An Open Appeal to Gary Thomas (and Christian marriage authors)

Sarah McDugal
Sep 15, 2021

Dear Gary, 

Over the years I have appreciated your work, especially When to Walk Away, and Enough is Enough. I hope that at some point, this comes across your radar and you decide to watch it.

But I've been reading and re-reading your article about women "helping" husbands overcome porn addiction... 

I'm sad, right now. I feel betrayed. I feel let down. I feel that the positive, good impact of your prior work with When to Walk Away and Enough is Enough, has just been unraveled. And I hope very much that you will take the entire long, point by point, blow by blow assessment [click here for the full video critique of the article], and that you will listen and hear what survivors are trying to say. 

Because this has been the reality of hundreds of thousands of Christian women. And these are the women who have trusted you, who have placed confidence in your material and your work, who have shared and recommended your books and articles. 

And here's what I'm worried about… I’m worried, honestly, that this article, is actually how you've really felt the whole time, and you've only written Enough is Enough and When to Walk Away as cherries on top. But that this is what you really believe. That's what I'm worried about. 

I'm worried that your real internal operating system is showing right now and all the stuff you've said otherwise has just been icing on a cognitive dissonance cake. 

And I really don't want that to be true.

I want to believe that you have the integrity and conscience to be willing to assess what those who have survived this, and those who are experts (like Dr. Hinman and Dr. Steffens) in the sex addiction, porn addiction, and spouses of sex/porn addicts space. 

I hope that you have the humility to listen and internalize and reassess. I hope this is not the tone of your new book Married Sex with Debra Fileta — because cause calling survivors “venomous people” with “illogical and unhealthy reasoning” on your Facebook page three weeks before your book comes out? Really not a good look.

(Yes, I realize you did go back and change the wording to "venemous posts" after pushback...)

Implying that stories like Jay and Christina's are the benchmark, and that this is what should happen in a lot of Christian marriages? That's not okay. (And this doesn't even begin to address the issue of how they promote bondage and pornification within marriage as "healthy" activities.)

Using addict doublespeak and holding up this story full of exploitative privilege as an example of what to follow? It's damaging, deeply damaging. 

I want your success.

But unfortunately deleting your post and then calling survivors "venomous"… it smacks of censoring, it smacks of pride, it appears to be just covering your bases. I'm worried you are alienating your (potentially) biggest and most loyal audience — who need a healthy message the most

There is no more loyal audience to speak to, and to interact with than those who have survived abuse, and who have found healing, and who are passionate wild warriors to bring healing to others. You will not find a more loyal audience anywhere, than those who are on the other side of these kind of stories, and who hear someone with a massive platform like yours, speaking out in healthy healing, godly, loving ways. 

And you will also not find an audience that is more unintimidated and unafraid of calling out damaging teachings than survivors who have healed and found their voice again.

It's not an attack on you, Gary — not as a person, not as a human, not as an author.

But those of us who have been through this will not be silent about ongoing promotion of damaging teaching. Not because we want controversy, and not because we're just all a bunch of triggered hysterical women, but because we know the damage it can do. Because we know the harm in private. And we will do whatever we can to raise our voices in a tsunami to protect and bring freedom to other survivors who are being doubly abused.

Please… use your platform and your influence and your credibility to speak out against these things instead of condoning them or embracing cognitive dissonance doublespeak. 

I believe you're better than this, Gary. 

I want to see you succeed, not just with sales, but with bringing the life-giving freedom of Jesus Christ in His heart against abuse to those who are seeking marriage materials. Because here's the secret… 

People in healthy marriages don't usually buy marriage books. 

The ones who buy marriage books are those who are in painful marriages. It doesn't matter how much you say, “This is only for healthy marriages. This isn't for your abusive marriage.”

The people in Christian marriages who buys marriage books are hurting wives. And they don't realize that they're living with abuse

If Christian authors don't write our marriage materials aimed at uncovering what is abuse, then we will miss the mark every time — because the ones who buy the books designed to improve your marriage are the ones who are already deeply, deeply hurting. 

And if marriage authors don't keep that in mind, the damage will just continue to be done.


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