I get the occasional email about book reviews, but don’t usually take the bait, so to speak. I love reading, but just don’t have a lot of time to invest in the kind of reading I feel is important for a solid review. This doesn’t mean I’m not tempted and when I was asked to review a book about teens and sex by Josh McDowell … I just couldn’t resist.
The official title is The Bare Facts: 39 Questions Your Parents Hope You Never Ask About Sex and it was written with Erin Davis. I didn’t know who Erin Davis was before this book came in the mail, but I had read a couple of things by Josh McDowell and took my students through a BlueFish.tv series by him as well. Of course, the real reason I couldn’t pass the book up is because of the topic. Let’s face it. Sex sells. I’ve written on the subject a fair many times here, and they tend to be the most visited posts on my blog. I talk about sex, and write about it, because media does so much to influence out culture with very destructive sex messages. It is important to try and get good, uplifting messages on the subject of sex out there. We just plain can’t hide it under the rug. I try to talk about this for at least one series a year, and I’m actually in the middle of that right now. I’m going through another BlueFish.tv series, The Truth About Sex, with Doug Fields. I’ll be writing about that later. For now, let’s check out this book.
Just the Facts
As Joe Friday always said, just the facts. The book addresses 39 questions over the course of 126 pages. It is a reasonably quick read cover to cover. It is broken up into 6 sections by study questions, which are included at the end of the book. There are no pictures, but the publishers do use typography to set apart specific quotes, similar to the way a newspaper or magazine does. The book says “no question is off limits” and does deal with almost everything I’ve tried to answer for my students. It talks about abstinence, purity, and love. Often as far as any Christian book on the subject goes. It also discusses the real facts on STDs and “safe sex” as well as the emotional and mental response to sex, not just the physical. It even addresses anal/oral sex and other sexual practices commonly used to “preserve virginity” today and pornography and masturbation. I think the only think not really covered is same sex attraction.
I have to give praise that they address some topics that I haven’t found much Christian writing on. For example, Hey Look Another Red Warning Post, where I ask if “fingering” is ok. I did a lot of searching and could find any Christian perspectives on this issue and others, which are in this book. I also like the way the book is broken up into chapters based on the questions. It makes it much easier to find specific answers. Curious what the most common STD is? Try the chapter “What is the most common STD?” It is also very important that the book uses frank and specific terminology. It doesn’t talk about weewees or hoohoos. This isn’t a “sex ed” type book, but they address real information factually. The discussion questions seem to be pretty solid, and are open ended, meaning better group discussion. The questions are formed like
In your opinion, who pays the highest price when sexual activity is not saved till marriage?
See, first you see that this is a question to opinion, allowing for a difference of thought and open dialogue. If you are looking for it, they avoid saying “sex” which might be limited to intercourse or having a partner. By saying “sexual activity” they are targeting a much wider range of thought and activity.
This book will make a great resource for groups planning on discussing this. There is a built in 6 week series. This book is not really written to appeal to teens in and of itself. I can certainly see myself using this as a resource, and if a teen asks a question I’m happy to give them a copy after talking with them, but I don’t see them really reading it. Part of this is because most students I know just aren’t into reading, and partly because those that do read, don’t read stuff like this. the look and presentation kind of remind my of my teen study Bible from 1992. I don’t mean it looks like something from the 90s, I mean it looks like that Bible looked to me back in the 90s. Like something made by someone trying to appear hip and cool. Maybe something in more of a magazine type look would help, but even then I just don’t think a huge number of students will really read this cover to cover. That said, I think they love to read and think about sex, and they will read key sections. They might wonder, “Isn’t it better if we live together first?” and open this book up to read that section. Like I said, this is a resource.
It might have helped if there were more “stories” in the book, not just “The Bare Facts.” Of course, then they would have to change the name of the book.
Plays Well With Others
As I said before, I’m currently going through a series with my students, and this book would make a great companion piece to the Truth About Sex series with Doug Fields. Of course, it would also go well with some of the past series I’ve done too. It addresses many of the same topics in similar ways, but with more facts to support what Doug Fields and the interviewed students are saying.
I’m clearly not a good preacher, I had 4 points, not 3. Something must be wrong with me here. In any case, I would recommend this book to any leader that wants a simple resource for their own shelves or for small groups. I’d say get a few copies to give away to questing students. I’d also recommend to parents. It will help get you in the know about some stuff you are probably totally ignorant of. Seriously, the statistics will shock you, but you need to get a good dose of reality. Finally, if you are a student and want to know the answer to some really big questions about sex, but are afraid to ask your youth leader or parents, then don’t let me scare you away. This book is definitely for you too.
Oh, and one more detail, I have 2 copies to give away. If you want a copy leave a comment. If more than 2 comments get left I’m going to use a highly scientific approach to choosing the winner. First, I’m going to randomly sort all the comments, then do eenie, meenie, minie, moe. Or maybe just go with the comment that makes me laugh, who knows.