Happy Sunday, y’all!
This title is definitely meant to be another eye-catcher. I’m not sure which of The Church’s current ways of talking about sexuality is worse – purity culture and Abstinence Only (the idea that sex is only acceptable as a means of procreation within a heterosexual marriage context); or simply not talking about sex and sexuality at all (if we don’t talk about it, it’s not happening, right?). So let me tell you, it was refreshing to 1) simply have the complexity and ethics of sex acknowledged, and 2) have that discussion center not on shame, judgment, and fear, but on grace, justice, and love.
Title – Good Christian Sex: Why Chastity Isn’t the Only Option – And Other Things the Bible Says About Sex
Author – Bromleigh McCleneghan
Page count – 223
McCleneghan addresses a variety of topics – pleasure, desire, vulnerability, intimacy, and fidelity, among others. The single lady writing this review especially appreciates the chapter dedicated specifically to discussing “singleness” (and not in the ad nauseam – and kind of creepy – “finding intimacy with God instead” kind of way). The author draws from the works of various theologians and authors, as well as – obviously – from the Bible.
So what is “good Christian sex” (according to McCleneghan)? Treating the other person not as an object to be used but as an individual who deserves love, happiness, and reciprocation. Relationship that is marked by intimacy and mutual desire. It involves knowing that sharing yourself with another person in a vulnerable way – even if that relationship doesn’t involve a lifelong commitment – doesn’t result in a loss of identity or worth. Love, after all, is not a zero-sum game.
It would be dishonest to say I fully agree with every premise in this book (in fact that rarely, if ever, happens). But there were many good points, including this section:
“(Intimacy) asks us to trust and let go…It draws us into play and pleasure, but also the work of communicating with another person who cannot get inside our heads. Through sex, we can practice attention, invitation, hospitality, and the means of grace…Our holiness, our worth, our identity as image-bearers of God, is not compromised through the attempt to grow in love and intimacy with those around us…It’s not sex outside of marriage that threatens us; it’s our fear of living and growing in intimacy with others. It’s our unwillingness to open ourselves up…to wonder and mystery and pleasure and relationship – that often leaves us feeling empty.” (p. 150-151)