GOOD NEWS ABOUT SEX AND MARRIAGE
By Christopher West
(Freedom Publishing, 2003, 167pp, $18.95. Available from Freedom Publishing)
Reviewed by Jacinta Cummins
The Church's teaching on abstinence outside marriage and fidelity within it are often miscon-strued by mainstream society and thought to be outdated, negative and even chauvinistic. In Good News About Sex & Marriage, Christopher West examines critically the modern world's attitudes while dispelling the myths about the Church's alleged repressive approach to sex.
West sets out the Church's teachings, demonstrating what an extraordinary gift from God sex is when it involves two people within the context of marriage. This is truly good news for both singles and married couples for they are empowered to stay strong and resolute according to the Church's teachings on sexuality, even in the face of the misguided attitudes that so often confront young people in today's society.
The Church's teachings on sexuality stand in stark contrast to the accepted world view, for here there are two people present - and God. Not only does the Church teach that sex is a holy expression of love between a married man and woman which is open to the gift of life, it is also an "incredible, indissoluble glue" which strengthens the bond of matrimony.
West has written his book in a "user friendly" question and answer format with chapters devoted to the specific areas of sexuality. He never trivialises sex, always treating it with the dignity it deserves, despite the nature of some of the content he must discuss. He avoids the common mistake of some well-intentioned authors by addressing some of the so-called taboo questions relating to sexuality which are nonetheless important ones needing authoritative answers.
As Paul Gray says in his Foreword, "most of us are far from 'bored out of our skulls' with the topic of sex [and] there's no doubt that for many young people, the absence of clear and intelligible explanations of the 'spiritual' side of sex - and why things go so wrong when our bodies are misused - has caused a lot of sadness and despair É Christopher West is no agony aunt É he wants to help the many of us who have difficult questions in this area."
This book is a must for any Catholic, single or married, who is seeking clarity about the Church's teaching on sexuality. It will strengthen the resolve of those practising abstinence outside of marriage to continue to do so as well as answering the questions of many married couples as they strive to remain chaste and respectful in marriage, while including God in their relationship.
The book would also be helpful to non-Catholics who are seeking an alternative to the sexually disorientated attitudes promoted by the secular world. As the title indicates, this book truly does remind us about the "good news" the Church's teachings on sexuality represent.
Jacinta Cummins is a Melbourne journalist working with the National Civic Council.