PODCAST: Should Pastors Give Sex Advice?

by | Sep 29, 2022 | Making Sex Feel Good, Podcasts, Sexual Intimacy | 14 comments

Should we expect pastors to give sex advice to the congregation? Is it ethical to even ask them to? Let's talk about the negatives that can happen when we expect clergy who are untrained in sex research to offer specific sex advice, and what churches can do instead!
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What happens when pastors give sex advice, but they aren’t trained to do so?

This week’s podcast we’re talking about a big question: is it ever useful to expect pastors to give specific sex advice? What is a part of the pastor’s job, and what simply isn’t?

If you want to listen in, follow one of the links below or simply listen in the embedded player here on the site. 

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:


Sheila: Welcome to the Bare Marriage Podcast.  I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk everything healthy, evidence based, and biblical for your marriage and your sex life.  And it is the end of September which means it is the end of our marriage misdiagnosis month.  We have been talking on the blog and a little on the podcast too about some of the ways that Christian marriage advice can sometimes misdiagnosis what the real problem is.  And then in so doing, they give the wrong solution.  Today on the podcast we’re going to look at sexual misdiagnosis.  And I’ve had this in my mind.  I’ve wanted to do this for awhile is I have been wondering what is it that people are actually hearing in their churches about sex.  Not just what are we reading in books because we’ve analyzed all the books, right?  You know that.  Just read The Great Sex Rescue.  But what are people actually hearing in church from their pastors?  And I get sent stuff all the time by people.  “Here’s my pastor’s sermon from last week.  He talked about sex.  It was terrible.”  And it’s a pastor of—a church of 150.  And I just—I don’t want to beat up on that pastor.  I don’t want to analyze that sermon.  It just doesn’t seem fair somehow.  But I did want to tackle this.  And I was trying to figure out what to do.  Well, I was sent an Instagram Live by a mega church pastor in Texas where he and his wife sat down and talked about sex.  And I thought, “You know, this is a really good one to analyze,” because, first of all, he’s a mega church pastor.  And so he does have a lot of people in his congregation.  He is someone who is active on social media.  So he’s already putting himself out there.  This isn’t me just spying on your church.  This is someone who has put it up on Instagram and is promoting it.  But the other reason is it’s someone that we are kind of familiar with, Josh Howerton who is at Lakepointe Church in Dallas, Texas.  We talked about him on the podcast a few weeks ago where we shared some instances of him plagiarizing.  And we talked about him last spring where he had misrepresented research, and he claimed that evangelical conservative complementarian women have the best sex lives.  And those couples have the best marriages.  And we showed how that was actually misrepresentation of the research, and it was much more nuanced than that.  He has not handled any of this criticism well, and he has just doubled down.  And so I thought, “Okay.  It’s really, really awkward to look at an individual pastor, but maybe this is someone that we could do,” because, honestly, this is something that he did do better than those other things.  And so here’s—we might be able to get just a different—a different perspective and, of course, also because this is the last Thursday of the month.  We do like to do podcasts that might be of more interest to some of our male listeners.  And hey, we thought you might be interested in sexual misdiagnosis and not just the marriage misdiagnosis.  And perhaps that’s stereotypical of me too.  My bad.  Before we get to that, I just do want to do a shout out again to our patrons.  We appreciate them so much.  We have a group of people who support us.  Some for as little as $5 a month.  Some for much more than that.  They’re part of an exclusive Facebook group.  They get unfiltered podcasts.  They get merch depending on their subscription level.  But their money is what enabled us to write She Deserves Better, our new book that’s coming out in the spring, because our royalties are split three ways.  We did not have the funds to be able to dedicate the time and energy into that book.  We would not have been able to do it without their support.  And even the stats for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex, the money helped fund Joanna doing the stats for us.  So our patrons are funding some really important stuff that we wouldn’t be able to do without them.  So we just want to say thank you to them.  And let you know that when you support us on patron, when you leave a tip in our tip jar in my store, when you buy our courses, or our merch like some of the things that are hanging on the wall behind me, our Be a Biblical Woman merchandise—“Set boundaries like Vashti.  Win battles like Jael.”—when you support us with that, it helps this podcast and blog keep going.  And so now, I would like to talk about our sexual misdiagnosis.  My daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach, is going to lead us through this discussion because she’s been the one who has analyzed this Instagram Live.  And so Rebecca and my husband, Keith, are now going to join me.  And I will let Rebecca take it from here.

Rebecca: First of all, I want to talk about the idea of pastors talking about sex in the first place.

Sheila: Okay.  The pastors and the pastors’ wives getting together to give, “Hey, here’s how to have great sex.” 

Rebecca: Because we talk a lot about authority and power differentials in terms of pastors and the average congregant.  So here’s how you can be spiritually abusive.  You can be manipulative.  That’s why pastor—clergy sex abuse is sex abuse and not just an affair, right?

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: The problem is—this is a really tricky one because the congregation, the elder’s board, also hires the pastor.  So in what other job situation, would it be appropriate for your bosses to tell you, “You have to share details about how people should be having sex and talk about sex in front of your coworkers, in front of your bosses, in front of everyone out there who is hiring you.  And you’re going to go and put—you and your spouse are going to go put some of your most intimate details of your life on the Internet”?  When would that not be considered sexual harassment in the workplace?  Genuinely.  No.  I genuinely mean this.  I think it is incredibly unfair because pastors go to seminary.  They don’t have Master’s in psychology with a focus in sexual therapy practices, right?  They are not educated in the research in this.  The only thing they have is their theological framework, which it’s fair to talk about the theology of sex in the pulpit.  Perfectly fair.  But then their own personal experience, and I’m going to be honest.  A lot of pastors have like the least amount of personal experience among sexually active people.  And so everyone knows who they’re talking about, right?  This is incredibly inappropriate on so many levels.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca: And I want to say that first and foremost I think that this is actually a breach of ethics to ask a pastor to talk about sex in terms of how sex works, how to make sex feel good, all that kind of stuff, when you’re also not, as a church, paying for them to have education in the research behind this and equipping them to do that because you are asking them to do something that would be sexual harassment at any other job situation.

Sheila: Yeah.  And the spouse is not an employee of the church usually.  

Rebecca: No.  But the spouse can’t say no because if the spouse says no then that looks bad on the pastor.  

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: So this is, again, where I’m not negating how much power pastors have over the average congregant.  I’m just also saying that pastors are at a really, really weird power struggle with the people like the elder’s board or the deacon’s board, whatever you want to call it, in your church.  And so I just want to say that first and foremost.

Sheila: Yeah.  And I also think like Keith and I—we’ve spoken at marriage conferences for years now.  And we always did the sex talk.  Pretty much always.  For 17 years every conference we talked at.  And we would be matched with different couples all—almost—we’d do the rounds.  We’d have different people who spoke.  We always did the sex talk.  And the reason was because nobody else wanted to do it.  And these were people who talked about marriage.  These were people who would get up in front and tell you all about their marriage, but people didn’t want to do the sex talk. 

Keith: Yeah.  Well, and the other thing too is I’m a doctor, right?  And so the way a doctor approaches things is very clinical, and it’s about what do most people experience.  Our automatic assumption is to talk about the issue and all the ways that that issue manifests and shows itself.  A pastor—the very nature of their job is to be personal, to connect, to talk about what they’ve personally experienced.  So when a doctor talks about sex and when a pastor talks about sex, it’s just going to be a different thing, and it’s just not fair for the pastor to be put in the position where they have to talk about sex in the way they’re used to talking about things which is about personal experience and all that kind of stuff.  It would be much healthier to have a much more detached, sort of clinical way of looking at it.

Rebecca: Well, and they kept on saying throughout the thing, “We’re being really vulnerable here, guys.”  You shouldn’t have to be vulnerable when you’re talking about sex in front of other people.  It’s always a little bit awkward.  I mean it was a bit of a learning curve to start talking about things like clitoris and orgasm and all that kind of stuff publically, of course, because of the discomfort of just those words.  Not because I’m personally being vulnerable.  And I thinks just going to—encapsulates a really big—genuinely a just is issue on my end.

Sheila: Yeah.  And the other issue with couples too is often you’ll get one person who is really comfortable talking about it and one person who isn’t.  And the person who is really comfortable may really, really, really want to do this.  

Keith: I’m relating very much to this.

Sheila: Yeah.  But with us, it wasn’t about sex particularly.  It was just talking in general.  We worked through that, et cetera.  

Rebecca: But you have to work through it.

Sheila: But you have to work through it.

Keith: For those of you who are new to the blog, we always joke about how I was just doing my regular job as a pediatrician one day, and Sheila came along and said, “Hey, how would you like to come and talk about all the intimate details of our marriage?”  And I was like, “Yeah.”  So that’s what we joke about all the time.

Sheila: Exactly.  Yeah.  And so we do need to be cognizant of the spouse who is the least comfortable should get to have veto on this.

Rebecca: Consent matters in everything, okay?

Sheila: In everything.  In everything.

Rebecca: Consent matters.  So let’s get into it.  I want to say, first of all, we’re going to talk about this more later on, but this had the best caveats for abuse, porn use, everything like that that we have ever seen.

Sheila: Yeah.  I was really, really impressed and very grateful.

Rebecca: Yeah.  We aren’t going to share the full quotes about porn.  But in essence, he was saying, “Listen.  Not all guys use porn.  If you’re using porn that is on you.”  He even said about how there’s these horrible teachings that, in essence, it’s okay where your eyes wander as long as you’re drinking at home kind of thing.  This idea that guys can get turned on by porn and then just take it out on their wife is not okay which is completely opposite from what we hear in many Christian spaces.  And so I’m really, really happy to hear that.  We do want to actually play you what he said about coercion because we want to talk about it.  So here’s that.

Jana: One thing to keep in mind is that we don’t weaponize physical intimacy.  And you can do that—

Josh: Sex.  Yeah.  We—yeah.  Sorry.  Yeah.

Jana: – by—you can do that by either withholding or demanding it and so making sure that you’re not doing either one of those things.

Josh: Yeah.  Can I just hop in there?  Jana talked about two things.  So she’s talking to the women.  Let me talk to the men.  Intimacy and sex in marriage can be weaponized in two ways.  Withholding.  “Yeah.  I’m mad at you.  And so you’re in the dog house for a couple weeks.”  Or men, particularly, wicked, honestly, emotionally manipulative—dare I say abusive in some ways—men can some leverage Bible verses to try to demand women to be—wives to be physically intimate with them in ways that they are not ready to.  And just very frankly, bro, if you’re doing that, I got no words for how far you’re missing the target.  The whole goal of this is to have a relationship of love and service to each other.

Jana: Mm-hmm.

Josh: If you’re weaponizing Bible verses to try to coerce your wife into intimacy, demanding something angrily, bro, again, I have no words for how off the mark you are.  Totally inappropriate.  And every time you do that, you are eroding the exact trust and vulnerability that a relationship needs to flourish sexually.  So yes.  No weaponizing.  No weaponizing either way.  Withholding or demanding.  Yeah.  

Rebecca: Now I want to say the good part is they said—they didn’t just say don’t rape your wife.  They said demanding things.  They said coercing and things you’re not ready for.  They actually gave examples of what coercion was.  So that was really, really good.  The bad thing is that they are equating withholding and demanding.  I’m sorry.  You can’t get arrested for not having sex with someone.  Rape and not raping someone are not equal, okay?  Not raping someone—sorry.  Not having sex with someone and then raping someone are not the same.  They are not the same at all.  And this is something that we do see quite often in Christian spaces, do I don’t want to be too harsh on Josh for this because he was so good about coercion.  And he really didn’t rail on women who are withholding.  He really didn’t.  But I just want to say, as an aside, if you are someone who says, “Yeah.  You can be manipulative with sex two ways,” no.  No.  No.  You can be a rapist.  And then there are libido differences, and we can talk about that differently.  Right?  And there are obviously some women who withhold sex to punish their partner, but you have to ask why.  Because in our study, a lot of times we found that women who are in sexless marriages or marriages where they’re very sexually manipulative—there’s also things like porn use, like abuse, like—there’s all sorts of other horrible things going on.  So we have to be very, very careful when we say that withholding sex is the same as raping someone.

Sheila: Exactly.

Keith: And the answer isn’t just to stop withholding.  The answer is to figure out what the issue is that’s going on and deal with that issue.

Rebecca: Exactly.   

Sheila: The answer is to stop raping.

Rebecca: Whereas the answer is to stop raping your wife.  Oh my gosh.  No.  I did want to say that.  But that major caveat to his coercion thing, but that’s only one of the sections where he talked about coercion.  He talked about it a couple of times in this Instagram Live.

Sheila: Yeah.  And honestly, it was just so refreshing to see someone talk about it well.  

Keith: This is so good because exactly—people talk all the time about these verses.  And they use 1 Corinthians 7 as a weapon.  And it was great to hear him use weaponize because it’s—that’s not the point of those verses.  And to see someone in the evangelical church saying that was really refreshing—

Rebecca: Exactly.

Sheila: Yeah.  

Keith: – because that’s not the viewpoint that most evangelicals are saying.

Rebecca: Talking about another viewpoint that’s not normal, he also had a fantastic little diatribe that he went on about the gate keeping message that girls are told before they’re married.

Sheila: Yeah.  It almost sounded like he read The Great Sex Rescue.

Rebecca: Honestly between those two things, I genuinely wonder if Josh has read GSR.  I genuinely do.  And I want to say huge props for that.  If he has been looking into our research and trying to update what he’s saying and stuff, I want to say huge props to Josh.  We need pastors to be willing to learn.  And this kind of stuff that he’s saying would never have been said five years ago.  And so I really do think that he’s learning and growing, and I want to give him props where props are due.  That’s fantastic.  So here’s what he said about gate keeping.

Josh:     Hey guys, so earlier we were saying it’s not a healthy situation in marriage when it feels like the husband is always playing offense and the wife is always playing defense.  Well, hey, don’t train your relationship to function that way while you’re dating.  So here’s what’s not cool.  What’s not cool is telling your Christian girlfriend, “Well, man, boys will be boys, and my desire is really big.  So you’re going to have to be the police to make sure I don’t cross any boundaries.”  Nope.  Bro, it’s your job as the leader of that potentially future marriage—it’s your job to exercise spiritual leadership by you being the one that owns walking in godliness in that dating relationship.  And ladies, really honestly, if you’re dating somebody who refuses to respect sexual and physical boundaries, that’s not the guy for you.  Find some guy that will respect your future marriage because he is telling on himself right now.  

Rebecca: Now I personally don’t like the whole leadership focus, but I really respect the internal consistency.  If you’re going to be a church that believes in male leadership, then you should believe in male leadership.

Sheila: Yes.

Rebecca: I want to say that.  Okay?  I really respect that.  Okay?

Keith: You don’t need to be a leader to be a good Christian and follow Christian teachings, right?  

Rebecca: Totally.  No.  But if you’re someone who believes that men should take the initiative in leadership, then they should be taking the leadership in terms of sexual boundaries.    

Sheila: Yes.

Rebecca: He should be the brakes.  Because if you believe that one of them has to be the brakes and you’re a complementarian, it should be the dude.  Logically speaking. 

Sheila: So we were happy about that too.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Major props to him for that.  So he’s saying this idea that if you don’t want your wife to struggle with putting on the gas when you’re married, don’t teach her how to put on the brakes.  Again, I wonder if he read GSR.  So those are some things that he said that we really, really liked.  Okay.  I thought were truly fantastic.

Sheila: And can I just say one thing about that too?  Those are the important things.  When you’re talking about sex, the most—some of the most important things for a pastor to mention are the things that would qualify as abusive.

Rebecca: Exactly.

Sheila: Like helping people who are in abusive relationships recognize, “This is not normal.  This is not safe.”  And so these are the—if pastors say nothing else, these are the important things to say.  

Rebecca: I agree entirely.  If this were normal—if this had been normal for the last 20 years, we would not be writing GSR.  We still would be writing the orgasm course and Boost Your Libido.

Sheila: And GSR, The Great Sex Rescue.

Rebecca: Sorry.  The Great Sex Rescue.

Sheila: We always call it GSR among ourselves.

Rebecca: Especially since we’re often talking about it around a kid and we don’t want to say the word sex.  It’s in the title.  Around toddlers—and no one needs a toddler in the grocery store being like, “My mommy wrote The Great Sex Rescue.”  But that’s the thing is if this had been the norm for the last 20 years we’d be writing different books than The Great Sex Rescue.  We would have written a very different book.  Okay.  So now let’s talk about where things started to go a little bit off though.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca: Okay?  One of the things that did really kind of bother me when I first listened to this was that there’s a misunderstanding of how Christian men can be sexually sadistic and selfish even if they are believers.  Okay.  So Josh says that there’s—he kind of does the Lord, liar, lunatic but with sex.  He talks about it as god, gift, or gross.  Or god, gross, or gift.  So I’m just going to read out some quotes of what he said.  We’re not going to play you the whole clip because it’s in a longer thing.  But you’re free to go and watch it.  But what he says is to treat sex like a god is because you have unrealistic desires and blah, blah, blah.  Okay.  And he said blah, blah.  Not me.  “Now that was irreligious people.  Religious people sometimes who come from fundamentalist backgrounds, unhealthy religious backgrounds, they don’t treat sex like a god.  They treat it as gross.”  So Josh and Jana are presenting non Christians as being sexually ravenous and unsatisfied.  But if a Christian has sex issues, it’s that they’re frigid.

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: Right.  So they do seem to present it as if you’re a Christian, you can’t be treating sex as a god because you already have a god.  But what we’ve seen in all these Christian materials is that men are very much allowed to be unsatisfied, ultra demanding, they’re allowed to want sex three times a day, and that’s portrayed as normal in books like Every Man’s Battle.

Sheila: Well, Every Man’s Battle says—we talk to some women or some men who are demanding sex once, twice, even three times a day.  If your husband is demanding sex more than once a day, that’s a problem.  Actually, he used the word coercion.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Coerced.  Yeah.

Sheila: Yeah.  

Rebecca: If he’s coercing—

Sheila: You into sex one, two, three times a day—yeah. 

Rebecca: Yeah.  But it’s the idea that it’s just totally—there are no Christians out there who would be treating sex like a god I did find a little bit problematic.  But, again, that is me nitpicking.  I want to be very clear.  I think that as pastors get more and more educated we’ll see this happen less often.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  I think it’s just really important to note that just because you’re a Christian does not mean you have a healthy view of sex.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And the problem is—

Keith:   Absolutely.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And the problem is then you have these wives who are then see as frigid because they only want sex once a week.  Right?  

Keith: Right.  So it’s this extreme, extreme thing.  You’re either a hedonist or you’re frigid.

Rebecca: Exactly.

Keith: And there’s no other dysfunction you can have besides those two.  Okay.

Rebecca: Exactly.  Yeah.  And I’m not saying Josh and Jana said that in the podcast.  I’m just saying that that is what this mindset leads to.  

Sheila: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca: And that feeds into this other park, okay?  And this we actually are going to play.  Jana is talking to the women about how they need to prioritize their husbands, and she says this.

Jana: Honestly, he needs to feel—he feels very affirmed by you when you want to be physically intimate with him.  And so honestly, this is something in my own life—the Holy Spirit convicted me and convicted me hard that I—as a woman, I think sometimes you get so busy with everything you have going on.  Everyone is busy.  Everyone has a ton in your life.  And so you’re going throughout your days, and everything feels crazy and all that.  And so you get to the end of it, and you’re tired.  And you feel like you have nothing left to give.  And so the Holy Spirit just really convicted me that I was being selfish, and we are one flesh.  And I can’t think about just my needs or being tired.  I was totally disregarding Josh’s needs and that he just revealed that to me and that has been something that I’ve had to not only apologize for but walk in repentance.  So you show—

Josh: Glad repentance.

Jana: Glad repentance.  Yes.  And that’s how you show your repentance when you’re walking in repentance.  And so that is something that God just kind of revealed to me.   So don’t make your husband feel like you’re always on defense against him.  Remember, you are a team.

Josh: Play some offense.

Jana: Yes.  

Rebecca: Here are my thoughts that I wrote down when I heard that, okay?  Is this bad advice?  Not necessarily.  But it depends entirely on the context of the marriage.

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: I’m too tired.  Is it because he’s not pulling his weight?  Or because life is just tiring and you just happen to have a responsive libido?  In that case, you might need to be told, “Yeah.  You should prioritize it,” okay?  And we’ll get into that later.  Or is sex enjoyable so the problem really is prioritization?  Or is the issue that she doesn’t like sex?  In a marriage where she has a great time, this could be okay advice.  But in a marriage where sex is one sided, this is horrendous advice.

Sheila: Yes.

Rebecca: But also what are we defining as selfish?  Jana said she was being selfish.  And in her marriage, maybe she was.  I don’t know.  But in other marriages, is it selfish for a mom who is six weeks postpartum who says, “Yeah.  The doctor says we can, but I just can’t”?  Is that selfish?  Is it selfish for a woman who is having a horrible, horrible week at work where her boss just reamed her out and she’s super stressed?  She comes home.  She says, “I just can’t tonight.  I had a horrible day.”  Is it selfish for a woman who has a headache to say, “I’m not in the mood”?  Right?  At what point is it selfishness?  At what point is it that your wife is not a sexual vending machine and your wife is a person?  And that there are complications in life.  And sometimes that means sex is not going to happen on demand.

Sheila: Right.  I think what I noticed too here is they’re equating needs, right?  She’s saying, “I was prioritizing my needs instead of Josh’s needs.”  And this is the problem is which needs are we talking about.  And I think that’s what you’re getting at.  Because what he’s experiencing isn’t necessarily a need—or is it a desire and a drive?  Right?  If you think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, okay—the things that we most—food.  We need food.  We need shelter.

Rebecca: Sleep. 

Sheila: We need sleep.  Sleep is a much higher physical need than sex.  Okay.  We need air.  We need water.  So sex is somewhere far above that.  I just wonder sometimes when we’re saying, “He has needs, and I have needs,” are they necessarily equivalent?  And for some couples, they are.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  I think that the reason they don’t answer that question in this Live is because, frankly, they’re not horrible people.  They have an awesome marriage.  I genuinely think that’s why.  I think it didn’t answer it because they likely—it likely was just an issue of—and we don’t ever talk about individual’s personal lives.  The problem is that they’re using their personal lives as the examples in here.  So let’s just—I just want to say this because I want to make sure people know we’re not trying to say that Josh is a horrible husband or any of these things.  I think looking at the Instagram Live and what they said about their own lives it sounds like they were just a couple who they got married and probably—based on the research that I’ve read and how things ended up for them, probably just took them awhile to figure out how to make sex work and make it be pleasurable for both of them.  And so as a result, maybe she’s just got a really responsive libido.  And they enjoy each other.  They have a great time, but she does need to prioritize, right?  And that’s genuinely the life-giving advice to them.  Because if she prioritizes, he’s patient.  He’s not demanding.  Nothing like that.  But then they have more fun.  They’re more connected.  They’re having a fantastic time.  They can have jokes and laugh, and they feel connected and lovey dovey and all that’s—that’s lovely.  But just like what you’re saying is what if it’s not an issue of just, “Oh, I would rather watch Netflix right now”?  What if it’s an issue of, “I have twins”?

Sheila: And what we hear so often is this she is tired, but he needs sex.

Rebecca: Yes.  But he needs sex.  Yeah.

Sheila: And what we don’t hear is but why is she tired.  And is she tired because she is taking on way too many—way too much of the household duties and the mental load?  

Keith: It’s interesting because earlier in the talk he talked about how you can’t weaponize Scripture, right?  You can’t use Scripture to coerce people into sex.  So I’m just a bit puzzled now because she feels like her not wanting to have sex more was a sin in some way that she needed to repent from.  Why does it have to be a repentance thing?  Why can’t it just be a, “I realize this wasn’t good for our marriage.  And I felt like I could do better, and I felt we could be closer if I prioritize this”?  But instead it was like, “I’m being repentant.”  And I think it’s because—and this is just my theory.  I think a lot of women still have this idea in their heads, “If I don’t provide my husband with sex whenever he wants it, I am in sin,” because it’s been preached so vehemently, so—and for such a long time, and so consistently in the church that women still internalize it.  So when we say, “Hey, be free, women,” they say, “Oh, okay,” but they don’t really feel it.

Sheila: Exactly.      

Keith: And so they still feel, “Oh my gosh.  I should give him more sex,” and that sort of thing.  And I just think that we should be talking in terms of what’s healthy in these areas.  And I think that that’s the only thing I would say.  And I don’t—again, I think it sounds like they’re both just trying to take care of each other and be good, loving spouses to each other.  But I just think that it might be healthy to talk in those terms rather than as a sin repentance kind of thing.

Rebecca: Yeah.  I agree.  Overall, one of the things that kind of really comes into play with what you’re saying about how women are told, in essence, this is something that men need and you’re doing—you’re doing something bad if you’re depriving him because this is a man’s thing, in essence, is that the entire Live does kind of give the impression that—and this was my impression listening, reading through the transcript, studying what they said was that sex is something that men naturally prioritize because they’re just better at this.  I’ll just show you what Jana said, okay?  Jana said, “If that’s you and you’re kind of just you get to the end of the day and you have nothing left, one thing I would encourage you with is to reexamine your priorities.  Because your relationship with the Lord, that is first, and then your husband is next, and then your kids, and then the rest of your family, and then everybody else.  And so many of the times we,”—meaning women—“are letting our priorities just get out of place and misplaced.  And so you get to the end of the day, and you have nothing left to give him.  And so reexamine your priorities and put them in the right place.”  

Sheila: Mm-hmm.

Keith: So the only thing I would add to that is so if you’re strapped and you have nothing left to give maybe talk to your husband about ways that he can be more helpful to—the household.  Or maybe you’re taking on too much.  Maybe he is really doing his share, but, as a couple, you’re doing—you just have too much on your plate together.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Maybe each child doesn’t need to be at eight extracurriculars.

Keith: Yeah.  Exactly.  As opposed to just make sure that you have more to give.  

Sheila: And I just want to say that there are times when your kids come first.

Rebecca: Oh, completely.

Sheila: I’ve never really liked this God first, husband second—I love you, Babe—

Keith: Oh, yeah.  No.  I know what you mean.

Sheila: – kids last.  But when you’ve got a newborn, that baby needs to eat.  And as the mom, you tend to be the one who is feeding that child.  And so if that child has a need to eat, that is going to be more important right now than what your needs are.  

Keith: Yeah.

Rebecca: Well, and the other unpopular one—

Keith: And if you’re talking to me about a very important thing in our relationship and our grandchild is about to jump off the sofa, I’m going to stop talking to you (cross talk).  It’s not that I love the grandchild more.  It’s the situation demands what’s most important at that time.

Sheila: If you have a kid who has been sick for a week and so you haven’t slept for a week because you’ve been up with a kid who is puking in the middle of the night and you’ve been changing sheets, et cetera, then yeah.  You’re going to be too tired.  And at the end of the day—

Keith: That doesn’t mean that you don’t prioritize your spouse.

Sheila: Right.  

Rebecca: Well, the really unpopular one that I’ve one heard from people as well is that people—in the name of prioritizing their spouse will let their children know that they have to stay in their rooms because mom and dad have to have sex.  That has actually happened to people.  This typically happens, and it scars the kids.  Okay.  If you cannot have sex without your children knowing about it, don’t have sex.  Okay.  That’s not okay.  But I think there’s a lot of issues here.  But my thing that I was thinking too is this is why talking from personal experience is such a problem because it may very well be that Josh and Jana in their relationship—there maybe not really a mental load inequality issue.  There are relationships where there’s not.  They might genuinely have this kind of figured out.  And so for them, it’s like yeah.  You know what?  You’re both putting your all in, and she just needs to prioritize it because there’s nothing more you could do, right?

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: But we know from research, this is why research is so important.  We know from research that they would be in the vast minority of couples.  The vast minority of couples in their age group, in their religious demographic, in all these different things.

Keith: Yeah.  Well, if you just look at the stats, women do more housework than men, right?  And if both people are working, women still do more housework than men.  So in general in most marriages, if the wife is too tired all the time, one of the big problems could be that he’s not doing enough around the house.

Rebecca: Exactly.

Keith: That’s just statistically highly likely.  And yet, this Instagram doesn’t address that because that’s not their lived experience.  And that’s fine.  But it’s not fine to not address it because the vast majority of other people’s lived experience will be that.  

Rebecca: Exactly.  And I think this is what I really have a problem with the whole prioritize your husband dialogue is that, obviously, don’t you think women want to prioritize their relationships over cleaning a toilet?  Don’t you think that women would rather spend—have a date night with their husbands than stress out about whether or not the soccer uniforms are going to be dry in time for the tournament tomorrow morning?  Don’t you think women want to not prioritize the meal plan?  It’s just one of those things where this is not something where it’s a priority issue for a lot of people.  It’s just reality.  Someone has to meal plan because you don’t have the budget to order out every day.  Someone has to figure out who is going to make sure that all the clothes are clean because if you don’t then you’re not going to have the uniforms in time.  And it always goes back to the wife.  

Keith: Not always.

Rebecca: No.  I’m saying it’s in these marriages.

Keith: Yeah.  But you can’t say always.  Most of the time, it does.

Rebecca: What I was going to say is always goes back to the wife in these marriages where there’s mental load inequality, right?  That’s what tends to happen.  The studies are really clear on this.  And, again, this is not an indictment on Josh and Jana.  This is an indictment on the idea that we can speak to these things from personal experience instead of from research.

Sheila: Yeah.  And I just want to echo that too.  Everyone is always talking about how tired women are and how they don’t prioritize their husbands.  Why does no one ever ask why women are so tired?  

Rebecca: Why men aren’t tired?

Sheila: Do they think that we all want to be tired?  I don’t—anyway.  Anyway, yes.

Rebecca: Instead of asking why are women so tired, why aren’t we asking why men aren’t?  That’s my question.    

Sheila: Oh, say that again.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Instead of asking why are women so tired, why aren’t we asking why men aren’t?  

Keith: And I’m going to just jump in here because you’re going to get the people saying, “Oh, you’re bashing men again.  You’re bashing men again.”  You know what?  If in your relationship, he is doing just as much as she is in terms of the mental load and stuff then this doesn’t apply to you.  And so we’re not saying that all men need to do more work.  We’re saying you need to address this because statistically women bear a disproportionate load.  And if that’s the case in your family, as it is in most families, you need to address that.  And you need to be open and honest about that.  And if that’s not the case for you, then you don’t need to worry about it.  But this whole you’re bashing men, no.  We’re talking about a problem that exists in many relationships.  If it exists in yours, deal with it.  If it doesn’t, then don’t.  But don’t say we’re bashing men.  We’re saying this is a problem that happens.

Rebecca: My question going in with this is—which is saying what we were just saying is the idea is very clear what a wife prioritizing her husband looks like according to this Live.  A wife prioritizing her husband means having sex even when she’s tired.  What does a husband prioritizing his wife look like?  And that’s not answered.  That’s not answered.  Men are not told to prioritize their wives.  Men are told to be emotionally available for their wives, to be flirty, to be kind, to be loving, and all really, really good advice.  But it’s so that they can get sex.  Genuinely, this happens next.  So what they talk about is how they say men and women are really different beings, and they do the whole typical thing that we’ve said before.  You said before it too.  Women need to feel loved so that they want to have sex.  And men have sex, and then they’re all feel lovey and emotional and all that kind of stuff, right.  And they say this is just—

Sheila: And I don’t teach that anymore, by the way.  I took it out of the new edition of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex.  Yes.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Jana says, “I think one thing women need to know is that physical intimacy leads to more emotional intimacy for men.”  And Jana says, “It’s kind of the opposite for women a lot of times.  So we need the emotional before we want the physical.  But just keep that in mind for your spouse, for your husband.  That a lot of times he needs that physical, and it leads him to be more emotional or to the emotional intimacy.”  And this actually really does bother me because here’s the thing.  We all know having an orgasm leads to certain hormones being released that makes you feel real lovey dovey.  Okay.  That happens for both men and women.  This whole idea that men are emotionally available after—emotionally lovey dovey after sex in a way that women aren’t only is true if a woman is not orgasming.  I want to make that very clear.

Keith: Oh, yeah.  Yeah.  Good point.

Rebecca: That is only true if a woman is not orgasming.  

Sheila: Yeah.

Rebecca: Okay.  If a woman is orgasming, she’s also like, “Oh,” afterwards.  She wants to snuggle.  She wants to fall asleep and drool on him afterwards, right?  That’s where you’re at.  You’re totally out of it.  But if she’s not orgasming, then he gets all emotionally available afterwards, and she doesn’t feel that emotional surge in the same way, right?  

Keith: And so when she feels emotionally close to him, it’s in other times.  And so she doesn’t associate sex with emotional closeness because she’s not getting the hormonal buzz that he’s getting.  She’s getting the hormone buzz when she sees him doing something sweet with the kids or something.

Rebecca: Sending her the flirty text messages.

Keith: Exactly.  And so this reinforces this idea that we have in the Christian—in the evangelical church that women are emotional and not physical in terms of their sexuality.  And men are physical and not emotional in terms of their exactly.  And that is ridiculous.

Rebecca: Exactly.  And, again, I’m not saying that about Josh and Jana themselves.  We want to be very clear here.  We’re not saying that.  But we’re saying this kind of thing is the idea that emotional—feelings of emotional closeness comes after sex for men is because of orgasm.  It’s not because of—it’s not because they have a penis, right?  It’s because of orgasm.  And it’s just that men are almost doubly as—they almost doubly as often orgasm reliably with sex.  And so they are much more likely for us to think, “Well, then men just must be this way.”  No.  It’s that orgasms make people this way, and men are more likely to have them.

Keith: But also too it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.  So if you tell women, “You don’t really care about the physical aspect of sex.  You only care about the emotional aspect of sex,” and you tell men, “God has designed you to not care about the emotional aspect of sex, only the physical aspect of sex,” you’re going to make people who think that way.  And there are guys out there who still think that showing emotion, crying, being emotionally available, those kind of things are unmasculine.  Right?  And a guy who is a taker, who takes charge—in a bedroom, he just—that’s the masculine.  It’s like being a tender lover in the bedroom is not masculine in these people’s mindset.  And that’s ridiculous.  I mean like look at the Song of Solomon.  This is an emotional and physical experience, and that’s what it’s meant to be.  And we need to stop all this garbage about men are this way, and women are that way because God made them that way.  It’s because our society has made them that way.  And that’s clearly evident.  It’s not because God made us that way.

Sheila: Yeah.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And the other thing that makes this even worse is when we think about how the hormones play into this, what does this actually mean?  So men have to be physical first and then they become emotional.  Okay?  So if they want to do the right thing according to Josh and Jana here, men have to choose to be emotionally available so that then they can have sex.  Okay.  So you choose to be emotionally available whereas women have to choose to be physical so they can have an emotionally available husband.  So let’s actually talk about how this works because if you’re a man and you’re like, “Okay.  You know what?  I’m getting frustrated.  It’s been two weeks, and we’ve been busy.  And things have been happening, but I’m just going to love my wife.  And we’ll have sex when we have sex.  That’s fine because I’m just going to be the better man here,” right?  And you’re super emotionally available.  You do date nights.  There’s no expectation.  You’re just trying to kind of get back to square one.  Okay.  And then you have sex.  And then all of a sudden, the emotional isn’t really a chore anymore.  It’s just like, “Hey, you know what?  We found our mojo again,” and she’s feeling all loved.  And you know what?  Sex is great for her too.  And you both—you’re back on your mojo.  You’ve having sex every however often is normal for you.  You have sex.  You feel lovey dovey.  You have sex.  You feel lovey dovey.  You have sex.  You feel lovey dovey.  That’s how it is for the man, okay?  Let’s talk about for the woman.  So the woman is not feeling lovey dovey.  And so she knows according to stuff like this that being emotional and being—and deciding to focus on the relationship is not going to lead to the lovey dovey she wants.  She has to have sex.  So she has sex, and he feels all lovey dovey.  But she’s one of the 20% of women who reports the only real emotion they feel after sex is feeling used.  So does feel lovey dovey?  So she’s had sex.  He feels fantastic.  He’s had sex with her.  He’s on top of the world.  And she feels used.  And so then he feels really close to her.  Does she feel close to him?  But then she has to keep deciding to have sex in order to try to get what she wants which is an actual close, intimate relationship.  So he gets to be pacified by putting in the bare minimum of effort of just being a basic relationship person whereas she has to actively force herself to do something that she doesn’t want to do in some cases.  And, again, not saying Josh and Jana’s case, I’m just saying that in some cases of the women who are listening to this.  These are men who are not abusive, who are not using porn.  It’s just that sex has never felt good for her.  It’s just always been something that she feels incredibly resentful to God about because she feels like she was promised this thing.  She didn’t get it.  He has never really understood how foreplay works.  They’ve never figured out how to make her orgasm, and she keeps on hearing over and over and over again—she thinks, “All I want is to have a happy marriage, and I want to have my—I want to be fun together.”  And she has to keep having sex that makes her feel horrible to have him pay her even the most basic modicum of relationship courtesy.

Keith: Yeah.  So instead of saying, “Wives, if you don’t want sex and he wants it all the time, he needs to be nice to you.  And you need to try to give it more often,” right—if instead of that, how about we said, “If he wants sex all the time and you don’t want it, wives, why don’t you actually talk about why you don’t want it?  And why don’t we work on you wanting it more?”

Rebecca: Exactly.      

Keith: Not, “We’re going to be doing it more.”  

Rebecca: Exactly.

Keith: But, “But we’re going to be wanting it more.”

Rebecca: Yeah.  Because there’s a fundamental difference between how they’re presenting men and women here.  They’re presenting this difference in men and women as if it’s something that’s just normal and healthy and just a difference we have to live with when it’s not normal and healthy.  In essence, what this Live is saying is that women would say something like, “I don’t want to have sex right now.  I just want to catch up, feel close, have a date.  All that kind of thing.  I need to reconnect with you first.”  That’s healthy.  Versus what they’re saying men are designed as is to say something like, “I don’t want to catch up and spend time with you tonight.  I just want to have sex with you.”

Keith: “But then if you do, I’ll want to spend time with you.”

Rebecca: Yeah.  But that’s not healthy.

Keith:   That’s not healthy.  

Rebecca: It’s not healthy.  And that’s not a masculine thing.  I’m not saying they’re saying men should say that.  I am saying that there are men who are not necessarily abusive who are incredibly emotionally immature who would say things like that to their wives.

Keith: Or not even necessarily incredibly emotionally immature but just haven’t really been taught because, to be honest, we are not taught healthy ways.  We’re taught that men are all like this.  And women are all like that.  And all this kind of nonsense.  And so people try to live out these scripts rather than just doing what the heart is telling them because I think the heart of most Christian men, if they’re not having sex regularly with their wives, their natural heart would be to say, “What’s going on?  How can I make this better for you?  How can I—why is this something you don’t want?”  But instead, we’re taught, “Be a man.  Take the lead.  Fix the problem.”

Rebecca: Well, and actually getting into that—

Keith: And that makes the problem worse.

Rebecca: It does because here is exactly what you’re talking about.  That’s how it should be.  It should be, “Hey, this is obviously a problem.  There’s a canary in the coal mine.”  But instead this is what often happens and Josh actually gives an example from his own marriage.  And, again, I don’t like talking about examples from their own marriage, but he has literally no examples other than from his own marriage.  Okay?  So even though—remember earlier Josh had said that it was only non Christians who have their identity tied up in their sexuality.  He then says this.

Josh: There were times earlier in our marriage where we were trying to figure out intimacy and mismatched levels of desire—that kind of thing.  And when that happened, it was deep—just be really vulnerable with you.  It was really emotional for me, and it caught me and Jana off guard.  Because even though my head knew that it wasn’t, my heart felt like I was experiencing a deep personal rejection from my wife.  And when you’re always playing offense and she’s always playing defense, it can feel humiliating, degrading, like a personal rejection.  

Rebecca: What I found interesting is having read that, he—the message wasn’t that he had to personally repent of having his identity in sex.  It was that her—his wife then had to gladly repent of not prioritizing her husband.  So this is the whole problem is they don’t see it as the canary in the coal mine.  They see that as a problem of this is a personal thing for men.  Men’s identity is tied up in sex, and so you have to make sure that you’re affirming them.  They use the word affirm a lot when it comes to women towards their husbands.

Keith: And I think that’s a natural outflow of the way that we teach in the church.  

Rebecca: Even not in the church.  Of course, it feels rejecting to have someone not want to have sex when you want to have sex with them.  That’s fine.

Keith: Yeah.  But in the church we also say, you don’t ever have sex outside of marriage.  And you get married so that you will have sex whenever you want it because now you’re married, and it’s okay.  And then she doesn’t want to.  And now you’re trapped because there’s this woman who promised, and she’s not delivering.  And that’s the way it’s framed, and it’s so unhealthy.  And so many men—as I said earlier, our view of masculinity is tied into these—all these things instead of who we are in Christ.  I feel what Josh was saying.  I totally do because we’ve talked about this before too in our early years when we suffered—you had vaginismus.  And we had troubles with that too.  I felt rejected.  And you weren’t rejecting me, but I felt rejected because of the way that I’d been taught.  And I need to learn to think differently about this.  And I think that that’s—instead of saying that’s just the way men are so I naturally acted like this, we need to be saying, “What is it about the way that we’re teaching men that when their wife is in pain or has had a baby or is too tired or just is not in the right headspace tonight that it’s rejection of them at the deepest level as opposed to just they just don’t want to have sex tonight?”  When I can’t just be okay with that, what’s wrong with me?  Why don’t I go, “Hey, I need to be different.  Obviously, yeah.  You’re tired.  Sure.  That’s no problem.”  Obviously, I want to, but I should be okay with not doing it, right?

Rebecca: Exactly.

Keith: But what is it about our teaching?  And I think the fundamental thing is is we just teach your prior—you are the man.  You’re the priority.  If you have a need, it should be met as opposed to talking about two healthy people both meeting each other’s needs.  Whatever that need is for.  Whether it’s for physical intimacy, whether it’s for emotional closeness, whatever.  

Sheila: Whether it’s for sleep.  

Keith: Whether it’s for sleep.  That kind of thing.  If we just talked about two healthy people trying to make each other happy instead of all this garbage about a man’s role and a woman’s role and what men are supposed to be like and what women are supposed to be like and you’re not biblical if you’re not like this, all that nonsense, and we just said, “We love each other.  We both follow Jesus.  We want to be like Jesus to each other.  How do we do that?”

Rebecca: And I think this is what’s—this is the last thing I really wanted to talk about.  Okay?  Because this kind of goes right into it, then I want to do some major takeaways.  Okay?  And actually talk about what the research actually does say, okay?  So first of all, exactly what you were saying about how it should just be two people who are trying to love each other like Christ.  I think Josh and Jana were trying to say that in this Live.  But they could not say any actual explicit words, so we have no idea if that’s actually what they meant or not.  I’m going to read you just a couple small things that kind of make me think that they were trying to say like, “My dude, if it’s not working, try a mouth or your hands.”  I think they were trying to say something.  But I don’t—but there’s a really funny part.  First of all, I do want to say once again I am not shaming or scolding or anything, anyone, for being uncomfortable with saying explicit words online.  For pity’s sake, it is so not in a pastor’s job description to talk about orgies on Instagram.  That is so not in the—no one goes to seminary being like, “I’m going to help people know the word of the Lord by talking about which sex toys are okay.”  No one goes to seminary thinking that, okay?  This is so not—this is so outside the job description.  So no shade.  Nothing about that towards Josh and Jana for being uncomfortable with using technical terms.  Okay?  But there’s a really funny thing at the beginning of the Live where he talked about this is going to be so PG-13.  And if you’re single, you probably don’t want to watch because it might get you thinking about things you shouldn’t be thinking about yet.  And you don’t want to stir love before it’s appointed time, all that kind of stuff.

Keith: So it’s going to be PG-13?  What is that?

Rebecca: I was going to say.  I don’t know what 13 year olds are supposed to—I think it should be rated R, right?  

Keith: Yeah.  Because it’s going to be PG-13, to me, that means it’s going to be tame.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Exactly.  But I think what—I agree with his sentiment there.  It’s like if you’re someone who is struggling to stay—to not have sex—you’re dating or you’re engaged and you don’t—frankly, you know enough that you know you want it, maybe don’t spend all your time talking about sex.  I understand that.  But then I did—he didn’t actually say anything enticing.  It was all about prioritize and make sure you’re having enough sex.  

Keith: So it really was PG-13.

Rebecca: It really was PG-13.  And they talk about how you should do what works for you and what doesn’t, but they don’t actually use any terms.  They don’t talk about the fact that a lot of women can only orgasm through this means of sex versus this means.  They don’t talk about anything like that because, again—

Sheila: Let’s just say it.  Oral sex.

Rebecca: Oh yeah.  Oral sex.  I want to make sure I had—I couldn’t remember which one it was in my head for a second.  The majority of women can orgasm through oral sex whereas the majority of women are not able to orgasm through penetrative sex alone.  That’s the kind of thing that you could talk about if you weren’t talking from only personal experience.  Because, again—

Keith: Because nobody wants to know.

Rebecca: Oh my gosh.  I don’t want to know.  Even when you guys are talking about your little thing, it was very tame.  I was like, “Please, no.  Please.  Please.  Please don’t go anywhere.”  

Keith: Well, that’s why we always talk about like stats, right?  Things like women who do reliably orgasm during sexual intercourse usually require a lot of foreplay beforehand, right?  

Sheila: Yes.  

Keith: That’s a statement.  You’re never going to hear anything at all—

Rebecca: No.  Please don’t even go there.  Don’t even go there.  No.  I’m going to interrupt and say—so they—what Josh and Jana do say in this about kind of communicating and making sure it is two people loving each other to the best of their ability is to talk about how you have to have conversations.  You have to talk about it.  And they advise that people—but they don’t ever actually use terms again.  So Josh says to couples who are trying to communicate to say, “Hey, next time we go on a date, why don’t we spend a few minutes on the drive home or something like that talking about what’s working and what’s not working with each other with physical intimacy?”  And that is about the most explicit advice that is given on sexual pleasure in the entire Live that I could find.  It could mean I want more oral sex incorporated.  Or it could mean I don’t like the underwear that has holes in the crotch and a mysterious stain on the butt.  It could be either of those.  Okay.  I don’t know.  And this is why it’s important to use terms because, like you said earlier, Dad, women have been so trained to not speak about their needs.

Keith: I think half the time they don’t even know what their needs are.

Rebecca: Exactly.  And I liked—they said it was really important to talk about things when you weren’t in the thick of things, and I think that’s entirely right.  I also think it is important to talk in the thick of things, and women need permission to talk about it in the thick of things.  Again, if we’re going from research and not personal experience, research says the number one determinant of a female orgasm is the ability to speak up during sex.  That is the number one determinant that a study of 50—thousands.  50-something thousand people.  It was like 28,000 women or something.  But I’ll find it, and I’ll link it in the podcast notes.

Sheila: And I just want to say for all of you who are listening who are having trouble with orgasm we have an Orgasm Course.  And please take a look at that.  

Rebecca: It’s based in research, not based on us.

Sheila: Rebecca read all the research, and some of it was pretty awful.  And so we incorporated it all in.  There’s an Orgasm Course for her that she can take.  We also have an add on module for him.     

Rebecca: For him.

Sheila: And we will link to that in the podcast notes.  If you do reach orgasm already but you just still never want sex, we have a Boost Your Libido course as well.  But please, if you’re not reaching orgasm, don’t take the libido course because libido is not your issue.  

Rebecca: Which we’re going to talk about later.  But I think I do want to give Josh one more major props.  He had a joke that did make me laugh out loud near the end.  To sign off, he said, “Dudes, married people, keep that marriage bed Pentecostal.  Lots of tongues and laying on of hands.”  Legit made me laugh.  Good job, Josh.  And that was maybe explicit.  But, again, it was a joke.  So it’s hard—we just need to be able to use terms, and that’s why we need to send this out to researchers versus having pastors do it.  To me, my biggest take away from this in terms of the larger context is that this is an example of how when we give advice based on our situation, we do not understand that there are others who are not in our situation who this advice can totally backfire for.  And I do, once again, major props for doing what most people have not done and making sure that people who have porn in their marriage or abuse or sexual coercion they really were screened out in this Instagram Live.  But even when you’re only talking to quote unquote healthy couples who might just be experiencing some dysfunction or communication issues, we still have this major problem when we’re going from personal experience.

Keith: I didn’t listen to the whole thing.  But is there ever talk about when the wife has the higher drive than the husband?  

Rebecca: Oh yeah.  No.  They did a great job with that too.  Yeah.  They talked about that.  It was a throw away comment more so, but they did mention it.  They didn’t then say the husbands need to prioritize sex.  They just said that it’s hard for wives.  Again, this is the idea.  We’re going from personal experience.  The personal experience that they have is not that—men don’t like sex, right?  And so how do you relate to that unless you’re going from a research based perspective?

Keith: Exactly.

Rebecca: Another example of how this personal advice can backfire is they had advice for dating and engaged couples.  And I want to use this because it’s just so much more obvious.  They said that they’re really pro short engagement.  They got married four months after getting engaged.  And they just don’t really—they don’t believe in people being engaged for longer.  That kind of stuff.  And it’s like you know what?  That worked great for them.

Keith: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca: But what about people who are getting married who are—maybe they’re in their 40s, and they have an 11 year old and a 7 year old from previous marriages.  It is unfair to those kids to be thrown into a new relationship that quickly, right?

Sheila: Well, it can be unfair. 

Rebecca: It can be.  Yeah.  But in a lot of times—or what if you—you just met each other.  And you don’t know each other’s histories.  Getting married after only four months can be really unwise in those situations.  There’s other people who may have—that maybe you start dating at 16.  You’re not getting married in four months.  There’s lots of other what ifs that are not addressed by one person’s personal situation.  You can talk about the general principles, of course.  But that example just kind of encapsulates the giant problem is this utter complete—no.  This is the answer.  The answer is to not be engaged for very long.  And it’s like well, not for everyone.

Sheila: What about school?  What about jobs?  There are different circumstances that can impact that.

Rebecca: And so in the same way, the advice that the Howertons give about sex likely works for marriages like theirs.  Maybe it’s a marriage where both of them enjoy sex when it happens.  They don’t have major mental load problems.  It’s just that when they first got married things took awhile to catch on.  And studies have shown that if a woman has an orgasm the first time she has sex she has the same likelihood of having a high libido as a man.  Okay.  If a woman does not have an orgasm the first time she has sex, she’s much more likely to have a low libido, and that makes perfect sense.  Your brain learns from the get go, “Oh, this is something that might not do anything for me,” versus, “This is a sure thing.”  And so maybe that’s just what happened here.  Maybe there’s a situation where there’s a couple where it just took them awhile to figure it out.  But once they did figure it out, it was great.  And so the answer was priority.  And this advice might work great for people in their situation.  But that doesn’t necessarily work for the woman who doesn’t orgasm.  It doesn’t necessarily work for the couple who has major mental load inequality so that it’s not just that she’s tired and he’s tired.  It’s that she’s tired, and he’s not.  It doesn’t work for the couple where there’s other complications that are happening that are making sex just less of a priority right now, and that is the right thing.  It doesn’t work for all those kinds of couples.  And, again, I’m not including abuse or porn because they actually did a really good job screening that.  So I don’t think it’s fair to give their advice to people who they did specifically explain why it’s not applicable to them.

Sheila: Yeah.  And again, I think this is kind of like the same thing we said about the Kellers, right?  Where they probably have a great marriage, but in their book, The Meaning of Marriage, they had an anecdote which, if people in other situations read it—it was specifically about pain.  “If I said to her afterwards, ‘How was that,’ and she said, ‘It just hurt,’ Tim says, I would be devastated, and she would be too.”  But they never mentioned vaginismus.

Rebecca: And they never said that they actually just figured it out, and things got really good because they communicated and prioritized her experience.  They didn’t say that.  

Sheila: No.  They didn’t say that.  They actually said that you’re supposed to not think about your experience and instead focus on giving.  So that’s an example of this worked for them, but people in very different situations reading that could have a very different interpretation.  That’s why it’s so important not to do this from personal experience.  And I just want to say okay.  Just because you’re a pastor doesn’t mean you need to be good at sex.

Rebecca: That’s not a course at seminary.  How to make that bed rock 101.  Not in the curriculum.

Sheila: No.  We need to stop thinking that the pastor and the pastor’s wife are the best examples of marriage in our congregation and are the best examples of parenting in our congregation and are the best examples of sex in our congregation because the pastor and the pastor’s wife, assuming it’s a male pastor, are still human.  And you might—

Keith:     That’s a huge pressure to put on them.  

Sheila: Yeah.  You might know a lot about Greek and about ancient Roman history, and you may have a great prayer life.  But she may really struggle with orgasm.  And that doesn’t mean that—

Rebecca: You’re not as good of a pastor.

Sheila: Yeah.  And so we need to stop putting this expectation especially on pastor’s wives that they are the go to person to talk to about sex.  I think it’s really important for every pastor’s wife to be able to recognize abuse, and I’m really glad they did that so well.  But then I think pastor’s wives just need to have this bookshelf of resources and send people The Great Sex Rescue.  Or if they’re just about to get married, give them The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex, which really talk about the sexual response cycle and how to handle the honeymoon well.  But you don’t need to be the expert.

Rebecca: And hopefully, we become a culture in the church where the pastor’s wife is not seen as someone you should be going to anyway just because she’s the pastor’s wife.  In what job, in what other job—if dad is a doctor, people don’t come to you for medical advice.  Actually, yeah.  They do.  Actually, yeah.  They have.  Actually, yeah.

Keith: That’s not fair either.

Rebecca: But it’s not fair even though it happens.  And one of the reasons why we need to point to research is because it gets back to the question of what you were talking about earlier, Dad, is why.  When there are libido differences, we have to ask not just, “What can she do to make it better for him,” but why?  

Sheila: What really stood out to me when I watched this—if you just turn off the sound and just watch it, they’re very embarrassed.  They really are.  I felt badly for them.  I think they honestly tried their best, okay?

Rebecca: Oh yeah.

Sheila: But if you listen to that beginning part where Josh was doing the god, gift, or gross—    

Rebecca: Yeah.  God, gross, gift.  

Sheila: Yeah.  That sex is either a god for you or it’s a gift for you or it’s gross.  They were saying about how important it is not to have shame about sex.  And yet, they were obviously uncomfortable talking about it.  And I think that’s part of the problem is we can’t tell people not to have shame about something if we, ourselves, are uncomfortable talking about it.  And most people are. 

Rebecca: And I would say too that the problem is not that you should get over your shame to be able to talk about it publically.  Sex is something that is supposed to be private.  Sex is something that is profoundly private.  It’s supposed to be only between you and your spouse.  And this is, once again, why it is inappropriate to ask pastors to speak on sex when they only have personal experience to go on.  It’s not inappropriate to ask someone who is a sex researcher, who is a psychologist even, who—someone who can talk about it from a research based perspective then you can actually talk about it without shame, okay?  There is no universe in which—I think I qualify as a sex researcher at this point.

Sheila: Oh, yeah.  Yeah.  

Rebecca: There is no universe in which I would not be embarrassed talking about my personal sex life.  Even just saying personal sex life, I have a visceral reaction.  So does my dad.

Keith: I’m going to shut that down.

Rebecca: I talk about this every single day with my family.  And I still would never be able to do that because it’s inappropriate.  That’s why research is so important because the goal is not to not be embarrassed by things that should be embarrassing for other people to know.  The act of sex is not shameful.  But it is embarrassing to have other people thinking about you in that context.

Sheila: And it’s inappropriate—this is the other thing.  If you’re a pastor and you’re talking about your own personal sex life, you—there is an element where you’re now inviting the congregation to think of your wife like that.  And especially in a small church, that’s (inaudible).  But there’s one other aspect.  And this is actually your line, and I’m going to steal it from you because you haven’t said it yet.

Rebecca: That’s fine.

Sheila: In this Live, they talked about all kinds of aspects about sex.  They weren’t overly explicit.  Like you said, they didn’t say the word, but they talked about libido.  They talked about porn.  They talked about lust.  They talked about all this stuff.  The only thing that they didn’t really talk about was her pleasure.  That’s the only place where they really did the euphemisms and where they weren’t clear.  And so it gives the impression to me—and I see this in so many things—that it’s not that Christians think sex is taboo to talk about.  It’s that they think women’s pleasure is taboo to talk about.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  My actual line was sex is not taboo in church.  We talk about sex all the time.  Good sex is taboo in the church.  That was my actual line.  Good sex is taboo.  Because it’s not just women’s pleasure, it’s not good sex.  If he’s having a good time and she’s not, it’s not good sex.  It’s one sided sex.  And that’s why I think until we’re able to talk about these things in broader research based terms that are not personal we’re never going to be able to have good sex not be taboo because it is incredibly inappropriate—if Josh and Jana got up there and is like, “Well, here’s what works for us.”  That would have been horrendous.  That’s what it would have been because they only spoke from personal experience.

Sheila: But I do want to say they could have mentioned the orgasm gap.  And they could have said—

Rebecca: Except that I do not think it is appropriate to ask pastors to know this kind of thing.  That is not in their job description.  That’s what my point is.  The point is we should not be having pastors talk about this.  We should be telling pastors you are allowed to not know everything.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca: You are allowed—there’s a lot of stuff I don’t know stuff about, right?  I don’t know about—I mean—

Sheila: I’m going to push back here a little bit.  I still think there really is an issue where the only thing that we can’t talk about is women’s orgasms.  So we can talk about guy’s porn use.  We can talk about libido.  We can talk about all this stuff, but somehow we still just can’t talk about women’s orgasm.  And that is one of the big reasons for the orgasm gap.  I’m not saying pastors should talk about the orgasm gap.  I agree with you that pastors shouldn’t be talking about this at all.  But the fact that over and over again whenever—okay.  Here’s my thing.  I get sent so many Instagram reels and so many articles about sex advice that goes, “Sex is a gift from God.  Women, it means so much to him, and it can invigorate you too.  Make it a priority.  This is a wonderful thing that is life giving in your marriage.  Don’t feel shame about it.  Embrace your sexuality.  Have sex with your husband.  He’ll feel amazing.”  And that message when the orgasm gap is not acknowledged, when it’s not acknowledged that over 50% of women aren’t reaching orgasm, that message doesn’t work.  That message only works when she’s reaching orgasm.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Reliably.

Sheila: Reliably.  And yet, that is what we hear over and over and over again.  And I will die on this hill.  Until the orgasm gap is the first thing we talk about before we talk about frequency, before we talk about how much he needs it, before we talk about how it is a gift from God even and it will make your marriage feel amazing, we need to talk about how orgasm matters.  Sex, when she does not orgasm, does not necessarily feel like a gift from God for her.  

Rebecca: Oh gosh.  No.

Sheila: And the more we lecture her about how sex is a gift from God.  You need to embrace it.  When she is not reaching orgasm, the worse she is going to feel.  And so that’s why it really bugs me when people can talk about everything but not the orgasm gap.  And on Friday, there was a really interesting article by The Gospel Coalition Canada that did this.  And I think you’re going to analyze that a little bit on the newsletter. 

Rebecca: Yeah.  I’m going to try to in the newsletter.  Yeah.

Sheila: So if you are not signed up for our email list, you need to be.  Every Friday Rebecca writes basically a whole other blog post.  It’s usually amazing and insightful and the best of the week.  But it never goes—it doesn’t really go online.  So sign up for our email list.  45,000 people are there.  And you will get her example of The Gospel Coalition doing the same thing.  Mentioning frequency, mentioning how great sex is, mentioning how you got to meet each other’s needs, but never mentioning the orgasm gap.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  And again, I do think that the reason the orgasm gap is not mentioned is not because people don’t care about women.  It’s because we’ve normalized that you talk about it from personal experience.  And because his orgasm is guaranteed, there is no reason to talk about men’s orgasm.  And so we’re asking then if you talk about—if you’re asking these people who are speaking from personal experience to mention women’s orgasm, you’re asking her to be more vulnerable than he is.  And that is inappropriate which is, again, we need to talk from research, not from personal experience.  This issue is not going to go away until we start looking at this from a research based perspective.  I do wonder—now the question is, of course, why don’t we talk about it from a research based perspective.  And I have a theory about that.

Keith: Because we’re allergic to research in the evangelical church.

Rebecca: Other than the obvious reason, why don’t we talk about it—and I think the fact that this was Josh and Jana made me think about this, okay?  How do plagiarism and bad sex talks or half—not bad.  I don’t want to say it’s bad.  But unhelpful sex talks go together.  I think that when you’re in a culture in a church where you, as the pastor, have to be all knowing and all wise and so you would never—you just don’t really cite everything because you want to look smart.  Again, there is no good reason not to cite other than I want it to look like it was my idea.  There is no really compelling other reason.      

Sheila: Right.  And you’re referring, of course, to the podcast a few weeks ago where we did show several instances of Josh Howerton plagiarizing—

Rebecca: Plagiarizing in one eight-minute clip.

Sheila: – other people, and we will link to that podcast so you can listen to it.  There’s been an ongoing conversation on Twitter as well, and I will link to my thread on that.    

Rebecca: Yeah.  But if you’re in a church culture where it’s expected that you are the wisest, you’re the smartest, and that’s why you’re the pastor—it’s because you have this gift.  You’re knowledgeable.  You have all the answers.  And the reason you get that reputation is because you keep on saying all these really wise pithy things that you don’t cite.  Wouldn’t it be kind of weird to have sex be the first thing you not being the expert on?  That’s the thing.  Is if you’re in a culture where you’re allowed to plagiarize, then why would you suddenly go to research about sex?  Wouldn’t it just be a little bit weird or embarrassing if sex was the only thing that you didn’t know everything about?

Sheila: Yeah.  And the interesting thing about the Twitter conversation around plagiarism was how many pastors were defending Josh Howerton.  This is not a Josh Howerton problem.  He’s a great example of it because he’s written these threads defending plagiarism.  But so many pastors have chimed in saying, “Yeah.  You don’t need to cite your sources.”  And it’s interesting because when I ask normal people on Instagram, 4,000 people responded, 97% of people said, “Yes.  He needs to cite.”  But pastors don’t see it the same way.  And so this is an area where pastors are really out of touch with what their congregation thinks.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And so if we got into a culture in the church where it’s normal to turn to experts and to let your congregation know that you are not the all knowing harbinger of truth, where it’s like, “Hey, I got this advice from Andy Stanley.  I got this from this person,” all that kind of stuff, then it would be totally a no brainer to be like, “Oh, well, I’m going to do an Instagram Live on sex.”  Okay.  Well, let’s look at who is talking about sex and what the research is.  That would be a no brainer because that would be the cultural expectation.  That’s why all this stuff ties together because integrity only helps—if there was not this expectation to talk about your personal experience, your personal ideas, even the idea with Andy—when he plagiarized from Andy Stanley’s book—he had to use an example from his own life instead of just giving Andy Stanley’s example.  So with sex, why wouldn’t you have to give examples from your own life instead of just using someone else’s example?

Sheila: So let’s sum up here.  We did, just to let you know—and we’ll be talking about this more on next week’s podcast.  But we did run this talk through our rubric.  And it scored neutral.   

Rebecca: Yeah.  Neutral.

Sheila: Okay.  So it wasn’t harmful.  So like seriously—so it outscored Love and Respect, For Women Only, The Act of Marriage.

Rebecca: His Needs, Her Needs.

Sheila: His Needs, Her Needs, Every Man’s Battle.  So it scored way better than that.  It just didn’t score in the helpful—in the healthy category.  It scored neutral.  We also updated our rubric.  And we have some news about that which we’re going to share on next week’s podcast and talk about some of the scoring we did.  But if you would like to see our rubric and our score card, you can go to our site and download that right now.  We will have a link in the podcast notes.  And we will also have a handout that pastors can use or authors can use where if you are going to talk about sex make sure you mention all of these things.  And don’t forget something important.  We still firmly believe that pastors and their wives should not be talking—or it should not be required to talk about sex and should be careful if they do.  That they do so from a research—  

Rebecca: Yeah.  And I do still think that a lot of it is very unfair to the pastors.  And I want to say I have sympathy for the pastors in this situation.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  But if you are going to do it or if you’re a writer who is going to do it, we do have just a checklist so that you can make sure that you’re handling things well.  So, again, we just—as we wrap up our marriage misdiagnosis month, we just did want to listen in on an example of how sex is currently being taught in one of the larger churches in North America.  

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.  And I hope that is was encouraging that so much of it was so much better.  I know that was encouraging for us.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.      

Rebecca: It’s encouraging that we’re at neural, guys.  Neural.  Yay.

Sheila: We’ve achieved neutral.  Yeah.

Rebecca: I mean there was nowhere to go but up.  I’m going to be honest.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  But, again, we still have this misdiagnosis where we’re talking about frequency and priority—

Rebecca: Because we’re focusing on personal examples rather than research as a whole.

Sheila: – and we’re ignoring women’s orgasm.  And the orgasm gap.  Very important stuff.  So thank you for joining us on the Bare Marriage podcast.  Do take a look at our Orgasm Course or our libido course, if one of those would apply to you.  And, again, our books, Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex, are wonderful for helping couples start well and understanding the sexual response cycle so that you don’t develop that huge orgasm gap that we currently have and maybe we can overcome it earlier.  So stay tuned.  Next month, in October, Keith and I are not going to be on the podcast much.  There’s going to be little segments that I’m going to do early, but Keith and I are taking off.  It is our 50th—my 50th birthday, our 30th anniversary cruise that we are taking—

Rebecca: Three years late.

Sheila: – three years late.  

Rebecca: Thanks, COVID.

Sheila: Well, I mean a couple years late for different things.  So yeah.  

Rebecca: Thanks, babies and COVID.

Sheila: And so we are going to take off on that, and we’ll—the podcast will be in Becca and Connor and Joanna’s hands.

Rebecca: And we’re going to be talking a lot about research but what research is finding—but what our research has found that you might know yet because we’ve got some new findings to show you.  And so you’re not going to want to miss it.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And all of October on the blog peer reviewed research and new research.  It’s just going to be awesome.  All these new studies that have come out.  Just amazing.  So it’s a research focus month.  It’s going to be fun.  And we will see you then on Bare Marriage.  Bye-bye.

Keith: Bye.

Rebecca: Bye.

Timeline of the Podcast

0:10 Today’s topic!
4:40 Pastors having to talk about sex
9:30 The caveats made
17:45 Some not so great advice
26:40 Sex priorities
37:20 Physical/Emotional/Rejection
45:55 Sex advice should be clear, and not creepy!
52:30 Where personal experience advice can falter
1:00:00 Should pastors be expected to highlight women’s pleasure?
1:05:00 How sex advice/plagiarism could be linked

Should pastors be expected to give sex advice? 

This week’s podcast looks at an instagram live event put on by Josh and Jana Howerton. We’ve talked about Josh before on this site, but the reason we’re using their live is not because we want to call out Josh himself, but rather because he is a big-name pastor who is taking steps to become a celebrity pastor. Increasing his social lmedia reach, becoming a bit of an online personality, all that stuff. 

People send us videos all the time of smaller pastors giving talks about sex asking us to review them, and frankly–we’re just not going to do that. It just doesn’t seem fair to review someone on a platform larger than they were ever intending to speak to, since if they’re speaking to a small group, individuals are likely to have sway and we don’t ever want to drag someone into public discourse unnecessarily. Rather, we will only talk about content put out by people who have already chosen to become part of the larger social media conversation. People who are trying to influence others outside of their church doors. People who are trying to become famous. 

So when the Howertons put out this Instagram live and multiple people sent it to us, this seemed lilke the perfect opportunity to talk through a larger issue we get asked frequently: what do you do when your pastor gives bad sex advice? And I (Rebecca) wanted to ask another question: Is it even ethical to ask pastors to give sex advice? 

I (Rebecca) personally believe it actually borders on sexual harrassment to ask a pastor and his wife to give sex advice to the congregation. 

Let me explain. 

We know that pastors have a lot of control and authority over individuals within the congregation. But what is often not discussed is how the congregation as a whole and the elder’s board has employment control over the pastor. In other words, they are the pastor’s boss. 

A pastor is expected that his sex experience is primarily, preferably only, in relation to one person. Additionally, sex education is not required in seminary. So really the only experience and advice he is able to give is personal unless he does extra research (which is not part of his job description). 

If you worked for any other company and your boss asked you to give a talk on sex tips and sex advice, that would constitute sexual harrassment. 

We need to start to understand, as a church, that there are inappropriate asks that we have of pastors and their wives. It is inappropriate to ask pastors to give sex advice. It is incredibly unfair to their spouse, who did not sign on to have their sex life discussed in public but can’t say “no” or else their financial security could be threatened. 

What I hope is that this podcast shows how even when a couple does a really good job for the most part of handling the important issues well, it’s still inappropriate to ask a pastor to talk about this stuff. Instead, churches should delegate out specific questions about sex to resources that: 

  • Are based in modern research and provide evidence-based approaches 
  • Are written or created free from employment coercion, but because the person chose to work in this area 
  • Are not speaking from a pllace of personall experience, but are able to analyze a problem from multiple angles so that couples don’t get a “one-size-fits-all” approach. 


But let me know what you think–did you agree with our assessment of Howerton’s live event? I want to emphasize, I actually think he did a way better job than anyone else we’ve seen. But there were still some issues, as you heard! What did you think? 

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

Should we expect pastors to give sex advice to the congregation? Is it ethical to even ask them to? Let's talk about the negatives that can happen when we expect clergy who are untrained in sex research to offer specific sex advice, and what churches can do instead!

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

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. Jo R

    Do either Josh or Jana ever say anything specific that husbands need to do differently? Because when Jana was talking about being convicted by the Holy Spirit, the only thing that went through my head was “Holy Spirit? Or books written by men who are self-serving enough to demand sex but make the demand sound biblical and spiritual?”

    How about some reframing and rewording:

    “Men need sex.” → “Women need orgasms.”

    “Women need to prioritize sex.” → “Men need to prioritize giving oral and manual stimulation over PIV.”

    • K

      Jo R-


      I agree! It seems anytime I hear a man talk about sex, it is strictly PIV, & most women don’t think if it that way. Explaining it as the man getting a 5 course meal, while the woman only gets an appetizer is the best way to put it. Start giving your wives dessert!

  2. Nathan

    I have no real problem with pastors doing this, as long as they acknowledge that they have not been specifically trained to give this kind of advice (unless they actually have). They also should not air details of their sex life, unless the wife is also part of the talk and both are doing so willingly.

    Aside from that, a pastor should limit himself to talking about some very basic things. Like saying that sex is a wonderful physical and spiritual part of a marriage, it’s designed for both men and women, and that it should be equally consensual, with each partner having the right to say “no” at times. The pastor should emphasize that neither partner is “entitled” to sex, or that either partner has a “duty” to perform on demand.

    Any issues above and beyond that should be referred to a professional.

  3. Laura

    I enjoyed the podcast as always, but I fell asleep through some of it (it was my day to sleep in a bit). So I’ll rewatch it later. I liked it Rebecca and Keith critiqued the part about Josh talking about men being the responsible ones to set and keep the physical boundaries. I loved it when Keith said that it doesn’t have to be about being a leader, but it’s something that Christians should do anyway. I get so sick of these evangelicals like Josh emphasizing the importance of men being spiritual leaders in the relationship. I think it should be the responsibility of BOTH people to set and keep physical boundaries, not just one person. After all, we are ALL adults and that is what adults should be doing: taking responsibility for their own behaviors and not that of the other person.

    I really do not think pastors should be talking about their sex lives or giving out sex advice when they have not been trained to do so. I sure don’t want to know about my pastor’s sex life or anyone else’s for that matter. I think the advice should be basic without going into details. Advice like this may work and something I’m not creeped out about: Just the usual “no means no” and “both parties need to be in agreement.”

  4. K

    I would be horrified if my pastor gave “sex advice”, beyond teaching what the Bible says about sex. It is not his job to give advice about anything beyond the Bible’s teaching. But I’m British, where those kind of discussions would not be considered “nice” in most Chrisitian circles for cultural reasons as much as for theological ones. I wouldn’t expect my pastor to give extra-Biblical advice on childrearing, education, employment or other areas of life. His job is to bring Scripture to bear on relevant subjects, and then stop.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Yes this is my view, as well. American Evangelicalism has this really strong belief that the Bible holds the answer to literally every question life has to offer, so pastors end up feeling like they are qualified to talk about everything. But it’s just not true, and I think that the church would be far healthier if we left extra-biblical advice to the experts doing research in those particular areas.

  5. Hannah

    Fairly sure I heard Mark Driscoll use the God/ gross / gift division (online) about 15 years ago. It may predate that and come from someone else further back. Just thought it was interesting given plagiarism discussions – maybe it’s now so common it doesn’t need citing (like eg the dates of World War II).

  6. Christine

    Do you have the link to the research about communication during sex being the number one determinant for women being able to orgasm?

    Also, where can we get the cheet sheet for the pastors to use if they want to talk about sex in their church?

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Here are a few studies on communication and female orgasm (1) (2)

      Study (1) above is the one I was mentioning, but unfortunately it seems that the full text is no longer available for free on the web! I hate it when they do that!

      And the cheat sheet for pastors I am realizing I did not get up in time, oops! I will do that over the weekend and reply to your comment again with the link! 🙂

  7. Amy

    I think it can be great for pastors to talk about sex – so long as they base all of their information on good research just as anyone should and remind the congregation they’re not medical professionals or experts in this area, just people who care about their congregation and have read good resources.

    My fiancé is a pastor and we’ve already talked about this together. Currently when he talks to couples about sex during premarital counselling, it’s all based on research as he has no personal experience yet. After we’re married, he’s going to continue things that way – just focusing on the research. There’s no need for him to talk about what we do. That’s creepy and unnecessary. He has some great resources to recommend to couples, including your books which we’ve both read.

    • Tim

      I think there’s a balance with this. It’s definitely possible to over share, obviously. But also a lot of couples find talking about sex difficult, and I think it’s important for pastors etc to model vulnerability (assuming their spouse is also happy for them to share, of course).

      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        But why is it that the PASTOR has to be the one modelling it, though? That’s my question, I guess. A pastor doesn’t need to be a harbinger of all knowledge–they have specific areas they are trained in, and should stick to those, in my opinion. If you’re going to talk about sex, then simply be quoting researchers and experts, don’t try to give original advice! 🙂

  8. Lori

    I agree with Rebecca, it could be very mortifying for the Pastor’s wife for him to discuss details of sex. And anything he does talk about should be based on research

  9. Nancy

    I’m a person who didn’t have the option to marry until middle age, and then I married, but have never had a healthy marriage. I think Song of Songs is warning not to stir up sexual thoughts before the right time, and I think kids should be frequently included in the main worship service. For all these reasons… I feel like it would be better if there were not details shared from the Sunday morning pulpit. I’m dismayed and saddened by the orgasm gap, but I feel like other classes or resources could be recommended on Sunday morning, and then the real teaching on this could come in a different setting where kids, and adults who aren’t called to marriage soon (and perhaps are desperately trying not to think too much about their past sexual experiences, because of their own personal conscience), don’t have to sit through it or uncomfortably walk out with everyone looking.


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