A Summary of Issues with Every Man’s Battle (with download)

by | Feb 22, 2023 | Theology of Marriage and Sex | 51 comments

Summary of the Problems with Every Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker
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For Years, Every Man’s Battle by Steve Arterburn and Fred Stoeker has been the best-selling evangelical book tackling sexual addiction.

However, in our research over the years it has become clear that the book misdiagnoses the root of sexual addiction, and gives the wrong treatment.

The only credentials the authors have to write the book is that they were sex addicts themselves. They are not resarchers, trained counselors, or academics.

Since 2020, the Bare Marriage team has surveyed over 32,000 people to find out which evangelical teachings lower marital and sexual satisfaction, and we are dedicated to calling the church to a more Jesus-centered view of marriage, and a healthier view of sex where it is not a female obligation and male entitlement, but instead something mutual, intimate, and pleasurable for both.

In the course of that research, we created a rubric of healthy sexuality teaching and applied it to evangelical best-sellers. Every Man’s Battle scored second to worst of the books we measured–just 9/48. When we asked open-ended questions on our surveys, asking women what resources they believed made things worse, Every Man’s Battle was in the top 5 of the most commonly named resources.

Our findings show that the messages in Every Man’s Battle about sex and lust can make marriages worse.

While some may have found the book helpful, when it has hurt many others, it is best to choose a different book. There are other, better books to use that do not leave many of their readers harmed.

While I have written at length about the problems with Every Man’s Battle, many have asked for a summary sheet that they can show others.

This post is our summary of the issues. You can also download the information in this post as a pdf, which can be printed on two sides of one sheet of paper.

 

A Summary of the Issues with Every Man’s Battle

Synopsis

“We live in a world awash with sensual images 24/7…  men [are] locked in a battle of spiritual warfare against these temptations… Every Man’s Battle offers a practical, biblical plan to help you experience victory and wholeness.”

Summary of Issues

  • Every Man’s Battle objectifies women and fails to treat them as whole people. They either paint women as temptresses who are the enemy of men or as innocents who must be protected at all costs.
  • Frames lust as a central part of maleness more than 50 times (“lustful thinking is your brain’s guiding worldview” (p. 149); “our maleness is a major root of sexual sin” (p. 71). One chapter is even titled “just by being male.”

There must be something inside our makeup as men that makes us particularly susceptible to sexual addiction, and there must be something outside us in our culture that makes this whole slippery slope so slick. That something inside you is your makeup as a male, including the ability of the male eye to deliver sexually gratifying pleasure chemicals to the brain when it locks onto the sensual objects in its vicinity. That something outside is a culture that’s locked in on making sure that everything around you is crammed full of sensuality to flood your pleasure centers, from the bouncy babe at the beach in her thong bikini to the steamy hot clicks at the Cinepolis movie theaters to the voluptous, duck-lipped classmate sexting topless selfies straight to your smartphone.

Every Man's Battle

pg. 27

  • Rather than understanding that the objectification of women is at the root of lust, encourages men to use their wives as sin management tools: “you are God’s only answer to [his] need” (page 13); “because of the obvious struggle men have with sexual purity… I began to understand why God would tell me ‘your body is not your own’” (page 14).
  • Assumes noticing a woman is attractive will lead to lust, creating hyper-vigilance in the men reading.

Every Man’s Battle Portrays Women as Objects and Discounts Their Experience 

  • Portrays women as dangerous: “temptation grenades” lobbed by Satan (p. 144), shrews (p. 157), tarantulas (p. 45, referring to a 13-year-old who “blossomed early up top”). Describes women as consumable objects: “vessels of sexual fulfillment” (p. 131), “live attractions” (used 6 times), and “the only thing in the kitchen cabinet” (p. 132).

And my eyes? They were ravenous heat seekers searching the horizon, locking on any target with sensual heat: young mothers in shorts leaning over to pull children out of car seats, church soloists with silky shirts, college girls in low-cut summer dresses.

Every Man's Battle

pg. 6

  • Features unnecessary but extremely graphic sexual descriptions of women throughout: “a sensual, serpentine dance scene from the voluptuous Beyonce” (page 58), “banquets of glistening flesh”, “two tiny triangles of tie-dyed fabric struggled to contain her ample bosom” (page 3), “curvy teenaged babes in too-tight tank tops bounced into the room, giggling up a storm” (page 107).

I never intentionally set out to be girl watching that day, but I spotted her about two hundred yards ahead and to the left. She was jogging toward me along the coastal sidewalk. From my sheepskin-covered leather seat, I found the view outstanding, even by California’s high standards.

My eyes locked onto this goddess-like blonde, rivultes of sweat cascading down her tanned body as she ran at a purposeful pace. Her jogging outfit, if it could be called that in those days before sports bras and spandex, was actually a skimpy bikini. As she approached on my left, two tiny triangles of tie-dyed fabric struggled to contain her ample bosom. I can’t tell you what her face looked like; nothing above the neckline registered with me that morning.

My eyes feasted on this banquet of glistening flesh as she passed on my left, and they continued to follow her lithe figure as she continued jogging southbound. Simply by lustful instinct, as if mesmerized by her gait, I turned my head further and further, craning my neck to capture every possible moment for my mental video camera. Then *blam!* I might still be marveling at this remarkable specimen of female athleticism if my Mercedes hadn’t plowed into a Chevy Cheville.

Every Man's Battle

pg.3

  • Ignores women’s agency and preferences. Men are repeatedly counselled to deceive their wives (page 132). Women are infantilized, described as “ewe lambs” sixteen times. One author explains how he likes to picture his wife as a baby in need of his protection. Ignores women’s sexual pleasure and never instructs men to make sex good for her, except as part of a treatment plan for porn-induced erectile dysfunction.

Every Man’s Battle Portrays All Men as Predators and Normalizes Assault

  • Describes abusive and/or criminal behavior as part of “normal” male sexuality, including: indecent exposure, such as masturbating in gym parking lots (pp. 20, 87), voyeurism (p. 21), marital rape and coercion (pp. 23, 175, 188), discriminatory hiring practices (p. 39), sexual assault (p. 63), rape of minors (pp. 76, 151), deceiving wives to get more sex (p. 111), sexual harassment (pp. 152, 155), adultery (pp. 160, 175, 188), clergy abuse (pp. 162, 168), and domestic violence (p.188). Only the rape of teenagers is noted to be criminal sexual behavior.
  • Accuses all readers of sexual predation: “you know you’ve lurked” (p. 152). “you’ve forced her to perform like a porn star for you” (p. 23; a description of marital rape); or assumes readers have sexually harassed colleagues (pp. 152, 155). This normalizes predation, gaslights men, and can create unnecessary shame and hypervigilance.
  • Fails to label nearly all anecdotes describing assaults as actual assaults, ignoring women’s experiences. Instead, when assault is explicitly acknowledged, it is the man being assaulted by a woman appearing in a bikini (p. 123).
  • Uses 1 Corinthians 7:4 to justify men assaulting and using their wives sexually (p. 175). Tacitly agrees with the men in their anecdotes who feel entitled to sexual release when they want it even if such sex is coerced (p. 175).

 In Every Heart Restored, a follow-up book to Every Man’s Battle, a woman who followed the authors’ advice reports feeling “like a human toilet for semen.” The authors comfort her by noting that “men just don’t have that Christian view of sex.” 

Every Heart Restored

pg. 85

Every Man’s Battle Shows Little Evidence of Understanding True Healing for Sexual Sin

  • Rather than addressing the attachment issues or childhood trauma at the heart of much sexual compulsion, paints victory as merely a matter of will-power, which, readers are assured, will take just 6-9 weeks (p. 95).
  • Discounts the betrayal trauma common among wives of men with compulsive sexual behavior, instead judging such women harshly for not “having mercy” (p. 112).
  • Advocates men “bounce their eyes” from women. However, this still frames women as objects—instead of lusting, you’re avoiding. Jesus didn’t refuse to look at women; He chose to truly see women. Avoiding women can create lust problems by seeing women as “the other” rather than as full, whole, real people.
  • Rather than acknowledging objectification as the root of lust, reinforces objectification by turning wives into sin management tools. Instructs men to quit lust by transferring sexual energy to their wives. Instead of lusting after all women, the solution is to lust after just one, “soliciting the extra five bowls from her that I used to get outside” (p.133).

Healthy Sexuality Score: 9/48*

Infidelity and Lust:

6/16

Pleasure:

2/16

Mutuality:

1/16

*FOR FULL RESULTS, VISIT BAREMARRIAGE.COM/GSR-RUBRIC

What Readers Have Said

“All I really remember is at the beginning he’s talking about I think getting in an accident cuz he’s always lusting over joggers. Pretty sure I read the whole thing, or at least far enough to know this is just another book telling me, how could I put it, like the same way AA tells people they’re going to be alcoholics for life. I’m going to be addicted to sexual perversion for life and the best I can do is just learn to manage it. It still had me looking at the problem instead of looking at Jesus, and coming to the Father. Knowing who I really am in him. “

Male Facebook Commentor

“To be very blunt, this book was extremely perverted and written from someone who apparently has an extremely inappropriate sexually saturated mind. My brothers and I went through it together and were absolutely disgusted. The author wrote that it was normal for every single man to lust after every female he encountered and that our entire life we would have to fight our desire to undress every woman with our eyes. I was shocked when he described how it was not abnormal for guys to sit in the parking lot of a workout center and “pleasure themselves” to each of the females that entered. He described watching his sister in law lay in the living room floor asleep masturbating because he could see her pantie line.

Our response was “pervert, look away!” And if a dude is sitting ina parking lot pleasuring himself to every female that walks by, then he has a serious sin issue.

Ladies…that is not normal.

There are plenty of God fearing men (and even those that don’t believe in God) that think this is abnormal, disgusting and perverted.

We are not all that way. That is a minority. We do not view you as “objects”. That mindset comes from a patriarchal mindset that lift man above women instead of seeing women as their joint heirs of heaven. That mindset places man between God women.

We are equally sinners redeemed by a savior and are equally redeemed heirs (See Colossians 3:11)

DO NOT let your boys or your husbands read that book. It is perverted filth written by someone who sees women as objects to be tamed and controlled rather than controlling their own sins. “

Titus Cannon, Facebook

“Every Man’s Battle laid the groundwork for our marriage ending. When you can’t feel like you can say no. When you feel like you’re his sexual outlet and you know he struggles with porn and all that you feel heavily it’s your fault no matter what anyone tells you. Because you feel responsible if he strays.”

Female Blog Commentor

“As a young 20 something, my fiancé who had read this book downplayed his porn addiction because he was sure getting married would solve that problem. Newsflash: it didn’t.

When we were in pre-marital counseling, he used this book as the backing to draft a contract that I would never deny him sex and we would have it every day. But because I’m only one person, he was bored with me a few months into the marriage and went back to porn, actually denying me sexually. Then, when I tried to seek out help I was told it was something every man struggled with and I should “try harder,” even though he didn’t want me. Marriage was explained to me as Christian men essentially get married because they need a live-in sex toy. Christian wives were merely glorified prostitutes, who the husband takes care of as long as he has unrestricted access to her. Our story gets much darker, sadly.

He ruined my life, and while he’s long been in my rear view mirror, I still secretly wonder if all men view wives as glorified prostitutes, which seems to be in line with this book. I know logically this isn’t true, and that there are men out there who don’t view marriage like that, but the emotional damage has been grave indeed. This book definitely played a role in the trauma and pain I endured. I still hear its echoes in Bible studies and marriage groups today.

So many men I know raised with this book all genuinely think every man alive rigorously consumes porn, and if a man says he doesn’t, he’s lying. Try dating after being hurt like this and hearing this line about “everyone does it” from potential suitors. Same song, second verse. A little bit louder and a little bit worse.

Wish this book had never been written and so widely circulated.

Female Facebook Commentator

Real world experience had taught me that most men were somewhere between lustful and down right sexually dangerous. I thought Christian men were different. That book taught me that they were not only NOT different, but that God had made them ON PURPOSE to be that way. The world, for me, became a completely unsafe place after reading that book. If followers of Jesus were like that, too, and God made them that way, then where can a woman be safe? Not with any man and not even with God Himself. It was absolutely crushing.”

Female Facebook Commentor

“We were at a difficult point in our marriage and this was handed to us as well as the blog/website as a resource. I remember looking at my husband’s face as he skimmed the material that was all too familiar across all the Christian literature. And he just looked beaten. Like this is it, this is all the “help” we get and it’s literally no help at all. We both felt defeated. We knew it wasn’t right or accurate but had trouble naming why or what about it was so “off”.

Female Facebook Commentor

I read this book in highschool and it reinforced the idea that all men are predators, women are prey. Men are sexual aggressors, women are the passive recipients. Women will always be seen as objects no matter what, and it’s “just the way men are”.

I felt embarrassed of my strong feelings against porn believing it was “every man’s battle” and it was unrealistic and niave of me to be so upset if my partner ever broke trust with me and used pornography. I was embarrassed of my desire to be someone’s one and only and believed the only way I would ever have a faithful consistent husband I would have to “beat” the appeal of porn and somehow keep my husband interested in me.

I felt irrelevant if a man wasn’t romantically interested in me believing it was impossible for men and women to have non sexual healthy relationships. I was very guarded/suspicious with men believing if they lusted after me it was my fault. I legitimately was rude to men because I believed they might think I was leading them on and be tempted to lust. I’m so glad to have a healthier mindset now which includes holding men and women responsible only for their own behavior. I understand that a women can’t keep a man from lusting. And men cannot blame women for their issues.

Men have to take responsibility for their own actions. I also believe using people sexually comes from a place of entitlement. It doesn’t matter how beautiful, sexually available someone’s spouse is, a person with sexual sin is not going to be satisfied with a wholesome loving relationship. I’m amazed that some of the most toxic sexist mindsets I struggle with, were rooted in purity culture and books like every man’s battle.”

Female Facebook Commentor

Synopsis of Findings

While sexual faithfulness in a committed relationship is a laudable goal, the methods suggested to achieve this by Every Man’s Battle (avoiding women, viewing women as the enemy, using wives as sexual methadone) are neither healthy nor laudable. The book refers to women repeatedly as objects, food, or as erotic assemblages of body parts.

Criminal sexual behaviors are normalized and best practices to prevent abuse are never described. Anecdotes of sexual coercion are included without that coercion being labelled problematic.

Instead of Every Man’s Battle, Choose:

Unwanted by Jay Stringer

Unwanted by Jay Stringer

Surfing for God

Surfing for God by Michael John Cusick

Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Gregoire and Dr. Keith Gregoire

Sexually Healthy Man by Bauman

The Sexually Healthy Man by Andrew J. Bauman

Every Man's Battle

One Sheet

Everything Harmful with Every Man's Battle Summarized on One Sheet!

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Summary of Problems with Every Man's Battle

Do you have someone you want to give this resource to? Do you think it may help people see? What book would you like me to tackle next? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

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

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51 Comments

  1. Lisa

    Wait, what?? “curvy teenaged babes in too-tight tank tops”? That’s horrifying! And what average man on earth has a “voluptous, duck-lipped classmate sexting topless selfies straight to your smartphone”? I swear that’s just one of the authors’ fantasies that they’re trying to sell like it’s a common occurrence for men.

    I’m shocked. I knew from here that this was a damaging book, but I had no idea it was this bad. There’s just so much wrong with this. I mean, women in public are just normal people going about their day thinking about errands, work, the book they just read, what they will make for dinner and whether they will ask their friend to go for coffee or lunch on Saturday. No woman asks for perverted men like these to think of them like it’s described here. I feel dirty just reading this and I’m very, very sorry for every woman close to these men. And for every one who’s read that book and believed its messages. It’s heartbreaking to think how much damage it has caused.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It absolutely is heartbreaking! And the authors refuse to apologize for it too. Note that all of this is in the UPDATED 2020 edition.

      Reply
      • Sarah R

        I did wonder re that ref to smartphones… seemed too modern for an early 2000s book, which I believe it was? So not only have they updated it with another sexist, weird-as-all-heck way to describe a woman, they’ve looked at it and gone ‘nah, nothing wrong with the rest of the content — reprint as-is’. As an editor myself, where on earth was the editorial team — bound and gagged somewhere?!

        Reply
        • CMT

          Was the editorial team bound and gagged somewhere 🤣🤣

          Regardless, they most likely were not of a generation that had any actual experience with sexting, because otherwise they would realize that the vast majority of unsolicited nude photos aren’t sent by women. Not saying it never ever happens, but this is not a real world issue for most guys. Somebody’s projecting big time.

          Reply
          • Egeler Kathy

            Have you read or analyzed books by Dr Doug Weiss, particularly “Sex, Men and God”?
            I have problems at the very least, with his “sexual agreement contract” after a man discloses sexual addiction.
            And Doug just disclosed on fb that hes been divorced for a year. Even his staff didn’t know. He hid it from everyone.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I haven’t looked at it, no. But I’m kind of grossed out by “sexual agreement contract” after sexual addiction.

          • exwifeofasexaddict

            Egeler Kathy, Weiss has some good material, and some that is pretty problematic. A friend of mine went to a weekend seminar of his and came back saying he’s definitely a narcissist. I found his thoughts on Intimacy Anorexia helpful re: my ex. And his video for the addict describing how their porn use etc affects their wife is accurate. But I think he needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I bought a couple of his books for wives of intimacy anorexics and found them overpriced and unhelpful. ymmv

    • Jane Eyre

      I think the athletic blonde running down the sidewalk is also a fantasy.

      This was before sports bras? Sports bras were invented in 1975. In the mid-90s, almost everyone had them.

      Sure the guy is almost 70. However, it still doesn’t make any sense: when a woman with anything resembling an “ample” bosom runs, there is a LOT of movement. That would have been extremely painful. If she had the sense of a flea, she would have worn (at the very least) a supportive bathing suit top. If she hadn’t, there would not be a gentle bounce and she would have been in pain.

      Maybe that happened. More likely, it’s a male fantasy that is only believed by people who have no idea how female bodies work.

      Reply
      • S

        Yes Jane! I was thinking the exact same thing.

        So many things shared here from this book simply don’t make sense. Others are incredibly damaging.

        Reply
      • Willow

        This “Christian” book sounds like came from the Penthouse letter section. Except the fantasies there are centered around consent.

        Is this how Christian men get away with writing creepy porn? Why the heck is this sanctioned and directed for Christians to read?

        Reply
      • exwifeofasexaddict

        I don’t know. I see women jogging with a whole lot of bounce. I wonder if they’re in pain, but I guess they wouldn’t do it if it bothered them….??

        Reply
  2. Angharad

    I feel like I need to bleach my eyes and my brain after reading these quotes.

    At least this book serves one useful purpose though – it warns women everywhere that if they ever meet either of the authors, they should run as fast as they can in the opposite direction.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! I have a list of men in Christian publishing that I will never, ever be in a room with based on what they write and how they see women!

      Reply
      • N.N.

        Are they really too blind to see that they are telling on themselves!!??? 🙄

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I wonder that too! Is it just that they’re in such a bubble?

          Reply
  3. Jo R

    These authors, and men who agree with their message, are NSFW, NSFC, NSFBOIP, and even NSFH. 🤮

    (not safe for work, church, being out in public, and home)

    And, just by the way and for clarification for us with weak female minds, exacrly which fruit of the Spirit do this mindset and these actions display? 🤔 🧐

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep. Just about sums it up!

      Reply
    • Jo R

      Sorry, I forgot a couple… NSTD and NSTM.

      (not safe to date and marry)

      Reply
  4. Anon this time

    Ugh. Yuk. Blecch. All the things.

    We’re in couples therapy right now (not for stuff like this, thank God), and at our last session we were talking through an issue with us depending on sex, instead of open communication and vulnerability, to handle emotional struggles. That needed to stop, but our therapist pointed out that you can’t just stop doing the obvious bad thing and not face the underlying issue. She said something to the effect that “if you don’t learn healthy ways to solve the problem, you will just replace one compulsion with another.” It sounds like that’s what this book is doing. It’s teaching people that instead of addressing the underlying need that makes you seek out something unhealthy, you can just transfer the same unhealthy pattern to a different “object.” And somehow that’s Godly and righteous. Horrible.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a perfect explanation of what they’re doing. Instead of men lusting after all women, they teach men to lust after just one woman for the rest of his life.

      Reply
      • Anon this time

        Yeah this sounds so awful for everyone involved. Women being used, men not getting the help they actually need, nobody actually able to be whole and safe in a relationship. And this thinking makes God complicit in the whole disgusting mess. Pretty scripture has some pointed things to say about that.

        Reply
  5. Cynthia

    It just occurred to me that the subconscious purpose of the authors may not have been to promote healing at all, but rather to normalize their own dysfunction. I’ve seen some similar patterns with people struggling with substance abuse – I remember one client telling me that her stepfather having a glass of wine with dinner was no different from her cocaine addiction, and another told me that he learned nobody was a perfect parent as he dealt with his baby suffering a skull fracture under his care (accidental but he should have taken basic steps to prevent it).

    I can believe that some sex addicts would like the book. It let’s them feel normal, and put the blame on others. I’ve realized that a tremendous amount of misogyny is basically displacement of feelings of guilt or shame by men, which instead get directed as hate toward women/girls that they find attractive.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I think this is a big part of it too. All the talk about how all men are like this, and men don’t naturally have the Christian view of sex, and women can’t expect men to want intimacy. It’s just normalizing perversion and objectification.

      Reply
    • Angharad

      It’s really interesting you should raise this point, Cynthia. After reading Sheila’s post, I decided to see what people were saying on Goodreads. More than one man was saying that he loved the book because it made him realise that he was a normal man instead of one who had a problem. So yes, it is literally teaching guys that it is normal to commit sinful (and in some cases, criminal) acts and that they shouldn’t expect this to change. (Encouragingly, there were also reviews from men who were outraged by the book and speaking out against it very forthrightly)

      Reply
  6. Anna

    Thank you for this. This is exactly the thing I need right now. I am so leery of Christian resources on this topic.

    I thought this was LONG in our past but my husband recently admitted he’s tempted by porn on and off again and the men’s Bible study he joined is for porn addiction. He’s also called the minister who counseled him in the past (from the church I grew up in that actually teaches healthy!!) We’ve used Covenant Eyes for ages and I have all the filter and parental controls for everything from his phone to the tvs. But its STILL an issue? Even if its JUST temptation?!

    We are in our early 40s (married almost 20 years) and this is one book I’ve stashed under our bed in case I want to refer to the unhealthy teachings. While he’s always been concerned about my pleasure when we are together; I don’t think either of us comprehended how this sin issue tanks my desire for him. Having summaries like this will be SO helpful as we try to sort this out once and for all!! (I appreciate the recommendations of healthy books also!)

    Reply
  7. Jane Eyre

    Anyone else notice how much he talks about young women? Sure women are more attractive (in a conventional sense) when younger, but don’t normal men adjust their minds and hearts as they age?

    “any target with sensual heat: young mothers in shorts leaning over to pull children out of car seats, church soloists with silky shirts, college girls in low-cut summer dresses.”.

    See also, “bouncy babe” and “duck-lipped classmate.”

    Of theirs, maybe the church soloist is over 30. How gross is it to be listing after women who are your daughter’s age? Grow up!

    It’s also disheartening for women who face problems as they age and who are very aware that their bodies are no longer trim and free of stretch marks.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is a really good point. They do often talk about young girls. In Every Young Man’s Battle Fred goes on and on about the Girls Gone Wild (or something like that) porn he used to love too, describing it in great detail. It was disgusting.

      Reply
  8. Laura

    Books like EMB made me want to stay single. When I became single after my divorce over 20 years ago, I was appalled to discover that “Christian” men were like the men I met at bars. Even they pushed boundaries. I’ve also heard people in church circles agree with that. So, the message I got from these books and personal experiences was that men just did not know how to control their hormones even as middle-aged adults. Thankfully, I have learned that not all men are like that. In fact, the man I am getting to know told me he believes in saving sex for marriage in spite of his past.

    So my struggle is fully believing that not all men (especially Christian men) are sex addicts and believe in the obligation sex message.

    Reply
  9. Nessie

    If a man notices a woman at 2 football (American) field lengths away, he is SEARCHING for something to consume! How about using that roving eye to search for those who are in desperate need of your help or learning about Jesus??

    Let me get this straight- women aren’t to wear clothes that are too “revealing,” in terms of cut, AND certain FABRICS are disallowed? (The silky-shirted church soloist.) I would love a list from these guys of what exactly we ARE allowed to wear that will make them not hunt/prey upon women. I imagine after all females switched to that, the new “temptation” we would be at fault for is how we leave TOO MUCH to the imagination for them to overcome.

    I know Sheila does not go after authors on a personal level, but I am not at all surprised that S.A. is on his third wife (who is much younger than him) and F.S.’s wife has said if she knew what men were like she never would have married. I think those reveal a LOT about these “men.”

    “Every Man’s Battle offers a practical, biblical plan to help you experience victory and wholeness.” … I don’t recall the verse about “bouncing your eyes” in the Bible. Where is that one? I do recall something about cutting out ones’ eyes if they cause one to sin though… As for practicality, avoiding roughly 1/2 of the population visually doesn’t sound very practical to me.

    And all the poor unmarried men… guess you can’t rely on God renewing your mind and heart… if you don’t have a wife, I suppose you’re doomed to always sin in this way. You’d best go pay for, I mean marry, a woman so you can stop sinning! (I’m not sorry my sarcasm is showing.)

    Reply
    • Laura

      Nessie,

      I remember when Stoeker’s wife said this in Every Heart Restored: if she knew what men were like she never would have married.

      That’s how I felt when I skimmed through this book years ago. I was appalled and thought if all men, even Christian men, were really like this, I’d rather stay single. It sounds like neither of these authors knows what a healthy marriage and healthy sexuality are supposed to be.

      Reply
  10. Bill

    I read this book about 20 years ago. I don’t remember such graphic language – perhaps it is new to this edition. But I do remember that it embodied all the stuff I’d always been taught in men’s ministries:

    -that such feelings were natural to men and yet at the same time deeply flawed and needed to be fought, and so it was all a “battle” within myself.

    -that self-control and relentless discipline of myself was my one weapon (‘bouncing the eyes”). And because it was a battle, only 100% performance was acceptable; otherwise I was a failure who had lost the battle.

    -that if I did all of this right, I would be rewarded by constant great sex with my future wife, which would then further strengthen me in the “battle”, in a virtuous cycle.

    Eventually I rejected the whole idea of ‘battle.’ I think in terms of ‘managing’ one’s thoughts and desires. To me that is a much better framework.

    I could say so much more but I’ll leave it there for now.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This sums it up really well, Bill. Thank you. I’m sorry that so many men were held trapped in this for so long.

      Reply
      • Bill

        Thank you. I guess I will add that a lot of toxic masculinity teachings do come out of the sincere, aching and desperate desire of many boys and men to manage their sexual thoughts, especially in light of Matthew 5:28, which has given men so much guilt and confusion (and I know Sheila has writtten a lot about that verse and interpretations of “lust.”)

        So books like Every Man’s Battle respond what seems like an easy and sincere solution to “lust”- control. It’s meant to be control first and foremost of yourself, the man. That’s how I always read Every Man’s Battle – that it was my job to discipline and control myself, not anyone else. At the time it seemed sincere and humble, believe it or not, and an ideal to always strive toward..

        But, and again as Sheila has endlessly documented, wives and women easily get drawn into that control web, and often end up being the ones really controlled, for all sorts of reasons. (I guess I married a very strong-willed woman who wanted her own sense of control, for other reasons, so we went down a different route.)

        Thanks for mentioning this book and how bad it is, because it really affected me 20 years ago, though for different reasons than what women are saying here.

        Reply
  11. K

    I’m absolutely disgusted that any man who holds these views would have the gall to call himself a Christian. And that any reputable store would sell this trash. Thank you for this summary, Sheila, Rebecca and Joanna. Do you have something similar for Every Young Man’s Battle? I saw it for sale at my local Christian bookstore and am ready to do some serious education about the harmful material they’re selling! But, darn it, I don’t want to actually READ the garbage! 🤣 (I will if I have to, but seriously don’t want to be part of any royalties going to the authors. )

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I haven’t done Every Young Man’s Battle yet (I will!), but honestly–it’s worse. So much worse. It was the only book that made me weep when I read it. It was so awful to think that it had been given to innocent 13 and 14 year old boys. I just can’t imagine.

      Reply
  12. S

    I can’t imagine where my marriage might be if I’d read and internalized this.

    As Brene Brown says, “The story I’m telling myself…”

    If I thought this was every man’s battle, the stories I would be telling myself would be heartbreaking.

    I pray for healing for those damaged by these teachings.

    Reply
  13. Tim

    Is this also the one with the quote along the lines of “sure, the Bible guarantees husbands regular sex…”? (I assume some twisted interpretation of 1Cor 7)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Every Heart Restored said that, so same series, but different book!

      Reply
  14. Amy A

    This book is a absolutely revolting. Thank you to everyone on The Bare Marriage team for all you do. It’s not easy to have to go into the thick of all the mess and hack at it, but it is a noble, Christ-like calling. I appreciate you guys so much. Consuming your content at a young age has likely been a great protection to me against some of this crap.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad you found me when you were young! That’s awesome.

      Reply
  15. DK Perry

    Sheila,

    Thank you SO much for putting forth the immense amount of time, work, research, and resources in spearheading a marital revolution that is so painfully overdue. I am healing from this post and I haven’t even read your book yet. I have one question:

    1). Could you please describe what “lust” means from a biblical Christian perspective? What exactly is the lust that the Bible refers to as sinful? Please break it down for me as if I were a 13-year-old boy.

    In Christian literature and dialogue, I have found that there is no clear definition of this. Or if it is clear, it is either wrong or (at best) incomplete. I am curious to discover what Christ intended for us to understand the “lust” mentioned in Matt. 5:28 to be.

    Thanks for your time!
    Dom

    Reply
    • Nessie

      DK Perry,
      Her book, the Great Sex Rescue, does a good job of breaking down what lusting actually looks like. That’d be a great place to start. A local library may have a copy if you want to peruse that section before committing to buy it, but I highly recommend the book. I think it can be very helpful for healing in both men and women.

      Wish you well on your healing journey!

      Reply
  16. J

    Thanks for such a helpful document, I will definitely be passing it on. I still can’t believe such a harmful book to women has been promoted for so long, and still is being promoted, to Christian men. It’s incredibly disturbing.
    I did have one query…about the bouncing the eyes. I’ve never read EMB, and hopefully never will have to! But I had always understood bouncing the eyes not to mean avoiding women completely, or all women, but simply to mean if a woman was either acting or dressed in a way that was sexually arousing to that particular man, that he would bounce his eyes off her at that time. I mean if myself and my husband were walking down the street and saw a woman in clothes that were revealing a lot of a sexual body part, and he noticed, then yeah I would want him simply to take his eyes off that body part of hers, in honour to me. Either he would put his eyes on her face, and think of her as a person, or he would just look somewhere else, just for that moment. That’s all I understand bouncing the eyes to be, and to me that’s a good thing.
    It’s not a million miles off the idea that if a spouse was to become emotionally attracted to someone he knew personally, that it would be a good idea for him to choose not to spend time with that person and put a boundary there in order to choose his marriage. We all come across people occasionally once already married who we know could be dangerous for us if we let them, and there would be wisdom in just choosing to not spend time with that person.
    So for me, bouncing the eyes, while of course not dealing with the root causes, and not educating men into seeing women as their equals and as so much more interesting than their bodies, is still something that can be helpful as a small part of the fight for honest, faithful, authentic relationships.

    Reply
  17. Jenni

    “There must be something inside our makeup as men that makes us particularly susceptible to sexual addiction, and there must be something outside us in our culture that makes this whole slippery slope so slick.”

    Yes, that something is POWER.
    The physical power (something inside) that men have over women by virtue of, on average, being larger and stronger.
    The societal power (something outside) that men have through our patriarchal culture (which is true in secular culture, but is much more extreme in “Christian” complementarian cultures that actively support patriarchy as God-ordained).

    These power structures inherently lead to abuse and need to be abolished. It is harmful to women and even to men.

    Reply
  18. kelly

    Hi! I am thankful for this article. I am trying to find I am trying to show one of my guy friends. Are these references to the original book or a special edit? Please help.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      These references are to the new 2020 edition. The original 2000 edition is far, far worse.

      Reply
  19. Hannah

    How to get a download of the summary?

    Reply
  20. Terri

    The “bounce your eyes” approach makes women bear the consequences of this author’s lust. He won’t even *look at women. You only do that to someone when they’re not even a peson to you. Refusing to even look at someone is dehumanizing.

    It goes very much hand in hand with the Graham Rule of never being alone with a woman: making women bear the consequences of your own problem.

    It’s so discouraging to go to church, where men will say a cheerful Hello to me and then engage in real discussion with my husband. This includes the (male) pastor. It happens over and over, and you begin to subtly feel invisible and worthless — and these men genuinely believe they’re being godly and righteous. They’re doing it at women’s expense. That’s how you know how perverse it is.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      EXACTLY! This is making women bear the consequences of their bad actions/bad thoughts, rather than having to bear it themselves. They transfer it onto women so they can feel righteous. It’s nauseating.

      Reply
  21. K

    Wow. I’m quite traumatized from reading the quotes from the book.

    Have you looked into Every Man’s Marriage? I believe it’s the same authors. Hubby read that one. Ugh.

    Reply
  22. Aaron

    I’ve not read the book, but I did read Every Young Man’s Battle as a teenager. That book helped to damage me severely. My view of some women, not all, was damaged. I’m having to get out of the purity culture mindset while still maintaining a biblical sexual ethic. As you stated about Every Young Man’s Battle, willpower is not enough to overcome lust (I don’t struggle with lust, even though I’ll have the inappropriate thought about a woman come into my mind every now and then). Bouncing the eyes is just not feasible in every situation, and it’s not a solution to a problem with lust.

    Reply

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