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What the Creator of Corn Flakes got Wrong

What the Creator of Corn Flakes got Wrong

For over a decade, I’ve been giving a lecture on human sexuality in the largest classroom auditorium we have on the Christian college campus where I teach. And every year, with two hundred students present, I start the class with this sentiment: “When it comes to sex, there’s a lot of crazy thinking.” I’ll pause long enough for students to wonder where I’m going before giving an example.

“How many of you had corn flakes this morning?”

Dozens of hands shoot up around the room.

“And did any of you consider the fact that you were eating a food that was developed in an effort to curb your impulses to masturbate?”

Looks of puzzlement give way to giggles, followed by a crescendo of side-comments that fill the room for an inordinate amount of time. I walk the lecture stage until the buzzing dies down and my bemused students give me their attention in exchange for an explanation.

“It’s true,” I tell them as a large box of corn flakes slowly emerges on the giant PowerPoint screen behind me. “They were developed by a physician in Battle Creek, Michigan, who wrote that neither the plague, nor war, nor smallpox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the unhealthy habit of masturbation. He felt that this ‘self-abuse’ destroyed not only moral well-being, but physical and mental health as well.”

The solution? Corn flakes, naturally. His name was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. He created a mixture of oatmeal and corn meal, baked it into biscuits, then ground the biscuits to bits and prescribed them to diminish the human sex drive — even among married men. Why? He believed sexual activity caused cancer, urinary disease, impotence, epilepsy, and insanity. He also claimed that masturbation was a primary cause of acne, heart disease, atrophy of the testicles, sleeplessness, loss of vitality, and vision impairment.

Pretty good reasons not to skip breakfast, don’t you think?

Charles William Post did. He was one of Kellogg’s patients who quickly spotted the commercial possibilities and started his own cereal business. The corn flake race was on. First, there were Post Toasties, then Korn-Kinks (I’m not making this up!). No fewer than forty-two varieties appeared on the market in the late nineteenth century. But Kellogg’s Corn Flakes became king.

By the way, Dr. Kellogg’s doom-and-gloom views on sexuality couldn’t help but impact his honeymoon. That’s when he began writing the eventual 644-page Plain Facts for Old and Young, a warning on the evils of sex. He and his wife of more than forty years had separate bedrooms all their lives, not surprisingly.1

What is surprising is that some of Dr. Kellogg’s views on sex are still held today — even though corn flakes survived because of their taste rather than their “health benefits.” In our contemporary culture, we still have lots of crazy thinking surrounding sex. The difference is that it’s focused more on self-indulgence than on self-control. And this crazy thinking (not to mention behavior) is exactly why I wrote this book.


Other Men Don’t, But You Do

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. — Proverbs 23:7 NKJV

I’ll tell you straight-out that I am making some assumptions about you. To begin with, I assume you are monogamous. I assume you’re living a relatively balanced life — that you’re not living on the sexual fringe. I assume you are a rational man with good, solid values. And it’s precisely because you care about being a good man that you experience sexual struggles. Other men don’t care to try, but you do.

If you are single, I assume you will eventually be married, since nine out of ten people marry at some point in their lives.2 So in the portions of this book where I address sex in marriage, I don’t want you to feel excluded. I want you to digest the information as you prepare for your married life. I have you in mind, too, even if I’m not going out of my way to clumsily qualify each point for the single male.

If you’re married, I assume you want everything God intended you to enjoy in your marriage — including crazy good sex. But I also assume you sometimes wish sex with your wife was more passionate, more creative, more often — in short, more unbridled. I also assume you have a powerful sex drive and that you want to focus your passionate urges on your wife in a healthy way, but your libido can come dangerously close to getting you into trouble at times. In the words of Jesus to Peter at Gethsemane: “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41). I assume you want to protect your marriage against mismanaged sexual urges — the kind that lead to addictions and affairs. And I assume you also face countless temptations — the Internet, men’s magazines, adult channels in your hotel room, “gentlemen’s clubs,” and attractive coworkers. In fact, I assume you face these kinds of temptations daily. What’s more, I assume that some of you, my readers — normal, rational, and good — have already done some crazy things you’re not proud of. That’s where the redeeming power of God’s grace is experienced most profoundly (see John 1:16).

I am also making an important assumption about your personal faith. I assume you have a relationship with God, that you sincerely try to follow Jesus, and that you want to live a life grounded in biblical principles and Christian qualities — free from “sexual immorality” (see 1 Corinthians 6:18). And I assume your religion has shaped your sexuality, for good and for bad.

Most of all, I assume you want guilt-free, crazy good sex with your wife — and I assume that sometimes some of your beliefs and feelings get in the way.

Debunking the Crazy Myths Men Have about Sex

Anybody who believes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach flunked geography. — Robert Byrne

I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I started writing this book, I thought I’d title it “Crazy Sex.” Every author is looking for a way to cut through the clutter of the hundreds of other books out there and I thought that might do the trick. Well, after a few of my most respected friends reviewed the manuscript, I realized that not every man would feel at ease sitting in a coffee shop reading a book with those words on the cover. But when that was the working title of the book, most men asked me flatout: “Are you talking about crazy good sex or crazy bad sex?” The answer is both.

Men struggle with sex. Especially good men. And many of our sexual struggles stem from our crazy thinking about sex. Why? Because our beliefs determine our behavior. If we believe crazy things about sex, we do crazy things in our sex lives.

In this context, I’m talking about “crazy bad sex.” And because sex is so powerful, crazy thinking can cause even smart men to do stupid things. But once we straighten out some of our misguided thinking about sex, our sex life inevitably improves. Trading in falsehoods for facts can’t help but improve the odds of your sexual fulfillment. It can’t help but cause you to increase the probability of enjoying “crazy good sex” in your marriage.

That’s why my main objective in this book is to dispel some of the most damaging myths — the crazy thinking — men have about sex. I’ve surveyed men formally and informally for the last several years, and I’ve found a predictable set of misguided beliefs about sex that has caused too many of us to struggle needlessly. It’s these myths I intend to expose and dispel.

Specifically, I’m going to expose the myths we hold about our “uncontrollable” sex drive and how to please a woman between the sheets.

And yes, I’m going to show you what research has to say about the false belief so many men have about the size of their penis. By the way, the crazy thinking on this one underwrites an entire industry for gullible men — pills, pumps, surgery, you name it. It deserves to be dispelled.

I’m also going to surprise you with evidence indicating that what you believe about your wife’s sex drive, in relation to your own, may not be quite on target. Correcting just this single false belief may be enough to improve your sex life twofold.

I’m going to reveal the lie men believe about limiting themselves to sex with the same woman, year after year. You’ll soon see how married sex is the best sex — and how it should get better and better over time.

I’ll also expose “the porn norm.” I’ll show you how pornography can harm you and your masculinity (not to mention your marriage) in ways you never considered.

And before we’re done, I’m going to shatter a belief you may have that is preventing you from having the best sex of your life. Every sex therapist seems to know this secret, but the word just isn’t getting out.

In short, I intend to right the wrong thinking men have held about sex for far too long.

The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. — Genesis 2:25

Excerpted with permission from Crazy Good Sex: Putting to Bed the Myths Men Have about Sex by Les Parrott, copyright The Foundation for Healthy Relationships.

Listen to the first chapter of the audiobook for FREE…

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Your Turn

For Reflection…

  1. What’s the craziest bit of misinformation, or the silliest myth, you’ve ever heard about sex?
  2. Of the assumptions made about you as a reader of this book, are there any that are not true? If so, which ones and how?
  3. What drew you to this particular book and what is one thing you would like it to do to improve your sex life?