Abby Johnson slams claim that sex is just 'a man's need': Wives should be able to enjoy it too

marriage, couple
Unsplash/Foto Pettine

Abby Johnson highlighted the importance of women having pleasurable sex, warning that Christians can sometimes reduce procreation to "a man's need and a woman's duty." 

In the May 16 episode of her podcast "Politely Rude," Johnson discussed God's design for marriage and sexual pleasure within the covenant of biblically defined marriage relationships. 

The pro-life activist and licensed therapist noted that some married Christian women tend to struggle with sexual pleasure and low libido more than married Christian men, due to more frequent orgasms and more pleasure during sex.

Johnson said Christian husbands can sometimes treat their wives "selfishly," as though it's the wife's "duty" to please the husband because men "need" sex. 

"There is a lack of pleasure for women in the bedroom. I know this because I'm friends with a lot of women. And I talked to many women, and women come to me saying, 'You know, I've never had an orgasm in my life. I don't know how to have an orgasm. Talk to me about orgasm,'" said Johnson.

Other times, Johnson said, when women struggle with sexual pleasure, it could be due to "a hormonal problem," such as "prolonged use of birth control" or other medications.

"Depending on what studies you look at, generally, about 20 percent of women are on some sort of antidepressant, some sort of [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors], [which] have sexual side effects. Almost all of them have some sort of sexual side effect, and so we're putting women on SSRIs, and then we're not counseling them on sexual side effects," she said.

Johnson also said that the "over-sexualized culture" might also contribute to the shame that makes Christian women afraid to orgasm during sex with their husbands.  

"It makes me wonder if [based on] pornography and pornography culture, if there's any sort of link to women feeling like that's dirty. Like [I wonder if women are saying]: 'Oh, if I have an orgasm, that's filthy, that's dirty. That's like something you see in a porno film?'" Johnson said.

"But it's not. It's beautiful. It's intimate. That's what God meant for a husband and wife to experience together. That's how He created your body." 

Guest speaker Francie Winslow, a writer and women's conference speaker whose work focuses on the topic of "intimacy in marriage," joined Johnson for the podcast discussion.  

Winslow believes some Christian women struggle with connecting to their bodies due to layers of "shame, confusion [and] silence," and feeling "disembodied" while "fearing" sex.

Winslow said that, in many cases, Christian women struggle with connecting to their bodies as a result of the Church's emphasis on "separating the body from spiritual experience."

"In the Church, we focus so heavily on the spirit and morality, and we've given it such weight that it's been silent on the physicality side and the fact that our bodies are good; they were handcrafted by God," Winslow said. 

Winslow added that while she "loves" the idea of purity, she believes that Christian women are often programmed to fear their own bodies due to an over-emphasis on purity culture. 

"Our clitoris that has 8,000 nerve endings was God's idea. A man's penis has 4,000 nerve endings. That is evidence in and of itself that this was God's generous gift to incorporate into intimacy. Yes, procreation. Absolutely. But also pleasure and also the grand purpose of 'be fruitful, multiply and take dominion,'" Winslow said. 

"Sex is not a chore or duty," she stressed. She encouraged Christians to twist that perspective around and "try and seek God's Genesis dream." 

"[God] handcrafted our sexuality and called it 'good.' And so I think because of church history, having such an unfortunate, long track record of separating the body from the spirit, it's been so much silence. And then, I think you add on to that the sexual revolution and then just blatant, painful immorality, we're just afraid of it," Winslow added. 

"And so we don't want anything to do with that. And we've made it so [much] about morals that we've also just kind of overlooked in the process, 'What does it look like to be connected to my body?' [Christian women tend to think], 'I'm so afraid of doing something bad. I'm completely disembodied at this point.'"  

At the start of the podcast, Johnson said she was inspired to focus on sex in marriage after reading an article from Focus on the Family about how to resolve mismatched libido. 

She posted a comment to the article in response, which received thousands of likes and hundreds of replies. According to her, dozens of women messaged her privately to tell her that they, too, are struggling with their sex drive and libido in their marriages. 

"One of the most common things I hear from women is, 'I don't like having sex. It is a chore for me.' And I say, 'Oh well, do you orgasm?' [And they say], 'No, never.' And I tell them, 'It would not feel like a chore if you had pleasurable sex.' So that is one of the things that I feel like is women are struggling within their marriages," she said. 

"Why do guys always want to have sex? Because they always receive pleasure from it. It's always pleasurable for men. If it wasn't pleasurable for them. They wouldn't want to do it all the time. Right? If sex was always pleasurable for a woman, then she would always want to do it. The women I know who have high sex drives have consistent orgasms."

Johnson advised Christian women struggling with sexual pleasure to talk with their husbands and encourage them to "switch things up" in the bedroom. Sexual intimacy should be about both partners, not just one, she emphasized.

"Sex should never just be something that you do. It should never just be a habit or something that you just sort of knock out once a week," Johnson posited.

"It should be something that is enjoyable for both people. And sex should be something that's experienced by both people in a couple. … It should be something that's enjoyable. And that's really the way that God intended it."

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