I hope that title grabbed your attention. I will never be over click-bait titles 🙂
My Story Behind the Book Review
We are currently in our book review series. Which is really exciting and also horrifying to me. Exciting because I love to read. Horrifying because I have a really hard time finishing books. So disclaimer: I started reading this book exactly a year ago, loaned it to my cousin for like 6 months, and then let it sit on the shelf for a bit because I had started three other books during the time my cousin had it.
One of the reasons I really love the book that I am about to review is because the author is not cookie-cutter. She gives a brief autobiography in the beginning of the book explaining her path to Christianity and all of the bumps along the way, which I will not spoil so that you can read it and build respect for her as well. I respect Lauren Winner as an author, a person, a Christian, and a theologian. She has contributed to many different books but the one I will be reviewing is written by her and it is called Real Sex: the Naked Truth about Chastity.
I tend to start books and then either stop when I get bored, another book comes along that someone wants my immediate opinion on, or something grabs my attention and I want to think about it before pressing forward. The chapter that made me hit the pause button on this book is the title of this blog: Chapter 3: Communal Sex Or, Why Your Neighbor has Any Business Asking You What You Did Last Night. Intriguing…
You are Your Brother’s Keeper
The title of this chapter reminds me of a concept I get stuck on from Genesis chapter 4, the story where Cain kills Abel. After Cain kills Abel, because the Lord likes Abel’s offering better, he is asked by God, “Where is Abel, your brother?” He said “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Which is essentially a concept throughout the entire Bible.) And the answer is yes. Yes, you are.
Are you responsible for your brother (or sister’s) sins? No. Is it your job or life work to keep them from sin and temptation? No, that is impossible. Is it your job to be an accountability partner? To advise and be with them in fleeing temptation? In yelling encouraging words as you run towards Jesus together? Absolutely!
Lauren addresses the idea of the body of Christ and it’s call to accountability so well in this chapter.
“But the Bible tells us to intrude – or rather, the Bible tells us that talking to one another about what is really going on in our lives is in fact not an intrusion at all, because what’s going on in my life is already your concern; by dint of the baptism that made me your sister, my joys are your joys and my crises are your crises. We are called to speak to one another lovingly, to be sure, and with edifying, rather than gossipy or hurtful, goals.” (pg 52)
Winner elaborates that this kind of accountability and community applies not just to our sex lives as single adults but our marriages, our financial lives, our schedules, and our daily choices. We cannot do life on our own. God didn’t make us to. And I believe that the sooner we stop trying, the sooner our individual lives will change for the better, as well as, I can imagine, the church as a body of believers.
true for Singles and Married, Too
In the previous excerpt, Winner mainly addresses single Christians in their pursuit of holistic holy living. But an individualistic view of sin affects married sex too.
“Enter Wendell Berry, who suggests that marital sex ought not be an individual project at all. In a rich domestic context, sex is not about individual desires that happen to be neatly matched, but is rather an embodied way of entering into community with one’s spouse and of enacting God’s love” (55).
Having such an individualistic view of sex not only hurts the family of Christ, it affects our marriages as well.
Go, Find Your People, and be Accountable
I believe we need to bring loving and faithful accountability back into the church. And it starts with ourselves. It starts with being willing to take a step of vulnerability towards the members of our church family instead of away. And I will be the first to admit I am not good at being vulnerable. It’s something that does not come naturally to me, and I find it hard and painful. But in addition to being those things, it is also necessary for healing, reconciliation, and sanctification.
Accountability with vulnerability comes in sharing a piece of us that is not perfect and needs help. Not advice, not out-of-context-scripture, but daily check-ins. Find your people, get real with them, and scream encouraging and faith-producing words to each other as we all run towards Jesus together.