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.”
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.”
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
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 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.
6. Keep your body in shape and look your best.
“Men are visual creatures.”
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. “
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!
8. Your husband is your master.
“God expects you to always respect his absolute authority over you,”
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.”
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).
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.”
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.
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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