The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Well, I’m doing both, so I guess you all better get busy! 🙂
This isn’t going to be a long post today, but instead more of an update. It’s Victoria Day here in Canada, where we get a day off. I know for you Americans the vacation is next Monday, and I’m jealous, since next Monday is my birthday (and I turn 50!). And perhaps today is a holiday in the UK and Australia and New Zealand as well? I don’t know.
But regardless, I’ve got a LOT of knitting and organizing and stretching scheduled for today, and very little work.
I also really need a day off because we sent in our manuscript for The Great Sex Rescue on Friday.
I spent the weekend in a bit of a haze, recovering from the marathon of work we did.
But that is what I’m rejoicing about: My big project is done! And it’s an important project–probably the most important I’ve ever done. The book is based on the survey of 22,000 people we did in the fall, asking about different teachings we often hear in the evangelical church about sex and marriage, and then seeing how those teachings affected women’s marital satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and rates of sexual pain. And in the book, we lay out what healthy teaching looks like, what women have too often been told instead, and the results when we believe the harmful stuff rather than the helpful stuff. We combed through the best-selling Christian sex and marriage books to find out what they teach, and those quotes are peppered throughout the book.
We’re not quite done, because it will still go through an editing process with the publisher, but we’re a lot closer, and I’m very grateful. And very excited.
But writing that book was also very difficult, and that’s why I’m lamenting.
We heard so many heartbreaking stories of how teachings like “all men struggle with lust” affected women, and so many stories of marital rape and other horrendous things. We heard some amazing and heartwarming stories, too, and it was wonderful to be able to tell hopeful stories (and I think the book does sound hopeful). But there’s a lot of hurt out there. An awful lot of hurt.
And it bothers me greatly that the church has ignored it.
Let me take one data point, that Rebecca and I talked about in two podcasts now: the story of Aunt Matilda as written in The Act of Marriage by Tim Lahaye.
We read that story in our podcast on The Act of Marriage, but if I could summarize the story, a young woman is married to an older man, and on their wedding night he rapes her while she is screaming and fighting him off. He continues to do this throughout their marriage. She then warns her niece who is to be married that sex is terrible. Lahaye’s take is, “isn’t it so awful that Aunt Matilda wrecked this girl’s view of sex just because Matilda didn’t like sex herself?” And then LaHaye made reference to Matilda and her “equally unhappy” husband in this terrible marriage with terrible sex.
That book sold 2.5 million copies. It went through at least four editions.
And no one thought to say, “You know, maybe saying that a rapist and his victim are ‘equally unhappy’ is a really bad idea.”
In The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I make an argument that God made sex to be amazing in three ways: physically, emotionally, and spiritually, all at the same time. I set up a healthy, and fun, view of sex for women, free from shame or ugliness. And that’s an important and hopeful book.
But now we’ve realized that while The Good Girl’s Guide is very necessary, we also need another piece of the puzzle. It isn’t enough to just explain what “good” looks like. We also have to rescue people from the bad stuff. We have to help people see where they may have believed lies, and show them how they can let those go by the wayside and emerge with a much healthier view of sex.
The quotes we found from the books will shock you. There are so many, and Aunt Matilda is just one. But why did no one think to pull that story? Why did no one realize, “that’s a really bad thing?”
My guess is that people did realize. It’s just that they had no voice.
I’m sure many, many women reading that story were appalled. I’m sure they wanted to do what I did to that book when I first read it back in 1990–I drowned it in the bathtub.
But back in 1990 I couldn’t do anything about it. And I think that’s how thousands, if not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, of individual women felt.
Well, now we’ve got the voices of 20,000 women. We’ve got stories. We’ve got data. We know what treating marital rape like this does to women. We know what the lust message and the obligation sex message and the gatekeeper message do to women. And now we have a publisher who is willing to tell the story.
So we can finally do something about Aunt Matilda. That makes me rejoice, yes. But it also makes me really, really sad that this was necessary in the first place.
And so I need a break, and I’m going to go knit and clean out a closet! And thank you all for rejoicing, and lamenting, with me.