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In Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire, Jennifer Wright Knust writes:

“Whatever I am teaching…I usually begin by asking participants what they wish the bible said about the topic at hand…Whatever we wish for, I point out, probably can be found somewhere in the Bible, which is why it is so important to admit that we have wishes, whatever they may be. We are not passive recipients of what the Bible says, but active interpreters who make decisions about what we will believe and what we will affirm. Admitting that we have wishes, and that our wishes matter, is therefore the first step to developing an honest and faithful interpretation.” page 241.

There are extremists on both sides of the traditional family values debate that make most Christians roll their eyes and groan. Certainly they are bringing their “wishes” to the biblical text and using them as a weapon for their particular side of the debate. Knust takes the complicated book called the Bible and shows that, while it is an excellent guide for life and sexuality in modern society, it is not an exact rule book for sex and desire and cannot be used as such.

The topics of discussion are: the Bible and the joy of sex, biblical marriage, evil impulse (disordered and ordered desire), sexual politics, strange flesh, and bodily parts (should be entitled bodily fluids). While I do not agree with many of the things the author asserts, she is correct that we need to have a serious look at where our Scriptural support comes from for our particular viewpoint. Too often our modern sexual perspective is projected back onto the ancient texts and societal views, leading to misinterpretation.

At many points I found the book read like a textbook and could be difficult for many new Christians to follow. Some theories and arguments raised might cause problems for some readers, rather than just provoking further questions about sex and desire. The extensive endnotes and bibliography provide an excellent resource for further study.

I believe the author has brought her wishes to this book as a response to some who are out of balance.

“Those who attempt to belittle or demean a class of people, denying them rights on the basis of an unexamined interpretation of a few biblical passages, are expressing not God’s will but their own limited human perspective, backed up by a shallow and self-serving reading of the biblical text” p 247-248

In parts, I found her discussion a little over-the-top, even extreme. It may be warranted, but somehow I think not.

I think Knust has brought out some interesting theoretical issues that need to be discussed from a modern perspective, but the book could have served better by presenting practical conclusions for healthy Christian sexuality and marriage.

I give this book 2 stars out of 5.

I received this book free from Hachette Book Group.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.