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Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women Paperback – February 16, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Dan, you're onto something here. Cross-gender friendships are here and no one's talking about them--certainly not in the evangelical church. You take a volatile subject and handle it provocatively, yet pastorally I think (the writing's good too!). Even if your readers don't agree with all your conclusions, this book needs to be read. Nothing less is at stake than our full liberty, creativity, love and apprenticeship to Jesus Christ in the 21st century. I feel that strongly about it." --Mike Morrell, KedgeForward

Brennan's treatment of the subject matter is robust, "thorough, balanced, well-researched, and thought-provoking. Brennan offers a biblical foundation for his thesis, which I think is most important." --John Fortin, Catholic Philosopher

From the Back Cover

"Dan Brennan opens a spiritual treasure chest and peers into an untapped resource that has been largely hidden from our sight: the gift of agape between the sexes. In Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions, he encourages Christians, with tenderness and thorough scholarship, to reach beyond fear of sexuality and engage the cross-gender friendships in in their life that can help ignite their spiritual growth." Rev. Carole Hallundbaek, award-winning author of Saints in Love, theologian, and spiritual director, and was consultant to PBS series Religion & Ethics Weekly.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Faith Dance Publishing (February 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982580703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982580707
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Married to my best friend, Sheila for 33 years. I have been researching male-female friendship for the last decade. Romantic intimacy and friendship intimacy are not rival intimacies. I continue to enjoy healthy longstanding intimate friendships with women my wife knows, loves, and trusts deeply. My longest friendship of thirteen years is also my closest friend. I'm a respected leader in my church. I've hosted two national Sacred Friendship Gatherings in recent years where leaders, pastors, therapists, and friends gathered to engage this complex and sacred relationship.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brian Murphy on November 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book hits the nail right on the head. Brennan exposes the travesty that is the modern western church's understanding of "cross-sex" relationships. For the longest time sex was seen as a dirty word, and thankfully much of the church has woken up and realized that sex is a gift from God, something to be cherished, not looked down upon. Unfortunately its understanding of cross-sex relationships hasn't come around just yet.

The church is so focused on avoiding unhealthy sexual relationships and fostering healthy sex that it has done so to the detriment of friendships. What is left is a view of friendships that is impoverished, anemic, and legalistic. So many have bought into the influence of Frued and other cultural influences which have contributed to objectification, dehumanization, hyper-sexualization, and hyper-romanticism. We have bought the lie that men and women can't be friends, that all non-familial cross-sex relationships must always lead to sex, that we are just beasts that have no self-control.

Brennan rejects these beliefs. Using scripture and many examples of tradition he shows that this is simply not true. Men and women, even those who are married, can, and do, have healthy one on one relationships that doesn't lead to sex. The ideas in this book are exactly what the church most desperately needs. Legalistic boundaries cause more problems than they solve, and lead to the exact problems that they are trying to avoid. Boundaries are meant to encourage healthy relationships and vulnerability, not to build up a wall to protect people from these things. The problem isn't lack of boundaries, but lack of intimate relationships where men and women can know one another...only then will things such as pornography addiction, objectification, hyper-sexualization, etc be broken.

This book is a must read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Natalie on July 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've underlined and written notes on nearly every page in this book. I wrote a three part series on my blog inspired by this book; it really is a must read!

This book has forced me to consider the beauty of cross-sex friendship, to address feelings of shame in my own life, and to desire to push back against the Evangelical church teachings I experienced during my formative years. While the book offers more questions than answers, that's one thing I loved about it. Brennan invites us to consider the hard questions and wrestle with what the answers may be.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Philip Hallstrom on March 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have never written a book review before, but this book provokes one. Let me get the cons out of the way first: 1) it was hard to read for me because the book was structured very differently than the way that I think. The chapter titles do not even help me remember what was in the chapters. 2) He used words in ways that were very different from the way I normally use them, and this became an obstacle: "story", "narrative", "eschatological", "dance", etc. He used "sexual" very differently over and over as well, but this word he re-defined pretty early on, so I could keep up with it. 3) It seemed unnecessarily repetitive. Granted that he is on to a very important, fresh concept, but I am a reader that really values concise.

Pros: 1) I loved the presentation of historical, healthy, cross-gender, transmarital friendships. This added great credibility to his thesis and was shocking in and of itself. 2) The thing that sold me on the book was his argument that by calling each other brothers and sisters in Christ, we imply that we can have the same type of intimacy as our biological siblings. And in biblical times, medieval times, and modern times biological siblings can appropriately have great depth of intimacy, so why has evangelical Christianity contradictorily proscribed that level of intimacy between siblings in Christ? 3) He did voracious research before writing this. He quotes extensively other authors, and often their quotes are stunning. The book is worth the buy just for the collection of quotes. Here are couple: "Jesus is not only the fullness of God in human form but also the one who shows us the fullness of humanity. Yet he never marries.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Meredith Efken on June 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Dan Brennan's ground-breaking book "Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions" courageously attacks the oldest and most difficult wall dividing the Christian church--the wall between male and female. Brick by brick, he dismantles the notion that intimate, even passionate, friendships between men and women are impossible and dangerous. He builds instead an eloquent case that male/female friendships are healthy, and necessary for becoming whole and complete people.

I found the following points especially inspiring:

--men and women throughout the ages, even Jesus and some of his female disciples, have had pure and life-giving, passionate friendships in which sex was not involved

--our culture has historically placed romance and sexual relationships as the highest and most desirable of relationships, demeaning not just male-female friendships but also same-sex friendships. In reality, intimate friendship is as valuable, and in some ways even more so, and should be held in as high esteem.

--friendships (cross-gender or same-gender) can and should be passionate and intimate, without involving sex. His discussion of David and Jonathan biblical friendship was beautiful and made me determined to show my closest friends (of either gender) how passionately I love them

With courage and candor, Brennan writes of his own marriage and his cross-gender friendships. His words give voice to ideas that many in the Church believe, but haven't expressed, because of the taboos against it.

This book casts a vision of relational freedom that also celebrates personal responsibility, a concern for the well-being of others, and the sacredness of each person we are in relationship with--whether spouse or friends.
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