Focus

I would recommend Caroline J. Simon’s “Bringing Sex into Focus: The Quest for Sexual Integrity.” I was provided a copy of the book in a special pre-release directly from IVP Academic for review purposes. You can pre-order a paperback copy for under $11 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Bringing-Sex-into-Focus-Integrity/dp/0830836373/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329781834&sr=8-1) or directly from the publisher at http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=3637.

I am a bit disappointed with her chapter dedicated to homosexuality. Though this book is largely an ethical and philosophical study, this particular chapter seemed to walk a strange tightrope rather than ask the more direct biblical passages as well as the difficult methodical questions (such as, “How is Christ calling the church to repsond to this community of persons?”).

That being said, her chapter on Sex as a Commodity was a valuable one. She writes, “Sex always expresses something, and what it expresses in pornography subordination of women. Pornography doesn’t just mirror this inequality – it is an active agent in the creation of the subordination of women. MacKinnon claims that ‘what pornography DOES goes beyond its content: it eroticizes hierarchy; it sexualizes inequality. It makes dominance and submission into sex” (149).

She goes on to write, “Pornography enlists its consumers to engage, over and over, in having ‘sex with another without having to directly interact with, or be accountable to, the sexual other.’ Pornography teaches them to expect that women want to be mere objects of someone else’s arousal. Consequently, the use of pornography is rehearsal for sexual narcissism. What we rehearse over and over affects who we become. What we risk becoming through the routine consumption of pornography is a less than fully human sexual being” (151).

Maybe this is one reason that the Apostle Paul once proposed, “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of just like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you: (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, ESV).

The author’s answer to sexual immorality is to respond with justice and compassion. She suggests, “Justice, when exercised with regard to our sexuality, helps us do more than avoid adultery and date rape. Justice helps us recognize when flirtation has escalated to seduction and when ‘consent’ had been secured by manipulation or wheedling. Mutual respect helps us recognize that what goes on sexually between consenting adults can at times be mutually exploitive. Two people exercising mutual respect will refrain from becoming ‘friends with benefits’ because they realize that providing each other with a convenient means for satisfying sexual hunger cheapens them both. ‘Friendship with benefits’ is not friendship PLUS, but rather a friendship that has fallen short of the respect that friends owe one another and their friendship” (162).

Likewise, she writes, “Compassion, when exercised with regard to our sexuality, prevents us from acting as if enticing the sexual desires of others when they cannot ethically be satisfied is ‘just having a good time.’ Consideration reminds us that our quest for sexual integration is a corporate matter and that how we dress and who and how we touch can hinder others in their quest. Compassion insures us from enjoying pornography by helping us see that the actors are themselves real human beings who are someone’s daughter or son” (162).

Official Book Description: n a culture that includes sex in everything from advertising to climbing the corporate ladder, it’s easy to feel fuzzy about the true purpose and place of sexuality. In this book philosopher and ethicist Caroline J. Simon identifies six “lenses” through which people understand sex and sexuality: covenantal, procreative, expressive, romantic, power and “plain sex.” Guided by a virtue ethic, she applies those lenses to a variety of sexual scenarios, from flirtation and desire to marital sexuality, helping us to see what filters we run issues of sexuality through and how, properly ordered and weighted, they can help us achieve sexual integrity. Here is a book for anyone interested in developing a holistic, biblical sexual ethic that brings into focus the bewildering array of cultural sexual presentations we’re surrounded by every day.

Official Author Biography: Caroline J. Simon (Ph.D., University of Washington) is the John and Jeanne Jacobson professor of philosophy and interim dean of social sciences at Hope College. Her primary teaching fields include ethics, history of ethics and interdisciplinary humanities. Simon is the author of Introduction to Ethics (Rowman & Littlefield), The Disciplined Heart (Eerdmans), and coauthor of Can Hope Endure? and Mentoring for Mission both from Eerdmans.

Focus

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