Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ: A Review

I was not sure exactly what to expect when I began to read Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. What I received was a wonderful series of lessons on a topic that was proved to me in the book to be one that is important to God in all of His wisdom: Human sexuality. Sexuality was not a topic that I had ever studied from a Christian perspective and I am glad to have had the experience of reading this book as a start to such a study. The breadth of topics covered was wide and varied and included chapters directed towards marrieds and singles of each gender as well as chapters on sexual sin and homosexual marriage. Although it may be tempting to avoid a chapter that does not seem immediately applicable to your personal situation, I found that if you live in a world with other people (and of course we all do) then it will be helpful to be aware of the perspectives of the various chapters.

For instance, I read and enjoyed the chapter on singlehood in Christ. I am not single but I still know single women and I am raising children who will find themselves single perhaps at least for a time of their adult life. One of the more interesting parts of the chapter on single women was a application of Proverbs 31: 10-31 to the life of a single woman.

As a married woman, I was definitely convicted by the chapter on marriage and sexuality. The author uses the Song of Solomon as a guide for how married women should romance and pursue our husbands. She discusses the importance of the attitude of receiving marital sex as a gift and not a chore or a burden. And lest you think that husbands were left were no responsibilities in marital sex the chapter on husbands and marital sex was full of good teachings as well. Men were warned to romance their wives mind and heart before her body and to be sure to save enough time and energy for a healthy, sacred sexual life within marriage.

As a former mental health professional, I found the chapter on sexual sin very informative. One major point of the chapter written primarily as a case study, is that the sexual sin may become an inappropriate focus of ministry. The author suggests instead that much attention be paid to early warning signs of sexual temptations and distortions in the relationship to God. The author relates that the battle to fight sexual temptations and sexual sin must usually be fought on many spiritual fronts.

The main thrust of the homosexual marriage chapter was attention to the challenge to the church not to look at the issue of homosexual marriage in isolation but rather as part of a larger problem in our society and in our church with marriage. Love of homosexuals with hatred of homosexual sin was emphasized. Perhaps the exhortation that impacted me the most in the chapter was that to discuss homosexual sin from the perspective that we are all sexual sinners. We are not to excuse homosexuality but merely finding it distasteful is not enough to give us any moral ground to oppose it. As Christians, we are challenged to reframe our words and views about sexuality and marriage in general to make way for us to wholly embrace the challenge of homosexual marriage. I found this chapter to contain the most biblically-based discussion of homosexual marriage that I am aware of to date. Instead of the usual inflammatory rhetoric, grace prevails in this chapter and we are reminded that no matter how "distasteful" the sin, we are to love, pray and lead homosexuals to Christ just as we would a liar or a thief. Sin is sin was one point emphasized by this chapter.

Finally, the last two chapters contained historical perspectives of Christian sexuality. One chapter discussed the marriage of Martin Luther and the other discussed the views of Puritan society. Both were interesting but I did not find them as meaty as some of the other chapters.

Overall, I enjoyed the perspectives presented in this book with its biblically -based views of Christian sexuality. I recommend this book both to other Christians and those who may not be Christian but who may be interested in Christian views of sexuality.

Many thanks to Mind and Media and Crossway Publishers for providing this book to review.
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