At the Stranger's Slog, Erica Barnett pulls a snippet from the Rick Warren sermon, "Affair-Proofing Your Marriage:"

The top five needs of most men are:

1. Sexual fulfillment
2. Recreational companionship
3. An attractive spouse
4. Domestic support
5. Admiration

The top five needs of most women are:

1. Affection
2. Conversation
3. Honesty and openness
4. Financial support
5. Family commitment

Did you see any similarities between those two lists? No. No wonder we have so much trouble adjusting in marriage.

I just read that sermon and it turns out that not Warren, but his wife Kay, had dispensed those words of wisdom during the adultery segment of his ten-part series on the Ten Commandments. (Mrs. Warren derived these lists from a book by Dr. Willard Harley, His Needs, Her Needs). As for Pastor Warren, he opined that in modern life it's much more difficult to resist temptation for a normal, red-blooded, sex-obsessed Christian man like himself because, among other things, men encounter more women in the workplace:

In today's world where there are permissive values that basically says anything goes, and an entertainment organization obsessed with sex, and sex is used to sale everything from cars to bananas and there are more women in the work place, and there is birth control and constant bombardment by the media, you don't stand much of a change of remaining pure unless you establish some guidelines for your life.

The Warrens' views are deeply embedded in fundamentalist Christian movements that decree that womens' "wifely" duty is to meet her husband's needs and to submit to his spiritual authority. (Such a view of the Bible is the official policy of the Southern Baptist Convention, of which Warren's church is a part.) Early next year, Beacon Press will publish Kathryn Joyce's Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, which details various strands of fundamentalism informing and perpetuating these supposedly "biblical" notions of gender roles. Warren might represent a gentler version of these harsh and authoritarian fundamentalists, but Joyce's keen reporting as she journeyed into the world of "wifely submission" and "male headship" will prove to be an invaluable resource for understanding the origins of some of his comments on gender.

--Sarah Posner

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