Thursday, September 13, 2007

Book News

Yesterday I finished reading Tim Alan Gardner's Sacred Sex. Overall, I would say it's a good book and worth the read.

His premise is that the sexual act is a sacred act, for two reasons. First, because it was created by God way back In the Beginning, created for the purpose of unity - taking one man and one woman and creating One. On the marriage bed, the great mystery is played out wherein two souls intertwine to become one. The second reason sex is sacred is that it is ultimately the image of Christ and His Church - the image of ultimate, sacrificial love, the truest metaphor for the organic unity of Christ indwelling his bride.

Therefore, our culture's many views on sexuality - cheap sex, hooking up, obsession with body type, clothing, and body fat count, sex as advertising ploy, sex as thrill, sex as entertainment - all these are demeaning to all that sex is supposed to mean.

However, ultimately the book is not a critique on culture. Instead, it is a roadmap to rebuilding healthy sexuality in the one place it is meant to exist - in the lifelong marriage relationship of husband and wife.

What I like most - his emphasis on the Unifying aspect of sexuality. The ultimate question to be asked in any sexual activity comes down to this - is this striving toward unity between me and my spouse? Or is it all about me, my desires, my satisfaction?

Now, the truth is, this is one of those books where I read it and say "that's all pretty simple and obvious." But then I'm reminded that 24/7 we're bombarded by messages that seek to carry us in the opposite direction, and that millions of marriages out there are struggling to survive. And if a couple (or person) came to me looking for advice in this area, I would definitely recommend this book. It's worth the read, and more people ought to read it.

I only have two criticisms:

First, the theological work is a little paltry. It could have been a lot richer, a lot deeper, a lot fuller. Gardner isn't a theologian, but he still could have plumbed the depths of the Genesis and Ephesians passages to greater levels. Perhaps consulting a theologian or two would have rounded out the work.

Second, Gardner has the annoying habit of making a point and then repeating it four or five times, as if to fill up space or reinforce his original point through repetition. In other words, he'll make a point, and then say the same thing, only with different words, about three or four more times. What I mean is, he'll make a point, and then he'll rephrase the point but say pretty much the same thing. Sometimes people make points by repeating the same point over and over again, which ends up being so much space filler. Gardner tends to state his idea, and then he'll restate the same idea numerous times, only with different words, so that it seems he's saying a lot when really it's the same thing. Sometimes Gardner gets a little repetitive.

Got it?

But those are small shortcomings to what I believe would be a very helpful resource to a lot of struggling people out there.

Now I'm off in other directions. Sara Miles' A Radical Conversion comes next. It's the story of how a lesbian left-wing atheist journalist found Jesus. Ought to be interesting, to say the least.

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