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This is the back cover, where our goal is to make you interested in reading the book.
It’s about sex, you, and God. It covers issues like dating, marriage, singleness, lust, porn, same–sex attraction, homosexuality, gender and even that thing beginning with ‘m’ that everybody is embarrassed to talk about.
It also talks about forgiveness—God’s mind–blowing forgiveness.
No? You might want to check for a pulse.
Yes? Read on…
This is a fairly good book, but I cannot recommend it at all because it strays into gospel plus. In the chapters on dating and masturbation the author wisely warns us against the dangers of both masturbation and dating without marriage as a purpose. This clearly comes from a pastoral concern and long experience. But what makes this book dangerous is that both of these pieces of wisdom get elevated to the level of "not following this wisdom = sin". ie: a new law to follow. The author even says that "the Bible has nothing to say about masturbation" but then ends by saying it is a sin, and that we can find forgiveness in Christ. In other words, although the Bible says nothing about it, I have decided that this is sin for you. This is *extremely* irresponsible, as God decides what is sin and what isn't, not us! From good motivations, the book strays into Pharisaism, elevating man-made rules to the level of God's proclamations. This will lead to deep false guilt, and failure, as the Spirit does not empower us to meet our standards but God's standard. I think this book needs a re-edit, and the author to clearly distinguish between "I recommend" and "God says".
Daniel Garratt has written a review of my book that makes some very serious charges, including: 1)that the book strays into “gospel plus”; 2)that “wisdom” on dating and masturbation turns into “not following wisdom = sin”; 3)that I say that masturbation is a sin which is “*extremely* irresponsible”; 4)that the book strays into Pharisaism, making man-made rules God-like proclamations; 5)that the book will cause false guilt and failure. From Daniel’s review it seems that he uses the phrase “gospel plus” to mean creating more right and wrong laws than the bible does. Gospel plus language is normally used to refer to salvation by works in some way. That is gospel plus works will earn your salvation. So to be clear, the main problem Daniel seems to have with my book is that I’m saying things are wrong that the bible doesn’t say are wrong. Let me address this with three points. First, does the book say masturbation and dating are sinful? Secondly, are there things which the bible doesn’t mention which are right and wrong? Third, is it sinful to be unwise when God says to be wise? 1)Does the book say masturbation and dating (without marriage as a purpose) are sinful? The book does not say that dating is sinful. After a carefully nuanced set of points, I conclude that “I think” (p113) dating should be for people who are ready to get married. I then later clarify that “I’d say” (p114) it most wise to not date if you’re not ready to get married. The reason I give is that dating when marriage isn’t the intent “I think… will almost always be destructive rather than constructive” (p114). I then quote from the wisdom literature, something that Daniel hasn’t answered. Similarly, the book does not say that masturbation is sinful. However, I do argue that it’s almost impossible to separate from lust or other impure thoughts. I say that “masturbation, in most cases, makes you sin” (p150). That’s a nuance that needs to be well observed. My assertion that leads to speaking of Christ’s forgiveness is not because I say masturbation is sinful but because “masturbation can cause a lot of guilt”. Again, there is a point there that has been missed. Garrett says my book will cause guilt and failure. But my book attempts to shine the light of the gospel into already existing guilt and failure. 2)Are there things which the bible doesn’t mention which are right and wrong? This is a tricky answer and probably ground that Daniel and I share. But it’s a very important question to answer given the claims made in the review. Things that are wrong that the bible doesn’t mention can be traced back to things the bible does mention. It’s a question which begs for illustrations. For example, is it wrong to put coins into a slot machine in a casino? The Bible doesn’t mention such machines; in fact I don’t think you’ll even find a direct commandment against gambling. Yet gambling involves participating in activities that often work against aspects of personal godliness (e.g. the idolatry of greed). Can you gamble without straying into ungodliness? Yes, probably. Is it right to make it a habit to engage in gambling? No, it clearly isn’t. 3)It is sinful to be unwise (or foolish) when God says to be wise? I think the short answer to this is “yes”. The fool in proverbs is sinning. We are commanded to “be wise”. I think to know the wise thing to do and not do it (without another equally wise alternative) is to sin. One example from a recent conversation with another minister was that he said he doesn’t think it’s sinful for a Christian to marry a non-Christian. He then said “it might be unwise, even very unwise, but it’s not sinful”. I think that’s a false distinction and a misunderstanding of sin. Wisdom in the Bible begins with the fear of the Lord. Not fearing God – not treating him as God – is in fact the very essence of sin. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be in the ‘unwise’ category when it comes to facing God on judgement day. And of course our example of perfection is Christ. Did and would Christ do anything foolish (or not do something wise)? No, because he was sinless. I hope that helps alleviate any concerns. By the way, I couldn't submit this response to the earlier review without giving my own book a star rating. But if I didn't think it was a 5-star book I would have changed it before publication to improve it. So forgive me if it looks a bit arrogant. I would have preferred to let others rate my book.
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