Why Is a Christian Book Trying to Coerce Wives into Sending Nude Photos?

by | Jan 6, 2023 | Pornography, Theology of Marriage and Sex | 45 comments

Why is Gary Thomas Coercing Women into Sending Nude Photos
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Christian leaders should not be trying to convince women to send nude photos.

This doesn’t seem like it should even have to be said, but earlier this week I put up a Fixed It for You of Gary Thomas’ and Debra Fileta’s book Married Sex, which had this sentence: 

Gary Thomas Married Sex Pressure to send nude photos

Here’s what often happens behind the scenes on the blog: I decide to write a post, or do a Fixed It for You, and that’s all I’m planning on doing.

So I post it.

And then the floodgates open. I receive so many emails about horrible situations just like this one that women are in. I get way more engagement than normal on social media posts. I get way more comments than normal.

That’s what happened this week. I was inundated by comments like:

If we are too sexual we cause men to sin and if we’re not sexual enough we cause men to sin. I don’t understand why grown men can’t be responsible for themselves. It’s infuriating. My husband and I have had many years of counseling due to the things he was doing that was jeopardizing our marriage. Our Christian counselors were always quick to tell me what I needed to do to save our marriage but never said anything to him. They acted like he was a victim because he was caught up in sin.

I was also inundated by comments that I can’t share by women who had sent nude photos to husbands who pressured them, and they’re now divorced, and those ex-husbands have those photos to use as blackmail at any time. It’s a horrible way to live.

I had so, so many of those. My week was basically taken up by so many heartbreaking emails about how taking these pictures didn’t stop the porn use; how the pictures were used as blackmail in custody disputes; how someone was denied a promotion at work because the pictures were out there and so she was potentially subject to blackmail, and couldn’t get security clearance.

It was truly awful.

And many women told me that they only sent the photos because a book or a counselor told them that there was no biblical reason to say no. All is pure in the marriage bed!

The counselors and the books broke down these women’s defences. 

That’s unconscionable. But that’s exactly what Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta did in their book, in the paragraphs preceding the sentence I “fixed.” So I’d like today to use this as an example of how a book (or a counselor or pastor if they use the same techniques) can actually be sexually coercive.

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The Passage from Married Sex Coercing Women into Sending Photos:

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

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

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

Consider the Latin philosophical dictum abusus non tollit usum, which roughly translated means “abuse doesn’t negate the proper use.” Just because something can be abused doesn’t mean it can’t be used. In Abby and Kyle’s case, the texting is creating intense desire for his wife, not for other women, and it hasn’t led him to seek out porn. It also becomes all-day foreplay, so that when Kyle comes home at night, he’s ready to go. (p. 126)

Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta

Married Sex

A book or pastor or counselor is coercive when they threaten that something bad will happen if  you don’t do something, and then proceed to systematically break down your barriers, defences, or objections to doing so. 

Let’s look at how this book does that to its readers.

1. Doing this makes her husband think about her and he really enjoys it.

As we start the story, the first person we’re asked to identify with is the husband, who really enjoys this and it gets him going. We’re asked, at the start, to see things from his point of view. While we can’t know for sure, this sounds like a story where he asked her to do it, because she initially didn’t want to, so she’s unlikely to have been the initiator.

2. Abby was “reluctant.”

The first thing we hear about how Abby feels is that she was reluctant. She didn’t want to send these nude photos. Thus, the passage is being addressed to women who do not want to do this. It is being aimed at women who feel a reticence, for whatever reason.

3. She changed her mind.

But immediately we learn that her feeling reluctant was short-lived, and easily overcome.

4. It makes him happy.

Why did her mind change? Because he was happy. So his feelings of happiness and his desire to get aroused at work and want sex immediately when he gets home trump her feeling reluctance.

5. He’s entitled to them–(1) He works hard for the family.

We then hear two odd and very telling reasons why she talked herself into doing this. First, he works hard. So if a man works hard in some way, he is apparently entitled to naked pictures of his wife. He is entitled to sexual rewards for working hard, as opposed to sex being seen as something they experience together, a natural outpouring of their relationship together.

 

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6. She didn’t want to (2) “unnecessarily deny him.”

Again–the language here is that she owes it to him. It is something that he is entitled to. Her reluctance is unnecessary.

7. She asked her Bible study group.

Now, think about this in real life. What kind of woman would ask her Bible study group if it was biblical to send nude photos? Would someone who WANTS to send nude photos do so? Or is it more likely to be someone who is trying to get another person to tell her, “yes, you have a reason to say no. It’s okay to say no to this.”

If someone wants to do it, they’ll just do it. If someone is asking multiple people if it’s really biblical, chances are they’re trying to get someone to confirm that it’s okay to say no. 

And here’s something I’ve found over and over again in the work I do: Often when a woman asks, it’s because a husband is pressuring her and she doesn’t want to do it. So if you ever have a friend ask you if it’s okay for her to do something that you think really is okay, remember that the question is likely not about the individual act, but about harmful dynamics in the relationship. Ask more questions and see if she needs help!

8. The Bible group said there was no admonition against it.

So even the Bible study group told her it was okay! She had no reason to say no. Her spiritual advisors said to go for it.

9. She was worried it may make him watch porn.

But wait–there’s another reason you may not want to. What if it causes him to watch porn? 

This is not an unreasonable question. Our study for The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex found that 49.6% of married evangelical men are currently watching porn. About 80% have watched it in the past, with the number slightly higher among younger generations. 

That means that, if Abby is around 30, there’s around an 83% chance that her husband has watched porn in the past, and a greater than 50% chance that he currently is also watching porn.

This sounds like an entirely well-founded fear! But what does Gary’s and Debra’s book tell her?

10. Just because something CAN be bad doesn’t mean it’s bad in your case.

That shouldn’t be an issue. Stop worrying about it. Just because it can go wrong doesn’t mean it will, and so you can’t make decisions based on that fear.

Wow. 

In a footnote, they do deal with the problem of the photos ending up in the wrong hands. 

The only place they give even halfway decent advice is in a footnote, not in the actual text, and I can’t help but wonder if Debra insisted on that footnote (this was all in a chapter that Gary wrote), because there aren’t footnotes like this in the rest of the book. Most are endnotes. (Even so, I think Debra should have refused to have a book with this passage have her name on it).

 

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

Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta

footnote in Married Sex

I’m glad this is in the book, but I still have a few reservations about that footnote.

  • It insinuates that the main reason to say no is because the photos may end up on the internet. It doesn’t acknowledge that she may just simply not want to do it, and that’s okay. She doesn’t need a reason to say no to objectifying herself.
  • Even with the warning against the internet, they mitigate this by saying there are apps to guard against this. There are no apps to stop an abusive husband from blackmailing her with them.
  • The final word is giving to husbands–“don’t pressure her.” There is nowhere, even in this footnote, where they address women and reassure them that it’s okay to say no.

So let’s take this all together.

One by one they bring up objections she may have to sending the photos–and they demolish those objections.

That’s why this is coercive.

They’re painting a picture of a woman who is reluctant, and who seeks out counsel because she’s reluctant, but she “changes her mind” because of spiritual counsel and because her husband is entitled to it.

Then they follow this immediately by the story of Izzy (that I put in the Fixed it For You) who had these pictures made for her husband so that he wouldn’t watch porn, throwing in another reason you shouldn’t say no.

Look at all the arguments given to her about why you shouldn’t object to sending the pictures:

  1. You don’t want to unnecessarily deny him
  2. There are no scriptural admonitions against it
  3. Just because something can lead to sin doesn’t mean that it will
  4. There are apps that can stop the pictures from getting out there
  5. If you don’t send them, then his brain may not be fixated on you and he may focus on other women’s bodies

Wow. This is from a Christian book.

They don’t talk about revenge porn. They don’t talk about kids accidentally seeing things. They don’t talk about her right to not want to do this! Never. Not once. They just try to break down her defences.

Instead of honoring her objections and her boundaries, they attempt to demolish them.

There are other ways to talk about sending naked photos.

In both The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex we addressed the sending naked photos thing. We prefaced the whole section with some principles about deciding on what you will do in bed, and how this must never be coercive; how people must always feel free to say no; about how crossing someone’s boundaries isn’t loving or biblical; about how we must keep dignity and intimacy in th relationship, and the guiding principle should always be “does this bring us closer together?”

Then, for this particular thing, we said if you want to, there aren’t biblical reasons not to. But I had both a spiritual and a practical concern–the spiritual one about the porn issue, and the practical one about keeping those photos safe. So we centered it around the objections, and honoring those objections, rather than trying to demolish any objections.

 

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It is not asking too much to ask Christian books not to coerce women into potentially dangerous and degrading sexual acts.

It breaks my heart that I have to say this. But of all the things in Gary Thomas’ Married Sex that have concerned me (and there have been many), to me this was the worst.

It reflects an entitlement mindset towards sex, and it reflects a complete misunderstanding of intimacy and autonomy.

I pray this changes.

And I hope this helps you see the tactics that pastors, authors and counselors may use to break down your defences to convince you to do something you don’t want to do. It isn’t okay. You’re allowed to say no. Really.

I sometimes worry I’ve done this in the past, because I wasn’t always as aware of it. But a guiding principle I’ve always had is that we should never pressure anyone into anything they don’t want to do. That seems like a pretty good application of “Love your neighbour as yourself,” and I’m sorry that too many Christian authors don’t get it.

I haven’t even mentioned the other weird bits…

I’ve been focusing on the coercive aspect of that passage, but there are so many other weird bits.

  • Is it good for a man to be sexually aroused all day at work? How does that affect his colleagues? His work performance? How would you feel knowing a colleague was in a state of semi-arousal all day?
  • Is it good for Kyle to be raring to go for sex as soon as he gets home? What if they have kids? What if dinner needs to be made? What if she’s in the middle of something?
  • Is it really Kyle who needs to be raring to go all day? What about Abby? Women usually take longer to get aroused, so why are we focused on making sure Kyle constantly stays aroused?

And you may be able to think of more!

 

Why is Gary Thomas in Married Sex Coercing Women into Sending Nude Photos

What’s your reaction to the Fixed It for You? To the passage? Do you feel it’s coercive? Let’s talk in the comments?

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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45 Comments

  1. Angharad

    For me, one of the saddest parts of this anecdote is “when she sends me a picture in the middle of the day, I can’t wait to get home to her”.

    Does anyone else find it heartbreaking that it takes a nude photo to make a husband look forward to being with his wife?

    And yes, the language is totally coercive. And the bit where she says she doesn’t want to deny him because he works so hard…it’s really ‘yucky’. Almost like she feels he’s ‘paying’ for the photos… Urgh!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep! Also, why does he need a photo to remember what she looks like?

      Reply
  2. Em

    Another thing I think is sad is the way this systematically demolishes women’s God given instincts to protect themselves. If your body is telling you something doesn’t feel right that should be listened to! If the woman feels the need to justify this, that in and of itself is a warning sign to just not do it. The coerciveness is sickening.

    Reply
  3. Anita

    Great post! As usual 😊
    My guess is that – which is unfortunately common for a male author – we hear absolutely nothing from the woman’s perspective afterwards. We might be hearing from the man that he really enjoyed the change in their sexlife, but – funny – we rarely hear how the woman felt about the change. Amazing how sex is still a man’s world. So much for modern equality.

    Reply
  4. Nessie

    To add a few similar to GT’s reasoning…
    -Just because a husband can be faithful doesn’t mean he will be faithful. Watch your back.
    -Just because this can be used between two adults and appreciated in a fairly healthy way doesn’t mean that it will remain as such. Watch your back.
    -Just because an author/pastor states he is Christian doesn’t mean his advice won’t be tainted by personal desires. Pray for wisdom and use discernment.
    (I had a pastor throw “You must assume good will about (your husband/others)- if you think of the worst, there must be something very wrong with your spiritual walk,” so I’m a bit bitter (wiser?) now, ha.)

    I had the same thoughts in the last box. Is he going to be able to last for her satisfaction, too?? If something happens and they can’t have sex, will she be blamed for being cruel for “enticing him” all day then not “following through?”
    If Kyle is semi-aroused at work and his female coworker walks by, is he going to transfer some of his desire towards her even though he’s never thought about her in that way before?

    I’d love to read instead, “Kyle asked Abbey for these photos but realized she was reluctant and uncomfortable with his request, and he respected and loved her too much to be the reason she might grow apart from him or feel coerced, so he went to her and removed his request and told her why. They had a fantastically intimate night together because she realized how thoroughly she was loved and remembered why she chose to marry this specific man.”

    Reply
    • Nessie

      Another consideration:
      If a husband asks for photos and is willing to push you through your reluctance/discomfort, do NOT think he will not push even further when it comes to the ugly business of divorce or other concerns! This request being pushed in “good times” is evidence enough to me that he has little regard for your boundaries and will do whatever he needs to get what he wants/feels entitled to during the “bad times.”

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I agree!

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! I love your alternative. It’s so much better!

      Reply
    • Laura

      Nessie:

      I love your last paragraph about what you would love to read instead! Excellent fixed-it-for-you! Yes! This is what needs to be in Christian marriage books instead of trying to coerce wives into doing things that make them uncomfortable.

      Reply
  5. Estelle

    Good points, everyone. I find it bizarre that the most common objection from the bible study group was that it may lead the husband to doing porn! They sure seem to be more concerned about him and not so much about their friend and her safety and dignity.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, great point too! We go out of our way to make women feel like there’s no legitimate reason to say no unless it’s specifically biblically forbidden. It’s like our internal barometer doesn’t matter.

      Reply
    • Anon

      I read that part differently. The bible study group response was mixed.
      But the next paragraph (attempting to dismantle the objections around porn use) seem like Gary’s reasoning, not the bible study group’s. I don’t think it’s at all accurate to conclude “the bible study group said it was ok” based on the quoted text here.

      Reply
      • Mara R

        Anon,
        And part of me always wonders if these stories are even true.
        If the Bible group giving bad advice, do these characters really even exist? Or are they made up to justify Gary’s coercive tactics?

        Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Good point! So Thomas and Fileta are even ignoring what the group is saying.

        Reply
  6. Jen

    When men are given advice, it’s so they can get what they want (do the dishes so you can get sex). When women are given advice it is so that they can stop what they don’t want (send him nudes so he doesn’t use porn).

    I had the thought, “We never ask men to send nudes!” Then I realized that some men already do (d$ck pics) and that is considered digital sexual assault. I get there is a difference between a married couple and a stalker, but no one is asking men to get in seductive poses and expose themselves for their wives. I would not want that in one million years simply because I wouldn’t want my husband exposed and I do not want to share my intimacy with him with anyone else.

    I think the whole idea of nudes is built on objectification and the pornographic style of relating. We should say no for that reason alone.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Wow, this is so insightful, Jen: “When men are given advice, it’s so they can get what they want (do the dishes so you can get sex). When women are given advice it is so that they can stop what they don’t want (send him nudes so he doesn’t use porn).”

      Reply
      • Ray

        Yeah, a big issue with this is that if she texts pictures, it sends the message that she is excited and “ready to go.” Which can be fine if she is, but it makes it seem like she should send them anyways regardless just to brighten his day. But then he is going to come home thinking they are going to have sex even and it’s either going to be a disappointment or obligation

        Reply
        • Ray

          Didn’t mean to put my post as a reply

          Reply
    • Sedge by the Lakeshore

      Sexual attraction aimed at a digital image. An object. He’s drooling over an object. One that may look like his wife, but the image isn’t the real person.

      When he gets home being all excited for an object, then what? Will he be able to shake that mindset and remind himself that his wife is a real person?

      Reply
  7. Nessie

    I’m sorry, I have ever so many thoughts today, ha.

    “…a book or a counselor told them that there was no biblical reason to say no.”
    Well of course not, there were no photos back then. Any mention of sharing an image of your nude body with your husband while not in his presence would have sounded like witch craft, etc.
    I would argue, though, that having the photos potentially “out there” whether through hacking or other means, does provide an opportunity for her being a “stumbling block” to another man who may happen upon the photo (using how these authors think). So, while no technical biblical statement against it, I would say there is more of a biblical reason NOT to do it for concern over causing another man to sin if it were to get out.

    How many of these men would blame wives if the photos’ discovery affected the marriage or the man? If HE gets passed up for promotion because of it, the claim will be it is her fault, not his. Sickening.

    Another thing… so many men complain about how painful or uncomfortable it is to have an erection that does not have a “resolution” in the immediate future… why would they want to put themselves through that all day at work?? I would also guess he would be putting less effort into work instead of his all, so he is being unbiblical by not working at his job with all his heart, as working for the Lord.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! And, yes, when we are at work we should work as to the Lord….

      Reply
      • Nessie

        “…neurologically he’s *less likely* to be drawn to other women.”
        Even if this hadn’t been misinterpreted from data, he is still only selling women on a hedging of bets… your husband will still be drawn to other women, but if you send nudes, you will shave off just a little of his desire to cheat on you. Isn’t that great?!

        Reply
  8. Mara R

    Sheila in blog post: “And then the floodgates open. I receive so many emails about horrible situations…”
    Also: “I had so, so many of those. … so many heartbreaking emails about how taking these pictures didn’t stop the porn use; … were used as blackmail in custody disputes; … denied a promotion at work because the pictures were out there…”

    This is so heartbreaking.
    It is disgusting how hard this dysfunctional system and those who uphold it work. They work so hard to make sure no man ever has to go without anything whatsoever, sexually.
    It’s disgusting how little regard this system and its promoters care about the very real destruction and fallout that it causes women.

    You say later “I pray this changes”.
    But my eyes tricked me and I thought it said, “Who will press charges?”

    I saw my mistake immediately. But the question is still in my head. These women followed the advice of spiritual leaders. And they are bearing the brunt of it all ALONE. Those spiritual leaders aren’t being punished in any way for their coldhearted, coldblooded coercion. They’ve got their money from these women. They laid up their heavy burden on the backs of these vulnerable, trusting women. And now these Pharisees are not willing to lift a finger to help. Because THEY DON’T CARE about women. It means nothing to them if they make a woman vulnerable to blackmail or unable to get a promotion. They only care about themselves and other men getting their sexual jollies at the expense of their sisters.

    So thank you for holding Gary Thomas accountable for his foolish and reckless book. We may not be able to make him pay for the damage he has done to these women. But I’m glad that these women don’t have to suffer alone, anymore. They have an advocate here who sees them and can remind them that God sees them.

    Reply
    • Stefanie

      “Liked” this comment

      Reply
      • Carla

        Bravo.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Mara.

      I wish there were better accountability too. All we can do is write reviews of the books on Amazon/Goodreads (if we’ve read at least excerpts), speak up on social media, and refuse to go to small group studies. I wish it were more.

      I’d like to think more this year about asking publishers to do something. I have some thoughts on that we may talk about sometime soon. But it is time that people were held accountable.

      Reply
  9. Joy

    There is always this idea that women need to just be more “fun” or “relaxed” or “adventurous.” Part of this circles back to the “just relax” idea when women have pain or discomfort during sex. It’s just easier for these advice givers to guilt women and make them feel scared or bad than it is for them to genuinely advise, mentor and improve men. Is this because they know deep down that most men just won’t do it? Is it because they aren’t really good men at heart and don’t know the things that good men know? We shouldn’t listen to men like that. What is the reasoning?

    It seems like if they are writing to “healthy marriages” then they would assume more of the men (and that those assumptions would actually rise to the level of normal, kind hearted, good men). What exactly is the definition of “healthy marriage” when they are saying that is who they are writing to throughout the book?

    I am so thankful for your work. Old me many years ago was the kind of woman that was susceptible to this sort of thinking due to being raised by very relgious parents in an evangelical church. I can see now that it is BS. I don’t have a very fine tuned BS detector (my husband has a very, very fine tuned BS detector which is why we never got past Chapter 2 of Love and Respect ), so I need people to show me when things are messed up. It’s helping me become stronger for myself and to notice things and help others. Now I can see the problems on my own much more easily.

    Reply
  10. Jo R

    A woman’s current and future physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and sexual comfort and safety are apparently worth … (writes in the air, muttering under breath, “carry the one”) … ZERO.

    What will such a husband ask for next? 😲 😡

    What sacrifice is such a husband making? Oh, yeah, his sacrifice is that he has to wait to pop his cherry until he gets home from work. 🙄 🤮

    Reply
  11. Andrea

    I experienced the very thing you described under #7 and I totally agree that they’re not actually asking because they want to find out if its theologically OK, but they’re looking for a way out. I’ve had several conversation with my younger sister in which she asked me if I thought various sex acts between married couples were sinful. I never found out for sure, but it seemed to me that her husband was watching porn and wanting to reanct it at home. The argument he used with her was that other things used to be considered sinful in the past but are no longer (like oral sex, for example, which the LaHaye’s generation considered sinful). I’m more liberal than my sister, so she might have thought I’d just say “go for it!” but the answer I gave her, and the answer every women asking if a certain sex act is sinful should be given, is this: if he’s pressuring you to do it and you don’t want to then it is most definitely sinful. It’s the pressure, not the act per se, that’s sinful. That verse about the marriage bed not being defiled – oh, it’s definitely defiled if he’s pressuring you into doing something you don’t like in it!

    Also, that footnote must be Debra’s, she’s probably one of those “some counselors [who] strongly object.” How great would it be if she disavowed the book and apologized, spoke openly about all the parts I can’t imagine she wasn’t uncomfortable with, tell us just how much work it took to convince Gary to put that footnote in… She probably thought that collaborating with such a famous author would be good for her career, but it’s just hurting her and I hope she knows she would be embraced by this community if she ever chose to defect.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I would love it if Debra actually spoke up! I pray that would happen one day.

      Reply
  12. Laura

    Wow! Just wow! Married Sex is like the modernized version of The Act of Marriage. Make the married man who wants a naked pic of his wife out to be the entitled victim just like LaHaye made Aunt Matilda’s rapist, er old husband, out to be the victim. Ick!

    I just cannot buy the whole scenario of the wife asking her women’s Bible study group if this was okay. I don’t think many women would do that. After all, I attended women’s Bible studies for years and never once did anyone bring up this type of question. In fact, I would be embarrassed to ask a group of people something concerning my sex life (I’m single so I don’t have one). I would also feel shame and embarrassment because I’m (hypothetically speaking) experiencing something awkward in the marriage. When I was married to my ex and if I had attended Bible studies during this time (thankfully I did not), I would never have had the guts to mention some of the things that were happening in my sex life. That’s just too personal. Now, if GT (I assume he was the one who created this scenario) said that this woman had a conversation about this with some of her closest girlfriends, I would find this more believable. I think he created this scenario to manipulate women to do these things claiming that their “hard-working” husbands are entitled to see naked pics of their wives.

    Don’t they know what their wives look like naked? To visualize them naked all day while they are at work, um, ew. Work is NOT the time or the place to think about these things.

    Reply
    • Andrea

      Yes, as I described above, my sister was confiding to me about the bizarre sex acts her husband started asking for, that’s because we’re sisters and I’m the only one she would ever confide to about something like that, she would NEVER bring it up in a Bible study! I’m pretty sure most of Gary Thomas’s stories are made up.2

      Reply
  13. Perfect Number

    Wow, this is a really good post! I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever seen Christian marriage advice that said “If you aren’t comfortable with some sexual thing your husband wants to do, then you totally have the right to not do it.” The only “acceptable” reason I’ve ever heard to say no to your husband is if he’s asking for something sinful.

    Reply
    • Jan

      Oh yes, and all that soul searching, introspection and examinimg of one’s motives for having a preference. Not to mention the detailed explanation you owe him about ‘why’.

      Reply
  14. Jo R

    Allow me to channel and paraphrase my inner Elaine Benes:

    “You want a naked picture? You want a naked picture? All right, here’s your naked picture:”

    (And the photo is whatever facial expression the wife likes, with a big fat🖕next to her face)

    For those who need a reference, or just a laugh:

    https://youtu.be/YCs7logO1R4

    Reply
  15. Codec

    If you are not sexy enough it is bad. If you are too sexy it is bad.

    I find it fascinating that people have a hard time understanding how they are supposed to relate with eachother and especially to the opposite sex.

    I have to wonder how can we communicate in a productive way?

    Let me explain. The guy who is asking his wife for the nudes probably wonders ” Why would she not want this, I sacrifice for her and I provide for her and this could be fun.” He sees opportunity, but not necessatily how this fails to really see if she wants it. Does the man know how to express himself to his wife and vice versa in a healthy way?

    I honestly wonder how much expectations especially misinformed ones create this scenario and others like it.

    Reply
  16. K

    I’m embarrassed to say that once upon a time I would have seen nothing wrong with this scenario. I mean, why wouldn’t she want to “make her husband happy”?!?! She’s just being a prude— she’s married now! All those “purity rules” are gone with the wind now! ……

    But now I see so much entitlement. He gets pics, which make her uncomfortable, because “he works hard.” We don’t know if she works, too or stays home with the kids here…. But pretty sure he’d be working hard without a wife! Why does her discomfort not matter? Why does he get what he wants?

    Well, I know why…. Because we teach girls to set aside their “feelings”, that we are to lay down our wants for others. And it’s not just anyone…. It’s her husband.

    Sigh.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, it’s not really an issue of being a prude or not. It is an issue of entitlement. That’s the whole thing!

      Reply
  17. Boone

    The court is not going to bat an eye to nude pictures sent to a spouse or boyfriend in a custody dispute. That’s just life in the big city now.

    About fifteen years ago I represented a man whose ex wife had remarried. She and her new husband practiced a polyamorous lifestyle. They had another woman living with them. Some nights they all piled into the same bed. Other nights both of the women shared a bed. Other nights the husband landed with either of the women. Some nights one or more of them brought somebody totally new home. The three teenaged sons were begging Dad to get them out of the traveling freak show. I won after a two day trial. The judge said in his conclusions of law that he placed little, if any weight on the mother’s lifestyle. I won because the mother had given the fourteen year old beer as a reward for doing his chores.

    As you can see, nude pictures are kind of mild. If the husband can get hold of pictures sent to a lover during a divorce case they can be used as weight in a settlement but that’s about it.

    Reply
  18. Wifey

    Put ethics aside- I simply don’t like the thought of my husband comparing pictures of past me to current me. I’ve had 3 babies in 3.5 years, my body will never be as slim and stretch mark free as it once was and that’s a totally normal. He is enamored with my body at each stage because he loves me- my body is a part of me, but not all of me. He has never asked for photos and is not a fan because as a trained photographer he’s heard too many embarrassing stories of photos accidentally falling into the wrong hands. And those are just embarrassing moments, not full on criminal or harassment. No thank you!

    Reply
  19. Mindy

    “They work so hard to make sure no man ever has to go without anything whatsoever, sexually.”

    Mara R, you said it so well. In one sentence you summed up all of the distorted evangelical views of men’s sexuality. It’s sexual gluttony. Why in the world would we ever think this is ok? It’s like saying a “man really can’t go without pie. So you need to be prepared to make him pie whenever he wants or he’ll go to Perkins and we KNOW how sinful and unhealthy THAT pie is. You don’t want him to get heart disease from bad pie, do you? Only your pie can keep him from sinning. And make sure it’s often so the temptation isn’t so hard to bear”. It’s insane.

    Reply
  20. Willow

    I think it is so important to center consent and mutuality and enjoyment.

    Before I went on a yearlong military deployment, my husband asked how I’d feel about doing some themed photos. I was excited about this and really enjoyed staging the shoot. I then asked him how he’d feel about doing a themed shoot for me. He was a little surprised (“a woman would be into this?”) but also excited. He also took some fun themed photos. We were careful how we exchanged them (hard-copy digital media, no internet involved) and each enjoyed the other’s photos while we were physically apart from each other. Yes, there was trust involved regarding what might happen to the photos, but trust was embedded in our relationship long before this discussion came up.

    Yes, I’ve thought random sexual thoughts about him at work, with or without sexy pictures/texts/etc from either direction. It has zero effect on how I feel about people at work.

    As far as people asking questions about things other than “vanilla” sex, I think it’s important to listen carefully and consider both context and consent. When people of any age ask questions, it’s not always because they are feeling pressured or manipulated. Some people – especially those who were raised in either a very conservative household, and/or a household where nobody talked about sex ever – are genuinely unsure if some sex-related acts *that they want to engage in consensually* are “sinful” or not. Also, sometimes both men and women are surprised that women have desire, or that women can be aroused visually, or that men aren’t always ready/willing for sex.

    Reply
  21. Mindy

    Sheila, thinking more on Mara’s quote that I referenced above, I would love to see you do a post addressing this obsession with making sure men have access at all times to sex with their wives (spiritual gluttony) and how that intersects with porn use, almost just replaces it in a “holy” form. The idea that the man doesn’t need to be prepared to have self-control in regards to sex (in fact requires the opposite) is actually keeping him from spiritual maturity. In all things we are asked to be self controlled, and that has to include sex, too. We are told to give men a pass on that. It really is like any other appetite, like food or spending money. Both of those we see as unhealthy if we insist we require access to them whenever we feel the “urge”, but sex is somehow elevated beyond that to a separate category. And the female “counterpart”, as they teach, emotional connection, is not even treated that way, which really is telling. At least they would be consistent if they said men need to be emotionally available anytime a woman requires it of them! Can you imagine the outrage if woman insisted our immediate need for emotional connection outweighed their desires? I have yet to encounter a book that preaches that.

    Reply
  22. Liz

    How do these men have time to be aroused all day? Aren’t they busy taking care of their family? Working as unto the Lord? Ha! It’s gross to think about a coworker receiving these texts and being aroused all day. Just yuck. So immature. These are not men; they are entitled brats. They need to be called to something greater not told their addiction needs to be constantly fed by their wife.

    My husband would never ever want me to take any promiscuous photo of myself especially on a phone. He is appalled by the idea. The thought of it causing me harm or embarrassment down the road is enough to kill any possible pleasure derived from it. But, he’s also not an @hole so that helps. The selfishness of these men is unfathomable to me. How can they call themselves believers?

    Reply

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