Book Review: Holy Sexuality And The Gospel

Holy Sexuality And The Gospel:  Sex, Desire, And Relationships Shaped By God’s Grand Story, by Christopher Yuan

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Multnomah/Waterbrook Press.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

I greatly appreciated the perspective of this author in dealing with a matter of considerable importance and difficulty in our contemporary world, especially within contemporary Christianity, but this is the sort of book that I hesitate to recommend because a lot of people are not going to like what it has to say.  The author has previously written about his own life story, which involved coming out of the closet, going to prison for dealing drugs, and converting to Christianity while dealing with being HIV+.  This book springs from his previous work (which I must admit I am not very familiar with) in that it expands upon the idea of holy sexuality, which is the author’s expression for the Bible’s high moral demands of chastity outside of monogamous marriage between a man and a woman as being the biblical standard in such matters.  As someone who writes from time to time about the issue of singleness and holiness [1], this book affirms my own views with regards to sexuality, even if it comes from a somewhat different life experience than my own.

This short book of about 200 pages (not including the study guide and acknowledgement and notes at the end) is divided into twenty short chapters, and the author wastes no time making his point of view and experience known to the reader.  After a foreword, the author begins by talking about the issue of sexuality framed by the narrative of scripture (1) before pointing out that sexuality should not be the identity of believers, whatever it is (2).  The author talks about the importance of the image of God that humanity bears (3) and the imprint of sin upon people in the context of the fall (4).  The author talks about the importance of anthropology (5) as well as the definition of holy sexuality (6).  After that the author thoughtfully discusses temptations (7) and examines the anatomy of desire from beginning to ending (8).  The author critically deals with the question of sexuality (9) as well as looks at the biblical covenant of marriage (10).  There is after this, quite naturally, a chapter on the theology of marriage (11) and a couple of chapters that deal with singleness (12, 13), before the author discusses the spiritual family (14) that should exist in the church.  The author discusses sanctification (15), the good fruit of repentance (16), and compassion as the only way forward in dealing with the controversies of our times (17).  The author closes the book with chapters on outreach to those struggling with sexual matters (18), how to respond when a friend opens up with their struggles or questions (19), and how our discipleship in Jesus Christ grounds us in a new identity other than sinner (20).

There are a few things one should know before reading this book to have an idea about where the author is coming from.  Besides his own experience within the gay community, something he writes quite a bit about, the author is a severe Augustinian with very strong views about original sin.  In reading this book, I was struck by the fact that the author could offend both by his strong insistence that our desires and longings as human beings have been twisted by the fall of man and also that Christians (and Christian churches) need to do a better job of appreciating singleness as well as conducting outreach to those mired in sin.  The author’s message is not likely to be a popular one either among those who pervert the Gospel to deny the reality of sin or for those who make hay out of condemning people for their sins, but for those who can appreciate the author’s strong stance on holiness with regards to the biblical standards of proper sexuality and who have a sense of compassion towards struggling sinners in general, this book has a lot to offer.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, Love & Marriage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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