Sex, Jesus and the Conversations the Church Forgot [Book Review]

If you’re uncoordinated and unathletic like me, you might not think you have anything in common with Mo Isom. She’s a former all-American goalkeeper of Louisiana State University soccer team with an impressive bio and a really cool name. But wherever you are in your sin struggles, you will likely see your reflection in her mirror.

Throughout the pages of Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot, Mo is honest and raw about her sexual journey from judgmental “good girl” to promiscuous college student to faithful follower of Jesus. But it wasn’t her honesty or even her story that compelled me to keep reading.

It was the evidence of her transformation.

Her words are written with an obvious depth of conviction, tested strength, and sober joy. Because she isn’t the only one you’ll meet in the chapters of this book.

You’ll meet Jesus.

From “good girl” to promiscuity

Sitting in the church pew, Mo admits that she looked every part “good girl”. She wasn’t trying to lose her virginity before prom night like so many of her classmates. She didn’t even feel the need to have a boyfriend. No. She admits that it all felt beneath her. Like a judgmental prude in her ivory tower, she pompously promoted abstinence knowing she still had her own virginity vow intact. But her self-righteousness lacked the humble reverence for God’s ways. And it didn’t take long for her heart to shatter under the weight of her pride.

From secret glances at pornography and habitual masturbation to first kisses and full on make out sessions, the once black and white line of virginity became a sliding scale of gray.

“I spent years giving myself away, sexually, all while flying my virgin banner high and halfheartedly rationalizing that I still held my virginity.” (Page 41)

It was a double standard that she lived by for years, trying to protect her “virginity” while doing whatever she wanted to do. There was no purity of heart. She was more concerned with pleasing herself than pleasing God. Treating the Bible as a list of rules instead of a love letter written from her Heavenly Father, she doubted God’s goodness and forgiveness because she never bothered to get to know His heart. Feeling unloved and unwanted, her flimsy status of “good girl” quickly became uprooted.

“People pumped full of rules but robbed of guidance toward the greater why will always be dehydrated of love and afflicted with desperation, addiction, and a lack of direction in their lives.” (Page 70)

Desensitized to sexual things, addicted to porn, and showing off for any guy who wanted her to perform, she felt empty. Rather than confess, rather than stop, she protected her pride, picking up the shattered pieces of her broken heart and locking them away in silence.

Until Jesus.

From prodigal to faithful follower

She hid in the darkness of her sin until Jesus collided with her life. She’d grown up in the church, she knew the Bible stories, but finally the Holy Spirit confronted her in the darkest corners of her heart. She had nowhere to run but into His arms like the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).

He gave her the love she had been looking for all those years, and it is evident that Mo has been transformed by it. It changed her entire perspective on life, love and even sex.

“Sexual understanding above all things, is not simply about behavior modification, it’s about heart transformation” (Pg 20).

Before her transformation, Mo thought she knew a lot about sex. But, in actually, she admits that she knew nothing about sex.

Real sex, that is.

For the first time, she discovered that God designed sex as an act of worship and an intimate expression that bonds a husband and a wife in unity, devotion and surrender. That’s the kind of holistic, holy sex that she writes about in the pages of this book.

1 ) Sexuality is holistic

“Physically, sex includes a beautiful range of acts and expressions. Mentally, sex is a catalyst for the activation of unbelievably powerful neurotransmitters in our minds. Emotionally, sex is an expression of love, surrender, trust, and sacrificial service to another. And spiritually, sex is a tangler of souls, a bonding agent that leaves a permanent imprint on our hearts and our spirits.” (Page 21)

God designed sex as a holistic experience. If we “save sex for marriage” but do not give our whole life to God, we will wind up as the pretentious “good girl” that Mo once was. It only ends in half-hearted failure or begrudging misery. That’s because God doesn’t just want us to sign an abstinence pledge. When we live pure lives, we aren’t just saving something physical. We are guarding our hearts, protecting our minds, and giving God everything we have. God wants our whole life. Not just a piece of it.

2) Sexuality is as an act of worship

“We are all worshiping something.Someone. Some dream.” (pg 32)

When we choose to have sex outside of God’s design, we are ultimately worshiping ourselves. Just like Eve choosing what was best for herself, we take a bit of the proverbial apple and do whatever we want. It’s our body. We have the power to choose what we do or don’t do. Or so we think. God calls us to so much more than that. He calls us to purity. Purity is so much more than virginity. It isn’t a one time commitment. It’s a willful decision to give Him everything you have and follow Him with your whole life. When we actually want what God wants, when we love what He loves, we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice and act of worship to God instead of ourselves.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

3) Sexuality is a tool of God’s redemption

“If we are in a sexual relationship and are not willing to either marry the person or to give the relationship up, then we aren’t worthy of calling ourselves His followers, because we aren’t actually loving God with reverent, all-consuming love. In fact, if we aren’t willing to either marry the person of the give the relationship up, then by association we are willingly choosing to use the relationship sto serve our own rebellious lusts and, as a result, leading the other person into sin and separation from God to fulfill our own wants.” (Page 145)

That’s some heavy stuff. Whether single of married, we must honor God with our sexuality by bending our wills towards His.

When Mo found herself in sexual sin with her boyfriend, they could have broken up, calling their situation too hopeless for God’s redemption. But instead, they did the hard and holy work of reclaiming purity in their relationship all the way to the altar. And their love story became a beautiful story of God’s redemption.

“”Anyone who loves his father and mother, son or daughter [or boyfriend or girlfriend] more than me is not worthy of me,” Matt.10:37 [emphasis added]

From book to Bible

I finished the book knowing more about sexuality, yes. But closing this book compelled me to open another one – my Bible. And isn’t that what every Christian book should do? This story is so real, so compelling that it moves me to read the gospel story that Mo and I both share. Better yet, to live it.

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