I’m reeling right now.
I was going to start the sexual confidence series today, and that post is 85% done, but when I got up to finish it this morning I checked my email and now I can’t think straight, and so I’d just like to tell you about it instead.
As I’ve mentioned before, Gary Thomas and I were once very good friends.
He would send his manuscripts to me to ask advice about the parts on female sexuality; he would endorse my books (and Rebecca’s); I would endorse his. We spoke together. We frequently emailed and talked.
At one point, I actually thought he might write the foreword for The Great Sex Rescue, because we had spoken on the phone about the problems with the books that I critique, and he knew they were problematic.
But when I sent him the manuscript last summer, he declined to endorse it, saying he didn’t like our approach of calling out other books (and that he didn’t agree with our take on lust). I was, frankly, shocked and hurt–I thought he understood, I had expected him to love the book. However, I made it clear that this didn’t need to damage our friendship at all because I understood that I was taking a risk by calling out these people so publicly. He also said that he didn’t want to damage our relationship at all, and really respected what I was doing even if he could not publicly endorse.
He has since written Married Sex with counselor Deb Fileta (which even after he declined to endorse our book, I still offered to help him with, and which I offered to run any stats for that they wanted from our dataset, but they never asked).
Gary put up a blog post advertising his new book that some of our patrons brought to our attention because they thought he had plagiarized me. I read it, and got a funny feeling about the new book. We attained an advanced copy and quickly searched for some key phrases.
It only took a matter of seconds to find our ideas, our research, our message in his book with zero citation attributing it to us.
Ironically, Gary and my friendship started when, in 2013, he sent me an email saying that in a blog post I had used his idea that God is your father-in-law and hadn’t cited him. Although Keith actually said that to me first when we were newlyweds, and that’s where I actually got the idea from, I quickly apologized and added a citation and an amazon link where people could buy his book because I wanted to do the right thing. That was the starting point of our friendship.
And in previous books and articles, Gary has cited me when he used my ideas–even the exact same ideas he failed to cite in his new book. I also found a phrase that was almost identical to one of our big takeaways in The Great Sex Rescue. But one thing was missing: a citation crediting those ideas to our work.
Gary read The Great Sex Rescue, AND he belonged to my mailing list for years, with a 76% open rate on my daily emails with my blog posts. He read all of my stuff. He is very familiar with my wording. He has openly cited me in the past.
But now, now that we have data that calls out some of his friends in high places, now he decided not to follow the ethical and moral standards in publishing and cite where he gets his information. Because we are a tainted source.
I asked him and his publisher to cite me in future printings of his book and in the ebook.
I’ve been involved in a prolonged conversation with publishers, etc. While people agreed it didn’t rise to the level of a lawsuit, it was clear that morally and ethically he had should cite me. He had in the past for the same stuff, and the new phrase was ours. This conversation started before our post about the neuroscience research last Friday, and he had already said no before we started speaking up about the problems in his book.
I just found out this morning that rather than cite us, he has chosen to remove all the offending bits from future printings.
I’m so toxic he doesn’t want me in his footnotes. In fact, he sees us as so problematic he’d rather remove the language in his book that could help marital rape victims than point them to resources that could set them free.
And he’s asked for his endorsement for 31 Days to Great Sex to be rescinded, even though in his mind there is absolutely nothing wrong with that book.
Why am I toxic?
Because I call out other authors, and I hold people to account.
But let’s be clear:
- It was not me who wrote the blog post telling women that they could help their husbands not watch porn by having more sex with him
- It wasn’t me who called domestic violence victims venomous when they spoke up on his Facebook Page and called that post harmful
- It wasn’t me who blocked abuse advocates from my Facebook Page when they begged him to listen
- It wasn’t me who cherry-picked research and used faulty neuroscience.
No, it was me who surveyed 20,000 women and decided to listen. And decided that some of my older materials needed to be changed or pulled to match what we know now.
It was me who said that we need to do marriage teaching better in the evangelical church, so that we stop causing harm.
I’m going to end with the top review for The Great Sex Rescue on Amazon:
I am being rescued by this book. I am one of those women whose hang-ups about sex have caused grief in my otherwise really great marriage. And I’m one of those women whose hang-ups have come, pretty much entirely, I think, from the evangelical culture/teachings I’ve absorbed all my life. I am one of those women married to a wonderful man who desires true mutuality and intimacy with me, who values my experience (read: orgasm) and perspective. He is a true partner in all things. (Here we cue the big-time guilt from me, the wife who never really wants to have sex with her wonderful husband… what is wrong with me??). Through tears I have told my husband what a strange experience it is to be “triggered” by the clarity of this message, calling out all the messed-up teaching. I knew something was off with “purity culture” and such, but I didn’t really realize where my aversion to sex was coming from and how much those messages have affected me. I feel like I understand something about myself that I didn’t before, why something deep down inside me has been recoiling against this stuff all along (without even consciously recognizing it). When my husband just wants to be with me, my gut instead has felt that deeply-ingrained duty/obligation sex message that is so icky.
Basically, I realize that I’ve been taught the exact same unhealthy crap that secular culture teaches (everything the #metoo movement has called out: the low expectations for men, men are animals, girls have to enforce boundaries, transactional sex, objectification of women, girls need to put out to keep guys around, etc…) just with the twist of purity culture applied to it and the authority of Scripture (taken out of context and misinterpreted) slapped on for extra force. Which makes it all even uglier and more abhorrent, if we recognize it for what it is. It has been interesting for me to realize how much of Evangelical teaching about sex in marriage comes from a male perspective and with an underlying fear-based message. God, as shown to us by Jesus, is never interested in coercing behavior out of fear.
It is hard to describe how restorative, immensely validating and freeing it is just to have an informed Christian voice saying with clarity, “No. That is wrong. That is not true. This is not acceptable.” I have cried a lot (in a good way). As a young woman growing up with a heart for Jesus and a healthy sex drive, if I had never internalized this stuff I think I would have entered into marriage with an amazing freedom in regard to sex – just two people wanting to love each other, mutually please each other, and connect.
I am so, so thankful for this book! I hope it is a game-changer for Evangelical Christian culture. Let’s get rid of these rotten messages and run toward freedom in Christ (and the great sex in marriage that brings)! 🙂 I’m ready, and I’m thankful for the rescue.
That is what Gary thinks is so toxic that he would rather change his material than have to cite me.
That’s what he thinks is so terrible. (and please read the reviews to see what others are saying).
Interestingly, it does not appear that Gary has chosen to change the inaccurate information about vaginismus and about neuroscience from Married Sex; only the parts where he cites me without crediting me. I have asked for confirmation about this, but as of right now I believe he would rather leave inaccurate medical information in his book than to have to cite The Great Sex Rescue.
When the Christian establishment doesn’t cite me or tries to ostracize me, it’s not really me that they’re rejecting. It’s the 20,000 women’s stories who are in our survey. It’s the people who shared their stories and said uncomfortable things that they don’t want to deal with.
And it’s not just ME, either. I have two co-authors, both the mothers of two babies (well, one baby is coming any day now). The only reason we know that the obligation sex message is harmful is because of Joanna Sawatsky. And yet he put that in his book without citing her, because he doesn’t like me. He used the work of a 30-year-old woman who was running stats while breastfeeding, but he didn’t want to give her credit for it.
He would rather not acknowledge 20,000 women; he would rather ignore the abuse advocates; he would rather not acknowledge young, smart women doing work in this field. And he would rather ignore me, a woman who has called the evangelical marriage industry to account.
It is not wrong to be want to be cited for your work.
Why is this so threatening to everyone? Why is it so bad to ask that we do better in this area?
Anyway, I’m just sad. That’s really all I had to say, and I didn’t think I could coherently write the rest of my post on sexual confidence today.
And if you want to support us–the best way is to buy The Great Sex Rescue! For yourself or a friend.
Or, please, join our Patreon, which helps fund writing up papers for peer-reviewed journals and into new social media channels! They can’t silence us. They can try, but they can’t.
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.
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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