End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex is Too Import To Define Who We Are

The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We AreSummary: Sexual identity is not the same as full identity, so we need to define ourselves as a person, not a sexual identity.

When I started The End of Sexual Identity, the Louie Giglio issue has not yet come up.  But I do think that Paris’ book is a good place to start for people that are uncomfortable with the orthodox Christian response to homosexuality and/or not ready to reject same-sex sex as a sin.

Jenell Williams Paris is an anthropologist.  So she starts by approaching sexual identity as a cultural construction.  That may seem overly academic, but she writes clearly and gives good examples so that even if you do not have a background in sociology or anthropology her argument is understandable.

Essentially Paris suggest that while same sexual intercourse is not new, identity as heterosexual or homosexual is a recent innovation.  In the beginning of the book, she tours the reader around different cultural understandings of sexuality to show that in most of the world, there is no category to understand gay identity.  She does not at all deny that same sex attraction exists.  But she does point to different ways that same sex attraction has manifest itself in different cultures.

Where Paris shines is asking good questions.  There are chapters on Holiness, sexual desire, celibacy and more.  Throughout Paris shows a positive way to engage around the issues and ways to look differently at the issues than to just say ‘all homosexuals are sinners’.

Paris does not go as far as to say that same sex intercourse is not a sin.  So she does not move outside of conservative Christianity on the main issue.  But even if you do not believe that same sex intercourse is a sin, this is still a good book to look at the way that the church and culture has framed the issues of sexuality.

Similarly to the book Washed and Waiting, I think that too often Christians are intellectually lazy around sexuality.  Culture has seeped into our understanding far more than what many people believe and it is exactly in exploring a different conception of sexuality that we can better understand heterosexual sexuality.

The main complaint against the End of Sexual Identity is that it is good about asking questions but tends to not answer many of them.  This is common for difficult subjects like this, but still frustrating because the book does not seem to push far enough.  At the same time I think it is even handed enough that it can be read by people on all sides of the issue and all sides will feel like they have been adequately represented, even when they disagree.

I wish more books on difficult subjects were as balanced. (I picked this up a couple weeks ago when it was on sale for $1.99.  I wish it were still on sale.  But even so, it is worth purchasing.)

The End of Sexual Identity Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition

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