Book Review and Critique of “The Gift of Sex”
CCOU 305-B02 Healthy Sexuality
Liberty University Online
This paper shall be used as a response regarding sexual fulfillment within the confines of a biblically based marriage. It was based on information obtained from the book, “The Gift of Sex” by Clifford and Joyce Penner. The couple gave their opinion as well as discussed topics which were sexually explicit as it pertained to married couples. Couples that were seeking a more satisfying sexual relationship were most likely the intended targets. Topics that were discussed were; the bible and sex depicted towards man, the body which was created in order to perform sexual activities as well as keeping intimacy alive and interested within the marriage. There were also topics such as problems which have risen due to sexual dysfunction, birth control, couples which have benefited from sexual exercises as well as instructions which have been known to have provided an increased sexual agility. The authors recommended couples which have experienced sexual dysfunction within their marriages to seek Professional help when and if needed. Both authors discussed the use of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers as well as men and women of the cloth which have been known to have benefited couples that have dealt with sexual problems in the past. (Word count 203) keywords sexual fulfillment, marriages
SECTION ONE SUMMARY: A Biblical Perspective
The authors explained to readers that God intended for sex to be enjoyed mutually within a marriage between a man and a woman and that sex can make or break a marriage. According to (Penner & Penner, 2003), Sex should be seen as a gift from God and enjoyed within the confines of marriage, sex is encouraged as well as expected to be a vital part of marriage as it relates to intimacy between a man and a woman, (pg. 19-20). The Gift of Sex is a book that was written by Christian authors Clifford and Joyce Penner for those whom are sexually unfulfilled or stagnated in the sanctity of the marriage bed. The book offers much needed advice for married couples, (men and a women), whom are having difficulties sexually; have had dry spells or who have experienced sexual dysfunction or those that have agreed to try various techniques in order to improve their marriage sexually. The authors gave detailed information regarding marital blocks such as Christian beliefs to sexual attitudes or bad habits which could prevent couples from having a sexually fulfilled marriage. Scripture references were used to illustrate the importance for married couples to be one sexually and not to be ashamed of their bodies or the act of sex within their marriage. “In the book of Genesis, the bible tells how Adam and Eve were “naked and not ashamed,” both experienced a free, open relationship that had no barriers” (Penner & Penner, 2003, pg. 20). The authors gave pertinent information within the book to couples who have experienced rifts within their marriage that was caused by dissatisfaction sexually and realized it was God’s plan for them to procreate but also enjoy the act of sex with pleasure. The authors talked about the relationship with Christ and the Church as His bride as in a marriage. The two authors discussed the fact that marriage was a spiritual union and the relationship between God and man is based on agape love, the sexual relationship between a man and his wife is based on eroticism. With the information pertained within the book, the authors were able to have saved some couples from any further damage sexually and thus, the marriage from sexual disaster. Most couples upon reading the book found freedom sexually and were able to enjoy marital sex in the way God intended without shame. SECTION ONE CRITIQUE: A Biblical Perspective
Sex is a gift from God. This is a true statement. The act of sex was meant for married couples, (meaning a man and a woman) to enjoy one another’s bodies as well as replenish the earth. The Bible has given scripture references regarding the importance of sex within the marriage and the importance of sexual intimacy. Psalms 127:3-5 stated that sex was created in order to replenish the earth with offspring, Genesis 2:4 stated that sex has the ability to bring couples together as one flesh, Genesis 4:1 stated that sex was made in order for couples to get to “know” one another sexually, spiritually as well as mentally. Sexual intimacy has the power to connect couples spiritually to God, the bond with one another and to express physically the love that he or she has toward one another. Marital sexual relations have the ability to protect either spouse from going outside of the marriage to be fulfilled sexually. Corinthians 7:2-5 explained the importance of healthy sexual relationship between biblically based married couples. The sexual relationship between committed married couples has the ability to stop sexual addictive behaviors. Sexual sins such as pornography, extra-marital affairs and self-gratification can be prevented when both partners are satisfied sexually. God will judge those that have decided to indulge in such behaviors. Hebrews 13:4 stated, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (KJV). Those who have decided to become sexual involved without marriage have disobeyed the ordinances of God and have sinned against his or her own bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, “Flee fornication, every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” The bible has many stories that have shown the beauty of sex when within the confines of marriage. Solomon 7:1 beautifully illustrated the erotic act of sex which was demonstrated between two love-struck married lovers, (Solomon and Sheba). People in biblical times faced some very sensitive sexual issues when sex was taken out of contents or went against the original plan of God for sex. In some cases sex was perverted and used to harm or belittle others through rape and judgment fell against a family or a nation for that particular sin. The rape of Tamar by her brother Amnon, (2 Samuel 13:1-14) is an example when sex was used to harm others and Sodom and Gomorrah, (Genesis 19:1-29), was a city that was destroyed by God due the practice of homosexuality. God spoke through Solomon and instructed him that he and his wife should enjoy pleasure and gave them permission to sexually please themselves that also connected them together as a married couple. “Solomon affirms and connects with the personhood of his wife. In response, his wife invites adventurous sexual activity” (Penner & Penner, 2003, pg. 25). Sex was given to both men and women as a gift from God but sex must be strictly within the confines of a biblically based marriage. Married couples that have limited their ability to please one another sexually have also limited their ability to have enjoyed the capacity to feel the most pleasurable. Conservative critics gave their take on what the bible has said about sex according to (Miller, 2010), "sex is divinely inspired"--that is, given to people directly by God--a believer can come to only one conclusion on questions of sex and marriage." explains Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calf. (para. 6).
SECTION TWO SUMMARY: The Physical Dimension
In Chapters five through seven, the authors give significant reasons why the body is very significant regarding sexual fulfillment; God created the body to be used sexually He knows how and why each part of the body functions the way it does. The Penner’s explained how one’s body images of themselves are based upon childhood experiences and/or the opinions of those that he or she have admired and/or respected. The authors mentioned the media’s negative influences have pressured society to have the perfect body by the images that are portrayed on TV and in magazines. The authors explained the importance of being satisfied with one’s own body and having a positive attitude about oneself in order to feel comfortable with their spouse’s body. In a marriage the sexual relationship may become hampered or stifled if either spouse has become ashamed of their nakedness. The Penner’s mentioned married couples should be like children when it comes to exploring and getting to know their bodies especially the genital area and how each part functions. Children are inquisitive with questions regarding how their bodies function and why. “Most children between three and six years of age have engaged in self-exploration and discovery activities as well as “playing doctor” (Penner & Penner, 2003, pg. 44). Most adults are afraid to mention their body parts by name and he or she has never taken the time to examine themselves in their private areas. The authors mentioned the importance of couples exploring one another’s bodies in order to become more involved in love making and to gain more freedom sexually. Based on information within the book women that have grown to know their bodies have also benefited medically by having prior notice to any out of the ordinary physical changes that may have occurred, Penner & Penner, 2003, pg. 46. Body image dissatisfaction can be resolved by allowing one’s spouse to give an honest and open opinion regarding their partner’s body. Women especially have depended upon the comments of others, especially men, to form a negative impression of their body image if in their minds are considered flawed as well as imperfect. The authors suggested married couples use mirrors to examine the inside as well as the outside of their genital areas to become familiar with how each significant part plays a major role in sexual satisfaction ad reproduction. The book contained information concerning a woman’s vagina and a man’s penis, how distinctive each part is from one another as well as how each part functions differently. The outer and inner lips, the labia majora, (outer) becomes enlarged when aroused and the labia minora, (inner) is located around the urinary opening in the vagina. The authors made clear the purpose of the urinary meatus, not sexual but just as important, found in the largest opening that is visible of the vagina. The internal sexual organs are the ovaries, the uterus and the fallopian tubes. The clitoris is considered the most highly pleasurable and sensitive place located outside of the vagina. The uterus is located between the bladder and rectum; it holds the baby and at times may be the cause of pain during sexual intercourse due to being retroflexed or tipped. The vagina is the most important sexually built structure that was strictly made for sex, it lubricates on its ‘own, in adult women 90 minutes while sleeping, has its’ own set of microorganisms and is considered to be a clean pathway when it is free from infections. The vagina can be strengthened if out of shape through Kegal exercises, Penner & Penner, 2003, pg. 45-53. The authors urged men to get to know their own bodies like women and become just inquisitive as when they were little boys who discovered that it felt good to touch themselves in their private areas without the guilty feelings that came along with it. The main parts of sexual organs in the male are the testes, located on the outside of the male’s body. The two small circular glands that produce sperm help to fertilize the eggs in a woman’s body. The scrotum connects to the testes that produce seminal fluids that are then transferred through ducts which is then released through the penis during ejaculation. The testes produce the male hormone testosterone which causes changes in the male body during puberty that flows through the bloodstream. The penis is made up of erectile tissue and is the main sexual organ of the male reproductive organs. The authors mentioned that the size of the penis has not determined whether or not men have pleased the women in their lives and woman’s vagina can adjust to the size of the penis in order to receive pleasure. The authors encouraged married couples to share their self-discovery of their genitals with one another. Couples should become comfortable with one another by showering together, in a private room dimly lit with one another’s hands and fingers, Penner & Penner, 2003 pg. 54-62. After couples have explored and have gotten to know one another bodies the author’s recommended a couple’s sexuality be further explored through sexual origins. The authors mentioned in their book that human beings are sexual from birth. Newborn males are able to have an erection and newborn females are able to produce lubricants inside of the vagina. The body does not respond to sexual feelings until after puberty. Between the ages of 7 to 10 years of age the body starts to produce the same hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone but in different amounts. Girls become women after estrogen and progesterone are produced, experiencing growths of pubic hair in different areas of the body, periods and breast development. In males the voice becomes deeper once testosterone has increased and the growth of facial hair is more noticeable. The shoulders become broader and the genitals become larger and covered with pubic hair. Sex drives in both males and females are depended upon the amounts of testosterone, the main hormone for the sex drive, in their bodies. Endocrine glands produce hormones that carry messages to the brain, then carried to the nervous, muscular and the vascular systems, which are the main causes of sexual arousal and satisfaction, Penner & Penner, 2003, pg. 63-38. Sexual arousal is caused by the sympathetic nervous system or the “fight or flight” energy systems, the main contributors in both men and women for orgasms and ejaculations. Neither the sympathetic nor the parasympathetic nervous system or relaxed and passive state, need willing participants. The authors explained that men and women have different sexual responses but their bodies go through the same physical phases. The excitement phase which is the initial arousal erection for the man, lubrication for the woman, the plateau phase, is considered the longest phase of response consists of foreplay which increases sexual intensity, the orgasmic stage which is fast and the most highest on the list of sexual excitement and finally, the resolution phase which involves the body in its’ pre-arousal state, the body calms down from all of the sexual excitement. A woman’s clitoris enlarges once she has become aroused, her vagina becomes lubricated every ten to twenty seconds and her breasts become more rounded and full. The uterus moves away from the vagina in order to make room for the penis during sexual intercourse. When aroused man’s penis becomes filled with blood and held in the veins then the skin thickens around the testicles in order to increase the temperature to fertilize the eggs of a woman. The penis remains hard when stimulated physically or emotionally in order to penetrate the vagina. An erection can last for hours or minutes depending on the sexual health of the man. Erections may be lost due to a sudden noises or disturbances. Men and women experience what is called sex flush during sex, which is the reddening of the upper body. During sex the orgasm and ejaculation stages women can have orgasms back to back and men may need more time to recuperate, Penner & Penner, 2003, pg. 71-83. SECTION TWO CRITIQUE: The Physical Dimension
The physical aspects of sex may vary from person to person. The information written by Penner & Penner are experienced sex counselors which has a history of counseling couples across the country. The Physical dimension part of the book was well written and contained relevant information that pertained to the sexual development and responses of the human body. From the onset of puberty to orgasms and ejaculations the authors succeeded and covered all grounds regarding the sexual experience. There are three other methods to onset the arousal of sexual response and sexual stimuli: erotic story, unstructured fantasy, and the Imagined Social Situation Exercise (ISSE). According to (Goldey & Anders, 2012), “All three sexual conditions signiﬁcantly increased sexual arousal and positive affect compared with the neutral condition, with trends for higher arousal to unstructured fantasy than the ISSE or story conditions” (pg. 2325). The human body goes through many changes sexually and the authors were clear on the different stages and highlighted prevalent stages of sexual maturity and responses to sexual arousal. The authors showed their knowledge of sexual development and were quite professional as they provided examples of sexual responses in both men and women. Knowledge is power and the information given by both authors have empowered couples to overall improve their sexual responses toward one another.
SECTION THREE SUMMARY: The Total Experience
Section three of The Gift of Sex contains eleven chapters that gave pertinent facts and ideas as to how to become stimulated and stay stimulated by …………………….
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Miller, L. (2011). What the Bible Really Says About Sex. Newsweek, 157(7), 46-49 .
Penner, C. & Penner, J. (2003). The gift of sex: A guide to sexual fulfillment. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. Wengert, T. J. (2009). The Book of Concord and Human Sexuality, Seen Through the Institution of Marriage.Dialog: A Journal Of Theology, 48(1), 9-18. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6385.2009.00426.x