First, I have not read The Great Sex Rescue. I likely will at some point, but I have a big stack of books I have been meaning to read and my recent health issues have made reading book-length works problematic.
Second, I hadn’t planned to say anything publicly. But I’ve now been asked about the book a few times. And I recently received an email in which a wife who has read both my blog and Sheila Gregoire’s To Love Honor and Vacuum for years said it was confusing and disillusioning to have so many marriage and sex bloggers remain silent about Sheila’s newest book—particularly given the importance of its overall message, that too many resources in the evangelical Christian world promoted wrong thinking and thus bad treatment of women and sexuality.
Rather than have my silence misconstrued, I realized I needed to say something.
A Bit of Background
I’d been blogging for about six months when Sheila Gregoire shared a post of mine in a roundup magazine she used to put out. From that, I gained an influx of readers, and my site continued to grow from there.
I read her blog faithfully and guest posted for her several times. We also had a wonderful telephone conversation early on, and she gave me some great advice.
When she came to Houston in 2015 for a speaking event, I attended and finally met her in person.
Later in 2017, we met up again in San Antonio, Texas at a restaurant for lunch. It was a delightful experience, and I also got to meet her wonderful husband Keith.
When we launched our Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast, Sheila was our first guest, talking about how to better teach children about sex. I have recommended her resources on my site more times than I count, and I gifted The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex to my future daughter-in-law.
All in all, Sheila has been an example, a mentor, and a friend.
A Shift in Focus
Sheila has long written about a variety of topics, from marriage to sexuality to parenting to culture. Sometimes I disagreed with a point she made, but no one agrees with another person 100%. By and large, I believed she did a fantastic job of encouraging both biblical and practical thinking about marriage, sex, and family.
In the last couple of years, Sheila changed her focus somewhat. Yes, she has always cared about women’s hearts, souls, and lives, but she grew increasingly concerned, and even angry, about marriage resources she believed were harmful to women.
She began to talk about specific resources, authors, and ministries, calling on them to retract statements, apologize, and remove certain books from sale.
Message Versus Tactics
What do you do when you agree almost completely with someone’s message but disagree with their tactics?
Sheila has rightly called out damaging assumptions and teachings that have caused women, men, and their marriages harm. We’ve done the same thing in several episodes of Sex Chat for Christian Women, like these:
Episode 29: Lies Women Believe, Part 1 – Sex Chat for Christian Wives
Episode 30: Lies Women Believe, Part 2 – Sex Chat for Christian Wives
Episode 59: Myths We Learned from Pop Culture – Sex Chat for Christian Wives
And it’s been a goal of several recent marriage ministries to correct the record on such messages as:
- Sex is for both husband and wife.
- Sexual sin is not the fault of another (lust, porn, adultery, etc.) but remains with the sinner.
- Submission in marriage never excuses abuse.
I agree with Sheila Gregoire’s mission—to take on false teachings and errors and point people to better messages and godly truths about marriage and intimacy.
But at times, I’ve taken issue with her tactics. Among my concerns were:
- Taking others’ statements out of context and/or misrepresenting what they said.
- Judging motives of other authors and speakers.
- Linking all complementarian theology with mistreatment or abuse of women.
- Including what I considered leading questions in her survey.
- Gathering her 20k+ survey participants through methods that may have biased the sample.*
- Publicly attacking colleagues, particularly in ways that encouraged others to do the same.
I deeply believe that good ends do not justify questionable means.
Following the Matthew 18 example, I contacted Sheila privately. As those were private communications, I won’t share anything we said publicly. However, suffice it to say that I brought up my concerns for the tactics used while stressing that I support the overall message and mission.
One Piece of the Whole
Honestly, these past two years have been difficult for me in many respects. Some family issues, the pandemic, national politics, and ministry specifics have led to a reconfiguring of my relationships. On top of that, I’ve had health issues now for five months that limit my productivity and challenge my optimism.
God and I have had some talks.
Some of those, I’m embarrassed to say, involved “colorful language” on my part.
More of those, I’m sad to say, involved me weeping or even sobbing.
I’ve had to ask myself regarding several situations in my life: What do I do when a friend and/or fellow Christian pursues a mission that I agree with but uses means I find problematic?
As I was contemplating that question one day, a Bible verse came to mind:
They [Paul and Barnabas] had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.Acts 15:39
Paul and Barnabas didn’t disagree about the message—they both longed to spread the gospel of Christ. But they disagreed on tactics (whether to take John Mark), and not just a little. It was a “sharp disagreement.” It became clear that they were so far apart on the how that their disagreement couldn’t be resolved.
What did God do with that? He spread the gospel even further. Two missionary teams went out.
Do I Support The Great Sex Rescue?
I support Sheila Gregoire’s goal of sharing important truths about sexual intimacy according to God’s plan, which includes challenging wrong messages and false teachings.
However, I disagree with her tactics. I disagree enough that I’m parting ways on this particular project. I wish her well in her missionary journey while I take my missionary journey. May God bless both.
And I hope those of us in marriage ministry will take this to heart and pray for one another: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:17). Then, we can help others know Him better too.
Note: I turned off comments for this post, because it is not my intent to stir up conflict, but rather to explain my own viewpoint on an important resource. If you wish to contact me about this post, you may message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*CORRECTION: I originally said, “Gathering her 20k+ survey participants through methods that biased the sample.” But upon further reflection, I can’t say that for sure. I have recall about when and how this survey went out, the calls for participation, and a direct request to share the survey with my readers, and I had concerns about this approach back then. However, this snowball sampling method has been used in plenty of other research, so I changed my statement to “Gathering her 20k+ survey participants through methods that may have biased the sample.” I hope that clarifies that this is my opinion. Others may agree or disagree.