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One Reader Says Tim Keller’s ‘The Meaning of Marriage’ Is Harmful to Women; Kathy Keller Responds

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Best-selling author and former pastor of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Tim Keller, took some heat last week after the chapter “Sex and Marriage” in his book “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God” was accused of being harmful to women.

In a Twitter thread posted by Bryana Joy, the writer, poet, and full-time artist was discussing what she called the “grim link between pornography and Christian marriage resources.”

“I’ve been posting a lot about how Christian sex advice does damage to women’s sexuality & self-concept,” Bryana said to start her 38-part thread. “Today I’ll talk about what these materials have in common with something Christians hate: porn.”

Bryana offered three assumptions she believes the two share. They are as follows: “Women exist for men. Women exist for sex. Men are dominant and women are submissive.” Bryana concluded that “porn and evangelical Christianity are two sides of the same patriarchal coin.”

While she mentions books by Debi Pearl, John and Stasi Eldredge, Gary Thomas, Kevin Leman, and Douglas Wilson, Bryana said a passage from Tim Keller’s “The Meaning for Marriage” was particularly damaging to her.

In Parts 31 and 32 of the thread, Bryana mentioned that “in porn, pain is depicted as a regular sexual experience for women, & the lines between pain & pleasure are catastrophically blurred. Unfortunately, Christian sex & marriage resources sometimes contribute directly to this dangerous messaging, often due to lack of education.”

Bryana then stated that her goal isn’t to pick on Keller and explains that as far as she knows “he is a loving husband and a kind man,” before sharing that a passage in his book “The Meaning of Marriage” caused her damage.

“I shall never forget the damage that was done to me by a passage in ‘The Meaning of Marriage’ in which he casually writes about a repeated occurrence: asking his wife after sex ‘how was that?’ and her saying ‘it just hurt.’ [Although he is a loving husband] his lack of knowledge about women’s sexual pain contributed to my belief that for some women, pain is just ‘part of sex.’ This is false, and can have serious long-term medical consequences for women,” Bryana said.

Sheila Wray Gregoire, who is the author of “The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended” and founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum, backed Bryana’s comments. “Of all the anecdotes from marriage books that we mentioned in The Great Sex Rescue, this passage from Tim Keller stuck with me the most. No commentary that sex actually shouldn’t hurt. It was so sad,” Gregoire wrote.

The thoughts and feelings Bryana, Gregorie, and others expressed invoked a response from Keller’s wife, Kathy. Mrs. Keller is someone who rarely posts on social media and was actually the one who wrote the part in the chapter Bryana referred to.

Kathy replied from her husband’s Twitter account saying, “While I normally avoid social media, I felt that I had to set the record straight, as so many wild assertions are being made about a quote from ‘The Meaning of Marriage.’ First, as anyone who reads the chapter headed ‘Sex and Marriage’ can see, the quote in question is from ME, not from Tim.”