When Evangelical Misogyny Goes Viral: “Stand Where He Wants You to Stand”

by | Apr 2, 2024 | Preparing for Marriage | 54 comments

So a funny thing happened to me last week regarding that Josh Howerton video…

First, I should be thankful I wasn’t feeling particularly well on Thursday.

Episode 230 of the Bare Marriage podcast dropped, where Jay Stringer and I were talking about a terrible clip by Josh Howerton, giving advice about the wedding  and wedding night. On the wedding night, SHE should “stand where he wants you to stand, wear what he wants you to wear, and do what he wants you to do.”

I was set to spend Thursday writing some more posts, but I just didn’t feel well. So I climbed back into bed and tried to do some low key work, and decided that one thing I could do was make short videos. That doesn’t require much brain power!

So I created clips for Instagram and Twitter and Threads.

Within two days, those clips had been seen by 1.5 million people.

Here’s Twitter:

And here’s Instagram:

I was blown away as these kept getting shared.

Eventually Josh replied to someone else’s comment, claiming that I took him out of context (for only including the second half of his message, though I had the whole thing in the podcast), and that it was “just a joke.”


Josh Howerton wedding night clip saying out of context statement twitter

I replied in a longer thread on Twitter (X), but I was getting a lot of the same pushback, especially on Facebook, and mostly from people who go to Lakepointe Church, the large multi-site SBC megachurch in Dallas that Josh Howerton pastors.

I’d like to address these attempts at deflection here too.

First I’ll happily provide the full context, which I believe you’ll see makes it worse. It’s from the first two minutes of this sermon:


A few things to note:

1. He framed this as “gold piece of marriage advice.”

He ends the section by saying that the advice was all free. At no time did he say this was a joke, or that he wasn’t serious, or that people shouldn’t believe there was truth in what he was saying.

2. The broader context clearly makes this worse.

In the wider context, he’s saying: Men, you don’t have to take on ANY of the mental load, emotional involvement, or work of the wedding. It’s all on her. Everything. All you have to do is show up and do what she says.

But then, at the wedding night, you get to act like a porn director and direct her every move so you get exactly what you want.

In both the wedding, and the wedding night, she does all the work for him.

3. Is it appropriate to laugh about this and say things like this? Is this causing harm?

We’ve done a study of 20,000 evangelical women for our book The Great Sex Rescue to see how certain teachings affect women’s marital and sexual satisfaction. And we know that evangelical women suffer from about 2.5 times the rate of primary sexual pain as the general population, largely due to 2 factors: our terrible teachings about obligation sex (that Josh is parroting here), and the way we do the wedding night with all the pressure & no expectation of her arousal.

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Josh is promoting tropes that directly feed into a terrible condition that so many women in the church battle with–and he thinks it’s funny.

In addition, about 50% of married evangelical men are currently watching porn, where men get to tell women where to stand and what to do. And he is saying directly to women in his congregation: It is normal for husbands to expect to treat their wives this way.

4. He is denying women sexual autonomy.

He is saying, “your husband expects to be able to order you around while you say nothing and just do what he says.” This normalizes coercion and lack of consent.

You may say: He didn’t mean to do that. Lighten up!

But is it funny to talk this way about sexual pain and marital coercion? From the pulpit? With children and teens in the seats?

Not to be too on the nose, but do you think Jesus would ever do this? Is it appropriate from a pastor?

5. He is normalizing women’s lack of libido and men’s lack of emotional connection.

He’s assuming that women haven’t thought about the wedding night, but only care about the wedding. And likewise, he’s assuming that men can’t do the work of emotional connection and caring about anything other than sex.

This normalizes unhealthy and underdeveloped men, and normalizes women with low or nonexistent desire (which makes sense, since he and his wife think it’s appropriate for her to “repent” of having low desire because she’s so exhausated. For more, see our podcast on their sex advice.)

I kept asking people on Twitter and Facebook: Explain to me why this is funny.

No one could, they just kept asserting that it was just a joke and I was overreacting. Many of those who attend Lakepointe even admitted it was a bad joke, or an inappropriate joke, but still wouldn’t say that Josh needed to apologize or that this was problematic or concerning.

The “it was a joke” defence is terrible. Jokes still normalize certain dynamics. He never said, “now, don’t take this seriously,” or “obviously this is bad advice.” He intimated that these dynamics were normal. And that’s the whole issue that Jay and I were talking about on the podcast last week.

And so I’d like to say to Josh Howerton supporters:

You can believe Josh is a good pastor and still think he did wrong here.

You don’t have to blindly support him in everything. Your church will be better if people push back and say, “hey, Josh, you got this one wrong. Time to apologize, and learn more about how stuff like this affects the women in your congregation, because you’re THEIR pastor too.”

Josh Howerton’s remarks have really blown up around the web.

What am I hoping comes from this pushback to Josh Howerton?

I’ve been thinking about that week after this absolutely crazy weekend. Nothing I’ve ever done has come close to going this viral.

I think I have four main aims:

What I’m Hoping for From the Josh Howerton Dust-Up

  1. I want pastors to know that when they say something stupid like this from the pulpit, people won’t take it anymore. I want them to think twice before telling stupid “jokes” that normalize bad dynamics.
  2. I want people who go to his church (or any pastor’s church who does this from the pulpit) to know that if they’re thinking this is wrong, they aren’t alone. They aren’t crazy. The rest of us see it too, and it’s okay to be upset.
  3. I want to amplify the conversation that evangelicalism’s teachings about the honeymoon and the wedding night are doing harm, and are inaccurate and toxic. We need to do better. 
  4. I hope in all the discourse around this that more people are realizing that vaginismus is a real condition, and more women may get help rather than suffer in silence. 

Thank you to everyone who commented and shared on social media.

It was because of you that this got the attention it deserved. And now hopefully these conversations can continue, and we as a church can get healthier. 

What do you think of this conversation? Did you see the convo on social media? What was your impression? 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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  1. Nessie

    I did *not* get married so I could join the p*rn industry. And that is exactly how his “advice” came across. I do not think that a “biblical view” of marriage should be one that makes “jokes” likening it to that industry. Guys that espouse or agree with his advice later complain that their wives don’t do any of the work in sex, that they are sexually lazy and think all it takes is getting naked… to those men, I would say that many have brought it upon themselves by starting out the marriage much like Josh’s advice.

    Maybe if the Joshes of the world stopped “joking” like this, there wouldn’t also be the common complaints from husbands of women eliminating intercourse from their marriages several years down the line. For those who claim males are logical and females are emotional, they sure are slow at adding up that math!

  2. Angharad

    I’m puzzled as to why Howerton is whinging when people share the ‘joke’ advice to brides ‘out of context’. Because the context just makes the whole thing even worse!

    Why is it so hard to apologise anyway? My OH will apologise publicly from the pulpit if he feels he’s got something wrong. So did many of the ministers I was around growing up. Pastors aren’t perfect – we should EXPECT that they will need to apologise sometimes.

    Ok, so Howerton’s comments were worse than anything I’ve heard a local minister apologise for. But what’s far worse than his original comments is his insistence on standing by them. Anyone is capable of an error of judgement, and I’d actually have had some respect for him if he’d apologised straight off. But his subsequent efforts to weasel out of trouble just make him look arrogant.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! It’s so ridiculous.

  3. Jo R

    If Josh and the other theobros want to make sex more frequent in marriage, maybe they ought to at least consider reversing their priorities.

    Why not say, “Hey, fellas, give your wife all the orgasms she can handle before you even think of putting your penis anywhere near her body. She is, after all, created with the capability to orgasm repeatedly, so bring out that capacity early in your marriage and as often as possible forever after. You know orgasm is easy for you, so make it at least somewhat easier for her by focusing exclusively on her. If you think giving her a solid half-hour of oral sex, with the pressure, location, and other details of her choosing, is ‘too much work,’ then please just save yourself and the poor woman you’re thinking of marrying a whole bunch of heartache, and instead buy yourself a blow-up sex doll and break off your relationship yesterday.”

    Why should men do this, performing sexual activities that focus solely on the woman?

    The theobros should turn it around and ask, “Why not? For every child you have together, she’ll work the equivalent of three and a third years of a full-time job in just nine months (168 times 40 divided by 2000), without a break for even a single second. No weekends off, no vacation, just major effort by her body to grow your child. Then she’ll follow with the actual labor to push a head the size of a grapefruit out of her most senstive area, generally causing some amount of tissue trauma. And most guys have historically been too chicken to watch what their wives go through in that process. Pregnancy and giving birth change her body forever. They affect her psychologically forever. Giving her all the orgasms you can before that happens seems a pretty darn small price to pay for the two minutes of your pleasure that brought about that major upheaval.”

    Yeah, sure. They’ll all band together and get right on that new messaging. 🤬

    • Katie Moe


  4. A Wife Ready for Change

    While Josh may have been “joking,” the attitude behind the joke is the exact belief that is at the foundation of evangelical sex ideology. As a woman who grew up under this mindset, married under this mindset, and suffered 25 years in a marriage based in this mindset, I can tell you that this is definitely one of those “jokes” that the teller actually holds as a truth, even if secretly or subconsciously. 25 years ago, I married into this belief and bought it hook, line, and sinker. It created the perfect and horrific storm in my marriage as my husband, a sexual abuse survivor and subsequent porn addict, clung to this mentality in an effort to have me “fix” his addiction. To say that this mindset has been devastating to me would be a huge understatement. Through Sheila’s teaching, I am just now entering a healthier state of marriage where I no longer am bound to believing my Christian value as a wife is to “serve” my husband sexually. This bad joke just highlights the mentality that actually exists in the evangelical church that absolutely opens the door to extreme covert abuse of well-meaning God-fearing women. This joke disgusted me. I am so thankful for the light Sheila is sharing regarding this topic. It is absolutely saving me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually and transforming my husband as well!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry that you went through that! I’m glad you found me, but I hate that teaching in the church made it ever seem like any of that was normal. That’s so tragic.

    • Jill Stone

      After the little girl’s wedding day dreams , complete with blanket and towel (really??) I’m certaiin many women were triggered by this man’s wedding night scenario. After the laughter and applause, his preface of “let’s see if you applaud this” clearly shows he knew what he was choosing and proceeded.

  5. Sarah O

    In looking at the anatomy of discourse, it strikes me that there seems to be a blind spot “tell” when you open your response by denigrating critics as universally “bad sports”.

    “Of course these types are never satisfied”

    “Not that these sycophants will listen”

    “Hard to respond when people are determined to find something to be upset about”

    I’ve seen both men and women do this when confronted with criticism – to the point that it now has the opposite of its intended effect.

    If you are starting your response by categorizing your critics as somehow intellectually deficient, I’m going to give your critics an extra point automatically. If the criticism is large enough that you have to respond, then the pool of critics is too large to sustain this rebuttal. And what’s more, it’s dirty pool undermining someone’s credibility before you’ve even engaged their argument.

    As far as the actual content of this…I have to shake my head and conserve my energy. Where are these brides that have no idea their new husbands are excited about the wedding night? Where are these women that really need to be educated on how much men like sex? Who sat up and said, “whoa! Thank you for this advice! I wasn’t sure of what to do and these are great pointers!”

    If, as you say, this isn’t advice…when telling a joke, try funny and original instead of dusty and cringe.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Sarah! I’m thinking about that too: where are the brides who need to be told, men really just want sex? Yep.

    • Cat

      Listening to this man in a position of authority, preaching these mocking words, just makes me so sad. He appears to have no comprehension of the damage he is complicit in.

      I was raised in a ‘Christian’ home (with, I now realize, a misogynistic mother). As a daughter I was raised with the expectation that I would marry a Christian, that I wouldn’t have sex before marriage, that I would likely go on to have children and leave paid work and stay home. And I did. I didn’t plan my wedding day since I was a little girl Josh, but I dreamt of beautiful things and love. I prepared myself with the limited information I had at the time.

      On my wedding night, my husband was left in agony as his too-tight foreskin nearly strangulated the head of his penis in the act of sex. He had had no such teaching or preparation … he was failed by his ‘christian’ parents. He also bought an undisclosed pornography addiction into our 20yr marriage. It wound its way through it, rearing its head at times, my naievity ill equipped to understand it for many years. Worldly and my mothers advice was to give him more sex, that it was obviously my fault. She rang one day and asked where my husband was, I said he was outside, she said I should go outside and unzip his fly and kiss him on the cock. I have no words for that comment. I have woken in the nights with him on top of me. My ‘marriage’ was reduced to me feeling like and being treated like a prostitute.

      I sought advice and counseling about the porn addiction for myself and our marriage but my now ex husband declined any couple therapy or counseling.

      After many years on my own, growing, taking responsibility for my part, working through my devastation of now subjecting my children to a broken home and learning to trust again…I am remarried to a beautiful kind man and we’ve combined a family of 6 amazing young adults who all get along incredibly.

      While my faith in my heavenly father remains strong, I do not have enough days on this earth to waste them sitting and being entertained by humanistic showmen and women who strut around proudly spouting arrogant words of which they know nothing.

      Josh you will be held accountable for the careless words you speak and the precious hearts that you will damage in the process.

      Again, this whole thing just makes me sad for the beautiful trusting young hearts that both men and women mock.

      Matthew 18v6

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I’m so glad you’re in a healthy place now, and I’m so sorry for what you suffered. And for the horrible advice you got in the middle of it!

  6. Trish M

    Sheila, that Twitter (x) clip sealed it for me. Howerton is in the same class as Mark Driscoll in my book: Toxic, dangerous, but charismatic (to some). Not a good combination for young Christians to have as a model.

    I mean, on top of the insulting “her wedding day/his wedding night” speech (and the lack of humility and decency he’s now showing by dismissing it) he seems delighted to sit there and bask in that self-deprecating “sisterly admonition” speech by his fawning wife (who seems quite sweet and very uncomfortable). And he frames the whole thing with his cringy cheering and awkward laughter….I just can’t.

    Thanks for your work. It’s really helpful.

  7. Casey Christian

    I was there in the room. It was a joke people. Instead of standing on the sidelines and throwing stones, why don’t you get out there and actually do something for the Kingdom. It is both easy and safe to be a critic. I love my pastor Josh.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Casey, I note that you are the Director of Recovery at Lakepointe, and that you work as a licensed social worker. This concerns me deeply. You counsel people out of addictions, and yet you can’t see that what your pastor said here feeds right into the pornified mindset? Oh, dear.

    • Lucie09

      Ohh, yeah, you’re absolutely right, it’s SO funny! I must have cracked a rib from LAUGHING SO HARD! I mean there’s nothing that says humor like consigning a bride with no prior sexual experience to ‘I Am Now My Husband’s Personal Porn Star’, is there? Sooo hilarious. How could you not DIE laughing at all the implications of such a scenario? Not to mention the sexual entitlement of the husband, the objectification of his wife, and the way a newly married woman should just forget that she has any sexual autonomy… that’ll set them up for a blissful honeymoon and stand them in good stead for years to come! I mean, what fine Christian man wouldn’t want to relegate his wife to sex slave?! It’s just SO life-affirming!! I hope all the men who were in the audience remember that joke and save it for when their kids marry! It’s such a gem!

    • Mara R

      Casey Christian: “why don’t you get out there and actually do something for the Kingdom.”

      Wow. Way to assume that people here aren’t doing anything for the Kingdom.

      Way to assume that your pastor’s pornification of God’s daughters (and sons) is somehow building God’s Kingdom.

      Way to assume that people pointing out that God probably isn’t happy with the way His daughters have been pornified in Evangelicalism are ‘throwing stones’. Way to assume that people calling out this sin against God’s daughters are hecklers on the sidelines rather than people who are in the trenches doing the hard work of rescuing and healing the voiceless and abused in your churches.

      In truth, you have it backwards. Exposing how Evangelicalism has completely pornified married sex and has thus defiled the marriage bed IS building God’s Kingdom. Exposing this sin against God daughters is tearing down the oppressive principality of porn that started with Mark Driscoll or before.

      Your pastor should be ashamed of himself for carrying on Mark Driscoll’s legacy in God’s church.
      If you truly loved your pastor, you wouldn’t defend his sin. You would pray for him to repent. The problem is, you can’t see his sin because you live in it and love it as well.

      The ‘joke’ wasn’t funny. The joke was abusive, sinful, and opposed to the work of God.

    • Sam

      Hi Casey, thank you for being willing to comment. I have a couple of honest questions for you as someone who knows the situation better. Because while the clip looks bad, you’re right, I wasn’t there and I don’t know the pastor personally. So all I have to work with is what the clip seems to communicate at face value without any other factors that might nuance the conversation. With that being said, my two questions are as follows:

      1. Do you think the pastor would consider there to be any “truth” in the joke?

      2. If so, what would he consider true vs. not?

      I was talking with a friend about how the same “joke” can be funny and relationally positive or it can be destructive depending on the context. And the context often entirely rests on whether all parties know there’s not the slightest bit of truth coming from the joke. For example, one person telling another person, “I hate you” comes across as friendly banter between close friends (in my experience, often as a result of a prank). It comes across very different when either speaker really does hate the other person (even a little bit), or when the listener is already uncertain if the speaker likes or respects them.

      So the question then becomes, with Josh’s “joke,” does he believe any part of what he’s saying? To me, it sounds like he does, but then again, I don’t know him. And the second question is: do all parties know that he doesn’t believe any part of what he’s saying? Not just the regular attenders, but the visitors Sunday morning, do they know as well? Because if they think he’s serious, regardless of his motivations, the end result is still destructive. For some, it will be destructive because they will take the content of his “joke,” and apply it to their lives. For others, it will be destructive because they will wrongly interpret it as the Church supporting marital rape and sexual coercion and will therefore associate Jesus with those horrors. Which dishonors God and puts up barriers to people entering the kingdom.

    • AmyW

      I wasn’t in the room, but I listened to the entire sermon online- how did you know that this was a joke? I certainly didn’t catch that part.
      He started out by asking if anyone was still on a high from marriage night and went on to say:
      “I do want to say this, I just want to drop a little gift, this is free, this is totally free, for the people who missed marriage night, if you missed it, what I heard was like man could you just give a little something if we’re not married yet and we’re headed toward marriage. I’m going to do that right now- this is a gold nugget of advice that I was given by a mentor…I’m going to talk to the guys first, now when it comes to her wedding day”- then he launched into how she’s been planning it her whole life so what the guy needs to do on that day is stand where she wants you to stand, wear what she tells you to wear, and do what she tells you to do and you’ll make her the happiest woman in the world.
      Someone in the audience called out “amen” and then Josh said “I got an amen, let’s see if you amen this” and then he directs his words toward the ladies about when it comes to their man’s wedding night- he’s been planning it his whole life, so just stand where he wants you to stand, wear what he wants you to wear, and do what he tells you to do and you’ll make him the happiest man in the world.
      “That’s it man, ok, that was free, that was free”, then chuckles as he walks over to the podium. Then he goes into his sermon, which is unrelated to marriage and sex.

      What part of that let you know that he was joking? It was framed as a gold nugget of advice from a mentor and nothing was ever said to indicate it was a joke.

      It’s great that you love him, that actually gives you the perfect opportunity to hold him accountable for what he’s said here. That’s what we do for people we love, for our friends, for those we are close to. Clearly this wasn’t taken as a joke by others who’ve heard it (again, I listened to the entire sermon myself and never got the “joke” aspect). And honestly, joking about male sexual entitlement and objectifying women really isn’t ok in the first place.
      I’m so glad that Josh has so many people around him who love him and can gently hold him accountable when he says things that aren’t appropriate, as happens to all of us at times!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Well said!

    • Angharad

      Casey, I’d love it if you could explain to me what was funny about this joke. Because I’m not seeing anything funny in any of this:

      1. Josh claims that every bride has been dreaming about her wedding and dressing up in towels to play bride since her early teens – is this meant to be funny because it’s so untrue? Because I don’t know any women who actually did this. I’m not sure that stereotyping all women as fluffy, self-centred airheads is ever ‘funny’.

      2. He says that the wedding day is HERS – presumably, this is also meant to be funny because it’s so untrue? The wedding day is THEIRS and unless the groom is a lazy slob, he’ll be organizing it too.

      3. He says a groom should stand where the bride tells him to stand, wear what the bride tells him to wear…I really can’t see ANYTHING humorous about this, since it is treating another person with disrespect.

      4. He says the wedding night is HIS night. Where is the ‘joke’ in this? I don’t understand why it is funny to talk about something which should be mutual as being HIS time. (See point 2)

      5. He says that the groom has been dreaming about his wedding night for his whole life. Which means he has been dreaming about having sex with a random ‘dream woman’ all his life. This is lust. What is funny about lust?

      6. He says that on the wedding night, the bride should stand where the groom tells her to, wear what the groom tells her to…(See point 3)

      Nope. Still not seeing the joke.

      It’s ok for pastors to make mistakes. They’re human. It would be weird if they didn’t. A good pastor will have the humility to apologise for a mistake and move on. He doesn’t double down on it, pridefully insisting that he was right all the time.

    • Jen Huff

      Casey, It’s only prudent that a complaint be filed against the Board of Social Workers for Texas. Whether they find merit in this complaint or not…is out of my hands. A man with your training, education and dedication to protect and serve the vulnerable around you, should NOT be defending a man you love for making jokes that describe the “freeze response” of a sexual assault. You know better.

    • Katie Moe

      Not throwing stones. Asking pastors to not make dumb jokes that hurt people. And the research and books written by this organization have been a huge blessing to my marriage and relationship with God. What a tool for the kingdom. Please, please when your anger cools down, read some of the findings on how jokes like this affect young married women like me. Praying God’s blessing of His presence and joy over your church and staff.

  8. Annie

    What I will never understand is the doubling down and refusal to apologize. Even if it WAS a poorly delivered, crude, and/or awful joke, the better response to all the backlash SHOULD be “I meant this as a joke but it clearly doesn’t hit that way for everyone and I’m so sorry.” And THEN do better in the future.

    How many times have my kids said “I didn’t mean to!” as a knee-jerk reaction when they hurt someone on accident? But they still (typically) get it and apologize instead of stubbornly refusing. Even when they were 5 and 8, they understood that you apologize if you hurt someone even if it’s not in purpose.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! We expect kids to do better than this.

  9. Laura

    I’m so grateful for the backlash against JH’s misogynistic joke on social media. Men like Dr. Andrew Bauman, Patrick Weaver, and Ric Pidcock (not sure if this is how to spell his last name) have spoken out against this misogyny and I am so thankful for that.

    In all my years of church attendance, I have heard plenty of sexist views preached from the pulpit but nothing like the obligation sex message that JH joked about in a sermon. It seems like well k own mega church pastors push this stuff far more than the small church pastors. Still, this is harmful and very inappropriate to joke about especially when there are children and teens sitting in the pews.

    Hearing stuff like this turns me off from marriage ministry. BTW, I’m getting married next month and I’m not thinking about my super informal, super short ceremony like I am my wedding night. I’ve waited over 22 years for this.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So excited for you, Laura! It’s been amazing being part of your journey.

    • NM

      Congratulations Laura! I, too, was just as excited about my wedding night as my husband was. And it was mutual, natural and wonderful. I wish you all the best!

  10. Nessie

    A question that came to mind. This pre-sermon clip came about because people asked for a brief “nugget” of wisdom/advice from the marriage conference/event JH had just done… and the best thing he could come up with was a “joke?” Not something profound that would actually benefit those unable to attend- but he chose a self-professed “joke?” Seems like a truly wasted opportunity to bless his congregation.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep. Also very immature.

  11. CMT

    Ha. I said when the podcast dropped that he’d try to pass it off as a joke when he got called out.

    Here’s the thing: pastors, you’re not comedians. A skilled comic knows the difference between punching up and punching down, and understands how to use humor to get people to think. And, if a comic tries out a joke, but people tell them it fell flat and was hurtful, they will rewrite their routine to take the feedback into account. You’d think a pastor would be at least as careful with their humor as a good comedian.

    • Kim

      When you go see a comic you expect extreme statements to be made for a laugh. When you go to church, you may laugh at a joke, but you don’t expect the pastor to say: this is great advice, something I would want you to take away if you weren’t able to attend a longer teaching, something a mentor of mine told me… and then expect to hear a joke that should be dismissed. The bigger the context, quite honestly the worse it sounds. It makes my heart sad.

      How beautiful would it be if Josh could say, “It didn’t think about it that way. I am changing my perspective and see how ingrained these tropes are and how hurtful they can be.” The power his humility could have for good would be amazing! He may be rejected by some, but I would rejoice and celebrate and welcome him with grace!

      The research done by the team here has been so healing and is turning the course of the ship. We see it happening. The most healing balm for my wounded heart and mind is when men speak to these messages. I’m not sure all the reasons why, but it is so very healing and restorative. My inability to satisfy my husband and his insistence that his porn problem was my fault have left me feeling like a bad Christian woman. Honestly, at my core, that is where it brought me. Truth spoken by women is powerful, but somehow truth spoken by men reaches the deeper places of these wounds. I so appreciate when Keith, Connor, and male guests speak up. What an opportunity Josh has here.

  12. Taylor

    Ephesians 5:4 “Obscene, coarse, and stupid talk (some translations say vulgar joking) are also out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

    Proverbs 26:18-19 “Like a madman shooting firebrands and deadly arrows, so is one who deceives his friend and says, ‘I was only joking.’ ”

    I Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink or WHATEVER YOU DO, do all for the glory of God.”

    Even if it was supposed to be a joke (I don’t see where the humor is) this isn’t the kind of joking that’s in keeping with Scripture, or God’s heart for His people. It’s not encouraging men to love their wives as Christ loves the church, loving their wives as they love themselves, or doing unto their wives what they would have their wives do to them. (Would they want their wives to say stand there, wear this, do that, and erase male sexual autonomy?)

    Calling this a joke, even if that were true, doesn’t make it defensible.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire


    • Katie Moe

      Proverbs 26 came to my mind too!!!

  13. Katie Moe

    The fact that this “golden nugget/advice/joke” came from a “mentor” mean it came from an older man who thought he was funny. But unfortunately that style of humor is just cringy most of the time or even/often harmful 🙁 I think the joke is supposed to be the symmetry between her wedding DAY and his wedding NIGHT. But for couples who really love each other (not the event!?) they are both gonna rejoice in the ceremony that makes them married AND in the marriage that makes them one. So 🤷‍♀️ thanks for speaking out. I’m sure the church’s marriage night event and the rest of that sermon was good. He can be a good pastor who just didn’t think through his mentor’s sense of humor. I need to be better about that too! I am often guilty of crude joking (Eph 5:4). Thanks for sharing the context, that it was supposed to be an ice breaker/comment on their event. But thanks also for calling out that it isn’t funny. We can do better, expect better. That 14yo girl AND her future husband deserve better.

  14. Richard

    I’ve been genuinely curious about what your perspective and approach is to marriage, relationships, and scripture. I’ve been reading your blogs and receiving your emails for many weeks now. And this whole time, something has just not set quite right with me. I still can’t put my finger on it exactly, but in this particular instance, I just don’t understand your level of emotion towards this. It isn’t even important to me if the preacher calls this a joke or not for the spirit of his message to come through. There are things that are more important to women than to men, there are things more important to men than to women, men and women are not the same, and individuals are still individuals with their unique personalities and desires. To be offended by this preacher’s comments says more about how easily one is offended than it does about the preacher being offensive.

    If the stereotype of women “dreaming of their wedding day” is ridiculous, then likewise the stereotype of men “dreaming of their wedding night” must be equally ridiculous. After all, we are talking about stereotypes here, many of which are completely ridiculous.

    Overall, your blog and your focus seems to be geared towards the sexual side of marriage. And from what I’ve gathered, your overall perspective is that men, especially evangelical men, are either careless or clueless when it comes to their spouses sexuality. It also seems that your perspective is that evangelical women’s sexual mindset has been damaged by the evangelical community. And while there is certainly a “purity culture” that is real and has created some real trouble for both men and women, I struggle to condemn the entire evangelical community for that.

    A simple reading of scripture makes it clear that the sexual relationship is a gift from God for spouses in the context of marriage, that it should be saved for marriage, and that it is a special and intimate connection for both husband and wife. I really don’t see what the issue is here. Men should be free to tell their wives what they enjoy and don’t enjoy, and women should be free to tell their husbands what they enjoy and don’t enjoy. And both should strive to bring pleasure to their spouse. All of the remaining anger and condemnation just seems out of place to me.

    I get that there are real people who have been in real situations that are, or nearing, abusive. But you don’t get the best results out of “stop doing that”. You get better results from “this works better”. Because, at the end of the day, most people ultimately want better results if for no other reason than selfishness.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Richard, it is not a question of “my perspective.” It is a question of what research shows. And we have a very large orgasm gap, and very high rates of sexual pain, and much of that is traced back to the teachings we’ve received.

      As for both spouses telling each other what they like in bed, of course they should, and i have plenty of posts about that. But that is an entirely different thing from “stand where he wants you to stand, wear what he wants you to wear, do what he wants you to do.” And note that it wasn’t at all mutual.

      • Richard

        Sheila, I said I was genuinely curious about your overall perspective and approach to marriage, relationships, and scripture. What about this statement is so offensive to you that you have to defend yourself by bringing up research? Nowhere in my original comment did I take an argumentative approach to either of the items you mentioned (“a very large orgasm gap, and very high rates of sexual pain”). I even laid out several areas where there can be agreement and maybe even a little fine tuning. Where in your response is the kindness or curiosity? Instead, I see a firm correction and defense. This is even more cause for my concern, not less.

        • Anonymous

          Lol, Richard, are you “friends” with “Rhonda?”🤣

          You profess genuine curiosity which implies a desire to learn and understand. Sheila provides you with research (info that a truly curious person would welcome) and you label it defensiveness. She agrees with a point you make and you claim she is lacking in kindness.
          Thanks for the excellent gaslighting and DARVO example!

          There may be a reason for this statement of yours also: “something has just not set quite right with me. I still can’t put my finger on it exactly…” Your eyes and heart haven’t been opened yet to see. Hopefully one day they will and you will finally find true kindness and Chrstian love of your own to extend.

          • Richard

            Sheila’s response to me was : “Richard, it is not a question of “my perspective.” It is a question of what research shows.” As if I was somehow challenging her on any of the facts. The “perspective” I was referring to was “that men, especially evangelical men, are either careless or clueless when it comes to their spouses sexuality. It also seems that your perspective is that evangelical women’s sexual mindset has been damaged by the evangelical community. And while there is certainly a “purity culture” that is real and has created some real trouble for both men and women, I struggle to condemn the entire evangelical community for that.”

            In case it was lost on anyone who might stumble on my comments, I do not contend that there are bad people in any group. My issue is labeling the entire group as bad because of the bad people.

            And what response do I get for my observation? Essentially “sit down and be quiet because my facts are more important than your opinion”. If I’m wrong, I’d appreciate some clarification. As for the narcissistic reference, I really am beginning to believe that the people who use these terms have far more of these tendencies themselves than they recognize.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Richard, I am not saying that evangelical men are bad. I’m saying that the teaching in evangelicalism is overwhelmingly bad, and it has contributed to some negative dynamics that are common in evangelical marriages.

            This is not a difficult thesis to grasp, and the fact that so many refuse to understand this is probleamtic. It seems people would prefer to accuse me of denigrating evangelical men, because that’s easier than dealing with the thesis that our teachings are messed up and cause harm.

          • Anonymous

            Interesting that you are faulting Sheila “challenging” you… again, you claim to have a curiosity yet when given a response you don’t like, you label it a challenge, or her being offended or… whatever other accusation you choose because it sounds negative and you are, as Mara wisely assessed, “defining terms to win an argument.”

            Women have been put in a lose-lose situation where the goal is constantly being moved. What many seem to have a hard time with is that the blindfolds have now been removed and we can at least see the moving goal.

            When a system, such as evangelicalism which of course has both good and bad people in it- but as a system itself has created harmful information, behaviors, and practices- is pointed out, why is it so offensive to you that she calls out the corruptness of that system? If one truly cares about your sisters in Christ, it would stand to reason that s(he) would instead try to see how s(he) can help rather than try to pick apart any possible loopholes. When the outcome is (unwanted) leavened bread, think of the good you could do if you helped eradicate the yeast instead of trying to find fault with the flour or the oil or the breadmaker.

            I also find it interesting that you immediately jump to the conclusion I was referencing narcissists… I honestly didn’t remotely have that in mind nor did I use that term. Plenty of people who employ gaslighting or DARVO are not narcissists though most if not all narcissists do employ those tactics. Yet you say, “As for the narcissistic reference, I really am beginning to believe that the people who use these terms have far more of these tendencies themselves than they recognize.” Very interesting considering you are the one who thought of and used the word narcissist. But nice try subtly and indirectly implying (gaslighting) that I am a narcissist. 🤣😂🤣

            Oh, hon, I’m praying for you- that you would develop compassion, kindness, and love for your sisters in Christ; that you would use your time to build up rather than tearing down (those who would call out that which has caused great damage); that you would seek to help heal rather than harm those who have already been so very deeply harmed. I pray you will have a heart and eyes to see.

    • Mara R

      Richard: “To be offended by this preacher’s comments says more about how easily one is offended than it does about the preacher being offensive.”


      Giving advice that states that it is HIS wedding night and not their wedding night. Giving advice that she should just empty herself and become a prop/prostitute/blow-up-doll in order to make him happy with nary a word about what might make her wedding night good?

      This should not be said in a church service with teens and children present. It should not be said by a preacher in pretty much any setting. It is indefensible on all levels.

      The problem, Richard, is that the Evangelical Church has been pornified by the likes of Mark Driscoll and others. They brought the world and pornography into the church and the marriage bed and defiled it by their aberrant teaching. And they lied about God and said it was the way He looks a things. And a bunch male leaders thought it was a great idea because it might hide their issues with pornography. And they kept ignoring all the women and men who weren’t pornified when we said, this was a bad idea. And this is how this bad teaching became mainstream in the Evangelical church.

      Richard, you now live in a pornified perspective, if I may use you own word. It is YOUR perspective that is warped. I don’t blame you. You have simply inherited it from those who went before you.

      But I do call on you to stop minimizing this pastor’s sin against women.
      And I do call on you to stop accepting the pornified teachings that has become mainstream as the gospel.
      It is not the gospel. It has been very very very BAD NEWS for women as Sheila points out in her response to you.

      These false teachings and worldly advice bits needs to stop. And they need to be called out every single time.

      • Mara R

        Been thinking about this Josh Howerton thing for some time and thinking about writing a post on it on my blog.

        Richard, you are the catalyst that encouraged me to go through with it.

        You think that it is wrong for women to be offended when men blatantly disrespect and objectify them from a place of authority in the Church?


        So, men, who go on and on about how women need to respect them, those men have no obligation to respect women in return?

        So when men like Josh Howerton blatantly break the Golden Rule against women, women don’t have a right to be offended and call him out?

        You have such a horrible blind spot.

        Not only do people need to call out Josh for his misogyny, they need to call him out on failing to obey the foundational principles of Christianity, like, oh, I don’t know, love your neighbor as yourself and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

        Here’s my post. I don’t expect a thank. But you are welcome anyway.


        • Richard

          Mara, I’m not sure why it seems like I’m the target for your response. In fact, I’m not quite sure why your response is crafted the way that it is given the content of my original comment. First, I am not on the side of churches or their pastors, or of any denomination. The church (in general) has done a lot of damage along the way. I follow Jesus, not a pastor. When something doesn’t sit right, I open scripture and read Jesus’s words first. If Jesus gave the answer, then that is my answer too. Not Paul, not Peter, and certainly not some pastor.

          Here is my concern with your response to me. Richard: “To be offended by this preacher’s comments says more about how easily one is offended than it does about the preacher being offensive.” Really?

          Yes, really. Show me where Jesus was offended, because for the life of me, I can’t find it. I can find a couple of examples of righteous anger, but not a single example of being offended. And even towards the people that he was angry at, there was always an underlying statement of love, making it clear that if they repented and turned to Him, that there would be redemption. I think that our society has lost sight of that in general.

          I am not defending this pastor or his remarks. They were unnecessary at best, and harmful at worst. But this is the modern day church, a little bit of truth mixed with a little bit of the world. As I said, I don’t follow any church or pastor for this reason, yet I listen to a lot of different pastors and preachers because there is truth available and I am ever the student. But neither am I offended by his comments because they simply are irrelevant. If I am talking to someone that has been hurt by the words of a pastor, I am going to point them to the words of Jesus instead. If I am talking to someone who is struggling with their personal identity, I am going to show them exactly what Jesus has to say about who they are. Because I am not worried about trying to kick Satan out of the house. I am more concerned about inviting Jesus in. Because once Jesus comes into my house, Satan will have already left. So why give Satan a second thought?

          As for “the world and pornography”, this is not only a modern day problem. Sex has been a problem for the church since Israel was led out of Egypt. This has been an ongoing issue for several thousand years. “There is nothing new under the sun.” I’m not saying to pretend it doesn’t exist and I’m not making excuses for it. Instead, I’m simply looking at Jesus and not at the darkness. And for some reason, you seem to be focused on Mark Driscoll (who I have also listened to) and “a bunch male leaders” and accusing them all of hiding issues with pornography. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. I don’t know because I am not so personally involved with them to know. What I do know is that Jesus had a lot to say to people who thought they were in a position to judge others. And then you accuse me directly. “Richard, you now live in a pornified perspective, if I may use you own word. It is YOUR perspective that is warped. I don’t blame you. You have simply inherited it from those who went before you.”

          You don’t even know me, and I am not even sure what perspective I have that is warped? All I know is that your kind of response ends a conversation, not encourage it. Afterall, Jesus Himself went and ate with the tax collectors and other sinners, much to the dismay of the “righteous” religious leaders who all looked down their noses at Him and ultimately murdered Him.

          Your blog posts vaguely references Jesus’ “Golden Rule” while you are calling out and condemning 3 individuals by name and criticizing with a broad brush a wide swath of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. And if you don’t consider all these people you are condemning as your brothers and sisters in Christ, you might invite the Holy Spirit to have that conversation with you. You just might be surprised by the result.

          • Mara R

            Richard, to me, after your response above, all I know is that I’m tired of men coming in and telling women that they don’t have a right to be offended when so-called pastors perpetuate pornography in the name of Jesus and the church.

            I’m also tired of men defining terms to win an argument.

            Being offended vs. righteous anger.

            When women get upset it’s bitterness and taking offense and being in sin.
            When men or Jesus get upset, it’s righteous anger.

            Men go around, constantly accusing women of sins (Not saying that you do this, just men like Howerton, Driscoll, Eggerichs and myriads more, all the time). But let a woman call out an obvious sin, and oh, darling…

            Whoever you are, whatever you stand for, what is your problem with women calling out the sins of men against men, women, children and the church?

            If you want to redefine terms by your standards and call what we are doing as taking offense and deciding that we can be dismissed because of our gender or our tone or whatever other reason you can come up with, that’s your business. But is it also a conversation stopper.

            And as for this statement: ” And if you don’t consider all these people you are condemning as your brothers and sisters in Christ, you might invite the Holy Spirit to have that conversation with you. You just might be surprised by the result.”

            Spending time with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is what got me here. When I compared the teachings of Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s leading with what Josh Howerton and similar men do, I became horrified that this is what is now mainstream. I am horrified that these men are honored as leaders, pastors, and teachers when they fall so short. Sure, they may be my brothers in Christ. But I am their sister. And they don’t mind sinning against me and their other sisters by the things they say, preach, teach, and write. All I’m doing is telling them that what they are doing is wrong and telling them to stop it. I can’t condemn. That’s God’s business. But I can and should call them out.

            I wouldn’t have to call out the fact… the absolute fact that Josh Howerton is breaking the Golden Rule, which he is. NOTHING VAGUE ABOUT IT. No matter how hard you try to be spiritual and minimize it. I wouldn’t have to call it out if those in authority would have nipped this in the bud.

            I’m also tired of men breaking the commandment “Don’t take God’s Name in vain” while they are in the pulpit or writing books. Yet they do. And again NO ONE CALLS THEM OUT ON THEIR SIN. Yes, I said it. Sin. All I see by your comment is that when women call out sin, THAT is sin. The sin of taking offense. https://frombitterwaterstosweet.blogspot.com/2024/02/the-taking-gods-name-in-vain-diversion.html

            So, bottom line. As long as men consider it their job to minimize the concerns of women and the sins against women, I’m going to continue to be a squeaky wheel shouting that the emperor has not clothes and that Josh Howerton has disqualified himself from being a pastor at the most basic level.

            James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

            1 Corinthians 14:29 Have two or three prophets speak, and have the others pass judgment.

          • Mara R

            As an aside.

            Richard, I would not have found you response except that I came here to find Casey Christian’s comment defending his pastor Josh Howerton.

            And the only reason I came looking for his comment is because I just found out that, even though he is the Director of Recovery at Lakepointe, and that he works as a licensed social worker, he quotes Andrew Tate on social media.

            This is the B.S. “leadership” that women at Lakepointe are dealing with.
            This is the garbage that has been permitted to be in authority at that church.
            (Note. Not calling Casey garbage. I’m calling his perspectives and beliefs garbage, un-Christlike, and totally disqualifying.)

            And for the life of me, Richard, I’m having trouble understanding why you think we are taking offense when we uncover these things and call this stuff out.

          • Mara R

            Okay, yay. And guess what now, Richard.

            Josh Howerton has just posted on social media that his hero is none other than Mark Driscoll, that guy you wonder why I have such a problem with. These men are not pastors. They are grifters. And they need to stop.

            The truth is, I fear God. I fear His Judgement. And I fear for these men who obviously DO NOT fear God because of the judgements they are heaping on their own heads by misrepresenting Him so very badly from the pulpit.


          • Richard

            Mara, in your comments, you asked a few questions that hopefully my response will clarify my position, and in turn, address the overall theme of all of our comments.

            I don’t have a problem with calling out sin. I don’t have a problem with women calling out sin. I do have a problem with sinning in the process. Paul said in Ephesians to “Be angry, and do not sin”. And the “sin”, like most of what Jesus taught, is about the heart posture more so than the outward actions. And the heart posture is demonstrated by the words we choose to say. Jesus says: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.” Show me how Jesus “called out sin”. For every example like fashioning a whip to drive out the money changers from the temple, there are at least 3 more where He either says nothing or asks a question allowing the person to convict themselves. He never beat anyone, male or female, into submission. And yet He does actually call everyone, male and female, into submission to Him. Go figure.

            You say that your time with Holy Spirit and the Word got you here. But then I would ask why are you on the attack side of the equation? Have you ever noticed that except for in the temple, Jesus never sought out a conflict with the religious leaders? In fact, he never actually called them out by name. Even when He was criticizing them, they had to read between the lines to conclude that He was calling them out. They came to Him to pick a fight. I think that alone tells us more about how we should be. And it is in that same vein that this will be my last “attack” comment.

            To wrap it up, I used to be a person who went online, stuck my nose in the middle of a topic, and then fought it out with anyone who disagreed with me. Then I got busy with life and had no time for that. I didn’t have much time for God either. Then I reached the next stage of my life where I needed God more than ever before. Then I discovered a perspective of God I have never learned in a church pew, and for the first time in my life I understood freedom. Now I can go back to those same pastors and church pews and listen to what they have to say and still hear God. I can see the nugget of truth wrapped up in all their 3-point sermons.

            I’m not mad at the pastors. I’m not mad at the church. And I’m not mad at the people trying to figure it all out. This whole thing started because I saw something being said that wasn’t lining up with other things being said and I wanted to ask questions to determine if I wanted to keep reading this blog for answers. The truth is that I probably will on occasion, but I will take it all with a grain of salt now that I have a better understanding of the underlying…I can’t find a better word than ‘positions’. And there is a line between standing up for oneself and being assertive versus being contentious. One is good, the other is not. And we all need to be mindful of which side of that equation we are going to fall on.

            Lastly, I remain fully aware of this warning from Jesus, not only about myself, but also of those I listen to. Matthew 7:21-23
            “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

          • Mara R

            It is easier for someone that is not on the receiving end of abuse to stand to the side and decide that it is his/her job to be the tone police.

            It is easier. It is not more spiritual.

            I am going to link a post the I wrote back in 2011 that deals with men believing that it is their job to make sure that women, even abused women, Keep Sweet, as Warren Jeffs, jailed FLDS prophet always says. He was jailed for his pedophilia. You can look him up if you like.

            But this post is about John Piper and how he believes a woman should respond to gross abuse in marriage.


            When we respond to abuse from the pulpit, we are not attacking. We are the ones who have been attacked. We are simply having a healthy response. It is a righteous anger response. Righteous anger is not stuffing our anger down and pretending we aren’t angry. That would be lying and hypocrisy that leads to bitterness. But the root bitterness is the abuse the keep sweet conspiracy that causes bitterness in the hearts of women. Being angry and not sinning doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to express it. It means, you don’t wish ill on the one you are angry with. I don’t wish ill on Josh. But I do wish he would stop spouting his misogyny from a place of authority in the church. And I have the right to say so. And I can say it with feeling. Even if men who don’t like anger in women mislabel it attacking.

            Richard, there is a cancer in the body of Christ, in the Evangelical expression of it. It is an aggressive cancer that is growing and radicalizing many young men who profess to be Christian but who act like the devil. When you are dealing with an aggressive cancer, keeping sweet won’t do a damn thing. You have to be aggressive in treating it.

            As I said above. If the men of the church had dealt with this cancer earlier instead of letting it tickle their ears, then I wouldn’t have to say a thing. I could stay off the to side, protected by men doing their jobs. But that didn’t happen.

            So, as I said above, I will continue to be a squeaky wheel. I’ve been doing it for over a decade and I’m tired. I wish men like you would recognize the danger and awake from your passivity and protect women from this cancer. But I think you prefer sleep.

          • Mara R

            I know we are done with this conversation. But in case you ever come back here, Richard, to review and re-evaluate, I thought I’d link this Substack post by a guy that talks about the harm that the masculine “It’s just a joke” culture is truly causing to men, women, boys, and girls, families, the church, and modern American culture.


    • Jo R

      When does the wife get to direct her husband? Is she even allowed to direct her husband, or would that impugn his “leadership” and be “disrespectful” on her part?

      Is she allowed to say any of the following to him?

      “Honey, I enjoy intercourse, but it doesn’t begin to stimulate me to orgasm the way it so obviously does for you. Would you give me a solid fifteen or thirty minutes of oral sex with at least one orgasm so that I can enjoy sex as much as you do?”

      “Please go a little slower.”

      “A little to the left.”

      “That’s more ticklish than stimulating, so would you use a bit more pressure?”

      “I’m too tired for any sexual activity tonight.”

      And how about either of these?

      “Would you please clean up the kitchen while I run the kids through bath and bedtime?”

      “Would you run the kids through bath and bedtime while I clean up the kitchen?”

      If you’ve never read the unfortunately most popular “Christian” sex and marriage books, then you would have no idea they’re filled with statements that men need sex in a way that women don’t, that women don’t like sex, that women should make their husbands feel like the husbands are good in bed even if the wives never orgasm, that’s its actually selfish for wives to want their husbands to do any sort of sexual activity that doesn’t stimulate the husbands, that women’s ability to orgasm at all and let alone multiple times in a row is never mentioned.

      That’s the current too many Christians swim in. It’s what’s in the air we breathe. That’s why when women are erased YET AGAIN the way josh did in his little “joke,” and by someone who’s supposed to shepherd ALL the sheep, not just the ones with a penis, yeah, it’s going to be called out. A bit like Paul did to Peter, which is opposing him to his face in public, because public teaching not only needs but deserves public rebuke WHEN SAID TEACHING IS WRONG.

      None of this should be hard to understand.


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