Evangelicals have long been known for their ability to sanctify popular culture for religious purposes. Popular culture's obsession with sex is no exception, which raises an evangelistic question: How do we make the gospel winsome to a society steeped in sex? Our answer, according to a new book, has been to affirm that great sex in marriage testifies to the good news of the gospel. We sanctify sex, promising better sex when the Bible is the primary guide.
In Saving Sex: Sexuality and Salvation in American Evangelicalism, Amy DeRogatis, professor of religion and American studies at Michigan State University, explores a variety of texts, including evangelical sex manuals, sermons, and purity events. DeRogatis shows how evangelicals' differing (and often competing) views of sex are about much more than sex: Ultimately, they point toward differing strains of evangelical belief, and differing modes of interacting with secular society.
Sex and Salvation
The book begins with an overview of the purity movement for evangelical teenagers. DeRogatis moves quickly through a variety of familiar themes: the fairy-tale narrative and gender roles, True Love Waits purity events, courtship, modesty as a power source for young women, dads as guardians of sexuality, and Jesus as boyfriend. The purity movement is not prohibiting sex as much as it is telling young people (and young women in particular) that God wants them to embrace sex—not just any sex, but amazing sex—in marriage. Scholars have already covered this ground. But the counterintuitive feminist rhetoric of the purity movement allows DeRogatis to set up her next chapter and the heart of her study: how evangelicals have embraced the sexual revolution and ...1