We’ve got some new findings from our survey of 20,000 women!
Behind the scenes, for the last year, between running new numbers for blog posts and podcasts, and presenting at conferences, Joanna Sawatsky (my amazing co-author for The Great Sex Rescue and She Deserves Better, our stats person) has been working on a paper to submit to a peer reviewed journal (well, she’s actually been working on three papers with different people!). And one is now pretty much complete, sent off to our collaborator for edits.
In the process of writing that, she ran the numbers from our Great Sex Rescue dataset in a new way–and found something interesting.
For The Great Sex Rescue, we looked at how each individual teaching affected orgasm rates:
- A wife is obligated to give her husband sex when he wants it
- All men struggle with lust; it’s every man’s battle
- A wife should have frequent sex to keep her husband from using porn
- Boys will push girls’ sexual boundaries
We also had two other beliefs that we measured result in really negative outcomes, but we didn’t have room to talk about them in The Great Sex Rescue:
- Adultery is the only reason for divorce (so you can’t divorce for abuse)
- If you have sex with someone outside of marriage, you form a soul tie with them
Joanna put all these together into one aggregate toxic teaching score.
Instead of looking at each individual teaching, she come up with a “toxic teaching score”. You give each respondent an aggregate score based on how strongly they believed each of those things.
Then Joanna took findings about orgasm and getting aroused during sex, and put them together into an objective, sexual satisfaction variable: Is she enjoying sex? Is she climaxing?
These two aggregate scores allowed her to do what’s called a regression analysis, looking at how increases in the overall toxic teaching score affected objective sexual satisfaction.
And guess what? It’s not surprising, but the more toxic teachings you believed, and the more strongly you believed them, the lower your sexual satisfaction was.
She also factored in the subjective component: whether or not each respondent is feeling satisfied with her orgasm rate or confident that she’s going to get aroused; the intimacy she feels during sex; whether the husband is doing enough foreplay, a sense that the wife’s pleasure matters in sex, that she’s interested in having sex, that she’s not doing it out of a sense of obligation, etc..
Putting all of the sexual satisfaction variables that we looked at—no matter how we sliced it, the more you believe the teachings the lower those scores get.
What does this mean for us?
At Bare Marriage, we stress that harmful teachings on sexuality need to be examined at a deeper level; Believing that a wife should have frequent sex to keep her husband from watching porn is bad. Believing that lust is every man’s battle is bad. Believing that boys are going to push girl’s sexual boundaries, so she needs to be the gatekeeper is bad.
All of these things are bad. But what’s really interesting is that they’re also bad cumulatively.
We can’t fix things just by getting rid of one individual teaching (though that will help). These things go together, in bundles, and we need to look at the culture that produces all of this toxicity, because it often goes together.
In other words: some churches are really toxic messes. And if you’re in a church that teaches all of these things, you’re going to do worse.
You may also enjoy:
- Our podcast with Beth Allison Barr on how to find a healthy church
- Our Low Libido Series
- Our Orgasm Series
- Our Orgasm Course, if you’ve had trouble with climax
Let’s zero in on the effects of churches on orgasm rates.
Okay, here’s another test Joanna did. When you look at women who don’t reach orgasm, and then you look at WHERE they hear the toxic teachings, there isn’t a big difference between the women who don’t reach orgasm and the women who do when women hear the teachings from family, from society, from media.
But there is a statistically significant difference with the women who hear it from church.
In the particular group of women who are experiencing anorgasmia or are unable to become sexually aroused, it seems that the church situation is really driving those scores even lower driving it down.
It’s hearing this stuff from church that has the strongest effect.
So let’s take toxic churches seriously!
This has been a big week with church news. More abuse crises in the PCA denomination. The SBC officially kicks out churches that have female pastors.
It’s been demoralizing for many people.
And what we find, again, is that toxic churches make things worse for women (and for men!). Not all churches are equal. When churches teach bad stuff, it does affect the women who grow up there.
We each, individually, need to decide what we’re going to do about that, because I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer.
Some people likely need to leave their churches. Others need to stay as missionaries to the people in their churches. Others may need to stay for a season to get others ready to leave. Others may need to speak up because things really can change!
But if you want to be part of that change, whether it’s speaking up to your pastor or women’s ministry leader, or speaking up to your friends, please register for our FREE webinar next Wednesday, June 21, at 9 pm, where I’ll walk you through how to talk to other people about toxic teachings.
It’s going to be awesome and I hope to see you there!
What do you think? Why do churches seem to have greater impact on women’s poor sexual satisfaction that hearing the messages from other places? Let’s talk in the comments!