BOOK REVIEW: Sex in a Broken World

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Sex in a Broken World: How Christ Redeems What Sin Distorts, written by Biblical Counselor Paul David Tripp, honestly looks at sexuality as a fundamental part of what it means to be human. It is an aspect of God’s beautiful design. And yet, sex today is nothing like the way that God intended it to be. Sexual brokenness surrounds us. But there’s hope!

This review by Sue Nicewander, which appeared first here at The Biblical Counseling Coalition website, is used with permission.BCC logo

Deception

A major factor in sexual sin lies with its highly personal nature, which encourages a covering of secrecy. Many Christians avoid the subject of sex, especially in church settings or Bible study groups.[/clickandtweet] Unfortunately, that very avoidance contributes to the current sex insanity that dominates our culture. In Sex in a Broken World, Paul David Tripp aptly identifies the deceptive shroud of sexual sin as precipitating its rampant spread, not only in the world, but equally in Christian circles.

“Everything is affected by brokenness” (p. 19), Tripp writes.

“If you don’t understand your address, you will live with all kinds of unrealistic expectations, and you will be way too naïve. . . .You’d better understand, and help those entrusted to you to understand. . . that brokenness doesn’t live just outside you but inside you as well. This is important to get, because the brokenness inside will hook you to the temptations outside” (p. 19).

This message rings throughout Tripp’s writings, unfolding a robust gospel and making rich applications. Tripp is masterful at presenting everyday scenarios that resonate with his readers and leave them hungry for the solution. The gospel itself is not new, but how many of us have considered that sexual sin fundamentally denies the grace of God?

“[Sex] sells you the lie that physical pleasure is the pathway to spiritual peace. Sex is the work of the Creator’s hands but tends to promise you what only the Creator can deliver. It is beautiful in itself but has become distorted and dangerous by means of the fall” (p. 30).

Approach

Tripp’s plethora of vignettes hit close to home, including a description of one man’s gradual path through self-deception, leading to the capture of his heart and his fall into adultery. He explains,

“The struggle for sexual purity is not so much a struggle with sex but with the proneness of our hearts to wander, that is, with the tendency of every sinner to look for fulfillment of heart where it cannot be found” (p. 153-154).

Therefore, Tripp takes an approach unlike other books about sex. He offers no descriptions of body parts and functions, and no techniques. Rather, he targets the motivations and deceptions that drive the mind and heart into bondage. Believing that education and behavioral change are effective only when the heart and mind are informed by the gospel, he focuses there. 

Hope 

Even as it sets out the bleakness of our sexual insanity, Sex in a Broken World offers hope on every page. Tripp unveils the pervasiveness of human error, insipid desire, dichotomous thinking, and wandering hearts. But he invites his audience to recognize God at the center of the mess, holding forth grace as mankind’s Creator, Owner, and Redeemer. Readers will find themselves drawn into the storylines but captivated by the gospel that presents God as the unrivaled hero and the only One worthy of worship. 

The Gospel Counteracts Sexual Insanity

sexBiblical counselors will not be surprised to hear that Tripp’s discussion directly targets the desires of the heart, trumpeting the dominant theme, ‘sex is not about you’ and a clear call to personal responsibility: “You need to face that fact that your body will wander where your heart has already gone” (p. 63). While his arguments may sound familiar, his application to sexual sin is striking and poignant. Counselees whose hearts have been captured by sexual sin will find themselves helped by the candor and laser-like perceptions that demonstrate the gospel’s relevance and necessity. The reader will no longer believe that self-reformation is possible. But that message is drenched in hope because God’s presence and Christ’s effectual sacrifice are central to the discussion.

The final two chapters of Sex in a Broken World are worth the price of the book. Tripp presents a ‘think list’ of gospel truths to declaw the lies that drive sexual sin. For example, Tripp presents the following negative statements:

“You don’t have to be ashamed that you’re a sexual being” (p. 152). “You don’t have to deny that you’re a sinner” (p. 154). “You don’t have to fight your battle alone” (p. 159). Then he concludes with some positive statements, including: “I have all the resources I need” (p. 173). “There is someone who understands me” (p. 175). “Change is possible for me” (p. 176). “Weakness is not my big problem, but my delusion of strength is” (p. 177).

Conclusion

Sex in a Broken World examines the problem of sex insanity through the gospel’s big magnifying glass, opening the eyes of the deceived by illuminating the beauty of the truth about sexuality, its connection with the Creator, and His larger purposes. Both biblical counselor and counselee will find rich material to define biblical sex and to offer grace while exposing the dark trap of sexual sin and how its deception captures a heart. Because the problem clearly unfolds as between the sinner and God, the reader is forced to face his own culpability without pointing at the faults of others: a major strength of this volume.

Tripp’s books trumpet a recognizable theme: The gospel is absolutely essential and relevant in our insane world. Every human heart is relentlessly prone to wander, but the message of redemption enlightens the mind and heart with truth that sets us free. I know of no other book that so profoundly and effectively presents the cross of Jesus Christ as the answer to sexual insanity.

“[T]he cross assures me that I already have in my personal spiritual storehouse everything I could ever need. Could it be possible to preach this to yourself too much?” (p. 174) “…we are not left to our own foolishness. There is One who is wisdom, who gifts us with wisdom we would never, ever have without him. We need to tell this to ourselves again and again” (p. 179).

I agree.

BCC Staff Note: Sex in a Broken World: How Christ Redeems What Sin Distort may be purchased at Amazonor Biblical Counseling Books.

About Sue Nicewander

Sue serves as executive director, biblical counselor, and discipleship development instructor with Biblical Counseling Ministries (BCM) in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. She also serves with five core churches in Central Wisconsin to offer one-on-one biblical counseling by pastoral referral, discipleship development training for local churches across the state, a free e-newsletter, and a recommended resource list for reliable literature. Her articles have been featured in the Journal of Biblical Counseling and The Baptist Bulletin. Her booklet Help! I Feel Ashamed is offered through Shepherd Press. Sue has been married to Jim for 41 years. They have two married daughters and six grandchildren.

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