Subscribe now

Just Sex: Is It Ever Just Sex?

By Guy Brandon
October 2009 | Review by John Ling

Synopsis

With conviction and pastoral sensitivity, Guy Brandon explains the strength and integrity of the Christian world-view of sex. In doing so, he also addresses the inconsistency and inadequacy of the prevailing idea that consent alone is enough to sanction a sexual relationship. Demonstrating the damage created by this approach he offers a better, more just way, which brings with it the promise of God's shalom.

  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • ISBN: 978-1844743711
  • Pages: 224
  • Price: £11.99
Buy this book »

Book Review

This book opens with four pages of glowing commendations by a dozen evangelical worthies. Is it really that good? Yes, it is good!

The author is a researcher at the Jubilee Centre in Cambridge, famous for its past campaigns, including Keep Sunday Special, handling debt, and relational order. Although the book is primarily about sex, it is the latter of these three topics that is the book’s encompassing theme. Relational order is both the mirror and antidote to our culture’s current enthusiasm for destructive sex.

All of us can (and do) bemoan society’s sexual chaos –– free condoms for children, widespread cohabitation and adultery, devaluation of marriage, and excessive media coverage. Guy Brandon rightly diagnoses these as just symptoms, while confirming the ‘me-culture’ as the real disease. Such an analysis should constrain us to seek the genuine cure.

The cure, according to Brandon, is found in relational order. He begins: ‘Christianity is, strikingly, a relational religion’. This grand theme is then filled out throughout the book. The studies examine the ‘golden rule’ of Matthew 22 and the nature of real ‘shalom’ [peace/wholeness]. These principles are seen to embrace all of our relationships, be they with God, family, neighbour; or in business, justice, health, education or finance. Sex must be included within this big relational framework.

In terms of sex, Brandon is clear. Sex is a gift from God, but it is neither consequence-free nor responsibility-free. Furthermore, consent alone between two adults is never a sufficient basis for justifying sexual intercourse. Such sub-standard behaviour, wherever it occurs, has a rippling effect that is corrosive to a whole pool of current and future relationships.

By contrast, relational order fosters wholesome personal development and social stability. This is the Christian response to our sad, sex-obsessed world. Brandon is in no doubt that this biblical concept could and should be incorporated into public policy.

There are some quibbles. The writing is not always clear; it is sometimes repetitive, and the book needs an index. In addition, some readers will baulk at the seemingly soft approach to homosexual relationships, cohabiting relationships, sex before marriage, the idea that family is more significant than marriage, and the disapproval of children who seek employment away from the parental home.

This book will jolt some of your prejudices and challenge you to reconsider how you relate to people in our fallen world in both sexual and non-sexual contexts.

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Understanding Suicide and Euthaniasia – A Contemporary and Biblical Perspective
Eryl Davies

It is with sensitivity and a pastoral heart that Eryl Davies addresses these complex and controversial issues. Statistics alone demand that a biblical perspective is given to these topics. In 1969, an estimated 51% of the UK population was in…

See all book reviews
Sexuality and Identity (trilogy)
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Sexuality and Identity (trilogy)
Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock

These three punchy books address pressing issues: what the Bible teaches about lust (on desire), about homosexuality (on Biblical sexuality) and about transgenderism (on identity). The trilogy approach keeps each book short and focused while dovetailing effectively. Each book has…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
A Beginner’s Guide To Church History
Philip Parsons

This book is a must-read for every Christian, which covers a wide period from the apostolic age to the church under Communism. There are numerous excellent works on church history, like Philip Schaff’s eight volumes, or Andrew Miller’s three volumes,…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Who Am I? Human Identity and the Gospel in a Confusing World
Thomas Fretwell

In today’s secular society, religion is often regarded as without rational or scientific basis, and therefore irrelevant to life in the modern world and all areas of public engagement. If that is our social context, then it is no wonder…