I’m often accused of trying to swing the pendulum to the other extreme.
This week, a commenter wrote about her husband who was accusing me of trying to make sex only about the woman. Because the husband now had to care if his wife was interested in sex, and now had to make sure that she orgasmed, then sex was now all about her, and the pendulum had swung to the other direction.
He said, “making sex only about me isn’t okay, but now we’re making it all about you.”
I hear that a lot–if we focus on a woman’s orgasm, then suddenly sex is only about her. Except that he is still reaching orgasm too. It’s only that now he has to try to bring her to orgasm, and he has to put in effort, and so it feels very different than when he could just be serviced.
It reminded me of a protracted conversation we got into on the blog a little while ago about how women deserve orgasm too, with a man arguing that the wife should do what he wants 50% of the time, and he does what she wants 50% of the time, and even though I said that meant he orgasmed 100% of the time and she only did 50% of the time, he still thought that was equal.
This comes up a lot–when women ask for fairness, that is seen as the extreme.
On Twitter recently, a user alerted me to a new ultra-conservative podcast out of the Presbyterian Church of America called PresbyGirls. A recent podcast talked about this phenomenon and mentioned me.
They said (starting around 1:18:00):
On one side we have sort of Wilsonite, jaded, red-pilled men, sort of more toward hyper-patriarchy, priests of their family. We have this side. And then we have this other side, I’m thinking of the foremost Christian women influencers, this list is great–Kristin Du Mez, Sheila Gregoire, Beth Allison Barr, Aimee Byrd, Rachael Denhollander, and a bunch of other people thrown in there…and you have this other side of the fence screeching about how men are just NEVER trustworthy, and in order for the church to be a safe space for women, women have to run it.
Now, I was totally tickled pink that she thought I was one of the “foremost Christian women’s influencers.” And I’m glad they see Doug Wilson as an extreme person we wouldn’t want to emulate!
But is this characterization of us accurate?
Let’s put it in graphic form, using a pendulum. They’re saying that on one side you have Doug Wilson, and on one side you have “screeching women” who think women need to be in charge in church, and then there is, presumably, these podcasts hosts who are in the “reasonable” middle.
So it looks like this:
Presbygirls Depiction of the Pendulum
There’s just one problem. None of us wants women to be in power ALONE.
We simply don’t want men to be in power ALONE either. We want women’s voices to count along with men’s voices.
So let’s redo the Presbygirls’ depiction of reality, but this time accurately reflecting our positions (or at least accurately reflecting mine; I shouldn’t presume to speak for everyone else):
Presbygirls Actual Pendulum
Do you see the problem with this depiction?
They are placing “people wanting equality” as the other end of the spectrum, as if it’s something ultra-extreme. But is “people wanting equality” actually at the other end of the pendulum from men wanting to hold power and have only men’s needs cared for? Is that really the opposite?
I don’t think so.
I think the pendulum more accurately looks like this:
The opposite of patriarchy is not equality; it is matriarchy.
The opposite of caring only for men’s needs is caring only for women’s needs; it is not caring for BOTH men’s and women’s needs.
When you’re used to being the only one prioritized, and when you’ve never had to do any work to care for your partner, then equality feels like a huge pendulum swing. But it isn’t. It’s simply returning the pendulum to its normal resting place.
Asking for men to care about women AS WELL as themselves is not an extreme; it is literally the definition of middle–we each care for each other and we each are equal.
The actual extreme would be to say, “men don’t matter and women don’t need to consider men’s needs; the priority in the home and church should only be women.”
I don’t know anyone at all who is arguing for that.
When people say that I am the extreme and they are the reasonable ones, then, here’s what they’re arguing for:
True Placement of Those Who Claim to Be “Reasonable”
When you look at it graphically, what they think is “reasonable”–a position somewhere between patriarchy and equality–is actually still quite on the extreme, isn’t it?
I hope seeing this graphically Can clarify this discussion.
Equality feels scary when patriarchy is all you’ve ever known. It feels so different.
But it is not the extreme.
It is the extreme to say that men’s needs should be prioritized, even if that has become normal within evangelicalism.
That’s what I was trying to say in that discussion a few years ago about women’s orgasms. That’s what I was trying to explain to that commenter this week, so she could better articulate it to her husband.
And this is what we’re saying in our new book She Deserves Better, which launches on Tuesday. It should not be extreme to say that girls matter as well as boys. It should not be extreme to say that girls are not responsible for boys’ sins, and that it is not girls’ jobs to make life easy for boys.
That is merely trying to take the pendulum back to the middle, where we all matter, we all serve each other, and instead of grasping for power, we try to follow after Jesus, together.
I long for the day when that is not seen as radical.
What do you think? Why is it so hard to see equality as the middle? Let’s talk in the comments!
I find it weird that people would compare you of all people with the more extreme elements of the third wave or in some particular cases the second wave of feminism Mrs Shiela. Unlike say Simone Beavouir for instance you believe that sex actually can be mutual in most cases. You are not trying to emasculated and you have never implied that women are superior to men.
I honestly find it difficult to see you advocating matriarchy
On another note I find it odd that seeing one partner in this case the woman being prioritized for a time means that the man is no longer enjoying sex. I have never had sex I have never been married or even had a girlfriend but I know this I like seeing people happy. Knowing that I made someone happy makes me happy. I know for a fact that lots of folks want a fun fulfilling relationship so trying to make each other happy seems pretty reasonable.
Besides wouldn’t allowing someone to have the focus be on them in a no pressure environment help them get out of their shell? Wouldn’t that allow them to figure out what feels good and what does not feel good?
I find it very strange, too! Also, even if he is focusing on giving her an orgasm, he usually does orgasm too. it’s not like he’s foregoing anything. I think so many men are just used to not having to think of their wives at all, that having to do “work” seems extreme.
That is just it though. Why see it as work? Would it not make more sense to see it as play?
Codec- “Why see it as work?”
If they view it as work, then on the rare occassion they actually do “the work,” they can pretend they are being sacrifical and Christ-like.
Thank you for being one of the guys who sees things more clearly. You and some other guys on here are helping me learn that there can be good guys- meaning guys who are honestly trying their best to live godly lives.
Thank you Nessie.
To be honest I kind of gravitated to incellish stuff when I was a teenager. People liked me but I was really awkward. I had a lot of issues with family and with my own self image. Growing up I had a really squeaky voice as a child and I had really long hair. When I was a kid people called me a girl. I really did not like that.
Most of the relationships I saw growing up fell apart so I became cynical about relationships. Still I wanted to be seen and understood.
Realizing that I was a vindictive person made me change how I viewed the world.
I like seeing people become more integrated. I hope I can make the world a little better.
Love that, Codec!
Codec- I’ve greatly appreciated your authentic sharing of past choices or situations (Phil is another that comes to mind, but others, too!), and just being honest about where you are now- trying to be better but not always hitting the mark as you would like.
Seeing men here humble enough to own their stuff and keep pushing to improve- that is so healing for me and probably others. I have loads of failings, and loads of healing to do. A lot of men have healing to do, too, and it’s so beautiful to see y’all sharing your stories here as well. FWIW, I think you are making the world a little better, so thanks! 🙂
Thank you for the graphics. It is helpful to see this kind of laid out logically. My husband has said that he is concerned I am listening to things that are dangerous or unbiblical and feminist and extreme. But it’s not extreme to want an equal say. To see myself represented in church leadership. I have so many thoughts, feelings, and reactions. But as an enneagram 9, it wars with my wanting to keep the peace! Thank you for presenting good information, for expressing things well, and for helping so many of us work through harmful teachings and situations.
Oh, Amanda, that must be tough! Hang strong, and seek out Jesus. You matter, and your voice matters, and you were created not just to be an appendage.
I think these extreme people see themselves as inerrant judges, able to weigh, balance, and read the scales. (Considering some of their god-complexes, it makes sense they see themselves as such.) They refuse to see- or rather admit- they have their thumb on that scale because selfishness is incredibly greedy and self-blind.
Not sure there is anything to be done for the extremers- but those who are on the fence, those with ears to hear are getting your message, processing it (which may take some time) and beginning to notice the thumbs on those scales.
Yes, I think people are noticing!
Yeah, I was surprised to read even in that new book on non-toxic masculinity the following line: “Egalitarianism is the opposite theological position to complementarianism.” (p.153)
Maybe opposite theologically means something different than opposite in power?
I think it is seen as the opposite theologically because honestly–no one even argues for women to be in power, which says something, in and of itself.
So to all those men (and, more’s the pity, women) who think men are just naturally in charge and that husbands shouldn’t have to do anything that focuses exclusively on bringing their wives sexual pleasure (or even—gasp—the orgasms that men almost always have), I have questions.
Does the golden rule apply ONLY to how MEN treat ONE ANOTHER?
Does “look out for the interests of others, not just yourselves” ONLY apply to how MEN treat ONE ANOTHER?
Does Jesus’s command “do not lord it over one another like the gentiles do” apply ONLY to how MEN treat ONE ANOTHER?
Or do those verses—and all the other “one another” verses, and the whole shebang of verses about generally living as a Christian—ALSO apply to how MEN treat WOMEN, and especially their WIVES?
Keith’s said to me before that he thinks this is one of the motivations for making men and women sound like completely different species. If a man thinks a woman is absolutely and utterly different from himself, then he’s absolved of Jesus’ command to love her as he loves himself, because that’s not what she would want or need–she’s totally different!
I have seen and heard some “screeching women who want only women in power”, but never on this site. This site has only promoted equality and equal value/worth/dignity for men and women.
I guess the presby spectrum is…
Extreme 1 – People who want equality
Reasonable people who think that men should be in charge, but complete dictators
Extreme 2 – It’s all about the man. Women are nothing more than silent appendages who serve men
“Women are nothing more than silent appendages who serve men”
Er, “women are nothing more than silent slaves who serve men’s appendages”? 🤮
Change it to “but NOT complete dictators”
I read Aimee Byrd’s book Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and it was much less egalitarian than I expected. She was just pushing back against the hyper-complementarianism we see in so many of these churches. It was a good read. I would definitely take being categorized with Aimee Byrd as a compliment.
Yes, and she was the subject for such vitriol for something that wasn’t even extreme at all. Just asking for women to be treated as people warranted extreme abuse against her.
Yeah, putting Aimee Byrd in the category of “people who think only women should be in charge” is absurd. It shows they haven’t read or listened to her at all. She is still complementarian.
You gotta love the descriptor “screeching.” Any woman who speaks up will, at some point, be accused of “screeching.” It goes right along with the “girls talk too much” trope, or the guy commenting on the podcast yesterday that “there is a reason why all the literature talks about nagging wives but not nagging husbands.” (I kinda got whiplash trying to follow his reasoning there. But I digress.)
No, people in power do not enjoy having their base shaken. And so they or their flying monkeys will call names and use pejorative terms about women rather than discuss with reason.
But the rest of us are really blessed by your work, and will continue to pray for you and bless you!
Buy there are examples of nagging husbands in media. Archie Bunker for one and the dad in Sanford and Sons.
I was going to mention Raymond from “Everybody loves Raymond”, but he’s more of a whiner than a nagger.
I could never stomach that show because it reminded me of my first marriage with an interfering mother-in-law though she wasn’t nearly as bad as Raymond’s mother. I didn’t know who to feel sorrier for: Raymond or his wife Debra. I felt sorry for Raymond because he had to deal with being a mediator between his parents and Debra. I felt sorry for Debra because of the interfering in-laws who always dropped by unannounced.
I loved that “screeching” bit too!
One reason that the Proverbs doesn’t talk about nagging men is because the Proverbs are written specifically to “My son”.
You can’t say that the Proverbs not bringing up nagging men means that it is only a woman problem. It just doesn’t work that way. Even the Proverbs 31 Woman section is written to somebody’s son. It is written to help him look for a future wife based on things besides charm and beauty. Those can be deceitful.
When only men are allowed to write literature or only male literature is ever taken seriously, then, yes, there isn’t going to be a whole lot of info on the nagging husband. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. It means he’s under-reported due to the pendulum being swung to far to the men rule, women drool side.
I always roll my eyes when I see the worn-out-beyond-reason “screeching women” trope. There is no use for that language. All it does is expose the fact that the user of the term doesn’t like it when women disagree with their version of male domination teaching.
This is actually a great point–Proverbs was actually written to men, in a way the rest of Scripture was not.
And mostly by a guy with 700 “wives” and 300 concubines. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to one-man-one-woman marriage. 🙄 🙄 🙄
(Yes, I said it, and I meant it, and I’ve thought so for a LONG time. I’m not apologizing for it, either.)
Finally! Thank you so much for saying that, I’ve always found it uncomfortable for that reason. The poetry is beautiful and I could really enjoy the eroticism in it until I remember that she was one out of a freakin’ thousand!
In defense of The Songs (not Solomon), it is questioned whether he actually wrote it or all of it. It may have been compiled under his reign and therefore called by his name. Kings and Kingdoms run differently than democracy and people being citizens rather than subjects.
Another theory is that The Songs is really a love triangle with Solomon being the odd man out and the lover actually being someone else that the beloved is trying to stay true to in spite of Solomon’s advances.
We don’t really know for sure any of these things.
All I know it that God had used this book of poetry to bless many in spite of who’s name is in the first verse.
Hi R, you are absolutely right! Solomon had ZERO clue!
No need to apologize!!
And that would be “Jo R” — sorry, I do know your name, but autocorrect…
I FULLY agree with your conclusion equality being seen as extreme, and I appreciate the way you’ve laid it out visually.
My comment is on a different aspect of this post. At point early on, you discuss the scenario of equality of orgasms. The orgasm gap is a significant problem, and a husband’s lack of prioritization of a wife’s orgasm is a particular injustice.
But I’m concerned with the reduction of the sexual experience down to the presence of orgasm. As if a man should be fully satisfied simply with the presence of orgasm.
I know you were using this specific example to illustrate your point, and there are unique factors to that specific situation. But I’ve also gotten that same sense from other occasional comments in your posts before.
Climax NEEDS to be part of the sexual encounter, and prioritized accordingly, but the marital act is so much more than that.
So I’ve been somewhat concerned with the reductionism expressed in these occasional comments, and how they don’t reconcile with your broader and more consistent message of sex as a mutual, pleasurable, satisfying experience for both partners.
I was hoping you could comment or clarify?
Orgasm is certainly not the end all and be all–intimacy is, and many men actually pressure their wives into orgasms to prove that they are good lovers.
The thing about orgasm is that it’s an objective measure where it’s really easy to show the problems.
But I would also say–while intimacy may be more important, we still should not have a situation where he is reaching orgasm and she is not.
Please honestly sit down and think for even just five straight minutes about engaging in sexual intercourse for TWENTY-FIVE YEARS and NEVER having an orgasm, because the encounter ends before you get halfway there.
If you think that’s a good way to build intimacy, good for you. Those of us who have suffered through that exact scenario (and we are legion) feel like prostitutes in our own homes.
And no one, looking at me and my husband, would have thought there was anything wrong in our marriage. We did ministry together, I almost always had a smile on my face, AND I WAS DYING INSIDE. Women in the church are not allowed to be unhappy about ANYTHING, “because Jesus,” and I know if someone had asked me point-blank during that time, I would have said I had a good marriage (lack of me orgasming was just one point, but mainly I was so self-effacing, I may as well not even have existed).
Some women’s smiles may indeed be genuine, but when women are told it’s actually a sin to be anything OTHER than joyful, don’t make assumptions about a woman’s real state of being.
Parts of your comment, Jo R, would fit under Bob’s comment.
That is almost the route I went in my comment to him.
How can he be sure those women are truly happy when it’s a sin not to be in many of those circles? Almost brought up the FLDS and the “Keep Sweet” doctrine there and how it is also in Patriarchy and Complementarianism.
And how many of the “miserable” women here used to look like the “happy” women of patriarchy before the Holy Spirit convicted them of lying about how they truly feel.
I know that back in the day, when I was living the ‘happy happy joy joy” lie, I had a dream where I was in inside a mausoleum that was pure white all over. The walls, pillars, molding and modern looking sarcophagus were all painted the most pure white you ever saw. But coming out of the side and spewing on the floor was black oily sludge which stood in stark contrast to the white all around.
I don’t know how long it took me to realize that this was about me. I was the whitewashed sepulchre. And the sludge coming out was because I could no longer play the part Evangelical Christianity demanded me to. I could no longer pretend that everything was alright because it wasn’t. Playing the happy pastor’s wife while married to a controlling narcissist was bad and I was being hypocritical.
I wonder how many of Bob’s handful of happy women are in that state now? They don’t dare show it. We know what his camp does with women who can’t play the happy little, self-effacing wife. And it’s not good. It’s not Christlike.
Another thing we found: when women are in highly patriarchal relationships, their “subjective” rating of their marriage/sex life is less likely to match up to objective measures, whereas this isn’t true when people see marriage as equal.
So, for example, when women never reach orgasm, they’re more likely to say their sex life is still great if they are in patriarchal relationships than if they are in egalitarian ones. Similarly, if the husband doesn’t do housework, even if they both work outside the home, the wife is more likely to say her marriage is good if she’s in a patriarchal relationship, then if she’s in an egalitarian one.
So just because someone in a highly patriarchal marriage says everything is wonderful does not mean it is. It means it is far more suspect.
I heard a pretty horrifying stat the other day from David Scnarch (sp?) about women in self-professed “happy marriages”, and a significant proportion (pretty sure double digits) reported sexual pain that they believed their husbands knew nothing about. It blew my mind that anyone could describe their marriage as happy when that’s the case.
I’ll try to find the source and details and post them later.
I would love to see that! That does sound horrifying.
Found it. A study of 100 self-defined “happily married couples”, and he says about 1/3 of the women had had pain during sex and didn’t think their husband knew. Small sample size and it’d be interesting to know how/when/where they recruited the participants, but wowsers.
From Part 2 of ‘Secrets of a Passionate Marriage’ by David Schnarch. Presumably there’s a reference but I’m just listening to the audiobook.
“If you think that’s a good way to build intimacy, good for you.”
I’m not sure why you would direct this to me as if I was arguing something to the contrary. In fact, I said that orgasm needs to be part of the encounter and lack of prioritizing a wive’s pleasure is an injustice.
Climax is not something to be seen as optional, but it’s presence doesn’t signify that everything is great — either in that time of lovemaking or in the broader relationship.
Agreed, but shouldn’t orgasm for BOTH at least be a baseline or minimum for a sexual encounter?
What the church pushes instead is the idea that women should be content to just get “emotional satisfaction,” which idea, by the way, is very convenient for men who are too selfish or lazy to turn their attention off their penises.
WAY too many Christian men are more interested in positions and frequency while ignoring their wives’ highly capable clitorises, or simply assuming that PIV feels as good for her as it does for him.
“Agreed, but shouldn’t orgasm for BOTH at least be a baseline or minimum for a sexual encounter?”
Yes. Again, I’m unsure where I said or implied otherwise.
I can’t speak for teachings in evangelicalism, but in my faith we have a rich tradition developed by Pope John Paul II called the theology of the body, which emphasizes — among many other things — what the language of sex is intended to communicate and also what it means to make a sincere gift of self to another.
I’m not saying that in practice we get it perfect — FAR from it. But I think that where we get off track is when we fail to draw on this tradition and instead listen to toxic cultural values (whether secular or purity culture).
Ah. You seem to be completely unfamiliar with the teachings of the most popular “Christian” marriage and sex books of the last five decades and that a huge number of churches use them, er, religiously.
Until churches do a little truth in advertising and call themselves “First Heretical Church” or “Third Church of Misogyny,” and until pastors, teachers, and authors say explicitly that they don’t care that their messages hurt women, then it is incumbent on women themselves to become educated on how these messages are wrapped up in spiritual-sounding language and what their toxic effects are.
That’s one purpose for this site. And since SO MANY Christian women got sucked into this vortex because “trust your leaders,” we have to spend a TON of time rooting it all out so that new, life-giving messages can be sown in their place.
Soil prep is messy, hard, back-breaking work, and it’s not always pretty to watch.
Count yourself fortunate that you don’t need to do it.
Jo R, I don’t think that’s what he was saying. He was making the point that orgasm isn’t the *only* indicator of a happy sex life (and as we know, sometimes it’s no indicator at all). I don’t know that he expressed it clearly, but he was actually saying that there is even more to it.
As Sheila pointed out, though, orgasm IS a convenient marker by which we can gage.
Oh, I agree orgasm is not the ONLY thing.
But if the orgasm numbers were reversed (i.e., women orgasm 95+ percent of the time and men only 48 percent of the time), it wouldn’t have taken CENTURIES for men to bitch about it.
It’s funny how the things men are concerned about always get a hearing, while things women are concerned about are downplayed and often ignored. 🙄
Catholic Guy, thank you for your perspective and curiosity about wanting clarity. I see you affirming the things that Sheila is fighting for and also wanting them to be important, including prioritizing orgasm. And what I hear in your comment is not a minimization of women’s experiences but a concern that orgasm be one aspect among many. You even took the time to state that your concern is with occasional comments, not all. You were very respectful.
I agree the marital act is so much more, and I long for the day when all Christians (Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, etc) can hold all of this with dignity – sexual intercouse being fun and pleasurable for both, the sexual relationship also being a place to just hold each other tenderly sometimes with no agenda, a place where we are vulnerable and not selfish, where we can explore what Paul calls a mystery. And also a place for the anticipation of creating a child – something so immensely beautiful, and hopefully out of place of love from both partners. Where we can laugh – and also cry. Where compassion lives. The sexual act is not intimacy. Sexual relationship flows from intimacy, where both partners feel safe to be whole.
From the tone of your comment, I think you are hoping for a both/and. Orgasm is important. Intimacy is also broader than that. I believe that as well.
If I have been off the mark or assumed things of you that are incorrect, feel free to respond.
Both partners reaching orgasm is a BASELINE. If you both want to make it more fun after that’s a very consistent habit, that’s great. Sheila has talked elsewhere about how, when both partners are consistently reaching orgasm, it’s great to explore more. But until both partners can come to bed knowing that that’s the starting assumption, not a “eh, maybe,” it’s not really okay for the consistently-osgasming spouse to demand(/ask/pressure for) more.
Societally, “bad sex” for men=not as strong an orgasm as he would have liked. “Bad sex” for women=pain, possibly injury or rape. Those situations are in different stratospheres. Until we have a cultural understanding that actually parallels men’s and women’s experiences, we need to keep pushing back.
And yet you and your readers are the most miserable women I know. On display daily. In your own words.
Somehow the more of what you ask for becomes reality the more miserable women get. Also the church and society fall apart daily. Feminism says it’s about equality. Yet the more we get of it the more miserable everyone is. We will be lucky if civilization isn’t thrown back into the Stone Age within the next decade due to it. Everywhere equality is sought in the church the attendance and salvations of souls are dying.
If your measuring stick is happiness- it shouldn’t be, but that seems to be your sole objective in life- why does my wife who lives in opposite world theology from you live, show and experience more joy and less heartache every single on your and your commentaries daily. The handful of the happiest women I know live under loving patriarchs.
I know, I know…you have data. Please. So does Dominion, the CDC, WHO, and hundreds of others who exalt Satan. You think it extreme- but leading sheep to slaughter and eternal hell. Your teaching kills long term in any and all levels.
Why do I read? I figure if Satan is stupid enough to give me his battle plan on how he is trying to flank us that’s info I want.
Thanks for this! It’s always good for commenters to show my readers why my work is so needed! Have a great day.
Bob – your comment is worthless garbage.
This site is, in some regards, a gigantic, ongoing, group therapy session. People in therapy do more than discourse like unthinking, unfeeling robots. We get real, we are raw, and we are hurting, primarily due to the teachings of the one place on earth where WOMEN SHOULD FEEL SAFEST AND BE UPHELD.
Instead, we get smacked in the face constantly, at the very least metaphorically by those “shepherds” who should be protecting us from wolves (because so many shepherds are instead wolves themselves), and all too often by the “Jesus emulators” we married.
How, exactly, do you think we should react to these derelictions?
Bob, just stop. You’re giving conservative and Christian men a bad name.
Let’s let your wife hear story after story, year after year from women who have experienced the dark side of what you say she is living with joy. Woman after woman. Bad fruit after bad fruit. Let’s see if she is still living joyfully with the knowledge that the theology you keep is hurtful to so many others even though she gets to be “happy.” It takes the shine off things to see that, no, the things you’ve been touting as “so great” are not actually that great after all. In fact it can get so bad as to make the entire idea of this being “biblical” utterly ridiculous.
What you seem to forget is that Sheila was a complementarian in the past. What eventually moved her away was seeing what it actually does to people and realizing that calling something “biblical” that is so hurtful is a lie.
Can you please elaborate on what your ideal scenario looks like? What are the core beliefs of your wife and yourself around marriage relationships?
Mentioning “happy” women living “under loving patriarchs” gives us a pretty good picture of where he’s coming from.
Bob, thanks for giving me a good laugh today. 😂😂😂 You’re here to get “Satan’s battle plan”? 🤣🤣🤣 You’re here to get the same thing the rest of us are… tips for better sex with your wife. Welcome! Stick around. You might learn something.
🤣😂 Satan’s battle plan 🤣😂🤣 orgasms for women too! 😈😈 So diabolical!
🥸 Don’t mind me. Just here spying on the enemy’s game plan. 🤫 Takes notes. 📝 Multiple orgasms, huh? That’s crazy! 😈 That can’t be true. Lies from Satan! What’s a clitoris? Gotta Google that one.
And then once you’ve figured out Satan’s plan, what are you going to do? Go tell your pastor? 🥸 Pastor, after months of dangerous undercover🕵️♂️ work, I need to warn you about that Gregoire lady! 👀 The blasphemy! You wouldn’t believe what she said! Women should enjoy sex too!
Pastor: Mmhmm. MmHmm. Maybe I should keep an 👁️ on her. The good book 📖 tells us to be aware of the devil’s schemes…
We have Merch for you Bob 🧻
My Dearest Wormwood
I wish to remind you of the importance in seeing that the charity of the patient is misdirected as often as possible.
Convince your patient that their charity is to go out there into the far reaches to people who may bot exist while those who are right next to them are seen with contempt or perchance with apathy.
It is vital wormwood that you keep the patient primarily concerned with those sensations that we call real life without really letting them think about real life at all.
C.S Lewis delved into the psychology of devils far better than I ever could back in the 40’s
I laughed out loud reading your reply. Thanks Stefanie!
Bob, I don’t comment on this site often although I’ve been a long time reader. I’ve also been in a long term egalitarian marriage. I am not bitter, joyless, vindictive or any of those things. I am very happily married. There is no power struggle in my 26 year marriage and I have never turned my husband down for sex, happily gave him hand jobs and oral sex during post partum and would happily have sex every day if he wanted to. But guess what, my husband has made my sexual pleasure his number one priority since day one, he has treated me like an equal, with an equal voice and equal say since day one and has never once pressured me for sex, coerced me into sex or asked for a single sexual favor. Guess what else, I outnumber him in orgasms 10 to 1 easily and thus the reason I would have sex everyday if he wanted to. The women that sound joyless and unhappy are women who have been married to men like you as opposed to men like my husband. Every women I’ve ever know married to a man who has an egalitarian view of marriage is very joyful and happy. So, you may have thought you were making a point against Sheila but in reality you just proved her right.
Civilizations gave been through much worse than what is going on now and so have Christians for that matter.
We are not living in times or places nearly as tumultuous as 70 AD, or the bakumatsu which was 1853 to the 1860’s, or to the American Civil War or to the partition of india or the 6 day war or the world wars or the Napoleonic conquest.
I am not saying we do not have problems because we do, but seriously that level of societal collapse is silly.
Bob, to be honest, your comment is one of the most miserable I’ve seen on this blog – you seem to be very upset that so few women are under the ‘loving’ control of a patriarch.
I do see a lot of anger in the comments here – and I think that is both understandable and right. When women are treated as if they don’t matter, when their physical pain is ignored, when little girls as young as 8 are told that they are responsible for the sin of adult males…it is RIGHT to be angry at these things. Jesus Himself showed righteous anger at injustice and exploitation.
Oh, Bob. Some of us are actually much happier since we found freedom from legalism and oppression in Jesus.
A bit late here, but: “Every woman in this hospital seems severely ill or wounded. My wife and a few other women I know do not seem to be ill or wounded, so it must be the hospital hurting women. Therefore the hospital must be of the devil.”
Late but good observation, Lisa.
I’ll now attempt to take the analogy further, if possible.
Many of the ladies here are sick due to food poisoning from a well known restaurant. That particular restaurant adds ingredients to women’s food that is toxic and causes great harm. They also put an ingredient in the men’s food that causes aggression.
Women are coming to this hospital to get their stomachs pumped because of the great bitterness the toxin has caused within them. After getting the toxins removed, the women are given Living Water to continue the healing process soothing the chemical burns within them.
Not all women who eat at the restaurant end up in the hospital (even though they would also benefit from treatment). But the husband of one of those not-yet-hospitalized women who has been deeply affected by the toxins put in the men’s food at the restaurant is mad. Because of the toxins put in the male menu items, he is pumped up on anger and self-righteous indignation because he loves the restaurant and its food and hates anyone that points out its toxic qualities. So he has decided to come blame the hospital for all these food-poisoned women. He says the hospital is of the devil and the Living Water give here is hell water.
Did I stretch the analogy too far? If so, apologies. Just take it as a complement that I liked your observation.
Love it, Mara! Excellent analogy!
Bob, you are part of Satan’s battle plan. God put enmity between the woman herself and Satan as well as between Satan and the woman’s seed. When you so called Christian patriarchs attack Christian women for rightfully rebuking your nasty, destructive, woman hating doctrine, you just reinforcing that same old hostility Satan has for the woman. Nice work dude! Satan is smiling at you…
Bob!! Just because women who are hurting come to a site does not mean the site is garbage! It means they are finding validation and hope from being in contact!
A little basic humanity would go a long way here!
Bob, you’re salty about Dominion because they got your favorite talking head (note I didn’t say journalist because he wasn’t) fired from a midlevel news source. And as for the CDC and WHO…you’re really still calling them agents of satan when we know how people have recovered from corona due to the vaccinations they helped make?
Make it make sense.
Bob, now that you generated all these comments, we are all waiting with bated breath to hear from you……Bob, are you there Bob? Still waiting……..Crickets , 🤯🤯🤯🤯
Bob: “I figure if Satan is stupid enough to give me his battle plan”
By this one statement alone, Bob, I can tell that I fear God way more than you do.
You don’t fear God or His judgement because you don’t think you are under it in any way. In fact, you think you are so far above it that you truly believe that YOU sit in the Judgement seat of Christ.
And I can assure you that you don’t.
I disagree with you on so many levels, including my happiness level. But I’m not going to get into that right now
Instead I’m going to caution you about Judging God’s servants. I caution you about calling people you don’t know “Satan”.
As much as I disagree with you, I would never call you Satan. Because, unlike you. I know better than to try to judge another man’s servant (Romans 14:4). I know better than to judge someone who is trying to serve God but is failing to do so, miserably, by the name “Satan”.
You are so concerned about all these women not being in their place.
Well, take a look at yourself. You are way out of your place. You are NOT God. You are NOT qualified to sit in His seat. You are NOT qualified to make such judgements. And you are rushing in where angels fear to tread.
I advise you to take a step back. Take a breath. Step outside the patriarch echo chamber for a minute. And actually seek God concerning His opinion of the women here. If you actually listen to Him and not your power-grabbing patriarch buddies, you might be surprised by what you hear.
Amen! Good conclusion in this article, Sheila! It seems so obvious when you put it into a graphic like this.
That sounds way too much like my husband. Thanks for clarifying things for me once again.
Great post and I love the illustrations! Over the years I have found that Christian women I know think that asking for gender equality in church and marriage is extreme. They think I want to be in control, but that is NOT true. I just want my voice to matter and be allowed the same opportunities that men have always had. Now, I’m not interested in being a firefighter or playing football; I just want my voice to be heard and spread God’s Word. I’m not asking to be the boss of everyone or everything. It’s just hard to articulate this to a lot of the Christians I know. What I have discovered is that when I gave my testimony at Celebrate Recovery about how my ex used scripture as a way to manipulate and control me, several women came to me and said they believed that marriage should be equal and not about who’s head of the house. I guess because of this thing called “group mentality,” people will not say how they feel in a group for fear of not fitting in.
It’s like that experience I had in a women’s Bible study where the women were all trying to one-up each other on who was the most submissive wife. Since I was single, I remained silent. I think I might have said, “I think being single is not so bad after all. At least, I have my freedom.” Yet, if I were to get alone with one of these women, they might have a different opinion.
I plan to spend more time on my blog this summer when I have a break from my graduate studies. I want to use my blog to express the harm these teachings have caused me and the hesitancy I have with organized religion even though I am a Christian.
Wowzers… a lot to unpack here. Society, the church, et al is sure going through some massive convulsions around these topics. Some of those claims made are just ridiculous! Of course Women and Men should have equal voices to go along with their equal worth. Just seems like a no brainer…. but yeah, the systems in place behind the scenes still require a lot of re-balancing.
The damage/trauma inflicted also has a lot to do with the personal experiences. I grew up in the same circles as my wife, with a lot of traditional teachings/beliefs — but my parents operated on a very equal footing, I never saw any “lording over” or “submissiveness” on either side. Functionally, things were very equal, peaceful, respectful. My wife on the other had experienced a much more controlling father, to the point that there was toxicity and many negative repercussions that are still being unpacked to this day!
Just like it’s contextual in individual/family relationships, it’s also contextual in other avenues of life (IE. workplace, etc.). I work in a very liberal/woke organization, where the pendulum truly has swung the other way. Top leader is a woman (nothing wrong with that) — but she pushes a hard feminist agenda. Many women-exclusive events, promotions heavily skewed towards women, etc. Most males (especially if white) in the organization are well aware that career trajectories will be limited. A major contract was awarded to a third party with the condition that the lead on the project had to be a woman. These types of initiatives are foolish and do swing the pendulum the other way. If the most qualified/experienced individual was a woman, then by all means it should be a woman that should be the lead — but in this case, rather than leaving it up to the third party organization to decide to recommend whoever was best qualified, it was literally mandated that it had to be a woman as a non-negotiable requirement. Some will say this is what is required to “re-balance” things. From my experience at my workplace it has gone well beyond just equal opportunity, to a definite and tangible preferential treatment based on gender and/or other classifications. I’m very aware that this isn’t the case everywhere.
So, as I’ve tried to highlight — it very much depends on the sphere of life that is being discussed, how past experiences have shaped the individual, etc. From a perspective of the “church” and the things that Sheila often talks about — there is still A LOT of work that needs to be done (lots of patriarchal-type messaging and much damage has been done that does require re-balancing and re-learning). Bare Marriage is definitely not advocating for Matriarchy — just an equal and mutually beneficial relationship between men and women which is a beautiful thing! Overall, I am really beginning to dislike all the labels such as complementarianism, egalitarianism, and and other “ism”. I much prefer to simply order my life around mutual respect, call out crap when I see it, and live in peace and harmony as much as possible.
Love your last sentence especially!
I think part of what is being overlooked is that GSR advocates agency over one’s own sexuality. So many of us women were raised with this idea that everyone else gets to determine what happens to our bodies, and thatt we aren’t allowed a even a say, especially within marriage. We were indoctrinated to feel shame about every bit of desire.
The more I am an agent of my own sexuality within my marriage, the more I empowered to actively participate, which makes sex better, more intimate, for both if us. Intimacy is never one sided, or on the extreme of the pendulum. Connected sex is always meeting in that space of mutuality.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while: If you were an alien come to earth and someone explained to you the differences between how a penis functions in comparison to the clitoris, and then told you that among humans there’s this thing called the orgasm gap, you would naturally conclude, having just learned about the differences in male and female genitalia, that the orgasm gap means women have more than men, simply because they can, cause they don’t have a refractory period. Given our biology, that IS how it should work, but it doesn’t, which is yet more proof that culture trumps nature. (Just like how rates of violence among men differ starkly between cultures and have nothing to do with testosterone levels.)
I’ll only comment on two things…
> > you and your readers are the most miserable women I know. On display daily. In your own words.
First, not all women on this site are miserable. Many of them are happy and well adjusted. They are, however, angry at the way women have been and continue to be abused all in the name of God. Second, the women here who ARE miserable are so not because of equality, but because they’ve been in UNEQUAL relationships for so long. They’re miserable BECAUSE of male patriarchy, not because they’ve defeated it.
> > Feminism says it’s about equality. Yet the more we get of it the more miserable everyone is
Feminism (depending on who you talk to) isn’t always about equality, despite what some say. Society is not in trouble due to equality. That is to say, TRUE equality, where we are all viewed as equal human beings, with equal worth and dignity. Our troubles stem from a twisted form of “equality” that really isn’t equal at all. I won’t say more because I don’t want this site to become political.
Okay, three things. Most “happy” relationships in Patriarchies are often only happy on the outside. Women have learned to paint smiles on their faces and act AS IF all is well, but underneath, they’re suffering, and mentally tired. From everything I’ve ever seen in this world, true happiness and fulfilment comes from a truly equal relationship.
Okay, four things. I’ve noticed that in politics and/or religion, anytime anybody starts throwing around “Satan” and/or “Hitler”, that usually means they have nothing meaningful to say. Wanting men and women to be treated as full and equal human beings is hardly serving Satan.
And that’s the last comment (for this post, anyway)
I think one of the significant aspects influencing the patriarchy dynamic is that verse in Genesis 3 where God tells Eve that her desire will be for her husband, but he will rule over her.
1) that “desire” is interpreted as “desire to rule over her husband.”
2) that “he shall rule over you” is somehow a righting of the wrong of her wanting to rule over her husband.
So out of this, we have this assumption that as a part of the fall, women innately want to rule over and dominate their husbands. And that the husband ruling over the wife is somehow correcting the new power problem. This gives justification to continuing to “keep women in their place” and defend the man’s right to rule/dominate.
That’s assuming alot on the text.
I’ve heard that the Hebrew word “desire” shows up in two other places–when God is warning Cain before he kills his brother, and in Song of Songs.
If that’s the case, to me it would make more sense if “desire” was interpreted as “longing/hunger for oneness,” which would fit all the contexts.
I think Eve was being told that even though she would long for the equality and oneness she had with Adam before the fall, he was going to rule over her. Not because he was supposed to rule over her, but because everything was now broken.
And from Genesis on, the Bible actually demonstrates that patriarchy is bad for women, and it shows where the whole mess started.
When Jesus came, He said His disciples were NOT to lord over other people, but to be servents.
Later, Paul says there is neither slave nor free, Jew nor Greek, male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus.
In the beginning before the fall, it’s clear that God made man and woman to bear His image together, and to rule the earth and the creatures together.
Before God, women and men are equal.
It’s late, but I just had to see if any more comments were added. I have studied this subject for a while and am convinced “desire” is being interpreted wrong, especially based on SOS 7:10. I would love to see a book written on this subject. I could contribute. This article is so good and really resonated with me: https://biblicalelearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Busenitz-Gen3-GTJ.pdf
And this sermon from the late 1800’s: https://www.blueletterbible.org/comm/maclaren_alexander/expositions-of-holy-scripture/genesis/what-crouches-at-the-door.cfm
Although, I don’t believe God spoke to men as to children as the author wrote. Before finding this sermon, I began a search to see what is at the door using Strong’s Concordance and found, as this author pointed out, the foolish woman and lady Wisdom at the door calling out in Proverbs.
I could say so much on this subject. Why are we so concerned about controlling women?! Doormat women are a problem too! It’s a consequence of sin. One’s just as bad as the other. It goes for men too.
I was working on an email to Sheila about the post on March 22 regarding “Asymmetry” and wanted to share this article I found recently: https://philarchive.org/archive/DOUTWC
You can view this author teaching class online.
It’s thought provoking, and I can’t say I agree with all of it, but I too believe it was redemptive in that God reconciled Adam and Eve. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul mentions Eve. Couldn’t it be said she was following a false prophet and got a heart change when God came on the scene? Her desire was redirected back to where it began. And where ours should be on our Beloved. Praise!
I hope the links work and someone finds these views refreshing as I did.
The Eden Podcast, which I discovered on this site, by Bruce and Joy Fleming does a great deep dive into this! Definitely recommended!
Fwiw, my Bible app backs you up (mostly) re the word translated as “desire”. The only other places it seems to appear are Gen 4:7 (“…sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.””) and Songs 7:10 (“I am my beloved’s, and he desires me!”).
To my untrained eye, it looks like a word that can mean quite different things in different contexts. If so, pretty dubious to base a theology on one interpretation of it (though of course that’s just one verse that complementarians would point to).
I wondered about that, too. Like “trunk” in English has at least five completely different meanings, depending on the context. (Maybe more, that’s just off the top of my head.) And if the only contexts you knew for “trunk” were for an elephant nose and a tree, you might get the interpretation really wrong if you read about people packing a trunk of clothes. Or that a person’s trunk was damaged during a fall.
So yes, agreed. And “dubious” is a great word. “Desire” in Gen 3 doesn’t show up consistently enough in the rest of the Scripture to give a completely clear idea. And it seems very irresponsible to built a giant theology on that.
And yes, Gen 3 is just one place complementarians point to.
What I think makes it different than the other passages, is that it’s they one they point to that’s at the beginning. Where everything started. Most of the other verses (at least as I heard them in the complememtarien cultures I was steeped in), come much later in the New Testament. And often the justification for viewing those Scriptures as validation for “men rule, women submit” is Genesis 3.
If Genesis 3 doesn’t mean what complementarians say it means, then their supposed Scriptural foundation for how to interpret their New Testament proof texts falls apart.
Also, read David’s last words before he names his mighty men in 2 Samuel 23:1-6. This passage shows there’s a right way to rule, and it brings sunshine and growth. And as Abi Doukhan shares in that last link, it begins in us. That may be in agreement with Scripture as Cain was to rule over sin in himself. But as Irvin Busenitz points out, Genesis 4:7 has its “contextual differences and interpretive problems”. At the Fall, both male and female lost their ability to reign correctly, which come to think of it includes submitting.
If anyone is familiar with Warren Wiersbe, he does not teach that “desire” means control. He links Genesis 3:16 and SOS 7:10 together in his commentary on Song of Solomon. He says, “‘His desire is toward me’ reminds us of Genesis 3:16, where the Lord said that Eve’s desire would be for her husband. Sexual attraction in marriage must be a mutual experience, and the husband and wife must work at making themselves desirable.” In his commentary on Genesis 3:16, he says, “God reinforced His word of hope to Eve by assuring her that she would bear children and therefore not immediately die. But the special privilege of woman as the childbearer (and ultimately the one who brings the Redeemer into the world) would involve multiplied pain in pregnancy as well as submission to her husband. This submission isn’t identified as part of a curse or as a mandate for husbands to have sovereign power over their wives. The New Testament makes it clear that husbands and wives who love each other and are filled with the Spirit will be mutually submissive (Eph. 5:18ff; 1 Cor. 7:1-6).”
A bit more: In Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on 2 Samuel 12:1 -6 where Nathan is confronting David, he says, “The ‘traveler’ whom the rich man fed represents the temptation and lust that visited David on the roof and then controlled him. If we open the door, sin comes in as a guest but soon becomes the master. (See Gen. 4:6-7.)”
I wish I could share all of what he says in his commentary on Esther concerning the king’s vindictiveness and his counselor’s manipulativeness in securing their positions. But at least here’s this: “When Vashti refused to obey, I wonder how many princes and nobles at the banquet said among themselves, ‘Well, the king’s marriage is just like our marriages! His wife has a mind of her own, and it’s a good thing she does!’ It’s doubtful that the king would have lost authority or stature throughout the empire had he shrugged his shoulders, smiled, and admitted that he’d done a foolish thing.”
My daughter is a labor and delivery nurse and recently had a mother die giving birth. She had received word after her shift caring for her, that she died due to a rare complication. Again, why are some focusing on the fear of the “controlling” woman who must be “ruled”? What about death and pain sin brought?
Thank you for this. Just a quick note: God did not multiply her pain. He multiplied her conception. That was the joy God was telling. Good news bad news. Bad news: multiply her sorrow or toil. Good news: That multiplied conception was so that her off spring could defeat satan. Refers back to 3:15. That is what we are working on here. Your last sentence is the reason for the work here. “why are some focusing on the fear of the “controlling” woman who must be “ruled”? What about death and pain sin brought?” If those who focused on the rule over woman would focus on the pain of others we wouldn’t even have an argument to fight..
It’s interesting how a CONSEQUENCE given to Eve is transmogrified into a COMMAND to Adam. 🤔
Gen 3:16 is the reference to this conversation. This has been discussed thoroughly here before. Philp Payne writes it this way and I like how he wrote it: summary line – Due to the Fall – “women are deprived of the corresponding authority with men that God granted them in creation. Furthermore, because of their fallen nature, many men have used their positions of authority to abuse women.” I add this: Due to the fall of Adam and Eve, part of our struggle has also been interpretation of the consequences. This is why Sheila’s and Alls work is so hard! We have to get the correct interpretation first. Then we are working to overcome our consequences. That is why Jesus came for us folks. He is the only one that can over come this for us. However, we as humans have a responsibility to ourselves and others to stand up for Jesus and why he came. This particular topic “man rules of woman”reaches the ROOT of many of our problems. The only real way for us to address the problem in humanity is through equal UNITY. The opposite of the consequences. MAN & WOMAN stand equally together. Happy Saturday.
It’s fascinating to me that multiple women they named as “all-man haters” seem to be very happily married to men they respect. How does that work? 🧐🧐
Is sex without orgasm reasonable? In my experience, it completely sucks and is worse than no sex.
If we are talking about how hard men have to work to bring pleasure to their wives: carry a child for nine months and then we will talk. I would way rather have the male side of this: guaranteed orgasms, no childbirth, and, provided you are at least somewhat attracted to your wife, you “have to” pay attention to her to bring her to climax. Seems like if you like your wife at all, that should actually be an enjoyable experience.
Beautifully written, thank you.