Every time a book comes out about Christianity and sexuality, I read it. (Well, I have not yet gotten to Rob Bell’s Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality, but it is on my list.) The Church, in all of its multidenominational glory, seems always to be struggling with defining and controlling sexuality, and sexuality keeps rearing its head and refusing to be defined or controlled.
The thesis of most of these books (especially those directed to young Christians) is that sexuality only really counts if it is expressed in the context of marriage and that any sex outside of marriage should cause a person to feel ashamed. None of them explore sexuality and spirituality in a curious, non-judgmental way.
Lara Blackwood Pickrel and Heather Godsey’s new book, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God! Young Adults Speak out about Sexuality and Christianity, is wonderful simply because sexuality isn’t debated. The collection of essays inside this book are all first person accounts of young adults and their thoughts about sexuality. Whether ruminating on the “hook-up” culture of college, a coming-out experience, or a young married couple’s struggle with infertility, these essays are searingly honest. These essays are not prescriptive, but descriptive. They invite a conversation, rather than telling you how God feels about each sexual act. One essay, of particular interest to me as a minister wondering how to discuss sexuality with her congregation, reflects on the writer’s very positive experience with a childhood camp that used the “Eighters’ Method” of sex education. From the author’s account, this method seems to use the ultimate practical and non-manipulative blend of frank information about sex and understanding of human beings as spiritual creatures.
I left the book feeling unsatisfied, though, only because I wish the publisher had invited them to do a series of books. I did not want the book to end! I wanted a book full of essays about dating, and another book full of essays about being gay in the church, and a third book full of essays about the struggles and joys of starting (or trying to start) young families. For that matter, how about another book filled with essays about dealing with sexual abuse and how it has an impact on one’s spirituality? Each essay was so good, it left me wanting more like it. I wanted to hear a multitude of conversations around each topic, because each was so captivating.
Oh God, Oh God, Oh God!: Young Adults Speak Out about Sexuality and Christian Spirituality is a great, quick read that opens many great questions and conversations about its subject matter. This book would be great to read with a college or twenty-something group, or even a mature group of high school students.