Dr. Sean McDowell, Chasing Love: Sex, Love, and Relationships in a Confused Culture, B&H Books, 2020, 208 pp.
When I came to faith in the mid-90’s Josh McDowell was one of the go-to resources for defending the faith. In my personal evangelism, I was being challenged on a regular basis. So having access to resources out there was a benefit to me and others as well. Fast forward about 20 or more years, and I began to see McDowell’s son Sean began to write apologetic works as well as speak and teach on plenty of apologetic topics. Josh was also one of the pioneers in the “purity culture” movement. So it seems Sean has a burden for some of the same issues.
But of course, we as Christians now must deal with much more than the premarital sex issue. We have some serious challenges with defining love, gender, as well as the same sex attraction, and same sex behavior issues. These are some of the topics McDowell covers in his book Chasing Love: Sex, Love, and Relationships in a Confused Culture. As someone who has done campus apologetics for years, I can say without hesitation that sexuality is one of the top talking points with college students. Thus, it has become a bit of an obsession. That’s why McDowell’s book is so relevant. The chapters are short and accessible. Each chapter ends with talking/discussion points.
One thing McDowell mentions early on is the fact that if we followed the sexual ethic of Jesus/God’s design for marriage and divorce, we would not have as many problems with abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, divorce, rape, sex trafficking or porn. The world would certainly look different- pgs. 18-19.
McDowell does spend considerable time making a case for why people don’t trust God with their views on sexuality. One of the biggest problems is they do not see God as a good God. Instead, God is restrictive and does not know what’s best for them. So we have a lot of work to do in this area. Relationships are the key to having these types of discussions.
McDowell also rightly says that purity isn’t just about intercourse. Many young people are seeing how far they can go without having intercourse. But sexual purity means purity of mind as well. So, if some are engaging in oral sex or other forms of sexual immorality, that is another form of sexual impurity. McDowell also has chapters on singleness (Ch 15-18). One thing he emphasizes is that neither singleness nor marriage can bring lasting contentment. Sometimes Christians make marriage into an idol and a form of self-fulfillment. But the only one that can meet all our needs is God/Jesus. To enter a marriage without that understanding will only lead to problems. He also rightly notes that the three purposes of sex-procreation, unity, and foreshadowing heaven only apply to this present world- pg. 100. Singleness and marriage are equal ways to serving and honoring God. Neither is better nor more important.
McDowell has had a public debate with Matthew Vines (a defender of the revisionist view of what the Bible teaches about homosexuality). Thus, his chapters on homosexuality and same sex marriage come from a place of both knowledge and personal experience. He makes one of the most important points in the book in his chapter on transgenderism (Ch 28). He says the current culture’s attempt to tell their children their “real selves” can be dissociated from their bodies teaches them to accept a mind-body split which is a form of a psychological disease- pg 183. McDowell builds his case for the problems with the transgender movement by appealing to Leonard Sax’s book Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. McDowell has other chapters on divorce, pornography and co-habitation. He pretty much covers all the areas that are being discussed within our current culture.
These are delicate topics. I have never made these topics a main area of focus. As I said, it will come up with students and family members. These issues are not going away soon. I appreciate McDowell being willing to discuss these issues. This book has enough content and is written at a level that teenagers, college students and adults can follow. I have handed it off to my own teenager. Hope you will as well.