Let’s Stop Taking Advice from Men with a Pornified View of Women

by | Apr 22, 2024 | Pornography | 51 comments

Fred Stoeker admits to getting sexual gratification from looking at women. Why are we listening to him? Picture of a creepy man looking through binoculars

When men reveal they objectify women–treat those men accordingly.

One of the things that shocks me about evangelical culture is that a man can reveal that he has a really low view of women, or that he objectifies women or blames them for men’s sin, and that doesn’t change how that person is treated.

He can still be considered a good Bible teacher, or revered, or considered safe.

See, for instance, the recent brouhaha over Josh Howerton’s wedding night advice, or last year’s awful sermon from Jonathan Pokluda, or even Mark Driscoll’s success after calling women penis homes.

Personally, I dream of a world where, if a pastor preaches a sermon about how “all men struggle with lust”, and how if a teen girl wears a short skirt, a man can’t help but lust, that the congregation would then set up a plan where no woman could ever be alone with that pastor; that no teenage girl would ever baby-sit for him; and that he would have to step down from pastoring to get therapy.

He has admitted that he isn’t safe around teen girls, and so how can we trust him to pastor? He isn’t a safe shepherd.

I dream of a world where, if an adult man complains that a young girl is dressed too revealingly, that we freak out on the adult man, rather than handing the young girl a sweater.

If that sounds harsh to you, and you feel a lot of shame because you DO struggle with lust, please see the box near the end of this post!

We need to start listening to what male teachers and preachers are revealing about their own thought life.

And we need to take seriously the implications of their words.

For instance, last week on the Bare Marriage podcast, we shared a clip from Fred Stoeker where he said that the really bad thing was not going past a girl’s boundaries (which is sexual assault), but rather masturbating to porn. He dismissed the trauma of sexual assault and date rape. 

If you may recall, Fred Stoeker is the co-author of Every Man’s Battle, Every Heart Restored, and the abominable Every Young Man’s Battle

I did a Fixed It for You of his quote:

He’s completely downplaying what actually happens to a girl when a boy “pushes her boundaries.” 

Here’s another clip from a second broadcast episode with Focus on the Family:

Sarah: My name’s Sarah and I’m from Billings, Montana. I was wondering if you could share how we as women can help in this area?

Fred: Yeah, the biggest thing that you can do is to not be a stumbling block okay? Once you understand that the male eye can draw sexual gratification from his environment, then you need to [take care about clothing], string bikinis, sweaters that are really tight to show all your curves. Those things may be stylish, but they are stumbling blocks to your brother, okay?

So, obviously, when you’ve heard what I’ve said about, okay what are the vulnerabilities for a man, the first one is his eyes, okay. So, I’ve had young pastors say to me, “My wife has become the greatest evangelist for purity. She’s always asking me, ‘Is this okay? Is this causing any pressure on you?’” Just all sorts of things to help just take some of the pressure off.

The other aspect that you need to understand is that men by nature, their natural language for passing intimacy with you is sexual. Okay, so that means that they’re going to have a tendency to want to express it that way. So, you need to make sure that the two of you decide early in your relationship where are your boundaries going to be? And then you need to help him keep those boundaries.

Now it’s his job to keep those boundaries ’cause he’s the leader of the relationship. But you can really help, because he’ll have a tendency to slip and you need to say no. Now what men do when you say no is, they pout. That’s what men do. I know that’s embarrassing as a guy to say, but he’ll pout. He’ll make you think that you’re gonna lose the relationship. You won’t lose the relationship. I can tell you this, men really respect women who help them hold to the boundaries, not that moment, but by the next day, okay. So, what you want to do in short is, to understand those two vulnerabilities and help him defend those two vulnerabilities. That’s what you can do.

Focus on the Family Broadcast

Men: Maintaining Sexual Purity

Let’s look at what Fred Stoeker is saying about men.

He isn’t saying “this is what SOME men are like”, or “this is what men are like before they are redeemed by Christ”, or “this is what immature men are like.” He’s saying this is what ALL men are like, and that inclues him. 

So let’s make a list of what he thinks men are like:

  • Their eyes automatically derive sexual gratification from the women around them, and so they are hard-wired to objectify women
  • Men experience intimacy as mostly sexual, and don’t gravitate towards other types of intimacy (like emotional)
  • Men have a tendency to sexually assault the girls they’re with
  • Men can’t emotionally regulate, and will pout and punish the girls they’re with emotionally if the girls don’t give them sex
  • Men emotionally manipulate women to get sex

Now, here’s the switch I really, really want us to start making.

When a teacher says these things, we have to start personalizing the statements:

  • Fred Stoeker’s eyes automatically derive sexual gratification from the women around him, because he is hard-wired to objectify women
  • Fred Stoeker experiences intimacy as mostly sexual, and doesn’t gravitate towards other types of intimacy (like emotional)
  • Fred Stoeker has a tendency to sexually assault the girls they’re with
  • Fred Stoeker can’t emotionally regulate, and will pout and punish the girls they’re with emotionally if the girls don’t give them sex
  • Fred Stoeker emotionally manipulates women to get sex

And, I would add, Jim Daly does these things too, since he agreed right along with Fred.

Because when male pastors and authors say these things about men, they are including themselves in them.

If he doesn’t want us to think this, then he needs to admit this isn’t all men. And if it’s not all men, but it is him, then he needs to recognize that this is a problem, and that he has work to do. 

Which means it’s not about the women, is it? It’s about the men.

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Jesus was a man

And Jesus was tempted in every way, just like we are. He was fully human. But did he tend to long for sexual intimacy rather than emotional intimacy, because he was emotionally stunted and had channelled his needs for connection into sex?

No.

Did the apostles act like this?

No.

Is this the testimony of all Christian men?

Absolutely not. 

Men who have done the emotional work definitely want and enjoy sex, and yearn for it when married, but they are also comfortable with emotional intimacy, and gravitate towards that. They want to be fully seen and known. 

Men who have done the emotional work do not objectify women.

They may notice what a girl or woman is wearing, and notice a body, but they don’t fixate or get sexual gratification with that. They simply move on with their day, because they know how to respect women. And it just doesn’t have to be a big deal.

The church would be healthier if we took these men’s words to their logical conclusions

And if we treated these men appropriately, based on what they have just admitted.

  • Do not let your teen daughters baby-sit for them. 
  • Do not let them serve in youth group in any way.
  • Do not be alone with these men. 
  • Do not let these men supervise women or be over women in any sort of capacity in the church. 
  • Do not let these men be on staff, because they are admitting that they cannot shepherd women safely.

What if a pastor or a teacher personally struggles with this, but knows it’s not “all men”?

I’d feel much more comfortable with him. I think he should voluntarily not be near teen girls, and should be getting therapy. But the key thing here is that, by agreeing it’s not “all men”, he doesn’t feel entitled to do it. He knows that this is his problem. So he’s not externalizing the blame, and that’s a huge win.

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Let’s focus on this a little more:

What about men who do struggle with lust?

I understand that this is a significant struggle for a lot of men, and I know what I’m saying can sound shaming. 

If you’re someone who is defending the “every man’s battle” approach, saying that this is just how men are, and using this as an excuse to not grow, then, frankly, you should be ashamed.

But many of you are not like that. You grew up in Christian circles where you were taught that even noticing is a sin. That sexual attraction is a sin. 

You felt such tremendous shame for normal, appropriate feelings, which can actually make lust problems worse.

Please check out our post Noticing Isn’t Lusting, and see my book recommendations on how to see sex differently. This doesn’t need to be a life-long struggle, and I’m so sorry for the shame that has you trapped.

Church, we need to be proactive in this.

It’s time we held pastors and authors and teachers accountable for the ramifications of their words. They are normalizing such an unhealthy view of men, and trapping so many men in a cycle of shame, while enabling abusers. It needs to stop.

Men were not made to be emotionally unhealthy, and men were not created to objectify women. We can do better, and let’s start elevating pastors and speakers who do.

What do you think a change like this would look like? How can we get it going? 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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51 Comments

  1. Jane Eyre

    I think the first change is to stop using the term “stumbling block” in regards to women’s attire or sexuality.

    The term “stumbling block” appears in Romans 14, and the context has absolutely nothing to do with tight sweaters or yoga pants. Nothing. It is actually the exactopposite: it’s about NOT showing contempt for your fellow Christians.

    Just knock it off, gents. It is such a twisted version of Scripture. The fact that it is pervasive doesn’t make it any better.

    Reply
  2. Jo R

    So if all men really struggle because they’re all skeezy perverts who are approximately eight seconds away from raping any female from age six to a hundred and six because of the men’s inherent pervy mcpervface, then obviously the only thing to do is for all men to be banned from society immediately. That includes, especially, any church position, including pastors, because they’re not safe around the vulnerable, like women and children.

    It’s for the men’s own good, really. If they can’t help themselves, then they need to immediately stay the heck out of society and the public eye generally.

    Churches need to become female-only (don’t worry, fellas, we’ll make do without your presence, as so many of us have so much experience running entire households by ourselves for 168 hours a week with small children that a couple hours on Sunday mornings will be a breeze). You fellas can have your own men-only churches (but please be sure to have a camera set up in the kitchen so you can livestream the coffee making and post-church cleanup!). Since there won’t be any children, you won’t be tempted by babies and toddlers needing diaper changes or by women and girls who dare to exist in female bodies. That should help you focus more on God while simultaneously keeping you from sexually abusing anyone, so win-win!

    For those men who think they’re good guys, do us females a favor. Instead of protesting that the above is too harsh and broad-brushed, why don’t you POLICE YOUR OWN SEX and call out the men you undoubtedly know who subscribe to the teachings called out in this post? If you can’t do even that, then don’t chew out women who are tired of being victimized and have found their voices to speak up about it, especially when the abuse occurs in the place where women should be safest, to wit, the church.

    Reply
    • JC

      YES! I love it! Let’s do it! Man church for the unsafe men who have lust problems with 8 year old bellies and changing baby diapers.

      It’s certainly more along the lines of Jesus saying pluck out your eye than what these men are preaching.

      Reply
  3. Lisa Johns

    Dang, haven’t even read the article yet and I’m yelling “AMEN” at just the title!!

    Reply
  4. Laura

    The fixed it for you post about sexual attraction “being a sin” stood out to me. When I was single during my 30s, a Bible study facilitator who was my friend and around my age said that attraction to someone you weren’t married to was lusting. At the time, I was confused and thought that meant I should not allow myself to be attracted to any man because I didn’t want to lust. So when I was engaged to my ex fiance six years ago, I was proud of myself for not having any sexual thoughts about him. That meant I was doing great, BUT, and this was a big but, I was never physically attracted to him. I had been told attraction shouldn’t be that important. Character should matter more.

    In that FIFY (fixed it for you), Mr. Moore said that an unmarried couple should not be sexually attracted to each other because that’s a sin. Well, if they plan to get married there has to be an attraction because if you are not attracted to someone you are not going to want to have sex with them. I’m beyond attracted to my now fiance and I cannot wait for sex with him. Yet, we are abstaining until our honeymoon. Sexual attraction does not have to turn people into lust monsters like these male authors want everyone to believe.

    Even though he wasn’t mentioned in this post, Bob Gresh is another one who is not safe and should not be around children because wasn’t he the one who reiterated what his wife wrote about eight year girls’ belly buttons being intoxicating to grown men?

    Reply
    • Mara R

      That was my huge frustration back in the day before the fall of Mars Hill.
      No one would take Driscoll’s misogyny seriously. None of the men did.
      When his plagerism became well known and I jumped on that, some conservative guy was trying to shut me up saying that I shouldn’t be agreeing with liberals.
      I let that guy know that if he and his buddies had done their job and stood against Driscoll’s misogyny, we wouldn’t be having this convo in front of the liberals.

      Reply
      • Mara R

        This was meant to be a stand alone comment, not a response to Laura. My bad. This is why I rarely comment from my phone.

        Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Absolutely!

        Reply
    • Perfect Number

      This is so real! I remember back when I believed in all the “purity” stuff, and people were really asking the question “Should I date someone I’m not attracted to, in order to minimize temptation?” Typically when I saw people discussing this question, the answer was “no, you *should* be attracted to them”, so, that’s good, but wow the fact that this question was asked, and taken so seriously, wow. In the logic of purity culture, it totally makes sense that it may be better to date someone you’re not attracted to.

      Reply
    • Taylor

      Yep. This view that “sexual attraction to anyone except your spouse is sin” manifested for me in getting married to a man who ended up cheating on me with dozens of men. Dozens. I didn’t understand that him saying that he was emotionally but not sexually attracted to me prior to marriage was a huge red flag. And it meant that I didn’t get to investigate what was sexuaIly attractive to me before getting married. Yea, that did not go well. Total set up for failure.

      Reply
      • JoB

        Taylor, I just wanted to say I’m so sorry you had to endure that. I hope you are in a safe place now.

        Reply
        • Taylor

          Thanks, Jo B. Yes, I’m in a much safer place now. The Lord made a way for me to get out, and I’m very grateful.

          Reply
  5. Lisa Johns

    Dear Fred, no, pouting because “that’s what men do” is false. Pouting when you get told “no” is what a toddler does. If a man is doing it, that’s a red flag in the relationship, because he is acting like a toddler.
    And there is a term for when a man takes what he thinks and externalizes it to “all men:” it’s one manifestation of “delusions of reference,” and it’s a clinical symptom of schizophrenia.
    And I really think you need to seek treatment for your Dunning Kruger Disease.

    Reply
  6. CMT

    The correct term for what these guys are doing is “self-own.” They could be in Urban Dictionary.

    Reply
  7. Nathan D. W.

    It’s insane to me that someone can write this drivel, look back at it, and say, “Clearly this makes men look really good to the women we’re trying to teach. Now all the women in my church will want to marry the men in my church so much more!” Much less think that his perspective somehow adheres to the Word of God. Whatever happened to, “love, joy, peace, patience (a virtue Evangelical men can definitely practice harder), kindness, goodness, faithfulness (well at least this one they think they have in spades), gentleness (ooh, too feminine), and **self-control** (but it’s TOO HARD!).”

    Reply
    • Andrea

      And after preaching all that drivel for decades they are shocked and upset that young women today aren’t rushing into marriage?! Why, to be an inconveniently sentient masturbatory device for a porn addict? No thanks, of course we’d prefer to live alone with a bunch of rescue cats.

      Reply
      • Jo R

        “inconveniently sentient masturbatory device for a porn addict”

        This wins the internet today!

        And seems pretty merchworthy, Sheila! 😉

        Reply
        • Nathan D. W.

          AND on top of all that, they expect the men to feel proud of this lack of virtue? Someone (…I have a few ideas on who it might have been) lost the plot somewhere!

          Reply
      • exwifeofasexaddict

        Inconveniently sentient masturbatory device is a great description of how my ex saw me.

        Reply
      • K

        Andrea – your comment is 100% brilliant.

        (Response from someone energetically nodding in agreement – due to lived experience, currently sharing space with 4 rescue cats!!)

        Reply
  8. Angharad

    I think this sounds like an AMAZING change. The whole ‘all men’ thing not only makes the church one of the most dangerous places for women, but it is also incredibly demeaning and insulting to all the good men.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I wish people understood that last part! This is absolutely so demeaning to men. Absolutely.

      Reply
  9. JoB

    Interesting that probably most conservative parenting advice would say that if your two or three year old fails to obey your boundaries, pouts or throws a tantrum, you should have a zero tolerance policy and enforce it with corporal punishment. But when a grown man who claims to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit exhibits those behaviors, he should be completely accommodated.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep. It’s ridiculous.

      Reply
  10. Hope

    The men with a healthy view of sex need to get involved also. I think when women try to change things in the church, it is looked down upon. So the men who agree with us need to step up and take action.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely. We need men to step up for sure.

      Reply
    • Lisa Johns

      They will be accused of being “feminized.” Not that they shouldn’t step up, but they need to be prepared for this nonsense too!

      Reply
  11. Sequoia

    Even the bolded phrase, “Jesus was/is a man,” matters so much! (I say “is” due to incarnated ascension to high priesthood, but I get that they’re referring to as recorded in the gospels.)
    I have such a hard time with the “God as Father” picture, not just because of my own dad but because of adult men in the church not showing me what Christ looks like.
    It was really healing a couple years ago when during a worship experience I could imagine Jesus as an older brother, putting his hand on my shoulder in a steady and comforting way (as per Hebrews 2, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters). I could trust someone like that, and believe that he loves me.

    It is such a loss to the church (men and women) that we can’t more clearly see pictures of Christ in fellow believers—either women not being seen as full people with dignity, gifts, and life-giving beauty—or men acting as full people with dignity, gifts, and life-giving strength. I’m not saying it’s a complete dichotomy, ONLY women have beauty and don’t have strength, or Vice versa. But I want to see the church have LIFE in it rather than death. 😔

    Reply
    • Sequoia

      *or men NOT acting as full people

      Whoops

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So true!

      Reply
  12. JoB

    What if a pastor stood up and said that “all church leaders” struggle with seeing people as dollar signs? “I met this guy, and, wow, almost immediately I could tell he had his investments in ALL the right places. I mean, he was LOADED. And as a pastor, I couldn’t help but fantasize about what it would be like to get him to open his wallet up and fork over a couple grand right then and there. I mean, we’ve all been there, right, elders? Our church has needs, we have needs, and that’s what God designed the church for, to meet each other’s needs, right? But I’ll admit that guy tempted me into thinking in materialistic terms—although God did design leaders to think about material concerns, after all. So, if you want to help your church leaders stay focused on spiritual things, don’t even give them a hint of your material assets. Walk to church instead of driving your car. Don’t say what kind of work you do, or tell them where you live or what you do with your disposable income. You don’t want to distract them or cause them to think materialistic thoughts.”

    Something tells me no one would vote for this guy as church treasurer or let him volunteer to count the offering.

    Reply
    • Jo R

      🎤 ⬇️

      🔥

      Reply
    • Lisa Johns

      Lololol, that is so on point!

      Reply
    • Curly Sue

      Amen, sister!

      Reply
    • Taylor

      Brilliant!

      Reply
  13. Marina

    Am I the only one that looks at these statements from so called “experts” and thinks that at one point, some guy or group or guys wanted to cover themselves (especially if they are competing with better men)? Like: If all guys are like me, then I never have to improve, my girlfriend won’t dump me to find better, and my wife won’t realize that something is very wrong at home. If being physically attracted to someone you aren’t married to is sinful, then I have an easy answer if my girlfriend/fiance wonders why she isn’t physically attracted to me. I can even praise her as holy for it. If attraction doesn’t matter at all (or at least little) for marriage, then I can just make a good, logical case to a girl about why she should marry me, and never worry about actually being attractive, physically or non-physically. I can even have people questioning her for breaking up with me if there is no “logical” reason for it.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s exactly what I think is going on here!

      Reply
    • Angharad

      Not to mention that if he sexually assaults a woman (or young girl) it is her fault for tempting him and being a ‘stumbling block’, and not his fault at all because ‘all men’…

      Reply
  14. Nathan

    I just read something in the same ballpark: A football player made some mistakes in a game a few months ago, and the coach really laid into him about it. He said that was a good thing, since, in his words, if he’s never held accountable, he can never truly become a better player. The same thing is going on here.

    And setting the bar low for lust also causes problems. While not all men lust, I can almost guarantee that nearly all men (and women) notice others, find others attractive, and feel sexual attraction and desire at least now and then.

    Reply
  15. David Tinker

    I am SO thankful you labeled their view as “pornified”, because that’s precisely what it is. Not only men, but women also, are being trained by these “leaders” to view the human body itself as inherently evil.

    Reply
  16. S

    Isn’t it interesting that the same people who say men don’t have a biblical view of sex and are hardwired to sin are the same people who say only men can be leaders in the church? Sounds pretty contradictory to me.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It absolutely does!

      Reply
  17. MV

    Thank you for all you do! I am in a Christian ladies book club and we are reading the Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur. While I am okay with his premise of calling out legalistic hypocrisy in the church, I can’t get past his objectification of women. In the book, after he he drives his wife and daughter to death, we hear how he lost weight, is looking good and how he lusts after just about any woman who talks to him. Am I supposed to like this guy? Everyone raves about this book and I just think the author is creepy and is pornifying women. Icky

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      If you think he is–he likely is. Not okay! It’s all right to speak up and say you’re really uncomfortable with this.

      Reply
    • Nessie

      Wow, that sounds so toxic! Just because someone is hunting for wisdom (I’m only guessing, based upon the book title) does not mean they actually found it. If he is ok with calling out legalism in the book, you too should be able to call out the hypocrisy of a pornified view of women from someone in the church.

      Reply
      • Lisa Johns

        Absolutely!!

        Reply
  18. T Lynn

    I’d like to suggest that for the “fixed it” graphic, porn is also a problem because it rewires the brain and feeds a different part of the nervous system. All this, in turn, will make it more difficult for the porn user to connect intimately w their spouse/future spouse.

    Reply
  19. Mia

    What does this reveal about the pastor who said this at my church: “We all know Jesus’ most annoying words: ‘ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’

    That was a huge red flag for me. Would love to hear your thoughts, Sheila and others.

    Reply
    • Nessie

      I can’t imagine having the gall to call any of Jesus’ words “annoying!” Difficult, challenging, revealing, convicting, etc. but not annoying. Wow! I think I would struggle to glean anything healthy from someone who said that. And I think that pastor very clearly outlined an area he struggles with personally,

      Reply
      • Lisa Johns

        Yeah, he really did tell on himself! And since he did it publicly, he should be called out equally publicly.

        Reply
    • Jo R

      I’d have to offer him a corkscrew so that he could pluck both his eyes out, according to some of those other choice words Jesus said.

      Even better if I could do so during the Sunday sermon.

      Reply

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