As has been reported in many news outlets, Reverend(used improperly) Bromleigh McCleneghan has authored a book (Good Christian Sex) that claims sex outside of marriage is both biblical and holy.
While I am sure it would make a great post to discuss the topic in depth, I am going to have to read the book first. I do not feel like I can offer a critique unless I’ve read the material. Be looking for that soon in our Book Reviews section here at DOTB. Also feel free to submit your own. However, I do want to list some Bible verses that appear to promote purity.
Now, lets take a look at the feedback the public has given so far and some typical Christian thinking.
Praises for “Good Christian Sex“
“McCleneghan offers ways to rethink biblical passages and find a compromise so that faith and embracing human sexuality don’t have to be mutually exclusive.” — Publishers Weekly
“McCleneghan offers a provocative alternative to the tired conversations about sex in Christian culture. Read Good Christian Sex if you desire a broader, practical conversation about sex, and a redemptive way of living out intimacy in all our relationships.” — Rev. Mihee Kim-Kort, author of Yoked: Stories of a Clergy Couple in Marriage, Ministry, and Family
“Good Christian Sex is an important corrective to the unhealthy ways we imagine bodies, pleasure, and sin. Our conceptions of sexuality are mostly tied up in the traditions of religion, and Bromleigh is a wonder at untying difficult knots. I will be passing this along to friends.” — Rev. Julian “J.Kwest” DeShazier, Senior Minister at University Church Chicago, Adjunct Professor at University of Chicago Divinity School and at McCormick Theological Seminary
“McCleneghan might surprise you. She’s like an uncommonly wise, witty, and faithful big sister, telling you just enough of her story to help you figure out the contours of your own. I can’t imagine a more liberating invitation for Christians to receive the good and gracious gift of sexuality.” — Katherine Willis Pershey, Associate Minister of First Congregational Church and author of Any Day a Beautiful Change and Very Married: Field Notes on Love & Fidelity
“In seminary, a professor asked where we’d learned about sex. Nobody in that group of churchy young adults mentioned church. McClenehgan has written the book we’ve needed all along; it’s funny, honest, vulnerable, intelligent and challenging, and loving. It’s for friends, lovers, partners, spouses, pastors, parents and very likely, you.” — Rev. Heidi Neumark, Trinity Lutheran Church, and author of Hidden Inheritance: Family Secrets, Memory, and Faith
“Good Christian Sex shows what openminded, sex-positive encounters with the holy can and should look like. McCleneghan’s tour de force is a reckoning with Christian tradition and an absolute delight to read. A must-read for anyone who wants to engage their heart, soul, and bodies.” — Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, author of The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism
“I’ve read books with “sex” and “Christian” in the title before and know the formula–dish out mortal shame, add fanciful gender stereotypes, and mix in some unrealistic puritanical expectations. But McCleneghan defied my worries with Good Christian Sex and left me with a faithful celebration of intimacy and pleasure.” — Carol Howard Merritt, Pastor and Columnist for the Christian Century
“McCleneghan explores topics of sexuality and nudity and looks at how the Bible and Christian traditions have informed beliefs bout desire, premarital sex and sexual practices.” — Chicago Tribune
“When we attempt to repress or sublimate our desires and human needs, accept the shame or condemnation of our humanity as embodied creatures, this does not connect us with God. In fact, this is when we begin to run into trouble, McCleneghan explains.” — Beliefnet
Passages that speak of sex outside of marriage are as follows:
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (1 Cor 6:18)
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, (Gal 5:19)
They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. (Ephesians 4:19)
But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband (1 Cor 7:2)
but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood (Acts 15:20)
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thes 4:3)
These are just a few verses on the subject. Some would note that sex outside of marriage was not the same as sexual immorality but I disagree. Why would God ban even lusting after a woman and have a problem with temple prostitutes if sex was holy outside of marriage. The truth is that at best one might be able to twist the Bible to imply that sexual immorality does not apply to singles but no where in the Bible is sex outside of marriage every encouraged…. ever.
Simply stating that “the Bible doesn’t condemn it” is not the same as “God said it’s ok so go do it.”
Church on Sex
“Sex is not evil; it is a gift from our God. But it can become a hindrance to someone who desires to devote all his strength to a life of prayer…Concerning sex, we must strive for self-control. St. Paul tells us to seek peace and sanctification, without which it is impossible to see the Lord. Let us pursue holiness, then, in order to attain the Kingdom of Heaven.” -St. John Chrysostom
“Only the lifeless are exempt from the battles of lust. We know, then, that the struggle of flesh and the spirit is extremely useful to us..to gain self-control and mastery over our desires.” -St. Cassian the monk
“Concerning your body, and the passions which afflict its members..reverence the honor with which God has dignified the body, and do not reduce it to the vile conditions of sinful lust.” -St. John Chrysostom
“Christians practice self-control and exercise continence, observe monogamy, guard chastity, and wipe out all injustice, destroying sin with its root.” – St. Theophilus of Antioch
“In the sixteenth year of the age of my flesh…, the madness of raging lust exercised its dominion over me (through sexual desire), and my invisible enemy trod me down and seduced me.
In my sexual involvements, I drew my shackles along with me, terrified to have them taken off me. What made me a slave to lust was the bait of satisfying and insatiable momentary urge.” -St. Augustine of Hippo
“Living a chaste Christian life is sometimes more difficult than suffering a martyr’s death.” -St. Mark the Ascetic
“The princes of evil have blinded me with their passions and by their cunningness they have robbed me of the beauty of my youth. What can I do, now that I have lost my purity? I will cry out to Christ, that He might return my beauty to me- and then will the evil ones be ashamed.
My Savior cries out to me, to His disciple: do not despair of they salvation; I will restore thee and forgive thee thy sins. I have found thee and I will not leave thee; for I have redeemed thee with my very own Blood.
Cry out, O sinner, with all your might, and spare not your throat; for your Lord is merciful and loves those who repent. As soon as you return, your Father will come out aforehand to meet you. He will slaughter the fatted calf, clothe you in a fine robe, and rejoice in you.” -St. Ephraim the Syrian
“[A]ll other frenzies of the lusts which exceed the laws of nature, and are impious toward both [human] bodies and the sexes, we banish, not only from the threshold but also from all shelter of the Church, for they are not sins so much as monstrosities” -Tertullian
[Featured image from Noel Celis / Getty-AFP]