Why Does God Care Who I Sleep With?: A Review

Andy Robinson
Reviews 3 mins
Found in: Bible, Sexuality

Sam Allberry, Why Does God Care Who I sleep With? (The Good Book Company, 2020)

When I saw the title, I realised that this was a book that needed to be written. I’ve talked to non-Christian friends who are somewhat baffled by the Christian approach to sex. I’ve sat opposite distressed Christians (some of whom are same-sex attracted) who have begun to find the Bible’s teaching hard. Essentially, both groups were asking this question: ‘Why does God care who I sleep with?’ And, at times, I’ve found it hard to answer.

This book helps enormously. Each of the eleven chapters tackles a related question such as ‘Why do we care who we sleep with?’ (chapter 1), ‘Is sex really just for marriage?’ (chapter 4) and ‘Isn’t love enough?’ (chapter 9). In handling these issues, Sam writes with real warmth, combining personal stories (the first of which is hilarious), sharp cultural analysis, and insightful handling of the Bible.

Sam answers his question in the introduction, ‘God cares deeply who we sleep with because he cares deeply about the people who are doing the sleeping’ (p.10). The book shows how the Christian approach to sex – that it is for the purpose of the union of a man and a woman in marriage – is not an attempt by God to limit our pleasure but is ultimately his kind plan for our good.

The book shows how the Christian approach to sex is not an attempt by God to limit our pleasure but is ultimately his kind plan for our good.

The opening chapters are superb in assessing where we are as a culture. Contrary to the impression many might give, deep down we don’t think sex is a simply a source of pleasure or a simple fluid exchange. Noting the #MeToo movement and Rachael Denhollander’s moving question, ‘How much is a little girl worth?’ (chapter 2), Sam points out that we know sexuality is precious and that assault on it is the ‘trauma of a holy space being desecrated’ (p.30).

It is in this context that Jesus’ teaching on lust becomes attractive rather than limiting. In encouraging us to be ruthless on lust in Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus is showing concern for those who would be sexually objectified. Sam goes on to point out the connection with pornography and the victims of sex trafficking. In a similar way, he observes that the biblical teaching on sex was radical in its time because of the dignity it gives to women. Rather than sex being an opportunity simply for the man to take pleasure – as would have been common in Roman society – the Bible presents it as an opportunity for a man and a woman to give to one another in a mutual relationship.

It is one of the most compelling arguments that I have encountered.

In all of this, Sam helpfully picks up the right concerns of our culture and presents the Bible’s teaching as attractive in this context. It is one of the most compelling arguments that I have encountered, and it encourages the reader to engage more deeply with what Jesus says. This enables Sam to teach the purpose of sex being a union between a man and a woman from the creation account in Genesis.

The remaining chapters deal with questions that might remain. What if I have failed? Sam takes us helpfully through Psalm 51 and David’s example of repentance following sexual sin but with the assurance of forgiveness. Sam recognises that following the Bible’s teaching may lead to some people not having sex. Chapter eight deals with the question as to whether we need to have sex to be truly fulfilled. Picking up the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4, he notes that a significant amount of sex had left her unfulfilled. ‘What she needs is what only Jesus can offer her: living water’ (p.97). The last two chapters of the book explain why this is the case. Jesus comes as the Bridegroom. Using the details of the wedding service, we are shown how marriage and sex in this life are simply foretastes of the ultimate wedding.

This is not really a book about same-sex attraction. Indeed, Sam only mentions his own experience of this on the very last page. But it is a book for those who are finding themselves with more general questions about the Christian approach to sexuality and whether it is good news. It helps us to see God’s wisdom in putting healthy boundaries around the precious gift of sex and enables those of us who are celibate to rejoice that our sexual desires are simply pointers to the ultimate day of satisfaction.