Let’s talk about sex

Authentic Human Sexuality, 3rd Edition, by Judith K. Balswick and Jack O. Balswick

“Sex pervades our culture, going far beyond the confines of the bedroom into the workplace, the church, and the media. Yet despite all the attention and even obsession devoted to sex, human sexuality remains confusing and even foreboding. What, after all, is authentic human sexuality?”

This is the question tackled by Judith and Jack Balswick in their updated edition of a much used college text.

This is a well-read text and that is well deserved. The authors are thorough in their approach to the issues of sexuality and it is thoroughly updated, even having a section regarding the #MeToo movement.

The authors work off this basic presupposition: “God created us as sexual beings and intends for our sexuality to be a genuine, believable, and trustworthy part of ourselves.”

The book examines three parts:

  1. The formation of sexuality.

They take a biblical look at God’s creation and the formation of sexuality. They also take in the sociocultural context, sexual identity formed in minors, and they take on LGBTQ issues.

2. Authentic sexuality.

What it means to be in true relationship. What it means to be single. They also tackle tough issues regarding premarital cohabitation and truly maximized sexuality in the context of marriage.

3. Inauthentic sexuality.

What happens when infidelity occurs? What is truly a covenant in marriage? Issues regarding sexual harassment, abuse, and rape. They examine pornography and also other sexual addictions.

The goal is thus stated: “Authentic sexuality is a longing for a rich sharing of our lives with another.” The authors work toward an authentic sexuality that is reflective of an authentic spirituality.

The social context is taken into consideration and they offer a brief history of how western culture has viewed sexuality. The move from strict “puritanical” views to very “open” views of sex has always been a challenge in the western cultures. Sexual identity is changing as well. These are tough waters to navigate.

The authors lay out the ideal of how sexual identity should be worked on in the lives of individuals, from childhood on. The family is core, then the congregation, then society.

When it comes to LGBTQ issues, the authors lay out four very broad categories that demonstrate how the American church is responding. There are the extremes of being very punitive and rejecting LGBTQ people and then be very open to every sexual idea. The “middle ground” is the tough part.

The authors work to hold to an orthodox understanding of Scripture and use that guideline to narrow the parameters of their discussion. They discuss these issues within the Christian context and not the broader cultural context. This is an area I could take a lot of time on to process in writing. They have challenged my thinking and left me with a lot to process.

The worthwhile goal of this book, and worthwhile discussion that should take place in the Church, is to see what it means in a church community to have truly authentic relationships. When families are living in healthy sexuality, the church community can have a better shot at “getting it right”. This can have a positive influence on the culture around us.

IVP Books sent me a review copy of this book. I am under no obligation to give this book a positive review.

Authentic Human Sexuality: An Integrated Christian Approach  -     By: Judith K. Balswick, Jack O. Balswick

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