Raw, intimate, and timely, Nadia Bolz-Weber’s latest book offers a full-blown overhaul of our harmful and antiquated ideas about sex, gender, and our bodies.
Christians are obsessed with sex. But not in a good way. For generations countless people have suffered pain, guilt, and judgment as a result of this toxic fixation on sex, the body, and physical pleasure. In the follow-up to her celebrated New York Times bestseller Accidental Saints, Bolz-Weber unleashes her critical eye, her sharp pen, and her vulnerable but hopeful soul on the caustic, fear-riddled, and religiously inspired messages about sex that have fed our shame.
In turn, Bolz-Weber offers no simple amendments or polite compromises, because the stakes are too high—and our souls and our bodies are worth too much. Instead, this tattooed, swearing, modern-day pastor calls for a new reformation. She urges us to take antiquated, sexist ideas about sex, gender, and our bodies and “burn them the f*ck down and start all over.”
This is a journey of holy resistance. Along the way, as antidotes to shame, heresy, and all-too-familiar injustice, Bolz-Weber dispenses grace, freedom, and courage. She shares stories, poetry, and scripture, cultivating resilient hope and audacious love rooted in good news that is “powerful enough, transgressive enough, and beautiful enough to heal not only the ones who have been hurt but also those who have done the hurting.”
In Bolz-Weber’s most personal, bracingly honest book yet, she shares intimately about her life, with her trademark blend of vulnerability, humor, and candor. If you’ve been mistreated, confused, angered, and/or wounded by the shaming sexual messages so prevalent in religion, this one is for you.
In this mix of memoir and call to action, Bolz-Weber (Pastrix) draws on experiences from friends, congregants, and her life growing up evangelical in order to offer a new framework for Christian teachings about sex, gender, and relationships. A former pastor, Bolz-Weber expertly sets her critique of Christianity's current teachings and her own ideas for reform in dialogue with biblical texts, early and recent Christian thinkers, and evangelical cultural models for femininity, masculinity, and sex. Her aim is to retrieve what's of value from within Christianity and posit what is missing and needed in order to create a more forgiving, empowering community that encompasses the many Christians (and non-Christians) who find themselves left out in the cold by the church. Bolz-Weber proposes dropping the abstinence-only approach by instead using concern as the criteria for sexual health. By this standard, a devout Christian with concern for his or her spiritual health would abstain from sex before marriage. More concern for healthy sexuality from Christian teachers would also, in Bolz-Weber's estimation, allow room for rethinking "sexual ethics, gender, orientation, extramarital sex, and the inherent goodness of the human body." The book is aimed at multiple readerships: disaffected and alienated Christians; ex-Christians who left the church due to restrictive, problematic, and heteronormative teachings; and the still-committed Christians who struggle with those same teachings. Accessibly written, Bolz-Weber's powerful book effectively presents sexually liberating and inclusive guidance within a Christian context.