Sheila Gregoire is an author who has written several books that break the mold of Christian books about sex and marriage. Her latest book, She Deserves Better, is about raising girls as followers of Christ in ways that leave purity culture and teaching about modesty in the dust while showing us a better way. We also talked to Sheila about her 2021 book The Great Sex Rescue, in which she points out the inherent misogyny in a vast majority of Christian books about sex and proposes a new way to create a sexual dynamic that promotes flourishing for women and men.
In this episode, we tasted Driftless Glen's Port Barrel Finished Bourbon.
If you're not interested in the bourbon tasting, skip to the 7:00 mark for the interview.
You can find the transcript for this episode here.
Content note: this episode contains themes of sexual abuse and rape.
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NOTE: This transcript was auto-generated by an artificial intelligence and has not been reviewed by a human. Please forgive and disregard any inaccuracies, misattributions, or misspellings.
I'm Randy, the pastor half of the podcast, and my friend Kyle is a philosopher. This podcast hosts conversations at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and spirituality.
We also invite experts to join us, making public space that we've often enjoyed off-air around the proverbial table with a good drink in the back corner of a dark pub.
Thanks for joining us, and welcome to A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar.
So on today's episode, we're talking with Sheila Gregoire, who is the author of several books about sex, and particularly evangelicals and sex. The book that just came out is called she deserves better, which Randy read. And she recently a few years back had a book called The Great sex rescue, which I read. And we don't normally do that we normally read the same book so we can talk to an author about what his most current, but there were just too many things we wanted to ask her about other stuff, she said. And so we split it up that way. So we could have a more well rounded conversation. I think it turned out really well.
Yeah, no. And I was glad I read the book that I did, because of my location in life. But she co wrote that book with her daughter, and also with their their colleague, who compiles statistics and everything gets, these are very well researched books, original research. Yeah, I mean, lots and lots of work has gone into this. And it's, I think, these books and Sheila's work, is going to I really hope this is true is going to go a long way to reforming the way we talk about sex, particularly in the ways that we raise our kids and our teenagers and our youth and use concepts that are just absolutely not working.
Yeah, if these books could replace the ones that most evangelical bookstores and mega churches have on their shelves, that would be a great step in the right direction. I think. And
I know countless parents is a pastor of a church that has lots of young people, lots of young families, the stuff that we're talking about here in this episode, but also in that she loves talking in these books are the questions that parents have, you know, like, we pour oil or when we're when we're having babies, we pull or pour all of our research and education into how do I raise toddlers? And how do I get my kids to eat and how to get my kids to go to bed and all the things you know, those are important. But the importance exponentially ratchets up when they turn into preteens and teens. And they're starting to make decisions on their own. And they're going to these topics about sex and sexuality and consent and, you know, modesty all these things that we're going to mention. They're really important and unavoidable. And I know that lots of parents want a better way. What's a better way for us to parents or kids and to them we received because we know we get we're all effed up and had to unlearn a bunch of things. And maybe our marriage sucks in our marriages where it's different things. There's got to be a better way for our kids. And I think that's what these books are trying to get at.
So Randy, what are we drinking today?
Well, we on this podcast sample delicious alcoholic beverages because we're a pastor and philosopher walk into a bar. And we have some local friends at story Hill, Casey, who sometimes love to supply us with delicious things to sample so today our friends that story will be Casey. If you're in Milwaukee, go to store he'll be Casey order some food order some beverages think us later. But this is Driftless Glen which is we're in Wisconsin, this is a local distillery which normally I grimaced when somebody gives me something local to try because it's always going to be new Mickey is always going to be undeveloped in
the salaries is not that old? No, yeah,
you just need to be around for a while. But I have already had this and tried it and it's good. This is Driftless Glen's it's there's small batch single barrel bourbon, but they finished it in a pork barrel. And what they did was they made sure that each of those pork barrels had poured in them for no less than three years, which is a good amount of time.
Yeah. So we've loved everything pork finished. We've tried on the show and I think independently I just love pork finished absolute whiskey. It's it's fantastic. What barrels does nothing but good things to whiskey. Yeah. Yeah, just not more common in scotch, but I think it's really picking up in bourbon as well. Like,
yes. Remember, we had a Driftless Glen, once before the show is the only thing that I think I've ever provided for the show. I just thought it was interesting because it was Wisconsin bourbon. Yeah. And we were really underwhelmed Okay, and I haven't gotten back to it since just because that was my only experience so I'm kind of muted on this we'll see what the pork barrel is due to it Yeah, smells really you just got it did bring bullet right. I remember that for sure. That was the nice stuff.
Yeah, how far you've come evolution in your in your bar has been impressive. So this is like almost read. I mean, it's very
dark dark even though there's no point in it. It's just finished in pork barrel. Yeah. You get a leathery sweetness to the nose.
dark berries blueberry, especially on the nose. Less once you taste it.
Yeah, I mean, it's done, but it's like, it's very pretty. It's very tasty. It tastes a lot like pork. No surprise.
I'm pleasantly surprised.
Good. There you go the nice. That's a really good endorsement. Yeah, I mean, again, pork barrels do nothing but good things to whiskey, right? I love I love that combination because you get the all the normal whiskey notes, all the normal bourbon notes, the sweet corn, the the graininess the leather stuff, but then you get this richness on the back end that you can get from just normal whiskey and you get this. Like you were talking those dark fruits I get on the on the back end of the palate.
Yeah, it's pleasantly hot. What's
the fruit is it's a good it's a really good proof. It's pretty low. It's 100. Yeah. And it tastes more than that.
Yeah. Especially with the sweetness. I was thinking there's probably a lot more hiding there.
Yep, I would like to taste it with more actually.
I would too. But I wonder every time I say that, and then I you know, cut it something or whatever. I'm always sad that I did. And I should have just distiller you know, the first time, but I wouldn't be interested in tasting a stronger version. But I think I mean, it's a really good balance right now.
This is great. If you're, you know, wherever you are, whatever state you're in, you should try local stuff. And it's going to be hard. Unless you're in Kentucky or Tennessee, it's going to be a difficult battle to find some really genuinely good local stuff. But I think we found some really good genuinely good Wisconsin and whiskey. So if you're in Wisconsin, and you want to feature some local stuff, Driftless Glen's pork barrel finished bourbon. That's the way to go. Yeah. And also one more time, just in case you're in Milwaukee, you're visiting or you live here. And you haven't been to story, he'll be Casey asked for forgiveness, and then go there. And enjoy yourself. Well, Sheila Gregoire, thank you so much for joining us on a pasture and a philosopher walk into a bar.
Awesome. This is exciting. I saw your questions. I'm so jazzed for this.
Super fun, which is remarkable, because I think you said this is maybe number 76 or 77 interviews that you've done for this book.
Yeah. But you've got interesting questions. You know, you're kind of out there. So that's
fun. So Sheila, truth be told, you have two books that we're super interested in the newest book is called she deserves better, which is basically, the subtitle is raising girls to resist toxic teachings on sex self and speaking up. I have a 16 year old daughter, and I'm very, very interested in what you guys had to say. And it's a great book highly recommended if you have a daughter or if you are considering parenting or for really just anyone in a relationship needs to read this book, I would say and then also Kyle, read your former book. What does that Kyle?
Oh, yeah. It's called the great sex rescue, which includes some really interesting, original research about evangelical sex advice and the effect it's had on primarily women, but men too, and purity culture kind of kind of spaces. And yeah, so I have some questions on the outline about that as well. If it's okay. I'd love to pick your brain about it a little bit.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So let's start though with she deserves better. Your work. Sheila has been centered around, you know, marriage and sex quite a bit. And this is a bit of a departure, but doesn't seem like that much of a departure at all. So can you just tell our listeners, who you are, how you got to the place where you wrote these books, and where this particular book she deserves better came from. Okay, so
this is this is going to be a long story. I'm going to try to make super short. So I did a bunch of grad degrees while my husband was in med school. And then I was a stay at home mom. And I was kind of bored. So I started becoming a mommy blogger in 2008. Because that's what everybody was doing. So I was like all housework and organizing and stuff. And the more I talked about sex, the more my traffic groups, I became like this weird Christian sects lady, like the Mark Driscoll of mommy bloggers. Yeah, like nobody grows up thinking I want to be the Christian sects lady. Like that's just odd. But I did that for about a decade. And then I did something radical, which is I read another Christian marriage book. And I hadn't done that because I wasn't going to plagiarize. And so I just had not looked at all these books that are on my shelf, but I one day I pulled down love and respect. And it changed my life because it was so horrid. Like you said, if your husband is typical, he has a need, you don't have. The need is for physical release. If you don't give him physical release, he'll come under satanic attack, and have an affair and affairs are caused by women not having sex. And there was not a word about intimacy. There wasn't a word about women's pleasure. And we all freaked out on my team. We wrote to focus on the family because I knew focus the folks there and they ignored us so we decided to go bigger go home and we did the largest study on Eve In general women's marriage and sexual satisfaction it's ever been done, which is great sex rescue. And then people said, Okay, great. But this is wonderful. But how do I raise my kids because I don't want to give them the toxic stuff. But I don't know what to say now. And so we did another project of 7000 women this time, and it became she deserves better.
So your book she deserves better is very upfront about being geared towards moms, just the way it's laid out. With the reflections for moms and daughters after the chapters. And you even I think you give a little acknowledgement to moms. I'm a dad, of a daughter. So just wondering, I just wanted to hear from you. Why not dads as well,
you know, this is gonna sound awful. But when we started writing publishers told us that men won't read your books. And now Baker didn't say that, but other publishers have. And so we always thought of ourselves as as writers to women. And then with great sex rescue all these men read it to Liz, she deserves better, though, we did see it more geared towards women for the simple fact that it's written for moms of daughters, but it's also kind of written for moms to reparent themselves. Yeah, because so many women heard such terribly toxic stuff. And this is really directed a lot of millennial moms who grew up in the purity culture. So even though it's for moms and daughters, I think it's almost more for women to repair themselves. But I think it's great for guys to read to just to understand what women went through.
Really important to understand what women went through and really important for, for dads trying their best to parent to a teenage daughter, I think, in my case, I feel like I'm at a disability because I wasn't a teenage girl. And I'm just, I've been playing catch up for you know, she's been a teenager for four years, but I've been playing catch up for about four and a half to five years because 12 was, you know, a monster series as well. And by monstrous I mean, just Mega. It was major. So, I've been talking about the 16 year old daughter, I have Sheila, can you just tell me in two minutes or less everything that I need to know about?
I'll tell you the one biggest thing. Yes, please is raise a girl who can disagree with you know, if you do that, you're set. Because if she can disagree with you, well, like not as I hate your dad. But as a No, I don't think I like that. Or you know what, I really don't want to do that. If she can speak up to you, then she can speak up when she's in a toxic friend group, then she can speak up when she's in a bad relationship, then she can speak up when she's in a bad church. Because if she can disagree, what you're telling her is your opinion matters. Your words matter. You matter, you don't need to just conform to me and be compliant. And our girls need to know that they that their words matter.
Oh, man, that's good. Right? Now, Kyle will ask his questions, and I'm gonna be over here repenting of my sins. So good, Sheila, thank you.
Yeah, and you don't know this, but like disagreement and how to do it well, is a central theme of our podcast, it's, we talk a lot, and humility and yeah, how to dialogue with people who are smarter than you or disagree with you so and we have not applied it to parenting or to sex, because we don't talk about those things. So it's really great to have you on, can you be a little more concrete about how to do that in practice, I don't have a daughter, I have a two year old son, and another kid on the way. But hopefully, someday, this will be a thing I'll need to think about. So I know a lot about disagreeing with peers. I know a lot about disagreeing with experts. That's my research. But I don't know a lot about disagreeing with my kids. So how do you do that? Well,
one of the things that we do with kids is, if we ask them to do something, we expect them to show an attitude like I am absolutely ecstatic doing this for you, dad. So it's not enough just to get it done and get it done. Well, they have to look like they're enjoying it. So we're what we're really trying to do is control their feelings. So if we say go clean your room, and they're cleaning it, but they're stomping around and glaring at you, if you if you look in, we make a real issue out of that often. And I've seen, you know, often kids get punished for their attitude. Now, I'm not saying that a child should be allowed to disrespect you. But if they're honestly unhappy, but they are getting it done, and they're doing it well. Can that be enough? Because when we force kids to portray a feeling that they're not actually feeling that's telling them that you're supposed to put on a happy face, and your feelings should be squashed. And it's very important that our girls especially learn to honor their feelings. It's their feelings that are going to that's their little spidey senses that are like, I'm uncomfortable in this situation. I don't like this situation. I think I should leave like those are their feelings that tell them that and if we're saying that no matter what You're feeling you've got to, you've got to be happy. And you've got to make other people think you're happy. That's that's a bad thing for girls to learn.
Yeah, that's really good.
They need to be polite. They need to treat their siblings politely. But if they're in the room and they're upset, they're allowed to be upset. Yep.
Yeah, it's making so much sense to me right now how purity culture, damage so many people, especially girls, but boys too, because that cuts right to the quick of the whole, like, theological architecture it's founded on. I mean, you can't really we've talked about this on the podcast a lot. You can't really have evangelical theology or Biblical Studies, or I guess, views of sex, or hermeneutics around that, without a kind of pretense. It won't really stand without putting on a happy face. About a lot of crap in the world and pretending that it's not the way it seems to you to be. That's, that's power. I'm gonna be thinking a lot about what you
know, yeah. I'm gonna read listen to this. And then we're gonna probably ask you to come on again, she could just to unpack this thing you just said, because I
have my daughter on and she can say otherwise. I didn't do this. Yeah. Yeah.
That would make me feel affirmed a little bit. In chapter five, the chapter about dating, you quoted a mom who I think speaks for pretty much all of us ex angelical parents, and I'm quoting her now. She said, I struggle with changing my thought process from from how I was taught as a teen to a more balanced view as I raised my own teens, avoidance is not the key. But often, I don't know what to tell them about healthy relationships. I don't want them sleeping around. But I don't want to give them sex phobia either. And quote, that's a question I hear really often as a pastor. And that's a question I think about as a parent, what do you think is a better way than what purity culture of the 90s and 2000s gave us? Shell Sheila?
Anything is a better?
That's fair. That's fair.
Okay, the problem with purity culture, and what I'm talking about purity culture, I'm not talking about the idea that that sex should just be in marriage. I mean, because that's, that's been part of the Christian church for quite a while now you can debate what marriage meant. And I think there's some valid conversations to be had on that. But the idea that sex is meant for marriage has been kind of standard in Christianity for for quite a while. What hasn't been standard and what purity culture brought to us was the idea that your faith is determined by your virginity. And by your adherence to those rules. I grew up in the 80s. So I was a Gen X. And if you were to ask me when I was 16, what it meant to be a Christian, I would have told you about praying, and about learning how to give my testimony to my school and thinking about sex trafficking, we were really involved in worrying about Cambodia, praying through the 1040 window and missions, like we were so focused on evangelism and missions, and yes, sex would have come up, but it was sort of like an assumed thing that we didn't actually talk about that much. And then purity culture came. And that was all that was talked about. We looked at all of these books for Teen Girls. And we just chose any book, we reviewed all the main books that were written to teen girls during a period of culture. They were all just about relationships. Like it wasn't that we chose the relationship books for girls. It's like that is all that was talked about, was how to stay virgin and so purity culture really was hey, your your, your faith is determined by whether or not you're a virgin. And that is so damaging, because first of all, virginity can be taken from you. But also, that's not Christianity. No, no, Jesus said if anyone is in Christ is a new creation and she is a new creation and that His mercies are new every morning. Like our period isn't based on our what we do with our bodies. Our purity is based on what Jesus did with his and the ethic is not virginity. The ethic is chastity, which is just simply treating others with dignity and respect and putting sex in its proper place. And that's something that you can choose every day, no matter what you did yesterday. And we really messed that up because we made people do this all or nothing thinking so we taught girls to protect their virginity, but we never taught them to protect themselves. So once their virginity is gone, there's no point in saying no anymore because the reason they were saying no was to protect their virginity. So if their virginity is gone, then I don't have a reason to say no to him. And it's just really harmful. So I just think you know what, let's just tell our kids the truth. I know this is wild. But let's just, first of all, let's tell kids about sex ed. In our survey of 7000 women, there is no downside to information. There's absolutely no downside the more information girls have and the younger they have it, the better their self esteem. The fewer the less the likelihood of having multiple sex partners, the better their future marital and sexual satisfaction. If they get married, the less likelihood They have a varying an abuser, like there is no downside. So let's give them information and then just talk to them honestly about what choices you want them to make, why you want them to make those choices, but realize they may not make the choices you want them to make. And at different ages, those choices are about different things. That's something purity culture. I think last, like we gave the same message, whether you were 23, or 33, or 13. Yes. And my message to a 13 year old about sex would be very different from a message to an 18 year old or to a 24 year old. Yeah. Even if you still want them to wait for marriage, the way you talk about it is different.
Yeah, can you give us an example of how it's different, I'm thinking back to like, I don't know, like church events have set through where it'll be billed. As you know, we're going to bring a bunch of people together and talk about singleness, or we're going to bring a bunch of people together and talk about sex or celibacy, or whatever. And, you know, ostensibly to give you a more thoughtful take on this kind of thing, and you get there. And it's the same old rehash stuff. I've heard somebody say in the same breath, almost like they'll decried the metaphors that you heard, and middle school purity culture, and then 10 minutes later, they're just given an alternative version of the same metaphor that just seems slightly more sophisticated. But it's not in substance, it's the same view, almost like Christians just haven't thought of a better alternative. We haven't thought of a more sophisticated way to talk about this not, not in substance. So can you give maybe a concrete example of what that could look like?
Yeah, well, they're 13, you just say, babe, I love you. And I know a lot of your friends are doing stuff, but you're 13, you're under the age of consent. And as your parent, I need to protect you. And so this is not something you should be doing. So it's not even a moral thing. It's like, this is a health and safety. You know, so 13 is different at 18, or at 16. You know, you just say, you know, what, totally normal to have sexual feelings, you're gonna have sexual feelings. That's part of being how you were made, that's a good thing. But you need to decide what you want to do. And parents may have different views on this, you know, I encourage my kids to wait for marriage. I know, not everybody does. But you probably at least want them to be in a committed relationship, you want them to feel safe. And so you know, decide about that. And so decide on what your boundaries are going to be, like, have a plan. But even more important than that, honor the boundaries of the person you're with. And if the person that you're with doesn't honor your boundaries, that is a huge red flag that you need to get out of that relationship, because that's not safe. Yeah. You know, and, and then just and then when they're older, like, yeah, just say, hey, you know, I want you to have healthy relationships. Here's what a healthy relationship looks like, to me, what does it look like to you? You know, what are you looking for, and just talk to your kids, you know, just talk to them when they're young adults,
and be willing to be disagreed with
and come back. But no matter what, even if your child disagrees with you, or your young adult child disagrees with you, you still want them to make good choices. You don't want them to be with an abuser. You don't want them practicing something which is unhealthy. And so you can at least have those discussions. And then, you know, tell them, if you do want them to wait, tell them why. It can't just be because I'm afraid that God will be
here. Yep, yep.
Now, that's really great. So I want to if we can zoom out a little bit for a few moments. So I'm the philosophy half of the podcast, which is probably a little bit unusual for the types of interview interviews you probably have about your books. And so I'm going to do the philosopher thing and say, Well, what about the foundations here? Let's examine our methodology for a few minutes so I'm just be straight. I've not read outside of the great six rescue almost any evangelical sects, books or books by former evangelicals about sex. And after reading that book, I'm kind of glad I praise the Lord, right, because unless you count like Elizabeth Elliot as a sex book, which maybe it is, I don't know, maybe, maybe that's like the zenith of that that genre. But having read recently, a couple other sex related books from progressive Christian and secular authors, so for example, I read Nadia bolts Weber's book in 2020. It just kind of lays out a sexual ethic. I read recently, I don't know if you've heard of a me assertive Austin's book, the right to sex, very well known Oxford philosopher, very different takes dealing with very different issues, but they're kind of floating in my head while I'm reading your book. And so it made me wonder about a broader question that I've had for a long time, and I want to pose it for you. And that is, how do you build a sexual ethic? What do you rooted in? How do you think we should proceed in constructing an ethic and deciding what's out of bounds? What's immoral, what's good? For example, Nadia does it by routing it in a kind of concern? Most secular accounts rooted in some kind of account of happiness or some kind of, you know, a virtue ethic or a utilitarian ethic or a deontology, or something like that, not always explicitly, but it's in there somewhere if you dig for it, most Christians, of course, rooted in some kind of idea of love, or maybe order, the Evangelicals and the conservatives are all about order. So how do you pick a foundation? I guess, is what I'm asking.
Can I back up a bit? Absolutely. Okay. So I think, when we were when we were thinking about this, because we've talked about this as a team a lot. A sexual ethic has to apply to you whether you are married, or whether you are single. And that's part of the problem with the evangelical sexual ethic is because our ethic was mostly, as long as it's in marriage, it's good. So it is marriage that makes good persons. Tim Tim Keller said on a podcast a while ago that sex outside of marriage is always dehumanizing, which insinuated the sex inside of marriage was always humanizing. Which it is not. And I would argue that it isn't always dehumanizing outside of marriage, either. So what is what is an ethic that would apply when we're both single and married, and I think I can't say it in one word. But the three words that come to mind are dignity, respect, and intimacy. So I think that we, God created us with drives for intimacy, and that those drives are met in different ways. And we all need intimacy. And intimacy is rooted in vulnerability, and it's rooted in trust, you know, you can't, you can't be vulnerable if you can't trust someone. And so we all need those people in our lives, that we're able to be vulnerable with, whether it's sexual or not. And, and we need to be pursuing that. And then if we are pursuing a sexual relationship, it should grow out of that. It shouldn't be something which is separate from vulnerability and intimacy. And I think it should also be dignified, which means and I don't mean like dignified like, I don't know, like Queen Elizabeth or something. But we, we should honor the humanity in the other. And I think that there is a lot of pride for sex, which is very focused on power and control and on humiliation, especially humiliation of the female, which I find very problematic. And then we should just respect one another, you know, respect one another's boundaries, respect, who they are, and respect in terms of also hearing about, I guess, the concern that Nana le or Nadia bolts, whoever would say, you know, the concern that we're that we're treating each other I know, in the secular world, too, they often speak only about consent. And I would argue that consent falls under respect and under dignity, and it's important. But it goes beyond that. Because just because it's consensual doesn't mean that it is something which is humanizing.
Yeah. And you know, the, you've read a lot more of this, of course, but in the more careful ethical literature, it's not just, it's much, it's much deeper and more robust than that concern is an outgrowth of a deeper ethic. So, so good. So you mentioned intimacy. So I'm going to skip to my question about that, because I think it's related. So you do still say, if I understood correctly in the great six rescue, to or you at least recommend to wait to have sex until marriage, but you say build intimacy first. So I'm wondering why you think that do you think that's an entailment? Do you think that's a result that just happens for some people because of prior commitments? Do you think that's normative? And also, why not build that intimacy before marriage by having sex? Have you come across any research that suggests that sex before marriage has any negative consequences? If so, you know, intrinsically right?
Yeah. Okay, so interesting stat for you. This didn't make it into the great sex rescue, it made it into our books, The Good Girls Guide to great sex and good guys guide to great sex. So you haven't read this one, but you'll like it. When we compare women who have only ever had sex with their husbands, and we controlled for sexual abuse, so no, no history of abuse, and they've only ever had the one sexual partner. If you wait for marriage, there's a 25% higher rate of vaginal dryness, which is a female sexual dysfunction, where the muscles of the vaginal wall contract and sex becomes really painful, if not impossible. So basically waiting for marriage, make sex more painful for many women. Does that mean that I think that you should have sex before marriage? No, I don't necessarily think so. But I do think there's a real problem with the way that we're doing the honeymoon. And with the pressure that we're putting on couples. If you look at people who only ever had sex with each other, there doesn't seem to be a demonstrable anything demonstrably bad with having sex before marriage versus after marriage. And if you look at people who had multiple sexual partners, like two to three doesn't seem to hurt people, once you get into higher numbers there does seem to be but there. So there is a statistical difference, but it's not huge. So that's what the research says. You know, the question of whether you need to wait until marriage or not, I mean, what, what was marriage in biblical times? Like? That's, that's the question, right? You know, I, when I do a lot of genealogy, and I have, I have family that we're not Church of England, we became Methodist. And Wesleyan is very early. And so I have several ancestors who got married and baptize their kids, all on the same day, because the pastor was only coming through like, once every five years, you know. So it's like, were they not married then before? You know, and it gets really tricky. And yeah, I don't know. I think you need a philosopher's theologian for that one. I don't know if I can make a pronouncement on that.
Yeah. But I'm punting it to you because I don't want to make.
Yeah, I like my problem always is like, to be honest, in the data, we see no difference if you had sex when you engaged versus if you are married, it's honest, there is no difference. The only difference is the higher rate of sexual pain if you wait. My problem is I think if we say hey, you know what, you can have sex as long as you're with the person you're gonna marry, we're gonna get 15 year old saying, but I'm going to marry him. Yes, exactly. Oh, perfect. Yeah, bread is my soulmate, you know? And so, like, it really does look like as long as you're with the person you truly are committed to, there's no problem. But how do you once you say that? How do you know that? Right, so sure. I don't know. I don't know.
Yeah, no, I appreciate that answer. It's very honest. So just one quick follow up, you mentioned, you're going to route it your ethic in something like dignity, respect. Intimacy, you also mentioned kindness in the book, and I thought this was a place you might go, and I think it's a worthy place to go. So you said one point, something along the lines of this is not a direct quote. But that a piece of sex advice that you that you often give people or a kind of a warning, I guess, that you give people is that if they hear some advice, from whoever their church leader, or whoever that results in one person getting everything they want, and the other person getting? Nothing they want, especially if it's at the expense of the other. That's probably not Christ. Like, it's just this, this basic intuition of what kindness looks like? And is that actually being played out in your sex life? Can you expand on that a little bit, and maybe give an example? Yeah, the
classic example for that which we used in that section was the postpartum advice that is given in so many of our books. So in sheet music by Kevin Lehmann, for instance, which is one of the best selling sex manuals. He says that during the postpartum phase, or if she has really heavy periods, or if she's simply not feeling well, she can make use of something that they euphemistically call hand jobs so that he's when when he's ready to climb the walls. And elsewhere. In the same book, he says that her period is a really difficult time for her husband. Just think about that. And so he talks about how one woman learned that given oral sex during her period helped him go the five days without having to watch pornography. Yeah. I mean, any sexual ethic that tells a guy that when your wife has pushed a baby out of her vagina, and is bleeding heavily now and isn't sleeping, and her milk is just coming in, and she's trying to get this baby to feed, and she's exhausted that her priority should be making sure that he gets released in some way. That is not kind. And that is not dignifying, and that is not respectful. That's not that's not anything.
Yeah. Yeah, that's good. I was
gonna I used on that, like, pastor of a big church from upfront was like, ladies, you need to be having sex every 72 hours with your husband. If you're not you're you're not doing your duty never hurts.
I came from no, the 72 hour rule? No. Okay, we looked it up. Because it's in all kinds of books. We found it in power praying wife and every man's battle and sheet music. Multiple books talk about how men needed every 72 hours. So we went to the medical literature, and we looked at like, is there something magical about our 73 where he gets more uncomfortable? Nothing, absolutely nothing in the medical literature. We finally traced it back to something that James Dobson said in 1977 with absolutely no citation, and people have just taken it from that and that men need sex every 72 hours. Yeah,
I mean, James Dobson is really did eat a citation.
Now I can say though, like, when you have really good marital satisfaction. So when your marriage is already good, having sex more often does is a good thing. It does improve it, it helps you be happier until a certain point, then there's a big drop off like couples have sex every day. That's bad. That's actually negative, because it's usually something else going on. So it's not that it's not that having sex every seven, two hours is bad. But as soon as you say you have to do all kinds of terrible things happen, because obligation is awful for women.
Can you explain that?
Yeah. So one of the things that you mentioned in grade sex rescue was the belief that a wife is obligated to give her husband sex when he wants it. And when she believes that her chance of experiencing sexual pain or badness was increases, to almost the same extent as if she had been abused, because our bodies interpret obligation as trauma. Wow. So if sex is supposed to be intimate, which I believe that it is obligation of races that because obligation says your needs, don't matter, whatever you want, it doesn't matter, compared to what he does. And so you get erased. And when we tell women you don't matter, just what he wants matters. That is essentially an abusive statement. And this is largely what Christian teaching has been based on, or evangelical teaching has been based on with regards to sex is that men have needs and women need to meet those needs, or else he will be very tempted and look elsewhere.
I need to read the great sex rescue. You should That's great. Yeah. So jumping back to she deserves better. This is pretty impressive that you're able to just like, right off, right off the bat field questions on both books, Sheila. So chapter seven of she deserves better, which is she deserves to know about her body. I found that particularly fascinating I in it, you talked about how healthy and you alluded to this, but I want to actually flesh it out some more. I've got not just a 16 year old daughter, but I've got a couple of boys in middle school who we live in a city where they change the human growth development curriculum to be a lot more robust. And so we've had tons of people coming in from out of town to protest at school board meetings and talking about how this is terrible. And there's this you know, trans LGBTQ agenda and blah, blah, blah. You say quite frankly, this is I'm quoting you now you see, quite frankly, the evangelical church has been lying to our teens for decades. Can you elaborate on that statement
is so much of our sex ed was based on if you have sex, terrible, terrible things will happen. And the bride wore white by Democrats, it keeps repeating the phrase nobody is ever, like you will get rendered infertile from STDs. And every young woman's battle. Josh McDowell wrote the foreword, and he talked about how if you want to see your grandchildren don't have sex now, because you have a higher rate of death and STDs. And they were they were explaining it almost like the gym coach in Maine girls, you know that. Right? Don't have sex, or you will get pregnant and you will die. And that's largely what we told our kids, you will get pregnant, you will die. Here's the problem. All of our kids have friends who are having sex who are not pregnant, who are not riddled with STDs and who are not dead? Probably not Well, yes, sex has a lot of risks. To be quite honest, condoms are really quite effective. And there are vaccines against some STDs now. And if we're simply relying on scare tactics to stop our kids from having sex, it's not going to work. We need to tell our kids sure, let's tell her absolutely tell our kids about pregnancy and STDs, but we need to also tell them about condoms. Because they do largely work. And, you know, you don't want your kid having sex. Like nobody wants their 1415 1617 year old kid having sex like you don't. But if they are going to at least want them to know that they can wear a condom and they should wear a condom.
Yep. So and Oh,
and here's something you should Sorry, I just gotta throw this one. In. Other research, ours didn't ask specifically about this. But there have been multiple peer reviewed studies that have shown that kids are much less likely to use condoms and much more likely to be involved in risky sexual behavior if they do not have proper sex ed. So it's not like telling them about it makes them more likely to do it. When you don't tell them about it, bad things, bad things happen.
Interesting. So as a follow up, you say you speak to how the more LGBTQ teens who are exposed to sex ed are more healthy and less likely to self harm and less likely to suffer from mental illness and bullying. In the current climate that we live in politicians are manipulating fearful Christians into thinking that sex education is a woke agenda, and gay and trans people are trying to do indoctrinate our kids. Can you share some of your research and experience around this stuff because it's very prevalent to our culture right now?
Yeah, we didn't actually look at a lot of LGBTQ stuff in our survey. So I can only share with you what other peer reviewed studies have shown. But like LGBTQ youth, trans youth are far more likely to be bullied into and to be in engage in risky sexual behaviors, and to get hurt in that. So if you want your child not to do those things, they do need sex ed. And LGBTQ kids especially need to be taught about consent, because LGBTQ youth are far more likely to get involved in abusive relationships with adults. So they need to understand consent. And they need to understand power dynamics, they need to be protected, because if they feel like they are not safe at home, they will look for other adult spaces to be safe in and they can be easily taken advantage of in those adult spaces. And these kids are still kids. And they still deserve to be protected and to be cared for.
So while we're on the topic of sex, Ed, I wanted to ask, Can you say a bit about the importance of communication around sex and relationships, it's something you talk a lot about in the great sex rescue, and how sex ed can either help or hinder that. And as kind of a dumb segue. Like, I was recently listening to a podcast with Dan Savage. I don't know if you know him, but he's like a very well known sex blogger. And he said to the person interviewing him that gay people are better at sex and straight. He's very intentionally provocative. But his justification was because we have to talk about it. Is that the first thing that, you know, a gay man will say to another gay man, when they're about to have an encounter is what are you into? And that that completely changes the dynamics of the encounter in a way that straight people, frankly, have a hard time understanding? This is his claim, some of what you said in that book mirrored that from a very different perspective. And so yeah, I wanted to ask you about communication, how to do it better, and how sex ed influences that?
Well, first of all, dance, which is right to a certain extent, because if you look at the orgasm gap, it's huge. in heterosexual relationships, much larger than in homosexual relationships, like the people that are the least likely to reach orgasm. Are women in heterosexual relationships. Yeah. And the people that are most likely are men and heterosexual relationships. So, you know, in the evangelical church, we have a 47 point orgasm gap, meaning that 95% of men almost always or always reach orgasm in a given sexual encounter, but only 48% of women to has a 47 point gap. If you look at lesbian relationships, you're looking at over 80% orgasm rates. I forget what the rates are for men in same sex relationships. But there's a problem there. And so I don't know if it's only communication. I think it's also the dynamics of what we expect from sex. Because we don't actually expect women to enjoy sex or want sex and heterosexual relationships. We expect sex to be primarily focused on the man. Like even even the question what is sex? See in a in the same sex lesbian relationship sex is doing things to each other to bring each other to orgasm. in a heterosexual relationship, sex is man puts penis into a vagina moves around until the climax is so his climax is the focus of sex. Like if you if you were to ask a couple did you have sex last night? That's what they think you're asking did he put his penis vagina move around climax, right? That's very good. But and so and so whether or not she enjoyed herself, it would still count as having sex. And when we did follow up surveys with men, and we said do you do Enough foreplay? If she frequently orgasms, over 90% of men say they do, which is great, you know, yay for you. But if she doesn't frequently orgasm, 72% of guys still say yes, I do Enough foreplay. So if she doesn't orgasm, it's not his fault. There's something wrong with her. And that that tends to be the way that we have framed it is. We don't give a lot of sex ed. And she deserves better. Oh, gosh, I wish I could remember the number I there's three authors on the book. So I'm the one who writes it. My daughter Rebecca edits and puts in all the snarky stuff. And she does the focus groups and she writes the surveys and then Joanna Sawatzky does all our stats and so I'm not the stats person. But I believe the number is like over 2020 to 30% of women did not even know the female orgasm existed until after the age of 20. Wow. So you can see why there's a problem. With a lot of evangelical women going into marriage and going into a sexual relationship in marriage is that we don't even know that we're supposed to orgasm. And when the point is you need to have sex to keep him topped up. Then is her pleasure even a priority? And in many in many cases, it's not. Like when pastors tell people have sex every 72 hours, they don't mean make sure she orgasms every 72 hours, they may make sure he does. Yeah. Yep. So I mean, that's not really answering your question. Yes, we need to communicate. But I really think it's more about what we expect. Because when people say, like, if you go into marriage counseling, and they're trying to figure out, if they're sex problems, they usually say, Well, how many times do you have sex a week? They don't say, How many times did she orgasm a week?
We need to change the terminology, kind of building off of this but changing topics a little bit. In chapter nine, you talk about modesty, and how the way we teach modesty to our girls, teen girls and young women have been taught about modesty and you say it's pretty much almost all bad. You were very, very clear. It's almost all bad. So can you tell our listeners about this idea of modesty and the effects it has on girls and young woman?
This was the one chapter that Rebecca sketched out first. This is this is her anthem as a girl feel the Snark it's good. Yeah. And purity culture. And when we were recording the audio book, she read most of this chapter, she couldn't get through it without crying because there are parts of it that are horrifying. The things that we said to girls, it is really horrifying. We measured for different iterations of the modesty message because we really wanted to drill down on this. And so the four messages were boys are visual in a way that girls will never understand. Boys can't help but lust if a girl is dressed like she's trying to incite it, a girl has a responsibility not to be a stumbling block to the boys around her by what she dresses, how she dresses. And girls who dress modestly are worse than those who don't. We let the the survey taker define what worst was, we just want to see what they would say. And all four messages are terrible. Like you look long term, they lower self esteem, make it more likely to marry an abuser, worse marital and sexual satisfaction, you're even more likely to get harassed and abused in church. So churches that teach these messages are inherently more dangerous for Teen Girls. But the two best is that are the worst are the ones about boys. So boys are visual in a way that girls will never understand. Boys can't help but less. Because they tell girls, this world isn't safe for you. Guys are incapable of treating you well. They will always objectify you no matter what. And that's just how God made boys because that's how it's phrased too. Isn't it wonderful that this is how God made boys bodies that they are drawn to us. And, you know, this is this is supposed to be a wonderful thing. And when girls believe those messages, they're fit, they're 52% more likely to experience sexual pain. As an adult, they're 68% more likely to marry an abuser, they're 30% more likely to have low self esteem. It's bad.
Statistically bad. Yeah,
it's it's bad. And can I tell you about the worst one, the one that just really got to us. Example was Dannah Gresh, wrote a curriculum called Secret Keeper girl sold hundreds of 1000s of copies, there was a there was an event that went went across North America, a secret keeper girl event where it taught girls how to dress modestly. It was aimed at girls eight to 12. And in one of the particular exercises that moms were supposed to do with their daughters, there were these modesty tests, and one of them was called raise and praise. So you're supposed to put your arms in the air. And if any belly showed that was bad, because bellies are intoxicating. And then she goes on to have this conversation that she scripts out that moms should have with their daughters. So do you know what intoxicating means? It's like when you're drunk, and you get out of control. And God made our bodies to intoxicate men. But you're only supposed to be intoxicating to one man, the man that you will marry. And so we need to cover up to make sure that we don't intoxicate other men. And this is a wonderful thing that God made our bodies to intoxicate and that he is drawn to us. She told eight year old girls that the sight of their belly could make an adult man out of control. And no one said anything.
Yep, yeah. It makes so much sense when you're talking about it like this. But when you're actually in it, it's just like, oh my god, I guess we have to go along with this sounds wise. What's a better alternative to teaching modesty then Sheila?
Never, ever, ever pair it with anything to do with lust. It's not about lust. G The Bible never pairs it with lust. When Jesus talks about lust. He talks about the guy he doesn't talk about what she's wearing. And the passages in scripture where they talk about modesty or about not flaunting your wealth. Yeah,
weirdly, and all those sermons I heard about like purity, culture and modesty and I never heard any pastor say the dude should gouge out their eyes.
Yeah, but you know what Jesus did? You know I, we walked through and she deserves better we walk we have some exercises that walk through conversations you could have with your daughter about it, but stress the things the Bible does, you know, are you being kind with what you wear. And that means don't wear clothing that is going to intimidate others that is going to make others feel left out. If you're going to go around wearing a confederate flag t shirt. That's not a good thing. You know, like, let's be kind with what we wear. Let's not flaunt wealth, and let's be appropriate for the occasion. So if you're going waterskiing, don't wear a skimpy bikini because that thing can fall off. You know, if you're gonna go babysit a bunch of toddlers, then don't wear a cute little sundress because it's gonna be flying up all the time. And you know, so just wear what's appropriate for the occasion. And that applies to guys to look, that's the thing, all of the modesty rules. They don't need to be gendered. Yes, guys should be wearing what's appropriate for the occasion as well. guys shouldn't be unkind guys shouldn't be flaunting their wealth, like the sneakers that some preachers wear. Yeah, and the watches that some preachers wear.
This gets to my next question, which is basically, I mean, I think that betrays that unwillingness to see that it clearly applies to men into that these modesty standards, just almost one for one go in both directions. The unwillingness to see that or admit that betrays a really low view of men. So I wanted to ask you, why do you think evangelical sex books are so infantilizing to men again, not having read any of them? That was one of my main takeaways from your book was evangelicals really seem to have a low view of of men? It's really sad. Where does it come from?
Yeah, and we traced that in grade six rescue we measured the belief that all men struggle with lust. It's every man's battle, that a woman should have frequent sex to keep her husband from watching porn. And she deserves better. We looked at the lust messages, we also measured, boys have a hard time stopping and to make out situation. So a girl is responsible to stop the sexual progression. So this idea that boys can't help it, men can't help it. Everyone struggles with lost every man's battle, literally says, we find another reason for sexual sin among men. We got there naturally simply by being male. And in their companion book, every heart restored, they said, men just don't naturally have that Christian view of sex.
I mean, that's just that's literally heretical. Jesus was a dude. Yeah, because naturally sinful, like you've violated the Creed, buddy, and they're supposed to care about.
And like self control is a fruit of the Spirit. Bible doesn't talk about lust as being in a particular category of sin, which cannot be defeated, like, the Bible does not say that lust is men sin. But we have made it into that. And I think the reason that we infantilized men so much, is largely because the church is very male dominated. Right? There's men at the top. And men don't want to be held accountable. There's an awful lot of guys watching porn, they want to keep watching porn, and they would rather blame women, for their problems, then own it themselves. So
let me let me real quick, because you, we just we referenced it at the beginning of this interview that you've been on, you know, dozens of interviews for this book, in particular, probably, you know, a couple 100 all told with all your books. You were recently on theology in a row with Preston sprinkle. And I listened to a bit of it, and was I'd never heard him talk at all. I'd never read any of his books, you know, whatever. And I was, I was a little bit shocked about how much she was pushing back on what you and Rebecca were bringing, and how I was, I was shocked by his tone. I was shocked by what he was bringing in, I felt I had a lot of respect for you and your daughter, by the way, you engaged with him, and thought it was absolute ridiculousness. Now I can say those strong things, because I'm not you. But I'm just interested in what's the response to that been? And how what, like, what's your take on that conversation?
Takes? The first is I'm very glad it happened. I think it was a really productive conversation we were talking about, mostly about modesty and consent. Were the parts that he was pushing back on. So you know, he was talking about how he wanted his girls to cover up so that they weren't ogled so much. And, you know, we explain that what you're wearing doesn't prevent harassment. And what girls need to be told instead is that they can stand up for themselves and how to recognize red flags and Then when we talked about consent, and I got the impression that he really that he was really saying that boys have such a hard time stopping. And this is where my daughter, Rebecca is a rock star. She's really good in these situations. And it was her who was mostly pushing back. Yeah. But when we say that boys can't stop, what we're saying is boys can't help but rape you. I thought the conversation was really productive because he was voicing a lot of things that many people believe. And I pushed back initially, and then Rebecca took over and was just quite assertive.
Yes, she was on that, respectfully assertive.
A lot of people were really grateful for that, because they, they finally put words to some of the things that they were thinking, and they knew how to push back now on those same ideas. So on that sense, I was really happy with the conversation because it needed to be had because so many people still believe these things. On the other hand, sometimes it just gets tiring. It's just kind of tiring. Yep. Yep. And, and hard to think that so many people do still think that. Yep, yeah. So
yeah, no, I get it. I've got other words for it. But I, I'll save those. But I would say yeah, I think I think you're right. It's a good lesson for those of us who are struggling with how to how to navigate through this stuff, because a lot of us have to unlearn things. Like most of us who grew up in the evangelical church, have to unlearn things. And it felt like Preston was he was confronted by how much he has to unlearn. Through the course of that conversation, he could have been a lot more gracious and honest about that. But good for you guys. Like I was really grateful for both of you in the presence that you brought. If anything I wanted to, I wanted him to get slept slept a little harder. But
yeah, thanks for nonviolently. Of course, listeners, don't run 100% metaphor.
And for those who listen to that podcast, you might get a kick out of this, but we now have anti rape raccoon merch in her store. It's an inside joke, you'll have to listen, don't get an anti re practicing merge.
It is it was a great point by Rebecca that you guys should listen to Yeah. So I do want to hit on this because I think it's so important, even though you've already spoken about it earlier, Sheila, we're almost done here. But you talk about how teaching about virginity and the virtue of of you know, protecting your virginity is the most important thing for a young person to protect and value. Again, how do we how do we build out a robust sexual ethic when we're parenting our kids, particularly our daughters, in a way that's doesn't hold virginity up as the end all be all while trying to? You know, I'm just asking you, How do I talk to my daughter again about this? In ways that doesn't make it seem like she has to stay a virgin, or she's gonna be like, lose everything, but still want to honor her boyfriend, she has a boyfriend, you know, and I want them to honor one another and love one another. How do we talk about this without going to these binaries?
I mean, I think it's perfectly fine. Just to tell your daughter, hey, here's what I'd like for you. You know, like, just be honest, you know, here's what I want for you in here. And that means being honest with yourself. Because a lot of us, we don't want our kids having sex, because picturing them having sex means they're growing up, and we want them to stay a kid and like, we're all messed up in our head about that, like, like it's not, it's about how we feel, it's not actually about what's best for them. It's about how we feel. And that's not a good enough reason. Right? It has to be about how, how do I want to care for you? And what do I want for you? What do I think is best for you? And it's fine to talk to them about that? You know, this is why I'd like you to wait. This is why I think, you know, this is what I think God thinks. But you know, we all need to think about that ourselves. But this is this is why I'd like you to wait. And I think that's what's best for you. But that's different from saying that if they are no longer a virgin, and that's what we did, we told girls their most precious treasure, their most precious gift. That was there rigidity. If we instead say to our daughters, I just I want you to be safe, I want you to be wise, I want you to honor yourself, I want you to honor the person you're with. Then let's say one day, your daughter does go further than she wanted to, you know, and she doesn't actually like that about herself. And she's like, Man, I wish I hadn't done that. Then she can pray about it. And she can be okay with it. And then the next time she can say, No, you know what, I don't want to do that again. Yeah, I think I'm just not going to do that now. And I'm going to choose something else and it's okay. But if we've told her that she needs to protect her virginity, then once it's gone, why does she say no now? Yeah. And that goes for boys too.
Yep, absolutely. 100% I'm just realizing that I didn't ask for her consent to bring her into this. So if you're listening to this question, it's because my daughter now has given me consent to actually share this with the world. Yeah,
otherwise, she's gonna have a fun time taking all those references. Yes.
So chi wrote, read the great sex rescue which so beneficial, she deserves better is just this rich, mature, nuanced, researched, and beautiful way of embracing our sexuality and raising our daughters differently and teaching the church differently about sex. There's so much to it. As a pastor, me and other pastors are looking for ways to just talk about sex and in really healthy ways and framing sex in ways that are edifying and that bring about maturity in our congregations in their discipleship. And we don't have a good grid for that we haven't been taught well of how to pastor our congregations how to set a culture that is based on flourishing and beauty and goodness when it comes to sex and sexuality. Help us pastors,
sex is not a sin management tool. I think often we have we have promoted sex as a sin management tool. So have sex so that you don't less so that you don't watch porn, so that you're able to love each other better, so that you don't snap at each other. You know, sex is supposed to be this thing that you do so that bad things don't happen. Do you know what it's called? When we have sex to avoid something bad from happening? It's called coercion. You know, our sexual ethic has largely been about coercing people. And we've done that under the guise of God created men to have this great need. And so God created women to meet that great need. And we haven't seen sex as a beautiful gift of mutuality. And whenever we make sex into something which is more of an individual need, rather than an expression of a relationship in mutuality, then we've really cheap in it. Because we're not animals. We are animals, but we're not only animals. And often the way we talk about sex makes it sound like we're only animals. And I think redeeming sex is putting it back in its proper place, which means that it is about two people. mutuality, intimacy. And that ultimately means pleasure for both to and you know, 16 year olds girl put into the back of a car, it's not going to be mutual, intimate and pleasurable for both. And adults who are married having sex to make sure that he doesn't watch porn that's not going to be mutual intimate and pleasurable for both either.
Light stuff here. Sheila, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for reading these books. Man. I hope every I hope these are available in every church. There's a lot of undoing unworking that we need to go about. And hopefully Preston sprinkle does that too. But no, Sheila, thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you. It's great to be here.
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