I recently finished Sean McDowell’s new book Chasing Love and was not surprisingly impressed. I’ve enjoyed a lot of what Sean has written and this book was no different. Chasing Love is written for teens and twenty-somethings beginning to dabble in love in today’s culture. Sean covers the gambit of topics related to love today, everything from the meaning of love, to singleness and marriage to the controversial topic of transgenderism. He uses his typical thoughtful style to not only wrestle with big questions like the meaning of marriage and the importance of singleness in Christian culture but also gives advice on the practical situations a young person will meet today. Each chapter ends with Sean’s advice on a particular important sex or love related issue.
There are a few gems in this books that address issues the church really needs to wrestle with today. Most importantly in my opinion are relating to those whose sexual ethics disagree with what is Biblical and Christian singleness. In the area of Christian singleness I was particularly impressed by the thought he put into the answers. Most importantly he said something that is obvious but few Christians are really preaching it today.
Singleness (yes even for a lifetime) is what Jesus did, it is what Paul spent at least a major portion of his life doing. The single life devoted to God is not too hard. Sean points out, Jesus and Paul were sexual people just like us yet they lived full Christian lives. Importantly, from Paul’s words in 1 Cor 7 he found this life even more fruitful for serving God because his focus was not divided. Singleness is as much of a gift from God as a good marriage is. This is really key to many other issues today as well. Consider divorce and remarriage for instance. The topic of remarriage is something that is unanimously spoken against unless the partner passes away, yet there is no topic more avoided.
It seems clear why: singleness for the rest of your life is too hard of a burden to put on another person. “Why would God punish X person that way?” we say. However, Biblically it is not a punishment at all it is in fact a precious gift for service. This is ignored because we as a Christian culture have moved so far from really considering the “lay” person is called to ministry (see Eph 4:10-12).
Relating to those not Living under a Christian Sexual Ethic
Secondly, Sean gives his advice on relating to those who we see are not living according to the sexual ethic. I heard his advice previously in a class at Biola and it is still so timely:
- Be a good friend. Live alongside others, care for them don’t constantly beat them down on the particular issue but show yourself to be a loving person alongside them.
- Stay Faithful to scripture. After you have really examined the Biblical truth on a particular sex-related subject (this book is a great place to wrestle with those issues!) don’t alter your stand just because the person you are close to may be radically opposed to the Biblical truth. Sean gives some examples of this from stories his students have told him (he is a youth minister as well as a College Professor). Also, don’t just be silent about the truth but speak up in a compassionate and loving way when the timing is right.
Some other advice:
- Be motivated by compassion.
- Be quick to listen, slow to speak.
- Speak the truth with compassion.
Porn and Cohabitaion
Sean also brings to light some important points on two areas that have been discussed since I was young. Porn and Cohabitation before marriage.
On Porn Sean makes some great points on common porn myths:
- it doesn’t affect me.
One example from the book:
“Before walking with him through the issue, I simply asked how viewing pornography affected him personally. He gave the same answer I hear all the time from young men who look at porn: he had a hard time looking at a woman without viewing her as a sex object.”
This was my experience as well. Thankfully upon coming into a relationship with Christ, Porn was something God supernaturally and radically moved out of my life! However, this was my experience. It was so hard to relate to women at that time as a friend because porn seems to have this conditioning effect on the mind. One surprising thing I’ve found is that in cultures like China where porn is more looked down upon there are more male/female non-sexual friendships. The effect of sex in shaping relationships is shocking and certainly has an effect.
2. I will quit later.
“Few people realize how deeply porn rewires the brain and thus shapes human behavior. The younger someone is, the more looking at porn shapes the development of his or her brain, which can have a lifelong impact. Research shows that it is far easier to quit gambling, alcohol addiction, heroin, and cocaine than porn. Why? Because of what it does to your brain.” – Resource referenced: josh.org/resources/apologetics/research/#pornportfolio
3. It doesn’t hurt anyone.
In addition to the violent environment of even the legal sex industry (for example see https://fightthenewdrug.org/ 3-male-porn-stars-share-their-most-disturbing-experiences-doing-porn/) .. Porn tears apart marriages:
“marriages suffer when porn is involved . Multiple studies reveal that viewing porn decreases satisfaction in a marriage as well as commitment and faithfulness. Spouses who look at porn are habituated to think the grass is greener elsewhere, and as a result, undermine the health of their marriage.”
On Cohabitation Sean mentions and describes the startling correlation between eventual divorce and living together prior to marriage: “Couples with cohabiting experience are between 50 and 80 percent more likely to divorce than couples with no such experience.”. He also goes into several factors that lead to this result.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and think it is a good one especially for young people that may not have heard a balanced thoughtful Christian perspective on the issues. Highly Recommend!