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God Loves Sex: An Honest Conversation about…
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God Loves Sex: An Honest Conversation about Sexual Desire and Holiness

by Dan B. Allender

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Is it evidence of my image-bearing that I like the things God likes? Kidding aside, sex and sexuality is God's idea, a gift from God meant to be enjoyed (within the bounds of marriage and monogamy). It enables us to express our love, and relationality. Yet I don't typically like Christian books on sex. Too many of them focus on mechanics--how to do it and how often. Some offer troubling advice on how to achieve sexual fulfillment (often for just the male partner) without giving enough space to explore mutuality in relationships or holiness. Other books fail to account for the various ways we are all sexually broken. Rare is a book dealing with sex that combines psychologically insight with theological depth in a sensitive and engaging way.

God Loves Sex is one such book. Co-authors Dan Allender and Tremper Longman have teamed up to explore God's purposes for sex and healthy sexuality. Allender teaches counseling at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology [curiously the back of the book says he teaches at Mars Hill Graduate School but it was renamed the Seattle School three years ago]. Longman is professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College. The two have collaborated on several books and a number of Bible Studies in the past. In God Loves Sex they explore the issues of sex, desire and holiness through the lens of the Song of Songs.

Longman and Allender approach the Song of Songs, not as an allegory about God's love but as a loose collection of poems exploring sexual love. They do not read an overarching narrative into the songs, though they explore the narrative elements in various poems and find an internal coherence in the collection. Their examination of the poems explores sexuality, desire, beauty, sexual play, intimacy, and the glory that sex was created for. These six themes are the substance of the book, each explored in their own chapter (intimacy gets two chapters). The remaining ten chapters tie these chapters together through a fictional story:

Malcom, a new Christian gets roped into attending a small group Bible study on sex by his boss and wife. He goes reluctantly, nervous because of his own sexual past and shame. He is also unsure that the Bible has much interesting to say about human sexuality. Along the way he confronts his own sexual woundedness, his dissatisfying sexual history, the past influence of pornography on him and abuse he suffered. However, he discovers in this small group a safe place to explore these issues with others, all of whom are dealing with their own areas of brokenness. Also in the group are a husband and wife who married to each other after the husband had cheated with her on his previous spouse, a recent divorcee who escaped an abusive situation, a single woman who is a virgin but has her own struggles with sexuality as she tries to navigate the 'Christian dating scene.'

This fictional small group allows Allender and Longman to explore the many sides of sexual brokenness, which highlights relevant material as they explore the Song of Songs. It also makes for a riveting presentation and create space for us as readers to probe our own marred sexuality and God's plan for it.

The commentary is incisive, demonstrating Longman's literary sensitivity to the biblical text and Allender's psychological insights. Readers of this book will see evidence in the Song of Songs that God gave us sex (and sexuality) as a gift to be enjoyed; yet they will also will be drawn into introspection at the places we need a little 'sexual healing' (not in a Marvin Gaye way). I give this book five stars and recommend it for individuals, couples or small groups. ★★★★★

Notice of material connection: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
Authors bring clarity to a sexually explosive book in the Bible. Recommend for both pastors and laity to read. How sex was intended...to glorify God yet sin has misaligned and robbed it of its truest experience. ( )
  rswright | Sep 21, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0801015669, Paperback)

We live in a sexually mad world where God's gift of sex has been distorted through pornography, promiscuity, prostitution, abuse, trafficking, and rape. The church's position on sexual matters has been made clear throughout history: all sexual activity outside the boundaries of Christian marriage is sin. But rarely has the church honestly addressed the true needs of Christians who are struggling with sexual desires they believe to be counter to the Bible. So we hide our struggles and pretend to live above the erotic fray, or else we cozy up to the culture's redefinition of which sins are acceptable. But what does the Bible really say about sexual desire and sexual intimacy?

God Loves Sex
offers a truly liberating, godly view of holy sensuality by recovering the clear meaning of the Song of Songs as God-sanctioned eroticism. Then it uses that lens to answer questions posed by a fictional new Christian struggling with expectations of sexual purity. It asks provocative questions, such as What does it mean to be both holy and filled with rich sexual desire? and How can our sexual struggles take us deeper into the purposes of God?

Pairing psychological insight with sound biblical scholarship, Allender and Longman bring it all out into the open, allowing Christians of any age and any marital status to discover sex the way God meant it to be.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:25 -0400)

Offers a Christian view of sexual desire and intimacy, investigating what the Bible teaches about these topics as opposed to common assumptions made by Christians, and by the broader culture.

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