*Reading and Talking about Sexuality

*Note, this post engages with sexuality and includes conversation and books that are suitable for teens and adults.

grass with mountain background

I was hiking in Europe. A French friend was telling me about a messy hook-up pseudo relationship. I listened and sympathized and then said, thoughtfully, 

“That kind of thing wouldn’t happen for me because I believe that sex is only supposed to happen within marriage.”

There was a moment’s silence. Another moment’s silence. I realized my friend was shooting wide-eyed glances at me. 

“You mean . . .” I realized the unspoken question. 

“Yep, I’m waiting.”

Again the silence stretched. I said a silent prayer and laughed to myself that I was having “the talk” in the middle of the French Alps with an unbelieving friend.

It was a great conversation —I was able to share what a Christian view of sex and sexuality looks like. That’s something the world needs.

We just finished a month where every day seemed to bring another headline or email from another corporation celebrating alternative sexuality. In the face of this, we need to be able to talk about sex and God’s design for sexuality.

My conversation in the Alps wasn’t the first time I’d talked about worldview and Christian sexuality. Instead it’s a continuation of conversations begun by my parents when I was in middle school. 

Christian parents, don’t underestimate the power of conversation and discussion. Lovingly, my parents explained what the world was saying and then pointed to the Bible. We didn’t have any of these books, yet. Instead my parents encouraged reading World Magazine‘s articles as discussion starters.

I’d still encourage using the news and headlines as one way to start a conversation with your children.

The following books reviewed by the team provide some more great places to start and ways to engage with faith, the Gospel, and Christian sexuality. Consider these books a response to Pride Month.

christian sexuality booklist, picture of broken Greek statue

Picture Book

God Made All of Me book cover

God Made All of Me: A book to help children protect their bodies by Justin S. Holcomb & Lindsey A. Holcomb, illustrated by Trish Mahoney. New Growth Press, 2015. Unpaged.

How do you explain to a young child that their bodies are beautifully designed, while teaching the sensitive topic of modesty and recognizing that some kinds of touch are not appropriate? You tell them the Truth. Using biblical, clear, simple language, Justin and Lindsey Holcomb have written a book that is not awkward for parents to read, but opens a VERY important conversation about different kinds of touch, allowing children to not be obligated to accept or give affection if they don’t feel comfortable with it, and the difference between surprises and secrets when a child is told not to share information. It’s a loving book, written to help parents and caregivers protect children from abuse. —Megan

Older Teen/Adult Books

Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality book cover

*Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality by Nancy Pearcey. Baker Books, 2018. 336 pages.

“Human life and sexuality have become the watershed moral issues of our age” (Introduction). Pearcey gets right to the point in this timely and thought-provoking examination of the biblical view of both human life and sexuality. Transgenderism and homosexuality dominate our newsfeeds, but Pearcey also tackles other human-body-related issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and the devaluing of the body itself. Would that we didn’t need such a book for our teens, but, as Christian parents and educators, we are doing our teens a disservice if we don’t use resources like this to walk through these thorny issues together. Pearcey offers a hopeful and God-honoring, reality-based worldview that combats the lies of our culture. This is not a “teen” book, however; it is meaty with mature content, and most teens will benefit from discussing it with an adult. Ages 16 and up. —Betsy

A Brief Theology of Periods (Yes, Really) book cover

A Brief Theology of Periods (Yes, Really) by Rachel Jones. The Good Book Company, 2021. 128 pages.

A book about periods? A theology of periods? You might be tempted to write this one off as not worth your time. But, I daresay, for many of you, this book will definitely be worth your time. Jones bravely tackles a subject that we just don’t discuss in church (frankly, I’m glad my pastor isn’t preaching about menstruation from the pulpit… #awkward). Jones recognizes this tension, and her frank, conversational, casual tone invites us to relax and enjoy the ride. Menstruation and the female reproductive system as a whole function as a lens through which to meditate on the glories and messes of the human body, suffering and joy, pain on earth, and our ultimate rescue through Christ’s work on the cross. This is a book for women, but men (especially husbands and fathers) may benefit from reading it, too. Jones is frank and includes issues related to childbirth and sex on occasion as part of her discussion. This book is probably best for older teens and up (a college small group would find much food for thought/discussion). —Betsy

Is God Anti-Gay? book cover

Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry. The Good Book Company, 2013. 88 pages.

This slim book is invaluable in helping Christians start thinking through a Christian response to homosexuality. Allberry is clear, simple, and winsome as he guides the discussion. This is the first book I turned to in college when a friend admitted struggling with sexuality. Reading it helped me understand and lovingly engage in conversation as well as understand how God views this sin. Recently it’s a book I shared with a friend who, as a new Christian, is starting to think through how Christians should engage with the question of homosexuality. She loved it. Ages 16 and up. —Hayley

*Why Does God Care Who I Sleep With? book cover

*Why Does God Care Who I Sleep With? By Sam Allberry. The Good Book Company, 2020. 128 pages.

An excellent follow-up by Allberry on the broader topic of Christian sexuality. Young people are facing a culture that says “you do you,” a culture that questions the wisdom of not having sex and encourages following feelings. Allberry hits home by asking and answering the question of what God thinks and has to say about sexuality. He frankly addresses and honestly answers many questions that Christians will encounter from the world. He also helps connect sexuality to a Christian worldview and contrasts that with the worldview that the world is pressing. Any young person heading to college should read this book; it’s that good. Ages 18 and up. —Hayley

Sex and the City of God: A Memoir of Love and Longing book cover

Sex and the City of God: A Memoir of Love and Longing by Carolyn Weber. IVP, 202. 224 pages.

After recounting her journey to Christianity in her literary memoir Surprised by Oxford, Weber invites readers to that memoir’s sequel. The story of her young Christianity and the temptation to sin (especially in the area of sexuality) is honest, refreshing, and a bit too frank for a less mature reader. Though not explicit, Weber engages with the very real temptation of sexual sin in her own life. She also explores the story of her father, absent for much of her life, and how her understanding of fatherhood and forgiveness was shaped by faith. While the story is ultimately about redemption, it is one that will be more appreciated and understood by mature readers rather than a teen fresh out of high school. —Hayley

Gay Girl, Good God book cover

Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been by Jackie Hill Perry. B&H Books, 2018. 208 pages.

An evocative, lyrical memoir of one woman’s journey: from a decision to embrace her feelings and live as a lesbian to her conversion to Christianity. Raw and deep, this isn’t an easy read. The literary style and Jackie Hill Perry’s voice will appeal to thoughtful, poetry loving mature teens and readers. —Hayley

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.  Crown and Covenant, 2012.  154 pgs.

Like Jackie Hill Perry, Butterfield was a lesbian. Unlike Perry who was at a young, tumultuous stage of life, Butterfield was an established professor in a lesbian relationship. Some research, for the purpose of mocking Christianity, led to a friendship and a radical transformation as Butterfield converted to Christianity. See more about her memoir in Emily’s review. —Hayley

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Hayley Morell

Born in a library and raised by books, or rather, raised by a book-loving family, Hayley loves talking and writing about books. She lives in the middle of Wisconsin and works with children as well as with words.

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  1. L on July 3, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    Thank you for not shying away. I continually recommend this site because you all give your honest feedback and opinions without any harsh words.

    • Hayley Morell on July 7, 2021 at 5:25 am

      Thank you, L, for that encouragement!

    • Jamie on July 8, 2021 at 3:45 am

      Thank you for a thoughtful post, and the resource recommendations. I bought Love Thy Body but have yet to read it.
      I have two other recommendations: Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth by Thaddeus Williams (while not the main focus of the book, he tackles sexuality too – it’s an excellent book), and A Change of Affection by Becket Cook.

  2. Aimee on July 7, 2021 at 3:49 am

    Another one that I highly recommend – albeit for older teens – would be Born Again This Way by Rachel Gilson. It’s her story of growing up in a non-Christian home, choosing homosexuality and then meeting Jesus.

    • Hayley Morell on July 7, 2021 at 5:27 am

      That sounds like a great resource. Adding it to my TBR list; thank you for recommending.

  3. Lisa on May 2, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    Holy sexuality by Christopher Yuan is an excellent book. It talks about how all aspects of us, including our sexuality (whether heterosexual or homosexual) needs to be surrendered to God and redeemed by Christ. Very gospel centered.

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