God, Sex & Human Flourishing
“My point, however, is that when the Bible searches for pictures to help us comprehend the character and enormity of God’s passion for us, it has no problems in embracing the entire spectrum of erotic desire. Of course elements of this are metaphorical – God is not embodied as we are – but in the Bible’s portrayal of the intensity of the delight and pleasure that God feels towards us, it’s as if nothing else but sex will do. So human erotic sexual desire is a picture of God’s love, and we need to look into our sexuality to understand his love fully.”
In a number of ways, A Better Story is a unique book. Harrison argues for a richer celebration of sex that is not content to wallow in soundbite-burdened, stiff (but positive?) nods to the erotic that have often constituted engagement with the area in our church circles. But, of course, there are a plethora of books from the marriage-prep genre that do this. A Better Story stands above the rest, therefore, in that it is not just for the married; Harrison unashamedly champions a purpose for the sexuality of a single person, a point obvious in theory but neglected in practice. The forte of A Better Story is that it is not just for the Christian; the book overflows into evangelism in a way that other books about sex simply do not.
Crucially, Harrison unpicks the promises of the sexual revolution by unmasking the underlying non-sexual worldview, namely, “radical individualism”, and showing how the revolution failed to deliver. This is huge. A Better Story boldly suggests that we can learn from the revolution, its emphasis on story, and channel this into a front-footed ability to winsomely talk about Christian sex to the non-believer. In doing so, Harrison blows the whistle on how woefully ill-equipped we have been to do so thus far, partially due to the 20th century hangover that we are still getting over; our continued dependence on propositional argument as our primary approach to apologetics in a culture that is losing interest in such methods. A Better Story is refreshingly interested in the everyday person again, exemplified in just how easy the book is to read.
Most criticisms that come to mind can be batted away. Harrison’s almost apologetic tone at points makes sense in his claim that we must humbly learn from what the revolution has taught Christians about some of our malpractice concerning sex. His “better story” almost resorts to “the Christian worldview is good for societal flourishing”, but this should probably be excused in light of how atrocious we have been in holding onto this biblical truth.
More serious and unmet critiques include a lack of providing a winning story for why same-sex relationships do not mirror the Christ-church marriage, some lacking of rigour in his bold moral psychology claims, and most strongly, a somewhat lacklustre(? I am still undecided) better story. The overwhelming popularity of A Better Story, however, whether objectively deserved or not, is a milestone that will undoubtedly charter a course to a more authentic, powerful witness to the contemporary world.