A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age
The digital revolution has ushered in a series of sexual revolutions, all contributing to a perfect storm for modern relationships. Online dating, social media, internet pornography, and the phenomenon of the smartphone generation have created an avalanche of change with far-reaching consequences for sexuality today. The church has struggled to address this new moral ecology because it has focused on clarity of belief rather than quality of formation. The real challenge for spiritual formation lies in addressing the underlying moral intuitions we carry subconsciously, which are shaped by the convictions of our age.
In this book, a fresh new voice offers a persuasive Christian vision of sex and relationships, calling young adults to faithful discipleship in a hypersexualized world. Drawing from his pastoral experience with young people and from cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines, Jonathan Grant helps Christian leaders understand the cultural forces that make the church's teaching on sex and relationships ineffective in the lives of today's young adults. He also sets forth pastoral strategies for addressing the underlying fault lines in modern sexuality.
Foreword by James K. A. Smith
1. Adjusting Our Vision: Christian Formation and Relationships in a Sexualized Age
Part 1: Mapping the Modern Sexual Imaginary
2. Seeking the Truth Within: Love, Sex, and Relationships within the Culture of Authenticity
3. Three Paths to Freedom on the Road to Nowhere: The Dead End of Modern Liberty
4. We Are What We Acquire: Consumerism as a Corrupting Dynamic
5. The Hypersexual Self: Sex and Relationships as Happiness Technologies
6. Churches without Steeples: The Loss of Transcendence and the Atomistic Worldview
Part 2: Charting a New Course for Christian Formation
7. Searching for Truth That Transforms: Introducing a Christian Social Imaginary
8. Seeing the Good Life and Becoming What We See: The Role of Vision within Sexual Formation
9. Getting to the Heart of Things: Redeeming Desire and Becoming Our True Selves
10. Living the Gospel Story: Narrative Discipleship within the Narrative Community
11. Becoming What We Do: The Formative Power of Practices
Epilogue: Melodies of Heaven
"The contemporary church has a nasty habit of hiding the most from what we so desperately need the most. There are few issues in life that confront each of us multiple times a day like human sexuality. It is not just children and adolescents who need 'the talk' or singles who need to be 'held accountable'; every person struggles with making sense of relationships, eros, and longings, emotional as well as physical. Every man and woman wrestles with the lies of sensualized culture while holding at bay the effects of pervasive isolation and intense loneliness. In Divine Sex Jonathan Grant guides us through this journey with wit, grace, and honesty while being both wholly theological and profoundly real. Let the conversation begin, for all of us."
Chap Clark, senior pastor, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, California
"This is an exceptionally important and timely book. The gap between what passes for sexual and relational wisdom in contemporary culture and what actually makes for genuine human fulfillment has opened up so quickly and grown so wide that the lives of an entire generation are sliding headlong into frustration and despair. Grant addresses the issues directly yet sympathetically, countering contemporary folly with solid data, biblical wisdom, and grace. I wish it could be made mandatory reading for the entire millennial generation. If you care about someone between the ages of 15 and 35, give them this book!"
Craig M. Gay, professor of interdisciplinary studies, Regent College, Vancouver
"Who is better practiced at living and narrating the sexually embodied good news of relationship with God and other human beings than female and male disciples of the still-incarnate Jesus of Nazareth? Would that the church could be so described. Unfortunately, our experience tells a different story, and we have little help in discerning the cultural narratives that have so profoundly misshaped us. Thankfully, in Jonny Grant we have such a helper. With well-researched pastoral truth and grace, Grant moves us beyond denial and dissonance, deception, or despair. He compassionately exposes the powerful influences that orient us away from the heart of the Christian story by disordering our desires, explores the Christian reality of our shared life as sexual human beings in communion, and encourages us toward practices that embody the wholeness of cruciform life together--and he does so with candor, wisdom, and hope. With renewed gratitude for divine sex, I give thanks for Divine Sex!"
Cherith Nordling, associate professor of theology, Northern Seminary
"In the intensely sexualized culture of the secularized West, Grant's thoughtful treatment is a valuable contribution to our understanding not just of our cultural conditioning but of God's design and the true sexual liberation we can experience as followers of Jesus."
Sam Metcalf, president, CRM-US, Fullerton, California
"This is a book that needed to be written. I pray that it will make its way into the hands of not only pastors and parents but also the wide array of those leaders who care for the body of Christ in the twenty-first century. It speaks both to those who are single and to those who are married. And it is a must-read for anyone working with young people today; it should be read by youth pastors and university chaplains as well as by student-life divisions at Christian colleges and universities. Absorbing Grant's insight, analysis, and constructive argument should not only deepen how we are talking about sex and discipleship; it should also give us new intentionality about the church as a formative community, enabling us to live into a different script that is good news--that our sexual lives are hidden with Christ in God."
James K. A. Smith (from the foreword)
Christianity Today 2016 Book Award Winner
"Grant is at his best when providing a genealogy of modern sexuality, explaining how we got here and why it matters. . . . Grant has read widely, engaging contemporary thinking about sex wherever it may be found. The book fuses insights from anthropologists, philosophers, sociologists, biblical scholars, ethicists, and neuroscientists. . . . At the same time, Divine Sex is peppered with vignettes putting a human face on the headier stuff. . . . Divine Sex is a fine book. In fact, its most significant contribution to the solution is likely its excellent framing of the problem. By providing such a thoughtful, well-rounded, and compelling account of our society's view of sex, Grant provides the resources we need to challenge, deconstruct, and ultimately subvert it."
"The church's response to the seemingly limitless trajectory of hypersexualization has been puny, negative, and ineffective. Even the books written to 'celebrate sex' often reduce it to the same terms as our culture. Divine Sex widens the frame with an incisive analysis of our present state and provides a theological map toward living fully redeemed lives in fully redeemed bodies."
Leslie Leyland Fields,
"Grant presents a wide-angled-lens account of Christian sexual ethics within the context of contemporary culture. . . . [He] writes from an acute awareness of the need for formational, rather than chiefly informational, responses to our sexual climate. . . . This is a book I've already personally recommended to several friends and acquaintances. I highly encourage you to read it too."
The Gospel Coalition
"Grant's book is deeply practical, in conversation with the realities of present-day sexuality, providing an important grounding for any conversation about a Christian understanding of human sexuality."
"In an accessible way, full of human touches, Grant takes the reader on a compelling journey, mapping the stages of separation which have disembedded sex from its original contexts. He explains how we got to the present situation and why it matters. . . . Grant displays a gripping use of metaphor, simile, and analogy to lay out his arguments and make perceptive diagnoses. . . . This is an exceptional book, addressing a largely unspoken aspect of church life, which dominates our daily lives. It is thoroughly readable and charts a new course for action. Within our hyper-sexualized society, attending to people's sexual and relational lives must be a critical and compelling part of effective discipleship."
"[An] excellent book. . . . It's a thoughtful book, a meaningful book, even a compelling book (as its subtitle claims). Why? Because Grant deeply understands both the biblical vision of sexuality and the modern cultural context in which we are seeking to live out that vision. . . . As helpful as Grant's overall vision is, the real genius of this book is in the details. A sentence here or a paragraph there will stop the reader cold and provoke an awakening of new insight. . . . If you want to talk meaningfully about sex . . . if you need to redeem your own thinking about sex . . . if you long to disciple others into a vision of Christian sexuality that's beautiful and compelling . . . you need Jonathan Grant's book on your shelf."
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