I fear for their wives too (and I know you do as well). I hope any of the wives that are reading this know that there are safe places they can go to in order to get help. And please follow Flying Free on Facebook, Sarah McDugal on Facebook, Leslie Vernick on Facebook–if this looks anything like your marriage, everybody! There is help. Please call a domestic violence hotline.

      • Elise

        I’m a 22 year old female and I’ve believed this lie. Didn’t actually realize it was a lie until I read this. I think it’s a bit much say that men who believe this aren’t Christians because first off, this is a lie that is also believed by women. Or at least I absorbed it. It’s kind of hard to realize how wrong the idea actually is when it’s what everyone in your ultra-Christian bubble believes to be the most honorable thing. It’s not even so much explicitly believed as it is implicitly believed — that the woman who dies is more of a noble martyr than the one who lets herself be raped. We’re raised on stories where choosing death is better than denying Christ. Additionally sexual purity is elevated to such a high level that it’s easy to translate one to the other. And since I wasn’t taught about consent, I didn’t realize that agreeing to do something under gunpoint isn’t actually consenting — that you’re not at fault.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Isn’t that horrifying that this is what we’re raising girls to believe? I’m glad you see that you’re worth more than that now!

  2. Andrea

    “Maybe the reason that rape doesn’t seem like rape to them is because it doesn’t look a whole lot different from the way sex happens in their marriage.” I was thinking the same thing throughout your piece and then you articulated it. Jolly has probably been raping his wife their entire marriage.

    Have you heard the phrase Talibangelicals? That’s what these men are. Now I’m going to quote a Muslim feminist, but I will replace her use of “Arab” with “fundamentalist Christian.”
    “Fundamentalist Christian society still considers that the fine membrane which covers the aperture of the external genital organs is the most cherished and most important part of a girl’s body, and is much more valuable than one of her eyes, or an arm, or a lower limb. A fundamentalist Christian family does not grieve as much at the loss of a girl’s eye as it does if she happens to lose her virginity. In fact if the girl lost her life, it would be considered less of a catastrophe than if she lost her hymen.”

  3. Jane Eyre

    I’m going to throw up.

    Back in the day, women were often asked why they didn’t fight back. Now these degenerate scumbags have upped the ante to “why didn’t you die”.

    • Jane Eyre

      P.S. Rape isn’t sex. It’s an act of violence with sex as the weapon. Someone once said about being raped when she was a virgin (paraphrasing), “Saying that rape was your first experience with sex is like saying that being hit over the head with a cast iron skillet is your first experience with cooking.”

      • Another Lisa

        Dear Abby once said that considering rape as (a first experience with) sex would be akin to considering getting hit over the head with a rolling pin your first experience with cooking.

        That article changed my life.

  4. Nessie

    *Possible trigger in addition to rape *

    I’m not going to debate where people are on the issue of suicide, but I would assume that someone of his belief system fully believes that suicide is 100% wrong. As such, he is placing the women who would not be murdered (explicitly by the rapist) into the territory of having to commit suicide to avoid being raped. For someone who is of the mindset that a women should kill herself before being raped, it seems that he would feel just as strongly about committing suicide, and as such he is creating a catch 22 in which women are 100% to blame- she’s either guilty of “allowing” herself to be raped or for killing herself.

    I agree with Angharad- “This is just beyond…”

    • Laura

      I was thinking the same thing. I thought people like Jolly believed suicide to be a sin. None of this makes sense. He’s just another misogynist with the title of “pastor.”

      • exwifeofasexaddict

        and there is absolutely no actual pastoring happening here.

      • Tim

        There may be some context we’re missing here, but from the 4 tweets Sheila has quoted I don’t think Jolly was referring to suicide. He seems to be assuming a scenario where a rapist would threaten death as the alternative (which as Sheila says, is a flawed assumption) and says people in that situation should choose to *be killed* rather than be raped.

        To be clear, I think both of those ideas are very bad, I’m just saying they’re not the same thing, and I *think* Jolly is arguing for Very Bad Idea #1. Not VBI2.

        • Tim

          Sorry, got my last sentence the wrong way around, so to be clear: I think Jolly is arguing people should choose to be murdered rather than be raped (and assuming that in any rape those are the two options, which is clearly not the case).

          Again, it’s a really harmful thing to say, but I don’t see him advocating suicide here.

          That said, I do think in these 4 tweets he’s left himself open to being misinterpreted that way (assuming I’m right that that isn’t what he means), which is careless at best.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I would agree. I think he hasn’t thought through the implications of what he is saying.

            For instance, he keeps saying on Twitter that he’s not talking about rape, only adultery. But in his scenario–“someone is holding a gun to your head and telling you to commit adultery”–that is the very definition of rape. That is forcing you to have sex.

            And again, his justification for saying that Bathsheba couldn’t have been raped is that she was not dead (because if she had been forced, she should have fought). Yep.

          • Tim

            I wonder what he would say to someone who was drug raped.

          • Hannah

            I imagine he would blame them for taking a spiked drink, and view that as additional sin. Rather than staying safely at home as women are supposed to do in that culture. I have no words for the misogyny.

          • Angharad

            The idea that Bathsheba wasn’t raped because she didn’t die is just ludicrous. Putting aside the argument of whether she SHOULD have killed herself rather than be raped, she wouldn’t even have been given the choice. The king & his soldiers would have made sure she didn’t get the chance to kill herself because if she was dead, he couldn’t get what he wanted.

          • Jenn

            I guess we all need to be like super spies now…wear a necklace that hides a super lethal pill that we can ingest to avoid “adultery.” 🙄

          • Naomi

            Yes! That’s what boggles my mind. Someone holding a gun to your head to “commit adultery” is no longer adultery! It’s 100% sexual assault and rape!

          • Jenn

            And really—we don’t know that Bathsheba DIDN’T fight. Some men enjoy that—David might have “liked a woman with spunk.”

          • Jeni

            In response to:
            Angharad on August 3, 2022 at 4:38 pm

            The idea that Bathsheba wasn’t raped because she didn’t die is just ludicrous. Putting aside the argument of whether she SHOULD have killed herself rather than be raped, she wouldn’t even have been given the choice. The king & his soldiers would have made sure she didn’t get the chance to kill herself because if she was dead, he couldn’t get what he wanted.

            This also assumes that Bathsheba even knew *why* the king’s men abducted her. How would she have known this?? Would the king’s men even have known why David had them abduct her? So much is left unsaid and I believe there is a reason for that. God put the sin and responsibility fully on David’s shoulders because that is where it belonged. There were no fleshed-out explanations. The power dynamic was explained, the actions David took were explained, the sin David committed was explained, and the consequence *on David* was explained. Nothing more, nothing less. Fully, completely, totally on David.

          • N

            Jeni – I agree with you. The bible gets it right. David was blamed for the whole (affair, I wanted to say but that ‘s up in the air, right?), um, event. Nowhere is Bathsheba’s complicity mentioned. God does not judge her, nor does He order her death. Why should we? Do we know more than God?
            I often find that the OT puts a lot more responsibility on men to behave themselves than the evangelical church does (take mandatory abstinence during certain times of the wife reproductive cycle and post-partum, for example). If these people are so Bible-based, why do they ignore all of those examples and injunctions?

  5. Jo R

    This seems like the logical end result of punishing women for men’s sin.

    If, at one end of the scale, women need to alter their clothing because men have zero self-control over their eyes, minds, and hearts, then it makes sense that, at the other end of the scale, women should die because men have zero self-control over their penises.

    • Tim

      Man, that’s bleak.

      But I think it’s a pretty accurate summary of this worldview.

    • N

      Jo R, this worldview assumes that women hold an awful lot of power over men, to “compel” them to sin. No wonder men are frightened of women and seek to contain and “tame” that power.

  6. Kristen

    And these “leaders” wonder why my generation is fleeing the church…

    I feel physically, viscerally ill after reading this.

    I hope you feel better, Sheila. I’m so sorry that you have to deal with this absolute BS on top of COVID.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Kristen!

      I guess what I want those in power to understand is that I’m not angry about Nathaniel Jolly–there will always be crazies like that.

      What I’m angry about is all of the pastors who didn’t speak up, and liked his tweets. I’m angry that he’s “in” with the CBN in the SBC, and that others in the SBC allow the CBN to be so powerful, even though it included people like Jolly. I’m angry that those in power aren’t denouncing him, and I have to.

      It’s not Jolly that’s the problem. It’s that others in power don’t say anything.

      • Kristen

        It’s so cliche, but that saying “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” came to my mind when I read your response. It’s so true, though.

        I just…have no words for how angry and sick this makes me. Or maybe I do have words, but they aren’t fit to post in a public forum. It’s especially hard when you’re one of the women who has escaped these kinds of imbalanced power structures and cultures, but you still have female loved ones who are still entrenched in it.

        During a visit home recently, I spoke up about a pastor’s double standard when it came to handling a woman’s sexual sin versus her ex-boyfriend’s. And I was told not to criticize the pastor because that would open up judgment on me.

        This is why abuse continues to flourish.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Exactly! Never, ever let anyone tell you that you can’t criticize a pastor. It is never wrong to tell the truth!

  7. Lisa

    This is abhorrent. It reminds me of the witch trials – I don’t know exactly what they were like in North America, but here in Sweden women would get thrown into the water and if they sank and drowned, they were ruled innocent of being witches. If they floated, they would be sentenced to death for witchcraft. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t!

    Another horrible aspect of this thinking is that it totally spits on the redemptive power of Christ. He did NOT die and resurrect for his daughters to believe that their lives are as good as over if they get raped. God does incredible restorative work in us, creates us as new and heals us. He can do anything and there are so many testimonies of him restoring people to abundant life when they have been trough incredible horror. To be blunt, the people believing Jolly practically believes an evil man’s penis is more powerful than Christ in us. And that’s plain heresy.

    • Rebecca Gager

      100% the witch trials! “Oh you didn’t DROWN so you’re GUILTY and now we execute you.” Either way, as a woman accused, you’re dead. I can’t share all my thoughts because most of them include the f word. Christian Taliban alive and well, Jesus wept.

    • Malin

      I also thought of the witch trials all the way through the post! It’s insane that it’s still the same trash centuries later!

  8. Joel Keen

    Sheila, just some mild pushback on one point in this post. You said that rape is not shameful. And on one level, that’s completely true. Since rape/SA victims have done nothing WRONG, they do not bear guilt and shame *morally.* But the feelings of guilt and shame are real, and strong, and long-lasting. I know that you can’t say everything in the course of a blog post, but we can’t deal with those by offering the observation (however accurate) that the victim did nothing wrong morally. Rather, those feelings need to be heard and accepted as current reality. They need to be understood, not denied.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, totally understand. I tried to say this in the next sentence–“Though many sexual assault survivors feel shame, and that’s understandable, being raped is not shameful”, but i could have been clearer.

  9. A2bbethany

    I reached my breaking point pretending to ignore my issues with my parents. So I’m in therapy soon and will either get what I need, or I’ll have to cut off my family 90%. I can’t pretend anymore that I’ve forgotten. Because no spanking fully revealed it to me.
    My father basically implied that he was himself a predator. How was that not supposed to affect me????? (A comment about his own skeletons in the closet coming back to bite, as I was filing the police report I insisted on for my child molester. I think even the detective was uncomfortable by that remark.)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Bethany, I’m so sorry! I’m sorry for your pain, but I’m grateful that you’re getting more clarity. That must be so hard though.

  10. Laura

    Wow, for a pastor to imply that death is better than being raped. Disgusting! Unfortunately, as a marital rape survivor, I felt a lot of shame for years and sometimes thought it would be better to be dead than to live with the fact that I experienced sexual assault within the last year of my marriage before finally leaving him over 20 years ago. I was afraid to be in another relationship and rarely dated because I was afraid that another man would try to take advantage of me sexually. I did finally get into a relationship five years ago and even though we did not end up getting married, he was respectful about my decision to abstain from sex. Thankfully, we are still friends to this day.

    I still want to remarry someday, but it’s hard to find a man (Christian or not) who is willing to hold out on sex until marriage.

  11. Kat

    When I was in eighth grade, I had a really great bible teacher. Usually, I soaked up everything he said, but I vividly remember him using the exact same logic to criticize Esther. He argued that Esther was being disobedient to God by staying in Persia and winning a “sex competition” with the king. If she were truly being faithful, she would have would have been like Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego and chosen death over having sex with a foreign king.

    Even as a 14 year old, this made me angry. Did he not know how a harem worked? Did he not have any compassion for her situation? Did he not read the last chapter where Esther is willing to sacrifice her life (twice!) and saves the Hebrew people from genocide?? By that logic, we could argue Joseph was in sin for not killing himself instead of becoming a slave to idol worshipping Egyptians. Sure, he ran away from Potiphar’s wife when she tried to have an affair, but Esther wasn’t having an affair with the king, she was forcefully married to him. And finally, why would he try to turn one of the only women in the bible with a whole book (and annual holiday!) dedicated to her bravery into a cowardly/sinful seductress? What is the purpose? How do these terrible takes spread?

    This teacher was a really humble man, and I know he would have been willing to change his teaching had I brought up my concerns, but I was young at the time and didn’t say anything. It just makes me wonder how the church has allowed such poisonous messages from people like Jolly to work their way into the body of Christ. Thank you, Sheila, for doing the tedious and painful work of flushing such poisons from our system.

  12. Joe

    FYI there is a church in Washington state whose pastor (@TobyLogsdon) recently announced on Twitter that they are going to support Jolly’s church financially. When I informed the pastor of Jolly’s statements he blocked me and hid my post.

    This “pastor” knows what Jolly said was wrong but apparently doesn’t care cause they agree on politics. What a shameful thing.

  13. Jo R

    I wonder what the relative stats are on achieving a conviction against a rapist when the victim survives compared to when the victim dies. Because if dead victims mean lower conviction rates, then victims suffer even more while perps suffer even less.

    I guess women ought to buy those little hollow rings and a supply of cyanide tablets to fill them, so that we have our ultimate rape-prevention strategy readily available. 🙄🙄🙄

    • A2bbethany

      Lol that’s what I thought too! I guess all females from birth (because pedophiles) should have a suicide method available at all times! So even a threat of rape, and we kill ourselves….. except there’d be no females left! And what about being objectified? Should we dramatically drop dead, if we realize a man is lusting? Because after all….. that’s our fault too! Watch humanity last 5minutes…..

  14. Helen

    Thank you for calling this what it is – evil. There’s no other word for it. I’m certain this man doesn’t know Jesus. I pity him and especially his wife.

    And no, Mr Jolly, you can’t say that your wife would choose death instead of be raped, the fight, flight, freeze response is INVOLUNTARY. And when there’s a power imbalance there’s no chance of fighting or fleeing so your brain will choose freeze to survive. Our brains are amazing creations!

    It makes me sick how there are so many people who say being raped is sin, rather than ‘raping someone is sin’, and then justify rapists’ actions, like ‘she was asking for it by how she dressed.’ Sick, sick, sick. I bet this man’s never spoken out against the evil of rape.

    • Sarah

      Yes, exactly. How dare he speak for her? What does he know about anything?

      When I was 21 and had my bum grabbed on a dark street by a motorcycle taxi driver who attempted to put his penis in my hand at the same time (eeeeeew!!) my reaction was flight. I ran about fifteen city blocks. I was asked years later (by another woman!) why I did not fight. The truth is that the instinctual response took over, and I’m glad it did because fighting rarely works in these situations!

      • Hannah

        So sorry that happened to you. Grateful the flight response kicked in.

    • Jo R

      Since he uses the word “wimmin” at one point, it’s pretty obvious which way the wind blows in his world.

      He wonders why Bathsheba told David, rather than her husband, that she was pregnant. Why wouldn’t she? David was the one who impregnated her. We know that because her husband had been where HE was supposed to be (out in the battlefield with the rest of the army) and that she had just purified herself from her menstrual flow. That clearly means she’s now pregnant by someone other than her husband, which in turn means she would be presumed to have committed adultery and therefore be subject to stoning.

      Why didn’t Bathsheba cry out, like the law says a woman should do when a man is raping her in a city? What was the point? The king’s own men had come to fetch her, so would they have then come to her rescue just because she screamed?

      Why is it so hard for people—really, men—to accept even the possibility that David raped Bathsheba? A little too close to home, perhaps?

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Again, I think that many of these men have never experienced sex that was truly consensual and intimate. If you believe that women don’t enjoy sex, but are still honored to receive your penis, then how is your marriage different from rape?

        And indeed, Wilson talks about how sex isn’t an egalitarian pleasure party, but is instead about conquering and subduing (his words). He describes marital sex in rapey terms.

        • Bre

          That quote by Wilson always makes me want to scream. Aside from healthy relationships, it has no basis in biology. The experience and process is different but both men AND women have the parts and chemical reactions to feel sexual pleasure. So is the clitoris a oops as a result of sin like disease or what? It’s like these guys haven’t even looked at a basic biology textbook on human reproduction and anatomy😳

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I think Wilson doesn’t realize he’s telling on himself. Or he doesn’t care.

  15. Lauren

    Jolly shows he only has a children’s Sunday School level of understanding of Daniel. The book of Daniel is full of cases where Daniel goes unpunished for standing up for God’s policies.

    In the two instances Jolly refers to (lion’s den and fiery furnace), Daniel is trapped in a legal setup by a power-grabbing majority, and God displays his glory and diety to the king (who claims to be the son of the diety), the people, and the Israelite diaspora that Daniel has the connection with God, not the king.

    Thus setting the stage for the common empire that eventually turns into the Roman Empire to allow Jerusalem to have a living “taproot” so to speak for God’s forever kingdom. (Cyrus, Ezra, Nehemiah, etc…)

    Why this is significant? One comment provides a red flag insight into his theology. God isn’t the harbinger of death that Jolly and others claim for him to be. He is the bringer of life and server of mercy, which is evident in our very existence.

    This is my favorite line:

    “If the only proof that it was assault is that you are dead, then if you are alive you weren’t assaulted. And if you weren’t assaulted, then you aren’t a victim. And if you aren’t a victim, then there wasn’t a perpetrator.

    See how convenient that is?”

    • Codec

      That arguement in quotes has a shape. It has 360 points and is generally considered a bad shape for logical syllogisms. It is a circle. This statement by Jolly is madness.

  16. CMT

    Part of me wants to say surely this is fringe lunacy and not worth engaging with. But, sadly this man and his ilk are probably only taking things that many people believe, but wouldn’t say so bluntly, and carrying them to a logical but abhorrent conclusion.

    It really breaks your brain, though, doesn’t it? What other form of violent crime is the victim required to risk their life to resist, or else be considered complicit? I’m willing to bet that if a mugger stuck a gun in a man’s face, ol’ Pastor J wouldn’t say the guy was to blame for handing over his wallet.

    It’s often said that rape is about power, not sex. The “death before rape” nonsense seems like it’s coming from a belief that sex itself is about power. Not love, not intimacy. Just who puts what body part in whom. What a horrible way to be in the world.

  17. Maureen

    Thanks for unpacking this dangerous nonsense. I remember the first time I came across this horrific idea within Christian circles years ago: Preston Sprinkle – supposedly an expert on sexuality since he is the the president of the Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender – wrote a piece about Esther saying she should have “resisted” being taken and she should have chosen death rather than “sex” and then marriage with a pagan King. Sounding just like Jolly he wrote “’But she didn’t have a choice,’ you say. ‘She would have been killed if she resisted king Xerxes!’ Yes, this is probably true. But the Bible encourage obedience even if it costs you your life.”

    This idea is cruel and as you stated, communicates to sexual abuse and assault victims of all ages that their violations are not really violations at all since they are still alive. Thanks again, for calling out this nonsense.

    • Sarah

      Ah, that makes me sad. I listen to his podcast fairly regularly since Sheila and Rebecca appeared on his. It could be that he’s done some growing since he made that statement? I know I have – three years ago prior to what you might call a deconstruction phase I’ve gone through, I would not have believed that Bathsheba was raped (thanks, internalised misogyny!) I venture to hope that, from Preston’s podcasts, he no longer believes that. I might write in to his Q&A podcasts he does to find out.

    • Codec

      Esther was a hero who was able to keep a clear head and save thousands of lives after being thrust into a bad situation. That takes courage. Haman was the bad guy and Xerxes was abusive. Esther acted in a way that I consider inspiring.

  18. exwifeofasexaddict

    Giving this guy the most generous interpretation possible…….
    When you live life from a position of privilege, it’s easy to go around saying how everyone should behave, having never lived life as an oppressed person. It’s easy to say black is black and white is white, when you have never been confronted with any shade of gray. You think “This is an easy call. Just don’t do the wrong thing. I’d rather die than do something wrong.” But real life is different for women, for POC, for queer people. And not all situations are as cut and dried, black and white as they think. It reminds me of the person (Lincoln?) who said any white person who thinks slavery is a good thing should volunteer to be a slave. When you think of it like that, that you wouldn’t want to live like that, it’s easy to see that you’re mistreating people. I’d like to see this ******* live as a woman for a year. Heck, even a month. See how he likes it.

    Of course, if I’m not being generous, I’ll just call him a misogynist and call for him to be blacklisted. (Except there’s too many of them for a blacklist to work.)

    • Nathan Wachsmuth

      Don’t encourage that he’d probably take the opportunity because he thinks its all fun and games.

  19. Mara R

    Hebrews 2:17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

    The problem with these he-man woman haters like Jolly is that they want to be the “High Priests” among men. But they work so hard to separate themselves from women and not be like women that they disqualify themselves from the position of even a regular level priest or the fivefold ministry.

    In the above passage it talks about how much like people Jesus was and how important it was for Him to be fully human so He could be merciful and understand.

    Jolly is not merciful. He doesn’t want to understand. He doesn’t want to help women. He likes being able to judge them. He likes his perceived position of authority and superiority over women. He likes sitting in the judgement seat of Christ completely oblivious to how unqualified he is to this to be there.

  20. EOF

    This is truly disturbing and yes, evil. Very much so. Sickening. Horrifying.

    It reminds me of a FB comment I read recently. (I really wanted to respond to the commenter but I was too enraged to pull together a coherent reply.)

    She said that she would put up with abuse rather than sin and be unsubmissive to her husband. It’s easy to stand on her high hill and declare that she *would* put with an abuse. It’s an entirely different scenario to *be* abused.

    • Estelle

      EOF, I wonder how they would have responded if asked how that tactic (being submissive no matter what) worked for Sapphira?

      Easy to think up witty responses after the fact!

  21. Laura

    If you are a witch, you will float (or not burn). And having proved you are a witch we will find alternative measures to kill you!
    If you are not a witch, you will drown or burn alive. Opps…

    We really haven’t changed much, have we 🤦‍♀️

  22. Lynn C

    Reading this just made my stomach drop. I experienced this to a lesser degree as a child from a church. I was told by a youth pastor that if I was really being abused then I would be happy to go to jail instead of going back home, that I should choose to do something that got me arrested so I wouldn’t have to go home and since I wasn’t willing to do that I wasn’t really being abused. The context here was that my parents sought help from the church because someone (not me) reported them for abuse and they told everyone I was lying. Sadly, and what my parents did not know, was that I had not actually disclosed anything and I have no idea when or who reported them for abuse.

    As a child, I believed what he said and I was very confused. All I knew was that I did not want to go home (though I never said this to anyone), and I had done nothing wrong to go to jail. I was just scared and this made everything worse. Most significantly, what this youth pastor told me made me believe that what was happening to my body was okay. It reinforced my silence, and I knew that even if I wanted to, I could never tell anyone at church about what was happening because they believed whatever my parents had said and no one cared if I was safe or not.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That is heartbreaking, Lynn. I’m so sorry. Did your parents ever admit what they did? Do you know if that youth pastor is still in ministry?

      • Lynn C

        No, they did not ever admit what they did and I never did disclose (even to the social workers who got involved). Yes, that youth pastor is still working at the same church this happened at.

        • Helen

          That’s absolutely horrific. And what a slap in the face that must be to know that he’s still working at that church. No child should have to go through that, and then be told that you’re making it up because you don’t want to go to jail (where you’d likely be further abused anyway). Pure evil.

    • exwifeofasexaddict

      What a stupid, stupid man. As if the only two choices are home and jail. As if people don’t get abused in jail. And h calls himself a “pastor”. Sorry for the name calling, but I have little patience for such stupid people saying stupid things to little girls.

  23. Codec

    You know what I think the worst part of this is? It is saying that it is better to end it all if something evil happens to you. That is madness. Those who have gone under injustice and evil have been some of the loudest and most clear voices about the power of forgiveness, perseverance, justice, mercy, and the value of life. Look at Viktor Frankl the man went through the holocaust, look at Corrie Ten Boom, look at early martyrs. The woman or man who has been sexually assaulted is not the one at fault.

    • Nathan

      The theory seems to be that when things like this happen, you’re “tainted” beyond any hope of recovery. And of course, they say that this only applies to women. A man can always be forgiven.

      • Codec

        I refuse to believe that people can not find forgiveness. I refuse to believe that a person who has suffered injustice can not be comforted and that things can not be made right. It is a cruel nightmare to think that things like forgiveness and justice and mercy are beyond us. I refuse to believe it because it would mean that my asking for forgiveness means nothing. I refuse to believe it because it would mean that it is impossible to help my fellow man.

  24. Anonymous

    Sheila, this is so powerful and important about what you wrote about this hidden rape culture that is in part of the church. As a woman who escaped an abusive marriage of almost 25 years from a man who claimed to be a Christian, used scriptures to justify his abuse and was a youth pastor and elder at one point, I experienced this type of abuse regularly in my marriage. I never heard any Christians speaking out about this until more recently and all those years I felt trapped and confused. I can’t thank you enough for speaking clearly and boldly on behalf of all the women in the church and Gods desire for women and the importance of deep respect and protection for us as human beings with equal value and worth.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad you found me and you find this helpful! And I’m so sorry for the abuse you suffered, and sorry that the church made it worse, not better. I will fight this to my dying breath (which is perhaps ironic to say on this post).

  25. Meghan

    HECK YES SHEILA!!! You should write more stuff where you let your filter ease up just a wee bit, because this is FIRE!!! Let justice roll like a mighty river!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Maybe it’s COVID? 🙂 I told Rebecca today I want to do a podcast episode called The Myth of the Magic Penis. We’ll see if I still feel that way when COVID has passed.
      ID h

      • Laura

        The Myth of the Magic Penis sounds like an interesting podcast.

        • exwifeofasexaddict

          Once upon a time there was a little penis. He felt bad about being so little, so he decided to go to the sorcerer for a spell…..

      • Mara R

        The magic penis isn’t new. There are phallic symbols all over the place present and past in all kinds of archeology. Baal worship included phallic symbols.

        The new part is that men in the church are embracing this heathen/pagan/Baal thing and are saying it’s from Jesus.

        • CMT

          I thought of “cult of domesticity” and the perception that a “good” woman only wanted sex to please her man and to become a mother. Also functions to keep the magic penis the star of the show.

          The sad irony here, of course, is that straight gals generally do have a healthy appreciation for penises if given half a chance! But if you are beaten over the head that one party’s sexuality is all important and the other is there to serve them, neither one gets the chance to experience genuine enjoyment of the other.

        • Laura

          Patriarchy is basically phallic worship. It’s all about the man and his penis getting what he wants.

          • Jo E

            Yes! Exactly!! That somehow, just by having a penis, men are automatically more godly, more holy and, obviously, more deserving!

      • Meghan

        Don’t let that feeling pass. These things need to be said. I commented below about some additional thoughts I had that I finally felt ready to express after raging a little while. Survivors deserve a better rhetoric.

      • Helen

        Please, please do!!

      • Bonnie Work Toney

        Please, Sheila, you need to do this podcast. We all need to hear it, and I don’t know of anyone else who can say it. Even if there need to be giggles at times like when Emerson Eggerich told on himself, because most of the mythology of the Magic Penis is pretty ridiculous. Besides, this is a case where if we can’t laugh about it, we might have to weep for the bad faith arguments being used on us and on our sisters, so let’s laugh. Let’s laugh, and let the power of godly laughter (I’m confident that God has a great sense of humor, since they created humans) help to destroy the myth.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yes, I’ve got it planned, but not until November (we’ve been planning out the podcasts to the end of the year!)

          And I will include your comment on it. 🙂

        • Laura

          For men who claim their penises to be magical, Eggerichs said he cannot tell if a woman is aroused. So much for that magical penis.

      • Lisa Johns

        I’d listen to that! 😆

  26. A

    So if the person is raped, they are sinning. But if the person “chooses” the death option, would that be suicide? Which I presume these people regard as sin also. I don’t think there’s a way to win this game.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly. Which is why women’s whole life is in the hands of the whims of bad men. She can’t win no matter what.

  27. Ally

    The status quo, as it were, is always seeking further radicalisation. Jolly will get support for this stance as it “furthers” the cause. That’s why none in the movement (those all-powerful Straight White Men) have come out against his stance.
    While we all can see it as disgusting and evil, those in power have a vested interest in not just maintaining, but furthering their beliefs. It’s also probably why you get so little support from the Straight White Male powerbrokers.

    I love your use of The Magic Penis™️! I’m also imagining that dear Jolly has never been affected personally or professionally by a survivor of CSA, and certainly not his wife – or she would not have been sufficiently “pure” for him to own. 🤮
    In truth rape occurs any time there’s a power imbalance, and it rarely looks outwardly violent (but is always an act of violence). There’s never a choice beyond surviving the encounter, which is the entire point. Are women’s lives so expendable that we’d rather the 1/3 of girls and 1/9 boys be killed in childhood since they were already (in his words) “in sin”?

    • Ally

      I *didn’t* say in my comment that I myself am a survivor of CSA. In what occurred to me, even the word ‘Forced’ sounds too strong. I was simply groomed into never ever fighting back. It didn’t even occur to me that I could. I NEVER liked or wanted it, hated everything about it, but did nothing to stop it, because I was completely powerless. I’m healed enough to know that it was never my fault, even for not speaking about it until adulthood. But just wanted to give that deliberate clarity on what exactly Jolly is implying: that even if my 5yo self “should” have/could have done anything to change the outcome, I never should have been placed in such a position. I’m okay too, but I want other survivors to know that it’s okay to reject and call out any comments from so-called helpful pastors or spiritual leaders who blame the victims. ❤️

      • Helen

        Thank you Ally, it’s helpful to hear that as someone processing something similar from my past. One of my abusers groomed me and I find it hard reading these sorts of victim blaming statements because rape doesn’t always look like being forced but it doesn’t mean it’s not still rape.

      • Laura


        I don’t know for certain if I’m a survivor of CSA. I suspect that I had been touched inappropriately by a family friend at 5 years old. I know it was not my fault and whatever “memories” I had made it difficult for me in my marriage to my ex, who was sexually abusive to me and “I was simply groomed into never ever fighting back.” When I tried to fight him off me, he stormed out of the bedroom. This happened when I was asleep and sometimes I woke up to him taking advantage of me. Other times, I pretended to remain asleep because I was afraid if I fought him off, he might get violent. So, yeah, I can understand being groomed not to fight him off.

        Thankfully, I left that marriage 20 years ago.

        • Ally

          Laura, I’m so sorry for your experience.
          The nature of perversion is insidious; gaslighting its victims into compliance. That’s why it’s particularly hard to know when boundaries are violated, and particularly evil to suggest that fighting back would or could possibly make a difference. Violent stranger assaults are by far the rarest form of sexual assault, and an extremely poor example from Jolly in the first place.

          If you are able, I would suggest speaking about this further with a therapist or trusted friend who can offer further clarity for you.

  28. Bonnie

    These ideas from these men stem from self-righteousness and not the righteousness we have in Jesus. The focus is on sin and doing everything we can to be “righteous”. Love, along with Righteousness through the work of Jesus, has been thrown out the window.
    An example is expecting or demanding a couple to get married because they are sleeping together is not love towards them. What if they should rather split up because the relationship is horrible? Because bringing children into it would be horrible for the children? Because they don’t love each other? Simply “avoiding sin” or “being righteous” in one’s own or another’s eyes is not what Jesus died for. We are to truly LOVE each other and see things through His eyes always.

  29. Linda B.

    I’m still in shock about these comments made … this truly is one of the most vile things I’ve ever heard from a person who is supposed to be sharing the Good News of the Gospel…the love of Jesus…
    I feel like throwing up… All day, as this has been ruminating in my mind – I keep discovering new horrifying things about the thought process of this “Christian Pastor”.

    After I read this this morning, my first thought was – that he has clearly missed this Scripture: “But if the man encounters an engaged woman in the open country, and he seizes and rapes her, only the man who raped her must die. Do nothing to the young woman, because she is not guilty of an offense deserving death. This case is just like one in which a man attacks his neighbor and murders him.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭22:25-26‬ ‭CSB‬‬
    Is Jolly above God & God’s clear laws about the horrific crime of rape? To me, God’s law is equating attacking & raping with attacking & murdering someone.

    Then I realized, that Jolly would probably say that Scripture doesn’t apply, since he’s talking about a married woman… yet the fact that he would some how even be able to equate rape with adultery/sexual sin – that he actually thinks this in his mind & he stated this is just abhorrent.

    The whole scenario is deeply disturbing… someone who has a gun to their head is already being victimized by an act of violence, a crime! Yet, Jolly chooses this scenario in which to press a woman to make an unimaginable & hopeless choice. No regard to the psychological trauma going on… but she must choose, with a gun to her head: have sex with someone else or die. This seems like a very Twisted Version of “Would You Rather…?” Like he seriously thought this up? So being forced to have sex with someone who is not your spouse – by way of a gun to your head is violent coercion, which is indeed rape. It is not sinning against God or breaking marriage vows. So a woman is supposed to choose for her life to end… leaving children, loved ones – because someone else chooses to violate her?? This is vomit-inducing to me.

    It would seem that Jolly has also forgotten the Grace & Mercy of Jesus, for the woman who was actually caught in the very act of adultery & dragged before His feet. Interestingly, where was the man? Perhaps he was a religious leader or someone “high up” so his buddies let him slip away (sounds familiar of late) and then left the woman to bear the brunt of it alone. Jesus said to her accusers “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Of course they dropped their stones, one by one & left. When it was just the woman and Jesus, He said “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” To which she replied, “No one, Lord.” “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

    Clearly, rape and adultery are not the same… but I want to point out – that Jolly would rather that a woman, even his Wife, die or commit suicide rather than “sin against God” – yet we have Jesus, our Creator, telling an actual adulterous that He does not condemn her & to go and sin no more… Jesus proved her life mattered, that He who created her loved her & set the scenario in place – so that she wasn’t stoned to death by her accusers. Jolly has missed the very essence and heart of God – to think that the life of a woman who is a victim of violent coercion is not worthy of life, when Jesus shows the life of an actual adulterous is. Since Jolly somehow thinks rape in this sick example is adultery, he is still going against the example of what Jesus would have done.

    The placement of blame on the woman, who might want to chose her life, (heaven forbid this horrific circumstance actually occur) is disgusting.

    Why do these men seemingly hate women so much? They truly don’t see rape as a violent crime that has life altering affects on the victim, not as serious as a murder or adultery – yet in the same token if a woman is raped, especially a Wife, well then her life doesn’t matter after all & in this case she’d be better off dead, rather than “willingly at gun point” have that vile person violate her.

    This person has no business being a Pastor. He needs to go and study the life & ways of Jesus, because he is nothing like Jesus…. How do views like this lead anyone to Jesus? They don’t… My heart grieves that anyone would think this mindset is from Jesus.

    I hope his Wife finds safety – and those Wives of the other “Pastors” with this woman-hating view point. I’m sure they are being horribly abused & they either can’t see it or they are frightened. May God rescue them & free them from their bondage.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I love your reference to the woman caught in adultery! Yes, Jesus made sure she didn’t die. Jolly looks nothing like Jesus. I really hope his wife is okay.

    • Estelle

      I had another scripture come to mind that is also relevant – the one in Deuteronomy where God places before the Israelites a choice and urges them to ‘Choose Life.’

      • Estelle

        And another: Jesus telling his disciples that he came that they may have life in all its fullness. Seems to me that God is very keen for human beings to live life exuberantly.

  30. A

    OK, I’ll admit I only skimmed through, because this was a tough read. But one thing I wanted to comment on was some stupid statistic he used about would you rather die than cheat on your spouse. Well, putting aside this is rape, to be honest I would rather hubby had the sex then die. And I am a super jealous woman who spent years dealing with the fact I was a virgin when we married but he wasn’t. And I’d still rather he have the sex (in this ridiculous rape scenario) than die. We can go through the hard work of healing from the trauma, but if he dies there is no healing or coming back from that.

  31. Meghan

    Came back after a bit to write down some very strong feelings I had that I wasn’t ready to type up yet when I first read.

    My husband was raped as a young teenager by another teenager at church youth group. What is Jolly’s solution for him, hmmm? Is he exempt from the resist to the point of death idea by virtue of possessing a penis? Or is there no solution for him because “real” men cannot possibly be powerless in his worldview??

    Excuse me, I need to go blow off some rage on a run. A 10k might do it. Might need a half marathon.

    • Jane Eyre

      My prayers for your husband. When I read this, I wondered about boys who were raped or men in prison who are overpowered. Their trauma is real and worthy of our prayers, and they don’t need this garbage either.

      I hope you enjoyed your run.

  32. A

    Craziness. If he believes death or Suicide is the answer, what is his take then on murder? If he’s going to be that way about rape, then he has to be that way about suicide (meaning some people believe Suicide is a sin that cannot be forgiven). So, his wife is up a creek, no matter what. What a wacko. Common sense?!

  33. Briea Peace

    “ But we need to start saying this. What these men are saying looks exactly like honour killings, and looks nothing like Jesus. Just because someone can recite the Apostle’s Creed does not mean that they have surrendered their life to Christ and are living by the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, they can be using Scripture to have power and control over others, using it for their own personal gain.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more! A person who is weaponizing scripture to control another being is not Christlike. There is no way around it. Thank you for saying this because it bothers me that these people call themselves Christian but do/say such hateful things against God’s daughters. Bottom line: they are not for God, they are for themselves.

  34. Anon

    His wife would rather die than disobey God. OK, that sounds nice. But consider what would happen if she took the death option.

    She would leave her husband a widower with (presumably) children to care for. He would have to handle all the trauma to the children, extended family, and friends. And the bureaucratic BS that always comes with losing a family member. That may sound like a callous thing to say, but anyone who’s been there knows what a headache it is, particularly if the person died without a will. And he would have to do all this while healing from HIS OWN trauma. Is this really a good outcome?

    The (completely absurd) scenario this pastor posited is one with no good choice. Things are not hunky-dory if the wife chooses death over adultery. There’s fallout from the adultery choice too, of course, but in that situation the wife is at least NOT DEAD.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You would think that he would know that NOT DEAD is a better option.

  35. Angela

    Just wow. Reminded me also of Catholics locking girls who had been assaulted up in “Magdalene houses,” sentenced to a life of hard labor and being called a sinful “fallen woman,” while their rapist didn’t even get a slap on the hand.

  36. A California Peach

    While I would never wish rape on anyone, I particularly hope it never happens to anyone in his sphere of influence (online, too). Should it, that survivor will have to endure the lack of empathy, potential church discipline, and general gross misunderstanding of being an accused adulterer while dealing with the trauma of rape. This is a cruel and torturous burden to place on a hurting soul.

    And if it were his wife–my heart breaks at the thought. I fear she would face recrimination and condemnation from her husband instead of the gentleness and grace that she should receive.

    He’s ignoring all the science about both disassociation and the fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response. Those are survival tactics, and the survivor doesn’t get a say in which the brain chooses.

    I cannot see the heart of God in his view. “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is comfortable, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NAS) Those verses describe the heart of the Savior for the hurting, the wounded, the exhausted, and–yes–the raped.

  37. Kayla

    Thank you Sheila for speaking out about this. 🙏 Cannot thank you enough.

  38. Theresa

    I am curious what you think about this: At the IBCD website, under “free resources”, and then under “sexual abuse”, I listened to Dr. Jim Newheiser (Executive Director) give a 2016 lecture on “Protecting your Church From Sexual Predators”. He said some things I found troubling and was wondering if you would comment.

    In part of his speech he talks about how it is important to teach our kids about abusers and how to ‘cry out’ because they have that responsibility. And then he quotes from Deut. 22:23-27. He contrasts the virgin in the city who did not cry out against the virgin in the country who did cry out. The former gets stoned along with the man, but the latter does not. And he says a woman has a responsibility to cry out. I was shocked! What kind of hermeneutics is this? I understand he is trying to apply scripture to sexual abuse, but are we supposed to go to the Mosaic law for our answers? I believe in the sufficiency of scripture, but how does that command relate to today? He even ignored the exact words. Verse 24 said ‘he lie with her’, verse 27 said, ‘he forcibly lies with her’. So the text distinguishes between the two, Newheiser only focuses on the crying out.

    I believe it is important to teach our children about the tactics of potential abusers, but he seems ignorant of the instinctual reactions victims are faced with. Can we overcome our initial instincts? I mean for example, park rangers tell us if we encounter a grizzly bear, play dead and cover your head. But my instinct would be to run. It seems reasonable to teach people to do things that go against their instincts, unless those instincts protect us. I believe Newheiser’s intention is good, but doesn’t this cross the line?

    I don’t want to disparage the whole website as they have some very good lectures, particularly from Chris Moles and Joy Forrest.
    Thank you for the work you are doing.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s fascinating! Thank you for bringing that to my attention; I may have to do something about this.

      Yes, they do not understand the trauma response, and are misusing Scripture. How awful.

    • CMT

      “You’ve heard it said…But I say to you…”

      Even if that pastor wasn’t misinterpreting/misapplying that bit of Deuteronomy, why go there for a guide? Those laws aren’t our touchstone of holiness. They were a starting point, but over and over Jesus pointed out where love would go above and beyond them. Not to mention, he acknowledged that some parts of the law were not even about holiness, but the hardness of people’s hearts. I think 21st century Christians can find much better tools than this for addressing sexual assault in their midst.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Exactly! Some people believe so firmly that Scripture is our guide to life that they can’t make common sense statements without referring to Scripture. So unless they can find justification in Scripture, they can’t claim it. This leads to “proof texting”, which is a terrible practice.

        It’s okay to draw on other forms of knowledge. Jesus is the Truth, the whole Truth. So He encompasses science!

        • CMT

          “Scripture is our guide to life” Oy don’t even get me started…

          I forget where rn, but I have heard this mindset described as “bibleanity.” I feel like that just about sums it up.

        • Theresa

          Thanks, Sheila,
          Yes, that is so true, Jesus is the whole Truth. I know he is misusing Scripture, I just struggle with articulating exactly how. That’s the problem with bad theology, there’s always an element of truth in them. That’s why they can be so deceiving.

          I found your blog and podcast about a month ago and they have helped me so much unravel false beliefs I have embraced for a very long time (particularly the whole purity culture movement). We’re probably close to the same age, and I too gave my kids the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” book. I thought it was wonderful and so good. Your modesty talks also have helped clarify so much in my mind.

          Also, I loved one of your first podcasts where you discussed Stephen Covey’s book and the 4 quadrants of our lives. I’ve been reflecting on that a lot and have been intentional about doing the important, not urgent things, so thank you! 👍

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yay! I’m so glad you found me and you’ve found it helpful!

  39. C

    It’s actually very simple. In Deuteronomy God has a whole whack of laws for what happens in rape. And guess what- the woman who was raped, who isn’t killed (spoiler alert) gets to be taken care of for the rest of her life and he can’t divorce her. So the only question we need ask is… why wasn’t Bathsheba stoned? Why was her outcome exactly like the betrothed, raped woman in Deuteronomy? Oh wait. It’s cause they fulfilled the law. And God honours her further by putting her in the lineage of Jesus thank you very much.

    Point set match. Dude ‘pastor’ needs to get back into his Bible and start wading through the Law.

    Signed- someone who experienced rape by church (don’t ask). My kid who was the result is I suspect rather grateful I’m not dead.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, C, such a great insight.

      And I’m so sorry for the trauma you went through, but so glad you have your kid out of it. And, yes, I’m glad you’re not dead too!

  40. Kristina

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that the example of the fiery furnace is a completely different sin from that of adultery. He is equating a bad sexual choice (not really, but go with it) as equal to turning one’s back on God and worshiping an idol. Which means that he sees a woman’s sexual fidelity to her husband as EQUAL TO her spiritual worship of the Almighty. And doesn’t that set up the husband as being equal to God?

    This man really wants to be worshiped. He really wants his sexuality to be as important as the worship of God Himself. He wants death to be better to his wife than “allowing” herself to be violated, in the exact same way that possible death was a better option than bowing to that idol.

  41. Kim

    This all makes my head spin. It’s so vile and ridiculous. Thank you Sheila for your boldness! Looking at this from another angle…. maybe David should have killed himself before murdering an innocent man and raping his soon-to-be widow!? I mean how can these pastors not apply their same bizarre logic to the other person in this equation?

  42. Angharad

    Something that occured to me today. Jolly says that if a wife is threatened with being killed if she doesn’t submit to rape, then she should accept death.

    How about if the rapist points the gun at her husband, and threatens to kill HIM if she doesn’t submit?

    Jolly is very keen that his wife should accept death rather than be raped. I wonder if he would be equally keen that his wife chose HIS death rather than be raped. I’d love to know.

    Let’s face it, that’s a much more realistic scenario. Most women are simply not given the choice between being killed or being raped. But there are numerous situations where a woman has been told to submit to rape if she doesn’t want her family killed.

  43. Emmy

    Reminds me of the Water Test during the Witch Hunt practices of the Middle Ages.
    As a part if the inquiry, a woman that was suspected of witchcraft was put into water in order to see if she drowned or not. If she drowned she was innocent but if she was able to float she was guilty of witchcraft and she was condemned to death.

    Hang if you do, hang if you don’t.

  44. Caroline Wagner

    I’m just appalled that he labels being raped as “cheating on a spouse” and “sinning against God”! How dare he. I feel terrible for his wife or any daughters that he may have because they obviously live with this man as their “head”. I would be absolutely terrified. This is not Jesus’s heart, and I believe He is grieved by Mr. Jolly’s stance on this matter and the fact that he is using his platform to spread his views that equate to smelly garbage.

  45. Nessie

    Alternate scenario, since his initial question was presented gender-neutrally but seemed more often taken as women “choosing” to “cheat.”
    Someone puts a gun to your head and demands that you masterbate while watching porn or die. ) No other options are possible in this scenario)
    What should a Christian choose:
    Masterbate to porn: it’s not sin
    Refuse, choosing deat[h]

    Wonder how these guys would respond to this.

  46. Asti

    When I was around 13 my mom took me to a church women’s Bible study. They passed around these scenario cards and had small groups discuss what we should do based on the Bible. Ours was that a man grabs your toddler from you and puts a knife to the child’s throat demanding you have sex with him. The majority of the women agreed that Biblically you should let him kill your child rather than agreeing to sexual sin. This sat deep in my soul for months and almost drove me away from God. I understand martyrdom but this didn’t sound like the same premise. Now that I have a child of my own, I think I would just have to apologize to God and accept the consequences if that’s how he viewed it because I would not be able to force myself to let someone hurt my baby in such a situation anyway. Wasn’t God vocal about how evil the child sacrifice of some religions was? The crazy part is that there wasn’t a single man at that meeting…

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Holy cow, that’s awful! i would have done ANYTHING to save my child. That’s disgusting. That must have been so traumatizing at 13!

  47. Where are the grownups????

    Aside from the misogynistic baiting and word salad:
    1) Every time a pastor hyper focuses on behavior, he diminishes Jesus’s sacrifice. (If people could have ever behaved “good enough”, Jesus would not have had to die.) It’s about trying to gain power over others. The power belongs to, was in, and is always in God. God had a plan for Bathsheba to be an ancestor of Jesus. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego survived the furnace because of God, not their furnace proof suits.

    2) God lives in reality with all its nuances and complexities. God was okay with Bathsheba being part of the lineage of Jesus. Trying to corner people into saying they would choose death is like an 8 year old’s playground taunt, saying his wife is better than Jesus’s ancestor.

  48. Bonnie

    Wow! Strange issue for Jolly to bring up. There is sexual violence against girls, women, men, boys. Sexual coercion is rape. To request a poll describing a very unusual if not unlikely scenario leaves me to wonder, how what he reads, watches and and how he thinks. His so called choice in his poll is really no choice; “She sleeps with him, it’s not sin”. This suggests a happy? pleasurable?willingness to sleep with a violent perp. And whose sin is it really?? I Wonder how Jolly’s “poll” would read if he wrote instead, “puts a gun to her head to force sexual “consent”, or her husband and/ or children would be shot”. Now who would be the sinner!!!??? NOT a “PASTOR” to recommend.

  49. JoB

    I am late to the game, but this post has made me mad at God and I am hoping someone can talk me down or point out something I am missing.

    So this guy Jolly’s “dilemma” is being rightly criticized as completely unfair. But how is it different than the theme I see through the Bible again and again:

    -God tells Abraham to kill his own son (and his son, who was strong enough to resist, to submit to being sacrificed), to prove his devotion to God

    – Jesus says don’t fear those who can kill the body, but fear the one who can throw body and soul into hell

    – the New Testament is full of admonitions that if a believer denies the faith under duress, his salvation may be lost (or it’s proved that his salvation was false in the first place). The NT refers to them as “cowards” who “love their own lives” more than Christ.

    Why can we say that it’s not wrong to submit to rape (ie, your body submits, but your soul has no desire for the act and in fact hates it) to escape death, and then turn around and say that if you submit to an outward sign of worship (ie, you bow a knee, mumble a phrase, burn a pinch of incense, but your soul has no desire for the false deity), you are an apostate and a coward and a denier of Christ?

    I don’t even know if I am making sense. But it seems like the God of the Bible is big on his followers following his commands to their own detriment, and I just don’t get it.

    • CMT

      JoB, I’m not the person you were hoping to hear a response from but I hear a lot of pain in your questions and I just wanted to say you’re not alone. I think you’re asking bigger questions than anyone could answer in this format, but they’re important ones.

      Here are a few more: How did Jesus treat people who were hurt or vulnerable? What did he do when a woman was about to be stoned for adultery? How did he respond when one of his closest friends lied and said he didn’t know who Jesus was? What does that say about God’s character and his priorities?

    • Angharad

      I don’t have all the answers, but a couple of thoughts that might be relevant:

      For one thing, there is a huge difference between doing something God asks us to and doing something a human being asks us to. God is perfect, never makes mistakes and never does anything wrong.

      God never had any intention of allowing Isaac to be killed. Abraham had doubted God’s ability to keep his family safe in the past, and he’d also doubted God’s ability to keep His promises. I think this story is more about God asking Abraham ‘What have you learned? Do you trust Me to keep my word now? Do you trust Me to keep your family safe?’

      There’s a huge difference between God telling Abraham to kill his son and a sinful human being telling someone to do something terrible.

      Also, there is a difference between choosing rape or death and choosing to deny your faith or death. In the first case, you are being forced to choose between two evil things that will be done TO you. In the second, you are being asked to choose between doing something wrong yourself and having something wrong done to you.

      • JoB

        Thank you, for your kind words and your thoughts. They were helpful to me.

    • Amber Turner

      Perfect sense. Not all scriptures are from God. The Bible’s original purpose has been raped.

  50. Erica Massey

    This is straight out of the Salem witch trials! If she sinks, she’s not a witch.

  51. Wayne N.

    I honestly don’t have words for what I’ve just seen above, referenced by the pastor. I completely agree that if a man reaches the point to where he wishes to rape a woman, he will not consent to killing her over gratifying his pleasure. He’d be far more apt to place her in isolation through kidnapping than cost the latter.

    Almost like a bank robber changing his mind at the location once thousands of dollars are in his duffle bag walking out the entrance. The odds of him dropping the bag at the door (gaining a conscience) is next to zero at that point.

    He should be ashamed of himself as a professing pastor to even place a false dilemma in the minds
    of women (victim) and men out there (perpetrator).

    He speaks like someone who’s gotten away with non-consensual sex quite honestly,… and is taking the ‘high ground’ in his mind to avoid a conscience being set on fire.

  52. N

    Ah, so I was meant to kill myself when I was 5 and the neighbour assaulted me. Thanks, “Christians”! The last 40 years of my life, my children, the time I spent in the classroom with all those students I loved and taught, all that should never have existed by your logic.

    If one in three are sexually assaulted in their lifetime imagine the population that would be left after that.

    The more I look closely at the church, the more I want to quit being associated with so-called Christianity, in case someone thinks I am one of those nasty people. I can’t stand the thought of being linked to these egregious creeps.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It truly is abhorrent! And I’m so sorry for what happened to you as a child. I can’t imagine!

      I’m just hoping for another Reformation, another sorting out. The problem right now is that we all use the same words–“Christian”, or “evangelical”, and yet some show no sign of serving Christ whatsoever. They only serve their own power. We need to be able to call them something different from ourselves. We need a divide, like happened during the Reformation, so people can clearly see there are sides. Because these people do not look like Christ. They do not serve Christ. They do not know Christ. But it is demoralizing to those who do to have these people spout the name of Jesus and spout Scripture as if they are in our group.

  53. Nancy

    I just read this article. I am 71 years old. I was raised thinking and believing without a doubt that I would choose death rather than lose my virginity before marriage. I think Elizabeth Smart stated very clearly the results of this teaching and belief. She said that such teaching caused her to not try and escape her captor and rapist. She said she was raised that a woman must be a virgin when she married. The example she was given to help her understand this was that if someone chews gum and then throws it in the street it is trash and no one would pick it up and chew it. Consequently she believed once she was raped no one, not even her parents, wanted her anymore because she was trash.

  54. Connie J Fait

    I’ve been thinking of the impending war on USA soil and know the horrific details of what women experienced in Ukraine.

    I am thinking of a woman above writing she would choose death than loose he virginity before marriage.
    My thinking right now if invading soldiers entered my home and wanted to rape me … would it be wrong to say:

    “NO! I won’t allow it or you must kill me? to not allow this sin of theirs upon me?” to not be sinned upon.
    Would this be the wrong christian response??? I would rather be a martyr.

    I’ve been a survivor of childhood and adult sexual trauma. Knowing that Russia and China would be invading I would expect similar tactics as in Ukraine.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Connie, I’m so sorry that you’ve endured so much sexual trauma. That’s just awful.

      At the same time, i really don’t want to see you use a lot of emotional and mental energy getting scared about something that is very, very unlikely to happen. Russia and China are not going to invade the United States. Russia is losing against Ukraine; China would never dare. What Russia is doing in Ukraine is evil, and we all need to help. But worrying about what may happen here is only going to hurt your mental health.

      Sometimes when I get worried about all the bad things that can happen I try to go help someone. When you get involved in your community, it’s easier not to get caught up in worries. I wish you all the best.


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