Sexuality: God’s Gift
ed. Anne Krabill Herschberger. 2d ed.. Scottdale, PA and Waterloo, ON: Herald Press, 2010. 317 pages.
Butch Hancock, a member of the alternative country band, The Flatlanders, jokes about the conflicting lessons he learned in his evangelical hometown: “Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.” The authors contributing to the book under review here would be especially saddened by the last comment, for their essays emphasize in various ways that sexuality is a gift from God and that sexuality and spirituality are closely connected.
The essays attempt to investigate almost all aspects of sexuality, their subjects ranging from sexuality and Scripture to intimacy, from sexuality as experienced at different life stages to sexuality as experienced by people of diverse marital statuses and sexual orientations. Its scope is ambitious, yet the seventeen essays in the book did manage to cover an impressive array of related topics. Its willingness to attempt to cover this subject in its multi-facetedness is one of the strengths of the book.
It is also a main weakness. Breadth is achieved at the cost of depth. When dealing with sexuality and the Scriptures, for example, it becomes evident that broad strokes were used and that we are not reading Richard Hays or R.T. France, scholars who treat these matters with impressive depth and care. The chapter dedicated primarily to the overview of Scripture on the subject runs to a mere sixteen pages, with very few references cited. Because of the importance of this topic and the controversy surrounding it, and because of the value that Mennonites place on the Scriptures, I was expecting a deeper discussion.
I would suggest reading this volume in conjunction with other pertinent theological and ethical material. The book gives a helpful list of such resources in its last chapter. Although I would not constrain myself to the resources listed there, I found that they did lead me to consider writings I would not normally read, especially those from the medical field.
In sum, this is a helpful read for pastors, but also for any Christian attempting to seriously explore the connectedness of their sexuality and spirituality.