My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

03 June 2005

Book Review - Real Sex

Got your attention?

Real Sex: the Naked Truth about Chastity

Lauren Winner

This book has received quite a bit of press over the past couple months and this subject has always received quite a bit of press. Any time a Christian writer attempts to deal with this topic forthrightly, it deserves to be taken seriously (despite the other pastors in the car who, on our road trip, continually mercilessly mocked me for reading this book).

Disclaimers: This is a frank book with frank discussions, stories and details that may simply not be appropriate for many; it’s certainly not a book to hand to our kids without reservation. During reading, I often found myself wishing that Winner had used a little more discretion in her writing – I’m sure she would disagree with me on this. Also, this is not a book to read for clear and reformed theology. What theology is here (and there is some) is fairly Biblical, but absent is any talk of how chastity is ultimately designed to glorify the Lord of Glory.

After setting forth some frightening, familiar (and a few unfamiliar) statistics of churchgoers and sex, the author does a good job outlining a Biblical theology of creation & the “case for sex in marriage.” While nothing here should be new to mature believers, it is all-important to view creation (our bodies) in light of the Creator (God); such a view forces the serious believer to accept the Creator’s limitations on our bodies, believing that such limitations will prove to be, in the end, freedom.

Chapters 3-5 are, I believe, the most helpful of the book. In ch. 3, Winner argues that sex is far too private; that is, although we live in a sex-saturated society, the church is far too reticent to speak about sex on a personal, though discrete, level. Despite popular belief, what we do in our bedrooms does matter for everyone else in the church and in society. Chapter four outlines our culture’s lies about sex (sex can be separated from procreation, how you dress doesn’t matter, etc.). More importantly, chapter five outlines the church’s lies about sex (premarital sex always makes you feel lousy, bodies are gross/bad, women don’t really want to have sex, etc.).

The final four chapters seek to be more practical, and I imagine they could be to post-college-age singles. Instead of remarkable insight, Winner ends up kindly repeating what many teachers have said for many years about chastity and repentance.

Should you buy this book? I have a hard time recommending it carte blanche. There are certainly helpful points and very important reminders to the church, but in the end I don’t commend this book to you because the author’s suggestions aren’t always as radical – that is, Biblical – as I would like them to be and because I simply differ with her on standards of discretion. This book may prove to be most helpful to pastors and elders as they shepherd “singles” in their church.

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