Takeaway: Sex and Christianity have an uneasy relationship, but that is not the way God intended.
(This is the first book I have reviewed that had a trailer.)
There are many books out there about sex, even a lot of books about sex oriented toward Christians. There are not many that are about how to have a healthy view of sex as a Christian. Sex, Lies and Religion will be uncomfortable for many to read. It is about sex, the lies that religion and culture tell us about sex and how God has created sex, not just for pleasure and procreation, but as a teaching tool to show us how God wants to be intimate with us and desired by us.
I have two clear teaching points about sex that I can think about. These are not the bird and bees discussions. I had those too, but instead these two discussions were about what to think about sex. When I was in early high school (sophomore?), Charlie Peacock released an album called Love Life. I remember talking with my Mom about the fact that a large Christian bookstore chain would not carry the album because it included the line “they were naked and unashamed” (the song was Kiss Me Like a Woman). Apparently the decisions makers did not get the biblical reference. Or Charlie Peacock’s point that we need to have more Christian expressions of positive sexuality, within marriage, to counteract the negative expressions of sexuality outside of marriage. My Mom though that the song was a beautiful expression of sexuality and disagreed with the decision. A second teaching point came as a pastoral intern during seminary, when my supervising pastor has a conversation with me about how uncomfortable some of the music we were singing in church made him. It used language that was too intimate and showed too much desire. He clearly thought there were sexual overtones to the music. I disagreed for pretty much the same reasons. I thought there were some sexual overtones to the music and thought that not only was it appropriate, but it illistrated the type of desire we should have for Christ and the church.
Randy Elrod’s book follows in that vein, celebrating the goodness of sex (God created it so it must be good), while dealing with the fact that many people are uncomfortable with sexuality. I think that this book should be discussed. Depending on the small group and their willingness to be open, it might be too intimate to discuss in small groups. But if there are any books that you should read together with your spouse, this is one of them. The book is divided into three sections: Sex, Lies (about sex) and Religion.
The opening section was what might make people most uncomfortable. There was a good discussion on masturbation and another on the purpose of sex. The second section, Lies, is probably organizationally the weakest of the three sections, although has great content. It deviated from the other two sections and was more scattered. The third section, Religion, was the most theologically oriented. The best parts were when he was trying to talk about why sex shows us to be intimate with God. I do wish he had relied a bit more on some of the theologians from the Middle Ages. Many of them were writing about similar themes and it would have grounded the teaching a bit more in historical theology.
Overall this was a good contribution to the Christian world I hope it sells well and it can help to counteract some bad teaching on sexuality.
Sex, Lies and Religion by Randy Elrod comes out on Feburary 14, 2010. You can
pre-order here or if you have a kindle you can buy now.
Disclosure: I received this book free as a digital advanced copy (a PDF file that I converted to read on my kindle.)