Monday, September 13, 2010

Lauren Winner

From Shala Carlson's Q & A with Lauren Winner about her book, Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity:

Q: I think most people might be surprised to read a Christian book about sex that doesn’t present an airtight, generic definition of chastity. Did you know from the beginning that you would not be attempting to set definite parameters?

A: I actually think I did offer a pretty clear explication of chastity — that chastity means sex only with one’s spouse — though emphasizing too that sexual sins are not somehow unforgivable and also emphasizing that we need to think of chastity as one of many spiritual disciplines that are part of Christian discipleship and obedience.

Q: What I think some people might find a bit surprising, though, is that you aren’t dividing all physical behaviors into “acceptable” and “forbidden.” You tell the story that you and your now-husband received advice from a pastor when you were dating not to do anything sexual that you would not be comfortable doing on the steps of the University of Virginia Rotunda. At the same time, you acknowledge that certain Christians wouldn’t accept kissing as part of their definition of chastity.

A: I’m much more interested in suggesting/modeling certain principles — so, for example, I told the on-the-steps-of-the-Rotunda story not because I thought everyone should adopt my boundaries, but because I do think most people (all?) should adopt the idea of inviting their community into their "personal" decision. (In this case, "community" was represented by our friend/pastor/interlocutor.)

I think this sort of obsession with line-drawing already misses the point. Chastity is about focusing on God in a particular way, and if one gets too obsessed with line-drawing, then one is, well, focused on line-drawing — not on God.

Q: Real Sex is written most specifically for those with what you call "articulated Christian ethics." What do you think readers who don’t share that same perspective can take away from your discussion of chastity?

A: I wrote the book...[read on]
Lauren Winner's new book is A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith: Anglican Religious Practice in the Elite Households of Eighteenth-Century Virginia.

--Marshal Zeringue