Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Great Sex Rescue – Challenging Harmful Evangelical Messages

 



The Great Sex Rescue

Challenging Harmful Evangelical Messages

  By Sheila Wray Gregoire, Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, & Joanna Sawatsky

 

Reviewed by

  Geoffrey W. Sutton

Review Summary

The Great Sex Rescue is an evangelical Christian approach that challenges messages in several other Christian sex books, which do not focus on the sexual pleasure of women. In addition, the three writers challenge messages that emphasize dutiful wives meeting their husband’s sex needs regardless of how she feels or what aspects of a sexual experience would bring her more wholistic pleasure. When biblical texts have been interpreted in unfriendly ways, the authors offer a more woman-friendly interpretation. More troubling are Christian sexual activity messages that may encourage men to simply use their wives for their pleasure or even abuse them. After explaining their concerns, the authors offer suggestions for better sex including addressing medical problems that can interfere with sexual pleasure.

The Great Sex Rescue Review

 

Who needs rescuing from sex or great sex?

I read an article about The Great Sex Rescue in Christianity Today that grabbed my attention. I am somewhat acquainted with Christian views on sex having published A House Divided: Sexuality, Morality, and Christian Culture a few years ago. I also noticed that they had conducted a large survey, which as a psychologist peaked my interest. And of course, as a licensed psychologist I had treated individuals and couples for sex-linked concerns. So, what were they writing about?

            In chapter 1 we see their foundational concern.

 “Many Christians simply aren’t experiencing amazing,

 mind-blowing, earth-shattering, great sex.

 We want to change that.”

Sheila notes the importance of evidence-based treatments—that’s something of great importance to psychologists as well. The authors are familiar with Christian books that offer couples advice about sex. Here’s the rescue part of their theme:

 

“We want to rescue couples from teachings that

have wrecked sex  and put you back

 on the road to great sex—

because that’s what you should be having!”

            So what can readers expect to discover?

 Their 7-point proposal introduces us to their concept of a healthy sex life. I’ll just offer the key words following the lead phrase “Sex should be…”

personal

pleasurable

pure

prioritized

pressure-free

put the other first

passionate

What kind of research did they do?

I’ll just list the four methods.

1. A 130-item survey of 22,000 Christian women

2. A review of academic research studies of evangelicalism and sexuality

3. Focus groups and interviews

4. Reading and review of popular Christian books about sex and marriage and other influential books

 

For readers who tend to avoid research, let me say that the book is well-written and reader friendly. When they present the results of their survey, they avoid complicated statistics in favor of percentages of women who responded in many ways to their survey items. Compact charts reveal the highlights, which I think would be a great way to for leaders to encourage discussions in small groups.

What is so bad about sex that Christian women and men need to be rescued?

I like the way they attacked the problem of troublesome messages. They created a rubric to score popular sex and marriage books according to a set of criteria—just like research professors teach their students. Each of the three sections below consists of four items which the authors used to rate the 14 books on a 0-4 scale.

1. Infidelity and Lust

2. Pleasure and Libido

3. Mutuality

After the authors scored the books, they divided them into three categories:

Helpful Books

Neutral Books

Harmful Books

The top two of the Helpful Books were:

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner.

The lowest of the seven Harmful Books were:

Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker

Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

If you are interested in the details, see the Appendix to The Great Sex Rescue and see the resources on the book’s website https://baremarriage.com/gsr-rubric/

As you read through the chapters, you find quotes from their research that illustrate the problems with harmful messages about sex and marriage. They stress the importance of considering a woman’s emotional and physical wellbeing during sex. The best relationships are mutual instead of one-sided as in the common evangelical message of men as the head of the household in an unequal relationship with his wife. Also, sex ought to be by consent rather than taken without considering the wife’s feelings. Consent is not only about having sex but it includes consenting to the type of sex. One important emphasis is a warning against messages that encourage, or fail to condemn abuse or even marital rape.

The authors report problems with beliefs that sex is a wife’s duty, which interferes with a couple enjoying great sex. They also make the point that frequency of sex is not a substitute for quality. Frequency can be a false metric when counselors find that a couple has more sex after an intervention that focused on encouraging a wife to give her husband more sex using messages aimed at creating a sense of duty or teaching that men need relief to avoid looking at porn or having an affair.

Readers will also find helpful suggestions for reasons they might not experience an orgasm during sex. Some problems deal with relationship factors and foreplay but there are medical and psychological conditions as well (e.g., vaginismus).

Who might profit from this book?

My best guess is that this book will be most meaningful for Christians who generally identify with an evangelical type of Christianity, lean toward agreement with the idea that women and men are equal, and feel uncomfortable with the sex messages from the purity culture movement and related Christian sex and marriage books daubed harmful by the authors. It is possible that progressive Christians who have not been subjected to the negative messages of purity culture may find some parts of the book helpful as well. I also think the book might be useful as a recommended reading by Christian counselors who wish to suggest an alternative approach for their evangelical patients.

How do the authors integrate Christianity and sexuality?

The integration of Christianity and their views on sexuality does not appear to be a primary focus of The Great Sex Rescue. What the writers offer evangelical readers are different views on the oft quoted biblical texts used by some conservative Christians to favor meeting men’s sexual desires and ignoring a woman’s desire for a wholistic sexual experience.

The authors refer to the familiar Genesis and Ephesians texts about creation and marriage relationships. I’m not a bible scholar yet it seems some of the authors’ interpretations go a bit too far in terms of the meaning of select biblical texts that have been misused to the detriment of women. For example, when referring to the biblical translation of know for having sex the authors use it as a springboard for a tripartite approach to knowing as intimacy to include spiritual, emotional, and physical dimensions. I also do not find it useful to think of God as a designer of sex though I do not doubt this notion would be appealing to some readers.

The authors present the evangelical view of sex framed in traditional creation language suggesting a literal view of the creation story as God creating people in his image, although they do not elucidate the concept of God’s image. They claim God designed sex to be pleasurable. This approach to the Bible would be familiar to evangelical readers but is not consistent with scientific approaches to human evolution in general or to sexual selection in particular unless the writers intend for their biblical references to be taken as metaphors or other figures of speech.

In contrast to the authors’ views, the official position of most Christian groups does not interpret the Bible in a way that supports the equality of women and men. Obviously, only a small number of groups allow women to become ordained clergy or be in authority positions over a man. And many groups refer to the male-head-of-household texts to assert that men and not women are the head of the household. Frankly, although progressive writers have argued from various biblical texts to justify the equality of men and women, such arguments have yet to alter the prevailing view steeped in centuries of tradition and bolstered by many texts that limit women’s roles in the church and the home. Unfortunately for healthy marriages and good sex, the idea of equality of men and women in the home remains rare among Christians.

Previously I mentioned the quality of their rubric for rating Christian books about sex and marriage. I think it worth mentioning that none of the 12 items in the tripartite rubric mentioned anything about God, biblical texts, or Christianity. And the best sex book at the top of the list was a secular work by John Gottman who really has done excellent work when it comes to evidence-based approaches to relationship health.

How do the authors present an evidence-based approach?

As a psychologist, an evidence-based approach may mean something a bit different from the authors’ views. In general, evidence-based psychotherapies are those that have been tested and found to be reliably effective for a specific purpose when compared to control or comparison groups. I do not see experimental studies that document the validity of their recommendations for great sex.

However, in a broad sense, the authors could mean that they have relied on evidence from their survey to reach various conclusions and they have identified strategies from the literature, which they include in their chapters. They also challenge the recommendations of several books as either lacking evidence, causing harm, or both.

Having supervised clinicians, it is certainly not unheard of to find clinicians relying on experience when suggesting ways to help patients cope more effectively. The best clinicians will collect data from their patients to determine the efficacy of their suggestions. In this context, the copyright page offers a disclaimer as follows:

“This publication is intended to provide helpful and informative material on the subjects addressed. It is not intended to replace the advice of trained health care professionals.”

 

Comments

Respectfully worded readers’ comments that correct errors in this review, offer suggestions, or another point of view may be published. Hostile comments and advertising or links to personal and business websites are not published.

 

Cite this review

Sutton, G. W. (2022, September 23). The great sex rescue—a review. SuttonReviews. Retrieved from https://suttonreviews.suttong.com/2022/09/the-great-sex-rescue-challenging.html


 

Reference

Gregoire, S. W., Lindenbach, R. G., & Sawatsky, J. (2021). The great sex rescue: The lies you’ve been taught and how to — recover what God intended—. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. On AMAZON

 

Related book reviews

See the list book list Sex and Religion

See also

A HOUSE DIVIDED


Available on AMAZON





Please check out my website   www.suttong.com

   and see my books on   AMAZON       or  GOOGLE STORE

Also, consider connecting with me on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton    

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    

You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton     ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton 




Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Light of Days A Book Review

 


The Light of Days

By:

  Judy Batalion

Reviewed by

  Geoffrey W. Sutton

The Light of Days is a harrowing and tortuous journey through Poland under the body and soul crushing acts of vicious Nazi aggression experienced by courageous Jewish women who creatively energized Jewish resistance with presence, weapons, and nourishment. Some were destroyed. Some survived.

My interest in World War II stems from the stories my parents told of surviving the Nazi blitz of London. Since then, I have read various accounts of the bloody global war. And my wife and I have visited World War II and Holocaust Museums around the world as we learned about the Holocaust. The Light of Days stands out from the rest because it is about the role of women in the Jewish resistance-- a subject about which I had little knowledge.

I found the book difficult to read for more than one reason. Despite previous reading about the horror of the Nazi doctors and the brutality of the Nazi invaders, I was still stunned by the incredible pain and humiliation inflicted upon the Jews in these stories. Of lesser importance yet still a factor, is the difficulty in keeping track of people with unfamiliar names operating in unfamiliar territory. For readers unfamiliar with Polish, I suggest keeping a bookmark near the front of the work where the characters are briefly described and you can track the Polish cities on a small map.

After working through some of the early background stories and appreciating the work of different resistance groups, the story moves toward the powerful Warsaw uprising followed by other victories, imprisonments with brutal tortures, and bold escapes. We are invited to mourn the loss of those brave women who did not survive and glimpse the struggles of those who endured the war  but struggled to survive survival.

I recommend this work to anyone interested in the Holocaust, World War II, and the role of women in resisting the Nazis.

 

Reference

Batalion,J. (2020). The light of days: The untold story of women resistance fighters in Hitler’s ghettos. New York: HarperCollins. 


Available on   AMAZON.

 

Related Book Reviews

 

The Choice: Embrace the Possible  (Holocaust Survivor)

Inheritance A Legacy of Hatred and the Journey to Change It

The Sunflower On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness


Please check out my website   www.suttong.com

   and see my books on   AMAZON       or  GOOGLE STORE

Also, consider connecting with me on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton    

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    

You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton     ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton 

 

Links to my World War II posts – places and museums

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment

 

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment

By:

   Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein

Reviewed by

  Geoffrey W. Sutton

 

We are constantly exposed to opinions. Some of those opinions are judgments. And some of those judgments affect our opportunities to work, obtain healthcare, receive fair treatment by government entities, and earn fair evaluations in school. Some people are paid to make informed judgments. Unfortunately, some judgments are noisy—they vary. Noise is about the differences in judgments that affect our lives.

When the authors provide examples of variation in judgments, they are writing about variability in a statistical sense. As a retired professor who taught research and statistics to undergraduate and graduate students, I’m not sure the authors were entirely clear—at least not clear enough for readers who are either new to the concept or haven’t drawn on their statistics knowledge for some years. In any event, I think the book deserves a look because it draws attention to a real problem—a problem with which I’m familiar.

The authors often provide examples of judges in the criminal justice system. For example, they note that judges can vary in the length of a sentence for the same offence. They also provide examples of different diagnoses provided by physicians for the same set of symptoms—this is especially true in the diagnosis of mental disorders.

The authors introduce the problem of variation in judgments by referring to shots at target. Given a group of people firing at a target, there will likely be some variation. If they are experienced, we would expect them to be close to the bullseye. The degree to which the holes are scattered is variance. The variation is like noise in judgments, which deviate from accuracy. Those deviations represent error.

Let me suggest dropping the term variance in judgments in favor of differences. We can expect people to have differences of opinions about one thing or another but when it comes to a medical diagnosis, we want an accurate decision. When different experts arrive at different diagnoses, that’s noise. And that can be scary when the diagnosis leads to very different types of treatment.

Bias is a related concept. Bias is a systematic type of error. Using the target analogy, bias reveals a tendency for all the deviations from the bullseye to be located in the same area. In psychology, it might be a tendency for some clinicians to diagnose anxiety rather than ADHD or ADHD rather than anxiety when observing fidgety children. Bias can be found in numerical scores too such as when some psychologists tend to obtain lower scores than others on intelligence tests.

The authors also cover the problem of transient differences or occasion noise. That’s the kind of inconsistency that can happen when the same person looks at the same data but comes up with a different judgment on two different occasions. The authors mention some well known influences like time of day and hunger affecting judgments.

I’ll skip ahead to their recommendations. After providing us with additional terms and many examples, the authors offer suggestions for controlling unwanted noise. One major suggestion is to rely on algorithms based on the evidence that computerized assessment of all relevant data can often beat human decision-makers in accuracy. The authors recognize this won’t sell well to a lot of readers but they do offer a defense against common objections.

A second, and in my mind more palatable approach is to create a structured approach to decision-making. This can be as simple as guidelines, checklists, and preset questions to use in various fields. In applied psychology and counseling, students learn to use checklists and decision trees when making a diagnosis. Others learn to use scales and questionnaires and ways to aggregate available information relevant to both diagnoses and treatment plans.

There’s a lot more in this book both in terms of examples of noise as well as suggestions for reducing noise in different areas of life. They supplement their work with useful appendixes: How to conduct a noise audit, A checklist for a decision observer, correcting predictions.

 

Reference

Kahneman, D., Sibony, O., & Sunstein, C.R. (2021). Noise: A flaw in human judgment. New York: Hatchette.

 

 Please check out my website   www.suttong.com

   and see my books on   AMAZON       or  GOOGLE STORE

Also, consider connecting with me on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton    

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    

You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton     ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton 

 

 

 


Tuesday, July 5, 2022

My Body is Not a Prayer Request - a review

 


Disability Justice in the Church

By 

Amy Kenny

Reviewed by

Geoffrey W. Sutton

 

Is anyone among you sick?

Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them

and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;

the Lord will raise them up.

(James 5: 14-15a, NIV)

 

“God told me to pray for you.” Amy begins her challenge to Christians who dehumanize her, and all people with disabilities, by telling the tale of a prayer predator. She interrupts the woman’s plan, “I don’t need prayer for healing. My body has already been sanctified and redeemed.”

Amy uses a cane and a wheelchair. Throughout My Body is Not a Prayer Request, we learn what Christians and medical people have said and done, which have had a cumulative effect of dehumanizing Amy. She has encountered many Christians who do not accept her as she is. Her work is an attack on the mentality of ableism.

[Read about ableism]

Part of her attack focuses on the prayer predators who insist that it is not God’s will for her to have a disability and that God wants to heal her. Unlike hidden disabilities, Amy’s use of mobility devices draws attention to a physical difference. Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians believe God can perform healing miracles. In short, they believe people like Amy can walk again. I begin to glimpse the frustration and even anger with the people who constantly annoy her as if she is a problem in need of a fix instead of fixing the environment that is designed for the able-bodied.

Another part of her attack is on Christians who refuse to design spaces for people who need one or more accommodations to fit in. She takes on the excuses she has heard like limited funds despite churches finding money for other projects. She needs a ramp. Others need large print, sign language, or accommodations for hearing impairments.

Amy also takes on the dehumanization that occurs through the barrage of microaggressions. Mostly these take the form of words and phrases. Christians make jokes about people with disabilities and toss around words like “lame” as if she did not exist. In addition to pointing out the ways some Christians offend people with disabilities, she approaches a theology of disability noting scriptures that reveal compassion and inclusivity.

Read about the concept, microaggressions.]

In closing this summary of the book, I would note she provides suggestions for activities at the end of each chapter that may be of special interest to people in Christian book-study groups.

Quoting Amy

Following are some quotes to give you a sense of her perspective on being a Christian with a disability. The number following each quote is the page number.

No place is safe from prayerful predators. 27

What we need to be freed from is ableism. 27

Constructing buildings and communities with disabled people in mind from the outset produces a culture of belonging that does not discriminate against bodily difference. 36

Perhaps instead of trying to pray away the cane, prayerful perpetrators should ensure that buildings are accessible to me. Perhaps instead of focusing on my body as the source of sin, prayerful perpetrators should repent of the ways the church perpetuates the sin of excluding disabled people.  36

“Crip” is a disability community word that reclaims the slur “cripple” in hopes of transforming the way the world interprets our bodies. 53

Doctors have drugs, churches have platitudes. They use platitudes like a drug they can dole out to make any ailment go away. 99

Crip tax is a term for the way society charges disabled people for being disabled. The cost of mobility devices, medical care, and assistive technology is weighty.  106

Folks routinely wear glasses or contacts without knowing how to manufacture them and without the threat of prayerful perpetrators trying to cure them. 132

I am not your metaphor. My body is not your symbol to use. My crippled body and lame leg do not give you permission to dismiss me as symbolic for whatever you find difficult.  146

Physical space reveals who the world is built for and who we expect to use it. 197

Accessibility is not just a checklist but an ethos.  197

In the charity model, we become objects of pity rather than subjects with our own gifts. 252

**********

Comments

I recommend My Body is Not a Prayer Request to all those Christians who pray for healing. I get it that Christians can point to verses about healing like the James 5 text I placed at the beginning of this review; however, what aggressive, in-your-face-prayer warriors—I like Amy’s term prayer predators—seem to ignore is the millions of devout Christians who are not healed. The unhealed testify to the inadequacy of theologies of healing, which I have written about in a previous series (See Divine Healing).

I support Amy’s call for churches to be more accommodating. If the lack of accommodations is due to ignorance, then see Amy’s ideas and ask people in the church for suggestions. Meanwhile, Christians with disabilities are being excluded. As Amy points out, the number of people with a disability is large. According to the CDC, about 1 in 4 Americans have a disability (26%).

When it comes to Christians and ableism, there is a need to address the implications of people who were not good enough to serve in a special way. Consider the following quote from Leviticus 21.

16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. 18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; 19 no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20 or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. 21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; 23 yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.’ ” 

(Leviticus 21.16-24, NIV)

I will not attempt to create a theology of disability here. You can see what I wrote elsewhere and consult other books. However, I hope Christians can see how the Leviticus quote creates a tone of “not good enough.” Add in the many healing stories in the gospels and Acts and it is also easy to see how people can be “fixed” if only they have enough faith. Attitudes favoring the able-bodied place people with a disability in a lower class. 

Ableism, the discrimination against people with disabilities, is a problem in society and in the church. I agree with Amy that this ablest theology dehumanizes large numbers of people. I would add to her rhetoric on dehumanization that some Christians are in the habit of demonizing people with mental disorders.

 

Book Reference

Kenny, A. (2022). My body is not a prayer request: Disability Justice in the church. Grand Rapids, MI: BrazosPress.   AMAZON

GOOGLE BOOKS



Related books

The Bible, Disability, and the Church by Amos Yong


Theology and Down Syndrome by Amos Yong


Related Posts

Ableism

Microaggressions


Spiritual Bypass

Spiritual or Religious Abuse

Spiritual or Religious Neglect

Spiritual and Religious Harassment

A scale to measure attitudes toward disability

  Attitudes to Disability Scale [ADS]




Disclosure

I am a retired psychologist. Before becoming a psychologist, I worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor. As a part of my work as a psychologist, I consulted with physicians, attorneys, and government agencies on the needs of people with disabilities. I recently published a book about Pentecostals and mental health.

Counseling and Psychotherapy with Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians:

Culture &  Research  |  Assessment & Practice 

Available on AMAZON

Please check out my website   www.suttong.com

   and see my books on   AMAZON    

   or  GOOGLE STORE


Also, consider connecting with me on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton    

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    


You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton  

  ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton 

 Addendum

Throughout her book Amy Kenny provides some lists. Following is an example.