Amy Frykholm is a correspondent for the Christian Century and the author of two books: Rapture Culture and Julian of Norwich. Anyone familiar with Christian church history knows that it has for centuries had a serious problem with sexuality. The latest sexual scandals in contemporary fundamentalist churches and the child abuse cases that have rocked the Catholic Church are part and parcel of a twisted and horrific tradition of hatred of the body, sexuality, women, and homosexuality. In this creative work, Fryholm looks at the disconnect between sex and religion through the lives of nine Protestants trying to cope with various challenges related to the flesh.
She begins by acknowledging that we live in a body-hating culture that at the same time has a huge industry built upon prostitution and pornography. This double-sided phenomenon makes it even more difficult for youth to know what to do with their heightened sexual impulses. It also compels Protestant churches to do more work on bringing sexuality and spirituality together in a healthy and holistic union.
The nine people profiled come from different geographic and religious backgrounds even though they live in the same culture where sex is used to sell everything from cars to clothes to dating escorts. As you read these accounts of faithful Christians struggling with isolation, fear, shame, silence, and suffering, keep your heart and mid open to their special situations. The nine individuals include:
• Sarah, daughter of a Korean minister who has sexual intercourse with a boy she met at the mall;
• Mark, who was brought up in a conservative Christian family and still wonders whether his practice of abstinence has diminished his relationship with women;
• Megan, who carried the secret of her bisexuality to a Christian college but then fell in love with a woman there;
• Monica, an art student who put her vision of the human body into play at a Christian college and found herself under attack;
• Paul, who discovered he was gay while attending seminary and now must face a future founded on that fact and his interest in the theology of incarnation;
• Ashley, whose negative feelings toward her body led to a severe eating disorder and the challenge to revise her life and faith;
• Matthew, a self-described pornography addict for years who is now ready to fight his addiction;
• Genevieve, a prostitute who is now in recovery and seeking to create a new life for herself;
• Becca, a victim of sexual abuse who has now is helping other women who have been sexually abused.