Book Review: Holy Sexuality

How do evangelical Christians view sexuality in light of what we hear in the culture around us? What does the Bible say about sexuality? How do believers respond to those who struggle with same sex attraction? All these questions and more author Christopher Yuan addresses in his latest book, Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God’s Grand Story.

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Holy Sexuality is a follow up to Yuan’s memoir, co-authored with his mother, titled Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God, a Broken Mother’s Search for Hope. It tells the story of Yuan’s journey to faith and how he found his identity in Christ alone. At the end of this memoir, he referred to the concept of holy sexuality. This idea is what he unpacks in his latest book.

Holy Sexuality begins by developing a Biblical framework of human sexuality as seen through the lens of the Bible’s big story: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. Beginning with Creation, Yaun explores how we were made in God’s image: “when we make anything else the core of our being—especially our sexuality—it’s not only a distortion of the imago Dei but also an affront to our Creator” (p.17). He then discusses original sin and the impact the fall had on all mankind. Because of the fall, we are all born into sin and are enslaved to it. “For each of us, sin affects all our faculties: actions, words, thoughts, and desires—including our sexual desires” (p.30). These two foundational truths, creation and the fall, are central to our understanding of humanity and human sexuality. Yuan then explores the need we all have for redemption in Christ. We all need to be born again. “Sin is the great problem; Jesus is the great solution” (p. 38).

What this means is, we all need Jesus. “It doesn’t matter whether you think you were born an alcoholic; you must be born again. It doesn’t matter whether you think you were born a liar; you must be born again. It doesn’t matter whether you think you were born a porn addict; you must be born again. It doesn’t matter whether you think you were born with any other sexual sin struggle; you must be born again” (p.41). Once we are born again, we are new creations. Christ transforms us from the inside out. We spend the rest of our lives putting sin to death and living out the reality of our new life in Christ, all the while looking forward to the day when we’ll shed our sin once and for all.

Using this framework, Yuan then develops the concept of holy sexuality. God’s vision for sexuality consists of two paths: chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage. This means sexual purity for those who are unmarried and faithfulness to one’s spouse for those who are married. Yuan argues that in Christian circles we often hold up marriage as the ultimate goal. Rather, Yuan points to Scripture to teach us that the Bible affirms singleness. In fact, the Bible teaches that both singleness and marriage are equally good and advantageous. He reminds us that we will all be single in eternity. Yuan urges the church to welcome, value, and love singles as brothers and sisters in Christ.

While the bulk of the book helps us to think Biblically about sexuality, the latter part of the book provides practical application, specifically for our interactions with others. One chapter provides helpful tips on what to say and what not say to atheist gay friends. Yuan points out words, phrases, and concepts that do not help the conversation, and actually hinder it. When talking about sexuality with a Christian friend or loved one who shares about an attraction with someone of the same sex, Yuan offers helpful suggestions on how to respond, how to be a friend, and how to walk alongside them. The book ends with a chapter on discipleship. “If sex, desire, and relationships are shaped by God’s grand story and God’s grand story is shaped by Christ, then this means that sex, desire, and relationships—our whole sexuality—must be shaped by Christ as well. All my sexual behaviors, erotic desires, romantic feelings, sentimental relationships, and even all my platonic friendships must be conformed to Jesus Christ and nothing else” (p.195).

Holy Sexuality is a book every Christian should read. Christopher Yuan is a helpful guide into a topic that is not talked about enough in the church. His writing is clear, concise, and thoroughly Biblical. It will challenge readers to set aside misconceptions and false teaching and instead dig deep into God’s word. It will equip readers to understand their own sexuality in light of God’s big story and how to help others understand that story as well.

Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review and Giveaway: Mom, Dad...What's Sex?

I'll never forget that day at work when I was told I would lead counseling groups on sex education at the alternative school where I was a counselor.

"Why me?" I thought.

The truth? Because no one else wanted to do it. 

Fast forward a number of years to life as a mom with two boys. I thought having gone through the experience of talking about all things uncomfortable in the past would prepare me to talk about sexuality with my own children. Wrong. It's just as uncomfortable. Perhaps even more so. I guess that's why we have developed all these code words and phrases to refer to such discussions. You know phrases such as: "the birds and the bees," "the facts of life," and "the talk." 

But the truth is, it's so important. If there's one thing I learned from that experience as a counselor is how important it is that our children hear the truth about sexuality from us, their parents, and not from their friends or the culture around them. 

That's why I am so excited about Jessica Thompson's new book she wrote alongside her brother, Joel Fitzpatrick. It's titled, Mom, Dad…What’s Sex?:Giving Your Kids a Gospel-Centered View of Sex and Our Culture
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First off, you should know, this is not a how-to book. It's not filled with example conversations and check-lists of what to say and not to say. There isn't even an age by age description of what's appropriate for children to learn at different ages and stages. Rather, this book is anchored in the grand story of redemption and helps parents give their children the big picture story of how we were created to love and be loved, what happened to sex and sexuality as a result of the fall, and what Jesus did to redeem and restore what was lost.

Part one of the book tells the Biblical story of sex and sexual identity. Sex was God's idea. It was his gift to us. Chapter one looks at sex and sexual identity in terms of what took place at creation. Next, the authors look at what happened in the fall when Adam and Eve sinned. God's good design for sex was broken as a result of sin. The authors take an honest look at the brokenness of sex and go through some of Scripture's hard stories including that of Tamar and Rahab. But they don't just tell the hard stories, they point to how God redeems such stories: both Rahab and Tamar are in the genealogy of Christ. The author's also speak to the parents reading the book who might bear shame for sexual sins in their past or brokenness over sins done against them with the hope of the gospel.  

"We are truly satisfied only when our hearts are first satisfied in Christ's love for us. Sex is meant to bring pleasure, but only the love of Christ brings identity. When we forget about the love of Christ or when we look to sex to define who we are, we will end up distorting it. We will use it in ways that it was not meant to be used." (p.64)

Part two addresses sexuality in our culture, with particular focus on friendship among teens, the influence of social media, and pornography. The way teens view friendship with others shapes their view of sex. The authors encourage parents to help their children see marriage as friendship and ultimately, how Christ is their perfect friend. Social media also shapes our children's view of themselves and sexuality. The authors encourage parents to remind their children of who they are in Christ, "Every time they go to social media to find their worth, every time they read the comments to be affirmed, you can remind them that through Jesus they have already received the most important comments they will ever read or hear. They are God's children. Adopted. Loved. Cared for. Gorgeous in his sight!" (p. 134) They also address the problem of pornography in our culture and encourage parents to have open conversations about it, teaching them of the dangers, as well as reminding them that all people are image bearers to be respected and not used for our pleasure.

Part 3 encourages parents to saturate all conversations with the gospel of grace. We need to teach our children about sexuality through the lens of the gospel. If we have children who have been tempted or fallen into sexual sin, we need to walk through it with them, in the hope of the gospel and with restoration as the goal. 

Each chapter contains a word to moms from Jessica Thompson and a word to dads from Joel Fitzpatrick. There are also talking points at the end of each chapter of topics we need to talk about with our children. 

"You and I both know how strong sexual desires are, and we need something even stronger to control us. Knowing the right thing to do doesn't stop us from doing the wrong thing. The only way to change our appetites or our desires is to totally and completely fall in love with Jesus and be totally and completely awestruck by his love for us." (p. 186) 

Mom, Dad…What’s Sex?:Giving Your Kids a Gospel-Centered View of Sex and Our Culture is a gospel-centered book which focuses on sexuality in terms of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. It is a book for sinners—which is all of us. It reminds parents of their hope, help, and satisfaction in Christ so they can then speak that hope to the hearts of their children.

I'm doing a giveaway over on my Facebook page. Leave a comment on the post about this book and you'll be entered. US residents only. 

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for this review. The thoughts and opinions are my own. In addition, I am a member of the Amazon Affiliates program and links to books in this post are connected to my affiliates account with Amazon.com. 

Wise Up! {A Review and Giveaway}

As parents, we desire that our children walk in the way of wisdom. We teach them what is right and wrong. We read them God's Word and help them store it in their hearts. When they are foolish, we lead them back to the narrow path. All because we long for them to live their lives for the glory of God.

Proverbs is one of those books in the Bible we often use to teach our children the way of wisdom. Yet to be honest, I've struggled at times to know how to teach my children the book of Proverbs. I don't want to teach them Proverbs as merely a long list of do's and don'ts. I don't want it to be a moralistic lesson. I want to teach them Proverbs in the context of the story of redemption, with Christ as center, wisdom incarnate.

That's why I am excited that Marty Machowski wrote Wise Up: Ten-Minute Family Devotions in Proverbs. It's a family devotional suitable for elementary age children. It teaches Proverbs through a Christ-centered lens. There are 12 weeks of devotions, with 5 days of devotions for each week. Each day has a passage to read, a devotional that unpacks the concept, questions to discuss, and a prayer topic. Each week also includes a song or activity to do together as a family.
If you've read any of Mary Machowski's other books, you'll not be disappointed with this one. It is Christ centered, easy to read and understand, and the perfect length for 5-10 year old children to listen to. Wise Up: Ten-Minute Family Devotions in Proverbs points to Christ as the truly wise One, who has succeeded where we cannot.
"Jesus is the living Word who came down from heaven. When reading Proverbs, keep in mind the truth that Jesus is the Word. Jesus shows us God. For example, when we read, "Obey my words. Store up my commands inside you" (Proverbs 7:1 NIrV), we need to remember that Jesus is God's Words and our greatest treasure. Remembering this helps us to think correctly about how to make the wisdom of Proverbs part of our everyday lives. In Proverbs we don't only have good advice, we have Jesus who is perfect Wisdom." (p. 60).

This devotional does not go through the entire book of Proverbs, rather it unpacks specific ones, particularly those that apply to children: obedience, honesty, diligence, love, friendship. After using this devotional, it might be good to follow up by reading the book of Proverbs together and then discussing it, using what your children learned from the book. In addition, Sovereign Grace Music has developed songs to go along with the book, accessible from their website.

The book of Proverbs is rich with wisdom and direction for life in this fallen world, wisdom our children need. But as Marty Machowski encourages, we ought to "enjoy all of the practical direction in Proverbs, but remember, don't try this without turning to Jesus for forgiveness, help, and direction. Jesus lives in the hearts of his people, empowering them to become like him, the wisest King of all."  

I'm excited to give away two copies of Wise Up! Enter below. US residents only.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my review. I am a member of the Amazon Affiliates program and links to books in this post are connected to my affiliates account with Amazon.com.