The Great Sex Rescue has been featured in two amazing places lately–and I wanted to point you to both!
First, Relevant Magazine ran an excerpt from chapter 2–so if you’d like a taste of what The Great Sex Rescue is like, this is a great place to start!
Our new book has been out since March 2, and it’s doing very well. The reviews have been amazing (and if you’ve read it, we’d love for you to rate and review on Amazon and/or Goodreads!). As most of you know, it’s based on our survey of 20,000 women, where we looked at how common evangelical teachings have affected women’s marital and sexual satisfaction, and looked at how too many of our best-sellers teach some problematic things.
In chapter 2, we were making the point that sex is supposed to be more than just physical. It’s supposed to be deeply intimate as well, which means that it’s not only about a husband’s physical release (no matter what books like Love & Respect may say!).
Here’s just a taste:
In healthy marriages, sometimes the solution really is that you both need to have some sex. But sex cannot fix selfishness or laziness. It cannot fix an abusive relationship. It cannot cure an affair or porn use or lust. It is dangerous to tell a reader to have sex with an abusive spouse. If you are in an abusive relationship, where you feel as if you have to walk on eggshells to avoid setting off your spouse, and you feel unsafe, please call an abuse hotline. Having sex cannot fix serious issues in your relationship….
Sex can’t be intimate if you feel like you don’t matter. In fact, that’s not even sex; that’s only intercourse, and that’s a pale imitation of what God intended. Sex, after all, is so highly personal. You’re naked in a way that you wouldn’t be with anyone else; you show a side of yourself to each other that you would never show to anyone else; you experience passion in a way in which you are most yourself, in which you let go of control and surrender to the moment. Because of that surrender and vulnerability, sex becomes the culmination of you as a couple, not just you as bodies. It is physical, yes, but it’s so much more than that.
This intense vulnerability may be what holds the key to why emotional closeness makes such a difference to women’s sexual satisfaction: emotional closeness brings trust. When you feel close to your spouse and can trust them, it’s easier to speak up: “Hey, you know what I’d like to try?” or “I don’t actually like that, can we try something else?” That’s what’s likely behind our finding that women who experience closeness during sex are far more likely to have husbands who excel at foreplay. Emotional connection simply cannot be divorced from sexual connection. They are meant to feed each other.
Similar to what we talked about last week in what comes first: sex or friendship? You really do need both! Sex on its own can’t fix a broken relationship, but in a good marriage, the two things feed each other.
Then the Wonderful Aimee Byrd chimed in with a bigger review
Aimee Byrd, who has herself challenged the idea that Christianity is supposed to be about men being in power, has been reading The Great Sex Rescue, too. Last week she published her first post on it, and then she wrapped it all up yesterday in a post called Sex Ed for the Church. The stuff she chose to comment on was the stuff that resonated the most with me, too, so I’m glad she read it the way that I intended to write it!
I’m just going to post a few of her observations from her posts. First, Recovering from Christian Marriage and Sex Books. Aimee first explains our project, our survey, and what we’re setting out to do, and writes how she’s talking to her husband as she’s reading our book, with all the terrible quotes from bestsellers, and thinking, “Thank goodness we didn’t read all this crap!” She explains what we’re trying to do:
Only halfway through, I see that she is not holding back. Good for her. She gets at the meaningfulness and intimacy of sex contrasted with what we are learning in the church. There’s even a chapter on “Bridging the Orgasm Gap” between men and women. Again, very revealing. Each chapter is loaded with graphs of statistics, practical check-ins for the reader, medical support, practical ways to talk about the content with your spouse and grow together, and a “Rescue and Reframing” concluding section, spelling out what should have already been settled knowledge.
Then she chooses one particular topic to delve into in more detail for her first post–namely lust.
[The authors quote] from multiple books but one that has taken the steering wheel on this teaching is Every Man’s Battle and its offshoots promoting “bouncing your eyes” away from women. There are so many harmful premises in this teaching: that noticing beauty itself is equated with lusting, that all men cannot make this distinction, that attractive women are their enemy as threats to their purity, that women must conceal their attractiveness, that married women must view other women as threats to their marriage, that beauty must be consumed, that Christian men are animalistic and unable to conquer sinful thoughts, and that women really can’t trust their husbands. This teaching turns women into slippery slopes—not people. I don’t even understand how we can live under this principle.
I encourage you to read the whole thing! I know Aimee is working on a book about redeeming sexuality and beauty, too, and I’m looking forward to what she has to say.
Then, yesterday, Aimee published her review after she had finished reading all of The Great Sex Rescue.
She explains how our rubric worked, and how books like The Gift of Sex scored near perfect (47/48), while Love & Respect literally scored 0/48. She shows examples of our rubric questions to see how eminently reasonable they are–they’re not that high a bar to jump over! And yet far too many of our books didn’t even try to be healthy.
And then she says:
It is an eye-opening book. It’s full of graphs and statistics from their research to reveal what sadly isn’t basic knowledge in the church. You know, it’s full of shocking findings such as, “Women who feel their voice matters in marriage report better sex.” We should be surprised that this needs to be said, but studies show that it very much does!
And she picks up on our motivations and intentions, too:
The authors of The Great Sex Rescue are not out to bash men. In fact, they even point out how sometimes women are raised in this teaching and the husbands become horrified to discover how their wives have been thinking for years about their love life in the bedroom. The authors are wanting to help both men and women learn more about how sex is an intimate knowing in the union of marriage which is deeply personal and should be mutually pleasurable.
And it sounds like she had similar emotions reading the book as we had writing it!
There is a powerful chapter on consent in marriage. This is where I about had it. They gave examples from prominent Christian books, like Every Heart Restored, Every Man’s Battle, His Needs, Her Needs, and The Act of Marriage where marriage rape is described and not named and rebuked. The context is usually around the man’s needs and the responsibility is placed on the coerced woman. Predation is normalized. In the church. Let that sink in.
The Great Sex Rescue
Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.
What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the things that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these messages?
Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.
And remember–if you’ve read the book, when you rate and review it on Amazon or Goodreads you help us out a lot!
I love this one who featured it in her Instagram story yesterday, too. Look at all those sticky notes!
Were there any sections of The Great Sex Rescue that you really resonated with? Or where you were ready to throw a fit because you were so angry at what had been taught in our best-sellers? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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