Authentic Human Sexuality: An Integrated Christian Approach, 2nd Edition. Judith K. Balswick and Jack O. Balswick. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
Current statistics are showing that roughly three out of four single adults will engage in sexual intercourse before they reach age 20, about 50 percent of couples cohabit before marriage, and about one-fourth of men and 15 percent of women engage in extramarital intercourse. Christians are not exempt from these statistics and are often aligned one-for-one with the culture in terms of these activities.
The Balswicks in Authentic Human Sexuality engage the current realities of our culture today as they boldly write about the topic of human sexuality. They take an approach that is quite refreshing as they carefully weave scholarly work from the disciplines of theology, sociology and psychology with an uncompromising biblical Christian worldview. It is rare that we see a balanced approach to these disciplines without compromising a biblical voice, but this book has done an eloquent job of walking that tight rope.
While the book does not intend nor become mired in deep scholarly discourse, it does a fine job of bringing out critical implications from multiple viewpoints. When looking at theological differences on key texts, the authors point out differing perspectives but avoid using judgmental language and confusing arguments. They always maintain a devotion to living as a committed Christian. They do this through identifying a model of human sexuality they call “Authentic Sexuality.”
They define authentic human sexuality as that which “brings authenticity to ourselves and our relationships as it reflects God’s divine intention for who we are and how we are to behave as sexual relational beings.” They further the discussion as they explore God’s design for helpful positive relationships and look at the tough issues that tear down relationships (referring to this as inauthentic sexuality). The book approaches what are often seen as taboo topics with sensitivity and directness, providing clear insight.
The first section of the book addresses the origins and formation of sexuality. The second section explores authentic sexuality and God’s design for sexuality, addressing issues of singleness, marriage, premarital cohabitation, and extramarital sex. The third section digs into issues surrounding inauthentic sexuality, unpacking the issues of harassment, abuse, rape/sexual violence, pornography, and sexual addiction. A fourth and final section speaks to our society and how we might consider a model of a sexually authentic society. Marriage, singleness, cohabitation, extramarital sexuality, masturbation, and homosexuality are all explored throughout the text with a clear, balanced approach to seeking understanding through exploration of Scripture and evidenced-based research. The reader is provided with useful information throughout the text, and yet is left with an openness to engage further questions around each issue surrounding sexuality.
I would highly recommend the text as an introductory study of sexuality. It would be useful for churches, schools, church professionals, parents, and anyone wanting to explore a better understanding of a Christian integrative view of human sexuality. The book provides insightful and thoughtful information that challenges and stimulates thinking through consideration of evidenced-based research without compromising the truth of Scripture or condemning the individual with misplaced judgmental language.