The Sexual Believer

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Article Reviews
The Sexual Believer: Uncommon Reflections On Sexual Morality For Catholics in the Third Millennium
By Noel Cooper (CreateSpace, an Amazon.com company, 2011)

The current scandals within the church in North America and in Europe have given cause for many to question the role of religion in defining and determining the sexual mores and practices of believers. Noel Cooper, religious and family life educator and author, suggests that today many adults are coming to the conclusion that they must choose between being religious and being sexual. Cooper believes we can be both.

The Sexual Believer completes a trilogy beginning with Language of the Heart: an Introduction to the Bible (Catholic Press Award in 2004) and What Makes us Whole: A Guide to Wholeness and Holiness (2009). Cooper is a husband, father of three adult married sons and a grandfather. 

With this experience and with post-graduate degrees in theology and scripture, he still sees himself as rather naïve on the subject of sexuality but invites the readers who may sense a contradiction “between their self-understanding and teachings of their faith tradition” to consider reasons to reassess their faith and to see themselves as sexual believers.

He proposes five basic principles to guide the discussion: Our sexual natures are God-given and good; intimacy is constitutive of personality; our emotions can be trusted to tell us the truth; pleasure is good; the moral teaching of Christian tradition should be understood as wisdom that leads to peace of heart rather than as law.

Cooper examines with an open mind many critical issues including: sexuality in marriage, co-habitation, teen sexual activity, gay-lesbian- bi relationships. He expects The Sexual Believer may “elicit scornful and angry reactions from some members of the believing community and acceptance from other members” and asks readers to consider his opinions “with an open mind” also.

In his epilogue, Cooper concludes with Augustine’s: Love and do what you will. The Sexual Believer does an admirable job of contributing to the understanding of who we are called to be as lovers and mature, responsible people of faith. This book will be a welcome source of encouragement and hope for parents, educators, young adults, married and single, and all those who seek to live out God’s call to be sexual believers.