Recent Reads: Real Sex by Lauren Winner

What the book's about: Lauren Winner's Real Sex is a book that talks openly and honestly about sex, confronting the lies both our culture and the church tell about it. It also explores the discipline of chastity. 

Why I read this book: As a high school youth pastor, sex is always something that teens want to discuss. When we last discussed this two years ago, my curriculum felt dated so I decided to overhaul it. I read Real Sex in preparation for doing just that.

My favorite quotes from the book: 

- "As the church, we need to ask whether the starting point for a scriptural witness on sex is the isolated quotation of 'thou shalt not', or whether a scriptural ethic of sex begins instead with the totality of the Bible, the narrative of God's redeeming love & humanity's attempt to reflect that through our institutions and practices."   

- “Life lived inside the contours of God's law humanizes us and makes us beautiful.”  

- "There would be a lot fewer divorces in the church if married Christians exposed their domestic lives, their fights and tensions & squabbles, to loving wisdom, advice and sometimes rebuke from their community." 

- “Sex is meant to unite two people, it is meant to lead to children and it is meant to recall, and even reenact the promise that God makes to us and that we make to one another in the marriage vow – that is, we promise one another fidelity, and God's Spirit promises a presence that will uphold us in our radical and crazy pledge of lifelong faithfulness.”  

- "The prospect of procreation reconfigures unity, forcing the couple out of themselves, out of potentially suffocating & selfish oneness, & toward another - toward a stranger, a neighbor, a baby whom they might welcome into their home. When procreation is possible, unitive sex is fruitful beyond simply the couple themselves."   

- “We reinvent ourselves and our narratives when we try a new look. So the question for Christians is not an absolute one about skirt length, but rather something about communication. What stories do we want to tell ourselves and others through our choice of clothing?” 

- “Rather than spending our unmarried years stewarding and disciplining our desires, we have become ashamed of them.”  

- "In erring on the side of purity, we seem to have created a culture of profound anxiety, which itself can form us in a distorted sexuality." 

- “That people have sex outside marriage is understandable; we fornicate for the same reason we practice idolatry. Idolatry carries in it the seed of a good impulse – the impulse to worship our Maker. Idolatry is that good impulse wrongly directed to disastrous ends. Like idolatry, fornication is a wrong reflection of a right creational impulse. We were made for sex. And so premarital sex tells a partial truth; that's why it resonates with something. But partial truths are destructive.”  

Who I'd recommend this book for: Those who are committed to chastity but frustrated by the church's teaching on sex

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

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