Focus on the Family Proves Changing Halfway Isn’t Enough

by | Jun 28, 2023 | Sexual Intimacy | 57 comments

Focus on the Family Cancel Great Sex Rescue
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This week, Focus on the Family actually published something healthy.

Now, before I go any further, this does not mean that I think they’re a healthy organization now. They still promote all the same unhealthy authors in their store. They still don’t condone divorce for abuse. Even this Father’s Day they posted a bizarre Facebook meme based on a post by Juli Slattery that I “Fixed” for you:

(And you can see a workbook of my Fixed It for yous right here!)

But this week they featured Juli Slattery in a podcast, and in a reel she was using my talking points against obligation sex and male entitlement, and mentioning sexual pain. This is very different from how she used to write, and I’ve noticed that over the last year she’s been making some strides (though she still promoted Josh Butler’s horrible book and criticized the Twitter mob coming after him).

Nevertheless, what she said was objectively good, and I was so pleased to see that Focus on the Family is starting to change.

At the same time, they’re promoting a free sex course by Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta, authors of the book Married Sex, and in that book they told women that they should view sex the way you view feeding a newborn in the middle of the night (as in you just have to do it, like eating your vegetables, Gary said), and Gary praised women who sent nude photos, even if initially reluctantly, and mentioned that this helped one husband not look at porn.

So Focus on the Family has a LONG way to go.

But it’s progress.

Passion 4 Dancing

A few things did bother me about this reel, though.

The first is personal.

They are refusing to cite me at all.

Several authors are starting to try to teach in a more healthy way, but they are refusing to note that it was me who started this. I mentioned this in a longer post about how I became “She Who Must Not Be Named” when Gary Thomas published our book where he appears to plagiarize me without citation. And as we noted in The Great Sex Rescue, Focus on the Family had absolutely nothing on their website about vaginismus when we published. So I’m glad they’re starting to mention it now (even if they’re not saying the word).

But when we did the largest study ever done on sex in the evangelical world, and one of the specific things we looked at was obligation sex, it does bother me when people talk about this without citing us. If you were writing a college paper on spanking, you’d get docked points if you didn’t mention the Gershoff meta-analysis, because it was ground-breaking, and it’s the gold standard.

Well, we’re the gold standard. We studied something no one else has, in a HUGE study, directly of the population they’re talking about. And we have brand new findings that are so important pelvic floor physiotherapists asked us to present, and they can earn CEU credits by watching our presentation.

Yet we can’t be cited.

They have deleted hundreds of comments now mentioning The Great Sex Rescue.

I’ve taken so many screenshots it’s ridiculous, but they’re deleting any comment that mentions me or the book. Here are just a few:

So many are actually thanking Focus on the Family and being polite, but those are gone too:

Here you can see there were originally 36 comments; only 3 are still showing. The others were all recommending our book, and they took those down. But they left up the one recommending Sheet Music–even though there was a lengthy comment that DIDN’T mention us but that did explain what was wrong with that book. That comment is now gone, too.

I would love to know what the rationale is. They obviously agree with our book, because Juli Slattery is mouthing our talking points. But they refuse to let others know about it.

Nevertheless, I’m glad they’re still talking about it.

The important thing is truth is being preached.

As Paul said:

Whether they mention me or not, the gospel is being preached. And that’s a reason to rejoice.

Philippians 1:18

We always said when we set out that we wanted to change the evangelical conversation about sex. We only started this project because Focus on the Family wouldn’t listen to us about our concerns with the book Love & Respect, and so we decided to do a huge research project that they couldn’t ignore.

And it turns out we were right. They can’t ignore our findings.

They’re trying to ignore our book, but they can’t ignore our findings.

"A groundbreaking look into what true, sacred biblical sexuality is intended to be. A must-read." - Rachael Denhollander

What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?

It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.

Great Sex Rescue

So the conversation is changing, even if they didn’t want it to! And that is something to celebrate, even though on a human level it is just hard to see that we’ve done all of this work, and we’re still considered pariahs, and they want to end up taking credit for it.

If you want to be part of that conversation changing, I’ve also got a new Great Sex Rescue Toolkit with handouts, videos, and more to help you explain our findings to others (or understand them yourselves!) It’s pay-what-you-can, so I don’t have a price on it. I spent a considerable amount getting it designed, so I’m hoping those who can afford it will be generous to support what we’re doing and help us do more of this, but I also don’t want price to be a barrier to anyone!

What I also find so instructive about this episode is actually a bigger picture issue:

They can’t get healthy without addressing the unhealthy teaching.

If you read the comments that are still up, that don’t reference me, you see a disturbing pattern. Many, many people are defending obligation sex, and saying that a wife needs to give her husband sex whenever he wants it, like this one:

Well, with respect to focus on the family, I do not agree with what this lady says. She quotes 1 Corinthians 7, and precisely verses 3, 4 and 5 are quite clear regarding sexual life in a couple. When the man or the woman (any of them) says that his/her partner is forcing him/her to have sexual relations, it is as if that person were saying: My Wife/Husband forced me to get married. If one of the two wants to have sexual relations, the other should not object, and should not feel that it is an obligation; Rather, he/she must feel love and joy for having that wonderful experience with his/her partner.
When we get married for real (not unreal or fake), our bodies do not belong to us, so says the Bible in 1 Cor 7:4. That’s why I find it hard to believe that a wife or husband feels compelled to have sex. Do not err brothers, lest because of our pride, we open the doors to satan and that leads us to infidelity and then to the breakdown of the marriage (divorce). Divorce was never in God’s plan, it’s a horrible exception and we shouldn’t come to that. Let’s save the Families, and put aside psychology, humanism, machismo and feminism. Blessings and a big hello to everybody.

Male Commenter

Focus on the Family, Juli Slattery in a Reel

That’s hardly surprising–this is what Focus on the Family has been explicitly teaching for years. In The Great Sex Rescue, we quote one of the hosts of the show saying that one reason men are watching porn is that wives aren’t giving enough sex. This is the fundamental approach Focus has taken.

That approach is no longer tenable.

But what we’re seeing here is that you can’t give the healthy information without first demolishing the unhealthy teaching. You need a “rescue” first.

When people have believed the unhealthy stuff for so long, you have to explain why it’s wrong in detail. You have to take this head on. I think Juli was trying, but it needs to be much more explicit.

And that means you need to apologize for what you said in the past. You need to acknowledge that, yes, this is not what you have always taught. You need to say, “we used to believe like you did, but then we realized how unChristlike and awful this was, and here’s why…”

What Focus on the Family is going to find is that, unless they specifically demolish the false teachings, and denounce books like Married Sex that they are currently heavily promoting, and take down bad posts from their site, and get rid of Love & Respect (and so many others), this turn in teaching isn’t going to work. There’s too much baggage that has to be unpacked first.

Their audience has believed in male entitlement hook, line, and sinker.

If they want to honestly help their audience be healthy, they’re going to have to address it.

The question is: Are they ready for it?

Of course, I didn’t even believe they’d do this, and Slattery’s reel surprised me. So I hope that once again they will surprise me and start doing the right thing.

But I’m very, very skeptical, given how much they’ve been cancelling me (despite railing against cancel culture).

One can hope–but I’ll reserve judgment for now.

Focus on the Family Canceling The Great Sex Rescue

What do you think? Have you noticed that things are getting healthier? Do you think we will ever get cited? 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. Nathan

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    Hopefully, they will continue to move in a healthy direction, and hopefully you and your site will get the credit it deserves!

  2. Jo R

    Someone needs to call these people out for breaking two commandments, namely those against stealing and false witness.

    They are stealing credit that should be going to someone else, and they’re lying about being the one to think up the idea.

    I hope they get hammer-tagged on all their social media, because that would be reaping what they sowed.

    • Jo R

      Oh, and let’s not forget the commandment against coveting.

      They want to gain through cheating and lying the position and reputation that Sheila, Becca, and Joanna gained through a boatload of hard work: doing extensive reviews of existing literature, crafting a survey, getting the survey out, collecting data, and analyzing the data sixteen thousand ways (and counting), then getting the results of all that hard work published for the common reader and for the scientific community.

      And now they are trying to cover their tracks in all this deceit in ***real time*** by deleting comments pointing to the people who actually did the work. 🤮

      I guess integrity is just for suckers.

  3. Joyce

    Sheila, could you please read and review Nancy Pearcey’s new book The Toxic War on Masculinity?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We’re writing a big op ed on some of the issues this week!

      • Lisa

        They were a disgusting organization from inception, based on the teachings of eugenicist Paul Popenhoe.

        Not at all surprised to still see disgusting behavior from them.

    • Lindsey

      I have listened to several podcasts now interviewing her about the book and it sounds like some very great, encouraging evangelical statistics from tons of data collected in it. Can’t wait to get my copy and read it!

  4. Nessie

    1. “Let’s save the Families.” Idolatry. So much of their time is spent trying to guild this “ideal” that they have lost the mission to make disciples for Christ. Family is important, but not at the expense of all else. Not all that glitters is gold.

    2. I’ve observed you on twitter (don’t have an account so I can’t chime in) and was extra disturbed to see that people were requesting resources on FotF’s page to learn more yet they STILL deleted all info about you!!! But I think they realize if they start to cite sources now, then they would be accountable to go back and cite sources for many other things- such as Dobson making claims to # of words each sex speaks, that a man must ejaculate inside a woman at least every 72 hours (crass but I’m calling a spade a spade), etc. And that would smear egg on their faces.

    3. I appreciate that you shared via twitter that you recycled so many old copies of your book because you learned better, redid it, and didn’t want old copies to harm anyone. You are asking them to do nothing more than you have modeled yourself! I so value your integrity. I think of the vine parable, where the old, bad branches are removed and burned, yet healthier growth comes from the pruning. Until FotF removes the bad branches, they will not see truly healthy new growth!

  5. Angharad

    While it’s encouraging to see any change that seems to be for the better, I do think they have a very long way to go. And I’ll wait and see what happens. I’m seeing a lot of people recently who are claiming to be changing but are basically churning out the same old teaching but in a far more subtle way, so FOF have a lot of work to do before I’ll be convinced there’s a true change of heart.

    As for refusing to give you credit, it stinks, but it’s unsurprising. I guess it’s one of those times when you just have to focus on who you are working for – God sees everything that you have done. And you have blessed countless people through your books. Compared to those things, FOF is much less important.

  6. Suzanne

    Sometimes I think the only parts of marriage that are important to certain Christian groups, is a womans joyfully giving sex no matter how she feels and her submission. That is all they care about, do you submit enough, and have sex enough, are you his robot sex doll. Do male Evangelicals think of anything other than how many times they can get sex in a week? It sounds exhausting, sex sex sex! I adore my husband but we are busy people, sex is on the back burner most of the time, we have kids in sports, we both have jobs, we have a long daily commutes, and we run a farm on the side, we fall into bed exhausted almost every night, last night we had made a “date” to reconnect but ended up rushing to get our hay off the field and stacked in the barn after getting home from work because rain was coming and I fell asleep before he even finished his shower, he didn’t wake me insisting I owed him because he isn’t a monster. I can’t imagine the anxiety I would feel if I felt I owed my husband my body whenever he wanted or expected sex. When my husband and I got married and became a unit, I still kept my bodily autonomy, my body is my own and his is his own. The comments section of the FOTF instagram just makes me realize how backwards a large group of people who call themselves Christians are.

    • Bernadette

      One of the posts that was allowed to remain on the Focus on the Family website was this:

      “When the man or the woman (any of them) says that his/her partner is forcing him/her to have sexual relations, it is as if that person were saying: My Wife/Husband forced me to get married.”

      So marriage = sexual relations?

      Well, gee, and here I am, thinking marriage is a relationship between two whole people. Guess I was wrong, it’s their genitals having a relationship with each other. *eye roll*

  7. Boone

    If I may, a comparison to WWll.
    You’ve landed at Normandy. You’ve taken the beaches and crushed the Atlantic wall. Now you’re breaking out through the hedgerows. Next you’ll liberate Paris. The tide has turned. Victory is a long way off but it’s coming.

  8. Prisca

    Mr. Male Commenter should consider that, if each partner’s body belongs to the other, then the one saying “I don’t want to” has as much say as the one saying “I DO want to.” You are now at an impasse and must (*gasp*) talk it out with communication like rational adults instead of saying “Well, I’m the man and I’m stronger and can quote more bible verses you’re not allowed to argue with, so we’re going to have sex whether you like it or not.” Because that’s rape. You’re Jesus juking rape in this mindset.

    Anyway, I guess I’m glad that FotF is finally showing some progress but I wonder if this may be more of a subtle shift from internal folks who can’t afford to tip the whole boat yet. It’s a bit comparable to when their kid’s show Adventures in Odyssey made really great and hilarious cultural references to things like Star Trek — the leadership of FotF would never have condoned such worldly references if they’d realized what was happening. But the writers were just clever enough to sneak it under the radar of people who didn’t know their Vulcans from their Vaders. Perhaps this is a similar situation — there are folks on staff who are alert and aware enough to try and push some good teaching through (because I can’t believe there’s not one righteous person in the whole city of Sodom — er, I mean, company of Focus on the Family) and they’re having to fly under the radar to do so. Baby steps is better than nothing… but I look forward to the day when I can walk into the Colorado Springs bookstore and find TGSR on the shelf.

    • Suzanne

      Yes 1000% yes! I don’t understand how this is missed, if she belongs to him and he to her this is the only way that makes sense!!!

      “Mr. Male Commenter should consider that, if each partner’s body belongs to the other, then the one saying “I don’t want to” has as much say as the one saying “I DO want to.” You are now at an impasse and must (*gasp*) talk it out with communication like rational adults instead of saying “Well, I’m the man and I’m stronger and can quote more bible verses you’re not allowed to argue with, so we’re going to have sex whether you like it or not.” Because that’s rape. You’re Jesus juking rape in this mindset.”

  9. Stefanie

    The fact that they deleted comments mentioning you and your work, but kept that other comment, tells me everything I need to know about the company.

    Go take care of yourself. This is infuriating, and unjust, and I don’t know if you have recourse, so maybe there’s nothing you can do about it? I don’t know. Does your publisher have anything to say?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      There’s really nothing to do, except to keep reminding myself of what Paul said–that I’m grateful the gospel is preached, even if by those with the wrong motives.

      • Lisa Johns

        Um, if they are plagiarizing you, there is legal recourse. I don’t know what it is, but intellectual property laws are in place for a reason! If they use your ideas but don’t actually “” quote your words, is that why you say that there isn’t really anything you can do?

  10. Sarah Long

    So frustrating that you’re not receiving credit! We’ll continue to stand by your side, though!

    (Small typo: there’s a repeated section of words: “I would love to know what the rationale is. They obviously agree with our book, because Juli Slattery is mouthing our talking points. But they refuse to let others know about it. Nevertheless, I’m glad they’re still talking about it. THE IMPORTANT THING IS TRUTH IS BEING PREACHED. As Paul said:”)

  11. Lasta

    I haven’t really kept up with Focus on the Family since I listened to Adventures in Odyssey as a kid (which I remember being great 30 years ago), so I don’t have my finger on that pulse at all. I’m also only just now starting Sheila’s book. What do y’all think their objection to mentions of her book are? That she’s egalitarian? Or something more specific?

    • Jo R

      Probably because she’s a female who isn’t backing up hierarchy and complementarianism. If you kiss … that particular butt as a female, you’re allowed to teach, speak, and write all you want. But if you dare to believe that men and women are equal, then you’re a dangerous troublemakers heretic who must be silenced.

      But what do I know? I’m justa woman.

    • Lisa Johns

      Google her interactions with them over Love and Respect. She expressed valid concerns in a gracious manner and they raked her over the coals. (to which she responded, OK, I’ll do my own research, and hence, The Great Sex Rescue!) It’s a pretty damning indictment on their mentality about whether women should have a say in family/marriage/public life.

      • Lisa Johns


    • A2bbethany

      She was recommending they stop selling their top selling marriage book, by a certain engrich. And they refused to listen to her emails and data on it. Look up her open letter to them about it.
      Their only response was to delete all her guest appearances and say that she was bitter and maligned her character.

  12. Emily LaMarca

    There’s more things – they’ve talked about it on the podcast more than once. Sheila reached out to them with the stories of women harmed by Love and Respect and they ignored her. Then did the largest evangelical study on this subject and have largely ignored that as well. If I’m remembering correctly, they’ve scrubbed her from FotF website as well as blocked on social media. Yet they still platform L&R among other evangelical books/authors that are harmful.

    I grew up on Odyssey as well. Had fond memories of it for a long time but, when I look back, there was a lot wrong even in those little 30 minute episodes. (Modesty messaging, fear of hell, world inherently bad/church inherently good…)

  13. Mara R

    I wonder if Julie Roys’ team might want to investigate this plagiarism.

    Them, or someone else.

  14. Lasta

    Thinking about Sheila’s quote above:

    “It’s not your job to frame your husband as a ‘hero’ to your kids. If your husband wants your kids to think he’s a hero, then he can act like one.”

    I mostly agree, with a caveat that I think parents should strive to speak respectfully of each other in front of their children when the other partner isn’t around. But I see what Sheila is getting at and reacting to.

    And yet…I’m struck with the same offensive conclusion that I came to in the debate with Tim Little on Twitter. Such a sentiment is awfully…patriarchal (I think I’ll try using that word rather than complementarian). Why do I say that? Because it treats the man like someone who is called to head the family, and thus should be held to a higher standard. If I said, “It’s not my job to frame my wife as a queen to my kids. If she wants them to think she’s royalty, she can start acting like it” — that would sound nasty and abusive. But it sounds OK when said of a man. Because he should man up.

    • Lisa Johns

      Nah, husband and wife are both called to “man up” in the situation. He needs to act the hero, I need to act the queen. Your statement only becomes nasty and abusive if she is doing the best she can and getting no help or support from her husband. If you are both helping and supporting your wife (and I think you’re doing all you can), then that statement is simply one of fact.
      Now, I will say that, in this space, you are a lot more likely to find women who have been hurt by men, and wanting their husbands to step up and act the part of the hero than the other way around. Why? Because Sheila et al. are writing FOR WOMEN who have been harmed by toxic teachings. We’re all here because we have been traumatized to one degree or another. So maybe take it a little easy on this audience?

    • Northern Reflections

      Hi Lasta, this is my second attempt at commenting, so please forgive me if you’re seeing this twice.

      Lasta, there’s basically no parallel between your quote and Sheila’s rewrite. Egalitarian women don’t want false praise. We want to earn our family’s genuine respect through our actions, just as we hope to be able to respect our husbands for to their actions. Sheila’s rewrite calls for **behaviour deserving of praise**. The tone of your quote is snarky (I agree that no wife would want to hear that) and the tone of hers is just…honest (I question a spouse who does **not** want to hear hers).

      Please understand that there are zero complementarian resources admonishing men, “Are you willing to frame your wife as a [insert positive metaphor] to your kids?”. Just endless reams of advice to women to be unconditionally flattering to men–men who could be cheating, men who could be abusive. In those spaces, men’s character matters not, only women’s servile praise. So let’s shine the critique where it belongs, shall we?

    • Lasta

      You know, I can’t find fault at all with trying to earn a family’s genuine respect through actions. That’s what I’m all about. Both of y’all’s messages end with a snarky question with pain behind it. Hate to think I’m adding to the pain – not my intention at all. Please forgive.

      • Lisa Johns

        Personally, I wasn’t being snarky. I was being quite serious. You are in a space where women who have been hurt by bad teaching come to discuss and process. You need to respect that. Thank you.

      • Lisa Johns

        Myself, I wasn’t being snarky. I was being quite serious. You are in a space where women who have been hurt by bad teaching come to discuss and process their very real and serious pain. Please respect that. Thank you.

    • Jo R

      The original tells wives that their husbands deserve a participation trophy, simply for … being present? Being male? Having knocked up their wives? Having good intentions even if there’s zero follow-through?

      If a husband wants to be thought of as a hero, he could start by acting like one. Instead, most books give men a complete pass on being anything more than a paycheck and sperm donor.

    • Suzanne

      Its telling to see that instead of saying “hero” in your example for mothers you say “queen”. They are not at all the same, your example was asinine, sorry but it was. Being a man who is a hero to his kids, who is present, who is their biggest fan, who loves and doesn’t abuse, who shows his love without strings attached. That is a hero. Women can be hero’s too, its not a male thing.

      Men are not the head of the family. Speaking respectfully of your husband when he is not around doesn’t mean women should need to boost him into a place he has not earned, and if he was hurtful and abusive a wife doesn’t need to be “respectful” of him, she should be truthful and not gaslight her kids.

      • Lisa Johns

        Amen, Suzanne! Thank you!

      • JoB

        Yes, I’d agree that we should keep the same term, “hero”, and see how it sounds. Sounds pretty fair to me both ways. The other thing to consider- this scenario doesn’t consider the difference between a dedicated parent who had a bad day or a momentary lapse, and a parent who is habitually not showing up for , or even abusing, their kids. It really has to do with… what the truth of the situation is. If a mom is habitually cold towards and uninterested in her children, should her husband pretend that she’s a hero? If she consistently prioritizes other things over her own children, should he twist himself into knots to try to make her look good? If she regularly rages at them or even beats or humiliates them, should he gush about what a hero she is? I get the temptation to lie about a problem when children are likely to project blame on to themselves (“Daddy really loves you, you are such a special kid. It’s too bad he is busy with work so much. He really missed out”) but if it’s all about making an adult look good with virtues they absolutely do not possess— it really leads to more harm than good. And when abuse is present, it’s horrific.

    • Lisa Manske

      A queen is not the equivalent of a hero. A queen is a ruler, an entitled person, albeit in a very precarious situation. The life of a queen (or king) is usually one of misery and her height in society is at the expense of the masses.

      I do not believe parents should try to be heroes or queens to their children. We are guides and supports. There is absolutely no good that comes from kids believing we are super-humans, without fault, or even with fewer faults than other adults.

      If being empathetic, compassionate, patient, and honest about our own issues makes us a hero, okay. But no one else can contribute to that image for us. If you need your spouse to prop you up in the minds of your kids, you’ve got some work to do in that area.

  15. Joy

    About FotF blocking comments mentioning you and your screen shots–is there a Christian media outlet that could cover this? I feel like some sort of article needs to be written and spread to other Christian readers at large.

    • Lisa Johns

      The Roy’s Report?

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I did email Julie, but it may not be a big enough story!

        • Lisa Johns

          What?! It’s a huge story! 😀

  16. Andrea

    I have been doing a little deep dive myself into Juli Slattery, to the point of taking notes, which I’ll relate here. (I promise, I do have a day job and I’m even good at it, but I’ve become fascinated with the issue of women gaslighting themselves and others, so I’ve spent quite a bit of my free time doing my own private investigation of Juli.)

    I had been aware of her for a while, but I really started paying attention when I saw her interview with Brenda Davies of God Is Gray because I was SHOCKED when I heard her say the following: “I got married as a virgin and sex within the first 10-15 years of our marriage was just horrible… I had a lot of pain during intercourse and it was the area of conflict between me and my husband.” 10-15 years???!!! You can hear it at 16:15 here: And I thought about how it must have been easier for Juli to admit this to a woman like Brenda, who has deconstructed. That was 4 years ago. Then I found her interview on Focus on the Family from 3 years ago (so one year after appearing on Brenda’s show), where she merely said that she didn’t love sex, but God convicted her… and I thought about how much harder it must be to talk about sexual pain with two conservative men. You can see that at 22:25 here: Then I found an article she wrote for Today’s Christian Woman in 2014 (now we’re talking 9 years ago), which opens like this: “After about ten years of marriage, I noticed that intimacy had become . . . well . . . boring. In fact, I was so bored with the ‘same old sex’ that I calculated in my mind approximately how many times my husband and I had probably done the same thing.” How in the world could it be boring when she was still in pain??? She makes it sound like it was something exciting that became routine, which is quite normal, when in fact, as she told Brenda, it was “horrible.” You can read that here: The fact that the article is called “Adventurous Sex” is just heartbreaking, since “adventurous” did not mean finding creative non-penetrative ways to pleasure each other. She mentions hormones, of course, and I find it so ironic when a woman enduring painful intercourse for a decade writes this: “Oxytocin and endorphins help reduce stress, promote sound sleep and pain relief.” Pain relief??? Then, finally, I found out she had a new book out, published last year, in which she came clean. On p. 48 she says “we were unable to have intercourse through most of our honeymoon… When we did finally have sex, it hurt. For decades, I experienced pain during intercourse.” DECADES. And the whole time she was a marriage counselor “helping” other women. This is so wrong. So wrong that I’m even wondering if we shouldn’t just be advising people to avoid Biblical counseling, but to avoid Christian counseling more generally because Juli is licensed! I’ll end with this, quoting from my own notes after I discovered her latest book: “She has a new book out, in which she is honest, I bet she was inspired by Sheila.” None of this would be happening without Sheila, God bless you, Sheila, Juli will not acknowledge you publicly (at least not yet, we can always hope), but we all KNOW she would have continued to gaslight women if it wasn’t for you.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s fascinating, Andrea. What I find sad too is that I have yet to hear her use the word vaginismus. It’s really concerning.

      • Lisa Johns

        OK, third try here! I don’t know if it’s a problem with the website or what, but for some reason my comments have periodically started to vanish when I hit the “submit” button. Don’t know what that’s about.

        What I keep trying to say (and maybe it will post this time!) is that I’m really sad for Juli Slattery: yes, she has gaslit a lot of women, but it was she first gaslit herself, and that would be because she had nowhere to go for accurate and helpful information about what was happening with her own body. I hope and pray that she can find the information she needs, receive her own (professional!) healing therapy, and become the counselor she was meant to be.

        FOTF might can her at that point, but maybe she could work with you guys after that!

        • Andrea

          I’ve noticed lately that when I submit a comment, there’s a note that appears saying “comment awaiting moderation” and then I don’t see it for a while. So that’s probably what’s going on, they appear later, after someone (Connor?) makes sure they’re not offensive.

          Regarding Juli, yeah, I fantasize about her and other women defecting to Sheila. (I grew up in Eastern Europe and read about defectors since I was a kid, I’m sure that’s made an impact, lol.) But you also have to wonder about her husband, we now know that he treated her horribly in bed for decades, which makes me wonder if she gets any support from him now, and if maybe she’s more afraid of him than of Focus on the Family.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            One of your comments hit the moderation, Andrea, because you had a bunch of links in it (which automatically triggers moderation), but in general I haven’t had a ton to moderate. I’d like to know where Lisa’s went, so if this happens to other regular commenters let me know! Sometimes it’s hard to fix something if you can’t replicate the problem!

            (That was an awesome comment that got moderated, Andrea, by the way. Really interesting).

          • Susanna H

            Let’s stop short of making character assumptions about Juli’s husband or her marriage. I have heard him on her podcast and by all appearances he is a very kind and affectionate man. (They have all the earmarks of a couple who gives lip service to complementarianism but actually practice a more equitable marriage.)
            We don’t know that Juli’s admission about pain during sex for years means that her husband was demanding sex. They may have taken long breaks and tried again, only to find that it still hurt. She may have been like Sheila and kept initiating/forcing herself through it without him really realizing the extent of what was going on.
            I have never seen any indication that Juli is afraid of her husband or that he treats her terribly and I get deeply uncomfortable when people jump to those sorts of assumptions and public accusations.

    • Lisa Johns

      So sad for her; yes, she is gaslighting lots of women, but it’s because she first gaslighted herself. I’ve been there and done the same thing. I hope and pray that she can come to the point of realizing what she has done, receive her own healing (professional!) therapy, and become the counselor she was meant to be.

      • Lisa Manske

        When a person who earns a living by telling other people how to live their lives has made statements that do not align, yes, we can make judgements about whether that person has the integrity required for her position. It’s not personal. She’s not a random person living a private life. She has actively putting herself out there by telling details of her personal life– and some of those details contradict each other. Could it be an honest mistake? Sure. But there is nothing wrong with asking questions when a person who holds themselves up as a teacher/spiritual leader tells conflicting stories. In fact, we should ask questions. Not to judge the person, but to decide if we need to stop paying attention to them. There are many possible reasons why her stories contradict each other. That’s none of my business. My business is to be selective in who I listen to or recommend to others.

    • Lisa Johns

      It’s really sad for her; yes, she gaslighted a lot of women, but it was because she gaslighted herself first. I hope and pray that she can get very clear on what has happened, receive her own healing (professional!) therapy, and become the counselor she was meant to be.

  17. Phil

    Sheila. It just came to me that there is a correlation to all this. He wants us to like it…

  18. Leah

    Lol it’s funny (but also not) how that make commenter assumes that sex is always amazing for a woman. Tell me you think you’re great in bed without telling me.

    Like hey dude, maybe the sex sucks and that’s why your wife isn’t into it.

    • Jo R

      Hot damn!

      I mean, Woot!

  19. Joe

    Hi Sheila and Team.
    I greatly appreciate (and thank God for) all you do. My first time commenting on your blog.

    You began today’s post with, “This week, Focus on the Family actually published something healthy.” However, several months ago I recall reading an article by Juli Slattery on the FOF website, (dated June 15, 2022) titled “Forget Duty Sex: What You Really ‘Owe’ Your Spouse”.

    My sense is/was that Bare Marriage would largely agree with it. I was too lazy at the time to reach out to ask if you were aware of this article and what you thought of it. So, today I decided to ask you belatedly about it.

    Not trying to be an apologist for FOF. I totally affirm your grievances against them. I am just wondering if Juli’s article was a healthy step forward a year ago.

    Blessings and sincere thanks!

  20. Angela

    They probably just think you are a liberal progressive or apostate and so will contaminate their image, lol.

    We need to start calling these attackers the “evangelical mob.” The reason why there are “Twitter mobs” is because it’s finally easier for the ordinary person to engage and push back on stuff. But we all know about and have seen or experienced the “evangelical mob” or “fundie mob” when we have shared something they object to. So let’s call it what it is, and not allow them to feel superior or persecuted.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love that! The “evangelical mob” indeed. Or maybe the “evangelical establishment mob.”


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