Monthly Archives: September 2018

How Should We Treat Sexual Assault and Harassment Allegations?

From time to time, a story in the news opens up the opportunity to talk about sexual issues in our larger society. In the past, I’ve commented on other news stories involved sex: Forget Josh Duggar: What Ashley Madison’s Client Base Reveals about Husbands; How Parents Can Use This Election to Talk to Their Kids about Sex; Abuse in the Church.

In the past couple of weeks, the accusation made by Christine Blasey Ford that United States Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her during their high school years has been a focus of news, commentary, and conversation. If you have paid attention, you’ve heard a variety of opinions about what should happen next.

I’m not going to add to that conversation, because I personally don’t know what’s true at this point. I don’t feel like I have sufficient evidence to make a determination of what happened or didn’t happen back then.

But that brings me to the question I want to ask today: What should be our response to sexual assault or harassment allegations?

Again, I’m not talking about Kavanaugh/Ford, because I’ll let others work that one out. But this situation gives us a nudge to talking about the issue as a whole. How should we treat such accusations?

Take accusations seriously.

Too often in our past, we, as a society, have been too reluctant to believe accusations, to act on evidence, to support the victim. Whether you personally understand it or not, it can be very difficult for victims of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment to speak up, point the finger, and follow through with pursuing justice.

Most accusations are true. A 2010 analysis of various studies concluded that only 5.9% of rape reports were false. FBI statistics give a rate of 5% false allegations. That means that over 9 times out of 10, when someone says they were raped, that’s exactly what happened. And that doesn’t account for all the sexual assaults that don’t get reported!

Our tendency, therefore, should be to believe an accuser — that is, take the allegation seriously. By taking the attitude that a person will be listened to with an open mind and a charge fully investigated, we encourage victims to come forward, name their assailant, and receive justice and closure. We also cut down on future assaults by weeding out attackers among us.

Refrain from extraneous insults.

What was she wearing? Was she drinking? Had she gone back to his place willingly? Was she “asking for it”? I’m utterly horrified that these are questions that have been asked when a genuine victim of a sexual crime has come forward and told her story! I don’t care if the woman was previously table-dancing naked; if she was raped, she was raped.

We can advise people how to avoid risky situations, but leaving my front door unlocked or even wide open is not an invitation to steal everything inside my home. So let’s not attack the victim for being dressed or behaving in a way that might have been sexually appealing but was not an invitation to be harassed or assaulted.

Likewise, let’s not hurl insults of any and all kinds against the accused without sufficient information. Before we go calling someone a rapist, a liar, and the utter filth of the earth, let’s try to figure out if the event really happened. If you’re not in a court, your opinion doesn’t necessarily have to be “without a reasonable doubt,” but it should pass some standard of knowledge.  I wouldn’t call someone a murderer unless I had good reason to believe they pulled the trigger. 

Let’s remember there are actual people involved in this situation. Let’s focus on finding out the truth and then determine what justice should be meted out. And extraneous insults don’t help us get at the truth.

Recognize false accusations happen.

Remember the FBI statistics about the likelihood of an accusation being true? It’s still disturbing that, when it comes to rape allegations, 4,400 and 5,100 cases each year were determined to be untrue. And the false report rate for rape was five times higher than for most other offenses. Again, it’s it’s still around 95% likely that a rape occurred, but that 5% of falsehoods affect real people.

The Bible tells us the story of Joseph, sold into slavery in Egypt and working at the home of Potiphar, a royal official. Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph to sleep with her, and when he refused, she falsely accused Joseph of sexual assault.

One day [Joseph] went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

Genesis 39:11-20

Without any investigation, defense, or due process, an innocent man was sent to prison. Scripture is clear that this was an injustice against Joseph, as it would be against anyone accused of a horrendous crime they did not commit.

As much as we want to hold the guilty responsible, we also don’t want to convict the innocent. We have a responsibility to do our best to figure out whether something really did or didn’t happen.

Seek out the truth.

The biggest challenge we often have with harassment/assault allegations is “he said, she said” — meaning no external witnesses can confirm or discredit an accusation.

The Old Testament law established this general standard for determining guilt: “One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Deuteronomy 19:15). Yet three chapters later appears instructions about rape, including this one:

But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. Do nothing to the woman; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor, for the man found the young woman out in the country, and though the betrothed woman screamed, there was no one to rescue her. 

Deuteronomy 22:25-27

How on earth would a woman alone in the countryside with a rapist have a second witness? She wouldn’t. And yet the Bible clearly states that her attacker should die for his crime against her. Somehow, the Israelites were expected to investigate a claim through other means, judge its veracity, and dole out justice. Perhaps the second “witness” in such cases was corroborating evidence. Similar allegations, physical evidence, or simultaneous reports are all considered in determining the truth of someone’s claim.

When a charge is made, let’s take the accusation seriously, knowing the vast majority of accusations are true; let’s refrain from getting into extraneous stuff that doesn’t illuminate the truth; let’s remember false allegations do get made, and let’s seek truth.

Maybe charges against someone you like are true. Maybe charges made by someone you like aren’t true. We have to be willing to set aside our earthly ideologies and care about what God cares about — truth and justice. If we cannot do that, we are not treating out citizenship in Christ with the honor it deserves. And consequently, not treating others the way we should.

Intimacy Revealed Ad

Q&A with J: How Do You Know When Orgasm is Close?

Today’s question is a great one about orgasm. For many women, the building of an orgasm, the crossing of the line, and the characteristic spasms are fairly easy to detect. But for some women, it’s not so clear. And for pre-orgasmic women (a term Bonny Burns of OysterBed7 taught me!), it can be frustrating to feel that build and not know what it should feel like to get all the way to climax.

With that in mind, here’s this month’s reader question:

I wanted to ask how you know if you’re close to having an orgasm? There are times when my body tightens up in a way that seems similar to when my husband orgasms. However, it’s not followed by a sense of release or uterine contractions (which I thought is an orgasm?). Do you think this is on the way to orgasm?

Quick answer: Yes, I think you’re on the way to orgasm. Building tension is a key component of heading toward climax. But the arousal may not have increased enough to get you over the edge to release.

There are really two ways to look at orgasm: physiologically and experientially. Let’s look at each.

Physiology of an Orgasm

Medical professionals and scientific researchers define the buildup and orgasm through physical characteristics — that is, what’s actually happening in your body. Leading up to a climax, the blood vessels in the genitalia dilate, meaning that a woman’s vulva will swell. The inner vaginal lips will become 2-3 times their normal size. The blood flow can also cause flushing of the body, particularly on the neck and chest. Heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure increase.

Right against the edge orgasm, blood flow causes the lower area inside the vagina to become firm. A wife’s breasts may swell, the areola of her breasts (shaded part around the nipple) flatten, and the clitoris pulls back from the pubic bone. The climax, however, has not happened until rhythmic contractions occur.

That’s a lot going on, and you’re almost certainly not aware of all that as it’s happening. Your husband is likely not fully aware either, as you are both hopefully caught up in the passion of the moment — not eyeballing your parts to see what’s swelling or firming or flattening.

But biologically speaking, that’s what’s going on.

Experience of an Orgasm

Experientially, the female climax has certain features most wives recognize, but it can also be individual. One wife may flush a lot, and another not so much. One wife may feel her pulse strongly, and another isn’t all that aware. One wife may feel the contractions strongly, and another less strongly.

So how do you know when you are coming close? Or have arrived?

I asked the wives in my Hot, Holy & Humorous Facebook Community to describe their experience, and here’s what they wrote:

  • Increasing leg twitches, a feeling of warmth in the whole pelvic region, and a building tension similar to the buildup before a sneeze.
  • Like I am on a roller coaster heading up a big hill then the drop off the end for the orgasm
  • Shin cramp
  • Legs start twitching and my leg muscles automatically tense. The pelvic region in general will tense and … there’s a feeling of warmth or tingling. And then there’s the wave as the tide hits
  • My stomach drops like on a roller coaster, just before you go over the top, then I have the most peculiar feeling to hold perfectly still and not breathe
  • There is a very intense feeling in the clitoral area that builds. All my muscles tense up. This continues till I can’t take it anymore and then the release…ahhh
  • Much more vocal, focused on only on us and the moment. My inhibitions become waaay lower
  • The good feeling of what is happening intensifies and gets more and more concentrated almost until I can’t take it anymore, then it’s like an electric explosion
  • A lot of pressure, but it’s pleasurable. Warm and tense in the clitoral area. Sometimes my body shakes a little bit. Breath comes in gasps. Muscles tense up right before. 
  • This weird sensation that starts from the pelvic region and travels up my left side of my spine, to my brain — then, fireworks. … I also agree with the leg twitches, and the first time I heard “like a pelvic sneeze” I thought- YES! that is exactly what it is like.
  • I feel like I’m moving closer and closer to something amazing—good sensations everywhere and everything feels so good and much more intense. When it happens—the best way to describe it for me is fireworks exploding in my brain and all over my body
  • Tingling, tickling, spark-like sensations. I also feel a swelling in that area and stimulation at times feels like it’s too much to handle. I also cannot keep my hips still… then it feels like a run away train or fireworks that go every which way in the end
  • I can no longer focus on what I’m doing (like kissing or touching his back)
  • Mostly it seems like my toes just curl up and I feel just warm and fuzzy, nothing real intense, but my breathing stops and I just feel so close and connected with my hubby

My favorite description here might be the “pelvic sneeze.” But think of a big sneeze — like that one that makes your whole body tense, and you know it’s coming and you won’t be able to stop it, and the eventual sneeze is actually a relief. 

If you’re not sure you’ve had an orgasm, then you probably haven’t. (Not always true, but generally so.) The contractions are really the key, and you should be able to feel those, at least somewhat — and it should be followed by a release of muscle tension.

Achieving an Orgasm

So what factors can help a preorgasmic wife finally reach orgasm? I recently read an interesting study about what helps a woman climax, in which researchers said mattered most were:

  • How important orgasms were considered personally
  • How high was sexual desire
  • How high was sexual self-esteem (including how skillful and good in bed women considered themselves)
  • How open was sexual communication with the partner
  • Ability to concentrate on the moment
  • Mutual sexual initiations
  • Partner’s good sexual techniques

I actually address every one those in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. So if you’re struggling, go get a copy! (Or get a copy anyway, to boost your lovemaking.)

Ad for Hot Holy & Humorous - click to learn more / buy

The vast majority of wives can, and definitely should, reach orgasm most times they have sexual intimacy with their husbands. If you’re not getting there, it’s time to consider the issues mentioned above. Though I would add relationship health and belief as a Christian that sexual intimacy is a God-approved and blessed activity in marriage.

Orgasm is an experience not quite like any other, and I hope and pray that each wife can lean into their sexual enjoyment and feel that special peak of pleasure.

Sources include Medical News Today: Everything you need to know about orgasms; NIH – Determinants of female sexual orgasms

Last-Minute Invite to Sexual Intimacy Study

I have one word for my life lately: discombobulated. Lately, I don’t know which way I’m going, what’s next on my schedule, and how I can keep up. I even found myself waking up this week at 1:30 a.m. to meet an article deadline. (I returned to bed by 4:00 a.m., but still…)

Anyway, I didn’t get my blog post written this week. But that’s okay because it gives me an opportunity to extend a last-minute invitation to wives to join a study being run by my close friend and fellow marriage blogger, Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife.

Here’s what she says:

Join me as we go through Passion Pursuit, by Linda Dillow and Juli Slattery. #authenticintimacy

I am leading an online study of the book Passion Pursuit, by Linda Dillow and Juli Slattery.

Passion Pursuit is for Christian wives in generally healthy marriages. If you are in marriage that involves on-going unrepentant sin (such as abuse, porn addiction, or infidelity), you are better off seeking professional or pastoral counseling to address those issues.

If you are a Christian wife who wants to learn God’s truth about sex and pursue sexual passion in marriage, this study is for you! 

To read more about it and sign up (now because the deadline is tomorrow), head over to her post HERE.

Getting a Sex-Friendly Mattress

We’ve had our current mattress for a few years, and it is sooooo comfortable. But we just bought a new one. Why? I’ll let clean comic Zoltan Kaszas explain (by the way, Jessica is his cat):

Yep, we discovered the hard way (or soft way?) that some mattresses perfect for sleeping do not work for sexual intimacy. A wedge pillow can certainly help, but even the pillow starts sinking in at some point.

Thus we were engaged last week in a lot of online research about mattresses, which included both the effectiveness in providing a good night’s sleep as well as the bow-chicka-wow-wow. 

But I started thinking about all of y’all: Are you struggling to reach climax because your mattress makes thrusting difficult? Is oral sex challenging to do when your bodies are sinking into the mattress like concrete blocks in water? Do you have to avoid a particular area of the mattress because it’s sagging? Do your springs creak so loud the neighbors are notified every time a little nooky is going on in your house?

Perhaps a new mattress is what your sex life needs.

Perhaps a new mattress is what your sex life needs. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Yes, we all put this off purchase because (1) we expect mattresses to last for a very long time, and (2) mattresses are expensive. 

How long does a mattress last?

Like some of y’all, my twenty-something son is sleeping on a too-old mattress — a hand-me-down mattress we bought before he was born. It should have been tossed years ago. Why?

Because mattresses should be replaced every 10 years, at the most. It might need to be replaced sooner. Indeed, Consumer Reports says it might be time to buy a new mattress if “you’re over age 40 and your mattress is five to seven years old. Remember, your body tolerates less pressure as it ages. As if getting older weren’t tough enough.” Gee, thanks.

Face it: Your mattress is only going to last 5-10 years. So if you’ve had one much longer, you need to consider how your past-its-prime mattress is affecting both your sleep and your sexual intimacy.

What about the cost of a mattress?

Yes, mattresses are not cheap. But think about it: How much time do you spend on your mattress? Actually, we spend about a third of our life sleeping or attempting to sleep. We spend 17 weeks, or 117 days, or 2808 hours having sex. (Some less, some more.) But that’s more time than you spend in your car or your kitchen or even the bathroom. Maybe it’s a good idea to make sure you’re comfortable in the space where you spend so much of your life.

We also know that quality sleep leads to better interpersonal interactions and to better health overall. Sex also leads to better health, meaning you need a good place to have it routinely. Seriously. It’s science. And your mattress can help on both those counts. 

That said, you only have as much money as you have. So it’s a good thing that a lot of mattress companies have dispensed with the storefront and sell online, which cuts costs. These days, you can get a solidly good one for less cost by buying it online or shopping at large discount store (like Sam’s or Costco). But do your homework, because if you go this route, you won’t be able to “test drive” the mattress in store.

What features matter most?

Support and bounce seem to be the key aspects for a sex-friendly mattress. Support simply means the mattress isn’t sinking or sagging. More memory foam on top or softer springs makes for more sinking, but the mattress’s foundation (box springs, base) matters even more in determining how much support it has. Ideally, a mattress should have a center support to deal with our hips or knees push down more during sex (and sleep).

Bounce is how much the mattress pushes back against you. Think about a basketball: If a basketball is filled with air, you can press your thumb into it and it will “bounce” right back into shape. But if the basketball has lost air, pressing your thumb in causes an indentation, and it may not bounce back into shape. Likewise, your mattress should have some of that resistance against your weight to go back into shape. That will help when you’re making love to keep from making an indentation in the bed.

Within those parameters, what mattress you get is a function of your body type and preference. Some want a bed to be soft, and some like it firm. Some have back or hip pain that can be addressed with the choice of mattress. Some people weigh less, and some people weigh more.

And it’s even more fun when you and your spouse are not the same and have to agree on a mattress to share! In which case, you could go with a mattress that allows each of you to set your side to your preference. 
We are trying that approach: an air mattress with separate remote control settings. 

But I’ll leave you with this story. Spock (hubby) and I went into one store to “test drive” the mattresses. We laid down on a display mattress, and he turned so that his back faced me. “Okay,” he said, “now scoot up close, so I can see how it feels with your hips near me.” I scooted up behind him. “Closer.” I nudged closer. “Closer.” At this point, I’m maybe two inches away from him.

I finally said, “Are you wanting me to spoon you here in public, in the middle of a mattress store?” He — oh, he of the Reluctant PDA Society — answered, “How else am I supposed to know how this mattress feels the way we actually fall asleep?”  For the sake of all potential onlookers, I remained where I was. 

But I did jokingly suggest, “How about next time we get into [sex position], you can thrust a few times, and we’ll see if the mattress is good for sex too? I’m sure that won’t make everyone in the store completely uncomfortable.” [Sarcasm at full throttle!] He laughed.

Summing up: Don’t do that. Please don’t do that. Just research, buy a mattress, and do your sex thing at home. 🙂

(By the way, we the found Sleep Like the Dead website to have the most helpful information.)

Ad for Hot Holy & Humorous - click to learn more / buy
Lots more practical sex tips in my book!