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We all know there are lots of crazies on the internet saying super toxic things using biblical language.

And it’s generally best to ignore those people, I figure. We shouldn’t give fringe people traffic!

This week, though, about 20 different people have sent me an article about 10 rules of sex for Christian wives. It’s from a gross misogynist website, and I wasn’t going to talk about it–but people keep leaving the link on Facebook and in my Instagram messages, so obviously it’s resonating!

I was thinking about how to address it, and here’s the thing: It actually doesn’t bother me that much that weird anonymous fringe sites say horrible things. I don’t think it’s worth our time really.

But in reading this particular article, what struck me is that its 10 points are echoed in our Christian bestsellers.

When you see the 10 points written out, with no context, you can tell they’re toxic and gross. But when those same points are used in books, we don’t notice it as much. Maybe the toxic stuff is only 5%, and it’s couched with great anecdotes and stories and other reasonable parts, so we don’t tend to notice that it’s toxic.

But it still is toxic.

Today what I’d like to do, then, is to take those 10 points and show where they’re echoed in our best-selling books and on mainstream Christian websites.

And Trigger Warning–they’re pretty gross. I edited them down for length and left the most disgusting parts out.

I’m NOT going to link to the original fringe article. My blog gets lots of Google juice, and if I link to it, I give it credibility with Google, and I will not do that. If you really want to find it, you can search for it, but I’d advise against it. And please–don’t link to it or share it on social media. That’s what the guy who writes it wants. Just let it be.

Instead of focusing on this fringe stuff, which we can so easily see is gross, let’s call out our best-sellers which say the same things, just in prettier language.

I’m also not going to refute any of these points. Honestly, I’ve done that enough; just read The Great Sex Rescue for why all of this is toxic! My main aim is to show how our best-sellers often say the same thing. Just like Meghan Tschanz shared on yesterday’s podcast, often the beliefs that contribute to sex trafficking and abuse are actually based on mainstream teachings in the evangelical world. (And that podcast was awesome if you haven’t listened to it yet!)

So here we go! The 10 points the fringe blog post mentions–and how they’re echoed in our “mainstream” evangelical culture. Let’s not let this be acceptable anymore!

1. You Must Obey Your Husband.

“Obedience means complete obedience. No exceptions….Respect your husband’s authority over you in every aspect of your life.”

“Scripture commands wives to give their husbands unconditional respect.”

“Will a man take advantage of being head of the family by putting down and even abusing his wife and children? Yes, this is possible, but because it is possible does not mean a woman should refuse to allow her husband to be the head.”

“What your husband wants is your acknowledgment that he is the leader, the one in authority…No smoothly running organization can have two heads. To set up a marriage with two equals at the head is to set it up for failure…In essence, these marriages do not have anyone who is in charge. God knew someone had to be in charge, and that is why Scripture clearly teaches that, in order for things to work, the wife is called upon to defer to her husband.”

Love & Respect

“Submission never came naturally to me,” she said. “It was even harder to submit when my respect for Fred’s spirituality was at its all-time low. During our days of severe fighting and in-law problems, I would ask myself, Why should I submit to someone who is worse off spiritually than I am? But I knew I should submit for the sake of the Lord. I knew His ways were for the best.”

 

Every Heart Restored

“Part of making a house a home is allowing your husband to be the head…God placed the husband as the head over the family, whether he deserves it or not…It’s God’s order of things…If your husband is to be the head of the house, you must allow him that headship.”
Power of a Praying Wife


2. Your main pleasure from sex comes from pleasing your husband.

“Sometimes sex will be physically pleasureful for you and sometimes it won’t be physically pleasureful for you, but either way if you satisfy your husband then you will be fulfilled knowing that you have pleased your man.”

“If your husband is typical, he has a need you don’t have.”

“She decided to minister to her husband sexually, not because she particularly wanted to, but because she wanted to do it as unto Jesus Christ. She just didn’t have that need for sex.”

Love & Respect

“A wise and considerate woman goes out of her way to let her man know that he is a good lover and that she enjoys their relations together.” (so she must tell him he’s a good lover, but he doesn’t necessarily need to be one.)

 

The Act of Marriage

“If responding physically is out of the question, let your words be heart words—reassuring, affirming, adoring.”

 

For Women Only

So many books stress his need for sex, and his need for her to reassure him even if she’s not enjoying herself. Many simultaneously say that she doesn’t need sex. 

3. Your husband, as leader and provider, needs sex to relieve stress.

“Sometimes your husband is going to demand sex at an inconvenient time, or when you are tired.”

“Though you know you should pray for him and fulfill him sexually, sometimes you won’t want to. Talk to each other openly and honestly, then do the right thing.”
Every Man's Battle

“The only activity that is to break regular sexual relations is prayer and fasting for some specific cause, and this is to be only by mutual consent for a very limited time.”

“When you are not having intercourse as frequently as you were prior to pregnancy, you should offer manual stimulation to him—particularly during the period of abstention.”

Intended for Pleasure

“This means that there may be times when you have sex out of mercy, obligation, or commitment and without any real desire. Yes, it may feel forced. It might feel planned, and you may fight to stop yourself from just shoving your partner away and saying, “Enough already!” But the root issue is this: You’re acting out of love. You’re honouring your commitment. And that’s a wonderful thing to do.”

“There are times for whatever reason that a wife may choose to make use of what younger men affectionately refer to as “hand jobs”. A woman with heavy periods that last six or seven days, or who has just gotten through a pregnancy, or perhaps is simply not feeling her best, may genuinely feel that sex is more than she can handle. But with a minimum of effort, she can help her husband who feels like he’s about ready to climb the walls because it’s been so long.”

Sheet Music

In our 12-point rubric of healthy sexuality teaching, the element that our books as a whole scored the worst on was giving women the ability to say no when they don’t want to have sex. Many books say that women are obligated to give their husbands sex, and many books even contain examples of marital rape without calling them that, or without saying that marital rape is bad.

4. You must submit to him, even if he wants something degrading or humiliating.

“A man wants an enthusiastic sexual partner.”

 

“The husband must be 100 percent committed to loving his wife. The wife must be 100 percent committed to being submissive.”

“Submission is the most important gift a wife can give her husband. A responsive and receptive wife willingly demonstrates that she surrenders her freedom for his love, adoration, protection, and provision.”

Intended for Pleasure

“Without foreplay, he raped me–if that can happen when you’re married.” (The authors fail to note that rape actually CAN happen in marriage).

 

Every Heart Restored

Too many of our books stress the responsibility of the wife to be submissive to the husband, often without giving any caveat about drawing boundaries around dangerous, unwanted, or degrading behavior. 

5. You must meet his sexual needs the way your husband chooses.

“He is going to train you to please him the way he wants and you need to work your hardest to learn what he likes and to always be attentive to his particular needs and preferences.”

 

“Their maidenly inhibitions and misconceptions compel them to lie on their backs and allow the vigorous young husbands to satisfy themselves.”

“Young wives may equate their husbands’ youthful passion with bestiality, not realizing that their husbands’ drives are not unique, but characteristic of most normal men.”

The Act of Marriage

“You absolutely must learn how your husband is sexually wired if you ever want to escape your pain and rebuild a satisfying marriage.”

 

Every Heart Restored

Many books portray men as understanding sex, while women need to be taught about it–primarily because men masturbate when they are teens, and so that somehow teaches them more about sex, or because men watch porn so they understand better how things work. Women are often portrayed as naive, needing to be students of their husbands.

The Great Sex Rescue

Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.

Great Sex Rescue Cover - 10 Fringe Toxic Christian Beliefs about Sex That Aren't So Fringe

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.

6. Keep your body in shape and look your best.

“Men are visual creatures.”

“Sometimes it is so hard for us to look away. It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort. But it helps me so much if I see that my wife is willing to do her part and purposefully work toward staying in shape and looking good.”

 

For Women Only

“Look pretty. Keep smiling. Don’t complain. Receive your husband with open arms!”
Intended for Pleasure

“What am I doing to make myself attractive to my husband? Do I keep myself clean and smelling good? Do I see that my internal self is cleansed and rejuvenated with regular exercise?…Do I dress attractively?”
Power of a Praying Wife

Most books we looked at stressed the importance of a woman keeping up her appearance, without the same instruction to men.

7. Wear clothing your husband instructs, even if you feel embarrassed.

“Men like to show off their wives. Wearing revealing clothes does not make you a slut. “

 

“She should try to look the way her husband likes her to look. She should resemble the woman he married. Does that mean a woman must stay eternally young? Of course not, but getting old is not an excuse for gaining weight and dressing like a bag lady.”
His Needs, Her Needs

We need to discover what makes us attractive to our husbands. What clothing, hairstyle, or makeup do they find most appealing? (As always, the standard of “modesty and self-control” set forth in 1 Timothy 2:8-10 applies.) And we should strive to care for our appearance — not only when we go out, but also at home where only our husbands see us. As my childhood pastor used to say, “If the barn needs painting, paint it!” Well, what color should that barn be painted? The answer is, whatever is attractive to our husbands!

Desiring God National Conference

Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Wife Needs to Know

While the books didn’t explicitly say that you should wear revealing clothing, many tell women that they must obey their husbands (see other points), and that they should not have boundaries with their husbands. 

8. Your husband is your master.

“God expects you to always respect his absolute authority over you,”

 

“A man may have many bosses outside the home, but inside the home, he has the opportunity to kindly provide authority and to receive his rightful respect.”
Sheet Music

“God designed man to be the aggressor, provider, and leader of his family. Somehow that is tied to his sex drive.”

 

The Act of Marriage

“Grant your husband authority, as Scripture describes it, and things are much more likely to fall into place. If you try to undermine his authority or subtly rebel against it, the Crazy Cycle will spring to life.”

 

Love & Respect

So many of the books talked about submission as being tied to his sex drive, and never showed how women could draw boundaries if the husband was doing something hurtful or bad. 


9. Your husband may punish you if you fall short.

“Be grateful that he takes the time to correct your behavior and thank him for helping to make you a better Christian wife.”

“Husbands are to do everything in their power to promote their wives’ holiness….At times, though, it will also include correction. We all still fight with sin. We all need to be progressively sanctified. Even the most Christlike wives will sometimes need an honest, loving word to get back on course…So, if we want a marriage that brings glory to Christ, we’ll need to correct our wives by speaking the truth in love.” -(I refute this article here).

 

Desiring God Website

Husbands, Get Her Ready for Jesus

Love & Respect records many instances of Eggerichs withholding love from his wife when she tried to draw an appropriate boundary to teach her how he wanted her to act–for instance, telling her he didn’t miss her when she left for a week because he was glad she wasn’t nagging him about leaving wet towels on the bed. (the result? He gets to keep leaving wet towels on the bed, and she stops complaining).

 

Love & Respect

When books treat men as the absolute authority in marriage, it’s not a far stretch to say that they are also responsible for correcting and punishing their wives–since the wives are seen more like children. 

10. Be your husband’s sexual pet.

“A sexually satisfied husband makes for a happy home and marriage, and the key to a sexually satisfied husband is a wife who thinks of his sexual pleasure and embraces her submission to him.”

 

“The very nature of the act of marriage involves feminine surrender.”

“As we know, in sexual intercourse, as in life, man is the actor, woman the passive one, the receiver, the acted upon.”

The Act of Marriage

“If you call yourself a Christian, and if you’re committed to being obedient to what the Bible teaches, then you’ll have to learn to fulfill sexual obligations within marriage.”
Sheet Music

Many books match a woman’s meeting his sexual needs with a woman’s submission. She submits to him in the bedroom, as she does in the rest of life. 


Hopefully you can see how the “fringe” toxic beliefs actually have their roots in mainstream evangelical advice.

Am I saying that the books are as bad as this website? No, not in most cases. But the roots of toxic beliefs within the church are in the misguided way we talk about marriage–where the husband’s needs are paramount, and the wife can’t say no to him.

If you want to see more about how these books (and others) scored on our rubric of healthy sexuality teaching, you can access it here!

Some Books Are Great

In that rubric, that we used to analyze the books we looked at for The Great Sex Rescue, the highest score a book could receive was 48. The Gift of Sex by the Penners received 47/48, and is a great book. Boundaries in Marriage also scored really well, at 42. So scoring well was certainly not out of reach. It just meant that you considered women’s needs as much as you considered husband’s, and you didn’t blame women for men’s sins.

But all of the books I mentioned in this post scored in the harmful category (Intended for Pleasure did a little bit better, but only because it didn’t mention affairs at all, and so didn’t get docked points for handling them badly. But it did handle other things quite badly).

We have some really, really good books in the evangelical world that you could never use to support such fringe, toxic teachings. The Great Sex Rescue, especially, dispells so many of these myths.

So, please, if we want to get rid of the toxic websites, instead of focusing on them, let’s clean up what Christian resources we recommend.

Let’s stop perpetuating the books that and websites that feed into these same lines of thinking, and let’s promote healthy ones. Then everyone will be able to see what toxic really is, and people won’t get sucked in by gross websites anymore.

10 Fringe Toxic Beliefs Sex - 10 Fringe Toxic Christian Beliefs about Sex That Aren't So Fringe
4d5d2dc667e7acd64221c42a103248a4?s=96&d=mm&r=g - 10 Fringe Toxic Christian Beliefs about Sex That Aren't So Fringe

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila has been married to Keith for 28 years, and happily married for 25! (It took a while to adjust). She’s also an award-winning author of 8 books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila is passionate about changing the evangelical conversation about sex and marriage to line up with kingdom principles. ENTJ, straight 8

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