Sex: it’s a really interesting topic in the Christian world; it’s either never talked about and is a bit like a taboo or it’s talked about too much and is a bit like an obsession. Historically the church hasn’t done a great job of talking about and teaching on sex. This has changed in the last and now more books on sex are being released for Christians. I do worry though that we may be on the road to talking more about sex than the world, but that’s a rabbit hole for another post. I don’t often read books about sex because they can all be very similar. But here are three that I’ve read recently and I thought I’d share them with you.
This is the only book I have read of its kind, there are others like it and they are quoted in this book, but personally I’ve never read a book that deals with sex in marriage at any length. I think that this book is helpful because it’s timeless, the authors don’t take their cues from current trends or culture, but they base their findings and their thinking on the Bible. This is important to note because with some books on sex you can almost guess the year that they were written in based on the content. Not with this one.
Adrian and Celia draw out five principles from 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 in relation to sex within marriage and build on them throughout the book. Those principles are;
- Let’s do it. Sex is good, normal and healthy.
- Keep taking the tablets. Sex is a protection against immorality and Satan’s temptations.
- It’s not about you. Sex is a selfless act which is centred on the other person.
- Let’s talk about it. Sex requires communication and openness.
- Keep the door closed. Sex is a private matter for a couple.
One of the really helpful things about this book is that it is full of helpful facts and stats that disprove many misconceptions about sex, both for the Christian and the non-Christian. After unpacking the five principles they answer five of the top ten questions about sex;
- How often should we make love?
- Should a woman have an orgasm every time?
- Is it ok for Christians to have oral sex?
- Is it ok for Christians to have anal sex?
- What should we think about sex aids?
Adrian and Celia apply their five principles to these five questions and really help you think through them in a biblical (and sometimes funny) way. The book also has two appendixes; I’ve suffered sexual abuse in the past and I’m dealing with past sexual sin. I think that this could be a really helpful book for newly weds and for those who’ve been married a while. It will make you have honest conversations with your spouse which will help you get closer together. You can grab a copy of the book here.
I have 2 criticisms of the book;
– The book does a good job at acknowledging that sex isn’t easy for everyone. There will sadly be those who have a history of abuse and therefore, it will be a difficult subject. Adrian and Celia deal specifically with abuse in a short appendix. I understand why they addressed the topic, and I think it is important too, but it was so short that I wonder if it was worth it. They do point out other resources to help further in this specific area.
– They talk about sex being a means of protection from temptation. Whilst I understand where they are coming from, it is a bit of an oversimplification in my mind. A person can have a healthy sex life at home and still fall into sin outside of the home. This is down to the individuals sin, not a lack of sex. I believe that the authors would agree with me and recognise the limited space a short book can give to such a big topic.
This book has a different audience in mind, it is written for teens and young adults. This book is touches on a wide variety of topics to do with relationships, sex, love, gender and so on. Whilst I understand why the author decided to do so, I think it has resulted in it actually being a bit of a weakness of the book. There is just so much material and different topics covered that I’m not sure that you can meaningfully dive into one. There are plenty of helpful things said in this book though. Each chapter is short (no more than about 5 pages) and each chapter end with a short paragraph on a relevant hot topic on sex and relationships for young people today.
This book is split into three parts;
Part 1 deals with the foundations os McDowell’s view on love, sex and relationships. There is some really good, biblical content in here that is helpful. I think the challenge of this section is that McDowell doesn’t really argue why he believe what he does, but almost quotes the Bible and states his thinking. I agree with a lot of what he says, I just wonder if a teenager would need to see a bit more of the arguments underpinning his thoughts.
Part 2 opens up the topics of sex, singleness and marriage. His main focus is that sex, which is to be enjoyed in the relationship between a husband and wife, is mostly for pro-creation. I get where he is coming from, but I think he maybe needed to unpack that a little bit more.
Part three deals with more of the hot topics, such as; porn, cohabitation, homosexuality, divorce, transgenderism, sexual abuse and so on. There is some helpful stuff in here, but I’m not sure it equips teens massively for what they face every day in school, or even young adults in university and the work place.
My overall assessment would be that the book could be a helpful conversation starter, but I don’t think it it narrow enough in scope to speak definitively on certain issues or convince teens/young adults of the arguments for the conservative evangelical view on sex, love and relationships. You can grab a copy here, I’d like to hear your thoughts on it if you read it.
Ed Shaw has written a short introduction to sexuality, designed to help the reader ask the question ‘what is our sexuality for?’ Shaw beings by saying how the Christian response to the topic of sexuality has been preoccupied with questions like ‘Who can I have sex with?’ and ‘When can I have sex with them?’ I think that this is fair, some Christians seem to want to know the extent of what they can do rather than the purpose of the gift created by God. Shaw raises a good point that we need to explain why we believe what we do regarding sexuality. I do think that we need to train people on the Biblical arguments on why we believe what we do and not just tell people to stop it.
I agreed with a lot of what Ed is saying in this book, but I struggled with 2 things about this book;
- It is too short. I get it, we want short books on relevant topics to build up believers and equip the saints. However, if the books are so short that we can’t express everything well enough and some important things aren’t drawn out properly, is it really helpful?
- Same-sex attraction, or gay, as Ed says. I struggle with this concept and the way that it comes across in the book. There is one point where Ed says “To be given such powerful feelings and then to be told that you can never enjoy or express them in any way seems to be both cruel and unliveable. It is cruel and undoable.” God is never cruel and who are we, as finite beings, to question God. I struggle with this concept because it almost seems to suggest that God made a mistake with certain people’s sexual attraction and that he was wrong.
I wouldn’t recommend this book because I think that there are already books in circulation that do a similar thing. If you want to get a copy and chat to me about your own thoughts that would be great, grab a copy here.