I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Authentic Human Sexuality: An Integrated Christian Approach was written by Judith K. Balswick and Jack O. Balswick.
The synopsis says, “Now this third edition features updated theological and social science research, insights from current neuropsychological evidence, and an expanded biblical model of authentic sexual relationships, along with updated discussion of sexual minorities, same-sex attraction, and LGBTQ issues.” I have not read the first two editions, so I can’t tell you what all has changed.
My first impressions: The cover is so pretty. I’m always looking for books on sexuality in hopes of orthodoxy and proper hermeneutics. I was really excited to read and share this book on my Instagram, and with my friends and family. It inspired so many polls.
This book is very easy to read and understand! The length is less than 300 pages, and it is broken up into three parts: The Formation of Sexuality, Authentic Sexuality, and Inauthentic Sexuality.
“Our foundational belief that we are created in the Image of God requires a careful understanding of the Scriptures for wisdom and direction and how we live our lives as sexual beings.”
In The Formation of Sexuality, the authors talk about a wide range of topics. They start off with how God created us to be sexual beings and intends for our sexuality to be genuine, believable, and a trustworthy part of ourselves. In the second chapter, they talk about sexuality in a sociocultural context, and how sexual liberation has turned sex into a glorified object devoid of meaning, personal commitment, and intimacy.
In the third and fourth chapter, the Balswicks talk about sexuality and gender and drop a lot of stats and research. In the fifth chapter the Balswicks discuss LGBTQ+ and the liberal views. If you’re curious about their views on LGBTQ+, here’s a quote:
“In our view, Scripture seems consistently to refer to marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, leading us to uphold the heterosexual union as God’s original intended design for humankind…. Yet, we support our gay friends and family member who choose to commit themselves to lifelong, monogamous marital union in the belief that this is God’s best for them. They do so in the belief that it reflects an authentic sexuality that is congruent with themselves and with Scripture, and seek to serve God and each other in a faithful, committed, covenant relationship before God.” (page 84)
The sixth chapter begins the part on Authentic Sexuality. This chapter goes over relationships, how sexuality is an integral part of being human, and how a divine purpose in being created as sexual beings draws us into meaningful and satisfying relationships with others.
The seventh chapter is one of the chapters I was most interested in as a single person. I appreciated the authors saying, “Single persons are no less whole because they are unmarried…”
The authors list off questions to ask if you’re in a relationship (like are you doing things for your ego or love)… Then the authors talked about singles and masturbation. The authors even say that celibacy does not me sexual inactivity. (wut?)
There were a lot of things in this chapter (well, the entire book, tbh) that really surprised me. For example, the authors view on masturbation… Most orthodox Christians believe masturbation is a sexual sin because you can’t do it without lusting after someone.
There were some parts that mentioned childhood and sibling sexual exploration and masturbation that I forgot to mark and can’t find. I really wanted to quote (if I ever find them, I’ll update this)… Anyways, here’s a quote from a section on masturbation.
“Masturbation and lust distinction. The Bible is silent on masturbation, but not silent on sexual sin. The realities of sexual sin, such as the use of internet pornography, which becomes a compulsion, is a problem. Jesus addresses the issue of lust in Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it as said ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say you you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (RSV) Jesus does not condemn being attracted, sexually aroused, or even having sexual thoughts about a person. Rather, Jesus is warning that lusting after a certain person sets one on a potential path of committing adultery. Fantasy can be used to increase responsiveness in the relationship, or it can become a substitute for unmet needs.
Lust need not be equated with fantasy. Fantasy allows us to imagine God-given dreams and goals.” (page 126)
From there, the book had topics like premarital cohabitation, marital sexuality, then it moves into Inauthentic Sexuality such as infidelity, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, rape, porn and erotica, and sexual addiction.
The chapter on sexual harassment had a great quote:
“The Bible further teaches that both male and female are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), in Christ there is neither male nor female (Gal 3:28), and followers of Christ are to be in mutual submission to one another (Eph 5:21) instead of lording it over one another (Mt 20:25-27). Sexual harassment denies the image of God in the other, negates out oneness in Christ, and involves an abuse of power; therefore, the Christian community must actively combat it, for when one member suffers, all suffer together (1 Cor. 12:26). (page 194)
All the chapters are packed full of research and statistics, and some stories. I really enjoyed reading the stats, they were probably my favorite part of the book.
In the chapter on porn and erotica, the authors said:
“Second, it is important to respect our Christian liberties when viewing erotica. Once again we refer to the 1 Corinthians 6:12 passage about Christian liberties: ‘I can do anything I want to if Christ has not said no’ (LB). Although this principle may feel uncomfortable to some, it is important not to judge another’s actions where Scripture’s teachings are not absolute. In addition, honest discernment is helping in discriminating between the things that direct us in God’s way, and those that do not.
Third, the effects of erotica are dependent on the context of one’s situation. Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 6:12, ‘But some of these things aren’t good for me. Even if I am allowed to do them, I’ll refuse to [do so] if I think they might get such a grip on me that I can’t easily stop when I want to’ (LB). Paul’s use of but qualifies freedom in Christ… Paul is not saying that ‘these things’ are not good, but that they are not good for him.
For the Christian, ‘these things’ may include erotic material. It is a strong possibility that Paul was specifically addressing the issue of erotica. In the following verse, Paul writes, “But it is not true that the body is for lust” (1 Cor 6:13 NEB). According to Paul, certain types of erotica may not be wrong in and of themselves. However, the context of the erotica can determine whether erotic material is healthy or unhealthy.” (page 235)
My final thoughts on the book… I’m disappointed. I went into this book with such high expectations.
I’m a conservative/orthodox Christian (who was once a green haired liberal feminist SJW with hairy pits on Tumblr), so obviously I don’t agree with the Balswick’s. Their hermeneutics are terrible, and I found them very unbiblical at times. There were some topics— like small children masturbating, and briefly mentioning but not condoning siblings touching each other— that were just… weird.
I recommend reading this because the statistics are interesting. It’s also important to read outside your theological views. For further reading on sexuality, singleness, and things of that sort from a orthodox/conservative view I recommend:
- Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry
- Joyfully Spreading the Word: Sharing the Good News of Jesus (Rosaria Butterfield has a chapter in this on LGBTQ+, she also has books on her life before Christ, and many interviews… Which I’ve included one below.)
- 7 Myths about Singleness by Sam Allberry
- Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart by Kristen Clark and Bethany Beal
- The Heart of Singleness by Andrea Trevenna
- Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken by David Powlison
If you or someone you know is struggling with a porn addiction, check out the website Fight the New Drug.
Take the time to watch these: