When we wrote The Great Sex Rescue, we were left with unfinished business.
After people read The Great Sex Rescue, they often felt so validated and freed and seen.
(Seriously, just read the reviews on Amazon. There are more than 2000 now. You’ll see those words over and over again).
But then there was a conundrum. We got so many notes and comments from people saying,
I love Great Sex Rescue, but now I have absolutely no idea what to say to my kids. I don’t want them to grow up with the toxicity that I did, but I also don’t want the pendulum to swing completely in the other direction and to have no standards or morals at all. What do I do?
That’s where She Deserves Better comes in.
We weren’t originally planning on doing a huge project like this again.
When we signed a two-book deal with Baker Books, Great Sex Rescue was supposed to be the big book, and then we were going to write a mother-daughter devotional or something for the second book. It would be relatively quick to write and just a little book to complement Great Sex Rescue.
Yeah, right. Like we can ever do something “little”!
But two things happened. First, we were inundated by those desperate pleas from parents. But then we also saw how authors that we critiqued were responding to The Great Sex Rescue. We had naively thought that some would listen to our critiques and apologize. We soon discovered that was wrong. And one in particular actually wrote quite a terrible statement in response to our book–an author who was also one of the premier writers to teen girls at the height of purity culture.
We realized that we had to start looking at some of the things written to teen girls as well.
So we decided to do another study–really just as much work as the first.
We surveyed 7000 predominantly evangelical women to learn about their experiences as teens in church.
What messages did they hear? What sex ed did they receive? Were they assaulted? Did they date? Were they allowed to date? Were their sketchy relationships at their church between adults and minors?
And we were able to identify what things really hurt girls’ long term self-esteem, future marital and sexual satisfaction, likelihood of marrying an abuser, and more.
Our book, as always, is healthy, evidence-based, and biblical.
We take Jesus at His word when He says that a bad tree can’t bear good fruit, and a good tree can’t bear bad fruit.
And we believe that all of us deserve a church family that helps us thrive, not that causes pain.
We’ve written the blueprint to what that looks like for teen girls–because we believe that she deserves better.
And so, today, on launch day, I’d like to share our Table of Contents with you, because I think it tells the story of the book.
From She Deserves Better
Table of Contents
- She Deserves to Be Set Up for Success: Understanding How the Church Influences Your Daughter’s Self-Esteem and Well-Being
- She Deserves a Big Faith: Defining Our Faith by Fruit, Not Fundamentalism
- She Deserves to Be Heard: Why Emotional Health Isn’t Attained by Just Telling Her to “Be Joyful in the Lord!”
- She Deserves to Be Respected: Teaching Girls to Draw Bold Boundaries
- She Deserves the Whole Story about Dating: Why a One- Size-Fits-All Approach Won’t Work
- She Deserves to Be Protected: Identifying Red Flags for Toxic People
- She Deserves to Know about Her Body: Why Sex Ed Isn’t the Bogeyman You’ve Been Told It Is
- She Deserves to Understand Consent: “Boys Will Be Boys” and Other Lies the Church Tells about Assault
- She Deserves to Exist as a Person, Not as a Threat: Your Daughter Is Not a Stumbling Block
- She Deserves Permission to Be Big: Girls Come Second to Christ Alone
This is a labour of love for all of us. This is our heart’s cry.
This is what 16-year-old Sheila, when she was struggling with whether God loved her less because she was a girl, needed to hear.
This is what 14-year-old Rebecca, when she started to feel fat because of the modesty rules that her body just couldn’t conform to, needed to hear.
This is what 16-year-old Joanna, when she was bombarded by declarations of love from boys who made her feel icky and didn’t know how to draw boundaries, needed to hear.
This is what we all needed. This is what we want for your girls.
And this is what we want for you too–even if you’re just reading the book to re-parent little 15-year-old you, and understand how much certain messages in the church hurt you when you were a teen, so that you can see more clearly to find freedom now.
Imagine what will happen to the evangelical church when people start believing that girls deserve better. When people realize that girls’ voices matter. When people realize that girls are not responsible for keeping boys and men from sinning. When people realize that girls deserve a big faith, too.
Imagine the flourishing that will happen!
We didn’t expect that the buzz for She Deserves Better would be as big as it is. We thought there would be more pushback. But this is selling so well because people are hungry and thirsty and desperate for this message.
We’ve had 1000 people on our launch team, and we’ve heard how different aspects of the book really spoke to them.
I’ll let some of them end this post, on this day that is finally here!
This book packs a punch! No frilly euphemisms to misconstrue or vagaries to be misunderstood. In plain stories, scripture, and statistics the authors lay out a counterattack to the ugly messaging that warped a generation of “good girls” trying to do the right thing by God, their church, their family and the men around them and instead received shame messaging from childhood onwards. She Deserves Better smashes so many of Satan’s lies that shamed women for just existing. The book is empowering while also being without agenda. The only ideology the authors push is that church resources need to stop teaching women to expect abuse as their lot in life by indoctrinating them to be less than God created them to be. Which as agendas go I don’t think any healthy person would be objecting of that one. Here’s hoping She Deserves Better takes the Christian Bookstores by storm and starts breaking the cycles before the next generation ever gets to hear any of the falsehoods that Purity Cult(ure) taught. As someone who grew up in that era I felt profoundly moved and seen by what I read here and will be going over this work multiple times as I continue to dismantle the lies I was taught that are nowhere in God’s Word and step more into the empowerment of being free to just be and not cowering at the possibility of inconveniencing others by the fact that I’m female. A great resource for other Purity Cult(ure) survivors who in spite of it all have clung to Christ even when His church was handing us resources filled with false teachings and bad fruit.
Some books will take what you thought you were ok with and open your eyes wide. This is definitely one of those books. I am a mother of three girls and I have lived through some of the damaging consequences of a well intentioned purity culture message. My girls deserve so much better. And this book is challenging so much more than purity culture and getting to the heart of what girls really need.
She Deserves Better is the book I wish my parents had read before my teen years in the 1980s, the book I wish I had read before parenting teen daughters in the 2000s, and the book I will give to them and other women as they raise their own daughters from now on. Powerfully supported with evidence, this book is clearly laid out with both faulty paradigms the evangelical church has believed and taught, and healthier, more productive ways to express important truths about women and faith that can become overshadowed in the errant wrappings of wrong – harmful – ideas.
I highly recommend this book for women of all ages and generations, and for men to read as well. I agree with the authors’ points, but as they point out in the end… even if readers do not agree, there are conversations to be had and philosophies to be examined and corrected, because our daughters deserve better.
You deserved better. We deserved better.
And she deserves better.
Let’s make sure she gets it!
Today’s a great day to buy a copy for yourself, if you haven’t already, or to buy copies for your friends. For your sisters. And especially for your youth pastor!
Thank you for celebrating with us today.
I woke up feeling much lighter. It’s been a long time coming. And we’re so excited to see what God will do with our offering.
Congratulations on your hard work
SHE DESERVES BETTER. <Period 😁
Thank you, Phil!
Congratulations to you all! Praying that this book will be a powerful tool of healing and strengthening for many. And that we will start to see a huge change within our churches in how they relate to and teach about women.
The day we’ve been waiting for.
May “She Deserves Better” come roaring in like a lion (So far so good, am I right?). May it be an unstoppable ax hacking at the roots of the bad tree of the purity message and rape culture embedded in the church. May those who fought you on this turn their hearts in the right direction. And if they refuse to repent from their toxic teachings, may they be silenced, or at the least, may their teachings be exposed for what they are, irrelevant, toxic, harmful, oppressive, abusive and, overall, unChrist-like.
And may your sorrow and anger over what has been done to the girls, women, AND men and boys of the church be turned to joy.
I love how you were going to go small, then went big. As they say, Go big or go home.
And, like Mara, I pray that this will either change hearts or expose them for what they are.
Valuing all people equally (no matter what body parts we have) is, in fact, very UN-extreme.
We were just honestly so tired! I still don’t know how we managed to pull this off, especially with Joanna and Rebecca busy having babies!
The verse I was trying to think about when I wrote the comment above was that one talking about those who have sown with tears will reap with joy.
Whether they be tears of sorrow, anger, or exhaustion, we look forward to a season of joyful reaping for you and yours. And rest also. The Lord’s rest.
Congrats on yet another book!. Here’s hoping and praying that it will save heartache and issues for many, but having the correct message and beliefs from the get-go. So much easier to have truth and health from the start than to have to work through trauma and re-learn later — as I can very much attest to!
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this book, the others, the blog, and the podcast.
I did not grow up in youth group or church because I trusted Christ at 21, but pre- and post-wedding (1988), I devoured all the Christian marriage and sex books so that I could be the best wife to my wonderful husband. The books (and the sermons, and the Bible studies, and the women’s ministry, and the women’s retreats) turned me into an empty shell who had no idea who she was, what she should be doing, or what she was supposed to be.
Oh, I did all the things, and the ministries, and the prayer and Bible study and (some) memorization, but what was supposed to fill me with joy filled me with dread. And does anyone think I could show that? Or ask why the messages weren’t working for me? Or why I felt like I wasn’t growing as a believer, or why my view of God was as a tyrant demanding perfection (quite similar to my dad, actually) rather than a loving God who was ready to wrap me in love and grace?
You, Sheila, and your team have helped me so much since I found you in February 2020 (via your two-person games blog post), and the people and sites you’ve mentioned in the various posts have also accelerated my healing. I’m still trying to figure out how to learn who God REALLY is, because “church” has so polluted my mind that I simply cannot bear to read the Bible—or even pray—because I’ll only hear the old bull$h!t on the tapes in my head. I have hopes to be able to soon-ish, but I’m still at the point of “not yet.”
SDB showed me, a grown woman married 35 years, just how stacked the deck has been, and I WILL NOT tolerate it anymore.
Y’ALL did that. Thank you.
I enjoyed reading your positive encouragement today Jo. It is great when people share their growth.
Right back atcha, Phil! (And Boone, and Nathan, and Codec, and Tim, and…)
Jo, you found me because of the two-player games post? Oh, my goodness. I love that so much! I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve valued your voice so much over the last three years. I love that part of the story.
Yep, in an attempt to suggest ways to connect with Mr. R. without being disrespectful or trying to usurp his leadership. 🙄
Mine arrived in the mail yesterday! I’m so excited to read it! If I’m ever blessed with grandchildren, I have hope for them because y’all are changing things for the healthier!