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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

"Sex in a Broken World" (Paul David Tripp)

TITLE: Sex in a Broken World: How Christ Redeems What Sin Distorts
AUTHOR: Paul David Tripp
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2018, (192 pages).

It is no secret that our culture has been highly sexualized. Whether it is sexist language or sexualized commercials that depict male and female stereotypes; or scandals and news about the latest Hollywood breakups and couple hitches; there is a deep public interest and curiosity over what people do in private bedrooms. According to author and pastor Paul David Tripp, sexuality reveals the sinfulness in human beings more powerfully than any other thing. So much so that it has split communities; break apart churches; divided families; and corrupted relationships. Is there hope in the midst of such brokenness? Calling himself a "sad celebrant," he reveals the conflicted feelings and thoughts about sex in a broken world. On the one hand, he is sorry about the sad state of affairs pertaining to the way people use and abuse one another. On the other hand, he is hopeful about the promises of redemption of the world in Christ. What does it mean to live between the "already" and the "not yet?" With Christ having died for our sins at the cross, God has already won our salvation for us. Yet, we remain incomplete and imperfect. Even after the gospel has been preached, we continue to hurt one another in various ways. Sexual sins is a major part of this brokenness. What can we do about it? How do we think redemptively about sexual sins? Can marriages survive adultery? What could sexually charged individuals do with their strong sexual desires? After describing the emotional conflicts about sexuality, the author hones in on Romans 8 passage to point out the reality of the world in sin and the promises of hope in redemption. There will be temptations. There will be pitfalls. There will be hardships of different degrees. There will be suffering, one that includes sexuality as well. In this book, Tripp shows us that God's grace is often "uncomfortable grace"; "intervening grace"; "unstoppable grace"; "providing grace"; and "inseparable grace."

Many people have questions about sex and sexuality. Teens wonder about the development of their breasts and genitals. Youths ask questions about masturbation and sex. Society grapples with the issue of homosexuality and transgender inclinations. Sex scandals and assaults get reported on a daily basis. Tripp wonders why such matters are discussed so openly in public spheres but ignored in churches and Christian communities? Sometimes it does seem like Christians and the rest of the world behave like polar opposites. They talk while we shun. They make movies about it while we keep quiet about it. They express it openly while we prefer to keep it low profile. If the gospel is so powerful and redemptive, why aren't more Christians speaking out about it?

When asked about why he wrote this book, the author gave three words: "insanity, addiction, and glory." Insanity because the world we live in are not only infatuated with sexual matters, the world's expressions of sexuality reflect utter brokenness. Addiction is putting what feels good above all else. Glory is an intrinsic desire and we are called toward God's glory. All of them cannot be resolved solely on our human front, but vertical with God. In this book, Tripp covers quite a lot of ground. The list includes:
  • Debunking the secular-sacred dichotomy (necessary to keep our discussions with God in mind)
  • Asking why we tend to do wrong even when we know it is wrong
  • What truly brings us the greatest pleasure?
  • Distinguishing between "big-picture sex" and "little-picture sex"
  • That sex is more about worship than individual needs
  • Sex being based on a relationship, not self-driven desires
  • Sex about obedience to God's order, not enslavement to our broken human nature
  • Dealing with sexual struggles courageously
Why should we read this book? Let me offer three reasons.

Three Thoughts
I applaud the author for highlighting the importance of identity. His story of a poor boy spending money on ice-cream is a powerful reminder of how we could get so stuck on a certain identity, that whatever providence we have, we simply use it on present concerns without considering future hope.  Without a sense of identity, we let our circumstances dictate our future. If we are able to address this identity question, we will be looking at investment more than mere spending. In Tripp's words, "When you have confusion of identity, you tend to live with a poverty mentality, which makes you a sitting duck for sexual insanity. Only riches can deliver you from riches." If our identity is rooted in Christ, we will recognize that we are forgiven and redeemed. Here, readers can learn from someone who is able to describe what the problems are and to prescribe what we need.

Second, do not underestimate the power of addiction. Whether it is drugs or alcohol; pornography or sex; we are all susceptible to being addicted to anything. In our digital age, many people claim to be constantly connected and always on the Internet. On the surface, it may seem to be just a connection to the wider world. Underneath, there is a crying need for something deeper and more meaningful. Perhaps, addiction is a sign of that restlessness in us that can only be addressed through meaningful relationships. Being addicted can be very self-focused and selfish. When we recognize how deep we are in addiction for anything, we could make a decision about it. Carry on or change course. Tripp gives us many reasons to do the latter, by pointing out that sex is more than simply an act or pleasure. It is a way we worship. It is about relationships. It is about obedience to our divine call of God.

Third, we need books like this because we are still mired in brokenness. Deep in the heart of the writing of this book is the belief we are saved. We do not need to be enslaved on our old ways. We have been freed from the wages of sin because of Christ. The Apostle Paul's admission about inner conflicts and spiritual warfare is far more real than we could ever imagine. This world is broken but it need not stay that way. If we can extricate ourselves from the clutches of worldly desires and to escape the deceptions of this age, we are on the way to healing and wholesome living. Better still, we become an additional soldier for Christ, to help others recover and seek out God's calling for them to be holy as well. A person saved is a person won for Christ. A person won for Christ could win others for Christ. How do we be a part of the solution? Seek to help one person at a time, beginning with ourselves. Let this book arm you.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Crossway Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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