A Theology Of Marriage

Christian, Celebrate Your Sexuality, by Dwight H. Small (Revell, 1974, 221 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by Dennis McFadden, editor, “Horizon,” Barbara, California.

From the book’s title, one might expect a simple, high-school oriented list of sexual “dos and don’ts” and the inevitable raising of the question “How far can I go?” But this is definitely not that kind of book.

Dwight Small, assistant professor of sociology at Westmont College has written a book that fulfills its promise to be both scholarly and readable. It is probably the most sophisticated treatment of the subject by an evangelical author on the scene today.

The book is the product of more than twenty years of college conferences, marriage workshops, pastoral counseling, and college teaching. Small intends it “for those who are prepared to think more seriously, perhaps, than they have ever thought before on this fundamental biblical subject.” He attempts to combine the approaches of sociology, psychology, history, cultural anthropology, and biblical theology.

Small divides his work into two major sections. The first, “Sex, Yesterday and Today,” begins with varying opinions among psychologists and sociologists concerning present-day sex options. Surveyed are such diverse views as the safety-valve view, singles clubs, common-law marriage, Margaret Mead’s two forms of marriage, open marriage, and monogamous polygamy. The rest of the first part consists of a historical survey tracing the Church’s attitudes toward sex from the teachings of Jesus to J. A. T. Robinson.

In the second part, Small attempts to work out a theology of sexuality. He describes the image of God in relational rather than ontic categories; that is, he speaks of the real being of ...

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