Moving beyond the deep-seated cultural feelings of shame that have long fueled the conflict between Christianity and sex—and the belief that there is only one right and valid way to practice one’s sexuality—this renowned University of Chicago pastor uses enlightening personal stories and examples from theology to show how sex is powerful and holy.
For years, Christians have been told to adhere to one singular path when it comes to sex: abstinence and purity. Yet this limited focus ignores the reality that people’s sexual and romantic lives differ widely, even among those who consider themselves devout believers. Church leaders have often refused to address the topic—or have preached in ways that are harmful to the emotional and spiritual growth of the faithful in the pews.
Pastor McCleneghan is determined to reshape the issue—and fundamentally transcend this disconnect between sexuality and spirituality that has left many Christians feeling guilty and sinful. Written in her measured, non-judgmental voice, Good Christian Sex combines humorous personal anecdotes with theological research to transform how Christians think and talk about this basic human need, offering a new understanding that reconciles human love and religious faith.
Breaking with outdated conventions, McCleneghan explains how the Bible and Christian tradition inform our beliefs about desire, pleasure, nudity, fidelity, premarital sex, and the variety of sexual practices, and encourages Christians to talk about their bodies, their sensuality, and their longings in a frank, positive, and realistic way. Warm, insightful, and honest, Good Christian Sex is a message of hope, that at last lifts the veil of shame felt by many religious people.
BROMLEIGH McCLENEGHAN is associate pastor at Union Church of Hinsdale in suburban Chicago. She is coauthor with Lee Hull Moses of Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People and her essays and articles have been published in The Christian Century, Ministry Matters, Fidelia’s Sisters, Circuit Rider, and Criterion.
Table of Contents
Introduction: On Sex and Christians 1
1 "My Favorite Feel": Pleasure as a Gift from God 17
2 Firsts: On the Whys and Wherefores of Desire 39
3 Playing Fair: The Ethics of Good Sex 67
4 Singleness, Sex, and Waiting: Theology for the Search 89
5 Naked: A Theology of Vulnerability 109
6 We Might Be Strangers: A Theology of Intimacy 131
7 History: A Theology of Exes and the Things That Once Were 155
8 Be Faithful: A Theology of Fidelity 177
9 The Avoidable and the Inevitable: Theology Around Leaving and Staying 201