Interview with the Authors of The Great Sex Rescue (book discusses erroneous, sexist Christian views about women and how this hinders sex – among other issues)
I’ve read quite a bit about this “Sex Rescue” book, and it covers a lot of the topics I’ve been covering on this blog literally for years now.
Christians – especially the gender complementarians – operate under a faulty assumption that only men like and want sex, while women do not – so most of their sex lectures and sex material gives all sorts of sexist, awful advice, or tells Christians that women only have “emotional needs,” while women’s sexual preferences are never raised.
Every pastor I’ve ever heard sermonize about the topic just tells men to occasionally cater to their wife’s emotional needs, but they don’t bring up what a woman may want sexually.
The Christian assumption is that all men are sex-crazed horn dogs, and the wives are obligated to have sex with their spouses, even if they are sick or not in the mood, etc.
I’ve discussed all that on this blog for years (and more), and this book apparently also discusses such issues.
by Rachel Joy Welcher
June 3, 2021
The Great Sex Rescue sets out to correct harmful and unbiblical teachings on sex and marriage—specifically those messages perpetuated by the evangelical church and popular Christian books.
Not only that, it presents a way forward for couples who have suffered from these messages; a path that is guided by scripture and selfless love.
…Sheila Wray Gregoire, along with her daughter, author and psychology graduate, Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, and epidemiologist and statistician, Joanna Sawatsky, bravely tackle these harmful teachings, with a high view of marriage, God’s plan for sex, and for scripture.
You may not agree with every conclusion or piece of advice, but this is a resource we need as we continue to deconstruct unbiblical teachings on sex, purity, and marriage.
Welcher: It is clear from your writings that you care about female sexual flourishing; that you don’t want women left behind in marriage.
In The Great Sex Rescue, you cite example after example from popular Christian books where male sexual pleasure in marriage is prioritized and women are discussed merely as vehicles to accomplish this, rather than as equal sexual partners.
Why do you think the mutuality of sexual self-giving in marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:4–5 has largely been ignored in Christian writings and teachings on marriage?
Were you able to trace this idea to a specific book, era, or misinterpretation of the passage?
Gregoire: Let’s talk numbers: women buy the books, and men don’t. I’ve read that 74% of nonfiction relationship books are bought and read by women.
Why don’t men buy these books? Men often don’t feel the same societal pressure to fix relationships, while men are also discouraged from thinking about their feelings very much. Thus, when relationship troubles come up, men are more likely to retreat than to try to address them. If we want to fix relationships, then, we tend to address women.
Even if you look at a marriage book aimed at couples, you’ll find that the majority of the advice is given to women (do the highlighter test; take a pink highlighter and a blue highlighter on any given chapter, and then look afterwards at which color is used more!).
When you combine this with the evangelical habit of having men speak to men or couples, and women only speak to women, we find that most of our sex books were written by men (or by couples where women only contribute one chapter).
I think if a woman were writing, we’d see a lot fewer questions like this one from Love & Respect: “Why would you deprive him of something that takes such a short amount of time and makes him sooooo happy?” Women would know that bragging about taking a short amount of time is not actually a plus.
Welcher: In your book, you make a distinction between intimacy and intercourse. What is the difference, and why is this distinction important?
Gregoire: This is one of my biggest pet peeves! If I were to ask our dear readers: “Did you have sex last night?” chances are everyone is picturing something specific in their head, and chances are that “something” is intercourse: penis in vagina until he reaches climax. The problem with that definition is that her experience is missing. …
Welcher: We have both discovered from our interviews that men want more than just mere physical release; that they, in fact, often feel unfairly depicted as animalistic, when emotion and connection matter to them as well.
Why do you think that Christian culture has persisted in depicting men in this way? What damage has this caused in Christian marriages?
Gregoire: Honestly, we’ve struggled to understand this too, because the depiction of men in Every Man’s Battle, who want women to be their “methadone,” or in Love & Respect, who can’t handle a woman asking him to pick up his wet towel off of the bed, is completely the opposite of most men that we know.
We wonder if part of it is generational. Those who write the majority of our evangelical bestsellers in sex and marriage tend to be white males from seventy to ninety (and some have now passed away, though their books still sell).
When evangelicals started addressing sex in a big way in the 1970s, it was a reaction against the sexual revolution.
They were trying to show how sex could be great in marriage while still preserving their idea of the nuclear family, which meant male leadership and authority, and so women’s needs were almost an afterthought.
[Answering another question]
….Gregoire: Most women experiencing sexual pain can still have sex. Seven percent can’t, but most can. With erectile dysfunction, you can’t have sex.
Our measure of a successful sex life is not the experience of both partners, but rather it seems to be how often a man gets sex.
And perhaps unintentionally, this has resulted in an incredibly calloused stance towards women’s sexual experience where their pain is not even a consideration as long as he gets his needs met. I simply can’t think of any other reason for the total lack of information on women’s sexual pain…
… Our survey has now revealed why: there are certain key teachings, such as the obligation-sex message, that cause vaginismus rates to skyrocket. Women should not have to endure pain just so their husbands, who are called to sacrificially love their wives as they do their own bodies, can receive pleasure, and yet that is exactly what is happening.
Welcher: What did you mean when you said: “The key to sexual pleasure is not a wedding ring”?
Gregoire: We make it sound like once you’re married, sex will be easy and stupendous and sex before marriage will be disappointing and shallow. In fact, that’s simply not the case. Many Christians will tell you that they had amazing sex before marriage, and then it fizzled out.
…we’d encourage people to stop thinking of libido in gendered terms—that he will need sex every seventy-two hours, and she must provide it even if she doesn’t want it. In fact, in our survey, we found 19% of women report higher sex drives than their husbands, and another 23% report the same sex drive. It’s only in 58% of marriages that he has the higher sex drive.
Please (Link): click here to read the rest of that page
(Link): Study: Men Think About Sports More Than Sex by J. Gratton