My V@gina Is Not My “Most Holy Place”: A Response to The Gospel Coalition

by | Mar 3, 2023 | Theology of Marriage and Sex | 71 comments

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The Gospel Coalition published a crazy article about sex this week, and the internet blew up.

It’s been such a crazy two days I don’t even know where to begin. It’s actually quite unbelievable–except I saw it unfold in real time.

I feel overwhelmed because there is so much to say. But I will try my best to condense and say just a few things.

In a nutshell, Joshua Ryan Butler, a pastor from Arizona and fellow of the newly minted Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics, has a book launching in April called Beautiful Union, about what sex shows us about salvation and God. 

On Wednesday, The Gospel Coalition published an excerpt from the book, and it was so horrendous and the outcry so swift that things started moving quickly. Butler was removed from speaking at the IF Gathering this weekend. TGC turned off comments everywhere on the article, and eventually took it down, replacing it with a plea to read the free first chapter. (hint: the rest just makes it worse).

To show why people were upset, I’d like to share just a few excerpts of the original article:


At a deeper level, generosity is giving not just your resources but your very self. And what deeper form of self-giving is there than sexual union where the husband pours out his very presence not only upon but within his wife?…


Joshua Ryan Butler

Beautiful Union

This is so deeply weird. (and what, exactly, is he “pouring out” UPON his wife?)

Or there’s this:

Christ penetrates his church with the generative seed of his Word and the life-giving presence of his Spirit, which takes root within her and grows to bring new life into the world.

Inversely, back in the wedding suite, the bride embraces her most intimate guest on the threshold of her dwelling place and welcomes him into the sanctuary of her very self. She gladly receives the warmth of his presence and accepts the sacrificial offering he bestows upon the altar within her Most Holy Place.

Joshua Ryan Butler

Beautiful Union

I could say so, so much, but let’s condense:

  • A man’s orgasm is not a “sacrificial offering.” It is not a sacrifice to reach orgasm.
  • Once again, we’re centering men’s experience of sex. She lies there and takes it; he does something to her. 
  • Calling the vagina the “Most Holy Place” fetishizes the female body, seeing it as only being about sex and receiving semen. The vagina is a part of the body. It bleeds. It needs medical exams. It can hurt, can tear, can sting. Ignoring women’s daily, physical experiences like this is deeply flawed. 

Seriously, I could say so much more (and I have on Twitter! I’ve been tweeting up a storm.)


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What I thought I’d do today is highlight some others who have written about the problems with the article.

Seriously, I follow such brilliant and thoughtful people on Twitter, and the conversation this week has been so enlightening.

I’ll start with a single tweet that encapsulates everything that is wrong:

(Pastor Plaid Jacket is referring to Jonathan Pokluda, whom I wrote about last week.)

Next, Laura Robinson (who joined us on our podcast talking about the James Dobson incident at the stoplight), wrote an amazing thread that encapsulates the article and everything that is wrong with it. I’ll post the first tweet in the thread (and you can click through to follow her or read the rest), and then just post the whole thread so it’s easier to read:

Okay. I’m not done. This article and I are in a fight.

First, I’m going to summarize this article as clearly as I can without commentary.

Josh used to hope sex would save him. By this he means “end his loneliness.” He used to seek this from girlfriends and female acquaintances. What he learned is that sex with your friends and girlfriends won’t save you. Instead, if you marry your girlfriend, sex with your wife will point you to Jesus, who will save you.

The logic is already fuzzy at this point. It’s hard to believe a TGC writer believes that Jesus saves you from loneliness, as opposed to damnation, etc.

Okay, so: the thing being contrasted here is sex outside of marriage (leaves one alone) and sex within marriage (depicts Jesus and the church).

The logic from here on just gets foggier.

How exactly a husband and wife having sex depicts salvation is not obvious, nor is it clear what model of atonement, if any, Josh is using. It seems like Josh is using a sacred space model. In Olden Times, God lived in his sanctuary because of purifying blood sacrifices.

After a priest applied blood to the sanctuary, God’s presence could fill the space. In the same way (and it’s just gonna get gross after this, I’m sorry), for Josh, a man brings an offering of semen to a vagina, and then semen is able to fill the whole vagina.

Semen is both sacrifice and divine presence in this analogy. I guess it’s like Jesus bringing his own blood into the heavenly temple in Hebrews? Anyway.

The other image is of salvation by enlightenment or divine revelation.

Jesus reveals God and God’s will to the church. God’s revelation thus regenerates and creates vitality among his people. In the same way, a man puts semen in a woman’s uterus and creates life.

The two idea Josh draws on are virtues: generosity and hospitality.

In sex, a man is generous by providing semen. Correspondingly, a woman is hospitable by providing a place for semen.

(Is anyone else noticing how often I have to use the word “semen” to explain this article?).

Okay, so: the first two images (ejaculation as atonement and creation) are really easy to dispense with as total nonsense.

Josh apparently thinks the analogy between atoning blood, the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, revelation, and semen is so clear it does not require elaboration.

I heartily disagree. I am not sure why Josh thinks that semen makes sacred, purifies, or expunges the powers of death, as atoning blood would do (Leviticus is pretty clear it does the opposite, actually).

I’m even less sure why Josh thinks that semen enlightens, overawes, inspires, or convicts in the way that the presence of God does. So that’s all weird.

The second image is even crazier how little it actually has to do with biology. Josh places semen in the role of the Logos, the creative principle, the utterance of God that gives life to materiality. This is not what semen does, because men are not capable of parthenogenesis.

Semen doesn’t create life. Semen carries haploid sperm cells that have to be combined with a haploid egg cell, and then that implants in a uterus and the woman’s body actually provides the nutrients and energy necessary for the fetus’s body to develop.

The third image is honestly sort of shocking in how grotesque it is. Josh says that men display generosity during sex. They do this by generously giving their penis and their semen to women, which you may notice is a wild way of saying “they have an orgasm.”

Josh is working very hard to describe doing something extremely fun as though it is done for the sake of, and on behalf of, someone else. But it’s about as coherent as Josh telling us that when his wife cooks him a delicious meal, he eats it, and this is generosity. No it’s not.

Josh isn’t “giving” anything.

He’s receiving pleasure and enjoyment, but twisting around the words to make it sound generous. It’s not generous, it’s sort of the opposite. Like how patriarchal pastors say men and women are “equal,” but they mean the opposite of equal.

So the majority of what Josh has written here is just dumb and doesn’t mean anything. The rest of it is twisty and manipulative (men don’t want to have orgasms, they want to give away semen).

So what does Josh actually say about sex?

1) Sex is for married, straight couples.
2) Women’s monogamy is crucial (temple imagery depicts a space that only one person can access)
3) The important thing that happens during sex is when a man ejaculates inside a woman.

So… that’s it? In conclusion, sex is all about marriage, female purity, and male sexual gratification?

But that’s literally *exactly what every other pastor says about sex!*

Why did Josh write an ENTIRE NEW BOOK about this? He adds nothing!

This is exactly the same message I heard at church in 2006!

Sex is how men get release and gratification, which is what sex is for, so women make themselves available to their men but also don’t diminish his pleasure and confidence by having had other lovers.

This is just what evangelical Protestantism has ALWAYS SAID. Why did we need a whole other book about it?!

But more to the point: this isn’t just an unnecessary view of sex, it’s also just a wrong one.

This isn’t really sex, this is penis worship.

For Josh, sex happens when a man ejaculates. The essential ingredient – indeed, the entire act – is male pleasure. The fact that sex consists of many more acts, many of which women enjoy a great deal more (!) is not relevant.

Josh insists that this is sacred between married couples. Why? What about marriage makes it sacred?

I notice that Josh does not quote the line from Ephesians that says exactly *how* husbands are to be like Jesus: they give themselves up for their wives. Josh goes for every possible image of Jesus BUT self-sacrifice.

There is a perfunctory note that during sex both parties give and receive, but for Josh the thing that women receive, and men give, is just semen. That is the purpose of sex.

And this is just porn with wedding rings on. You can find Josh’s view of sex on PornHub, right now. The flowery language and insistence on marriage doesn’t change the fact that this is an intensely selfish, male-centered, phallocentric way of understanding sex.

And now, I promise to never type the word “semen” again.

Laura Robinson


I really resonated with this. It did sound like the same old message: Sex is intercourse; sex is about a man’s pleasure; sex is centered on the guy. And they use all this flowery language to still erase women’s experiences. 

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So many others pointed out what is wrong with The Gospel Coalition’s article.

Rebecca and I also recorded a podcast with Tim from The New Evangelicals about this: Penis Theology. 

Though this was a huge furor, it actually gave me hope.

A very tone deaf book that erases women’s experiences was written, and–people actually called it out. People from all stripes. I think people are starting to see the problems that we’ve been trying to draw attention to!

Seriously, I have never seen anything like this happen on Twitter so quickly. I don’t know how to adequately address all of the issues with the article, and if I tried, I’d be writing for a year. If you read the rest of the chapter, it actually gets worse, especially with who he talks about prostitution (how it’s a distortion of the hospitality that sex is supposed to have, since she charges admission. Plus the problem is framed as SELLING sex, not BUYING sex.)

So consider this post my limited synopsis. And I hope we never have to talk about it again, because I hope the publisher does the right thing and reconsiders the book.


Crazy Gospel Coalition Sex Article Josh Butler Beautiful Union

What do you think? Did you see the outcry? What do you think of the excerpts? 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. Kay

    I dunno, I might just call it my Most Holy Place going forward… The absurdity of it has me cackling. 😆

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      People on Facebook are calling it “My Holy Hoo Ha”. I laughed.

      • Kay

        My husband just told me he will gladly worship at the alter, and now I am dead. 💀😆💀😆💀

        New level of double entendres unlocked…

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, it’s so bad! It never ends…

        • Marie

          I should’ve worshiped her sooner
          If the Heavens ever did speak
          She’s the last true mouthpiece
          Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
          A fresh poison each week
          “We were born sick”, you heard them say it
          My church offers no absolutes
          She tells me, “Worship in the bedroom”

          oh . . . wait that’s Hosier XD

      • Kelly G

        Oh my lanta! That’s HILARIOUS!!

  2. Jo R

    So, let’s see, feeling a bit wicked again this morning…

    The high priest could enter the Most Holy Place only ONE TIME PER YEAR.

    So a wife should therefore be required to endure the semen deposit only one time per year, right? Or, I should say, she’s completely righteous to allow access only one time per year.

    Oh, wait, am I now taking the analogy too far? Since he started the analogy, why can’t I have my equal-ness by finishing it? Or is it somehow equal for the man to both start the analogy and also control where it ends?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s EXACTLY what people were saying in our patreon! 🙂 WE were laughing about that.

    • Mara R

      Oh, it gets better, or worse, depending on your position.
      Jesus on entered once, for all time.
      I’m in Hebrews reading about this right now.

      Hebrews 10:12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for [f]sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,

      One and done.

      This is just one more example of the fact that they (TGC & Butler) need to sit down, shut up, and learn humbly learn in silence because they have gone off the rails on their particular version of the crazy train.

      • Christina

        It’s gone from
        Being a wife’s duty, to being a husbands sacrifice. It’s gone from his need, to his generous act of self sacrifice.

  3. Angharad

    Never mind that this book objectifies women. My chief objection to it is that it is blasphemous. And no, I don’t need to ‘download and read the introduction and first chapter’ as TGC would like me to do. These quotes do not need context. There are some things that cannot be made any better regardless of what kind of context they are placed in.

    Every time I think I have plumbed the depths of what ‘Christian’ writers and speakers can say, I find something even worse. But please, please, please tell me that there will never be anything worse than this.

    • Natasha

      Yes, I am disheartened that the deeper you dig, the worse things you find. My church has been increasing its use of TGC materials, quoting authors, etc., and I am so discouraged. The women who have spoken up about abuse at home have been told to go home and submit. I think they really don’t see that there is a problem with their ideology. I would love to leave my church and find another, but they are so “nice” on the surface, my family is involved here, and my husband does not understand or share my concerns. Fortunately, I have been able to have some conversations with my young adult daughter and she gets it. She told me she doesn’t agree with everything our church teaches and she is thinking for herself, informed by the scriptures not man.
      Where does it end?

    • Jo R

      One still-pukey context could possibly be “Men, DON’T think of your wife, let alone Christ, THIS way.”

      Even so, it would take some seriously careful handling, and ninety percent of it doesn’t even need to be quoted to make that point. Who needs so much of this kind of mental imagery?

      (And where’s the brain and eye bleach? 🤢 🤮)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I sure hope there won’t be anything worse! But unfortunately I thought last week was the high water mark with Jonathan Pokluda. And now there’s this.

  4. Nessie

    This is new to me but disgustingly disturbing! However, if there was ever a way to use these guys’ own “logic” to argue against masturbation or oral, manual, or anal sex for men’s (sacrificial release? pleasurable sacrifice?), I’d say the fact that their semen going anywhere other than in a vagina means they are giving away their “sacrifices” to anything but the temple, which sounds like idol worship to me.

    These “men” truly are playing a dangerous game. I’m so thankful Butler was removed from speaking at the IF gathering.

    If people keep writing these disgusting, nauseating, penis-idolizing messages, there may be many women too grossed out to have sex with their husbands. What an incredible turn-OFF! “Not tonight, honey. I need to find brain-bleach or have a few therapy sessions before we can have sex again. Plus you had a tough day- I’m ‘help-meeting’ you by not having you ‘sacrifice’ into me tonight.”


    • elf

      About anal and oral…. See page 20 in the freebie chapter 1. Butler writes: “Sex as icon adds another layer of symbolism: corporately, the church receives Christ into her *gut*, or loins, a biblical image for a place both intimate and vulnerable, the seat of strength and vigor, and center of procreative power.” (emphasis is his; Unfortunately the footnote, 26, is missing from the promo pdf version.) Does Butler not understand human anatomy or body systems? The GUT is part of the digestive / excretory system. The loins – genitals – are part of the reproductive system. THEY DO NOT INVOLVE THE SAME ORGANS. There are two ways into the gut, and neither involves the genitals. Good grief.

      • Nessie

        Oh my goodness, yes, it does get worse as Sheila said… I feel very much like intercourse is a vile, almost blasphemous thing right now after reading more- not even all!- of the first chapter of that book!
        Talking about Christ *in us* after his metaphors of how we receive ejaculate as an example of a generous sacrifice, as of Christ… Ok, so as that all seeps out of the “Holy of Holies” in my body, does that mean Christ seeps out of my very being every day, too?

        I’m done reading this blasphemous filth. It’s poetical porn comparing itself to Christ. Those with a stronger stomach (and less past psychological abuse) than I can read and rebuttal. If I read anymore, I may never be able to recover my relationship with God that was so badly damaged by other “Christian men” like this author.

  5. Nathan

    Yes. The same old same old (sex is all about men) wrapped up in creepy, flowery language.

    Maybe this guy should write romance novels.

    • Sue R

      This stuff is beyond warped. If Jesus were still in his grave, he would have rolled over so many times, he’d have self-induced vertigo.

  6. Natasha

    I don’t see what the uproar is about. I thought this was good theology:

    Penis substitutionary atonement


  7. Sarah R

    Re the second quote … to quote Amy in Pitch Perfect ‘not a good enough reason to use the word ‘penetrate’’ 😂

    Seriously though, this is tearing Christ from his throne to replace him with Eros. This is insane.

    • Mara R

      Eros or maybe Baal and Asherah.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      EVERYBODY is sharing that gif on Facebook. I have been dying.

  8. Mara R

    So, so, so, so, so glad that people are reacting as they should to this.

    Back in the day, I felt like there were precious few of us who tried to confront these things. We were a small group that was easily discounted as being bitter, disgruntled females/Jezebels leading around our little Ahabs (men who also saw the insanity and spoke out.)

    Instead of jumping into this foray, I can just sit back, eat popcorn, and watch the dudebros squirm as they try to figure out what has changed in the last few years. Why can’t they just say whatever B.S. they want and not be fawned over as though they spoke the oracles of God?

    The emperor hasn’t had clothes for a long time. You Theodudes should have figured that out long ago. Your pride, arrogance, greed, and self-righteousness set you up for this. Learn the lesson. Sit down and shut up and stop spewing your distorted doctrine. Your words are not gospel. They are not good news and not the Words of Jesus.

    (not that i should never get involved in these forays. but lately a lot has been going on. so glad so many are stepping up while i manage a few personal things. thanks to everyone holding these dudebros’ feet to the fire. you rock!)

  9. Kristen

    I hated this article. Never mind the objectification and general grossness, what about single people, or queer people who are celibate? Do we not get the opportunity to experience God’s love in its fullness, or do we have to go get laid for that? (Sarcasm, but only barely)

  10. Laura

    Wow, just wow. I thought the book Married Sex was a huge train wreck, but Beautiful Union sounds much worse. Two male pastors trying their hands at erotica and dressing it up as “scriptural,” “biblical,” or “Christlike” when in fact, it’s the complete opposite.

    The way Butler illustrates Jesus as the husband and the church as the wife reminds me of how purity culture taught single girls and young women to see Jesus as their husband. The whole “married to Jesus” thing or “Jesus is my boyfriend” sounds totally creepy and I hate to say this, but to me, it sounds like they are sexualizing Jesus. For the many years I had been single, I would hear people tell me to remember that Jesus was my Husband and I didn’t need a man. Well, hello! I cannot have sex with Jesus like I can with an earthly husband. But that’s not what the people telling me this thought. They were like, “But Jesus never leaves you nor forsakes you. He is your provider. You will never be alone when you have Him as your Husband.” Okay, those sound nice, but I feel like this churchy metaphor has been used as a substitute to keep single women from dating and having friendships with men and instead, this belief (or whatever you want to call it) teaches women that they need to be passive in the romance department. Because Jesus pursues us, that’s what an earthly man should do.

    So Butler using Jesus as a penis idol and purity culture telling single women that Jesus is their husband and let Him find your mate for you is about the same thing. It’s spiritual abuse.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is spiritual abuse. Absolutely.

  11. Jess

    Yes so many people brought up different points! Other good threads:
    @ToFertileChurch made a good point about infertility.
    R. Scott Clark wrote a article called
    Nature, Grace, Sex, And Analogies on

  12. Melissa

    You’re not alone any more, Sheila. Others are pushing back against this harmful messaging now! I’m encouraged!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I actually am, too! It’s been a really encouraging week for that.

  13. Andrea

    Sorry to keep up the gross analogy, but does Josh Butler not know that the Church needs direct clitoral stimulation?

    (Did he have to write a whole book to show the world he’s bad in bed? I just don’t think that a man who knows how to pleasure his wife would see so much metaphor in penetration.)

    Also gross, in that line “where the husband pours out his very presence not only upon but within his wife,” the “upon” is an obvious porn reference.

    • elf

      I’ve read commentary by counsellors specialising in porn and sex addiction that called this out. It’s an usually specific distinction to highlight. In context of the earlier text – which is specifically basing his entire theology on honeymoon sex – I’d venture to say alarm bells should be ringing.

    • Mara R

      Note: Cindy at under much grace blog outlines the history of how things got so weird, going back to the 17th century.

    • Cindy Kunsman

      At this point, I wish people would read my personal reaction to this which I didn’t even really begin to process until several days after first reading the TGC article. The blog post with the sensational title really just points out the unbridled complementarian distortions of the Eternal Subordination of the Son doctrine in concert with an anthropomorphized Social View of the Trinity. I’m more disgusted by the smut they project on God than I am about past trauma, but, my personal experience illustrates why some of the imagery is so problematic.

  14. Sarah O



    *types again*

    *deletes some more*

    *starts typing*

    Holy Spirit takes a deep breath and presses hands together: “GURL.”

    *shakes dust off and walks away, resisting the urge to lob an extra handful of dirt at TGC on her way*

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That has basically been me for two days on Twitter! The stuff I didn’t write is so much more than the stuff I did.

    • Libby Unwin

      Same. I haven’t commented because I’m stuck with lots of expletives or speechlessness. And yeah, HS is giving me side-eye about all that. Sigh.

  15. Nessie

    Just another thought re: prostitution. If there was no one willing to buy intercourse, there wouldn’t be a demand for selling it. This is not a case of, “If you build it they will come.”

    My teen stated it clearly- it’s simple supply and demand. If there’s no demand, there’s no need for the supply. There must be men demanding intercourse to be bought before there is really any point in women trying to sell it. (Yes, I’m discussing this with him because he needs to know the filth that is paraded around as “Christian” thoughts. And he knows we can handle the awkward convos. He had other choice things to say, and I am a proud mama.)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly. And studies have shown this, which is why governments are now prosecuting BUYING, not SELLING.

  16. Tori

    I felt embarrassed for him because it’s so trasnparent to the male construction that their penis is as big a deal to us as it is to them. Not that we don’t appreciate our partners’ bodies, but dang. Your “magic penis” theory is on FULL DISPLAY here. Also, if there’s any sacrifice involved in the male orgasm, it’s usually hers.

  17. Andrea

    My brain bleach recommendation for this article is Andrea Dworkin’s book Intercourse. It’s better known as the “all sex is rape” book because it was seen so when it was published in the 80s, but people have been re-evaluating it more recently in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Parts of chapter 7 read as if they could be a direct response to TGC and complementarian sex:

    “The context in which the act takes place, whatever the meaning of the act in and of itself, is one in which men have social, economic, political, and physical power over women.”
    “Intercourse frequently requires as a precondition for male performance the objectification of the female partner.”
    “Intercourse is a loyalty test; and we are not supposed to tell the truth unless it compliments and upholds the dominant male ethos on sex. We know nothing, of course, about intercourse because we are women and women know nothing; or because what we know simply has no significance, entered into as we are. And men know everything—all of them—all the time—no matter how stupid or inexperienced or arrogant or ignorant they are. Anything men say on intercourse, any attitude they have, is valuable, knowledgeable, and deep, rooted in the cosmos and the forces of nature as it were…” (Just replace “cosmos” with “Bible” in that last line.)

    Seriously, for all you out there who heard about the evils of radical feminism in church, there was a reason they were scaring you away from it, it turned out to be prophetic.

  18. Jane Eyre

    All the respect to those who are able to formulate coherent and thoughtful responses.

    All I got is “WTF is wrong with you????”

  19. Anon

    Seriously, this is one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in a long time. Why do I get the feeling that a lot of these men who write these “Christian” books on sex are actually closet porn addicts? It wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

  20. elf

    Thank you for summarising and directly quoting some of the major criticisms so far. Another aspect not really mentioned is that his entire framing is around “honeymoon” sex. He’s been real honest in saying that he’d had sex before – so was *not* a virgin on his honeymoon. We of course don’t know what his honeymoon experience was like. But I think we can safely infer from his text – and the fact he’s based an entire theory around it – that it was great. For him at least. If it wasn’t awkward or painful or in any way difficult, that’s a good thing.
    But a big problem here is that he’s simply unable to comprehend the lived experience of any couple whose honeymoon experience was NOT great, or even good. And if the research in TGSR / Good Girls and Guys guides, numerous posts on this blog, hours dedicated to it on podcasts, and hundreds of comments from broken people are any guide, this is true for too many couples. I cannot begin to image how many people have been, and will be, devastated to associate such awful negative experiences of honeymoon sex with Jesus.

  21. Stefanie

    One silver lining to this whole situation is how much I’ve laughed the last two days.

    April Ajoy had me cackling.

    Dr Camden Morgante had a good response. She wrote, “When we present a traditional biblical sexual ethic in this way, it makes it even less likely that the Church will remain relevant. As Zachary Wagner noted, “It’s also a matter of reading the cultural moment. Evangelicals do not, it seems to me, occupy a moral position of strength as it relates to speaking about human sexuality. We have some house cleaning to do in this area.” In Chapter 1, Butler says the goal of this book [is] to restore the beauty of the Christian sexual ethic”. I too value a biblical sexual ethic. But if we keep using the same purity culture tropes, we are going to turn people off (even more) to the beauty of the Gospel. You’re not accomplishing your goal by saying the same things that have already been said but with even weirder, cringey metaphors…But if we’re going to talk and teach about sex publicly, we have the responsibility to approach it with caution and accountability. So much harm has been done through Evangelical books on sex (I know all of us are intimately familiar with this harm). The leaders in this space and the gatekeepers in the industry who platform these leaders have to be extra sensitive to the impact of their words. Good intentions do not negate harmful consequences.”

  22. exwifeofasexaddict

    “Porn with wedding rings on”. A five word summary of most “Christian” marriage and sex advice. And my marriage.

  23. Lynne'

    This article (and book) are an example I think of the same message (as you said) but with trickier wording. It is like they believe that if they use softer language then it makes it all okay, rather than actually changing the message!
    I am SO thakful that people are calling this out! That we can avoid the false teachings now instead of ingesting poison and being harmed. I am still training my own mind to see what is wrong and harmful. If you are used to objectifying language and dominance over women so that it seems “normal” to you, it is so much harder to identify and call out. My discernment is growing as I keep learning from my sisters in Christ and I am so thankful. ❤

  24. Sequoia

    Ooh, next I want him to explain condoms.

    “I was going to leave my offering, but I changed my mind. I still got the worship experience, but in the crucial moment I took my offering back.”

    I’m sure it gets worse if it’s God speaking.

    “I was going to impart new life to you, but I realized that might be irresponsible due to your present life circumstances. Let’s put a raincheck on it, shall we?”

  25. Lynne'

    I read the free chapter and was surprised how much worse it was IN context! Eww just.. no. It was so weirdly, extremely sex focused in the wrong way.
    Trying to tie in the “Christ is in you”5 verses and about the meaning of Loin in the Bible.. what? Just stop.

  26. Peter Kushkowski

    1. “Trampoline anyone?

    2. Graphic O.T. Excerpt…
    Ezekiel 23:19-20

    3. From the 1930s…
    “ideal Marriage” Vanderveld
    I still have the brown paper wrapper that it came in.

    • Mara R

      You really think that we are upset with the graphic part of this?
      Wow, nothing like missing the entire point.
      We have issue with the doctrine of this. Because it is bad, wrong, harmful and makes both spiritual AND the physical disgusting.
      It carries the pornified thinking of the world, sprinkles harmful doctrine and poetic language on it, then tries to set it up as God ordained.

      Just like porn, this doctrine and Josh Butler’s words dehumanizes women and defends male-centric views. This doctrine and Butler’s words make way for spiritual, emotional, and sexual abuse to continue in so many churches that have bought into this deep error?

  27. Peter Kushkowski

    Many of the ad hominems levied at Butler are beyond the pale.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      When someone says that prositution is a problem of selling sex rather than buying sex, and calls a man’s climax his sacrifice, women get rightfully upset. Yes, some people may express that in an over the top way. But quite frankly, we are so tired of sexual assault being minimized like this.

      • Jane Eyre

        Climax is a _________ that I would really love to experience at some point in my life. If it’s even a fraction as good as people say, perhaps even a lot.

        If we did one of those “fill in the missing word” quizzes, what word properly belongs in the blank?
        a. Ecstatic experience
        b. Sacrifice akin to being crucified

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire


    • Mara R

      Ad hominems at Butler?

      I actually feel sorry for Butler. He just took the broken doctrine of TGC, Tim Keller, Piper, Driscoll, and CBMW to the next level and stretched the sexual parts past their breaking point.

      I truly believe Butler had no idea the how far out into error the echo chamber of TGC and CBMW truly was. He really only took the bad doctrine of this echo chamber to the next logical conclusion. He didn’t know how far astray the echo chamber he was living in was. He trusted his fellows to be biblically accurate and true, not realizing how hard and how long his fellows and predecessors have been working to make the Body of Christ Masculine by reducing and putting down the feminine. And erasing all essence of the feminine from any hint of any kind of authority or leadership.

      So yeah, I look at his picture with his wild hair and sincere smile (no sarcasm intended whatsoever. so please don’t read it into my statement) and I straight up feel bad for him. I’m sorry he got involved the the dudebros. He looks like he would make a great pastor if he could just get disentangled from the bad, off-balanced doctrine he’s been swimming in.

    • Shoshana

      Well, one does wonder what kind of person would even write such drivel…

  28. Lisa Johns

    So prostitution is a violation of what God created because … she charges admission for men to use her? 🤦‍♀️
    What was he expecting, free admission for all??

    • Jane Eyre

      I dunno, maybe men ought to be tithing.

      (Is there an angelic emoji?)

  29. Anon

    I’m finally getting around to reading this blog post and comments. I led an IF gathering with 7 of my friends last weekend and we were wondering how his talk got removed the day before the event. Several of my friends have publishing experience and know MANY people must have read this book before last week. And how did IF invite him? Did no one have discernment? This is very troubling to me.

  30. Dallas

    Wow, this is amazing. I’m so glad people had such a response to this. Our voices are being heard! Thank you for empowering us, Sheila.

  31. Christina Anderson

    Sheila, I would be interested in hearing more on your opinion of “Our Bodies Tell God’s Story”, ,by Christopher West, and how the metaphor shared there, based off of and written with reference to “Theology of the Body”, by Pope John Paul II, fits into this conversation if at all. Would/Do you recommend that book as a resource at all?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I haven’t read it yet. I’ve been recommended it but haven’t read it.

      • Christina Anderson

        Highly recommend. It is a metaphor that doesn’t go to far in my opinion. My experience was beauty and encouragement which has been the experience of several I know who have read it. There was nothing demeaning about it that I experienced, but it instead held a measure of equality, honor, and union built around intimacy.

        I have read multiple remarks/comments about the metaphor of physical union compared to spiritual union as being pornographic. I do not believe it has to be seen that way as a whole and that there can actually be benefit and growth from seeing the metaphor appropriately….not taken to far. Of course, I believe those having experienced sexual trauma need to be thought of and honored in any conversation around sexuality or intimacy, and I believe the metaphor gently introduced at the right time could be helpful to many over their time of healing.

        I highly encourage the read to at least see what is helpful to keep. Would love to hear from you if you do.

  32. Christina Hitchcock

    This is simply recycled paganism. Just erect an Asherah pole and make a sacrifice to Baal and be done with it.

    • Lindsay

      I’m a day late! You beat me to it. I made a similar comment in another comment below.
      You’ve got company in feeling uncomfortable with the “fertility cult” bent the TGC article has.

      The TGC article felt very pagan to me. But at the same time, I think maybe ancient Judaism might have had similar beliefs despite the church condemning so much of it (thinking back to some interpretations of Onan). It feels like a repackaging where it’s like “This view is problematic! Unless we switch out the mysticism with the name of our own god. Now it’s fine.” (Which is actually the history of a lot of the Psalms, but we don’t need to go there yet 🙂 ).

  33. Lindsay

    I’ve recently read up on ancient customs that the Bible or Evangelical culture would refer to as “pagan,” and I’m seeing an alarming amount of it align with purity culture or how Evangelical Christianity views sex. It feels really off how much evangelical stuff matches with teachings from ancient religion and the ties between fertility and worship. I’m having really mixed feelings seeing this stuff from places like TGC.
    Yeah, sex might be relational and highly symbolic, but this TGC stuff feels like I read it in some bronze-age treatise on how to honor the gods for a good harvest. At what point is Evangelical culture just repackaging beliefs with a few wording changes and the stamp of “Christian?”

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Excellent observation!

  34. Ingrid

    This is so absurd. It sounds like a Month Python parody of Theology of the Body😂

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a good way to describe it!



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