Sexpectations: Reframing Your Good and Not-So-Good Stories about God, Love, and Relationships – Carol Tanksley MD, DMin

Sexpectations: Reframing Your Good and Not-So-Good Stories about God, Love, and Relationships by Carol Tanksley
Published by Baker Publishing Group, Chosen on February 13, 2024
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Marriage
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Redefine the Way You Look at God, Love, and Relationships

Sex is a big deal--yet many Christians struggle to make sense of their sexual story in light of their faith. Porn addiction, hooking up, hating sex, same-sex attraction, fighting about sex, or past sexual harm become part of a cycle of shame you can't escape.

Offering a redemptive, practical path to sexual wholeness, physician and minister Dr. Carol Tanksley shows how to understand both the good and not-so-good parts of your sexual story. Drawing from real-life stories, biblical truth, and contemporary research, Dr. Carol empowers you to

· reinterpret your sexual story with honesty and compassion
· find freedom from shame, compulsive behaviors, past harm, and hiding
· redefine the way you look at God, sex, love, and relationships
· orient your sexuality as God intended and embrace what he has for your future

Regardless of your relationship status, don't let your past keep you from experiencing what you were created for: true intimacy with God and others. Reclaim his vision of sexuality and intimacy so you and He together can write your next chapter with hope.

In Sexpectations, Carol Tanksley shares advice as both a doctor and a Christian minister, helping Christians rethink their stories about sex, relationships, and God to work towards greater holiness and wholeness. She is honest about her own struggles, shares composite examples and stories from people she has worked with, and explores how people can examine their “sexual story” with truth and gentleness to understand where they’re coming from and begin healing from their brokenness. Over the course of the book, she writes about God’s design and good purpose for sexuality, how intimacy has gone wrong and created damage, and how people can face their shame, stop failed cycles that only focus on behavior modification, and begin the process of true transformation. She also writes about the role of spiritual warfare in sexual struggles, and addresses some specific issues for married couples and single people.

Tanksley draws on Scripture, example stories, and psychological research throughout this book, and each chapter also includes reflection questions and a guided meditation about meeting with Jesus. She explores complex ideas and sensitive topics in a compassionate tone, and she includes a truly impressive range of examples. Many books of this nature are gender-specific, but Tanksley writes to men and women equally, and she never makes gendered assumptions about what people are struggling with, or why. I appreciate how general and non-prescriptive this book is, and I also appreciate Tanksley’s sensitivity to correcting harmful teachings that are common in the church, particularly those that can enable abuse within marriages. Also, when she writes about different forms of abuse, she acknowledges that even though this usually happens with men oppressing women, that’s not always the case. I really appreciated her brief but consistent caveats.

Another reason this book is so valuable is because of Tanksley’s personal context. She was single for decades before marriage, enjoyed a happy marriage in middle age, and is now a widow. Because so many books about sexuality come from the perspective of people who got married on a fairly typical timeline, her perspective is particularly valuable. She understands long-term singleness, and she also understands what it is like to lose a spouse. It is fairly rare for books like this to acknowledge the experience of becoming single again later in life, and I found this book unusually representative of many different life stages,  experiences, and struggles within both singleness and marriage.

Sexpectations: Reframing Your Good and Not-So-Good Stories about God, Love, and Relationships is a great resource for Christians who are looking for a biblical, trauma-informed, and practical guide to healing from harmful sexual experiences, fighting sexual sin, and pursuing wholeness. This book stands out from many similar titles because the author wrote it for the whole church, not a specific gender or life stage. Since the topic of sexuality is so immense and controversial, different readers will have various points of disagreement, and some will likely wish that the author had further explored certain topics of relevance to them, but this is a really helpful, honest big-picture guide. I would recommend this thoughtful, biblically grounded, and healing resource to older teens and adults.