Lauren Winner, teacher and author (Real Sex, the Naked Truth about Chastity) was recently interviewed for The Other Journal, which attempts to examine current trends, events and movements from a theological perspective. I have read of Winner’s writings for some time and of her especially fresh perspective on developing, what can be called in the popular term, a holistic approach to sexuality, guided by Christian community. In Biblical language, Winner is sanctifying or taking every thought (and action) captive to the total demand that Christ has on the life of the believer.

To do this, she makes frequent, and refreshing comments on the difference between the contemporary view of the private vs. the personal, a concept she admits that she got from Anglican theologian John Macquarrie who has said, “We must avoid the mistake of thinking that because human sexuality is personal, it is also private.” As a result, she teaches that marriage is expressed and developed within a community, and is definitely not something for personal gain, or private fulfillment. She is working desperately hard to end the notion that sexuality must be confined to the extraordinary and amazing, and wants to ground people that within the private community of two, as a part of a larger community, that ordinary expressions lead to fulfilling, strong and peaceful bonds.

While her subject is sex, her object is greater community between Christians in a fractured world, where even church bonds are increasingly temporary, fragile and not very sacrificial.

“This gets back to the question of community. The sorts of challenges that attend creating community—all of which revolve around the complexities of being responsible to the other—are present in our sexual lives. The stuff of creating community—which we experience as work, as at times more than we can bear, as taking an extraordinary amount of time, and as requiring that we make ourselves present to the other—is the stuff of creating a Christian sexuality. To say that marriage ought not be a personal endeavor is to say more than that Christian marriage is transformed into a communal endeavor by exposing the deep inner workings of our marriages to members of our communities. Instead, we need to expose the deep inner workings of our communities to our marriages; we need to take what we know about being a community and bring it to bear on sex.”

She has some wisdom in her thoughts that need to be dwelt over by the larger Christian community. Too often, especially in American evangelical communities, sexuality is only spoken of in disconnected actions which usually results in for the unmarried a simple message of save yourself for marriage, then for the married to prepare for moments of ecstasy followed by months, years even of drudgery. Her attempt of creating a meta-narrative, a grid to see this most important yet fallen part of life through community and self-denial is needed and worth listening to.