Men's lusts are from the Red Light District; women's fantasies are from Green Gables. Men sin with their eyes; women sin with their emotions. Men masturbate; women daydream. Men have affairs; women shop. Men find it hard to resist smut sabotaging their electronic inboxes. Women devour romance novels.

Such is the comfortable stereotype that helps us avoid an uncomfortable fact: that some Christian women struggle with sexual addiction. The myth about evangelical women's sexuality is a large reason why several CBA publishers turned down a book on female sexual addiction, even though it was written by an articulate expert who's been there.

One by one, the publishers told author Marnie C. Ferree that they weren't willing to broach the topic of female sexual addiction. Why? Very few Christian women battle sexual obsessions, they told Ferree.

But she knew better. Ferree remembers not only her own struggle with sexual shame, but also the confessions of countless Christian women who told her they had thought they were an aberration.

So the licensed marriage and family therapist—called "a pioneer in the field of women's sexual addiction recovery" by Mark R. Laaser, the executive director of American Association of Christian Counselors' Institute for Healthy Sexuality—self-published the book through Xulon Press.

Many Christian women, and the men in their lives, will thank Ferree for this. A former journalist, Ferree writes vividly, integrating her clinical shrewdness with biblical wisdom. But, as is the case with all potential bestsellers, the volume could have used a good editor (who would take out stylistic mishaps such as underlining).

No Stones: Women Redeemed from Sexual Shame introduces us to real women who on Sundays sit in church pews or teach Sunday school but during the week writhe in the net of a vice they're afraid to name. For example: Anita's thrill comes from sunbathing naked as telephone repairmen watch her. Virginia stops her affair "437 times," unable to "stay stopped." A week after her husband gives her a computer for Christmas, all Brenda can think about is finding porn on the Internet.

Ferree explains not only why we get uncomfortable even imagining there are women like that among us, but also why some women fear admitting they have the problem. "Our culture has the attitude that 'boys will be boys' or that illicit sexual behavior is 'just a male thing.' A female who has a sexual addiction is considered especially perverted. After all, women are the ones who aren't even supposed to like sex. We're the ones with the proverbial headaches." As sexologists such as Michelle Weiner-Davis in The Sex-Starved Marriage (Simon & Schuster, 2003) show, men suffer from low libido, too.

The number one thing Ferree hears from female addicts is, "I thought I was the only one." They cover their sin and shame with silence. Not surprisingly, then, the field of female sexual addiction—especially among churchgoers—is under-researched. We do know, from Nielsen/NetRatings, that of the 27.5 million U.S. visitors to porn websites in January 2002, 28 percent were women. A recent poll in CT's sister publication Today's Christian Woman found that 34 percent of its online newsletter's readers have accessed Internet porn. Even if a very small percentage of these women have sexual obsessions, it is too many.

Those trapped in sex mania will find long-awaited relief in No Stones. They will see their predicaments described in necessary detail. They will name them, many of them for the first time. They will understand the dynamic of something that is both sin and a disease. They will see why their sexual addiction is not about sex at all. They will learn why they're depressed, why they can't stop, how the "sins of the fathers" (and mothers) intensify their problem, and finally how to accept no substitute for the Living Water.

No Stones, available at, is one among at least three books whose authors understand that Christian women, too, can struggle with sex addiction. Those looking for a more general treatment of the struggle with sexual temptation can find it in Every Woman's Battle by Shannon Ethridge (Waterbrook, 2003). Not Even a Hint (Multnomah, 2003), a book about both sexes' problems with lust, is out from Joshua Harris (who famously "kissed dating goodbye").

But for the most comprehensive, straightforward, vulnerable, and helpful study of female sexual addiction, one should buy Ferree's book. For a friend, of course.

Agnieszka Tennant is a CT associate editor.

Related Elsewhere:

No Stones is available from and other book retailers.

Marnie Ferree has an article on female sex addiction at

More on Marnie Ferree can be found at Bethesda Workshops.

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