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Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity Hardcover – April 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Brazos Press (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158743069X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587430695
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Winner, author of the critically acclaimed memoir Girl Meets God, weaves an intriguing tapestry from sociological, autobiographical, pastoral and historical threads. She balances a journalistic report of how difficult chastity is for American Christians; a personal account of how she and her friends have approached premarital and marital sex; a survey of what the Bible, pastors and good Christian books say about the topic; and an overview of how chastity has been understood throughout Christian history. The candor with which Winner writes about sex may alarm some Christian readers, but those who follow her arguments to their conclusions will find themselves rewarded with fresh insights about an overdiscussed but still deeply entrenched problem among Christians. Interestingly, some of Winner's best insights are about married sex. She states early on that "in Christianity's vocabulary the only real sex is the sex that happens in marriage; the faux sex that goes on outside marriage is not really sex at all... [it] is only a distorted image of sex, as Walt Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort is only a simulation of real wilderness." Winner places real sex not in the passionate world of one-night stands and dating relationships, but in the ordinary, domestic life of married couples. As such, she helpfully and perhaps even radically reframes both the Christian and cultural discussion of chastity and sexuality. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Winner, author of the critically acclaimed memoir Girl Meets God, weaves an intriguing tapestry from sociological, autobiographical, pastoral, and historical threads. She balances a journalistic report of how difficult chastity is for American Christians; a personal account of how she and her friends have approached premarital sex and marital sex; a survey of what the Bible, pastors, and good Christian books say about the topic; and an overview of how chastity has been understood throughout Christian history. The candor with which Winner writes about sex may alarm some Christian readers, but those who follow her arguments to their conclusions will find themselves rewarded with fresh insights about an overdiscussed but still deeply entrenched problem among Christians. Interestingly, some of Winner's best insights are about married sex. . . . Winner places real sex not in the passionate world of one-night stands and dating relationships but in the ordinary, domestic life of married couples. As such, she helpfully and perhaps even radically reframes both the Christian and cultural discussion of chastity and sexuality.--Publishers Weekly"[A] carefully presented Christian approach to sexuality. . . . The book gives practical ideas for living a chaste life, portraying chastity as a spiritual discipline. One of the book's strengths is its treatment of singleness and ways in which the chruch could better incorporate singles into the Body of Christ. . . . Readers will appreciate Winner's intellectual, spiritually sound, and engaging approach."--Joseph Bentz, CBA Marketplace"With a winsome, direct, and engaging style full of beguiling humor and verve, Winner forcefully argues that chastity is themost unnatural of Christian virtues. The church must teach us who God has created us to be, must inculcate in us the practices and disciplines that we require if we are to be chaste in a world where it seems like everyone is hooking up with everyone else. While much of the current infatuation with 'spiritual practices' is rather thin, in reclaiming chastity as a spiritual discipline Winner gives substance to the notion of practice and thereby gives substance to the notion of church. . . . This book is a great resource for pastors and congregations. Winner defends marriage as a clench-fisted, revolutionary endeavor that is against just about everything we have been taught to believe, and her defense of singleness as the primary vocation of Christians is equally defiant. She also offers practical ideas about what churches can to do support us in our vocations of marriage and singleness. Real Sex is destined to be one of the most useful books for churches to be published this year."--William H. Willimon, Christian Century"A candid, readable, intelligent, and deeply Christian reflection on the meaning of sexuality and the generally unpopular and misunderstood virtue of chastity. Speaking most specifically to people who are young and single, Lauren Winner is the friendly and informed guide many are looking for in living the Christian alternative in a culture of erotic disorder. Although the author is not a Catholic, there are clear intimations of what Catholics call the theology of the body."--First Things"According to Lauren Winner, chastity is no walk in the park--not for single or married people. It involves unceasing prayer, diligent discernment and a fierce battle against the lies thatour culture and church communicate to us related to sexuality. Real Sex is the fruit of this sometimes-faltering quest in Winner's own life, a continual movement toward wholeness, as well as an ongoing conversation between herself, God and her readers. Real Sex is full of hope--hope that frank discussion will triumph over platitudes, that sexual wholeness can be recovered even after virginity has been lost and that we can all relearn what authentic sexuality is even in the face of cultural mythology."--Jenny Schroedel, Boundless.org "Lauren Winner exposes the half-truths the church and the world have told us about sex. She then proceeds to help us develop a Christian understanding of sex that is biblical, historical and God-honoring. Real Sex is an invaluable resource for college students who queries cannot be answered by 'True Love Waits, ' Christian communities that desperately long for a return to sexual fidelity and pastors who want to speak a good word about sex into this postmodern context. A remarkable resource!"--Christianbook.com"[This book] is a delight. Lots of people can write about sex; some people can write accurately about the value of restraint. How many can do those things in a candid, strikingly insightful and, yes, entertaining fashion? . . . You may not buy into all of Winner's conclusions--indeed, one wonders if she may rethink a couple of the nuances after a few more years of marriage and a child or two--but Real Sex is definitely worth the time."--Alan Cochrum, Fort Worth Star-Telegram"[Winner] bring[s] honesty and integrity to matters concerning sexuality and faith. . . . She shares authentically about a challenging time of life with which many will identify andempathize. . . . Read [Real Sex] to help you engage the immediacy and earthiness of sexuality and spirituality today."--Wayne A. Holst, National Catholic Reporter"An epidemic of sexual perversion is sweeping through our generation. Lauren Winner tackles this topic with wit and a directive to confront cultural lies about sex and challenge how we talk about it at Church. . . . This book will help [church leaders as they] talk about sex and the issues that surround it with singles who are weighing chastity and married couples who are committed to monogamy."--Relevant Leader"Winner reached a kind of evangelical stardom with her first book, Girl Meets God, a brazenly honest autobiographical non-autobiography, a mold-breaking story of spiritual pilgrimage. Winner wrote about her own sexual experiences in Girl, and she returns to the topic in a fuller way here. . . . Instead of do's and don'ts, Winner develops a rich theology of the body and of marital sex, and in addition to listing some of the lies that contemporary culture tells about sex, she lists the lies that the church tells about sex. . . . Real Sex is always honest, sometimes profound, and hip enough to give to your teenage daughter. This is a very satisfying book--and not just because it's about sex."--Peter J. Leithart, Touchstone"[Real Sex] makes a strong case for biblical sexual morality."--Gene Edward Veith, World"I found Winner's book to be a unique and fresh look at an oft-visited subject. Her approach and honesty about her own past is compelling. As someone who made a name for herself defending a Christian's right to sex outside of marriage, it was powerful to read of her own transformation in thought and rebuttal to herprevious beliefs. She systematically works her way through all the arguments, demonstrating God's plan for sexuality in the place of marriage and the beauty of chastity as a spiritual discipline. Rather than simply stating how we are to be, Winner paints a beautiful picture of why God's plan truly is best. As someone who's read way too many books on dating, sex, and chastity, I believe this is one of the best. A must read for those who are single, whether they're 13 or 47."--Matthew McNutt, YouthWorker Journal"An attempt to craft a theologically based and culturally aware case for returning sex to what Winner believes is its divinely intended place: marriage. Real Sex, however, is far from an uncomfortable, prudish lecture about the evils of the body. In a straightforward and conversational style, Winner shares her own sexual history and speaks frankly about often-taboo topics such as pornography and masturbation. Agree or disagree with the author's faith-based conclusions, Real Sex is a timely, thought-provoking work."--Shala Carlson, Gambit Weekly"Written in a readable, scholarly style that suggests C. S. Lewis was invited to speak at a 'True Love Waits' seminar, Real Sex covers an exhaustive waterfront of sexually related topics. . . . One of the most appealing aspects of this book is the explanation of the title. Outside of marriage, sex is not only wrong, it is inappropriate on a deep and cosmic level. Two people coming together for 'casual sex' may not intend anything profound, but sex is always profound. Here Winner hits the nail on the head in a new, refreshing way. . . . Winner's concept of the church's role in helping its single members stay chaste is central to the book. . .. Anyone interested in staying sexually pure or helping others in the church do so will find much food for thought in this intriguing book."--Kathryn Atwood, Having Church"Winner's broader theme, about shifting our focus from the individual to the community, is compelling and well-made, refreshingly free of the righteous scolding and guilt-tripping that makes most books praising 'community' such an awful bore. . . . Most importantly, Winner offers precise, practical advice for those seeking to practice chastity. . . . Winner wisely notes that attempts at living chastely fail unless they are entwined with daily prayer and Bible study. . . . Real Sex is very impressive overall, thanks to Winner's honesty and humility. It packs a real punch in a slender package."--Kathy Shaidle, Catholic Register"Lauren Winner wrote Real Sex for the whole Christian community (as well as for singles) in order to provide helpful tools and resources about chastity. Her purpose in writing was also to define the biblical vision for sex and the real challenges of living within that vision. . . . The author offers tools of accountability and community dialogue to assist in determining good boundaries. . . . It looks honestly at the current views and actions of the church and offers suggested changes; it encourages honest and intentional discussions about sex (we would add: emotional boundaries); and it urges supportive communities f --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Lauren F. Winner teaches Christian spirituality Duke Divinity School, in Durham, North Carolina. Her favorite things include October weather, mystery novels, and doodling prayer (see Sybil MacBeth's Praying in Color if you'd like to know more about that last one).

Customer Reviews

Very thought provoking!
Aaron M. Hughes
Even though I was married I was intrigued and know enough single people that I thought it would be good for me to read.
M. J. Keel
If you're married, this book sheds light on what sex in marriage should be.
K.M.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

434 of 449 people found the following review helpful By FaithfulReader.com on May 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When I was 15 I cut out a four-by-two-inch piece of paper from my copy of Brio magazine and signed it. On the piece of paper was a vow that made me part of the-then newly emerging True Love Waits movement:

"Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate, and my future children to a lifetime of purity including sexual abstinence from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship."

I hung the card on my bulletin board where it was surrounded by drawings from friends, stickers from my favorite bands (The Cranberries, Pearl Jam, and the Smashing Pumpkins to name a few), movie stubs, and pithy quotes from my favorite books (including the Bible). It was a brag board. "Hey, look how cool I am! I have artsy friends and I like alternative music and I'm a Christian at the same time. I'm hardcore. I'm even a virgin." Yes folks, I wore combat boots with my dresses.

Now I'm 27. My music is mainstream (worse yet, I heard Pearl Jam on a classic rock station the other day) and I think the pastel pink purse I'm carrying today officially disqualifies me from anything smacking of hardcore. I still have that True Love Waits card --- I came across it in my parents' basement a couple of years ago --- but my enthusiasm for being a virgin has waned. It's "punk rock" when you're 15 and marriage and sex is on the horizon, just the other side of college (wa-hoo! College!); it's "lite rock" when you're 27 and marriage isn't on the radar, much less the horizon, and college is quickly retreating in the rearview mirror (wa-hoo! Paying off school loans!). And frankly, I'm just not ready to be hanging out with Seals and Croft on a regular basis.

And I'm not alone.
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181 of 187 people found the following review helpful By Jason Poling on March 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an evangelical pastor, I'm thrilled by the thought of the conversations that this book will stimulate among my congregation. As a Christian, I'm thrilled by the alignment this book brings to my own thinking about sexuality.

Lauren Winner's book is a refreshing change from most of what's out there on sexual ethics. It's grounded in reality -- not merely the pain that attends sexual brokenness but the significant pleasure that usually attends it as well. Winner reveals the Gnostic and romantic undercurrents of most conservative attitudes toward sexual morality, especially in the Church, and articulates an alternative that is faithful to the true nature of our God-given, image-bearing humanity. This is not to say that her conclusions with regard to conduct are not "conservative" -- they are -- yet she comes to them by a thought process that holds up well to both theological reflection and harsh reality.

Especially significant is Winner's emphasis throughout on the importance of community. Ours is a world where sexuality is either held in confidence or broadcast with the expectation of nonjudgmentalism, and Winner sketches out the appealing alternative of a world where our lives are informed by relationships of integrity and authenticity with friends and mentors who love us enough to be straight with us about sex.

I am currently about the business of recommending this book in the highest possible terms to just about everyone I know.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Joshua D. Reitano on December 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Winner is a twentysomething Ph.D. student who though raised Jewish has embraced evangelical Christianity. When she first became a Christian, Winner found the idea of a compassionate and forgiving Jesus exceedingly winsome, while much of Christian ethics stifling and oppressive. Thus much of her views on sex and dating differed little from her unbelieving friends. She chose to continue to have premarital sex even as a converted Christian.

That is, until she began to think more conceptually about the whys behind Christian morality in general, and Christian sexuality in particular. Real Sex is the story of Winner's journey from promoting liberal views on sexuality to apologist for chastity outside of marriage. Smart, funny, and honest, Real Sex has a lot to offer both single and married people alike. Winner is at her best in critiquing both our culture's attitudes toward sex, as well as Gnostic myths the church tends to propagate out of fear and ignorance.

Read this book if you have teenagers, are a college student or young single, are wondering about the Biblical purpose for sex, or are exploring the reasons why sex was made for marriage.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Frances Lee on August 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
    After seeing this book in the hands of my Reformed University Fellowship female intern and reading some positive online reviews, I knew I had to get this, especially since it addressed an important topic that the church normally, but unintentionally shies away from.

    After finishing it, I have mixed feelings about it. There is no doubt that Lauren Winner is a very intelligent and well-read woman and how she came up with all these truths at her tender age I do not know. There are some great points in this book, like that Christian couples are called to "share" with other believers their experiences in marriage and hold them accountable, that married sex isn't always great sex, and that many of us have gone too far and are ashamed of our sexual desires, rather than disciplining them for marriage. I also love how the theme of community comes up frequently. I want to lend this book to my friend for her to read the chapter "Communities of Chastity," which asks and discusses why it seems as if singleness is looked down upon in the church, and then clarifies the special role it plays.

    What I didn't really like about the book was its lack of clear organization. I learned some great things from Lauren, I really did, but I'm going to have to rely on my memory to find it in the book, not its chapter titles. She breezes through many important topics in a single chapter, offering us her ideas and opinions of experience, but not a very cohesive and balanced discourse. It has missing parts, I feel, and that is hard to avoid when the topics include premarital and marital sex, dating, marriage and its boredoms, chastity, modesty, birth control, gnosticism, and pornography; books are and should be written, devoted to each of these weighty topics!
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