I think oxymorons are technically supposed to be two words, but put the words Good, Christian, and Sex together, and people might think they’re being Punk’d. Yet that’s the title Bromleigh McCleneghan chose for a refreshing book that challenges the purity status quo. Whatever your opinion about Christians and their ability to have sex (good, bad or meh), McCleneghan takes a direct and often funny approach to talking about the big, purple elephant in pew.
See, here’s the thing about sex and Christians: it seems to take up most of our public dialogue without ever actually saying anything about sex. Those creepy father / daughter purity rituals and promise ring things? Sex. Anti-gay agenda? Sex. That whole Mark Driscoll fiasco from a few years ago? A whole lotta sex.
We seem to be obsessed with policing it, idolizing it, making it into the be-all-and-end-all of salvation, as if we must get this one thing right and THEN Jesus’s love will finally be complete, whole, finished. As if our sex stamp is the one-way ticket to heaven we’re all looking for. It’s actually kind of strange, I think, how obsessed we have become with the sex other people are having.
But unlike the public
lion’s den Christian forum, where we may or may not eat each other alive for our perceived sexual activity, in this book, Bromleigh takes a surprisingly fresh and warmly freeing approach to a topic that might make you blush, but let’s face it, everyone wants to know about. This book is grace-filled like a delicious donut, and shows us how sex — yes, even sex outside of traditional marriage — might actually be a means of that grace. (Insert collective gasp here.)
I had a feeling I was going to like this book because of what officially has become my favorite footnote, ever. It’s right there in chapter one: “Long before I ever had a sexual partner, I discovered firsthand that humans are wired to experience sexual pleasure.”
The footnote? A simple: “Ha.”
I immediately knew I’d found a friend.
But the true beauty in this book comes in the grace that it offers. Anyone who has ever had a sexual feeling (yes, I’m talking to YOU) can finally stop feeling guilty and maybe, just maybe realize that pleasure is a gift from God. That falling in love is, as the author states, “…coming to see another person; part of falling in love is allowing another person to see you.” (page 51)
In a very healthy and beautiful way, McCleneghan views sex as an extension of God’s grace to us, an expression of living the Christian life, which by its very nature is “less about protecting ourselves from being profaned and more about learning to risk ourselves in love.” (page 71) She takes to task sexual definitions that support a communal moral code — such as the concept of virginity — and deconstructs it to demonstrate its utter meaninglessness when it comes to our value and worth before God.
She manages to respect scripture and at the same time offer a healthy dose of criticism over its previous interpretations, allowing room for joy in many of the otherwise marginalized: homosexuals, single folk, — anyone who doesn’t, according to mainstream Christian thought, get to enjoy sex because they fall outside the “traditional marriage” norm.
She also examines the queerness of Jesus — demonstrating that he was decidedly odd for his day, what with all his fraternizing with sinners and tax collectors, women and lepers. And her discussion on lust — what it is, what it isn’t — will cleanse the reader of any guilt they may have felt while entertaining a tiny little fantasy about someone they maybe shouldn’t.
Good Christian Sex is a good read — and an important one, too. McCleneghan’s voice is an important weight to balance out some of the noise that’s already out there.
Feel free to remove your purity ring.
When I talk about your life’s purpose, there’s a lot of things I DON’T mean — like that God has some sort of heavenly algorithm that decides EXACTLY what you are supposed to do, and if you mess it up, you’re screwed.
No. It’s way more fun than that. It’s creative, exciting, meaningful. So if you feel like it’s time to get off the couch and finally get going, that it’s time to say yes and invite God into your destiny, then it may be time to watch this free webinar. Just click the picture and you’re in!