When it comes to teaching on healthy sexuality, how can you tell if a book, website — or even a church — is on point? My inbox fills up with people asking me what I think of this book, or what I think of that book. And chances are I haven’t read it! I don’t have time to read everything.
But I understand why people are asking. As we’ve been talking so much over the last few years about how many evangelical books actually spread messages about sex that are harmful, people want to make sure they avoid them.
I want to give you a tool that will help you uncover whether a resources that promote healthy sexuality.
Our new book The Great Sex Rescue, which released March 2, was based on four different types of research:
- Our survey of 20,000 women
- Follow-up intensive interviews and focus groups
- A look at peer-reviewed research in the field
- A review of our top evangelical best-selling books on marriage & sex and seeing what messages they give
The hypothesis that we were testing with our survey was, “Are there teachings that are common in evangelical circles that hurt women’s sexual and marital satisfaction?” So we asked ton of questions about women’s marriages and sex lives, and then asked if they had been taught, or if they believed or had believed, a wide variety of messages.
From that, we were able to identify which messages were really toxic!
Then we combined that with data from other studies, and we now had a picture of what teaching on what healthy sexuality looks like.
So we created a 12-question rubric – a scorecard, so to speak – of healthy teaching when it comes to sex.
Here are the questions that we used:
12-Point Rubric on Healthy Sexuality
Infidelity and Lust:
1. Does the book acknowledge that the blame for a husband’s affair or porn use lies at the feet of the husband, or does it, at least in part, blame the wife?
2. Does the book acknowledge that porn use must be dealt with before a healthy sexual relationship can be built while acknowledging that very few porn habits begun in the internet age are caused by a wife’s refusal to have sex, or does it suggest that the remedy to a porn habit is more frequent sexual activity?
3. Does the book acknowledge the effect of pornography on men’s self-perception, sex drives, and sexual function, or does it ignore porn’s harm to marriages?
4. Does the book frame lust as something both spouses may struggle with, even if men tend to struggle more, or does it state that since all men struggle with lust, it can’t be defeated, and the only way to combat lust is for wives to have sex more and women to dress modestly?
Pleasure and Libido:
5. Does the book acknowledge women’s orgasm and women’s enjoyment of the physical aspects of sex, or does it imply that most or all women do not enjoy sex?
6. Does the book frame sex as something a woman will anticipate and look forward to, or does it frame sex as something she will tend to dread?
7. Does the book describe men’s sexual appetite as healthy but also containable and controllable, or are men’s sexual needs portrayed as ravenous, insatiable, and constant?
8. Does the book acknowledge that in a large minority of marriages, the wife has a higher libido than her husband, or does it oversimplify, implying that virtually all husbands have higher libidos than their wives?
9. Does the book explain that sex has many purposes, including intimacy, closeness, fun, and physical pleasure for both, or does it portray sex as being primarily about fulfilling his physical need?
10. Does the book stress personal appearance and hygiene equally for both parties, or is far more expected from wives than from husbands, and is it implied that if she does not maintain a level of attractiveness, he may have an affair?
11. Does the book discuss the importance of foreplay and a husband’s role in his wife’s pleasure, or does the book ignore a husband’s responsibility to help his wife feel pleasure?
12. Does the book include reasons why a woman may legitimately say, “Not tonight, honey,” and discuss the concept of marital rape, or does the book say that a woman refusing sex is a sin or fail to recognize rape within its anecdotes?
That’s our starting point. But then what do you do with those questions?
Well, we also created a scoring sheet that helps you score each of the 12 measures on a scale of 0-4.
We’ve got that scoring sheet, plus the scorecard of how all the books rated, available as a free download when you pre-order our book The Great Sex Rescue!
This article on healthy sexuality originally appeared here, and is used by permission.