Sometimes the way that Christian resources talk about sexual coercion and abuse makes me want to cry.
When writing The Great Sex Rescue, we read the 10 bestselling marriage books (we excluded 3 because they didn’t talk enough about sex) and 6 iconic sex books. Of the 13 books that we looked at, not a single one used the word consent in the context of marital rape or coercion.
In fact, some even made rape seem like not a big deal (and hence my dedication to Aunt Matilda, from Tim LaHaye’s Act of Marriage).
Well, on Instagram and Facebook I like to put up “Fixed It For You”s where I take a quote from a Christian book and I “fix” it so that it’s no longer toxic.
I get amazing feedback on these, and people keep asking me to do more (so if you have any sentences you want me to fix, let me know!).
You can browse them on my Instagram profile, and I’ve done other posts featuring these. But I thought today I’d run my five most recent ones, which, as I look back over them, seem to have a common theme–coercion.
I was supposed to launch our sexual confidence series today–the post is almost done! Truly!. But I got carried away with all the responses to yesterday’s announcement about Gary Thomas, especially on social media. So thank you for your support! We’re also starting the drive home from New Brunswick today, and we had to get up and leave super early. So the sexual confidence post will likely come on Friday!
Okay, on the Fixed it For Yous! Let’s start with this one from John Piper, which went huge (and for each image, if you click on it it will take you to Instagram where you can also read the long comment that I put up with each quote! It’s often more nuanced that my simple “fix”):
If you want to see the context of this quote, find it here. He later did try to clarify his remarks, but he never apologized or told women that they didn’t need to go to the elders–and John Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist, has excommunicated women who left their abusive husbands.
But let’s turn to sexual coercion.
What do our resources say about rape?
Well, according to Every Heart Restored, a book from the Every Man’s Battle series by Steve Arterburn and Fred Stoeker, there’s an acceptable quota. He’s allowed to coerce you once a day, but beyond that it’s too much.
What about advice to teens about abuse and sexual coercion?
Here’s where things get even sadder to me. Rebecca and I have spoken about the problems with the book For Young Women Only before on the podcast, and we addressed this particular quote when we looked at how Christian books make men seem fragile.But here Shaunti Feldhahn is telling teenage girls that if a boy is angry at her, it’s likely because she disrespected him.
Think about that: she is telling girls that one of the main red flags of an abusive relationship is actually her fault, and she should internalize the blame for it. Holy cow.
Now let’s get into what Shaunti tells girls about date rape.
In her book, she talks about her survey where, according to her, 82% of boys said they had little ability and felt little responsibility to stop teh sexual progression. We’ve taken apart that survey question line by line, but think about the implications of this original quote. That’s horrifying.
What’s her most precious treasure?
Let’s end with the biggest one so far, that got the most likes on Instagram. It’s not about coercion per se, but rather straight from purity culture, where a couple has sex–but only she is to blame.
In Chapter 4 of The Great Sex Rescue we looked at how messages like this one–that a girl is responsible for being the gatekeeper, because he can’t help himself–end up seriously hurting her ability to get aroused once she gets married–and we walk you through step by step how to overcome this.
Jesus doesn’t kill the soul, but messages like these do.
Will you continue to speak up with me? Will you continue to ask Christian resources to do better than this–and to stop using any Christian resources that spread messages like these?
When we start speaking up and when we refuse to accept these, then we’ll raise the bar, and stuff like this will no longer be able to be said.
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.
Which one horrified you the most? Have a quote you’d like me to “fix”? Let me know in the comments!
(Also, Connor is doing a lot of technical work on the blog today to try to fix some glitches with the comments. If you leave a comment this afternoon, and it disappears, sorry about that! But we should be good for most of the day!).
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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