The Author of God and Boobs Responds to Your Questions

Angie Schuller Wyatt, the granddaughter of famous televangelist Robert H. Schuller, wrote a book exploring the intersection of faith and sexuality called God and Boobs and I published an excerpt from it last week.

Afterwards, a lot of you had questions for Wyatt, who is still a Christian. I sent a handful of them along to her and she wrote back with responses, adding that the comments from all of you were “totally hilarious and nearly all respectful of my views despite our differences. For that, thank you.” Our exchange is below:

In the Book of Genesis, Eve starts the chain reaction that leads to the fall of all humankind. What effect does the story of Eve have on the Christian women you know, if any?

I write about the fall of humanity extensively in a chapter of my book called “It’s Not Your Fault.” I wanted to uncover how religious bullies have taken “Eve’s fall” out of context and used it to shame women. The women I know probably wouldn’t point to this specific story; however, they often live under the effects of its teaching. A great example is pornography. I know married women who think it’s their fault if their husband is addicted pornography. I write about one woman who got a boob job because she thought being sexier would solve her husband’s problem and improve their sex life. She thought, “his sin is my fault,” which is the basic teaching associated with the Genesis account. If women think this way, then what other sins are women responsible to resolve? At its extreme, this thinking is the premise to women assuming responsibility for physical and sexual abuse.

The real point of the Genesis account is that all humans are susceptible to deception. My friend says, “humans are the only species capable of lying to themselves, and then believing the lie.” For women, sometimes the biggest lie we believe is that it’s all our fault, when is just isn’t.

What’s your view on public school sex education?

My maternal grandfather taught Spanish as a first language at an East LA high school. Because of his influence, I have a profound respect for educators. They are often filling in the gaps for absentee parents. That’s the primary reason I support sex education in public schools.

Proper sex education, of course, includes teaching teens the ramifications of various types of sexual activities. It’s up to the families to instill morals; however, even non-religious therapists agree that teens are not mature enough to be sexually active. And so I would hope that public educators are not encouraging teen sex, and I’m sure most are not.

I don’t think that my faith has a specific influence on my opinion about sex education. Generally, I think sex should be discussed in school, at the dinner table, and in church. This is where I part ways with most people who share my faith; talking about sex in any context is still taboo. And when it is discussed, it’s usually done at marriage conferences and taught by married men who have weird, sexist ideas [about] sex. And then, they tend to over-shoot by talking about it in explicit ways so as to prove they aren’t prudish. It’s quite bizarre. In contrast, I believe that the more guidance we give our children, the better equipped they are to navigate our “sex sells” world. Children are exposed to sex at such young ages and in disrespectful ways. They need positive reinforcement at every turn, and particularly at school.

By the way… the other topic that must to be taught in school is financial management.

Have you had any success in getting the men in your life to accept how their own thoughts and urges influence the “problem” of lustful thinking?

Yes! I’ve had great success in this area. It’s taken me by surprise. In launching God and Boobs, young women 18-35 respond the most enthusiastically to the message, followed by men 40+ who have wives and daughters. It’s typically middle-aged women who initially push back at the title and its provocative cover image. Men seem to understand the concept right away. A man already knows that a woman doesn’t have to seduce him in order for him to desire her or fantasize about her. I think they were just waiting for one of us to stand up and say so.

After I debuted God and Boobs, a male pastor approached me to share his thoughts. He said that his church doesn’t permit for male employees to lunch with another female coworker or congregant unless a third party is present. After listening to my message, he realized that this rule was degrading to both sexes. The rule was established because the organization assumed that male employees were incapable of seeing women as something other than an object. I thought his concession signaled a great success for women in his church.

What are your thoughts about abstinence before marriage?

When I got married, I was a 30-year-old virgin. I’m for abstinence. However, I do not talk about abstinence in my book. Teachings on abstinence are so abused by religious leaders that I didn’t even want to address the topic. If Christians were going to build a modern-day golden calf, it would be 10-story chastity belt.

In religious circles, virginity is idolized and girls who are or have been sexually active are treated as inferior to other girls. Omitting abstinence as a topic in my book was my way of declaring sovereignty. I want to say to women: Virginity is not my idol. And so, I’m not going to make abstinence a noose around your neck either. Instead, I talk about the sanctity of sex. I’d rather talk to women about seeing our bodies as valuable, our sexuality as something to be cherished, and intimacy as a private matter not meant to be shared with an entire online community. These are good frameworks for talking about a healthy sexuality. I don’t want to be the purity-police, but I do want to help women who have genuine questions about their sexuality.

If you appreciate her answers, you’ll want to check out the entire book!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Rain

    She didn’t answer my question about why should people get gobs of money from preaching to people. The answer is because they don’t give a crap what Jesus said, contrary to what they present themselves as. And that makes them hucksters.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      If you asked it, it’s my fault for not sending it to her. She answered everything I sent her way.

      • Rain

        That’s okay it’s obviously a dumb question like Levon Mkrtchyan says. Everyone writes their own Bible anyway. Everyone has their own personal Jesus, especially if they can make some cash dollars out of it.

      • Rain

        Actually no, it wasn’t a stupid question. I refuse to “kowtow”. Have a nice day though.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

          It wasn’t stupid, but it was disrespectful and rude to a nice woman who has taken time to answer questions about her book.

    • Levon Mkrtchyan

      “The answer is because …”
      If you already know the answer, why ask the question? Given this context, your question seems disingenuous to me. It seems to me that your real intent was to attack her for still being christian rather than ask an honest question.

      • The Other Weirdo

        To get another point of view, perhaps? Just throwing that out there.

      • SeekerLancer

        Well that’s our answer, pretty sure Rain wanted to hear her answer.

      • Rain

        Actually, no it’s for being a huckster, but have a good day though. Hopefully you stop being so grumpy.

  • Levon Mkrtchyan

    I feel sorry for the couples that think that “porn addiction” is a problem men need to fight. It is possible to be addicted to just about anything, but I’m pretty sure that 99% of the cases of “porn addiction” that christians talk about are really just repressed sexual frustration.

    • Gus Snarp

      I don’t know, 50% may just be men who like porn.

      • SeekerLancer

        Indeed. Since any porn at all is an abomination, just watching it casually would probably fall under “addiction” by their standards.

        I mean I’m sure there are people with such an addiction out there but they probably have other problems with addiction as well. It’s certainly not the demons of pornography possessing their innocent minds.

      • Yoyo

        My girlfriend loves porn too. Just as long as there is some type of story-line

    • Stev84

      Also in many cases they label things an addiction that isn’t. Sure, people can get addicted to porn. But for some fundies anyone who watches a movie once a month is addicted to porn.

      • Michael

        I have an addiction to things that smell nice. I can’t stand foul smells in my home.

  • Lance Finney

    Of course it’s not the author’s fault, but the photoshopping on the cover is horrible. The model’s body is leaning to the right, but somehow her head pokes over her left shoulder and you can see both of her eyes.

    Ouch!

    Talk about an Escher Girl…

    • Levon Mkrtchyan

      Looks perfectly plausible to me. Now I want to try recreating this shot myself – I’m willing to bet that the pose is quite possible.

      • Myrmidon

        Agreed. I just checked a similar (standing) pose in the mirror.

    • http://twitter.com/GODandBoobs God and Boobs

      I posted an article on my website about how/why we photoshopped the image. And yes, it’s a painful pose – particularly on a cold day. She was a trooper!

      • Lance Finney

        Thanks for giving all that detail. I’ve been looking at http://eschergirls.tumblr.com/ a lot lately, so I’ve been more attuned to it.

        It’s interesting that the motivations are so different here that the typical changes – making her less of an object and less naked instead of making her more sexualized in a “boob and butt” pose.

  • A3Kr0n

    I don’t have any question for Ms. “God and Boobs”. I think it’s bullshit, but ya, she’ll make a lot of money, right?

    • katietaylor

      uh… she and I don’t share the same religion. But trying to let women not hate themselves for being sexual is not exactly a bad way to make money. Growing up in the church, my life would have been changed with this book. She needs to make a living. You sound more ignorant than the fundies.

  • Chad

    The Christian definition of “porn” is very broad. Pretty much anything that is a visual turn on falls into that category.

    • http://twitter.com/GODandBoobs God and Boobs

      That’s generally a fair statement. One person called my book cover porn. However, I can tell you that as a therapist, I’m aware of what might reasonably be categorized as porn and also as porn addiction. At the end of the day what matters to me is the couple who sees me for help. If they feel that it’s impeding their marriage, I try to help them.

  • slaq

    I appreciate the amount of honesty and openness that Wyatt brings with her. I may disagree with many of hers views, but I can wholeheartedly respect her as a person.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dylansama Dylan J. Walker

    I’m glad that there are some Christians writers trying to addresses sexuality a bit more honestly than the “I kissed dating goodbye” crowd that was popular back when I was a fundy but I still disagree with a lot of what she is saying.

    She still thinks people should abstain from sex but just avoids talking about it as much, which if I were inclined to think the worst seems a bit sneaky. She says she supports sex ed, but after providing details about her position I’m inclined to think what she views as reasonable sex ed probably doesn’t look much different that the abstinence only programs most states are saddled with.

    • J-Rex

      I didn’t get that at all. She says that sex education should be taught in schools, but that any moral teachings on it (such as abstinence) should be taught at home.
      I imagine that it would be similar to my health class. We went over birth control/std protection, types of stds, pregnancy, etc very extensively. It wasn’t biased in any way. We were not encouraged to have sex and we weren’t told that abstinence was the best route. Moral teachings on sex depended on what we were taught at home.

      • http://www.facebook.com/dylansama Dylan J. Walker

        Comprehensive sex ed should include giving teenagers assistance in being able to get birth control in my opinion, I don’t know where you live, but I live in Arizona and it’s an abstinence only state.

        Like I said, I may be wrong about her, but I feel like she is trying to walk a tightrope between evangelical teachings about sexuality and the secular scientific teachings about it, I’m glad she is trying to acknowledge the science, but I think she still has some major biases playing into her thoughts on the issue.

  • Claude

    Wyatt gave gracious and thoughtful answers, and she is fighting a good fight.

    If Christians were going to build a modern-day golden calf, it would be 10-story chastity belt.

    For that I will buy her book!

    • CelticWhisper

      Just imagine the looks on their faces when their monument is visited most frequently by orgasm-denial fetishists…

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    Paul was very specifically anti-woman. How does she spin that with her beliefs? If I were to listen to Paul, she shouldn’t even be allowed to try to teach me anything about anything. Also, throughout the Bible, women are treated as the property of men. What does she think about that? Was Yahweh wrong?

    • The_L1985

      Technically, only 7 of Paul’s epistles were actually written by Paul, and the section about “women should keep silent in church, and should not teach” is from books that are generally accepted by Bible scholars as forgeries.

      Furthermore, most Christians don’t believe that the Bible was dictated by God, or that everything that was condoned (or even ordered) in the OT is actually good.

      I’m no longer Christian myself, but it bothers me when people act like you can’t be a Christian feminist, because that is just not true.

      • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

        I always find it odd when I hear that “most Christians” don’t believe X especially when X is so widely believed by most Christians and survey after survey backs that up. But I also want to point out that regardless of the percentage of Christians that accept a certain aspect of their holy book, their holy book still advocates for certain things. So unless Christians are willing to denounce their holy book, I still have a huge problem with the religion.

        Also, if you write-off the OT, that doesn’t magically solve the problem because much of the NT is based off of the OT. In Matthew, Jesus even makes a point to support all of the OT. Plus, there is plenty of immoral crap in the NT and from Jesus himself.

        Can you be a Christian feminist? sure, I’ve even met Christian atheists. So I don’t see why there can’t be Christian feminists. There are gay Republicans too, but don’t pretend that the Republican Party is friendly toward gays. Likewise, don’t pretend that the Bible or Christianity is friendly toward women.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

    Wyatt’s statement “even non-religious therapists agree that teens are not mature enough to be sexually active” is at best misleading and at worst a lie.

    I am not a therapist or a development psychologist, so my opinions here are based on relatively little data. But there is a very great difference between someone who is 13 and someone who is 18 or 19. This is why ages of consent in the US are set between 16 and 18, with further restrictions to prevent sexual abuse of teenagers by adults.

    Similarly, he statement “I’m for abstinence [before marriage]” is unsupported, except as an individual preference.

    Albeit with the usual problems with getting accurate data on the subject, demographic studies as indexed by Wikipedia say that 50% of Americans have sex with another person by age 17, but only 13% by age 15. People tend to get married for the first time in their mid-20s. This is also the pattern in western Europe. STI and pregnancy rates among teens in western Europe are lower, thanks to better education and higher contraceptive and condom use. Fortunately, US contraceptive uptake is rising.

    And, as almost everyone reading this knows, advocating abstinence before marriage does not actually change the fraction of people who have sex. In some cohorts, abstinence-advocating sex-ed classes are actually correlated with more people having sex with other people slightly earlier, for whatever cultural reasons. Comprehensive sex ed is correlated with people have sex with each other slightly later, and more importantly with higher rates of contraceptive uptake and lower STI rates.

    This makes Wyatt’s statement “teaching teens the ramifications of various types of sexual activities” seem inadequate. Many of those ramifications – unwanted pregnancy, disease transmission – can be almost entirely negated by technology.

    • katietaylor

      Did you even read this post? Her first statement about teens not being mature enough was a little off, agreed. She should have specified younger teens. It was probably a statement based off of cluelessness since she waited and sees teens as much less mature now that she’s older. She wouldn’t know how a teen responds to sex because she didn’t have any experience. But as for the rest of what you said, she specifically said she wasn’t an abstinence advocate and never mentioned it once in her book. She just happened to wait herself. All she was saying in the “ramifications” statement was a general overview of most sex ed classes. Duh. What sex ed class doesn’t teach people that they can get STDs? that’s pretty much the whole entire point of sex ed. I think you were so convinced that she was anti-sex that you didn’t even bother to see what she was trying to say. I applaud her. Most Christians are way anti premarital sex. Let me put it in simple language for you: She believes that morality issues such as abstinence should be up to the parents. But every school should teach kids the biological consequences that can ensue if kids have unprotected sex.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

        I did read the post, three times (twice when I posted and once more just now). And she specifically stated “I’m for abstinence”. She then qualified that statement with a take-down of purity culture, which was a very good thing to do, and said that she would not be addressing abstinence in the book. But she still advocates abstinence, just not in this particular venue.

        You are being far too charitable when you say “statement about teens not being mature enough was a little off”. It is a factual inaccuracy, and there is not much excuse for saying something that misleading or deliberately false.

        Also, you appear to misunderstand the purpose of sex ed. It is nowhere near “teach people that they can get STIs”. It is closer to “ensure that people have safer and more satisfying sex lives”. A large part of that is educating people so that STI transmission and unintended pregnancies are reduced and everyone is healthier.

        As I said before, “teaching teens the ramifications of various types of sexual activities” is inadequate if that does not also include education about the options that are available to negate many of them – STI screenings and treatment, the various barrier methods, chemical contraceptives, etc.

        • katietaylor

          That’s because she didn’t want to go on a five page explanation about everything that should be included in a sex ed class. The overall point she was making still stands. This article wasn’t about everything that should be included in a sex ed class. Then I would agree with you. That sentence was just an example. But if she had another interview where she said “no one should use contraceptives” then yeah, I would completely agree. She just doesn’t seem like someone who would go against contraception. As a woman, I highly respect her even if I may not be religious. I received abstinence-only my whole life (my parents were christians) from people who thought I was wrong for even thinking about sex as a woman. So to see someone religious who is teaching women something other than misogynistic self-hating “sex ed” is doing something good for society. But I do completely agree with you on the teens not being mature enough for sex. ha I was being nice. It was just a relief to see anyone religious not throw “purity” on girls, so I’m too busy being happy about this chick haha.

      • The_L1985

        Abstinence-only “sex ed” doesn’t teach about any STDs other than AIDS, and doesn’t explain a damn thing about biology. Condoms and other birth control are characterized as extremely unreliable (they tell half-truths like “condoms can break and the Pill doesn’t always work” with NO clarifying statistics whatsoever). They lie about how effective condoms are at preventing disease transmission (“the pores in a latex condom are 40 times larger than the AIDS virus. A latex condom cannot protect you from AIDS”). They don’t explain a damn thing about how or why women menstruate. They don’t even use the scientific terms “penis,” “uterus,” “vulva,” “vagina,” or “scrotum.” Even the word “virginity” is often euphemized as “purity,” implying that the only form of moral purity that matters is What Hasn’t Been Between My Legs.

        So yes, there are sex ed classes that don’t teach how you can get an STD (other than Tab A in Slot B, and even that is clouded by layer after layer of euphemisms) or that it is actually possible to prevent it without abstaining.

  • Mario Strada

    There is one thing I agree with her above all: the need for financial management and skill to be taught in schools.
    To me it’s unthinkable that a young person graduates from high school without the faintest idea of how to balance a checkbook, manage their money and above all, know how credit works. Almost all college kids tend to get themselves into a jam at college and usually they start by getting themselves and their parents in a jam with student loans.

    Incidentally, my wife is a Financial Consultant and as a way to give back she has been working with the local school district to give parents and their kids strategies to be able to afford college.

    Most of the families she helps, end up saving from $5k to $20K a year. Money they would have spent had they not been shown how to properly go about it.

    These are not secrets or black magic. These are commonly available strategies that are available to everyone, except that no one knows how to find out and they certainly don;t tell you at school.

    So Mrs. Preacher, I totally agree with you. Personal finances should be one of the most important classes in school.

  • Rain

    “totally hilarious and nearly all respectful of my views despite our differences. For that, thank you.”

    Actually I would say probably about zero percent were “respectful”. “Polite” might be a better term, I think.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

    Interesting! I still disagree with much of what she has to say, but I do think books like this are a step in the right direction for the conservative Christian world.

    Although I wish she had answered my question! In case she returns, my question was: How can evangelicals embrace their sexuality, shame-free, if they truly believe that every desire and fantasy outside of marriage is inherently wrong?

  • fuda

    sex satisfies minds of both, man & woman (others would say partners) how to reach there, laid down rules/morals are to be followed, after that, Enjoy what God has bestowed unto you ! do it best & He will be happy with you for making good use of His creation !


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