You Don’t Need to Objectify Women to Identify with Those Fighting Lust

by | Feb 27, 2023 | Pornography | 50 comments

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I’ve had some interesting discussions about how I’m shaming men with sex addictions by calling out the language Every Man’s Battle uses about women.

This week we published our one sheet downloadwith the summary of issues with Every Man’s Battle (we also have one for Love & Respect), 

On social media, I’ve had men tell me that Every Man’s Battle is an awesome book, and that the reason it uses such gratuitous language about women and about unwanted sexual behaviors is to put their male readers at ease. This is how guys talk in recovery groups–in fact, they get even worse than that! So I’m causing harm by causing shame.

Here, for instance, is what one man said on Facebook:

I believe Every Mans Battle says the explicit stuff (sin-life, strongholds, temptations, ungodly thought life, etc) to give to those men who need it, the invitation to talk about their own struggles and pursue victory. The truth may be shocking – and it’s not for everybody to hear. I don’t think it’s there to be titillating. But when you’ve worked in ministry of strongholds, sometimes you see and hear the very underbelly of the congregation.

So the reason that they give explicit, objectifying descriptions of women is so that it gives men freedom to talk about this stuff.

Got it. (and the authors of Every Man’s Battle say something similar to justify why they use the language they do).

I’d like to explore this today because it shows how many recovery groups and recovery books–like Every Man’s Battle–entirely miss the point. And by doing so, they’re making recovery that much more out of reach, while continuing to hurt women.

A large part of recovery is to stop objectifying women.

Inviting men to objectify women is not going to hasten recovery. It makes such objectification normal.

Let’s look at what this defender of Every Man’s Battle, and what the authors of Every Man’s Battle (and presumably the publisher) think is a good passage to help men hasten recovery and realize they aren’t alone:

 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, p. 6

Now, let’s think about how that passage could have been written in a way that gave the exact same message, without the objectification:

I never intentionally set out to stare at women that day, but I spotted her about two hundred yards ahead and to the left. An athletic woman in form-fitting clothing was jogging toward me along the coastal sidewalk. 

Instead of simply noticing and acknowledging her athleticism, I decided to use her body for my own gratification. I stared at her, imagining her in all kinds of disrespectful ways, trying to commit her form to memory so I could further abuse her as I masturbated to the memory later. That imagination distracted me so much that I stopped watching the road. Then “blam!” My Mercedes plowed into a Chevy Cheville.

Notice how instead of calling her a “girl,” I called her a woman. Instead of talking about body parts, I talked in general terms that everyone reading would still understand. The most graphic parts were not describing her body, intended to titillate, but instead describing the lustful thoughts and actions of the man.

I’m not inviting the reader to participate in the lust; I’m inviting the reader to confront the reality of the lust, the reality of what he was doing. He was imagining a woman, intending to masturbate to the memory later, and that caused the car crash.

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You can identify with the one lusting without feeding the lust. 

You don’t need to give a pornographic description of body parts to identify with someone in the throes of lust. 

In other parts of the book, and in Every Young Man’s Battle, the authors actually do refer to women merely as body parts–”your eyes gravitate toward any bouncing breasts that mosey by.” (p. 142)  How, exactly, do breasts “mosey”? Are the breasts attached to anything, or are they stand-alone breasts, floating or hovering down the hall at school (for the “bouncing breasts” the authors refer to belong to minors)?

And these are just TWO examples of objectification in these books. Seriously, I cannot properly convey how absolutely horrid Every Man’s Battle (and Every Young Man’s Battle) is. The descriptions of women’s and girls’ bodies are everywhere, and they are salacious. Fred Stoeker, in Every Young Man’s Battle, goes on and on about the specific type of porn he loved, describing it, and the girls’ bodies, in detail. 

How is this supposed to aid recovery?

It doesn’t.

It merely gives men another outlet to objectify women, but this time they can claim they’re doing so for a “godly” purpose. 

Let’s go back to first principles: What is lust?

Lust is intense desire for sexual gratification. It is not intense sexual desire; sexual desire can be a good thing! Lust is self-focused, not other focused. It is a desire to use someone else for your own gratification. We can have lust in marriage when we simply use each other, rather than wanting to experience something together (and here’s a great post on reframing how we see sex!). 

And we can lust for others outside of marriage, too. 

When people talk about lust struggles or sexual addiction, that latter bit is normally what they mean: people have routine, even habitual, sexual thoughts about strangers’ bodies.

So how do we combat lust? One option, the one that Arterburn and Stoeker use in Every Man’s Battle, is to make a decision to be pure and white knuckle it through, avoiding women who are not your wife altogether, avoiding situations where you might be tempted, and getting sexual gratification from your wife instead.

But this is a band-aid; it is not actually addressing the root, which is why all the new books on unwanted sexual behaviors and lust focus on root causes (and I suggest quite a few good ones in my summary post on Every Man’s Battle).

What are those root causes? There can be many, including attachment issues; trauma; maladaptive coping mechanisms; immaturity, and selfishness. I go over this in our podcast with Jay Stringer.

But one overarching one is the idea that it is okay to view other people as existing for your own gratification. It is the idea that it is acceptable to objectify people, rather than seeing them as unique individuals with legitimate needs, opinions, and experiences that matter just as much as yours do. 

Jesus was the King of NOT objectifying women.

He didn’t treat women as existing for Him to use; He took an interest in women. 

Think of Him searching the crowd to find the woman who was bleeding who touched Him; praising Mary who sat at His feet to learn, rather than expecting her just to serve Him; or spending time talking with the Samaritan woman, in one of the longest conversations of Jesus that’s recorded (and the first one where he explicitly announces that He is the Messiah). Jesus truly SAW women; Arterburn and Stoeker tell men not even to look at women.

Recovery from Lust Involves a Transformation of Thought Patterns

If one of the main roots of lust is thinking that your own desires matter more than women’s, and that it’s okay to see women as body parts rather than as whole people with their own thoughts, then healing and recovery must involve a change of thinking–exactly what Paul tells us:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Our minds need to be transformed.

We need to stop thinking about women the way lust does, and start thinking about women the way Jesus does.

You don’t fight porn by agreeing with porn.

So let me ask you: Are the descriptions of women that are present in Arterburn & Stoeker’s books evidence that their minds have been transformed? Or are they merely allowing themselves to still think of women that way, as long as they don’t actually masturbate?

Every Man’s Battle and Every Young Man’s Battle, in many parts, read like something a man would masturbate to. There is no need to include these descriptions. There is no need to refer to women merely as body parts. There is no need to “prove” your manhood, that you struggle just as much as everyone else in the throes of sexual sin, by describing your ideal babe (and they call women “babes” quite a bit too).

The other recovery books don’t do this.

There is nothing redeeming in this. There is nothing that shows me that the authors have renewed their minds. I find it very hard to believe that anyone with a truly renewed mind would refer to a teenage girl as “a pair of bouncing breasts.”

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Objectification of women and recovery from porn simply cannot go together.

If someone thinks that objectifying women is the way to relate to sexual addicts and lead them to freedom, it shows that they do not understand the roots of lust, and do not understand recovery, and should not be listened to.

We can do better than this. And all of us, men and women alike, deserve better.

I wrote this piece before the dust-up with Jonathan Pokluda objectifying women in a sermon.

On Friday my op-ed about Jonathan Pokluda’s objectification of women was published, and I see very similar issues in his sermon to what we’re discussing here.

He could easily have told the same story without objectifying her, but rather laying bare his own thoughts. Instead of saying: “she was perfect. Everything was in the right place,” he could have simply said, “a very good-looking woman approached me, and instead of looking at her honorably, my mind began to mentally consume her body. My heart was not in the right place.” Then the focus is not on her body, but rather on what he is doing.

Interestingly, since writing that op-ed people have alerted me to the fact that Pokluda writes and speaks frequently about recovery from porn, and his approach is entirely Every Man’s Battle 2.0. Note how his plan for porn recovery says absolutely nothing about either addressing the root emotional causes of unwanted behavior or getting rid of the objectification of women. Instead, one of his points is to “pursue marriage”, to use her as your lawful sexual outlet. 

So much wrong with this. 

My rule of thumb is simple: If someone is still objectifying women, they haven’t really recovered from the pornified mindset, and this makes me very nervous.


Are you amazed at how many “porn recovery” people still talk objectify women? Have you seen this? How can we stop it? 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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  1. Codec

    I find something very interesting here. This idea that if you get married all of your problems will go away because now you have an outlet. That idea reminds me of a song. Look at the song Richard Cory by Simon and Garfunkel.

    In the song Richard Cory has just about every worldly good you would want. Power, wealth, style, and wherever he goes he is a spectacle. Rumor abounds about his wealth extravagance and even wicked decadence and debauchery. Richard Cory much like the teacher character in Ecclessiastes let’s nothing past him in his pursuits of pleasure.

    In the end though everyone winds up shocked including the other person singing the song. As the song goes ” And my mind was filled with wonder when the evening headlines read “Richard Cory went home last night and put a bullet through his head””. The idea that this man who seems fulfilled would commit suicide baffles the other person in the song. The other person in the song resents his own life lamenting that he is nor Richard Cory.

    I have to wonder if a lot of people in a search for meaning and fulfillment try to accomplish great deeds. Well great deeds are often lost to time. Sappho and Tacitus have entire parts of their writings that have been swallowed never to see the light of day.

    People are desperate to find meaning and value in life. If they can not they distract themselves, but you can not distract yourself forever. Porn is a grand distraction in that it gives you something impossible. Porn tells you you can use others including yourself and that it is worth it. Why deal with heartache and tenderness and such when you can have any scenario you want? Sure you might hate yourself afterwords but hey it could be worse you could be a scumbag dad or in a marriage that you have come to hate.

    What do you think?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Definitely. The idea that marriage is being held up as a cure-all is really concerning!

      • Codec

        It is not just marriage either. The idea that sex is the think that everyone wants because people see it as the thing to validate them is rather scary. Think about it you see it with guys like Andrew Tate where they make it out that if you are not making loads of money, pushing 400 at the bench press, driving a Bugatti, convincing women to have sex with you, and rejecting anything that is not “powerful” means you are less of a man.

        That is a scary idea. It is a standard that will breed all kinds of resentment.

      • Susan P

        I really liked the section of your post where you re-wrote the bikini-babe-car-crash story to be direct, factual and non-prurient. It really changed the ‘tone of the anecdote. In the EMB version, the author attributes the power to the woman (she was goddess-like, after all). The author was the victim here. He had no agency. He acted on “instinct” and was “mesmerized” by the female jogger.
        In contrast, your version omits the “smoke and mirrors” distraction of describing the jogger in detailed, objectifying language, and the false narrative regarding the power of the joggers body to mesmerize. What is left is the true description of what happened. The author made a choice to use the jogger and his memory of her for his personal sexual gratification. Writing the story as you did involves humility taking responsibility for his actions…something he carefully avoided doing.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Exactly, Susan! And I think that’s why they didn’t write it that way. At some level, he’s proud of how much he lusted after that woman because it proves his manhood.

        • GodsPeach

          Very Well Said! It’s interesting what’s at play here. These guys have been fantasizing and ogling women for years and won’t admit that they are the real problem!
          Jesus spoke to women all the time and he could have used these conversations to get sex from vulnerable, trusting women. But, he didn’t. Unless they are willing to challenge the lies of entitlement and privilege that they’ve been using to prey on women, they will always have to “bounce their eyes.”
          Stop bouncing your eyes brothers and start challenging your beliefs. Jesus never said to make excuses (blame women for their looks/clothing) when tempted. So many opportunities for loving one’s neighbors here, but EMB Guys too busy closing their eyes to see them!

    • Lisa Johns

      The original poem is titled Richard Cory, by Edward Arlington Robinson. I don’t know how to put a link here, but it’s easily googled and well worth reading.

  2. Angharad

    Perhaps your commentator who thinks the descriptions are ‘necessary’ to ‘help’ men overcome their lust should check out some of the reviews written on Goodreads – here are just a couple of quotes I found within the first few minutes of checking to see what other men think (and these quotes are all from male reviewers):

    ” I did not expect a book about overcoming temptation to lead my mind into temptation. There must be a way to testify without titillating.”

    “I wasn’t particularly struggling with sexual temptation before, but I did after. It’s not the kind of story that I would normally read, but my guard was down because this was supposed to be a book to help with sexual temptation.”

    “As one of my friends put it, “It is impossible to read this book without getting turned on.” What is the point in trying to fight for purity while dragging your imagination through the gutter? ”

    So for these three guys at least, reading these juicy descriptions was the reverse of helpful…

    • Jason

      It is very ironic that the same books that say that you’re not supposed to think sexual thoughts actually that make you think more sexual thoughts . It’s like going to a Alcohol Recovery netting and having them describe beer, whiskey, etc in really descriptive ways so you just end up desiring it more .

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Exactly! And yet we think it’s okay when it comes to porn/lust.

        • Jason

          Seems like these books and many sermons/ teachings on lust, it gets guys so worked up and so much anxiety about their “lust problem” and lusting that it’s actually causing guys to be more overwhelmed when they see women’s bodies especially with women’s body parts being so hyped up as being so dangerous and scandalous by these authors. Then they are trying really hard not think about sexual things which as studies have shown actually makes them think more sexual thoughts which makes them more intrusive. They also make little to no distinction between sexual attraction and lust which just makes guys think they are sinning when they are not.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            This is exactly the problem!

          • Cynthia


            I’ve seen this elsewhere as well. Simply noticing someone, or simply becoming aroused in any situation,gets labelled as a horrible sin. Then, lots of normal boys who wouldn’t be predators are convinced that they are sinning and doomed. They learn to cope with those feelings of shame and fear by focusing the blame elsewhere, on the very girls and women that they might see.

            I used to simply not know how those who focused on modesty so much could claim to respect women while also being violent toward those they accused of immodesty. Eventually, I realized that it was never about respect at all. It was all about fearing sexual feelings and being willing to erase girls and women as people in order to cope with that fear. (I’m not exaggerating. There is a publication I see at my local supermarket that literally removes all pictures of women and girls.)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! We brought that up with the commenter, and he just kept arguing. It was ridiculous.

      • Angharad

        I wonder if some of these guys, without realising it, are reading these explicit scenes in books like EMB because it’s a way of getting their ‘fix’ in a way that looks respectable. “Yes, I know I’m reading graphic descriptions of women’s bodies, but it’s in a book that’s written to fight lust, so that’s ok. I NEED to read it because it’s helping me become more pure.”

        So telling them that it’s not necessary to include these descriptions is probably quite threatening to them – because it’s taking away their ‘respectable’ reason to read this stuff and making it clear that it’s just continuing to enable their lust.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’m certain that’s part of it. Absolutely.

    • Codec

      As someone who read these books when trying to get over porn use I concur with these three other people. When I was reading through every mans battle I honestly loathed walking past lingerie stores because I saw it as something that would make me want to binge porn. Strangley enough before I read the book I could walk past the lingerie store and it didn’t do that much to me. Nowadays I walk by it and its just something that is there.

      I think that this idea that men and women can not be friends is really messing people up.

  3. Jason

    When men say they “struggle with lust”, it could very well mean that the men are trying not to think about something sexual. Studies have shown that when you try not to think about about something, it actually causes you to think about it more. The thought will come up in the mind more frequently, be much more intrusive and actually leads to loss of impulse control especially if it dealing with sexual thoughts.. The Bible says to take thoughts captive and critique and apply scripture to it.

    • Codec

      It is like the alchemical recipe to make gold by stirring lead without thinking about a hippo. Of course you are going to think about the hippo when told not to.

  4. Mara R

    I’m reading Biblical Porn by Jessica Johnson.

    This was Driscoll’s solution for porn and objectification. Don’t redeem the pornified brain. Just make some poor Christian woman into your personal porn star. And lie to her, explaining that she is pleasing God and building God’s Kingdom by allowing a Christian man to sexually abuse her in whatever way he wants. And she must make sure she looks happy about it because if she doesn’t, she is committing the most grievous of all sexual sins, depriving her husband of his biblical porn in marriage.

    I just don’t know which came first or who advised whom. Did Driscoll read Every Man’s Battle? Did Pokluda read Every man’s Battle or watch Driscoll’s Peasant Princess series? Or did he do both?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It certainly is all on the same spectrum, isn’t it? It’s just so awful how this is also marketed to women–if you complain about this; if you don’t make him feel like he’s a good lover; if you don’t act like you want him all the time and that you’re excited by what excites him, then you’re not a good wife.

      • Mara R

        I actually took the time to look it up.

        It looks like Peasant Princess happened BEFORE the publish date of Every Man’s Battle. Unless I’m missing something. Which I could be.
        I wonder if the Every Man’s Battle bunch were emboldened by Driscoll rather than the other way around, now?

        Well, whatever. The seeds have been sown and are now maturing and ol’ Pokluda is the one getting push back now. Driscoll did back then. Did the Every Man series get pushback when it came out?

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I honestly don’t know if it did get pushback back then. I haven’t seen a lot of it? I think at the time so few people were talking about getting over porn that it was seen as refreshing and edgy at the same time. Now it looks so dated and objectifying.

  5. Jen

    Fantastic article. My husband and I were talking about this idea just yesterday after our very young pastor gave a several minute discussion of the way he used to vandalize property when he was a junior high and high schooler. He was supposed to be making the point that repentance requires agreeing with God that you’d done something wrong. And while he said it was wrong and advised kids not to imitate him, he had such glee and joy in laughing at his literal crimes that his point was not made. If he had described his crimes in grown up terms (“I vandalized property as a youth”) and then focused on his actual sermon points and how to make amends, it would have been an effective illustration, but he chose not to. It came off more as an opportunity to both admit guilt and relive his “glory days”. But he did not model amends.

    Now I have the image of him putting shredded cheese and cereal in people’s yard and thinking it was hilarious. He absolutely decreased my respect for him.

    EMB does the same thing. Where they should be modeling healthy behavior, they instead model objectification. The authors have absolutely shown themselves to be unsafe people who should not be teaching others what it means to live a sexually pure lifestyle.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Jen! That’s a great example of the same thing. It sounds like they are reliving glory days for sure (Fred’s descriptions of the content of the porn he used to consume certainly sounded that way).

  6. Anonymous

    Woman here. The more I read these graphic descriptions, the more I feel my husband cannot be the least bit happy with my body b/e it’s not remotely perfect like these “men” clearly want & feel they deserve; hence, I should prevent him from seeing it because I cannot compare.

    The more I read these descriptions, the more I notice other women’s bodies myself, comparing my parts to theirs which, at my age and child-bearing state, cannot come close. It’s like an ice bath to me. So… because of these books, my husband may get less sex. Sound good, guys? Because that’s what you’re doing. It’s not fair for my husband (AND me) to be punished because you have not gotten your pornified style of relating under control and are filthifying his mind (AND mine) and making me disgusted with my body.

    I can sympathize with a husband struggling to fight lust/porn. I can’t sympathize with a husband reading erotica in the name of fighting porn.

    Idea popped in my head- I could have my breasts surgically removed, taxidermied, and he could play with them whenever he wanted. Then those “bouncing breasts” can “mosey” on by whenever he wants them, maybe on the end of a fishing rod?

    • Letha

      I wholeheartedly agree! Since finding out my husband was addicted to porn and had an affair, over 10 years ago, I have never been able to look myself in the mirror naked because I am so ashamed. He has recovered from his addiction and our relationship has been restored, all but my self image. I will never be able to look at myself in a mirror naked, and my husband has never seen me naked in over 10 years. It’s completely debilitating to women.

      • Bax

        Letha, you say that your relationship has been restored. Including intimacy?? Just curious because he hasn’t seen you naked. Sorry if I’m too nosy. Trying to figure things out for myself . . . I’m walking the same road with you sister.

        • GodsPeach

          Groups such as Living Truth help Betrayed Partners reclaim their lives and self esteem. Betrayal partner specialists are therapists who are trained to help you heal from the PTSD of betrayal.

    • KR

      I agree! Doesn’t help my self image one iota.

  7. Bax

    Boy, do I feel dumb. I actually bought that book for my p*orn addict husband to read. Here’s how much it helped him. Zero. Still using, going on 40 years of marriage.

  8. Boone

    That situation with Podluka is one of two things. It’s either a barefaced lie (preaches are notorious liars with their sermons) or he was set up. Somebody knew who he was and what he did and wanted to bring him down. I’m inclined to go with the former rather than the latter. Preachers will say almost anything to make a sermon point.
    Let’s look at the circumstances. Podluka is in an establishment that sells food and alcohol. That alone severely lessens the chance that a random woman is going to approach him out of the blue with the intent of seduction. If he were in a club the odds of that happening might increase but they’d still be in the neighborhood of being struck by lightening.

    • Amy

      I’m really confused as to why people are questioning the validity of his story? Nobody knew who he was as the time; he clearly says it was 18 years ago. It is naive to think that women don’t do things like this regularly, which is precisely why God gave us Proverbs 7.

      • Angharad

        Amy, I used to work in an office where every other girl on my team was like that woman – they would go out in the evening and quite brazenly proposition men. But here’s the thing – they would go to nightclubs or the serious drinking bars, because they knew that was where they’d find guys who were open to having casual sex. They’d never go to the kind of place that sold meals, because it wasn’t a worthwhile ‘hunting ground’ for them.

        So I think that’s why people are doubting his word on this – because even women who go out of their way to encourage men to cheat don’t tend to do it at ‘respectable’ diners.

        I’m guessing it’s far more likely that she either smiled at him (being friendly) and he extrapolated from there, or she was a member of staff asking if he wanted a drink and he misinterpreted. Because arrogant guys are so convinced that every woman out there is desperate for their attention that they tend to misread the most innocent situations. This guy reminds me of some of the ones I met at work. Working in a Christian bookstore, we had to ask for a phone number when someone ordered a book so we could let them know when it was in – and it was ALWAYS the married guys who assumed I was asking for their number because I fancied them. (Yeah, sure, I want your number so I can chat you up – we use a carrier pigeon to notify you of your book’s arrival) Same thing when I worked as a waitress – obviously didn’t occur to them I’m being PAID to ask if I can get them a coffee, and it’s NOT a proposition!

        So I guess there is a teeny, tiny chance that this whole thing happened as he said it did – but I have a hard time believing it. And even if it did, he is STILL going on about it nearly two decades later, AND with a vivid memory of exactly where her ‘body parts’ were and how he almost gave in? So true or not, the story still outs him as a creep.

        • Jane Eyre

          “(Yeah, sure, I want your number so I can chat you up – we use a carrier pigeon to notify you of your book’s arrival)”

          I literally laughed out loud. And then I almost cried because I have needed to give my phone number out (membership cards and such) and have had men assume I am giving them a hint.

  9. Laura

    Wow! Those pornified descriptions the EMB authors give sure do not help with the porn addiction. What I’ve leaned in Celebrate Recovery is that when you give your testimony or share in small group, you do not go into graphic details about your past addictions or compulsive behaviors. Those might trigger someone who is currently struggling with those same things. Jason said it well about people in an alcoholic recovery group about describing beer and its taste. As someone working to eliminate processed sugars from my diet, I have some difficulty being at potlucks where there’s lots of gooey desserts or seeing cool videos of cake making. Those things are tempting to me like the descriptive pornified language these “Christian” authors write claiming they are helping other men heal from porn.

    On another note, this is objectifying to women and our body images. When my ex husband was into porn, I couldn’t help but think my naked body wasn’t attractive enough for him and throughout our marriage, I struggled with bulimia.

    • Codec

      I have never dealt with bulimia or anything. I hope you are doing better now.

      It’s interesting. As someone getting over porn I also deal with image issues. Though in my case it is that I see myself as not being capable. What woman would choose me when I am an insecure loser is the thought that goes through my head that I am trying to deal with.

      Have a hug.

      • Laura

        Thanks Codec,

        After I left my husband over 20 years ago, I hadn’t struggled with bulimia. However, I’ve struggled with body image issues since I was 13 and that’s another story. I don’t put the blame on my ex’s porn use for my struggles with bulimia. His porn use and the toxicity of our marriage were just what pushed me over the edge and I turned to bulimia as a way to feel in control.

        • Codec

          I used porn to have a sense of control. What a terrible ourobouros it is.

    • Michelle

      Yes! Exactly what you said! I’ve asked my husband if he feels triggered or tempted when other guys in his 12 step group talk about things and he said they aren’t supposed to go into explicit detail since it could cause a trigger or temptation

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s really interesting! So the 12-step programs get it, and too many evangelical authors don’t. That’s scary.

  10. Michelle

    My husband is a recovering sex addict. He’s been addicted to porn since age 10. When everything came out in our marriage in 2018 we met with a “Christian marriage counselor” who quickly prescribed “Love and Respect” 🤮 and “Every Man’s Battle”. My husband couldn’t make it past page 6 of EMB and he was like, “That book will literally take away my sobriety!” Even recovering sex addicts see how toxic that book is.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad your husband spoke up!

  11. Amy

    My husband and I are currently untangling from EMB, as it has brought so much hurt into our lives, and we are so grateful for how you are getting the clear message out on how damaging this is for men and women!

    Without knowing anything going on with Jonathan Pokluda, my college-aged daughter visited Harris Creek this past Sunday (2/26/23). She was struck by something he said at the end of the service because she appreciated his tone of humility, and she told us about how he’d apologized for something he’d said in a sermon on adultery that had hurt people. I was so intrigued that I looked the service up (Facebook) and listened for myself.

    I am requesting, Sheila, that you listen to what he had to say because he took full responsibility and humbled himself and asked for forgiveness for how he hurt people with his language about the woman who propositioned him. (This starts at about the 1hr., 12 min. mark.) After communion and closing song (about 1hr., 24 min mark), he goes onto say that anyone is welcome to talk to him after the service about anything they may feel hurt by concerning him, and says he wants to be teachable. I hope you’ll get the word out about his desire to make things right after causing hurt.

    I appreciate the work that you do immensely!

  12. Tim

    Cynthia said something similar, but I wonder how much of this has to do with a failure to distinguish between lust/objectification on one hand and noticing/attraction in the other. If you understand that it only becomes sin when you actively choose to cultivate sexual thoughts about someone (outside the context of a relationship where that’s appropriate), then it’s easy to see that the issue is primarily, if not entirely, your thought patterns and attitudes. On the other hand, if you think that noticing someone is attractive is sinful in itself, then I can see how you’d quickly get to feel hopeless and that the world is against you, and it seems like a lot of the toxicity flows from there.

  13. Jane Eyre

    One of the other things that lust does is divorce sexual desire from the purpose of sex (creation of the next generation).

    In a world in which he were suddenly given free rein to have sex with the athletic blonde in the bikini (God Himself comes down from the heavens and decrees that it is, this one time, not a sin), does he want to make love to her? Does he want to hold her hand when she gets ready to take a pregnancy test? Be by her side when she gives birth? Massage her feet when she is pregnant?

    Maybe it just highlights how his desires are to use and consume, not to becoming one flesh for life. But as Christians, shouldn’t we be leading the charge to say that sex is tied up with creating the next generation?

  14. Healing

    I don’t know if this is related but my husband told me this today.

    He said that he wasn’t sure exactly WHY he became a sex monster (his words, not mine). He talked about saving himself for marriage. At 24 he was raped (again, it sounds “unusual” that a man was raped but he was a virgin and passed out while partying and awoke to some random girl on him… having sex with him in front of everyone.) Then he was with a girlfriend for 2 years and didn’t have sex. He said, “I was able to go without sex for a long time previously… I don’t really know what changed in me to EXPECT it all the time once I got married.”

    It’s just that mindset that “Once I get married, I get unlimited sex.” Not realizing that you are marrying a PERSON with feelings, desires of their own, background, beliefs, etc. of their own. It just seems that many people feel like once they get married, they have their own personal sex slave. They deserve sex… and now it’s “biblically mandated.” But like I commented before, is it the act of sex that pleases God? The man’s release? Or the unity that sex creates that pleases God?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Healing! When we see sex as merely a man’s physical release, we get into a lot of problems. We make sex void of intimacy, and then we stamp God’s seal of approval on it. What a distorted picture of God that gives us, too!

      I’m glad your husband can articulate this. I hope you guys can come out on the other side.

    • GodsPeach

      It happens. So sad and tragic regardless of gender. I wonder why guys don’t see this entitlement around sex In marriage as unlike Jesus. He never forces himself on anyone or demands his way. How can they believe that God is good with their idolatry towards sex? Who are they fooling? Their demands are ungodly. It’s just a way to sanction using their wives (rape actually) as human sex dolls!


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