With a title like that, it’s really not fair for me to withhold the answer, is it? But I should first admit that I have no research to back this up, just years and years of hearing from Christian women about what messages they absorbed in the culture around them—church and secular—about sex. And, sadly, they learned this:
Sex is for him.
This myth that God created sex more for men — and its corollary that He thus cares more about men’s sexuality than ours — has floated around like a dark mist that many wives struggle to wave away.
Did anyone say those words to us exactly? No, but it was the underlying message of a bunch of other advice we received. Did you, sweet wife, happen to hear any of the following
Greatest Worst Hits?
Teen guys have a hard time stopping.
“Teen guys struggle with their sex drive, so you need to be the one to stop things from going too far. ” As if SHE doesn’t struggle too?
When I was sixteen years old, two married women in my church offered to teach a Wednesday evening class for young ladies. From a place of wanting the best for us, they warned us about the intensity of a teen male’s sex drive. It was described almost like a bucking bull just inside the rodeo chute; one crack in the gate, and all heck would break loose. (Don’t get the rodeo analogy? Watch the video below.)
And you know who had their hand on the latch? We young ladies.
Since their libidos were wild animals, we had to be in charge of making sure nothing broke out of the pen. Unfortunately, I recall sitting there in class wondering who was going to help me tame my inner beast. Because sex sounded really interesting to me too.
Even gals who didn’t have as strong a drive were at least curious. But since saying so might mean we were wayward young ladies, many of us either denied our drive, interest, curiosity or decided we were fighting a losing battle and should just unlatch the gate already.
Most boys/young men masturbate.
“Most teen boys masturbate because the resulting climax is so satisfying. “This practice might have been accepted, tolerated, or condemned, but it was presumed that he has a longing to experience the physical release of a climax. Ignoring that SHE would also like to know what it feels like to orgasm.
Females masturbate. Not with the frequency that males do, but when your goodies are all tucked away, it’s not so obvious or easy or even tempting to fondle yourself all the way to climax. Some girls do it anyway, and some don’t.
But most gals are just as curious about what it would feel like to have a sexual orgasm as the guys are. And we are drawn to the physical pleasure and release of climax.
Should we masturbate? That’s a different question. But interest in experiencing the physical sensation of an orgasm? Women have it too.
If you don’t have sex regularly, your husband might cheat.
“You need to have sex regularly in marriage, to help him the avoid temptation to cheat.” Honestly, there’s a thread of truth in this one (see 1 Corinthians 7:5-9), but where is this admonition for husbands? Are we saying that he needs sex a lot, and SHE doesn’t?
And this makes sex sound like merely a preventative measure. Along the lines of “if you don’t need get a flu shot, you might end up horribly sick for a week” or “if you don’t floss your teeth, they’ll fall out.” You and your teeth don’t have equal choice, but in marriage-adultery, both sides are conscious actors. Adultery, therefore, would not be the wife’s fault just because the adulterer didn’t get his groove on as much as he wanted.
Interestingly enough, negative consequences are not a great motivator for positive action (see “What Motivates Employees More: Rewards or Punishments?” – Harvard Business Review). Strong warnings can work well in getting us to not do something — like smoke or cross the street at the wrong time — but not so well if we have to exert effort to prevent the bad thing from happening. So saying do not commit adultery and listing negative consequences makes far more sense than saying do have a lot of sex and listing adultery as a negative consequence. If we want a wife to engage in more sex, we should stress all the benefits to her and the marriage! Because there are plenty.
Men are turned on by looking at women.
“Men love to look at women; it’s just how God made them.” Also not so much a myth—though plenty of women are visual—but growing up, I never heard the other side of how God made women to be aroused. Which made it seem like we didn’t have our own temptations or our arousal didn’t matter as much.
Women are typically more turned on through the senses of hearing and touch. We tend to be auditory and tactile. I wish I’d known that a long time ago. I wish someone had acknowledged how we ladies get aroused, and how that can be both our struggle outside of marriage and our blessing inside of marriage.
I mean, my husband probably should be a little jealous of how in love I am with Dean Martin simply because of his singing voice (though him being dead certainly lessens the competition), but when my husband’s low, rumbling voice whispers in my ear?…
Sorry, I had to go fan myself for a moment.
Never say no to your husband.
“Never say no to a sexual advance from your husband.” This one has come from so many different circles, I don’t really know where to begin. I understand how well-meaning the advice is, because it’s important for wives to be fully engaged in the sexual intimacy in their marriage. But seriously, never say no to your husband? Does that mean HER needs and desire in the moment don’t matter?
Also, there’s a convention-center sized group of higher-drive wives reading this right now and wanting to scream: Did anyone ever tell the men to never say no to their wife?! *waves to ladies* Yes, I see you there, and you make a great point: This advice tends to be lopsided.
If Corinthians 7:3-5 should teach us anything, it’s that sex in marriage is mutual. It matters for both husband and wife.
It’s a necessary act in marriage.
“It’s just what you have to do in marriage.” Sadly, some wives who never learned to fully embrace or enjoy sex themselves characterize sex as a clause in the marriage contract you cannot get out of — though you wish you could. As if it’s written somewhere: “The female party, referenced throughout as ‘Wife’ agrees to faithfully, industriously, and to the best of her skill, experience and talent, perform all of the duties required of the position, including that thing where he wiggles around on top you while you mentally make your grocery list.”
Every time I think about this attitude, I am caught between wanting to cry for the wives who believed or experienced sex like this and wanting to scream about the madness and misery of this myth!
Thank heaven that we’re dispelling that myth more and more these days. Thus freeing up wives to express their sexuality, pursue answers when they don’t experience pleasure or orgasm in the bedroom (their right, according to Scripture), and just revel in a good ol’ romp with their husbands.
Hopefully, by this point you’ve identified what wrong messages might have led you to believe, even in the smallest way, that sex is ultimately for him. It’s not, dear wife. It’s for you too.
God was well-aware of what He was creating when He made women — including her unique sexuality, her longings and desires, her mutual contribution to sexual intimacy in the marriage bed.
For you created my inmost being;Psalm 139:13-14
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Your body and your sexuality are fearfully and wonderfully made, and they matter. Sex is for your husband, created and delivered by God, but don’t buy the myth that sex was created mostly or exclusively for him. God longs for you to enjoy it too.
38 thoughts on “The #1 Myth Christian Women Learned about Sex”
Great post, J! And unfortunately, men have gotten the same message: it’s all about the man. Both men and women need solid Biblical teaching on sex, and for men, at least, I think the most important lesson to learn is that sex is about relationship. And that means all parts of the relationship, sexual and otherwise. And the sexual part means HER sexual pleasure and fulfillment, too. Maybe even mostly about her.
I had to figure this out on my own, with no help. By the time I got to your blog, and others addressing sex in Christian marriage, I had learned the lesson the hard way. Thanks for the work you’re doing to try to correct some of the lousy messages we have all received about sex.
Thank you, J. This is a great post! I very much enjoy my husband’s and my intimate relationship, and try very hard to be balanced when speaking with our many daughters about sex. However, I can see that there are some things that I may have wrongly passed along to them that I believed.
Now having read this list, I hope to rectify it. Thank you for being such a blessing to wives, husbands, and the coming generation – I really appreciate you!
Reading this makes me so thankful that I found your blog before I got married (at age 31). I can’t remember *anything* that I was taught about sex growing up (except save it [whatever “it” was] for marriage). I don’t know if that means I wasn’t taught anything or I simply don’t remember, but I honestly remember nothing.
In high school, I remember holding hands with a boy (enjoying it) and kissing a boy (thinking it was weird). In college, my roommate mentioned that she struggled with masturbation–I didn’t even know what she meant and never looked into it. Between then and meeting my now husband, the only “sexual” thoughts I can remember are having known two different guys (during different years) and thinking I could marry them. Not much of a history that’s for sure!
In the 6 months leading up to my wedding, I devoured your blog. I learned so much! I’m so thankful that I didn’t have these myths you discuss here as a “foundation” that needed to be torn down and instead I could build an entirely new foundation where sex and its mutual enjoyment could be rooted in Scripture and God’s design. And I can honestly say, sex is GOOD in our marriage! (Except when my husband is working ridiculously long hours and simply doesn’t have energy.)
I’m already planning to teach my kids (#1 coming this month) the true beauty of God’s design and desire for us and not leave them completely in the dark (although to be honest, I turned out OK even having been ignorant).
Thank you, J, for your ministry!
Thank you very much for your blog.
There will be many couples out there who will benefit a great deal from the words that you publish.
I have been married 37 years. My wife does not masturbate, and I am fairly certain that she has never experienced a climax. She used to be one of those wives that mentally makes her grocery list when we were intimate. She hates sex, and at about five years into marriage she decided that we were going to be celibate. This is the only topic that we have ever argued about.
I believe that divorce is only appropriate after adultery since she would never commit adultery, it rules out divorce. Though we have talked about divorce many times.
I can only imagine how much your blog would have helped us back in the 1980s.
Keep up the good work.
May God bless and keep you.
To be completely honest, of all of the “myths” you pointed out, I found myself scratching my head just a little. To me, each of the things you said wasn’t really a myth about men, in that as far as I’m concerned it was mostly true. It’s just how the importance of sex to women has been seriously downplayed. Teens boys DO have a hard time stopping. Teens boys DO masturbate, and not because they’re curious about what orgasm feels like or because orgasm feels great. Lack of sex in marriage does make it harder to not commit adultery and sex IS a required act in marriage. Men DO get turned on by looking at women.
The only thing you could debate that is somewhat wrong is never saying “no” to sex with your husband. Even this is debatable and requires interpretation of the rest of scripture to arrive at the conclusion that obviously it’s not an unforgivable sin to say no every once in a while.
So, the myths aren’t so much about men. The myth is that women should be enjoying sex as well. I know that you implied that a few times, but the tone kinda made it sound like these things might not be true for the vast majority of men.
Brian, I think it’s that these things are said without balance. Or some of them in a way that really blames women. When I brought up to my former pastor that my ex had been cheating, he immediately assumed I had been withholding sex. I hadn’t been. But he was so quick to pretty much accuse me of that in order to almost justify the sin my ex was involved in.
This reminds me of those awful regency romances, where men were taught to only have sex to with their wives to have the ‘heir and a spare’, but they could indulge with their Mistresses to fulfill their bodies’ actual sexual longings. I’ve been married 37 years (got married at 19), have 9 grown children, ages 19-35, and we have 10 grandchildren, so far. It’s been my goal to teach my children (5 girls/4 boys) that sex is a gift, for married’s one man/one wife, to aid in intimacy, love, pleasure, and the furtherance if God’s kingdom. I love having sex with my husband; we laugh, we moan, we enjoy each other; therefore, we enjoy each other when we’re not having sex, but all the time. Our children see us and have all wanted a marriage like their mom and dad have. Thanks be into Good for His indescribable gift . . . I know this is about Jesus, but, I think, it’s about sex in marriage, as well.
“Yes, YEs, YES!”
(sorry, couldn’t help channeling Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally)
I don’t think, for the most part, I was ever outright told these myths, but, but then I was hardly told anything outright about sex. But I certainly absorbed them from my upbringing. And I still struggle with them, although I’m trying to better.
Another thought on this: I think some of this is exacerbated by the “purity movement” in churches. When I was a teenager, sex was never talked about at church. (It wasn’t talked about in my home, but that’s another matter.) As the purity emphasis took hold in the 1990’s, I observed a lot of talk about abstention (good) and saving sex for marriage (good) but not anything positive about what sex in marriage should be like (bad). I think churches were assuming parents were taking care of that, and parents were assuming churches were taking care of that.
The general message that came through to kids was that “good girls don’t do things like that” and “boys, just keep your pants zipped.” Nothing positive about married sex and the way God designed it for relational intimacy.
The problem is that many Christian women carried the idea of “good girls don’t do things like that” into their marriages, thus hindering them from fully embracing their unique God-designed sexuality and enjoying this good gift. Meanwhile, many men have bought into the lie that their sexuality is some raging animal force that can’t be denied or controlled.
Couple this with the gnostic-type concept that things of the body are not very spiritual, if not downright sinful, and we have a perfect storm for sexual confusion, at best, and sexual sin, at worst. We need to not only call out lies for what they are, but we need to fill the gap with solid scriptural teaching and mentoring. The problem is that too many Christians are totally embarrassed to talk about sex at all.
Interesting. I think that’s true. However, I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and these messages were there then as well. So what I personally wonder is whether the Purity Movement introduced something new or just grabbed the megaphone and made these messages louder.
I found this post very insightful. My spouse of nearly 40 years would say that she does not believe this myth (sex is for guys) but she acts as it is true. She has never initiated sex (it “feels uncomfortable:), never has experienced an orgasm (not important to her) and having sex once every 3-4 weeks is okay with her. I believe that her suppressed sexuality is due the conservative Christian culture where we were raised. I will say that never of us were taught that the wife should never say no. In fact, I was taught to just “suck it up” if my wife said no.
One more comment…I have attended many marriage conferences with a section on sex. Not once has today’s topic has been addressed. Christian women’s sexuality has been suppressed far too long in the church and many marriages are not thriving because of this (IMHO).
Well, I’ll be at an event next weekend in St. George, Utah (Get Your Marriage on — tickets still available!) in which I’ll be speaking to couples about having great sex! I’d like to do more. 🙂
I’d also like to say that neither of us, nor any of the people I know, was ever told to “not say no” to sex. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I even knew the Bible commanded this due to the way many versions translated COR 7. I would say it was the exact opposite if anything. Men who had done anything wrong get banished to the couch. This might be very different depending of where you grew up and when.
I’ve heard a lot in the last couple of decades, almost as a concession to 1 Corinthians 7, though, rather than a genuine understanding that this passage isn’t so really “do the deed with your spouse or else!” but a push to understand that sex is part of marriage and should be MUTUAL. Including mutually satisfying, by the way.
Yes, that’s how I read that passage too, but then again, I didn’t grow up in church culture, because it seems like a lot of people who did (esp, it appears, fundamentalist type men) look at this passage very differently than I do.
I hear you, and I’ve heard that from some men too. Those who seem to see that passage as: “You owe me sex, woman. Submit!” Um, NO! You don’t get to discard everything else in the Bible about loving and cherishing your wife to get your “due.”
This is such an accurate description of what most Christian women experienced. You have to imagine that every time you encountered something about sex, since pre-adolescence, it has a subtitle like a movie –
Sex: He’s not gonna to stop if you don’t
Sex: Look at all these men ogling beautiful women
Sex: You need it to keep a boyfriend – and a husband!
But like, every. Time. You heard about sex. Read about sex. Saw a movie with sexual content.
I can’t imagine the layer of extra fear and contempt added for young women growing up now with #metoo and anti masculine rhetoric (and the backlash to the backlash).
It is so so important to challenge the narrative. Thanks J!
I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. I joined a Church youth group in my teens. I was one of the few guys in the group with a lot of girls. The guys called some of the girls “boy crazy.” Many of them wanted a boyfriend but there were few to choose from. So, I remember having the pick of so many who would have been my girlfriend. The fathers were always hovering near their daughters to protect them from us guys. (my thought was that they were protecting the guys from their girls.) I had no way of knowing what they had been taught about sex. But I do know that many would have had sex given the opportunity and visa versa. So, we had a lot of “don’ts” taught to us. Now maybe the girls were using sex to get a boyfriend. So, everything you said J, could be in these girls heads. I would not know. However over the years I have talked to a lot of couples who have a terrible sex life. There is a great need for couples to work through some of these early ideas, and enjoy intimacy together, equally.
Did J just drop the mic and walk off at the end of this? 😀
Lol. I don’t think I’ve ever nailed anything quite enough to mic-drop. (With my luck, it would probably land on my foot anyway.) But thank you! 🙂
Well said. It breaks my heart that “the church” has wasted one of God’s most easily used/abused gifts to wives and husbands. THANK YOU for helping me as a man to be the best man I can be.??
I want to add that as a young husband I knew nothing about the female anatomy. I had no idea that women had orgasms. Later, when I heard that wives could have orgasms I had no idea how to give her an orgasm. I figured that she must have orgasms the same as husbands. I figured that arousal took relatively the same amount of time, that if a guy gets an orgasm by penetration, then the wife must orgasm the same way. I had no idea that wives take a lot longer to warm up, and that 25% to 30% of wives do not orgasm by penetration alone. I had a lot to learn and no one to teach me. The internet has been a Godsend for information about sex. Yes there is a lot of myths and garbage out there that needs to be avoided. But like this Hot, Holy, Humorous site there is a lot of good information that can help marriages have a good sex life. I praise J and others who have web sites that were not available when I was first married. Young people have a much better chance of starting their marriage out right today. Of course, porn will cause marriages to crash and burn also. We have to have good judgment and discernment.
“Also, there’s a convention-center sized group of higher-drive wives reading this right now and wanting to scream: Did anyone ever tell the men to never say no to their wife?! *waves to ladies*”
Convention-center sized group? That’s gotta be hyperbole. Maybe the first two rows. ?
I know you’ve been telling me for years I’m not alone in the HD wife category, and I’m starting to believe you. Although I thought it was me and maybe a dozen others. Two dozen, tops.
But thank you for the wave and the shout-out! The recognition is always genuinely appreciated ?
B, there are 380 members in my Hot, Holy & Humorous HD (higher drive wife) Facebook group. Come find us here.
I agree with one of the earlier post that these are things that boys and men also are taught and believe. A few months back my husband and I were discussing the situation of a friend whose wife has no interest in sex And they had been abstinent for several months. My husband made the comment that it would be a matter of time before his friend cheated on his wife because ‘there are needs’. And while on the topic of needs it seems that many men 1/3 own needs met while not wanting to give any emotional intimacy or actually have a relationship with their wives kind of the 1950s version of marriage they get what they want they provide for the family now have to give anything else. I agree with everything that you say and I love the fact that you are helping people and I think that you do a wonderful job and service to women. But as far as intimacy goes you can’t change the other person how do you get a more intimate relationship when they don’t think there’s anything wrong even if you told them there is? And even if you don’t Bring up the emotional intimacy and just try to ask questions or try to have a relationship but they Never want to resolve , talk about emotions, or even talk at all, How do you have an intimate relationship with someone who is only willing to go physically and not intimately? And we’re talking about a marriage for 10 years. Feeling everything is one sided and that it will never change. It’s nice when things are reciprocal but it’s a difficult challenge to get things to be that way.
I can very much relate to what Amy has said. I was just thinking about this! Here is my thoughts/situation:
I love my husband of 15 years, I know he loves me. He is not a great communicator, I know this and he freely admits it. He “tries” sometimes to emotionally connect but it never lasts more than that day. I don’t and won’t get the emotional connection I need/want. At 15 years in I’m pretty sure this is just how it is. HOWEVER, every Christian marriage blog I read says MOST men communicate love through sex. FINE, okay, I get it. The Bible says we aren’t to deny each other our bodies, sex. FINE, okay, I get it. This is hard for me but IT SEEMS like I’m supposed to just get my mind “right” and get what I need from sex like he does. The Bible doesnt say “ don’t deny your spouse conversation”, it just seems like I’m the one who has to give in because it’s biblical. Conversation and emotional connection aren’t tangible. Sex somewhat is. I don’t but the have sex and the emotional connection and conversation will come theory. I’ve tried it. Or at least in my situation it doesn’t. Maybe I’m just crazy. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this J, by the way, fellow Texan here ?!
Hey, fellow Texan! We got SNOW flurries yesterday. Weird huh?
Anyway…I wanted to comment for y’all and say that yes, communication and emotional intimacy matter a lot! I’d argue that all the verses about love and kindness and how we talk to each other and all that are definitely commands for spouses to meet those emotional needs. We just tend to pick and choose the passages that support what we want to hear. So hey, high-drive hubbies! If you want her to want sex as much as you do, go read the story of how Jacob wooed Rachel for SEVEN YEARS. In that light, giving her several minutes of conversation and affection each day seems more than reasonable. 😉
And when you DO emotional “stuff”, and she still DOESN’T?
For 33 years? When she just “doesn’t see what the big deal is” but claims to enjoy sex on those exceedingly rare occasions when SHE needs sex. Every 6 months if I am exceedingly lucky and don’t have ANY demerits on her looooooong list (and getting longer) of don’ts?
1 strike and too bad. And anything I might need is just my cross to bear. “I don’t have to if I don’t want to and you cannot make me.” And not “allowed” to do anything that (in her twisted inhuman mind) might be perceived as an attempt to set a mood.
All about her for 33 years and if I don’t like it…tough, you are married now. You can take care of it yourself. Never mind that men get married so they don’t have to take care of it themselves any more.
Church useless too as a bonus.
Basically just enough that I cannot claim abandonment and finally escape this hell on Earth.
But marriage is wonderful! HA! Humor is about all of my sanity I have left.
Well, clearly there’s some underlying issue for your wife that needs to be discovered. It’s not just a matter of you doing “the emotional stuff”—which is important—but also knowing why she is so resistant to sexual intimacy. What happened in her background, or what messages about sex has she absorbed, or how does she feel about herself as a sexual being, or what’s going on with her physically? Something is there, and I’d be wanting to dig and find out what it is.
Well I have tried, but she doesn’t think we need counseling because everything suits her just fine as it is. Claims she doesn’t even need the usual emotional stuff when I have tried. I do anything romantic and she tells me I don’t need to do any of that either.
“Gnostic-type” church is of no use either. I have either been told, or heard preached, all of the “man-myths” from your next “myth” article. Un-married sex is of the flesh, not sex itself. Otherwise, what are you saving “it” for? Otherwise, why entire book of Song of Solomon? That is skipped every time the Bible in a year is taught or mentioned. Not even on the “reading list”. And will absolutely not be preached even to the adults or married folks.
As far as any of them are concerned I just need to pray more. Tried that, hasn’t worked for 33 years.
Cannot have sex with Jesus. That is what marriage is supposed to be for. If she wanted to be a nun, why did she even convert from Catholicism? Why get married and ruin my life? Or any other man’s for that matter?
I have some questions in turn for you: Why are you at a church that doesn’t help your marriage? Can you find one? I would be hunting down the church in my vicinity that provides regular marriage assistance and even in-house counseling. There are churches that do not actively promote the myths, but instead honor intimate marriage.
As a man, I agree with you completely. A husband should determine what makes his wife feel loved and valued and work hard to provide that for her. I think this is actually common knowledge, even if it isn’t followed a lot of the time by men.
As a side note, although I’m sure that was a joke, the Bible doesn’t say that Jacob wooed Rachel for seven years. She certainly might have felt it was a romantic gesture and by extension felt valued and loved because of it (she had better!), but there’s no reason to believe that he spent those seven years actively romancing her. We really don’t know what interactions between “betrothed” people of the opposite sex looked like back then.
On Jacob and Rachel: The Bible says, “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.” That’s a pretty big wooing to work a job you don’t want to do for that long, and I have to believe that she knew about his feelings for her.
Oh I agree completely that she must have felt great about it.
J, we’re told that Satan is “a liar and the father of lies.” I think that instead of using the word “myth” we should just call these lies out for what they are. And the only way to fight lies is with the truth. The Bible tells us a lot about what godly marriages should look like, with mutual submission and putting each other’s needs ahead of our own. I’m so glad I found your blog and a few others along the same line. I have been helped so much not by having myths debunked but by being filled with truth.
As a boy growing up, my head was filled with so many lies about marriage generally and sex specifically. It was not enough to have the lies exposed. I had to learn the biblical truth and dwell on that.
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