Is the church conditioning women to think less of themselves? And do the most common teachings girls hear in youth group make them more likely to marry an abuser? Less likely to understand consent? And more likely to blame themselves if they’re assaulted?
In this edition of The Roys Report, we’ll explore these topics with Sheila Wray Gregoire, author of a fantastic book exposing toxic church teachings on sex and women titled She Deserves Better.
Sheila and her team surveyed more than 7,000 women for this book. And what they found was truly eye-opening—and concerning.
They found, for example, that the emphasis on sexual purity can backfire. Instead of helping girls make good choices, it can actually shame them and then prime them for abuse. Similarly, much of the teaching surrounding modesty can lead to low self-esteem and body image issues in girls.
In this podcast, Sheila breaks down these toxic teachings. And we discuss how to really protect our daughters, so that they can experience healthy relationships—with men, with themselves, and with the church.
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Sheila Wray Gregoire
JULIE ROYS, SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE
JULIE ROYS 00:04
Is the church conditioning women to think less of themselves and do the most common teachings girls here and youth group make them more likely to marry an abuser, less likely to understand consent and more likely to blame themselves if they are assaulted? Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And today I’m going to be speaking with Sheila Gregoire, author of a fantastic book exposing toxic church teachings on sex and women called She Deserves Better. Sheila and her team surveyed more than 7000 women for this book, and what they found was truly eye opening and concerning. They found, for example, that the emphasis on sexual purity can backfire. Instead of helping girls make good choices, it can actually shame them and prime them for abuse. Similarly, much of the teaching surrounding modesty can cause low self-esteem and body image issues. In this podcast, I’ll explore these toxic teachings with Sheila, and we’ll discuss how to really protect our daughters so that they can experience healthy relationships with men with themselves and with the church.
I’m so excited to explore this topic with Sheila. But first, I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, Judson University, and Marquardt of Barrington. Judson University is a top ranked Christian University providing a caring community and an excellent college experience. Plus, the school offers more than 60 majors great leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Judson University is shaping lives that shaped the world. For more information, just go to JJUDSONU.EDU. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car, I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity, and transparency. That’s because the owners there Dan and Kurt Marquardt, are men of integrity. To check them out, just go to BUYACAR123.COM. Well again, joining me is Sheila Gregoire, founder of BEARMARRIAGE.COM, the largest single blogger marriage blog. She’s also an award-winning author of nine books, including The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex and her latest, She Deserves Better. Sheila is passionate about changing the evangelical conversation about sex and marriage to line up with kingdom principles, and she’s passionate about calling out abuse and making church a safe place which makes her a kindred spirit. So, Sheila, welcome and I’m just so excited to talk to you about this book. It’s a fantastic resource.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 02:39
Thank you, my friend, it’s good to join you again.
JULIE ROYS 02:41
And again, being you’ve been on my podcast before but before I recorded this podcast with you, I went back and listened, and I’d forgotten all about this. But you and I were on Moody Radio together back when I did my show, UP for Debate, talking about of all things, modesty.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 02:58
I know. It’s funny that things come full circle.
JULIE ROYS 03:03
They do and I think both of us if we were to record that today would probably be in a little different place. So, a lot has happened in the past five or six years. And I think that’s a lot of what we’re going to be talking about, the evolution of things within the evangelical church, a lot has changed. But unfortunately, a lot has stayed the same as well. And so really looking forward to diving into that. Before we go any further though, I also want to mention that I have an exciting announcement that you will be coming to The Restore Conference on October 13 and 14th. So, so excited about that and about having you join us. So, thanks for agreeing to do that. I’m just thrilled that you’re gonna be there.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 03:41
Well, I’m just so excited to meet people in real life. You know, you feel like you type into your keyboard all the time. And I’m so yeah, I’m so jazzed to see everybody.
JULIE ROYS 03:49
Yeah, and for those of you who don’t know what Restore is, it’s a two-day conference for folks that have experienced church hurt or those who are allies of these folks who have experienced church hurt or church leaders, especially we would love to see church leaders come. I know at the past few conferences, that’s been an area that’s been growing people coming saying we want to know how to minister to people who have been through these sorts of church hurt experiences, and some of the other folks coming, Wade Mullen Mary Demuth, Lori Ann Thompson, who I know is your fellow Canadian, there in the great white north. So really excited about that. If you want more information, just go to RESTORE2023.COM.
But Sheila, to get to your book., She Deserves Better. I just finished reading it last night. It was outstanding. And what was really kind of fun is that my daughter, my 21-year-old is home and so I got to read portions to her, and she was like, man, I want to read this book this is an outstanding book. So, you got the thumbs up from my daughter as well.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 04:55
Oh, that’s great to hear.
JULIE ROYS 04:57
Yeah, it was really cool. And I know that we’re going to have a lot of conversations around this book. And actually, after each chapter, you have discussion questions that moms and daughters can have these conversations, which, what a great resource. I mean, I think this is going to be so helpful for moms and daughters to engage over these topics.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 05:16
That was really our prayer. We have about 1000 people in our launch team, which has been crazy. And a lot of them are saying, I’m either reading it so that I can talk to my daughter better, or I’m reading it to reparent little 15-year-old me. Yeah, cuz it’s all this stuff I should have heard, but I didn’t.
JULIE ROYS 05:31
Yeah, yeah. Well, I love the premise of your book that women deserve better, especially women within the evangelical church. And I have to say, it’s just been sad to see in so much of my reporting that women in the church are not believed, a lot of the time, they’re silenced. They’re gaslit, they’re fed lies about who they are, and about their worth. And so, I see that changing, and the culture is changing. I think we’re just on the cusp of that change. But I think you’re a big part of that. And your advocacy and your voice has been so important. So, thank you for that. And looking forward to unpacking that. I had to laugh at the opening of your book, when you talk about growing up with blue eyeshadow, the Brady Bunch, and learning to play guitar using Amy Grant tunes, while on summer missions trips. I think we must have had the same adolescence.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 06:21
Yes, with the bangs that go really high too, right? You’re teasing your bangs.
JULIE ROYS 06:25
Yeah, man. My hair, I think from one side to the other was about a foot, you know, I mean, yes, it was the 80s. But we really did have different messages when it comes to sex and marriage and dating. You know, you said that you dated a lot in high school, I dated a lot in high school. I came from a very strong Christian home. I dated non-Christians, which I’m not sure that was the best thing. You know, I look back and I’m like, ooh, some stuff could have gotten really bad. It didn’t. But it could have. But yeah, I mean, that was the culture we grew up. And our daughters, on the other hand, grew up thinking, if you’re in certain evangelical, conservative churches, that dating was taboo in the church, you know, we had books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye. The purity ring’s became a thing. You would think that given all of this emphasis that we’ve had in this, you know, latest generation on dating and sex and everything, that it would produce a lot better marriages and a lot healthier marriages. That’s not what you found, was it?
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 07:30
No. Exactly. When purity culture came in, and you can kind of date it to the mid-90s, maybe to like 2015, although I think it’s still there. It’s just using different words. But the message is that we’re really taught especially to girls ended up having really significant long-term effects that were harmful, which is so sad. And I don’t think the intention was ever that. I think that the people teaching this stuff had good intentions, but they just didn’t realize the implications of what they were saying. And so that’s what we’re trying to do in She Deserves Better, using actual research. We surveyed 7000 women, to see how their experiences as teens in church and the messages that they were told in church, how those impact them long term. And the picture is not pretty.
JULIE ROYS 08:20
Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting, because in the church, so often we talk about all the dangers that are outside the church. And you actually found that the messaging around some of these things is actually more healthy in the secular culture, which is shocking, then in the church. Am I getting that right?
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 08:38
Absolutely. Especially around things like consent and date rape around ideas that women have worth and that our voices matter. Those are things that are definitely healthier in secular spaces. And I think that’s tragic. And it needs to change.
JULIE ROYS 08:54
Yeah. And when we’re talking about this, though, even though we’re talking in the church, these messages that we’re gonna be unpacking, these are biblical messages. It’s not like Christianity has been tried here and found wanting, it’s like, I kind of think of it like it’s a Pharisee ism, on top of what the Bible actually says. We’ve created these rules on top right?
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 09:15
Yeah, exactly. Because when you look at the negative things that we measured, Jesus never said them. Jesus, in very many cases said the exact opposite. And yet, our church culture has created gender dynamics that are really harmful for girls. And we need to confront that because our girls do deserve better our boys deserve better. And we deserved better in the past too. And I think if enough of us look at this, honestly, if we’re willing to look at this, I think we can do better for the next generation. And I believe there is such a hunger and an urgency to this. I think people are ready.
JULIE ROYS 09:52
Let’s start with church youth groups. I know for a lot of families, the reason they go to a church is for the youth group. And I’ll be honest, even though my husband and I have done youth group ministry, the older I get, the more I’ve really started thinking about the wisdom of pooling a bunch of teenagers all together at this stage of life and then putting some inexperienced pastor over them. I do think they can often be just sort of a breeding ground for all sorts of trouble. And sadly, so many of the abuse stories that I report on happen within church youth groups. I know you found that there’s tons of landmines within these youth groups. Talk about those.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 10:35
Oh, there are. I don’t know where you want to go first. But here, let me just give you a stat that’s very sobering. So, of the 7000 women that we surveyed 18.7%, I believe reported being sexually harassed or abused or assaulted within youth group situation. Of those about 10% were by a pastor, 20% or by Sunday School teacher or other youth leader. And then you had I think it was like 52% were by a peer and 48% were by some other adults. So, it doesn’t add up to 100. Because people could have had multiple people abusing them. But in total, if you look at it, 12.9% of women say that they were sexually harassed or assaulted or abused by an adult in church while they were still minors.
JULIE ROYS 11:18
And there’s so little training, isn’t there? Like, it’s not like these youth pastors come in, and even if they have seminary training, there’s nothing hardly out there, is there really training them to deal with abuse?
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 11:29
No, there really isn’t. And so much of the training in seminaries doubles down on a lot of the messages we’re going to be talking about, which tend to put the responsibility for male lust and male sin on girls shoulders. And so when they’re in a seminary situation where this is constantly taught, and then they get to a youth group situation where there’s all these girls around, that’s a lot of problem. And they also are not equipped. If you think about it, the person on staff at a church who is the most likely to hear disclosures of abuse, of eating disorders, of mental health problems is your youth pastor. (Yeah). And yet your youth pastor is often 24 years old, maybe newly married, very little education, very little real-life experience, very little life experience outside of church settings, and they’re not qualified for this. And that doesn’t mean they’re not good youth pastors. I know that there are, but we need to think that the most qualified person should really be in charge of the youth, not the least.
JULIE ROYS 12:27
Yes, absolutely. And I think we way overblow the proximity to youth that they need to be, you know, like, they don’t need to be that young. In fact, when we were in youth ministry, we found that the number one characteristic you need to be in youth ministry is love for the kids. And sometimes in especially with these kids who sometimes don’t have good parents and good role models. Sometimes they love the 50–60-year-old who’s willing to come in and it’s great. I mean, it’s a wonderful dynamic when you have that. But you know, bare minimum, we just need to have some training. And there just isn’t very much.
But let’s talk about some of these messages. I think one of the saddest things that I read in your book concerned drawing boundaries. I think we do a good job of encouraging our kids to draw boundaries around their faith, you know, to stand for their faith and be bold about it. And, you know, avoid drugs and alcohol, things like that. But when it comes to standing up for themselves, especially if you’re a girl, you found that our churches do a pretty abysmal job. Would you tell me about that and what your survey found?
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 13:38
Sure. So, do you remember the acronym JOY? It’s been used a lot in church circles; Jesus first, others second, you last. And Camp Kanakuk has a similar saying called I’m third, where you know Jesus first, other second, your last. And so, we’re supposed to be caring for other people and not worrying about ourselves. Camp Kanakuk is also involved in one of the worst sexual abuse scandals, where they ignored complaints of parents, where they allegedly promoted and move people around who were known to sexually abuse kids. And you have to wonder how much is this I’m third idea impacting abuse rates? Because I think they’re very linked. And that seems to be what we found as well. When it comes to boundaries, there’s two different kinds. There’s what I call conviction boundaries. So, I don’t drink, I’m not having sex till I’m married. And we’re really good at those like you said, you know, churches are super good at those. Christian kids do tend to have sex less, to drink less all of that stuff. So yay, way to go us. That’s some good news.
What we’re really bad at is protection boundaries. So, the idea that I am worth protecting, that I actually matter, because when you believe the JOY acronym, then what you think is everybody else’s needs have to come before my own. That’s not actually what Jesus said. You know Jesus said, you know, love others as you love yourself. So, we need to love ourselves too. But girls especially are often taught, if you say no to someone who needs you, then you are hurting that person, and that is bad. So, you’ll have, you’ll have a friend, maybe you’re their only friend, they’re a little bit socially awkward. they text you constantly. So, what are you doing? It’s like you’re trying to get a paper done and say, I’m bored and they won’t go away. And then if you try to draw boundaries, they’re like, but you’re just the only person and without you, I would be so lost. And maybe they even threatened. You know, we talked to women whose they would have people threaten to kill themselves and you don’t know what to do as kids and you feel like I am responsible for this person. And so, no matter how much awkwardness I feel, no matter how put out I am, I have to live with this because that’s part of being Christian. Jesus didn’t even do that.
JULIE ROYS 15:55
And you talk about, and we talked about this a lot, and you know, abuse survivor communities about DARVO. You know this idea – deny, attack, reverse, the victim, and offender. You talked about the churches were actually DARVOing these young teenage girls often. Right?
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 16:10
Oh, we do it so much in many different ways. Throughout the book, we show how we DARVO about modesty, about consent, about boundaries, about feelings.
JULIE ROYS 16:18
We’re really good at DARVOing in the church.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 16:20
Or we are. But one of the ways that we get kids to have no boundaries is we tell them that their emotions don’t count. Right? So, whatever you’re feeling, you’re not really feeling it because you’re supposed to have joy in the Lord, Julie. What’s the matter with you that you don’t have joy in the Lord? And so, if you’re feeling anxious, if you don’t like being somewhere where other people tell you, No, this is supposed to make you happy, then you’re told well, the heart is wicked and deceitful above all things. And you need to stand on faith, not on feelings because feelings are bad. But emotions are what God gave us to be our little Spidey senses, like they tell us what is going on in our situation in our circumstances. And if there’s something that we need to work on, and if we’re constantly telling girls, you don’t feel what you think you feel, then they learn that when I’m uncomfortable, I need to disregard that. Well, you never want your child to disregard being uncomfortable. You want your daughter to say, Okay, I’m uncomfortable. Maybe there’s a reason for this. Let me investigate what’s going on to figure out if there’s a reason that I’m uncomfortable, or even if I’m uncomfortable, that matters in and of itself, and I’m allowed to remove myself from the situation. But no, it’s like, you don’t really feel that. What do you mean, you feel uncomfortable? What do you mean, you don’t like being with this person? Don’t you realize Julie, , and now we’re gonna reverse victim and offender that by saying that you are hurting them? Now, what do you mean, you don’t want to be with this youth leader? You know, don’t you realize how much time they’ve spent? How do you think they’re going to be able to keep ministering Julie, if you if you say that to them?
JULIE ROYS 17:53
That’s unbelievable. And as you’re saying that I’m thinking of the church that we recently left, because there was a sex abuse scandal, and it wasn’t handled correctly. And you have an abuser, who is being chaperoned, to come to church. And again, it’s like, oh, but don’t you care about the abuser, the person who abused a teenage girl? Sure, I care about him. But I care about protecting all of the women in the church, and this idea of chaperoning them so they can come. I mean, it’s just, why are we so often and you’ll hear this so often too, when you have an abusive pastor, whatever. Let’s pray for him. How many are praying for the victims? Like why do we always seem to prioritize the predator instead of the victim or instead of the vulnerable? What is that?
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 18:41
Yeah, you know, my oldest daughter, who’s one of the co-authors on the book. So, there’s three of us.
JULIE ROYS 18:45
How fun is that to have your daughter work? I mean, that’s just got to be awesome.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 18:48
It is really. Rebecca, I like to say that Rebecca writes most of the snarky lines, so when there’s really good one liner, that’s Rebecca, my daughter, and she wrote most of the modesty chapter, because that was her big thing. And she edits, she makes everything better. She does all our focus groups. And she writes the survey. And then Joanna does all of our stats. And she’s amazing at that. I don’t even understand half of what she says. But she’s very good at it.
But when Rebecca my oldest when she was in youth group, she was probably about 15. And there was an 18-year-old who was hanging out in their youth group, and he was known to have sexually assaulted several girls at the high school. So, this was a known predator. And he gave off seriously creepy vibes. The girls did not feel comfortable near him. So, she went to the youth leader. And they were doing one of those 30-hour famines, you know, where you sleep overnight.
JULIE ROYS 19:35
Oh, yeah, we did those. Yeah.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 19:36
And she said, we don’t feel comfortable with him. And the youth leader said, Why are you being so judgmental? Just because someone is weird. Don’t you know they need Jesus? Wow. And wouldn’t do anything about it. And so, the boys in the youth group each did a buddy system with each of the girls so the girls were never left alone so that this guy couldn’t do anything. So, the boys protected the girls, but the youth leaders told them, You are being judgmental. Don’t you know, he needs Jesus? And so, his need to hear about Jesus was greater than the girls need for safety.
JULIE ROYS 20:13
Wow. And no wonder we’re having these issues in our youth groups, if that’s where we’re placing our priority, and we’re not protecting women and girls, that’s just so bad. And it’s actually you know, in a way, these girls are being groomed to be abused.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 20:29
Exactly. Because if you feel uncomfortable, and you want to get away from somebody you don’t want someone here will Don’t you know, they need Jesus, you might be the only one who can bring Jesus to them.
JULIE ROYS 20:38
What an awful message. Let’s look at dating. because the big runaway book, you know, that came out when we were doing youth ministry was I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Of course now, the author of that Josh Harris. Thank you, Joshua Harris. Yeah. Now has renounced his faith. I mean, it’s really sad, but I remember, I remember reading it and going, oh, wow. I’ve never thought about that before, you know, and we kind of had a joke in our youth group, because we had discussions about it about the book, I don’t know, it was like three or four weeks that we spent on it. And during that time, everybody started dating in the group. So you know, people weren’t absorbing it. But we, you know, we just had discussions about it, like, what do you think? But it became, you know, I know in a lot of circles became just legalistic and this idea of courting, and then all these dating rules, you couldn’t kiss before you were married, which I just can’t even imagine going down the aisle, having never kissed a boy, and then having your wedding night. I mean, I just can’t even fathom that. But now we have several decades to sort of look back and evaluate, you know, what’s been the fruit of this? So, tell me, I mean, you’re the expert, what has been the fruit of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and all of these, these rules?
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 22:01
Okay, so much to say here. Well, first, let me paint the picture. Yeah. So, in the 80s, we often think that everything is getting worse, right? Like society is going downhill. And we’re, everything’s just terrible. But actually, in the 80s, teen pregnancy rates were higher than they are today, the rate of teen sexual activity was higher. Drug and alcohol use were higher. Now today, oral sex is higher, porn use is higher, mental health is worse. So, we have, you know, we have our own issues. But the 80s was bad. And all of these school boards and counties and governments and churches were looking at the teen pregnancy rates, and they were going, we got to do something. And so, they brought in super comprehensive sex ed, and Christian parents didn’t like that. And so, there was this big revolt against comprehensive sex ed. And that’s when purity culture largely came in with the whole abstinence only message. So, we’re only going to say abstinence. And at the same time, you have this dating movement where we’re not going to date, we’re not going to even kiss, we’re going to wait to the wedding. And it was kind of sold as like, this is what Christianity should be. And we’re going to harken back to the olden days. There were no olden days where people didn’t kiss before the wedding. Like even in Jane Austen. Like you watch, they kiss, they’re engaged, okay. Like, there is no olden days. And in our survey of 7000, we broke people down by generations. And if you look at boomers, there was like nobody who waited to kiss for the wedding. Like in Gen X, maybe 1%. You know, and then suddenly you get to millennials, and you’re looking at I think it was like 12 or 13% waited for the wedding.
JULIE ROYS 23:41
Wow. Yeah, it’s kind of funny. We, my husband used to like to say how he waited so long before he kissed me. And he was telling this story to all these people. And I’m like, sweetheart, do you realize when you kissed me? And he’s like, Well, I know I waited a long time, blah, blah, blah. I’m like, you kiss me on our second date. Yeah. He’s like, I did not. I’m like, Yes, you did. And he’s like, Well, I know by that time, I was serious. I’m like, Well, yes. You were born serious. Yeah. It’s just so funny.
But I have to say, now you’re going to this is not going to be helpful to me because my daughter and I got in this. This I wouldn’t say heated argument but like it was, it was lively, we’ll say lively. But everything we do, we really are passionate in our family. I know. That’s hard to like, imagine. But yeah, we got in this whole thing because I was like, you know, when I was a kid, I mean, to me, the hookup culture. So, my perception would be the opposite of what you just said. Because my perception when I was growing up, like and again, I’m in a small town, maybe I’m living in a bubble. I don’t know. But like when I was growing up, not one of my friends had sex and talked about it. One friend I remember said like, let slip that the boy she had been dating, like for a year and a half that they were having sex and we were all like, oh, and they weren’t even Christians, right? We were just all Like, Oh, my word, you know, we were like so shocked it was, which, you know, I talked to my daughter and the culture seems like it’s gone, you know, like her culture she grew up in. So different. So, so different. So, I’m trying to put that together with the numbers that you’re given me, you know. I mean, it just wasn’t true to my experience. But maybe, I mean, help me put that together. Am I missing something? Or is it just that I just lived in Small Town, Pennsylvania, where we were about 15 years behind the culture for sure. Yeah, it really did and also, I’m talking about high school, right? Like things are very different once you get to college age today, for sure. But even among college, college students, the rate of sexual activity has dropped. Now the rate of porn use has gone way up. And this is all it’s difficult to tease out what’s going on. But for high schoolers, yes. In the broader culture, there was more sexual activity in terms of intercourse in the 80s, 70s and 80s then there is today. Which I know we think is bizarre. But things are not necessarily always getting worse. Now, you could argue that because there’s more oral sex and porn use, have we really gotten better and very good point. Maybe it’s more casual now too, because like, the idea of having sex with somebody that you weren’t dating. I remember when I heard that people were doing that, like, I’m in my 40s. Again, probably a little bit out of touch. But I was just like, You’re kidding me. You know, like, I was just shocked by that.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 26:23
I’ve never been part of the hookup culture either. And just imagining that it’s, I guess, I can’t quite get my head around it either. But you can understand why I think when purity culture came in, people really did want to help, because there was so much heartache going on. And STDs were high. You know, people were trying to prevent teen pregnancies. And so, they thought, all we need to do is get kids to stop dating. If we can just get kids to stop dating, and to take marriage more seriously. And, you know, to get parents involved in the courtship so that you choose a good mate, and you’re protected. And it was very much let’s protect these kids.
So, here’s what we did. We looked at, we took our 7000 women, and we divided them into four groups. So, people who were allowed to date and dated, people who were allowed to date and didn’t date, people who were not allowed to date and didn’t date, and people who were not allowed to date but did date anyway. So, there’s your four groups, a little quadrant, and we looked at their outcomes. The thing is that during purity culture, there was really only one outcome that people cared about, which was, are they a virgin on the wedding night? Yeah, I have two married adult daughters. And I can tell you that on their wedding day, that was not my primary concern. On their wedding day, I was just thanking God, that neither of them were marrying abusers. And the both of them were marrying guys that I had total faith in. Because as a parent, what you really want, like the biggest nightmare is that your child is going to marry an abuser. And so, we measured that. We looked at their future marital and sexual satisfaction, we looked at their self-esteem, because self-esteem is highly linked to better mental health, better jobs, better relationships overall. So, we had a number of different outcome variables, including whether people got married or not. Paul commends singleness, we should be far more welcoming of single people in churches. I think it’s terrible that we have created churches that are so antagonistic, often towards single people. But at the same time, I think if someone wants to get married and never does, that is something that that we can mourn. You know, if people are happy being single, that is wonderful. But I think we do need to acknowledge some heartache. And if our kids want to get married, we want them to be able to get married. So, let’s add that as an outcome variable. When you look at all of those things, here’s the hard truth. There is no one size fits all rule that works best for all of those things. And during purity culture, people were trying to find a rule, they were trying to say, just tell me what to do with my kids. And there isn’t a rule. What I can tell you is that there is one option that works out best for most of those things. And it’s your child being allowed to date but choosing not to. And that’s not something parents can control.
JULIE ROYS 29:09
No, no, I’ve raised three kids. None of them were disinterested in dating, much to our dismay. We would have been happy for that. But yeah, I mean, that’s just a tough thing. But there’s no rules in some ways, I think for raising teenagers period. Like everything you’ve been taught, you know, the worst. The worst parenting advice I ever got, was from one of these homeschooling, I don’t know if Veritas Press or what it was, but I got this DVD teaching and it was all about how Jesus at age 12 had all of his character formed, and how your child at age 12, Sheila, should have all of their character form and I just remember as a parent going, oh my word we’ve completely failed! I don’t think there brain is formed It was insane and all this guilt but the Christian space, not just were these messages that you’re talking about hard for the kids and for those adolescents coming of age, but for the parents too, because they put these ridiculous rules and measures of success on parents. And you know what? What I’ve seen over raising three kids is if you love them well, and stay engaged with them, and that relationship stays warm, despite whatever mistakes they make, and you make because you will make plenty and keep them connected to you know, they stay connected to the Lord and to you. By the time they’re adults. love covers a multitude of sins. Thank you, Jesus. But that’s I mean, those are the important things like you said, my daughter’s not married, I have a son, one son who’s married, and you’re right on their wedding day. The most important thing is what kind of person are they marrying? And what’s the trajectory of their life right now? Are they pursuing the Lord or not? I mean, these are the things that matter. Not did they perform according to these rules, or whatever. And it’s it really is perverse, and it’s no wonder that we have a performance-based idea of God like he’s a taskmaster. I mean, this is a microcosm of really a much larger problem, isn’t it?
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 31:33
It really is. And it’s interesting how the things that we tell teens, they are kind of like a painting a small miniature painting, of how we see God in general, because the way that we parent our teens is the way that we think God parents us. And so much in the last few decades in evangelicalism has all been about trying to control kids and guilting them into things and blaming them for things, even things they weren’t even thinking about yet, but assuming that they’re messing up when they’re not messing up.
JULIE ROYS 32:07
Well, this concludes part one of my interview with Sheila on her newly released book She Deserves Better. In part two, we’ll discuss modesty messages, like men are visual in a way women will never understand, or boys can’t help but lust if a girl’s dress like she’s inciting it. You’ll also hear about a sexual pain disorder that appears way more in evangelical women than anyone else.
SHEILA WRAY GREGOIRE 32:31
It’s really debilitating. And we found an incidence rate of around 23%, which is at least two to two and a half times the rate of the general population. And if you talk to any pelvic floor physiotherapist, they will tell you most of my patients are evangelicals. And so, there is something about our teaching that is actually hurting women’s bodies.
JULIE ROYS 32:50
Again, that’s just a short excerpt from Part Two of my discussion with Sheila Wray Gregoire. But if you’re thinking I’d love to get a copy of Sheila’s book and explore this topic more, you’re in luck. This month, anyone who gives a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report will get a copy of She Deserves Better. Plus, you’ll be helping support our ministry which is almost 100% grassroots funded. We don’t have any big donors or grants or advertising. We have you the people who are passionate about protecting the vulnerable and seeing the church restored. To give your gift and get a copy of She Deserves Better, just go to JULIEROYS.COM/DONATE. Also, just a quick reminder to subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts or Spotify. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about this podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. I hope you were blessed and encouraged.
9 thoughts on “She Deserves Better”
what a great podcast—l love hearing sheila talk and share.
when you say “the church” there needs to be a distinction between churches who teach patriarchy and those who teach equality of gender or mutuality—–what is ironic the pat church looks on egals as in the wrong, sinful, rebellious, feminist and opening the gateway to lbgt teacings.
how sad that they hold to faulty traditional teachings and are not open to learning more about scripture–in fact that they call those teachings traditional gives those teachings infallibility because they have been part of christian dogma for so long.
There are hundreds of stories of women who suffered and were abused in patriarchal marriages, but I have found no abuse stories where both parties had no headship other than christ.
—- There are many fb groups and podcasts of women telling their very sad and tragic stories and they all point back to patriarchy as the cause where the man misuses scripture to browbeat and abuse the wife and children.
––it seems ironic the only Christians offering help and resources for abused women are the egalitarian groups
Something I find fascinating about the very strong comp/patriarchal churches is their message that men are to be protectors. If the men are all in charge and the men are supposed to be protecting the women and children, wouldn’t logic say that these spaces would be among the safest places for women and children? If “men are protectors” is key to that message why do they not come down hard on men who are harming women and children? Why are these men not going out of their way to make sure the women and children in their churches and communities are safe and cared for?
I so agree with you! Men, by and large, have dropped the ball and have abandoned the mandate to “love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her”. The football and cowboy and Hollywood mentality has wreaked havoc in Christian marriages, and families are suffering.
Susan, you say that many hold “faulty traditional teachings and are not open to learning more about scripture” I’m not sure what you mean; can you be more specific? We shouldn’t discard tradition that are solidly based on Scripture, no? I think that passages concerning the family and marriage should be taken at face value and not modernized to fit our concept of marriage that been shaped by a godless culture. I’m not saying you think this way, but many do, and could be a reason why divorce and remarriage is rampant in the church.
I did not notice a strong stand against premarital sex in the podcast. Did I miss something, or is sex before marriage acceptable in Christian culture now?
I think you missed the point. The point is that in their desire to keep their children from premarital sex, evangelicals have resorted to some unhealthy methods and messaging. But no one is arguing that the desired end of avoiding premarital sex is not a good one. I think we can all agree on that.
☺️I stand corrected. Thank you for such a quick response.
Can’t wait until part 2! Very thoughtful discussion as always.
Does trumpism shape or reflect the trouble of churches’ views on women?
Grab them by the pxzzx, he said and believers still fully backed him. Even with the E. Jean Carroll judgement where the a jury of 6 men and 3 women found him guilty, Christians go: it’s fine. Sure, maybe he raped her, but boys will be boys.
Do women deserve better? As Christians, is it ethical to vote for a unrepentant sex abuser? If we do, what message do we send to our daughters?
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