What if the reason authors can’t give up the obligation sex message is that they fear women won’t have sex otherwise? 

It’s time for another edition of the Bare Marriage podcast! (And we filmed this before Rebecca gave birth; she’s being induced as we speak, so that’s exciting!).

In this one Rebecca and I are looking at a simple question: Is there an underlying fear in Christian culture that unless women are told they have to have sex that they won’t have sex? 

We start with a great reader question that launches us into the discussion, and then counselor Amie Latta joins me to talk about navigating sexual addiction in marriage. 

So let’s go!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

Timeline of the Podcast

1:45 Gift sex vs Obligation sex
8:20 The Obligation Sex message
19:00 Will women stop having sex?
33:45 Why are more people not noticing these flaws?
44:45 RQ: Infrequent sex, and past porn use
49:20 A discussion on Porn Use
58:30 Encouragement

Reader Question: How is giving sex when you don’t particularly want to right now as a gift different from obligation sex?

A woman asks this really insightful question:

I’m trying to wrap my head around this and what keeps coming to mind is: How is this different than making dinner when you don’t want to? (Or any other chore). I know there IS a difference, but I need someone to point out to me what so I can understand fully. Or listening to your child tell you about minecraft when you don’t really want to, but do because you want to grow the relationship. In other words, what’s the difference between having sex when you don’t want to (which is not good) and serving others by gifting them your time (which IS good). (If I’m even making sense)

Rebecca and I delve into why there is a difference–but also why we should be giving. It’s a nuanced thing to talk about!

Main Segment: Are we afraid that women aren’t sexual?

We took a look at how, in the book Married Sex, the authors say that while sex shouldn’t be an obligation, you are obligated. And how sex should feel like a sacrifice, at least some of the time.

And we asked: Why is it that people are so reticent to let go of the obligation sex message, when we know from our survey of 20,000 women how toxic it is? (Read all about that in chapters 8 and 9 of The Great Sex Rescue!).

We have a theory: We think it’s because they judge frequency as the main success outcome, rather than anything else. And they forget that frequency is not the problem–it’s a symptom of other problems (as our survey definitively showed, which is why I’ve started changing how I talk about libido differences as well!).

We also looked at how Shaunti Feldhahn’s survey actually found even more women with the higher libido than ours did, but she still completely excluded them from her book because she said that men didn’t believe it. (So she didn’t allow women to be narrators of their own stories).

What would happen if we simply believed that women were sexual, too, and started talking about sex that way? And started asking, “if we know women are sexual, but we also know many women have trouble with desire, then what have we done to decrease women’s desire?” Isn’t that a better question?

PLUS: Why haven’t pastors recognized that this idea that women don’t want sex is off?

Our survey found that 1/5 couples have her with the higher sex drive. Yet these books do well because pastors tend to recommend them. Where are the pastors who would say, “this doesn’t apply to us or this sounds off?”

Rebecca has a theory that we’d love your feedback on. Is there something about the demands of pastoring in today’s culture something that is just emotionally harmful for the couple? It kills her sex drive; it makes him feel exhausted; and it’s not life-giving. Are we demanding too much from our pastors?

That’s just an aside, but it occurred to us while discussing this.

Reader Question 2: How can we handle an infrequent sex life now, when porn has been part of our story?

Amie Latta, a licensed counselor, joined me to discuss this complicated reader question–which shows the messy situations so many of us get into!

Amie Latta is a registered psychotherapist in Ontario who specializes in sex therapy. She helps women struggling with pain and discomfort during sex go from feeling frustrated with their bodies to feeling more connected with who they are.

She’s also an avid knitter and spinner–and loves hand-dyed yarns as much as Sheila does!

Contact Amie at her website for information on coaching sessions online.

Amie Latta Counseling

Things Mentioned in This Podcast:

Do Christian Authors Fear that Women Don't Like Sex? Why the Obligation Sex Message Persists
Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find BIBLICAL, HEALTHY, EVIDENCE-BASED help for their marriage. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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