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God, Desire, and a Theology of Human Sexuality Paperback – March 29, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David H. Jensen is Professor in the Clarence N. and Betty B. Frierson Chair of Reformed Theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is editor of The Lord and Giver of Life: Perspectives on Constructive Pneumatology and author of Responsive Labor: A Theology of Work and Living Hope: The Future and Christian Faith, all published by Westminster John Knox Press.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (March 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664233686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664233686
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr Conrade Yap TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
"Sex is an expression of Christian faith," so begins the author of this provocative work on human sexuality, desire, and a theology. It is also an expression of what it means to be human and to be Christian. In an age where there are so many controversies and lines drawn in the various wars on gender, sexual orientation, discrimination, and many others, we need to get back to understanding what it all means from a biblical perspective, instead of depending on heated emotions based on some kind of human principle. In this very thoughtful book, David Jansen helps to do some deconstruction on some dominant positions on sexuality, and reconstruct them in the light of tradition and redemption. Having been frustrated by the impasse generated by conversations that do not seem to make good headway, Jansen points us toward a way that puts sexuality matters in the arms of faith, within the bosom of God's desire, and anchored on a relationship with God and the people we are called to love. Each of the seven chapters focuses on a particular theological theme. Chapter One covers "Scripture and Sex" that essentially probes the question of what the Bible talks about sex. It surveys the three basic approaches: The "rule-based" approach; the "outmoded" approach; and one as a particular "narrative of desire" at a particular time and place, especially God's desire for us. The first two approach are essentially the common ones that many parties are quick to argue for one against the other. The third approach is a beautiful rendition of how God has manifested desire in the lives of various biblical characters. Jansen argues for a relationship that promotes "lingering" and "longing" instead of one that is lusting and consuming.

There is also a chapter on sexual ethics, to move from acts to contexts.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Paul Mastin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
David Jensen, a theology professor at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, has taken on one of our culture's favorite topics in his new book God, Desire, and a Theology of Human Sexuality. His treatment of sex has many encouraging, even inspiring passages that offer a stark contrast to the popular conceptions of sex in American culture, but his departure from traditional, biblical views of sex will satisfy only the most liberal Christians. Conservative, traditional Christians will find much not to like.

I did like Jensen's sacramentalizing of sex. Sex is a gift and an expression of the desires God instills in us. Jensen writes, "Erotic touch is not where we escape from God and lose ourselves in another, but where we meet God." As an act of hospitality, "in sex one makes room for another . . . ordinary members of the body . . . become gestures of a hospitality that God is continually creating among us in the risen body." Put simply, "Sex, by itself, is not redemptive; but by God's grace it becomes a celebration of grace." By contrast, American culture seems to cheapen and distort sex, calling for more frequency, more pleasure, more partners, reducing sex to a one-dimensional, merely physical act.

If he stopped there, he'd be doing fine. But Jensen extends his arguments far beyond scripture and church history to embrace gay sex and premarital sex. He does rely on scripture, but seems to, at least in part, agree with revisionists who would say that the "use of the Bible alone in constructing a view of sex and marriage is naive and anachronistic at best, and dangerous at worst." He claims a fluid, culture-bound view of sexual mores: "Today's fornication . . . becomes tomorrow's sexual norm," and calls for Christians to get with the times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Garber on March 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
David Jensen provides a nuanced, thoroughly theological reading of the possibilities of sexuality in the light of God’s desire for us. Jensen opens his book by stating, “This book … offers another interpretation of sexual desire, grounded in the beauty of God’s desire revealed in Christ’s incarnation. At the heart of Christian faith is a wondrous claim that Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. This divine embrace of human flesh entails the blessing of sexual life: not as something to escape in order to attain salvation, but to nurture as we grow in faith.” (ix) Suspicion has often made the Christian church behave as if sex were the most important thing in Christian life, but Jensen wants to argue that it is part of the “broad tapestry of Christian life.” He observes that both pro- and anti-GLBTQ arguments mirror the same rhetoric: a citation of biblical texts, tradition, and behaviors as “right or wrong.” However, very few examine a systematic theology of sexuality. Jensen seeks instead to deconstruct the present discourse and, more importantly, to reconstruct a positive theology of sexuality from past traditions.

Judging by other reviews on this site, many of Jensen’s readers are coming at his book with a set of preconceived notions about what Scripture does or doesn’t “say” about sexual behavior – precisely the set of arguments that Jensen observes in his book that 1) aren’t accurate to an authentic, wide-ranging reading of the Bible and 2) are not working in fostering discussion in a deeply divided church. Jensen instead turns to a reading of the biblical story and the history of Christian writing as one of God’s desire for us and our desire for God.
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