Sexual Liberation-The Scandal of Christendom

“This book is an account of the ways in which sexual pleasure has been devalued and demonized in the West by the historical forces of Christendom. It tells the story of how sex came to be regarded by societies throughout the ages as perverse, sinful, and wrong, and how the centuries-old motivations of a few have persisted into modern times, coloring our view of sex and sexuality to this day.”–Caps Connect

“Director of hospital pastoral care at Columbia University’s Medical Center, Lawrence describes the strange ways that sexual pleasure has been demonized in Europe and its sphere of influence, and the likely motivations driving this process. Among his topics are the sexual life and teachings of Jesus, sexual pleasure in Judaism, the victory of monasticism, the Cathars, the sexuality of Teresa of Avila, The Reformation as sexual revolution, and sexual disarray in the late 20th century.”–Reference & Research Book News

From Google Books: 

Sex sells, they say, but even today, it is considered forbidden, wrong, or sinful by many in the Western world. This book is an account of the strange ways sexual pleasure has been devalued, even demonized, in the West by the forces of Christendom and its legacy in the modern world. It tells the story of how sex came to be regarded by societies throughout the ages as perverse, sinful, and wrong, and how the motivations of a few have lasted centuries and colored our view of sex and sexuality even today.

For good or ill, Christianity has been, since before the ebbing of the Roman Empire, the principal bearer of public values in the western world. This book traces the changes that have shaped and reshaped what is considered moral sexual behavior (and immoral sexual behavior) by Christians and non-Christians alike. Lawrence’s account of the perversion of sexual values begins with the intersection of the early Jesus movement and the morality of the Greco-Roman culture and empire. He goes on to point out the ways Christianity and its moral code were reshaped under the impact of Constantine’s adoption of Christianity as the imperial religion, and how key figures of the Middle Ages generally succeeded in promoting a religion whose chief goal was the obliteration of sexual pleasure. The story continues on through the ages until now. This controversial look at sex and Christianity sheds new light on our views of pornography, homosexuality, adultery, and other issues of sex and sexuality.

Review & Commentary

One thought on “Sexual Liberation-The Scandal of Christendom

  1. Review

    This is powerful book if you want to get an overview of the Christian influence on today’s sexual ethics and sexuality. Sexual Liberation is mostly an account of how wrong Christianity has been about sex over the centuries. Raymond Lawrence is the Director of Pastoral Care at New York Presbyterian Hospital at the Columbia University Medical Center. He brings years of scholarly and life experience to his writing.

    His primary thesis is that in the formative years of early Christianity, the Church turned its back on its biblical roots and instead embraced the Greco-Roman culture that had been heavily influenced by a negative attitude of the Stoics and the Neo-platonic s philosophy of the Roman imperial world.

    Lawrence builds this case on the belief that Christianity and its moral code were created under the impact of Constantine adopting Christianity as the official religion of the state the influence of people like Augustine.

    This book is an easy read and not only will you learn about the historical development and roots of Christian attitudes toward sexuality but you may learn a lot more about the teachings of both Jesus and Paul in the process. 

    I would strongly recommend this book more for individual reading and education and for progressive small discussion groups. I found it both informative and entertaining.  

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