rating: 4 of 5 stars
Desire and Deceit is an easy to read engaging discussion of how "sexual tolerance" has made itself the primary moral issue in our society. The author, R. Alber Mohler, is president of a Baptist seminary, and while he footnotes the book, it is not an academic tome but rather a very readable text. while he claims to present the Biblical view of sexuality, he does not reference or quote much scripture.
The book begin with a look at some letters JRR Tolkien wrote to his son, a man in his early twenties, about marriage and human sexuality. "The devil is endlessly ingenious, and sex is his favorite subject. He is as good every bit at catching you through generous romantic or tender motives, as through baser or more animal ones" Mohler quotes Tolkien as saying. Mohler further points out that Tolkien understood that those who give themselves most unreservedly to sexual pleasure will derive the least pleasure and fulfillment in the end.
Next, Mohler looks at lust from both a secular and Christian perspective. From a secular perspective, it is defined as "the enthusiastic desire, the desire that infuses the body, for sexual activity and its pleasures for their own sake.", though from the secular perspective, there is nothing wrong with that. From a Christian perspective, "Lust goes beyond attraction, and appreciation of beauty, or even a healthy desire for sex--it makes these desires more important than God. Lust wants to go outside God's guidelines to find satisfaction." About the human sex drive he says "we need the guiding assistance of the sex drive to pull us out of lethargy and self-centeredness into a fruitful and faithful relationship with a spouse."
Pornography is also addressed, including its mainstreaming into advertising and entertainment and points out that increased exposure to erotic stimulation creates the need for ever-increasing stimulation in order to demand notice, arouse sexual interest and retain attention. Mohler draws a contrast between the man who seeks sexual fulfillment through porn, with its lack of contact, lack of relationship, and lack of demands, with the faithful husband who has to make himself worthy of his wife's attention and desire.
Quite a bit of the book is devoted to discussion homosexuality. He points out that defining homosexuality as "who you are" rather than "what you do" is a recent phenomenon. He discusses the efforts of those within the church who would legitimize homosexual behavior. They make one of two arguments when faced with the Biblical proscriptions--they either claim they only refer to those who are of a heterosexual orientation, and therefore not being true to their nature or they claim that those proscriptions need to be viewed as reflections of the hierarchical patriarchal culture that we can safely reject as not applying to us. Kohler describes the process by which the homosexual activists have changed the way America views homosexual behavior. He looks at some of the big names in the study of sex and discusses how much of their "research" has been discredited.
I find it interesting that one aspect of modern sexual behavior was not addressed at all in this book--birth control.
I've read about Theology of the Body. I'm going to have to read it, and I think comparing it to this book would be an interesting exercise.
This is a First Wildcard book. Check back December 14 to read the first chapter (which is about Tolkien).
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