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Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving Paperback – April 1, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This practical sex guide incorporates, but goes well beyond, marital sacramental theology, and as such will be welcomed by those who want to adhere to Catholic teaching yet still enjoy the passion of sexual union. Psychotherapist Popcak spends most of the book elaborating on the Catholic view of sex, citing various church documents and the writings of Pope John Paul II. He explains why sex is holy, how it differs from eroticism and why it is intended solely for one man and one woman who are married to each other and open to having children. In covering what he calls the good stuff, Popcak says restrictions are few. These center on the One Rule (a man must always climax inside the woman) and Four Pleasure Principles that deal with maintaining continuity between a couple's daily life together and their sexual relationship and respecting the dignity of each partner. As long as these guidelines are followed, Popcak says, couples are free to be creative sexually. He includes information on natural family planning (a Catholic Church–approved method of spacing births) and advice for sexual problems. Although Popcak writes in a warm, conversational style, he tends to overuse certain catch words and phrases, diminishing some of their impact. Nonetheless, his essential message makes this worthwhile reading. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher

What People Are Saying about HOLY SEX!

"Some books are worth reading because they make an important point, others for the sheer delight of the writing. Greg Popcak's Holy Sex! is both. Wherever one stands on the fine points of Catholic teaching about sex, Popcak reveals its deeply sensual core, debunking popular stereotypes of Catholicism as somehow anti-erotic. Think of this book as Thomas Aquinas meets Dr. Ruth, and enjoy!"

- John L. Allen Jr., Senior Correspondent for National Catholic Reporter "Looking at contemporary popular culture, one finds that sex is overrated and undervalued. Greg Popcak helps to set things straight on both counts. He explains with intelligence and humor what some have learned only through painful experience, and many have still not learned--namely, that the joy of sex is not to be found in `liberation' from moral principles, but in its unique power to unite a man and woman as faithful partners in the love-building and life-giving union that marriage is."

- Robert P. George, Professor, Princeton University

"Dynamic, faithful, funny, and informative, [Popcak] demonstrates how the Truth will set you free. Combining practical wisdom with the wisdom of the ages, Popcak leads men and women to the love they long for."

- Christopher West, Fellow, Theology of the Body Institute

"It is no surprise to see Dr. Popcak treat marital sex as a truly joyful thing. And why not? He clearly points out, God designed man and woman to communicate his love in their spiritual and physical union. If married couples could actually experience their love-making as an expression of God's creative, joyous, and renewing love, wow!"

- Most Rev. R. Daniel Conlon, Bishop of Steubenville

"Clearly, Dr. Popcak is a chaste, faithful, learned Catholic man with mountains of experience working with couples. I am confident that spouses who follow his advice will become holier and better partners. Those who are holier are certainly better lovers and thanks to Holy Sex! we now know the many ways this is true."

- Janet E. Smith, Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics Sacred Heart Major Seminary

"In the last four decades, too many Americans have been led astray by self-styled experts promising sexual liberation and happiness, only to end up with broken hearts and broken bodies. By combining theological insight and psychological wisdom, Dr. Gregory Popcak offers a different path to men and women looking for a way to find happiness and virtue in their sexual lives... [Holy Sex! is a] powerful guide for navigating the joys and sorrows of sex."

- W. Bradford Wilcox, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia

"Popcak does a great service by practically developing the last chapter of Karol Wojtyla's (John Paul II) Love and Responsibility. Marriage is work... an invaluable resource for all married and engaged couples."

- Pia de Solenni, Feminist Theologian, Winner: Pontifical Prize of the Academies

"Greg Popcak is a wise and funny guy. He combines the ancient wisdom of the Faith with the best that contemporary science and compassionate human understanding have to offer in warm, generous, and practical insights that have already been invaluable to thousands."

- Mark P. Shea, Senior Content Editor, CatholicExchange.com


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company; 3.2.2008 edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824524713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824524715
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Gregory Popcak (POP-chak) is the Founder and Executive Director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics find faith-filled solutions to tough marriage, family, and personal problems. He is an internationally recognized expert on the practical applications of St John Paul II's Theology of the Body to marriage, family, and personal issues.


Through the Pastoral Solutions Institute, he directs a group pastoral tele-counseling practice that provides over 10,000 hours/year of ongoing pastoral psychotherapy services to Catholic couples, individuals, and families around the world.


Dr. Popcak is the author of almost 20 popular books & programs integrating solid Catholic theology and counseling psychology (including; Just Married: The Catholic Guide for Surviving & Thriving in the First 5 years of Marriage, For Better...FOREVER!, Holy Sex!, Parenting with
Grace, Beyond the Birds and the Bees). His work has been translated into Spanish, Polish, Chinese, and Lithuanian among others.


Since 2001, he and his wife and co-author, Lisa Popcak, have hosted several nationally-syndicated, call-in radio advice programs including Heart, Mind and Strength (Ave Maria Radio), Fully Alive! (Sirius/XM-The Catholic Channel), and most recently, More2Life (Ave Maria Radio--Airing M-F, Noon-1pm Eastern).


Dr. Greg and his wife have also hosted two television series for EWTN (For Better...FOREVER! & God Help Me!).

In addition to hosting Faith on the Couch, a popular faith and psychology blog on Patheos.com, Dr. Popcak's articles appear regularly in periodicals such as Catholic Digest, Family Foundations, Tender Tidings, Columbia, and others.

Additionally, his work has been featured on FoxNews, NPR's Here and Now, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Ladies Home Journal, and The National Enquirer.


Dr. Greg Popcak and Lisa Popcak are sought after public speakers and trainers and have been honored to address audiences across North America, as well as Australia, and Hong Kong. They are featured speakers at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, an event which was the occasion of Pope Francis' first Apostolic trip to the US.


In addition to his ministry work, Dr. Popcak serves on the adjunct faculty of both the undergraduate psychology and graduate theology departments at Franciscan University of Steubenville where he teaches Spirituality and the Helping Professions and Pastoral and Spiritual Direction respectively.

He also serves on the doctoral faculty of the Harold Abel School of Behavioral Health in the department of clinical social work at Capella University where he teaches Epistemology of Clinical Practice.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are many areas of discepency regarding what we think, or what we are told the Catholic church teaches and what the Catholic church actually teaches. One of the most well hidden and least talked about areas has to be the place and role of sexuality and sexual relations in the Catholic faith. This book couragously and unashamedly explores the true source, meaning, and purpose of our sexuality. It explodes the myth that the Church and sex are nearly mutually exclusive, and reveals the dignity and reverence that the Church places upon sex and sexuality not only for procreation but just as importantly for its absolute integral importance for creating and nurturing a deep, true, spiritual marital relationship. This book shows us that physical pleasure is indeed very good and highly encouraged by the Church in the marital relationship. Not in the same way that physical pleasure is presented to us in the thin veneer of eroticism that society inundates us with, but as a beautiful part of something much deeper and more meaningful.
Holy Sex!, despite the profound and wieghty subject matter, is a very readable and accessible book presented with ample doses of wit and humor. This book is well researched and built on solid religious, and psychological foundations.
To classify Holy Sex! as just a great marital/relationship self help guide, which it is, would however, in my opinion, miss the core of the message. The information in this book is meant not only to be helpful, but to be transformational. The heart of this book is a challenge to all of us. A challenge to understand that real love is not about us, it's about others. The real love from which everything else, including amazing sex, flows. If individuals are transformed by this real love, then couples are transformed. When couples are transformed, families are transformed. When families are transformed, communities are transformed. This is big stuff people !!
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This book is the absolute best on the market relating to the Catholic Church and her teachings on sex and sexuality. I have read Humane Vitae and love the document, which is prophetic. I have read Chris West's work (he is the man who introduced me to the Church's teaching) and have since read his critics, both liberal and conservative, including those who reject Theology of the Body itself as a liberal distortion. (I attend the Latin Mass, and there are a fair number of providentialists in the movement who feel that the Pope John Paul II's work abandoned the concept of "grave reason" in the Church's tradition. They say that NFP is a concept that should be rejected unless one could die in childbirth etc. etc.)

After tons of reading, I came across this volume. I am not a psychologist, I am a teacher with interests in music, theology, and history. As such I have recognized that while many people write and argue about the nuances of Catholic teaching vis a vis the immorality of contraception, very few write complete books that address not just the moral theology, but also the psychological ramifications of implementing the teaching in our lives.

This book has the best and most complete introductory section on the Church's teaching I have ever read. But more than that, this book addresses the common problems married couples will encounter when giving their lives to this teaching. While those who practice NFP enjoy a divorce rate of around 5% (FAR lower than the general population) that does NOT mean that practicing NFP is without its risks. As a practicing family therapist, Dr. Popcak has seen it all. He addresses these topics with charity and love that enable couples to see that they are not alone in struggling to implement this teaching.
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I purchased this book soon after my wedding, but tucked it into a drawer and didn't read it for some time, assuming that the fun newness of finally being able to make love with my husband would tide us over for a good long while.

Three years of marriage, a pregnancy and birth, and miscarriage later, my husband and I had really hit a brick wall with our intimacy. While other aspects of our married life were fulfilling and we were happy with each other, I did not look forward to sharing myself with my husband. I was raised in a home where sex was taboo - necessary but gross and something only loose women enjoyed. Even though I trusted and loved my husband, I was unwilling to really let myself let my guard down with him.

I pulled this book out of my dresser with the intent to lend to a friend, but instead started to read through it myself, and boy howdy, I am so glad I did. I will absolutely agree that I was shocked at how descriptive and explicit Dr Popcak was with some of his case studies, but I totally appreciated it. Thinking clearly about sex is difficult for me, so I really benefited by the frank descriptions and lack of euphemisms. Please be aware, though, that those are only in a few parts of the book. Most of the book addresses attitudes many people have concerning what sex is or should be, and discusses certain problems and how to resolve them before it ever introduces "sex tips".

My husband read the book with me, and we took time to discuss issues and questions. With a bit of time and prayer, I realized it's actually quite alright for a wife to enjoy sex with her husband (I knew intellectually, but did not behave accordingly), and I really started to be able to finally enjoy that part of my relationship with my husband. It hasn't been long since I read it, but our relations have been more fulfilling, enjoyable, and certainly spicier since we read this book.
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