"American Christianity promises a life lived happily ever after to anyone who waits for sex until marriage, marries a religious person, and raises children in the church … that this scenario describes fewer and fewer of us with each passing day is of little account."
So writes Amy Frykholm (associate editor at The Christian Century and the author of Rapture Culture and Julian: A Contemplative Biography) in her new book, See Me Naked: Stories of Sexual Exile in American Christianity (Beacon). Including Frykholm's own story, the book tells the stories of nine men and women who tried, and failed, to fit the ideal of pure Christian sexuality, struggling to live well in their bodies amid "thickets of pain" where rules made little sense.
"Christian mythology," writes Frykholm, "teaches that Christian sex protects us from heartache"—that if a believer keeps good boundaries and abstains from bad behavior, he or she will never get hurt. Frykholm acknowledges that rules "can guide people ...1