Book Review – Sensitive Preaching to the Sexually Hurting
Sensitive Preaching to the Sexually Hurting by Dr. Sam Serio makes three basic assumptions. First, that there are a certain number of people sitting in church pews every week that are agonizing over various forms of sexual hurt. Secondly, it is assumed that Pastors will take up an interest in preaching about sexuality and finally, that their preaching will be sensitive. After reading Sensitive Preaching to the Sexually Hurting I believe that all three of these assumptions are true and that Dr. Serio has identified a great need within the church. He rightly points out that pastors often fear preaching on sexuality. They fear the topic because they do not know how it will be received by their congregation. Will the older generation rise up to dismiss him from his post for speaking about the unspeakable? What about children in the congregation? Will parents get upset if he brings up topics that are taboo in their households? What if the congregation begins to suspect that he himself may be struggling with sexual sin by the mere fact that he has began to address sexuality from the pulpit?
Fears aside, Dr. Serio argues that avoiding preaching on sexuality is a grave mistake because scripture views sexuality as a tremendous gift which has the power to create tremendous intimacy or tremendous pain. He also points out that the scriptures were read to the entire congregation in both the Old Testament and New Testament. These congregations faced the same challenges we do today. They were comprised of young children as well as those who were resistant to discussing human sexuality. These congregations also existed in hyper-sexualized cultures such as our own. This aside, they faithfully read the accounts of infidelity, incest, homosexuality, prostitution and rape found in Genesis as well as the highly erotic Song of Solomon. Whether the text celebrated the pleasures of marital union or recounted the shameful exploits of sexual abuse, the text was read and was read aloud to all who were present.
So what are the predominate issues that pastors should preaching on when it comes to biblical sexuality? Serio suggests seven key areas: casual sex, abortion, sexual assault & rape, childhood sexual abuse & molestation, pornography, same sex attraction & homosexuality, and the sexless marriage. In each of these, Serio offers key insights not only into how to prepare the sermon, but also how to preach it in such a way that is sensitive to those who have experienced hurt in any of these areas. I appreciate Serio’s approach because he not only focuses in on the behavior, but also on the areas in which those who have experienced abuse can find forgiveness and the change that they desperately need. When dealing with abortion for example, he goes well beyond the typical sermon which condemns abortion and those who support it, and focuses on proclaiming the gospel to the women who have had abortions.
Preachers get so caught up with the little people that we tend to forget about the big people affected by abortion
He then offers scripture to help those who are dealing with past guilt and memories of a child they may have aborted. This is critical for pastors to get. Abortion is, by all means, a great evil. And we must do all that we can to protect the lives of all people. But all to often, pastors (and in turn their congregations) forget that the men and women who are having the abortions also need help. In fact, I would argue that the only possible way to end abortion is to focus more attention on heart transforming gospel proclamation than on simply shouting about the evils of abortion. It’s not until the hearts of men and women are changed and they are given a new heart that they the abortion crisis will begin to wane.
Serio deals skillfully with each of the areas of sexual hurt. I especially appreciate his chapter on sexless marriages. With all of the attention given to seemingly greater sexual sins, Serio gently reminds the reader that there are many men (and women) who are experiencing hurt and feelings of betrayal due to an unwilling spouse. He doesn’t let this great sin slide and acknowledges that it is one which is rarely handled correctly.
There are millions of hurting men and women who are just one step away from believing that death or divorce are the only solutions, since nothing seems to move their spouse to be more sexually affectionate. Healing this hurt is critical! While one of them sleeps, the other does not. They lie awake frustrated and humiliated, wondering why they have been sentenced to a lifetime of marital celibacy. where does the hurting spouse go? What direction should they take? To whom do we speak about it when our spouse never wants to talk about it to anyone else? You vowed to be with only one person in life and that person doesn’t want you.
As is the case with each of the sexual hurts, Serio carefully guides the reader through relevant passages and offers suggestions for sensitively preaching to those who find themselves in this situation.
Serio ends the book with 14 challenges issued to the church to begin to take biblical sexuality seriously and end the cycles of sin and the resulting hurt it produces. Sensitive Preaching to the Sexually Hurting is the single best book that I have come across on this topic because it not only focuses on the area of sin, but specifically on how to prepare to speak on these issues to a vast number of people who are hurting. It is a book that every pastor should read…certainly; but also a book that should be read by anyone who speaks into the lives of those who are struggling with sexual hurt. This is a very large number of people and the size of this group should not be underestimated. I for one am thankful for this book and highly recommend it to just about everyone.
Where to purchase
You can Sensitive Preaching for the Sexually Hurting and my other by searching amazon using my Amazon picks below:
About the Author
Sam Serio, DMin, writes with more than thirty-five years of experience in preaching and counseling. He has pastored churches, conducted seminars, and currently counsels individuals who daily feel the deep emotional effects of sexual sin or pain. Dr. Serio is founder and president of Healing Sexual Hurt (www.HealingSexualHurt.com) where people from all around the world seek his words of biblical wisdom and warmth in these taboo topics. He has published various articles and is available to speak at churches and conferences. Dr. Serio lives with his family in Atlanta, Georgia.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
- Book Review – Vindicating the Vixens by Sandra Glahn - February 8, 2018
- Book Review – Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Minds by Corey Miller & Lynn K. Wilder - December 2, 2017
- Book Review – Marriage God’s Way by Scott LaPierre - November 17, 2017