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The Unauthorized Guide to Sex and the Church [Paperback]

By Carmen Renee Berry (Author)
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Item description for The Unauthorized Guide to Sex and the Church by Carmen Renee Berry...

Is it possible to be a Christian and a sexual being? Berry traces sexual attitudes and practices in Hebrew culture as presented in the Old Testament through the current issues that confront the church today.

Publishers Description

Is it possible to be a Christian and a sexual being? At times it seems like the Church pits sexuality and spirituality against one another. Yet the cost in creating such a dichotomy has resulted in harmful implications on spiritual growth, sexual intimacy, and moral credibility.

The Unauthorized Guide to Sex and the Church traces sexual attitudes and practices in Hebrew culture as presented in the Old Testament through the current issues that confront the church today. It addresses questions such as "How has the church become so notorious for sex scandals amongst its leadership?" "Why is the church unable to present a united front on sexual issues such as marriage/divorce, premarital sex, homosexuality, and abortion?" and "How can I make wise and informed choices about these important issues in light of my beliefs?"

Blending historical facts with practical wisdom, this lively exploration looks at how Christian views of sex have developed and changed based on doctrinal, cultural, medical, scriptural, and psychological understandings.

From Publishers Weekly
Mention "sex and the church" and divisive issues such as abortion, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage and the response to child sex abuse scandals all pop to the forefront. Berry (The Unauthorized Guide to Choosing a Church) takes on these subjects and more, presenting many viewpoints from various strains of Christianity and then asking readers to "decide how [they] will decide." Berry marches through history, beginning with Jewish purity and property laws and moving on to Jesus' challenge of those laws, Paul's writings on sexual morality, the church fathers' 11th-century ruling on celibacy for the clergy and the Reformation's pro-marriage stance. She then contrasts early Christian worldviews with those we encounter in the church today, especially now that people are not considered "property" and attitudes toward sexuality are influenced by an understanding of psychology, biology and women's rights. Berry mostly provides analysis, but moves into adviser mode at times, such as when she promotes "celibacy as a spiritual discipline" for all Christian singles. This book is a fine introduction to issues of Christianity and sexuality for anyone unclear about where denominations stand on any particular sex issue or for those wanting more information about the church's historical attitudes on sexual morality. (Aug. 18) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Unauthorized Guide to Sex and the Church by Carmen Renee Berry has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Publishers Weekly - 06/27/2005 page 59
  • Ingram Advance - 08/01/2005 page 77
  • Christian Retailing - 08/08/2005 page 23

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Thomas Nelson
Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.08" Width: 7.1" Height: 0.85"
Weight:   0.99 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 23, 2005
Publisher   Thomas Nelson
Edition  Special  
ISBN  0849945445  
ISBN13  9780849945441  

Availability  121 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 22, 2016 07:49.
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More About Carmen Renee Berry

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Carmen Renee Berry is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Girlfriends. A former psychotherapist, she is currently a certified massage and body worker living in Pasadena, California.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > Contemporary Issues

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Unauthorized Guide to Sex and the Church?

The Unauthorized Guide to Carmen Renee Berry  Oct 30, 2006
After politics, the quickest way to start an argument along ideological lines is to bring up sexual standards. In an attempt to calm and forward the discussion, Berry wrote this book about sex and its relationship with the Christian faith.

Berry starts off with a history of sexual morality, going back to the Jewish roots of the faith. Her description of the changing attitudes to sexuality and their influence on the culture at large is fascinating. Having read a bit more of the history of the Protestant Reformation, though, I would encourage the reader to take her description of that conflict with a grain of salt. Yes, Luther was concerned with the church's demands for celibacy. No, that was not the main spur to the vast changes he initiated.

In the second section, Berry presents conflicting views on some major points of dissension in the church today, including abortion and homosexuality. I find myself a bit more on a conservative side than Berry, but I have to commend her fairness in presenting both sides equally.

While this book is no earth-shattering theological revelation, it is a useful place to start thinking about and (hopefully) talking about these issues. I suspect that's exactly what the author intended.
A readable and entertaining look at the way Christians approach sexual issues  Sep 30, 2005
For all the talk about sexual issues with regard to the church --- abortion, homosexuality, pedophilia, and celibacy come immediately to mind --- you'd think sexuality was the church's major concern. If that's what you think, well, it turns out you're not entirely wrong. Carmen Renee Berry's survey of Christian thought on sex reveals an inordinate amount of emphasis on the subject throughout church history.

Berry's "unauthorized guide" is divided into three major sections. The first traces the history of Christian (and Jewish) attitudes toward sex, as well as historical thinking on which sexual practices were considered appropriate and, of course, which were not. Conservatives and liberals alike would do well to read this section in particular; many Christians, I'm sure, would be surprised at how ancient laws regarding property rights helped shape ideas on sexuality that have survived to this day, for instance, or how Luther's early opposition to celibacy helped shape the thinking that led to the Protestant Reformation.

The second section examines four specific issues that stand as obstacles to church unity in contemporary society: sexual purity, celibacy, abortion, and homosexuality. Berry offers insight into each issue by examining them from a variety of perspectives and, in some cases, a variety of denominational perspectives --- a particularly helpful bit of information for anyone who tends to lump all Christians together. The third major section looks at sex scandals in the church, providing some troubling statistics on the incidence of rape, pedophilia and other forms of sexual abuse, sex addiction, pornography, and the like within the church.

Throughout the book, Berry offers resources with regard to each specific issue and provides a separate listing of resources in an appendix. Other appendices offer statistics on sexual misconduct, most of which specifically cite behavior among Christians, and a list of questions readers can use to help discern where they stand on foundational beliefs such as Jesus and the authority of the Bible --- beliefs that go a long way toward predicting and understanding a person's attitude toward sex.

If you're familiar with Berry's other books, such as THE UNAUTHORIZED GUIDE TO CHOOSING A CHURCH and the New York Times bestseller GIRLFRIENDS, you'll be glad to know that she continues with her warm, conversational style of writing in this book. In Berry's hands, church history becomes a series of delightful, interconnected stories that shed light on the way Christian thinking on sexuality has developed. As usual, her wit is never far from the surface.

Berry's purpose in tackling such highly charged topics is commendable; she'd like to see Christians on both sides of, say, the abortion divide talking to each other rather than attacking each other. The same goes for all the other sexually related issues that create division in the church. Berry writes in a way that shows she genuinely wants each side of a given issue to understand how and why the other side has reached the conclusions it has.

One can only hope that her readers will take the hint. Berry has done the church a service by providing a highly readable and entertaining look at the way diverse Christians approach sexual issues; the church would be wise to return the favor by encouraging those diverse Christians to begin a conversation with each other that focuses on finding common ground as well as solutions to sex-related problems that plague the church and society.

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