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Monday, April 9, 2018

"Rethinking Sexuality" (Juli Slattery)

TITLE: Rethinking Sexuality: God's Design and Why It Matters
AUTHOR: Juli Slattery
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2018, (224 pages).

Gary Thomas once confessed: "One day it dawned upon me. We have been sexually discipled by the world." Indeed, we have been taken for a ride by the world. It is time to take back the reins of education to be God's people for all. It is time to renew our understanding of our calling in this world. It is time to rethink sexuality. That is the purpose of this book: Rethinking our sexuality from the ground up, beginning with our relationship with God; our honesty with self; and our relationship with others. Written for a wide group of people including parents, teachers, pastors, lay leaders, and Christians, this book is about addressing the current state of confusion surrounding sexual issues such as loneliness, shame, addiction, intimacy, disagreement, pornography, sexual abuse, cohabitation, masturbation, sexual orientation, and much more. Slattery makes the assertion that sexuality is "not a problem to be solved but a territory to be reclaimed." Thus, conventional sexual education and purity abstentions do not work. For the former, educational model tends be too reductionist. For the latter, it is to reactive to the excesses of sexuality. The author claims that the way forward is "sexual discipleship." For too long, our answers to the sexual questions of the day tend to be based on how our cultures would respond. For instance:

  • Cultural approaches to sexuality tend to be humanistic or postmodern which jettisons the notion of right and wrong; in favour of whatever we feel appropriate
  • Transgender rights insist on the freedom of experience based on a postmodern philosophy of gender identities according to what we want
  • Doing simply because everybody else is doing it!
Sexual discipleship means we exalt Christ above all, including our sexuality. Slattery gives us several reasons why we need to talk about sexuality. For individuals, we need to find hope. For churches, we need to grow up and relate to the new generation. We need not feel like Adam and Eve who were ashamed about themselves and their nakedness. Part One of the book deals with one's relationship with God. Using the 5Ps as alliteration, Slattery lists as follows:
  • The Premise: What you think about sex begins with what you believe about God.
  • The Purpose: The gospel is written within your sexuality.
  • The Problem: Someone wants to destroy holy sexuality.
  • The Pandemic: We are all sexually broken.
  • The Promise: Jesus came to redeem broken sexuality.  

Part Two is more introspective as we learn to live our beliefs. In doing so, we need to face three primary conflicts: 1) our flesh vs our spirituality; 2) Our public vs Private selves; 3) Love vs Truth. Spiritual discipleship is essentially about dealing with these conflicts so as to ensure that Christ is honoured. Part Three applies spiritual discipleship to our wider relationships: Our personal relationships and as a Church. Some of the questions she pose includes:

  • What can we do in a destructive relationship?
  • Should we attend a gay marriage ceremony?
  • What if our spouse has no desire for sex?
  • How modern TV programmes and movies affect our sexual perspectives? 
  • How do we interact with transgenders?
  • What to do with Christian leaders with moral failures?
  • ... and several more.

My Thoughts
First, this is a needed book in a culture full of confusing sexual messages and corrupt images. Hollywood and popular TV stations tend to opt for programming that appeals to the widest audiences. Their positions are are pretty much amoral. Where the money is, there they would go. After all, educating the public is not their primary responsibility. Profit making is. With the pervasiveness of the Internet, it is increasingly impossible to control what our kids and out young people see. In the past, we can switch off the TV or limit the programming through parental controls. Nowadays, even if we were to turn off our WiFi at home, children can surf the net using their cellphones and tablets running on generous data plans.

Second, sexual discipleship seems like a very big word which might scare off ordinary lay persons. This is not the style of this book. The term may look intimidating, but the contents and the way Slattery has written appeals to the general reader. In fact, she has includes a lot of her personal counseling and teaching experiences with real-life people that carries an authenticity that is beyond theory and facts. She relates well and understands the profound struggles of many.

Finally, sexual discipleship is spiritual warfare. I am grateful for Slattery's reminder of the three primary challenges of the world on the biblical perspective. One of the reasons for the lack of Christian responses to the world prescriptions for sex and sexuality is because of the lack of Christian witnesses in this area. Being Christian is not about taking the purity pledge or some abstention of sexual activity. It is about honouring God in all things we do. This book shows us exactly how to do just that. We need a biblical response more than ever. We need a more holistic view of sexuality. We need to stop letting the world lead the way in learning about sexuality.

Dr. Juli Slattery is a popular clinical psychologist, author, speaker and broadcast media professional. She is the president and co-founder of Authentic Intimacy. She hosts Java With Juli on Moody Radio, where she answers tough questions about relationships, marriage, spiritual, emotional and sexual intimacy. She has authored books such as Passion Pursuit, Finding the Hero in Your Husband, No More Headaches, and Guilt-Free Motherhood. She and her husband, Mike, have been married since 1994 and have three children.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


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

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