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Bethany Torode

The Soul of Sex

Do we need Christian sex manuals?

It may have been Victorian prudishness, although I was looking forward to lovemaking and had enjoyed a number of open discussions with my fiancé. Or maybe it was my romantic sensibilities. But when someone gave me the classic evangelical sex guide Intended for Pleasure, I could skim only a few pages before setting it aside.

Looking at similar books (Tim and Beverly LaHaye's The Act of Marriage, Dr. Cliff and Joyce Penner's The Gift of Sex) confirmed my dislike of the genre. When I was engaged, the notion of having a Christian sex manual in my bedroom seemed analogous to landing on a beautiful deserted island, only to be met on shore by a previous explorer with a detailed map. I didn't want to read the books because I didn't want to kill the joy of discovery.

Now that I've been married a few years, and have also listened to the struggles of married friends, I've mellowed out a little. I see the need for Christian sex therapy, and I respect the courage of those authors who have braved offending the cba market by writing about sex.

Still, most of the evangelical sex guides lack soul. They focus mainly on technique (at times reading like Cosmo columns with Bible verses tacked on) at the expense of the deeper realities of which sexuality is an expression. I doubted that any such book could aptly capture the meaning of lovemaking—until I read When Two Become One, by Christopher and Rachel McCluskey.

The McCluskeys understand and speak to the inextricable connection between body and spirit. "There is a world of difference between having sex and truly making love," they write. "The phrases are used interchangeably and, indeed, the acts themselves are the same. But the spirit of making love is entirely different from simply having sex."

They view sex as a form of communication, an exchange between persons (hence the term "intercourse"). So it's natural that they focus on what's being communicated. It's at this deeper level, they contend, that most sexual problems and frustrations ...

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