During the historic election summer of 2008 God blessed me with a fabulous internship at a leading Christian justice magazine and advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. Many Christian authors send their publications to our magazine for review and in the summer the un-reviewed books are put out for employees to take home. As an admitted book worm and broke intern this made my day! As I was going through the collection of books I saw titles on racial reconciliation, politics, Christian living, etc, when a hot-pink and black book stuck out like a sore thumb-Shannon Ethridge’s The Sexually Confident Wife. Why would someone send this book to a Christian social justice magazine? Is this a Christian book? I thought the book was more suitable for Cosmopolitan or an episode of Sex and the City than a faith and justice magazine. Didn’t Ethridge know we were in an election year? As a single woman I like to read about marriage in preparation for my own. When I got back to my cubical I was curious to see what the book was about because on the back cover I discovered that Ethridge was a co-author of Every Woman’s Battle which is apart of a respected Christian book series on purity; proof that this was indeed a Christian book!
I guess I was under the impression that this would be another prepare yourself for marriage via spirituality and purity book-just with a controversial title. As I looked through the book I discovered that this was an open and honest work about the importance of an enjoyable sex life within a Christian marriage. The author shared her testimony of coming from a very promiscuous background to a place of health and happiness within a Christian marriage. What surprised me about the book and left me confused is that this author has a chapter entitled Tantalizing Sexual Techniques and there were pictures! Additionally the author advocated wearing lingerie (and other costumes for your husband), discussed homosexuality, and basically how to have an enjoyable sex life within marriage. When I described the book to friends I jokingly summed it up with “she’s teaching you how to drop it like it’s hot for Jesus.” I also described it as the Christian version of The Joy of Sex.
This book garnered strong reactions from my group of friends. These women are saved, sanctified and opinionated! My one friend felt strongly that Ethridge was trying to take what she learned in her pre born-again life and “run it through the blood” (of Christ), to justify sinful desires. Other friends felt that the book’s message was needed and some felt the book was fine but only for the married. Though I am a practicing celibacy I believe that Christians should have the healthiest and most enjoyable of sex lives when married. I think Christians need comprehensive sex education that stresses not only abstinence, but teaches about: sexually transmitted diseases, family planning, the difference between “true” and “technical” virginity, and how to have an enjoyable sex life within marriage. With the divorce rate in the church at 50%, the current debate over the definition of marriage, and cases of STD outbreaks at Christian schools it is apparent that whether you agree with Ethridge’s approach or not we can all agree that an honest dialogue about Christian sexuality is desperately needed.
The Sexually Confident Wife gave me a few questions to prayerfully consider: Why did I initially feel it was wrong for this book to be sent to a Christian social justice magazine? Isn’t sexuality a justice issue too? With the amount of sexual assault and exploitation in our society shouldn’t Christians dedicated to justice also be dedicated to promoting healthy sexuality? It’s interesting that when I attend Christian justice events we can discuss AIDS and human sex trafficking but we can’t discuss sex. Why is this? Should Christian married couples attend workshops and read books to enhance their sex life? Are their sexual boundaries that Christians need to follow even after they are married? What does Hebrews 13:4 practically mean for Christian marriages?
For more information on Shannon Ethridge’s work as an Advocate for Healthy Sexuality and Spirituality visit: http://www.shannonethridge.com/.