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Living in Sin?: A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality Paperback – February 2, 1990
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Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“John Shelby Spong…is a brave churchman. He has the guts to tell it like it is.” (National Catholic Reporter)
Top Customer Reviews
However, if there were more religions or even pastors with attitude like Spong's, I might still be going to church. He takes the Bible and the church's attitudes towards sex and sexuality of all kinds (heterosexual, homosexual, pre-marital, post-marital) and puts it into a framework that someone with a working brain can tolerate. He points out the context in which the Bible was written and the attitudes towards sex and women were formed - and says why they are not applicable and ought to be re-thought today.
Particularly interesting to me were the ideas of reviving the idea of betrothal, and of a church ceremony for divorce. The latter chapter almost made me cry - having witnessed painful divorces of family members and been through very painful breakups myself, the idea of having a ceremony to mark the end of the relationship surrounded by friends, friends who are then given a chance to remain friends with both halves of the couple, was very moving and appealing.
However, if you are a traditionalist, for this book to make an impact, you have to be open looking at things from a different viewpoint for a little while. You have to be ready to let go of a little security and prejudice and get to the compassion that is supposed to be the heart of Christianity. This isn't a human sexuality textbook - it is about humanizing religion and bringing the old attitudes into line with modern knowledge and reality. It takes courage to look at beliefs you hold dear and evaluate them objectively, and not a lot of people have the strength to do it. Spong does - do you?
John Shelby Spong makes it clear that Christianity's ideas of morality must be brought up to date. In many ways the teachings of Jesus, and the portrayal of him in the gospels, have never (or rarely) been taken by modern orthodox believers to their logical, radical conclusion.
The early Christians took Jesus to heart and followed his precepts according to their own pre-scientific understanding of human nature. They celebrated 'difference' as long as it did not threaten their male-dominated, female-subordinated view of the world. We now know this is wrong. Today everyone is free to be who they really are, and all sexual behaviour is recognised as equally valid provided it is between consenting adults, no-one is exploited, and no harm is done.
The modern Christian, if he is truly following Jesus, as the early Christians did, is honour-bound to live in the radical life-affirming way exemplified by the founder of his faith. There is no excuse anymore. Either everyone is loved, and we do mean everyone - not just believers - or God is not truly loving. Everyone is a beloved child of God - no favourites - or God is not a good parent.
The Christian of today has to be leading the cause of sexual liberation for all. He has to be fighting for the sexually, socially, religiously, and economically marginalised. John Shelby Spong has taken to heart what Jesus meant when he said: "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." - Matthew 25:40.
"Living in Sin" was among my first exposures to Spong, and I found him persuasive and entertaining. He clearly has a knack for seeing Scriptural truth through a lense that my fundamentalist-trained yes tend to neglect. For example, he opens with the story of Jonah. I have always seen Jonah as a story about call and obedience, but Spong sees a story about prejudice and inclusiveness. Read the other reviews posted and you'll find much reference to "sex." Spong considers "Living in Sin" to be about prejudice, not sex. It is about the prejudice of the Church against sexual minorities, that is, the divorced, the homosexual, and the unmarried.
In part two of the book Spong faces the Goliath of defenses for the Church's historical stance - the Bible itself. I remember the tinge of fear that swept through me the first time I said that "Paul wrote (that), but Paul was wrong." Spong has spent a long career squarely facing the over-literalized authority many ascribe to Scripture, and he does so again here, challenging the literal interpreters, the traditional anti-women teachings of the Bible, and the traditional anti-gay interpretations of the Church. One need not agree with every jot and tittle of Spong's text to agree that the foundations of the traditional positions are quite weak.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is literally the best text I have read on sexuality and the Bible since "Unprotected Texts" by Jennifer Wright Knust. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Matthew J. Bentley
Have most of Spong's books and have found them a great tool for educations From my understanding, it is not a choice. Read morePublished 12 months ago by mary alice wicker
This is an overwhelming book. This is really profound and opens up new windows into the way the church should be dealing with human sexuality (something we have been historically... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Andrew Shroyer
Progressive Chrisianity at its best. Spong is a master teacher...Published 13 months ago by S. ROSS JETT
It is so very logical. You find peace upon reading it. You realize how silly religions have been taught...Fairy tales. IRMA DICKINSONPublished 15 months ago by irma dickinson
Bishop Spong deals with difficult social issues in a very sensitive and logical way.Published 17 months ago by Theodora Sallee