Dear Great Sex Rescue Critics: Here’s What We Actually Teach

by | Dec 20, 2023 | Theology of Marriage and Sex | 23 comments

Why do people have to choose between believing our books and the bible
Orgasm Course

Are we ignoring the Bible when it comes to sex?

As Bare Marriage and our books are getting better known, it’s inevitable that pastors and authors who are wedded to the view of sex that centers on male entitlement and female objectification will start to push back.

I’ve had a lot of that lately, and I thought today, before the end of the year, I’d explain something pretty fundamental:

As married Christians, we don’t have to choose between holiness and happiness when it comes to sex.

So many of those who critique us on social media often sound like we need to choose between women’s pleasure and doing sex the “right, godly way.” They often criticize me for stressing women’s pleasure (It makes me honestly wonder if many of those women have ever had an orgasm, frankly, or if the men understand women’s orgasms (as we talked about in this podcast, or when we looked at Denny Burk’s bizarre critique of our work).

Or I get critiqued for advocating for marriage flourishing, rather than just holiness and obedience to God–as if obedience doesn’t lead to flourishing! (That’s a really sad view of God.)

This is such a fundamental misunderstanding that affects all areas of Christian life, not just sex, and I thought it was worth explaining once again why we look at fruit.

So let’s back up.

Someone’s interpretation of Scripture is not equal to Scripture.

I’ve had to say this multiple times on social media lately!

Here’s the scenario: I explained a concept, and then one guy replied with, “you should take this up with God, not me,” and another said, “I find Paul’s arguments more convincing than yours.”

What they’re both doing is assuming that their interpretation of Scripture is equal to Scripture. See the problem with that?

What does Jesus say to do in this scenario? In Matthew 7, he says this:

15 Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 5:15-20

In context, he’s talking about recognizing false prophets. And what are false prophets? Those who say that God says something, when God is actually saying something else. In other words, those who misinterpret God. And how do we tell who is right about what God is saying? (Because there will always be disagreement about interpretations of Scripture!).

Jesus tells us to look at the fruit.

That’s what we do at Bare Marriage. We look at the fruit!

And what is the fruit? Well, Paul gives us a list of the fruit of the Spirit:

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

How does this translate into marriage and sex?

Marriages with these attributes will be happier, because they will have spouses who feel valued and loved. We will see lower divorce rates. We will see less abuse.

And we know from research that women who feel more loved and more valued tend to have more orgasms.

We’ll see marriages with less porn use (self-control is related to porn use, after all!).

And we’ll see lower incidences of sexual pain, because we also know that sexual pain is related to feelings of trauma, and that is definitely not of Jesus.

So this gives us a pretty good measure of how to tell which marriage teachings are correct.

When you have two different views of marriage and sex, see which ones lead to:

  • Couples feeling closer and feeling heard and loved
  • Lower divorce rates
  • Less porn use
  • Less abuse and marital rape
  • Higher rates of female orgasm
  • Lower rates of sexual pain

In terms of church health, in churches that are teaching what is of Jesus, we’ll also see lower rates of sexual abuse and sexual assault within that church–and even fewer suicides!

What are the two different views of sex that need to be weighed? 

In The Great Sex Rescue and She Deserves Better, we looked at two different views of sex, both of which claim to be Christian.

We specifically examined six different teachings that are prevalent in Christian circles to see how they impacted women’s marriages and sex lives:

 

GROUP 1: Traditional Evangelical Teachings

  1. A wife is obligated to have sex when a husband wants it
  2. A wife should have frequent sex to keep her husband from watching porn
  3. Boys will push girls’ sexual boundaries, so girls have to be the gatekeepers
  4. All men struggle with lust; it’s every man’s battle
  5. If you have sex before you’re married, you form a soul tie that bonds you to that person
  6. A girl can cause a boy to sin by what she wears (a paraphrase; we measured four different iterations of the modesty message)

And we contrasted this with another way of looking at sex–which we believe (and showed in our books) is rooted in Scripture.

GROUP 2: Bare Marriage’s Interpretation of Scripture

  1. God made sex to be intimate, a deep “knowing” of two people in marriage, that is sacred (Genesis 4:1)
  2. Sex should be pleasurable for both (Song of Songs; the whole book)
  3. Sex is designed to be mutual (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
  4. Each of us is responsible for our own sexual sin (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)
  5. Women are whole people made in the image of God, and are not objects to be used (Matthew 5:27-28)

What happens when we compare these two views?

All of the messages in the first group lead to bad fruit, while the second group leads to good fruit.

It honestly is that simple. The second group is better on every single measure.

She Deserves Better!

Because we all deserve a big faith.

Your daughter deserves better than what you likely grew up with in church.

What would it look like to prepare the next generation without toxic teachings about modesty, sex, or consent, and instead set her up for a big faith?

When you see sex as something which is not just one-sided intercourse, where he gets to use her body regardless of how she feels, but is instead a mutual, sacred, deep “knowing” of each other that both enjoy–then guess what? There’s lots of human flourishing!

Too many people think that we at Bare Marriage are somehow disobeying Scripture by focusing on women’s pleasure. But we’re not. We’re clearly following what Jesus said. When you’re trying to figure out who is a false prophet (because there can be different interpretations of Scripture), you look at the fruit.

I find it interesting that some are saying that we need to choose between data and biblical principles–as if the two are at odds. No, the data is one of the measures that points us to the correct interpretation of Scripture.

If you think you have to choose between the data and biblical principles, then Matthew 7 tells us that’s a sign that we need to re-examine our interpretation of Scripture. Because love, joy, peace, patience, etc. will be evident when we live out the gospel.

Seeing women as whole people, made in the image of God, and sex as a knowing rather than an owing, results in great sex and more stable, happier marriages. And is totally biblical too.

It is not us who are ignoring Scripture.

It is those who think that women owe men one-sided intercourse, without realizing that this means that it is actually women who are being deprived of intimate, mutual, pleasurable sex.

It is those who believe that men get to use women’s bodies to numb their sex addictions, rather than seeing sex as something sacred that is a deep “knowing”, and understanding that women are valuable too.

It is those who think that sex is primarily about making sure that men don’t sin, rather than seeing sex as something that is a deep, intimate, sacred act.

It is those who think that men can’t lust after their wives, forgetting that wedding bands do not ward off objectification, and any time we see someone as an object to use sexually rather than someone to share with sexually, we are doing harm.

It is those who think that men can’t rape their wives, because women’s bodies belong to men, and the men can use them.

It is those who think that Jesus would somehow be okay with this and think this is holy.

Jesus doesn’t want women to be used.

He wants couples to have a deeply satisfying, intimate sex life. And that will only happen when we start teaching that women matter too.

After all, that’s what Scripture says. 

And anyone who thinks we need to choose between Scripture and women’s pleasure, or between Scripture and women’s dignity, doesn’t really understand Scripture–let alone Jesus.

Two Quick Things You Can Do For Us!

Just a reminder of two quick things!

  1. Our marriage survey is still open--but not for much longer! We’re looking for couples to take our survey (you take it separately but we can match you up). But even if your spouse won’t take it, if you’re married, it’s open for you!
  2. We’re fundraising! The Bosko Foundation has set as its initiative our research and education work, and is calling it The Good Fruit Foundation. So you can get tax receipts in the U.S. for supporting our work! We’re 1/2 way towards being able to start our next big project, and we really need some monthly donors especially!

Why do people have to choose between believing our books and the Bible

Why do you think so many people are so quick to say that we’re choosing human flourishing over obedience to God? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire

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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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23 Comments

  1. Andrea

    I think we should reply to these guys with the following question: Do you know what a clitoris is and who created it? I have not seen one theological take that claims it’s a result of the Fall, as if it sprouted on Eve’s body as soon as she bit into the forbidden fruit, but that’s what these guys act like. And how they’re not embarrassed to advertise on social media that they never learned how to pleasure their wives defies comprehension.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep. But what makes me sad is that a lot of the people writing this stuff are women.

      Reply
      • Erin

        My guess (having been raised fundamentalist) is that women teach this stuff partly because they feel attacked. They’ve been raised their whole lives to believe that their group is the only one pleasing God, and that everything else comes from evil, dangerous “worldly teachings”…and the world persecutes the church. So any criticism of these beliefs, and they come out swinging because they feel that their faith and identities are on the line.

        Partly, of course, it’s a vicious case of internalized misogyny. They want to please God — a god who obviously doesn’t like women very much — and please their men — who often treat women with open contempt. Loving people who hate you can make you crazy — and make you hate yourself deeply.

        Reply
        • JG

          I think also so many of us have been taught this viewpoint for so many years that it “feels” correct and normal. Sometimes it takes a long time to examine what we were taught against what the Bible really teaches.

          Reply
    • Nathan D. W.

      But aren’t you aware that the clitoris is just a feminist invention and doesn’t actually exist?

      (I hope to God above you can tell I’m joking.)

      Reply
  2. Jo R

    Two of the theobros’ axioms are

    • Marriage is supposed to make us holy, not happy.

    • Wives are supposed to give their husbands orgasms on demand.

    Those two together mean that

    • Husbands having wife-provided, on-demand orgasms makes the husbands holy, not happy.

    Therefore,

    • Husbands should be giving their wives on-demand orgasms so that the wives will likewise be holy.

    and as a corollary

    • Husbands that seldom or never bring their wives to orgasm are inhibiting their wives from being holy.

    Right? 🤔

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      HAHA! It never makes sense if you actually look at it, does it?

      Reply
  3. Jen

    Excellent! I don’t know how anyone can not see this. It reveals the depth of their deception and their love of power.

    The women who preach this are probably too young to have lived this way for long and cannot yet see the awful fruit. Power over situations create death, not life. It literally almost killed me.

    As for the men who preach this, surely some are decent guys who are trying to make the misinterpretations work by spinning the focus to “protection, leading, covering, responsible for, etc.”. I think others avoid doing the research because doing so means facing how ungodly they have been. The third group, of course, openly want power and control.

    However you slice it, it can be very difficult for people to give up situations that benefit them, and they will bend anything and everything to keep getting what they want. Even if that means continuing to hurt someone they claim to love. I think the saddest part is the unwillingness to look carefully. Some men have spent so much time compartmentalizing their sin that they actually think they are good husbands while using porn, taking from their wives sexually, etc. It’s an enormous job to see the truth about yourself. Many people simply cannot self-reflect or hear others.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I actually want to focus on the latter part of your comment on a podcast in the new year. I’ve come across many guys who think they’re being good when they use their wives as a sexual outlet, because they believe that this is what God gave them so they won’t sin (lust after other women). So using your wife, even against her will, isn’t seen as a sin, but instead righteous and part of choosing to live a sin-free life. It’s crazy-making, but it’s true. That’s what some think.

      (There’s also the larger category of marital rapists who just do it because they can and thy don’t care. But this first group absolutely exists).

      Reply
      • Jen

        I can’t wait to hear your thoughts! This was 100% my husband. He thought he was a good husband AND he used porn, prostitutes, and lying to get everything he wanted. WHAT‽!!‽

        He actually believed that by using me for orgasms he was living rightly (apparently because he was using me instead of a hooker?). He was basically living as a single man, and, while I was just one of several sexual outlets, I was the one he didn’t feel guilt about. And then he couldn’t figure out why I was angry with a dying libido.

        Entitled men expect oodles of grace while giving no mercy to their wives.

        Reply
  4. Joy

    The word “biblical” has really been co-opted by the evangelical church. It’s now just some buzzword that means “we hold a certain set of opinions” with one off Bible verses supposedly proving their opinion. At this point in life I see that as taking the Lord’s name in vain. They are saying God says something that He does not actually say because of their own fleshly desires. It’s going to take a lot for people who have this attitude to really confront it. To be honest I don’t understand why their blood doesn’t run cold when they hear about how the Bible gets mistranslated into new languages to reflect points of view perceived to be acceptable by that new culture. The ESV’s complementarian bias is a clear modern example in my own culture of that fact that this is done. For people who put so much faith in the Bible alone this should be absolutely unacceptable. To then laud it because it supports your own point of view is corrupt.

    The crazy thing is that the six points you listed under “traditional evangelical views” do not even require a Christian faith to hold. Those would have been common views back during the times that the Bible was written, and you can see those points of view alive and in practice in cultures throughout the world that are decidedly not Christian cultures. The point of following Jesus is to be different from the world, not to be “traditional” or, basically, like the world has always been. This is why purposefully bad Bible translations can end up supporting worldly practices–the translation is meant to support what is already there and not transform people in freedom to Christ. Again, this should make anyone who professes to take the Bible “literally” extremely concerned and, if they are good hearted, will most likely leave them jaded.

    Because of this it has been immensely helpful to hear you remind everyone to look at the fruit of these teachings and to regard that at evidence that they are of God. I have been following you for 12 years, and your work has meant a lot to me that entire time. Thank you for standing up for what is right!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’re so welcome, Joy! And you’re right–those things in the first group look nothing like Jesus, and everything like cultures all over the world.

      Reply
    • Nathan D. W.

      I mean what are we to expect when the values sound more like Sharia Law than God’s holy grace?

      Reply
  5. Nessie

    1. God loves a cheerful giver and He doesn’t wish us to give reluctantly or under compulsion (2 Cor. 9:7). I do believe that sex is a gift that is given (before anyone starts in on me, no, I’m not advocating for obligation sex!) because it is so vulnerable, thus it should be given with a glad heart that actually *wants* to have sex. If these poor women are giving of their bodies without *true* cheerfulness inside, it stands to reason that it really isn’t that pleasing to God as many of these sources claim.

    2. So much of our former, toxic church was based around perception. The lead “pastor” wanted everyone to look joyful, look good, and sound good. If you didn’t present life that way, you were told you were not fully relying on God, had a critical spirit, were rebellious, might not actually be a Christian, did not value God enough… on and on. I finally realized they wanted to make sure outwardly the *fruit looked good!* There was so much pressure and condemnation if the outside didn’t look good enough that many people did the “fake it till you make it” version of Christianity. Thusly, it looked as if the fruit was good until you really looked deep and inside. Luke 11, Matt 23 Working so hard to appear to produce good fruit is incredibly deceptive.

    3. The men that claim to be godly while also demanding their wives give sexual release are actually making themselves less godly just by being demanding. God gave Jesus as a gift to atone us… He also gives us the choice to accept that gift or not. All the men that demand women give sexual release are incredibly ungodlike by the very act of demanding it.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Well said!

      Reply
  6. Wild Honey

    I’m just curious, because I noticed “adultery” wasn’t included on your list of good fruit that the mutualist view of sex produces. Was this an oversight, or maybe not measured in your survey?

    I’m asking because some in the non-mutualist camp would not condone divorce because of abuse, porn use, marital rape, etc. But they would allow it for a black-and-white physical adulterous affair. So I’m just wondering what your stats show, if anything, regarding that.

    Reply
  7. Clay

    Why is it necessary to even interpret scripture when the words are direct? For example, in the 1 Corinthians 7 passage Sheila quoted above as an example of mutuality, verse 2 says:

    “Each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband”. I don’t know how that could be more clear. No interpretation required.

    Then verse 5 says “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent.” Again, seems pretty clear with no interpretation required.

    As Sheila points out, this 1 Corinthians provision reflects mutuality. That being the case and as it plainly says, there should be no deprivation of sex in the marriage unless both spouses consent to that depravation.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So what you’re saying is that you need two people’s consent to say no? That’s not consent, Clay. And you should likely look more deeply into what 1 Corinthians 7 is saying (and into the biblical definition of sex).

      Reply
  8. Christina Burke

    Another passage that you can add as support to your statements is James 3:13-18. I just came across verse 17 and then looked at the whole passage, and does it ever compare and contrast egalitarianism and male-supremacy-euphemized-as-complementarianism. I have never met a *practicing* complementarian who wasn’t foolish, brutal, bitterly envious, selfishly ambitious (do I ever have stories!), boastful, lying, impure (the amount of porn that ordained men can consume is staggering, not to mention the lustful behavior that follows), chaotic, full of evil, war-loving, brutal, authoritarian, full of wrath, full of bad fruits, tossed about by the latest fad in their clique (for example, being pro-Constitution and then anti-Constitution, depending upon what is most advantageous in the moment), pretentious, and demonic. If you show me a man who is wise, pure, peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without pretense, that man is not a practicing complementarian; he’s an egalitarian or an egalitarian in denial. Actually, the complementarians would be demanding that said man turn in his “man card” because gentleness and compliance are the antithesis of what they say is manliness.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I believe that too. Those who are truly pure, peace-loving, and gentle are egalitarians in practice at the very least. Anyone who actually practices complementarianism is not peace-loving or full of mercy.

      Reply
  9. Curly Sue

    She Deserves Better is a January Kindle Monthly deal on Amazon.

    Reply

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