Dear Unmarried Woman: Are You An Appetizer or Dessert?

Dear Unmarried Woman: Are You An Appetizer or Dessert? January 21, 2015

bruce gerencser 2014by Bruce Gerencser cross posted from his blog The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser

Just when I think I’ve heard all there is to hear from Evangelicals about sex, purity, and the like, someone will write or say something that I have not heard before. In other words, not all the nuts have fallen from the tree.

Recently, Bethany Jett, a thirty-something married Evangelical woman who writes on girly topics from a godly perspective, wrote a blog article about two reasons why a woman should save herself for marriage. Here’s what Jett had to say:

I remembered why I decided to wait to have sex as I listened to a podcast from Andy Stanley this morning on my way home from dropping off children at school.

“I’m not the appetizer, I’m the dessert.”

If we start off loaning our bodies, who is going to wait around for the main meal?

We ordered Olive Garden to-go last night and I had one of my favorite cheat meals—chicken alfredo and breadsticks with alfredo dipping sauce and an extra tub of alfredo sauce to heat up the leftovers the next day. Mmmmm … I was full and stuffed and happy. Deliriously-food-coma happy.

But I wasn’t completely satisfied. All the savory goodness was amazing, but I needed something sweet to finish it off. A bit of dark chocolate would have taken the cake … but there was NONE.

Justin ate it.

My marriage is like that. Dating Justin was the appetizer … good for a short amount of time, but I was excited to have the main meal with him. I wanted an entire lifetime. We’ve been married for almost 11 years, together for 13, and that man still gives me butterflies. He makes me strive to a better person and he is my teammate, partner, best friend and so much more.

But God knew that wasn’t enough.

So He throws a little dessert into the mix.

The dessert is exceptional.

It completes the meal…

…I’ve always believed that God means what He says. He said to wait, so I did. I always figured that if sex was as great as the students in my high school and my college roommate thought it was, that it would be even better if I waited. That God had a blessing in store if you did things His way.

There are many reasons to wait until you’re married to have sex, but here’s two at the top of the list:

1. God said to wait.

2. You’re worth waiting for…

Jett has been married for eleven years. She is an advocate of purity rings, having worn her own until her wedding night.  In 2013, she wrote a book titled, The Cinderella Rule.

While Jett tries to dress up her blog post with a bit of wispy, feel good self-esteem, there really is only one reason a woman should wait until marriage to have sex. God said to wait.  That’s the bottom line for Evangelicals, God said don’t do it, so don’t.

Several days ago, I shared with readers Melanie Pritchard’s puritanical view of spaghetti straps.  Jett has a similar view. Here’s what she had to say in Cinderella Rules about spaghetti straps and a few other things:

Apparently, shoulders are sexy. I know that sounds crazy, but guys are wired differently than we are. That’s how God created them, and Justin (her husband) didn’t want to be tempted physically. He wanted to do things right.

Bottom line: it’s not our place to put impure thoughts into guys’ heads. We don’t understand that the male mind replays images days after seeing a girl in a short skirt  or catching a glimpse down a plunging  neckline.

A guy friend told me that he was minding his own business at a gas station, pumping gas, when he saw a girl at the opposite station. She wore an extremely short skirt, and he couldn’t get the image of her legs and the idea of what was under her skirt out of his head. He thought about it for a couple of days. “Those images don’t just leave your mind,” he said. “I wasn’t even trying to look at the girl either–“I was merely glancing around.”He ended up masturbating to remove the building tension.

While guys are responsible for their thoughts, we can’t allow Satan to use us as a tool to lead guys down a path toward lust, pornography, and sexually impure behaviors. Even wearing spaghetti straps during a church service can throw guys off. Another guy confessed that one Sunday, he had trouble concentrating on communion and the sermon that followed because the girl next to him had bare shoulders. He was wracked with guilt for not being able to concentrate, unable to push his thoughts away since she was right next to him.

Ladies,  we may never fully comprehend how guys think, but if they’re telling us they can’t concentrate,let’s help them out. Grab a cardigan for church or work,or anywhere,and let’s keep our skirts and shorts an appropriate length…

…a godly guy wants to date a girl  who shares his values.  If you want to be pursued properly, you must dress appropriately–just enough skin to be cute,  but not enough to reveal the goods. Dressing modestly helps keep his mind from going into fantasy overdrive.

Remember, a guys pursuit  is with an end goal in mind;and girlfriend, we are taking a pursuit to the altar…

…Honestly,  chasing a guy is exhausting. Most guys will do anything with anyone, and high school and college guys, in particular, are not known for their exclusivity. Raging hormones dictate many a guy’s decisions; and if you pursue him, you won’t ever be sure whether it’s his heart or his hormones that loves you more.

When a man sees a girl he wants,he goes after her…Similar to a lion stalking his prey, a man will overcome any obstacle to get the woman he wants. I’m not talking about creepy stalker behavior. I’m talking about romantic, I can’t get her out of my head intensity. When a worthy guy desires you like that, girl, watch out!

But you’ll be ready.

You’ll know how to look.

How to dress.

How to act..

…when the right man starts the pursuit, let him.

I’m gonna to show you how…

What up with spaghetti straps? Am I out the lust loop here? I’ve seen more than a few spaghetti strapped women, and I don’t think I had ever had the thought, oh my, I need to have her right now. If I don’t have sex with her RIGHT now, I am going to have to spank the monkey to release all the built up sexual tension.

Pritchard wrote about not revealing the “mystery.” Jett, taking a similar approach, writes about a woman not giving away all her “secrets.” What’s with all the code about genitalia and sex? Are Christians so prudish that the correct words for genitalia and sex can’t be used?

Maybe Pritchard and Jett’s problem is that they have spent their life around the weak, pathetic, forbidden sex on the brain, men found in the Evangelical and Catholic church. Perhaps they need to get out more and spend time with real men, men who know how to control their sexual desires and know how to treat a woman appropriately.

Think for a moment about the pathetic, weak men boys mentioned in the excerpts from Jett’s book. A man is pumping gas, he sees a woman with a short skirt, and he is so driven with lust that he later has to masturbate. The other man couldn’t focus on communion and the sermon because a woman near him had bare shoulders. Can there be any better examples of weak church men boys?

Boys like these have been conditioned to think that they are helpless, that it is not within their power to sexually control themselves. Perhaps every church boy is like the stupid young man in Proverbs 7:

…I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart… Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves…With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;…

What I want to know is this: was the harlot wearing spaghetti straps?

It’s time for church boys and men to grow up and own their sexuality. If they can’t keep from lusting the problem is theirs and not woman who dare to bare a leg, shoulder, or show some cleavage. If they are so sexually charged up that they are reaching in their pants as soon as they see an attractive woman, perhaps they need to spend more time looking at porn and self pleasuring themselves until they get their “sexual tension” under control.

But Bruce, some women DO dress provocatively. Shouldn’t they be called out on their deliberate attempt to make men lust? First, how do you know that is what they are trying to do? Second, perhaps you need to learn to enjoy God’s creation. Yes, women are attractive and yes, they can arouse sexual feelings in a man. Would you rather women dressed like they just walked off the set of Little House on the Prairie? Learn to control your thoughts and desires. It really is that simple.

Sadly, far too many churches are like nurseries filled with infantile men who can’t control themselves. I don’t know of any other way to change their behavior than to say to them STOP IT!

People like Bethany Jett are shooting at the wrong target. Like in many Muslim countries, American Christians with puritanical ideas about dress and sexuality, put the blame on women who dare to dress in ways that show their femininity and sexuality. Jett wants young women to show just enough skin to catch a man, but then the free show is over until the man puts a ring on her finger. In other words, she wants women to be flashers, showing just enough to get the attention of a man.

Every day, or so it seems, there is a news report of an Evangelical pastor, evangelist, college professor, church leader, or Sunday school teacher getting into trouble because they can’t keep their hands to themselves or keep their pants zipped up. This should not surprise us because many of these “fallen” leaders were raised in churches that preached the puritanical sexuality found Jett’s book, blog, and other writing. It’s the whole blind leading the blind thing. Generation after generation of Evangelical boys have been taught they are impotent when it comes to controlling their thoughts, urges, and desires. After a few generations of this, you end up with a church filled with hapless men who get boners as soon a woman shows more flesh than one of girls on Little House on the Prairie. Instead of being taught to be accountable for their actions, these men are taught to flee from the Jezebels that roam the halls of the church.


Bethany Jett is a featured writer on Nicole Dell’s Choose Now Ministries. According to her bio on the site, she is the wife of a youth minister and a cheerleading coach. You can read all of Jett’s advice columns here. Some of you might find her column on purity rings quite interesting.


Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Bruce Gerencser blogs at The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser He writes from the unique perspective of having been a pastor for many years and having seen it all in churches. His journey out of being a true believer and pastor has been an interesting and informative one.

Bruce Gerencser spent 25 years pastoring Independent Fundamental Baptist, Southern Baptist, and Christian Union churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. Bruce attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. He is a writer and operates The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser blog. Bruce lives in NW Ohio with his wife of 35 years. They have six children, and ten grandchildren.


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  • Nea

    “I’m not the appetizer, I’m the dessert.”

    And I’m all that and a bag of chips, honey.

    As for the rest of it, I almost eyerolled my eyeballs out of their sockets at “it’s up to men to control their thoughts except it completely isn’t, you tarty little tramps.”

  • KarenH

    I have arms and they hang appropriate from the top of my torso. Hence, any guy who is shocked to learn I have shoulders should retake any and all anatomy classes he’s taken up to the point where the existence of my shoulders took him by surprise and amazement.

    As for the rest, frankly just knowing that these allegedly godly men will want nothing to do with me (other than mentally jacking off in my memory), is high motivation TO be wearing spaghetti straps. Not that I want any of these yahoos jacking off while thinking about me, but that sure as fuck beats one of them thinking i might “be the one”. if spaghetti straps can eliminate me from their list of “godly women”? yay.

  • Most appetizers I can think of are actually more nutritious than desserts. Okay, maybe not breadsticks with Alfredo sauce, but think of things like hummus, or barbecued oysters, or prosciutto with melon as compared to Death by Chocolate. I love dessert as much as the next person, but they are far more likely to be empty calories than many of the appetizer choices are.

  • Olivia

    I find it disturbing that she is encouraging girls to get men to pursue them with just the right balance of mystery and cuteness to make the guy chase them…all the way up to the altar. I feel like this is basically manipulating a man into marrying you for the challenge of it, not because he knows you and loves and respects what he knows.

  • Nightshade

    Note to self: Invest in wardrobe built around spaghetti straps!

  • Nightshade

    Empty calories…they want their women to be empty-headed. Coincidence? Meh, maybe, but now I can’t get that thought out of my head.

  • gimpi1

    “Every day, or so it seems, there is a news report of an Evangelical pastor, evangelist, college professor, church leader, or Sunday school teacher getting into trouble because they can’t keep their hands to themselves or keep their pants zipped up. This should not surprise us because many of these “fallen” leaders were raised in churches that preached the puritanical sexuality found Jett’s book, blog, and other writing… Generation after generation of Evangelical boys have been taught they are impotent when it comes to controlling their thoughts, urges, and desires.”

    That is the problem, isn’t it. When you teach helplessness, you can’t be overly surprised when your students are helpless. I see it in the sexual molestation issue in Evangelical churches. I also see it in the willful ignorance many Evangelical people display. (I’m looking at YOU, Ken Ham.)

    When you teach people that their rationality, their ability to reason, their logical minds can’t be trusted and that they must ignore that reason in favor of myths or their pastor’s dogma, you can’t be surprised when they also fall victim to financial or health scams like ‘end-times’ investment opportunities or anti-vaccination rumors. When you teach them that they can’t control themselves sexually, and that it’s the fault of whoever tempted them, you can’t be surprised when they get caught with the babysitter. When you teach them that they are born evil, deserving of torment, you can’t be surprised if they develop psychological problems related to poor self image.

    In general, extremist Evangelical dogma seems to lead to pathology.

  • gimpi1

    Yes, the whole thing came off as manipulative and passive-aggressive to me as well. What’s up with this whole “trick and trap him into marriage” thing?

    How about simply living your life, doing things you enjoy, meeting people who enjoy those things as well, and developing a relationship? Is that too straightforward? Takes too long? Not “holy” (read manipulative) enough?

    Also, the idea that you have that kind of power over a stranger is weird. That, just by how you dress, you can generate just the right amount of arousal in someone meeting you for the first time, not too much so he loses control, not too little so he doesn’t notice you. Juuust right! Sounds like magic to me. I thought they didn’t like it when women practiced magic…

  • BlueVibe

    When you teach men that they can get away with being childish (actually, not even, because most children keep their hands to themselves better than some of these “good Christians”) and lewd as long as they weep loudly and make a big show of repenting in public, why should they control their base urges? Hell, why should they not actively seek out stimulation? Conning their followers into forgiveness is easy–they might as well enjoy the cake and have it, too.

    At the rist of TMI-ing: I’ve always been an upper-body girl. Wrangler butts are nice and all, but I like arms and shoulders. I had a college class with a guy who had rather awesome shoulders and arms. I’m not gonna pretend I didn’t admire them (discreetly, of course). Worth noting, though, that not only did I never touch him or make any comments, I wasn’t even distracted enough not to ace the class. I did not ask the professor to require that all male students wear baggy sweatshirts. I did not blame Mr. Arms for the fact that I was twenty and stupid and totally not out of the “OMG boys!” phase yet.

  • BlueVibe

    Eat dessert first!

  • BlueVibe

    Double the fun: Hear news-approved porn *and* get to be all judgy about it.

  • SAO

    I strongly believe in trying the restaurant’s fare before signing up to a lifetime of eating there.

  • katiehippie

    Hands and arms for sure. Mmmmm, nice hands.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Kind of like the preachers who rail about how terrible pornography is… with examples…

  • Rebecca Horne

    I don’t understand the first story at all. By “he ate it,” I thought she was going to say that the first guy she dated consumed the best part of her, and now she and her husband can never be satisfied…but then it turned out she was talking about her husband, and they did wait, so I’m confused.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Oh, and guys even like OTHER GUYS’ arm porn! Though most aren’t secure enough to say it.

    Edit: It’s a ‘Supernatural’ convention snippit on YouTube in which Osric Chau and Gil McKinney are asked about which cast members they’d want on a desert island with them– and BOTH pick Jared Padalecki.

    *shrugs* Hey, ‘Outsiders’ goes to S.E. Hinton which goes to ‘Supernatural’! It’s perfectly natural– and pretty super as well.


  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    Sorry, but I can’t pretend to consider the advise of a lady who admits that she loves eating food from Olive Garden. Just can’t. I don’t know how the food that place serves in other states is as far as quality and if there is non-gluey pasta that doesn’t smell like feet in non-California Olive Gardens, but that’s how it is here and it makes me feel like projectile vomiting just typing about it.


    So in any case, is it somehow magically not disgusting to hear a detailed story from a guy you’re not married to and his masturbation over his memory of the “Gas station girl” for this Jett chick? I don’t have an issue with anyone masturbating provided that they’re not describing it to me (without being asked) or doing it in front of me (without being asked), or either of those in a public place. I was having a discussion with a friend the other day about whether or not there was any merit to setting something up “in case of death” so that family wouldn’t be the ones to find various items or computer content that were of a ‘personal’ nature that might be upsetting or embarrassing to more conservative family members…Unless that designated individual is able to get to those items and/or content without having to answer questions as to why they’re taking them so quickly after news of the death, the sex toys in the nightstand and porn on the computer isn’t going to be what the family focuses on – unless they’re related to the Pearls or their family is similar. I might have a different view if it were toys one sees but can’t determine if they’re sold based on the novelty not actual use gifting that required a 40 gallon storage bin, a barnyard animal replica sort, or the porn featured any one of the illegal content types (child, animal, dead people, snuff…etc) but once I’m dead, if my family survives that point and has to box up my belongings the vibe in my nightstand isn’t going to be a major concern for them or me.

  • Astrin Ymris

    I took it that Justin ate up all the dessert, without asking his wife if she wanted any. That’s perfectly fair if Justin ordered it for himself, but kinda douchey if it was intended to be a shared treat.

    I guess she meant it to tie into her appetizer/dessert metaphor, but it didn’t really work. Maybe it’s meant to be subtle fat-shaming– “How dare you crave dessert? Dessert is for husbands!”

    Or possibly the message is that men get sexual satisfaction out of marriage, but women’s “dessert” is simply companionship and being inspired to become a better person, with occasional “butterflies”. Whoopie.

  • Amarad

    I live in a fairly sub-tropical locale. Spaghetti straps and shorts say this to me:

    “It’s 100 degrees outside, every day, for the next three months! We live in a climate like g-d Calcutta! It’s too hot for a cardigan.”

    As many people have said, this is a reap-and-sow situation. When you *teach* men and boys from Day 1 that they are weak, that they are helpless, that they are nothing but barely-contained sexual beasts held back only by God and modesty of women. They have no incentive nor reason to believe they can or should control themselves.

    Likewise when you drill into men that the slightest hint of shoulder, a curve of chest, an ankle, bare skin, are these highly sexual and eeevil temptations… you’re >fetishizing< those things. You are making those things highly sexual in the mind of the viewer.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    The Olive Garden thing was a red flag for me too! Never ate there until I spent a few years working at a medical clinic and the drug reps would bring in lunch for the staff. We had Olive Garden frequently and I developed a hatred for their fake Italian cuisine.

  • wanderer

    I find it interesting that:
    “Men think lustful thoughts, so women need to change their behavior”
    BUT …. somehow NOT
    “Minorities/women/black people feel discriminated against, so those who hold power/are in the majority need to change their behavior.”
    Somehow when the power-holders have to change all of a sudden it’s not their problem anymore….

  • Antony N Jilly

    If guy I knew had shared that conversation with me I would never let myself be alone with him again!

  • Trollface McGee

    I’m not food.
    And yes, shoulders can be attractive, all sorts of things on a person can be attractive. It’s possible to look at an attractive person, and survive.

  • L’Anne

    Yeah. And most people live full, rich lives despite having masturbated.

  • Anonyme

    GAAH! First it’s comparing “impure” women to half-eaten/licked candy bars, now we’re dessert? Why the food comparisons? We’re not some object to be used exclusively for mens’ entertainment and self-satisfaction. *eye twitch*

    “he couldn’t get the,,,idea of what was under her skirt out of his head”

    So wearing long skirts makes men forget we have vaginas? Okay then…

    Now excuse me while I set my laptop on fire.

  • Anonyme

    Please tell me fried, breaded Mozerella sticks are healthy! Then I can’t feel guilty! 😉

  • Here’s a recipe that gives nutritional information. I don’t know how it compares with restaurant recipes.

    Four cheese sticks give you 20 grams of protein and 44% of your daily calcium for 367 calories.

    Compare that to the nutritional value of, say creme brûlée:

  • lodrelhai

    I remember so, so many talks like this, about not being a stumbling block to our brothers in Christ by showing too much skin or being too familiar and making them lust.

    I also remember talks that all male gynecologists are perverts, even if they didn’t start out that way, because seeing the privates of so many women would desensitize a man to it. So he’d have to get involved in twisted, kinky fetishes to still be interested in sex.

    Combining those two ideas, it seems to me the best way to protect guys from lusting after every flash of skin they see would be for women to go around nude.

  • Yes, this. When a man is taught that the slightest thought about a woman’s appearance, the slightest feeling of attraction is LUST, then his fear of the thoughts and feelings that arise in his mind will result in a feedback loop. For example, “It’s evil to think about purple camels.” A minute ago you weren’t thinking at all of purple camels, but now you are thinking of them, and the more you try to stop, the more you’ll think of them. Especially if you actually believed me that it was evil to think of them!

    What good does it do to add more shame to the guys in this scenario by saying they’re not “real men”? The “real man” mystique is no more helpful to men than the “true woman” mystique was to women. The former should go the way of the latter, in my opinion.

    Those men who actually are using this mentality to control women may deserve the harsh words of this post, but I think most men are simply trying to survive the mind games that are being played on them by this ridiculous “attraction is lust” doctrine.

    Men who are taught they can’t control themselves aren’t weak so much as they have learned helplessness syndrome. Telling them “Stop it!” is not nearly as helpful as telling them, “It’s ok to feel attraction; it’s not lust, and you don’t have to lust. You don’t have to reduce women to body parts for your pleasure and use. You can learn to see them as people.”

  • Guest

    Please tell me I’m not the only one noticing the juicy irony of her being married to a cheerleading coach??? Haha!! Lots of shoulders and short skirts. I bet he spends a lot of time in the bathroom!

  • Antoinette Herrera

    Creepy, yes. And a form of harassment, to boot. And let’s not forget the misogyny lurking below the surface.

  • I wish all those shirtless men at the park throwing Frisbees and footballs around would stop and think about how they are provoking lust in the hapless women who chance to glance their way. Women are just wired this way and men need to realise that they are causing impure thoughts and desires. Don’t these males understand that they are giving away their secrets and mysteries as well as causing women to sin?

  • 8DX

    >>”A man is pumping gas, he sees a woman with a short skirt, and he is so driven with lust that he later has to masturbate.”

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this specifically. It would be wrong to think that there’s some kind of odd “frustrated Xian boy-man” who is driven to masturbation because of a glimpse of skin. Men masturbate to all kinds of things, a stray thought about a passing stranger may be part of an erotic fantasy, just as with women. The difference between healthy adult behaviour and frustrated boyish behaviour is that the healthy adult male recognises that regular masturbation is just a part of their life, a natural relief of biological urges that may happen with various frequency. An unhealthy approach is to ignore that fact and place all the blame on external circumstances such as someone’s skirt length – rest assured if that woman had a longer skirt the man would’ve masturbated anyway, or if not then the next day.

    In fact that’s the responsible thing to do: feeling frustrated? Seem to be noticing hot women in public lately? Go home and masturbate in private, so as not to carry your frustration around everywhere and foist it on other people, or impede your work/everyday business. It’s healthy, it’s harmless.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    Only if they don’t feel compelled to masturbate so frequently that it interferes with their ability to continue with their professional and personal responsibilities.

    “Masturbation never killed anyone!”

    “That we know of!”

  • tulips

    This gets to the meat of it, really.

  • MizzKittay

    A man cannot control his drive anymore than a woman can. The way in which these drives are expressed can be. 🙂


    -Men shouldn’t be afraid to release their sexual tension. Years and years and years of the RCC saying it’s a terrible sin to masturbate has likely helped caused this. Especially in the church.

    -Men shouldn’t be afraid to casually glance around. Men get erections, it’s a sign of a healthy reproductive system. You can look but don’t stare and don’t touch seems appropriate to me. By all means men are free to touch themselves but go to a bathroom first.

    -Masturbation and pornography are totally normal. It’s a shame some guys can’t “fully enjoy” their personal time with themselves.

    I actually think it’s the guys that are getting the short end of the stick here. Of course some churches make it a womans’ problem though sadly. Some women who just … “want to be helpful or a good helpmeet” can go overboard with promoting this kind of garbage.

  • MirriMazDuur

    There’s an old Seinfeld joke about how if women went around naked except for little hats, men would obsess about the tops of their heads.