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Sex-Positive Books


This bibliography includes books that Rev Bev believes would be helpful to people of faith seeking guidance in how to think about reconnecting their spiritual lives with their sexual and physical lives.



Sex + Faith, Talking with your Child from Birth to Adolescence by Kate Ott

Dr. Ott, who teaches Christian ethics at a seminary, has insights that are grounded in sound moral sexual teachings. She can help parents on the matter of what is appropriate level of sexual knowledge for children.


From Diapers to Dating , A Parent’s Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children from Infancy to Middle School by Debra Hafner

Rev. Hafner is the Director of the Religious Institute and has not only a religious background but one in sex education. She has made a career of working to incorporate public policies that reflect spiritual and culturally health such as comprehensive sexual education.


The following books for children and their parents are written or co-authored by Robie Harris who has been honored by

professional sex educators for her work (and also has the dubious distinction of having at least one of her books banned in Hong Kong.) Clearly and explicitly she answers children’s questions at a level they can understand.


It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health

What’s in There? All About Before You Were Born

It’s so amazing: A book about Egg, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families

Who has What?: All About Girls' Bodies and Boys' Bodies

It's Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends

Who’s in my Family?: All about Families


For your teenager?

Dr. Marty Klein, a well-respected therapist and sex educator, has a dvd for sale entitled "Talking with our Kids About Sex" and his weekly newsletters entitled "Sexual Intelligence" are not only enlightened but entertaining. (Note: Klein is NOT a fan of any sex phobic religion and can be harsh in his criticisms. Then again he spends his career listening to the many problems that sexual ignorance and religious repression create.)




Anand, Margo, The Art of Everyday Ecstacy, 1998

"Ecstasy is an often misunderstood word and I admire Margot Anand for broadening its definition. I recommend The Art of Everyday Ecstasy to anyone who wants to realize their ecstatic potential for living a life in which the spirit and everyday experience are intricately interwoven."--Deepak Chopra

Daniel Bergner, “What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire” 2013  

This is a dizzying summary of the social research about women’s sexual arousal. It will not help bored spouses or give hope for monogamous couples whose sizzle inevitably has turned to fizzle. But, while the answer to Bergner’s question is far too complicated to be answered easily or completely by science, it is a fascinating summary of what the experts know (or not) about women’s desire and the miraculous and amazing complexity of female sexuality. He intimates that monogamy and our social fascination based on the romantic myths of enduring sexual thrills plays a part in the reason “problem” of what women really want.


Boisvert, Donald and Robert Goss, Gay Catholic Priests and Clerical Sexual Misconduct: Breaking the Silence, 2005

Scholars and practitioners in religious and gay studies, more often than not at the intersection between them, respond both to the scapegoating of gay priests for the recent child abuse scandals in the American Catholic Church, and to Mark Jordan's 2000 The Silence of Sodom, which argues that for centuries the church hierarchy has suppressed that fact that male-to-male desire has been vital to the development of the priesthood. They cover speaking in new and different tongues, ecclesial misogyny, and power games and calling names.


Bonheim, Jalaja, The Hunger for Ecstasy, Fulfilling the Soul’s Need for Passion and Intimacy, 2001

In The Hunger for Ecstasy, Jalaja Bonheim explores what keeps us from living a spiritually fulfilling life. In our natural pursuit of ecstasy-that far-from-sinful state of rapture without which we cannot thrive-we often don't realize what it is we're chasing, and thus end up with shallow attainments: a new pair of shoes, a fast car, a meaningless one-time sexual encounter. In our materially abundant but spiritually starved culture, it's easy to be misguided. Jalaja provides the know-how and the discipline necessary to direct your desire toward that which will best nourish your soul: the divine.  Jalaja shows how sex indeed is a yearning for the infinite, and she provides practical tips on how to experience beautiful, sacred sex in the context of an ecstatic life. Far from urging casual sex, Bonheim celebrates commitment and encourages you to nurture a long-time relationship, including marriage, while recognizing it doesn't have to last forever to be sacred-nor should you be wondering if it will.


Boswell, John, Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (1980)

"Truly groundbreaking work. Boswell reveals unexplored phenomena with an unfailing erudition."—Michel Foucault John Boswell's National Book Award-winning study of the history of attitudes toward homosexuality in the early Christian West was a groundbreaking work that challenged preconceptions about the Church's past relationship to its gay members—among them priests, bishops, and even saints—when it was first published twenty-five years ago. The historical breadth of Boswell's research (from the Greeks to Aquinas) and the variety of sources consulted make this one of the most extensive treatments of any single aspect of Western social history. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, still fiercely relevant today, helped form the disciplines of gay and gender studies, and it continues to illuminate the origins and operations of intolerance as a social force. "What makes this work so exciting is not simply its content—fascinating though that is—but its revolutionary challenge to some of Western culture's most familiar moral assumptions."—Jean Strouse, Newsweek


Brooten, Bernadette, Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism, 1996

Love Between Women examines female homoeroticism and the role of women in the ancient Roman world. Employing an unparalleled range of cultural sources, Brooten finds evidence of marriages between women and establishes that condemnations of female homoerotic practices were based on widespread awareness of love between women.


Butler, Judith, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, 1990

Since its publication in 1990, Gender Trouble has become one of the key works of contemporary feminist theory, and an essential work for anyone interested in the study of gender, queer theory, or the politics of sexuality in culture. This is the text where Judith Butler began to advance the ideas that would go on to take life as "performativity theory," as well as some of the first articulations of the possibility for subversive gender practices, and she writes in her preface to the 10th anniversary edition released in 1999 that one point of Gender Trouble was "not to prescribe a new gendered way of life [...] but to open up the field of possibility for gender [...]" Widely taught, and widely debated, Gender Trouble continues to offer a powerful critique of heteronormativity and of the function of gender in the modern world.


Cahill, Lisa Sowle, Sex, Gender and Christian Ethics, 1996

Analyses sexuality, marriage, parenthood and family from a feminist Christian view.


Cantarella, Eva, Bisexuality in the Ancient World, 2002

In this readable and thought-provoking history of bisexuality in the classical age, Eva Cantarella draws on the full range of sources - from legal texts, inscriptions, and medical documents to poetry and philosophical literature - to reconstruct and compare the bisexual cultures of Athens and Rome.


Cooey, Paula; Farmer, Sharon; Ross, Mary Ellen, Embodied Love, Sensuality and Relationship as Feminist Values, 1987

This is a classic text of essays on feminism, love, and spirituality. Its contributors make up a list of some of the most influential feminists voices in religion. Of particular note is chapter eight, "Relational Love: A Feminist Christian Vision." In this essay, author Linell E. Cady argues for themes that have come to characterize feminist view of love: mutuality, relationality, and eros.


Countryman, William and M. R. Ritley, Gifted by Otherness: Gay and Lesbian Christians in the Church, 2001

Without apology and with an honest chutzpah, Countryman, a New Testament professor, and Ritley, an Episcopal priest, explore the vocation and journey gay Christians have in the church. The writers see themselves as ministering to the church; they clarify that their task is not to justify the presence of gays there. That presence is simply a fact. But they also note that it is normal and healthy for the church to struggle with homosexuality, since the church is not a monolithic entity of likeminded people but a richly textured community of contradictory and diverse individuals. The authors declare that gay Christians have specific gifts to offer the church; they can serve the priesthood of believers as "icons," which the authors describe as windows that show a facet of God. In particular, gays who have experienced "wilderness times" in coming out and living as homosexual Christians can teach others about God's sustaining grace. And while the church is often afraid to face death, the AIDS epidemic has taught the gay community to deal with it as a part of life. On a lighter note, the authors say that the church needs the campiness of gay humor, since Christians forget too often that humor is a gift from God. Ritley and Countryman have written a thoughtful and provocative book for anyone who has struggled with what it means when gays are a part of the church.


Day, Peggy, Gender and Difference in Ancient Israel, 1989

Among the essays in this book dealing with gender-related issues in biblical scholarship are "Eroticism and Death in the Tale of Jael" by Susan Niditch; "Esther: A Feminine Model for Jewish Diaspora" by Sidnie Ann White, and "Women of the Exodus in Biblical Retellings of the Second Temple Period" by Eileen Schuller.


de Beauvoir, Simone, The Second Sex, 1952

...The Second Sex has what Plutarch said of the buildings on the Acropolis: “there is a certain flourishing freshness in it." it is a threadbare cliché to speak of not doing justice to a book, but in this case I must resort to the cliché, for I have never been so acutely conscious of incomplete justice. Books of the Century, New York Times review, February, 1953


Douglas, Kelly Brown, Sexuality and the Black Church, a Womanist Perspective, Orbis Books 1999

This book tackles the "taboo" subject of sexuality that has long been avoided by the Black church and community. Douglas argues that this view of Black sexuality has interfered with constructive responses to the AIDS crisis and teenage pregnancies, fostered intolerance of sexual diversity, frustrated healthy male/female relationships, and rendered Black and womanist theologians silent on sexual issues.


Eberley, Ronald, The Unnatural Law of Celibacy, One Married Man’s Struggle to become a Roman Catholic Priest, 2002

"Ron Eberley is a 66-year-old father of five who at 52 began his studies for the Roman Catholic priesthood….But four years into his seminary training he met Jan, who was studying to become a pastoral minister, and they fell in love. Ron had to leave the seminary program, but he continued and completed his theological studies…Ron has never given up the hope to become a married priest. There is a provision in Canon Law whereby the Church can grant a dispensation to a married man to receive the Sacrament of Orders. Numerous Protestant clergymen have been allowed to become priests and remain married on this basis. But Ron discovered that when a life-long Catholic seeks this dispensation all lines of communication to Rome through his local bishop are closed. In light of the critical shortage of priests and the terrible pedophile scandals plaguing the celibate priesthood, this closure, this deafness, this stonewalling is itself scandalous."


Eisler, Riane, Sacred Pleasure, Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body, New Paths to Power and Love, 1996

From Sumer to ancient Athens and Rome, medieval Europe, the Islamic world and traditional China, rigidly male-dominated societies, argues feminist historian Eisler (The Chalice and the Blade), relied on pain or the fear of it to maintain hierarchical relations of dominance and submission. Patriarchy, she believes, represses sexuality, distorts the natural bonds of erotic pleasure and love between men and women and diminishes women's status. Drawing on archaeological evidence and Paleolithic and Neolithic art, Eisler argues that prehistoric societies were relatively free of the domination, exploitation and misogyny that have marked Western societies up to the present. She emphasizes that Christianity's hostility toward sex and, particularly, women's sexuality has conditioned men and women to accept coercion and repression. Discussing abusive child-rearing practices, genital mutilation, natural childbirth, abortion, sex education, the men's movement, AIDS and much else, Eisler outlines a new sexual ethic that aligns pleasure with our capacity to feel and act empathically. Her visionary, passionate scholarship is a revealing psychosexual exploration of love and power relations.


Ellison, Marvin M., Erotic Justice, A Liberating Ethic of Sexuality, 1996

“The crisis of sexuality is properly located in the eroticizing of the dominant/subordinate social relations and in the distortion of love by racism, sexism and other injustices.  Sexuality and the quality of life are dialectically related to the wider social order. All aspects of human life, including eroticism, are shaped by power specifically gender inequities, race supremacy, classism, and cultural elitism. A constructive social ethic must keep this person-structural connection in focus.” –Marvin M. Ellison     


Elnes, Eric, The Phoenix Affirmations, 2005

The Phoenix Affirmations, named for the town in which the principles were created and the mythological bird adopted by ancient Christians as a symbol of resurrection, offers disillusioned and spiritually homeless Christians and others a sense of hope and a more tolerant, joyful, and compassionate message than those we often hear from the media and some Christian leaders. These twelve central affirmative principles of Christian faith are built on the three great loves that the Bible reveals: love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self. They reflect commitments to environmental stewardship, social justice, and artistic expression as well as openness to other faiths. Transcending theological and culture wars, inclusive and generous in spirit and practice, these principles ask believers and seekers alike to affirm their Christian faith in a fresh way.


Farley, Margaret, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, 2006

This long-awaited book by one of American Christianity’s foremost ethicists proposes a framework for sexual ethics whereby justice is the criterion for all loving, including love that is related to sexual activity and relationships. It begins with historical and cross-cultural explorations, and then addresses the large questions of embodiment, gender, and sexuality. Following this is a normative chapter that delineates the justice framework for sexual ethics. Though the particular focus is Christian sexual ethics, the framework is broad enough to have relevance for multiple traditions of sexual ethics. The remaining chapters focus on specific issues in sexual ethics, including same-sex relationships, marriage and family, divorce and second marriage, celibacy, and sex and its negativities.


Ferder, Fran and Heagle, John, Tender Fires, The Spiritual Promise of Sexuality, 2002

Ferder and Heagle, therapists and codirectors of TARA Therapy and Renewal Associates, a Catholic psychotherapy center near Seattle, have created a fascinating and rare thing: a work that deals unashamedly with sexuality, engages spirituality, and yet is sufficiently discreet so as not to give offense to impressionable young persons. To their credit, they view both sexuality and spirituality in complex and nuanced ways and by no means view the questions that arise as simple.


Fortune, Marie M, Love Does no Harm, Sexual Ethics for the Rest of Us, 1995

In this straightforward, easily readable guide, Reverend Marie M. Fortune discusses the process of ethical decision-making in intimate relationships. Starting with the premise that "love does no harm," Fortune offers a set of guidelines that can assist people of all ages in making sexual choices. But before turning to the guidelines themselves, Love Does No Harm includes broad reflections on why sexual choices are difficult, what social and cultural forces make them more difficult than they might otherwise be, and how the individual can choose to express her or his sexuality in ways that are pleasurable, intimate, and sensitive to the needs and rights of others. Love Does No Harm makes no assumptions about individuals' age, sexual orientation, or the type of intimate relationship in which they are involved.


Fox, Matthew, Creation Spirituality, 1991

For those new to the works of Matthew Fox, and for those eager to learn his thoughts after his Vatican-ordered public silence, comes this introduction to creation spirituality--Fox's framework for a far-reaching spirituality of the Americas. Passionate and provocative, Fox uncovers the ancient tradition of a creation-centered spirituality that melds Christian mysticism with the contemporary struggle for social justice, feminism, and environmentalism. Basic to Fox's notion of creation spirituality is the gift of awe--a mystical response to creation and the first step toward transformation. Awe prompts indignation at the exploitation and destruction of the earth's people and resources. Awe leads to action. Showing how we can learn from each other, Fox's spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in both North and South America. Creation Spiritualitychallenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just creator.

Whee! Wee! We! All the Way Home 1976

One of Matthew Fox's earliest books, this title explores the importance of ecstasy in the spiritual life. Fox considers the distinction between "natural" ecstasies (like sex) and "tactical" ecstasies (like meditation); he goes on to consider that a truly authentic mysticism must be sensuous in its orientation, so to cultivate the maximum amount of ecstasy for the maximum amount of people. From there he spins out to consider how we need a communal mysticism -- in his words: "We shall become ecstatic together or else we'll become extinct together." Few spiritual authors are so honest about the importance of ecstasy/sensuality in life--or in mysticism. Years ahead of its time when first published in 1976, this book is still bold and relevant today. Perfect for anyone who thinks mysticism needs to get out of the head and into the body.


Gilligan, Carol, The Birth of Pleasure, 2002

A psychologist's fine-tuned ear and a scholar's penchant for illuminating key ideas with precise literary citations enable Carol Gilligan to trace love's path in The Birth of Pleasure. Her extensive research on children's communications and couples in crisis has revealed a rather disturbing truism: a child's inborn ability to love freely and live authentically gets thoroughly squelched by patriarchal structures. She shows how daughters' voices are systematically quieted, sons are shamed into masculinity, and those who pursue "inappropriate" knowledge or rapacious expressions are punished.


Gudorf, Cristine, Body, Sex and Pleasure, Reconstructing Christian Sexual Ethics, 1994

Perhaps no other single moral issue today is as hotly contested, or as divisive, as sexuality. Offering a bold and hopeful vision of how Christians - and all people of goodwill - can view this explosive topic, ethicist Christine Gudorf proposes nothing less than a sweeping challenge to traditional Christian teaching on sexual roles, activities, and relationships. Deftly drawing on Scripture, natural law, historical and contemporary Catholic and Protestant theology, the social sciences, and, significantly, the lived experiences of today's women and men, Gudorf presents a carefully crafted and systematic reconstruction of Christian sexual ethics. Her aim, above all, is to engender appreciation, not rejection and shame, of our bodies and our sexuality. Contending that body, sex, and pleasure are divine gifts revealing God's grace, Gudorf emphasizes the need to understand sexual desire as a positive good, a source of love and commitment. She further explores the relationship between sexuality and reproduction, arguing that "pro-creationism" - the assumption that the sole aim and ultimate end of sexuality must always be offspring - is unjust and oppressive.


Helminiak, Daniel, What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality, 1994

Helminiak, a Roman Catholic priest, has done careful reading in current biblical scholarship about homosexuality. While cautioning against viewing biblical teaching as "the last word on sexual ethics," he stresses the need for accurate understanding of what the biblical "facts" are and concludes that "the Bible supplies no real basis for the condemnation of homosexuality." Using the studies of Yale historian John Boswell (Same-Sex Unions in Pre-modern Europe, LJ 7/94), New Testament seminary professor L. William Countryman, and others, Helminiak examines the story of Sodom (where the sin was inhospitality), Jude's decrying sex with angels, and five texts-Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:27, I Corinthians 6:9, and I Timothy 1:10-all of which, he concludes, "are concerned with something other than homogenital activity itself." Highly recommended for all libraries. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc


Heyward, Carter, Touching our Strength, The Erotic as Power and the Love of God. 1989

A leading feminist theologian affirms the sacredness of mutually empowering relationships and sexual pleasure. In Touching our Strength, Heyward sets out to make the case for erotic mutuality as a form of liberation. She cuts down the patriarchal understanding of theology and calls for an inversion of social power, using modern lesbian relationships as the ultimate example of equality and sensuality. Throughout this book the author pairs erotic ecstasy with the power of God, claiming in the end that it is only by embracing the Christa (female Christ) as metaphor that cultural justice can be realized.


Holt, Sandra, Intimacy, Human and Divine, 2001

Sandra Holt compares our relationship with God with our most intimate relationships with other humans. The book reads as erotic spirituality; the Song of Songs is explored and commentated on, there are quotes from Julian of Norwich, Ignatius and stories from Sandra's own experience.


Hooks, Bell, Feminism is for Everybody, Passionate Politics, 2000

In this engaging and provocative volume, bell hooks introduces a popular theory of feminism rooted in common sense and the wisdom of experience. Hers is a vision of a beloved community that appeals to all those committed to equality, mutual respect, and justice. Hooks applies her critical analysis to the most contentious and challenging issues facing feminists today, including reproductive rights, violence, race, class, and work. With her customary insight and unsparing honesty, hooks calls for a feminism free from divisive barriers but rich with rigorous debate. In language both eye-opening and optimistic, hooks encourages us to demand alternatives to patriarchal, racist, and homophobic culture, and to imagine a different future.


Jordan, Mark D., Telling Truths in Church: Scandal, Flesh and Christian Speech, 2003

For those questioning the relations between hierarchial power, secrecy and sexuality in institutional religion, Jordan's eloquent meditations on what truths about sexuality need to be told in church will be a balm and a revelation.

The Ethics of Sex: New Dimensions to Religious Ethics, 2002

Jordan discusses sex and the church's views on it, quoting extensively from the Gospels, Psalms, and Fathers of the Church as he traces the history of their interpretation (and mainly condemnation) of sex, including sodomy, adultery, same-sex intercourse, masturbation, and marriage. The volume reflects the author's intimate familiarity with the Christian tradition, even as he calls for new, more accepting, interpretations on these issues. Jordan is trained as a theologian, though his affiliation is not noted here. Annotation © Book News, Inc., Portland, OR


Jung, Patricia Beattie, Hunt, Mary, Balakrishnan, Radhika, Good Sex, Feminist Perspectives from the World’s Religions, 2001

This groundbreaking collection of 11 articles by women from eight countries and seven religious traditions challenges male-defined ideas of sexuality that have constricted women by denying them pleasure and autonomous agency and threatening their well-being and, sometimes, lives. The essays critique "dominating forms of inclusivity and blanket generalizations," explore the high price sexuality has exacted of many women, propose "concrete suggestions for social changes, so that women may experience good sex," analyze interpretations of sexuality, and suggest "ways women might faithfully resist normative constructions of their sexuality." While the contributors do not always agree, they do recognize the importance of global and interdisciplinary perspectives and affirm the tension women experience when they work for change from within a repressive tradition.


Jung, Patricia Beattie and Ralph Smith, Heterosexism: An Ethical Challenge, 1993

In this ground-breaking book the authors show that the prevailing sexual ethic is no longer useful. It presumes as ideal, a uniform morality based on a limited understanding of human sexuality. Heterosexism is revealed to be a system of prejudice that both grows out of and supports this ethic. It produces various forms of discrimination, particularly those against gay and lesbian people that cannot be justified. The authors investigate scripture and tradition and explore emerging social scientific data regarding sexual identity, taking seriously the experiences of gay and lesbian Christians. Their investigation supports the view that reformation of Christian sexual ethics is both necessary and possible. They suggest that offering a pluriform rather than a uniform sexual ethic will result in a more responsible and viable dialogue on the ethical questions that emerge when we move beyond heterosexism. -- Robert M. Garvin, State University of New York at Albany


Kennedy, Eugene, The Unhealed Wound, The Church and Human Sexuality, 2001

The Catholic Church has not yet learned to speak gracefully and truthfully about sexuality, according to Eugene Kennedy'sThe Unhealed Wound. Kennedy's book blends history, psychology, theology, and journalistic storytelling in a sophisticated and humane analysis of where and how Catholic teaching about human sexuality has gone wrong. Teaching that flesh and spirit are locked in a battle with each other, the Catholic Church has treated human sexuality as a bane of human existence, not a gift from God. The Unhealed Wound argues that Catholicism will have a hard time righting its teachings because so much of its power as an institution depends on keeping its members in "a frightened and dependent state" regarding their own sexual impulses: "This emphasis on power diminishes [Catholicism's] true authority to help ordinary men and women put away childish things and grow up even by small steps.... the way, imperfect but tolerant of failings, we become human." --Michael Joseph Gross


Kinsey, Alfred, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, 1953

Sexual Behavior in the Human Female was originally published in 1953, five years after the male volume.The material presented in this book was derived from personal interviews with nearly 6,000 women; from studies in sexual anatomy, physiology, psychology, and endocrinology. The book presents data on the incidence and frequency with which women participate in various types of sexual activity. The authors show how such factors as age, decade of birth, and religious adherence are reflected in patterns of sexual behavior. Some measure of the social significance of the various types of sexual behavior is provided. The authors make comparisons of female and male sexual activities, and investigate the factors which account for the similarities and differences between female and male patterns of behavior. –


Klein, Marty, America's War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust and Liberty (Sex, Love, and Psychology), 2006

President George W. Bush says that, "In our free society, people have the right to choose how they live their lives." But our government and the Religious Right are successfully: - censoring what you read, hear, and see; - limiting your access to contraception; - legislating "good moral values;" - brainwashing your kids that God hates premarital sex, and that it ruins lives. The Right has politicized private life, expanding the zone of "public" sexuality. This guarantees policies that will worsen social problems and increase personal anxiety, providing "proof" that sexuality is fundamentally negative--so citizens demand more sex-negative policies. With examples ripped from today's headlines, with brutal honesty and a wicked sense of humor, Marty Klein names names, challenges political hypocrisy, and shows the financial connections between government and conservative religious groups that are systematically taking away your rights. And, in the process, changing American society--forever.


Lawrence, Raymond J., Sexual Liberation: The Scandal of Christendom (Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality Series), 2007

Sex sells, they say, but even today, it is considered forbidden, wrong, or sinful by many in the Western world. This book is an account of the strange ways sexual pleasure has been devalued, even demonized, in the West by the forces of Christendom and its legacy in the modern world. It tells the story of how sex came to be regarded by societies throughout the ages as perverse, sinful, and wrong, and how the motivations of a few have lasted centuries and colored our view of sex and sexuality even today.


Lebacqz, Karen and Ronald Barton, Sex in the Parish, 1990

This book is the best this reviewer has read on the topic. It affirms the value of healthy sexuality, discusses desire and temptation, cites an example of pastoral failure to set boundaries, explores the uniqueness of pastoral roles in this context, and shows how sexual contact can be affected by these roles. The study develops an ethical analysis framework and discusses special issues such as women in ministry, single clergypersons, and homosexual or bisexual clergypersons. Essential for seminary libraries and recommended for public libraries.- Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.


McFague, Sally, Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language

This book is an eye-opener. The issues surrounding the uses of masculine and feminine metaphors for God can be complicated and emotional, but Sallie McFague tries to keep to the issues of metaphor and theology as suggested in the title. This book was written before her later book "Models of God" which refers back to this one several times. She does a fine job of showing us the power of metaphors to shape our thoughts and practices in religious matters. As a feminist she advocates reform rather than revolution, believing that there is room in the Christian tradition for equality of males and females. She says the governing metaphor of Christianity is liberation. Those who have not yet realized the governing role of metaphors in expressing and shaping our religious thought may find this book unsettling at first, but those who stick with the argument will be enriched. This is a smaller book than "Models of God" and worthy of careful attention.


Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey, Sensuous Spirituality, Out of Fundamentalism, 1992

Mollenkott's story is part autobiography of her journey away from fundamentalism and toward self-acceptance as a lesbian feminist, part proclamation of the importance of liberation and diversity within the human family, part a discussion of "interpretive communities" with focus on the les-bi-gay community, and part theological reflection on the role of the erotic in spirituality. Mollenkott enriches her discussion with reference to John Milton's scriptural interpretation in defense of divorce for incompatibility. She also offers a comparison between the "handmaid of the Lord" in Luke's description of Mary and of the handmaids in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale ( LJ 2/1/86). This latter comparison leads to themes of freedom and its power in Mollenkott's analysis, themes that support diversity, sensuousness, and the mystical. 


The Divine Feminine, Biblical Imagery of God as Female, 1983

This very readable little book, written for the popular audience, provides an extremely helpful resource for those who are struggling with issues of inclusive language and images for deity. Mollenkott does a fine job of summarizing, in brief and understandable terms, some of the present controversies related to gender-language for God. She is clear that the Bible contains "massively more" male-oriented images and language for God, but she subscribes to what she calls the "half-full theory" rather than the "half-empty theory"-meaning that the female images which are in the biblical texts should delight and challenge us with their presence rather than make us mourn their lesser number. Indeed, from Mollenkott's evangelical perspective, the presence of those female images constitutes "a very strong argument" for the inspiration of Scripture exactly because they run so counter to the conscious patriarchy of the cultures in which they arose.


Omnigender: A trans-religious Approach, 2001

This book bridges traditional religious doctrine and secular postmodern theory regarding gender. Through an examination of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and church history as well as the exploration of other religious traditions and cultures, Mollenkott honors the experience of people who do not fit within the traditional binary concept of gender: intersexual, trans-sexual, or otherwise-gendered individuals.- The Pilgrim Press


Moore, Thomas, The Soul of Sex, Cultivating Life as an Act of Love, 1998

Thomas Moore has written a number of inspiring books on living a soulful life, including Care of the Soul and Soul Mates. Now this psychologist, theologian, and former Catholic monk explores the relationship between sex and spirituality in a thoughtful new book, The Soul of Sex. We tend to think of sex only as a physical act, Moore writes, or in the context of the role it plays in a relationship. But really, nothing in our everyday lives connects us so readily to our emotions, to our passions and fantasies, to the experience of being outside of ordinary clock time. In short, Moore writes, "nothing has more soul." By tracing the way that beauty, sensuality, pleasure, and eros are represented in history, philosophy, mythology, and religion, Moore hopes to show readers how recognizing the connection between sex and the soul can enrich not just our sexual lives, but our spiritual lives as well.


Murray, Stephen and Will Roscoe, Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History and Literature, 1997

The dramatic impact of Islamic fundamentalism in recent years has skewed our image of Islamic history and culture. Stereotypes depict Islamic societies as economically backward, hyper-patriarchal, and fanatically religious. But in fact, the Islamic world encompasses a great diversity of cultures and a great deal of variation within those cultures in terms of gender roles and sexuality. The first collection on this topic from a historical and anthropological perspective, Homosexuality in the Muslim World reveals that patterns of male and female homosexuality have existed and often flourished within the Islamic world. Indeed, same-sex relations have, until quite recently, been much more tolerated under Islam than in the Christian West.


Nelson, James B, The Intimate Connection, Male Sexuality, Masculine Spirituality, 1988

Nelson's is a fresh work , easy read, yet has depth in his honest self disclosure. As peacemakers men will have to allow intimacy and physical intimacy will be a challenge for we seem to automatically link intimacy with genital sexuality. If we link intimacy with our spirituality we will see again the sexual. Nelson raises the question and starts your thought but does not resolve the tension with a solution. But he serves us by helping us to acknowledge the nature of the problem of men getting to know men in meaningful not competative ways. Spirit, sex, homophobia, are well defined and he helps create a framework to move from, to move toward peace.


Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology, 1978

Nelson, Professor of Christian Ethics, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, addresses theological ethics applied to human sexuality in a readable and beautiful way that sets a standard for Christian discussion of the issues. The book shows that sexuality is as central to our humanity as it is to our love of God. It presents both traditional and unconventional sexuality issues within the context of God's grace. It presents empirical data, ethical method, and theological perspective to help all Christians think constructively about human sexuality. Chapters include: 2. Embodiment in sexual theology; 5. Love and sexual ethics; 7. Morality of sexual variations; 8. Gayness and Homosexuality: Issues for the church; 9. The sexually disenfranchised; 10. The church as sexual community.


Between Two Gardens: Reflections on Sexuality and Christian Theology (1979)

In Between Two Gardens, theologian and ethicist James B. Nelson seeks to stimulate a further reexamination of human sexuality and the Christian experience. Here he continues to explore concerns posed in his earlier work, Embodiment. Traditionally, the relationship between religion and spirituality has reflected this one-dimensional question: What does faith say about human sexuality? Nelson, however, takes a different tack and asks more pertinently: What does sexuality say about faith-theology, Scripture, tradition, and the meaning of the gospel? With this more existential perspective in mind, he explores a wide range of sexual and medical issues. (


Nelson, James B and Longfellow, Sandra, Sexuality and the Sacred, Sources for Theological Reflection, 1994

This volume is rooted in two convictions: first, sexuality is far more comprehensive and more fundamental to our existence than simply genital sex, and, second, sexuality is intended by God to be neither incidental nor detrimental to our spirituality but a fully integrated and basic dimension of that spirituality. The authors address what our sexual experience reveals about God, the ways we understand the gospel, and the ways we read scripture and tradition and attempt to live faithfully.


Piazza, Michael, Holy Homosexuals: The Truth about Being Gay or Lesbian and Christian, 1994

Yes, you can be gay or lesbian and Christian! You can be the happy, healthy, and holy person God created you to be. What does it mean for lesbian and gay people that Jesus was tempted "like we are in every way?" Fundamentalists have created God in their image. What if God has qualities other than being "right wing, upper middle class, white, and male?" In the Revised Edition, Rev. Piazza challenges us to look at God from a different angle.


Rafkin, Louise, Different Duaghters: A Book by Mothers of Lesbians (1987)

Coming out to Mom is a lesbian rite of passage. In the third edition of this landmark anthology, 34 remarkable women face their fears and confusion, prejudice and misunderstandings, and speak honestly and bravely about the difficulties and joys of life with their “different daughters.” Among the topics of discussion are family, community, religion, grandchildren, bisexuality, transgenderism, and coming out. (


Rhode, Deborah, Speaking of Sex: The Denial of Gender Inequality, 1997

Speaking of Sex explores a topic that too often drops out of our discussions when we speak about sex: the persistent problem of sex-based inequality and the cultural forces that sustain it. On critical issues affecting women, most Americans deny either that gender inequality is a serious problem or that it is one that they have a personal or political responsibility to address. In tracing this "no problem" problem, Speaking of Sex examines the most fundamental causes of women's disadvantages and the inadequacy of current public policy to combat them.


Ryan, Thomas (Ed), Reclaiming the Body in Christian Spirituality, 2004

This small, spirited book, a collection of reflections contributed primarily by the participants of a retreat and edited by its sponsor, an authority on spirituality, examines the role of the human body in the Christian spiritual life. It asks us to recover a conviction of the goodness of our bodies and how God created us so that we can reclaim a positive, healthy attitude toward our individual bodies, toward the social body, the community around us, including the Church, the "earthbody," the body of the natural world, and become spiritually whole.


Scanzoni, Letha and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? 1978

A classic work of gay spirituality--newly revised to reflect today's issues, including gays in the military, the AIDS crisis, and genetic research on homosexuality.


Scroggs, Robin, The New Testament and Homosexuality (1984)

Just what is a proper use of the Bible, especially the New Testament, in Christian debates about acceptance of homosexuals? In addition to bringing clarity and honesty to issues of the relevance of the Bible, this work brings a little more light and a little less heat to the discussion, a little more acceptance of all persons on the "other side," and maybe even an awareness that in Christ there is really no "other side" at all. (


Spong, John, Living in Sin: A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality, 1988

Is celibacy the only moral alternative to marriage? Should the widowed be allowed to form intimate relationships without remarrying? Should the church receive homosexuals into its community and support committed gay and lesbian relationships? Should congregations publicly and liturgically witness and affirm divorces? Should the church's moral standards continue to be set by patriarchal males? Should women be consecrated bishops? Bishop Spong proposes a pastoral response based on scripture and history to the changing realities of the modern world. He calls for a moral vision to empower the church with inclusive teaching about equal, loving, nonexploitative relationships.


Yantzi, Mark, Sexual Offending and Restoration, 1998

Yantzi provides new ways to address the pervasive problem of sexual abuse, explaining how to deal compassionately and hopefully with those who offend. He also calls for readers to have similar understanding and compassion toward those who have been victimized by sexual wrongdoing.


Weems, Renita, Battered Love: Marriage, Sex and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets, 1995

Weems' pioneering study explores the puzzling ways in which the Hebrew prophets' portrayals of divine love, compassion and covenantal commitment became associated with battery, infidelity, and the rape and mutilation of women.


Wilson, J. Christian, Jesus and the Pleasures, 2003

Jesus and the Pleasures explores Jesus and his relationship to the pleasures of human life. Wilson contends that Jesus, fully human, accepted the pleasures of life, and that denying such pleasures runs counter to God's desire that we live abundantly. The pleasures of life are more than fun and amusement-they provide the framework for joy and fulfillment, for living what we call the good life. Jesus and the Pleasures shows us that Jesus is the guide who sets the foundation for that framework.


Wilson, Nancy, Our Tribe: Queer Folks, God, Jesus and the Bible, 1995

Wilson, chief ecumenical officer of the gay and lesbian-oriented Metropolitan Community Church, senior pastor of the MCC in Los Angeles and self-styled "lesbian ecu-terrorist," exudes pithy humor and hard-nosed boldness. With this wide-ranging mixture of anecdotal autobiography and piercing deconstruction of passages in the Old and New Testaments that buttress homophobia (she calls them "texts of terror"), she charges into the next millennium filled with sharp criticism for the determined insistence of Catholics, mainline Protestants and evangelical fundamentalists that "queer" believers be kept at arm's length (or even farther) from the reconciling embrace Jesus taught. Herself a savvy survivor of the MCC's struggle to gain admission to the National Council of Churches, Wilson recalls an NCC official's 1992 statement about homosexuality as "the most divisive issue in the church since slavery," and finds that it remains true in 1995. Still, she finds hope in the fact that the church's almost monolithic resistance may be beginning to crack from the critical mass of books by such pro-gay religious apostles as John Shelby Spong, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott and John Boswell, and in the burgeoning Christian commitment of many gays and lesbians themselves.-Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Wren, Brian, What Language Shall I Borrow? God Talk in Worship: A Man’s Response to Feminist Theology, 1989

Wren's book is concerned with theological language in hymnody as it relates to gender- inclusiveness. The book is divided into three parts, though the first two parts are closely related. Indeed, I have found the first two parts to be among the most helpful and thoughtful discussions of the subject I have seen. The first part concerns the freight that is inevitably carried in our culture by notions of masculinity. In a well -constructed argument, masculinity is shown to bespeak control, coolness, dominance, toughness, and the scornful subordination of femaleness. Wren suggests that the sense of male superiority carried in our cultural assumption not only regards femaleness as subordinate, but also inferior, available for control, and subject to use. That is, inherent in masculinity "as we know it" is the propensity and warrant for oppression, abuse, and violence toward women…The outcome of Wren's argument is that a change in the theological-liturgic language and rhetoric of the church is urgent, for our conventional masculine language is overladen and saturated with assumptions that contradict the claims of the gospel. ---Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary


For poetry that exudes a passion for life that is consistent with a sex positive Christianity Rev Bev recommends the work of poet

Mary Oliver whose locus for erotic sensuality is most profoundly evident through nature. eg. Winter Hours, 1999, West Wind, 1997.

And, from the faith tradition of Sufism, the poetry of Hafiz or Rumi who both wrote of God in mystical, erotic, and sensual terms. eg. The Subject Tonight is Love, 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz (1996) and The Gift Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master,(1999)  both translated by Daniel Ladinsky or The Soul of Rumi A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems,  (2001) translated by Coleman Barks.


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