Adrian Thatcher’s book, God, Sex and Gender: An Introduction, is an engaging account by a highly respected theologian. The author is well known for his works related to human sexuality and theology and has become an important voice on these themes. The book is written with the aim of comprehensively introducing readers to the theological understanding of gender and sexuality. It is written mainly for students at the undergraduate and postgraduate level to provide students at this level with an idea of sex, sexual relationships, sexuality, and gender roles from the theological perspective. The contents of the book are summarized below, followed by a reflection on it.
There are five parts in the book. The first part, “Sex, Gender, and Theology,” consists of a separate chapter on each of those three topics. In this part, the author attempts to impart an understanding of these three topics in the context of biblical times, as well as contemporary times. The author also explores how some theologians and churches use theological sources to understand these areas.
The second part of the book, “Being Theological about Sex,” consists of a discussion and analysis surrounding marriage and desire from a theological viewpoint, and various kinds of desires are distinguished: sexual desire is linked with a desire for God. The next part, “Being Theological about Gender,” focuses on the discussion of the gender of the God of Christian faith. In this part of the book, Thatcher also discusses whether Mary helps to restore women’s self-respect in a Church dominated by males.
Part four of the book, “Being Theological about Same-Sex Love,” provides a close examination of the biblical passages that have been used to condemn homosexuals. Thatcher arrives at the controversial conclusion that such passages cannot be used now in the same manner. The use of reason, tradition, and natural law in condemning homosexual practices is also examined.
The final section of the book covers a range of aspects, including understanding the theology of chastity, virginity, and celibacy. There is also some discussion of contraception and sex out of wedlock in an AIDS era. In short, various aspects fundamental to the discussion to both gender and sexuality are discussed from a theological perspective.
This is a good introduction to current debates among Christians on sexual ethics in a changing social climate. The book is mainly targeted at seminary and university students as an audience along with general readers. In general, it may be more appealing to those readers who have a liberal approach as compared to conservative traditionalist readers, as it can be seen as challenging revisionist and traditionalist positions. The book presents a rich discussion of sex, family, and marriage, which makes it a good resource for those who want a theological perspective on these topics. The author has conversational style, with questions directed at the reader, making reading the book an engaging experience. The questions are usually challenging as well as appropriately open ended. Sometimes the question overtly leads the reader along the argument’s flow. Such a style also requires the reader to think about the ideas discussed and the arguments presented. The book’s format also elaborates all the relevant terms for the audience.
. James M. Childs, Jr. “Review of Thinking About Sex,” Journal of Lutheran Ethics 16, no. 6, (2016): Article 1. https://www.elca.org/JLE/Articles/1166 (accessed 29 Dec, 2016).
. David Robinson, “Book Review: Adrian Thatcher, God, Sex, and Gender: An Introduction,” Studies in Christian Ethics 27, no. 2 (2014): 243. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0953946813514806h (accessed 29 Dec, 2016).
. Adrian Thatcher, God, Sex, and Gender: An Introduction (Chichester, West Sussex England: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), p. xi.
. Ibid., p. 33.
. Ibid., p. 128.
. Ibid., p. 185.
. Ibid., p. 211.
. Robinson, p. 244.