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Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway
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Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  449 ratings  ·  84 reviews
“A penetrating analysis of political extremism, with a moving and at times hilarious account of growing up in one of the Christian right’s most influential families. Few writers command Frank Schaeffer’s intimate understanding of right-wing radicalism, and even fewer are able to share their insight as entertainingly and with as much moral weight as he has in Sex, Mom, and ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 31st 2011 by Da Capo Press (first published May 26th 2011)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  449 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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Elizabeth Magill
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
I just read one of the most spiritually, politically, and psychologically significant books I have ever read: Frank Schaeffer’s Sex, Mom, And God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics—And How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway. My God, America needs this book. We need it like a slap in the face, like a long cold drink of water, like a goodnight kiss on the crown of our beloved heads from a long-lost father. We need this book to heal.

I realized just how important this
Dec 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
An angry little man rants about his childhood. It ranges from uncomfortable to incomprehensible. Half the time it seems that Frank wants to shock the reader with his opinions and the other half he just wants to lay down on a sofa and talk about how he feels about his mother. At some level, I think he really wants to talk about the intersections between politics and religion, but he can't seem to get over how personally affected he was by the whole thing, darn it.

On one level, it might make for
Feb 22, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Frank’s Schaeffier’s , Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway Kindle (Edition) is the single worst thing I have read in many years. I came into this book having read and enjoyed his Calvin Becker Trilogy and liked his autobiography, Crazy for God. (Given how much Sex, Mom and God is about his youth, it is almost unintelligible unless you have read at this book first.) Mostly I agree with his politics and mu ...more
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Why did I pick this up? I had no idea who Frank Schaeffer was before I noticed the title of this book at my local library. I'm not a member of the Religious Right, and neither am I an Evangelical. But it was interesting, nonetheless. As a moderately liberal agnostic, I have wondered why the Right is so vehement about its positions, why it's so rabid and hate-filled, why it refuses to admit that America is much more than its religious beliefs. Schaeffer blames the schism in America between the Fa ...more
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Why did I read this? A pal sent...knowing there are some Religio Rt nuts on the estate, still to be smothered. Author Schaefer eviserates the religio right (and therefore the ReThug Party). He can do it: his parents were ministerial stars of the Relig Right. The writing is 3-stars, the content 6-stars. He strips bare key Rt points effectively. He damns the Neo-Cons (Normie Podhoretz & Co), but he's most effective on YouTube - don't miss. Now in his 60s, I ask: why did it take him til his 30s to ...more
Karen Cox
Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
I think I'd like to have a beer with Frankie Schaeffer, while at the same time being very happy he's not a relative. His father was an architect of the Religious Right; this book is more about his mother, who sounds like someone I really missed by not knowing. The cultivated woman who wore Chanel, knew poets and loved great music -- from Bach to BB King -- also took her Gospel Walnut for witnessing on Italian beaches. Frankie's taken a lot of heat for showing the less attractive side of L'Abri a ...more
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Really poignant book. I'm from that fundamentalist background which is so very damaging to anyone, especially a child or young person. This book will enlighten anyone who is wondering about how people in the plethora of fundementalist evangelical churches became that way, and why they are leading the Republican party down a dead-end road.
Mr. Schaeffer writes with warmth, humor, and a disarming passion for honesty.
Alisa Kester
Aug 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
It is unfortunate that someone who grew up reading the Bible failed *completely* to understand it. The Bible is most decidedly not anti-women, anti-sex, pro-slavery, or any of the other things Schaeffer thinks is it anti or pro. It's stance on slavery, for instance, must be seen from the perspective of when it was written. Ancient-world slavery was not in any way comparable to the modern American's idea of slavery. Ancient-world slavery was meant to be a temporary state, during which the 'slave' ...more
Rob Lund
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
I feel I relate to Frank's stories so much. This one is not for everyone. It's rambling and way too confessional in that perpetual teenaged sex-crazed boy way. And yet it's his frankness (pun intended) that I find endearing. He's not sugarcoating his experiences or unhealthily downplaying his struggles. That was what he would have done in his former Evangelical days. Instead now, he's living a fuller, more genuine life outside that old church world.

There's a large section in the middle which tac
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Did not finish this one. I was enlightened about some things but did not enjoy the writing. Frank Schaeffer seems to have an axe to grind and some of it read like a tabloid magazine. Some of his criticisms seemed overly harsh and almost vindictive. What's that phrase about the newly converted or unconverted? It has been 20 years since he left the faith and I don't think he has made peace with himself yet. Hard reading compared to Carolyn Brigg's Higher Ground. ...more
Aspen Junge
I really enjoyed this book. Frank Schaeffer is the son of Evangelical missionaries who went into the "family business," and in the process helped to create the pro-life movement, the Moral Majority, and the religious right as political powerhouses. However, with age and experience comes humility and wisdom, and he grew to disagree with the way that evangelicals were being used as money machines for the Republican establishment and came to understand that you cannot believe that every word in the ...more
Kristofer Carlson
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: orthodoxy
As someone who grew up within the fundamentalist milieu, I recognize much of what Frank Schaeffer writes. It has an unmistakable ring of truth, so much that it can be hard to read. On the other hand, sometimes it seems more like gossip, such that I feel excited to read about the sins of others and revulsion at my enjoyment of other people's heartache.

Schaeffer has a tendency towards polemic, one of his least endearing qualities. He has been unable to live down nor move beyond his political past
Dec 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
Frank is a substandard writer, his content is creepy (I don't care about his childish sexual escapades nor his adult fantasies) and this book was a complete waste of an credit. Uggghhh... Try Joan Didion's "Blue Nights" or Donna Johnson's "Holy Ghost Girl" Now there are a couple of real writers! I am not quite at the f/u stage of life that Frank brags about but I am close enough to say that this book is a revelation of nothing more than Frank's justifications of his own shortcomings. ...more
This is an amazing book by an amazing person (Frank Schaeffer). We need to study (and even make heroes of) those individuals who have the courage to change their minds. We have a ridiculous culture war raging on, both sides populated with people who could never admit to the slightest possibility they might be wrong about anything. Schaeffer is an insider from one side of the culture wars, and he describes his history, the history of the Christian Right in America, and his own "conversion." ...more
Ancient Weaver
Not terrible, but not entirely original. I sort of get the feeling that the author is coasting off of his past reputation and and past writing with this one as this reads like a somewhat recycled version of what's already in Crazy for God. ...more
Oct 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Really three and a half stars. I'm glad I'm in good company with my confussion. The conversations with mom are a riot, I laughed so hard. The end of the book gets a little preachy. But Magical Menstral Mummies is just priceless. ...more
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you want to have a glimpse into the history of how the Republican Party got so intertwined with Christianity, this is the book to read, or at least start with. It was very eye-opening and I ended up finding quotes/passages that I wanted to refer back to later on 77 pages.
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
113 SEX, MOM, AMD GOD, Frank Schaeffer, Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA, 2011

Note: If you're a "friend" on FB, there is a link to my Blog: "Bits of my Reading." It's a little better looking site and all 3,864 words are presented. Read pages 263 and 278 for sure. Then tell me what you think.


Mom divided everything into Very Important Things, say, Jesus, Virginity, Japanese Flower Arrangements, Lust, See-through Black Lingerie (to be enjoyed only after marriage), and everything else, say,
Mar 17, 2021 rated it it was ok
While Schaeffer touches on and can lend a unique voice to some of the historical roots of modern evangelicalism in the U.S. (during his and his father's active years in the 50's-early 90's), there is much that his style and craftsmanship leave to be desired. Sex, Mom, and God reads like the disjointed memories of a fading old man. Some are interesting, some even seem to hold a common thread-- the promise of a theme-- only to have that promise dashed by a tale which seemed to come out of the dust ...more
I hardly know where to begin talking about this one.  I think I had one eyebrow raised for the entire length of the book.  It alternates between wildly funny, completely bizarre, weirdly pervy, and boomer baby stodgy.  Schaeffer is really quite a character.  Even after shedding his former far-right persona and becoming something like a moderate progressive, it's noticeable how comfortable he is speaking as an authority.  But I want to believe that he is admirable enough to have truly written thi ...more
Melody Schwarting
Aug 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
Have you ever wondered what Jake Paul's book would be like if he was an exvangelical? Shock value, sex constantly on the mind because of cultural expectations for male adolescence, and storytelling that jumps around so much I thought I was on a trampoline. I'm interested in other writings by Frank Schaeffer, but I don't enjoy tell-all memoirs, even with approval of those being written about, so this wasn't for me. However, the title was very appropriate. This was very much about Frank Schaeffer' ...more
May 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting, but a very masculine point of view. I was horrified, as a mother myself, by his hyper-sexualization as a child by a mother who cavalierly discussed her own married sex life with him at the tender age of 8 or even earlier. No surprise he was a father at 17. Too much for me!
But his life has followed a very surprising trajectory. And I did find his evolution from child of most famous evangelical parents to artist, to anti-abortion activist, to a more open-minded “spiritual but not rel
Marilyn Letts
Jul 31, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
3.5 First of all thank you Frank Schaeffer for writing this book. Thank you for articulating and giving context to some of the thinking I grew up with. Thank you for giving one more explanation for the downward conservative slide which happened in local evangelical churches in western Canada in the 80s and 90s. Thank you for the deep laughs at some of your childhood vignettes. Thank you for admitting and taking ownership of your (and your families') part in that downward slide.
An interesting bo
Ken Sayers
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Frank Schaeffer is incredibly open and honest in this book about his relation with his mother, the Bible and sex. Where as most people try to keep their private thoughts, actions, and struggles hidden (especially about sex), Frank puts them all out there for his readers to consider. This book is highly critical of the “Biblical God” and religious fundamentalism and perhaps rightly so. I think it is a well written book and very interesting.
Nov 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Erratic, eccentric, long-winded, often disturbing, and sometimes problematic (e.g., some disturbing fat shaming). But as someone who grew up saturated in the American religious right and evangelical cult-worship of Schaefferism, I couldn't help feeling a sense of relief during parts of this book. When detangling oneself from a toxic religious environment, there's something therapeutic in hearing a fellow escapee say, "Yes, that shit really did happen, and no, it was not ok." ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Francis Schaeffer was all the rage when I was involved in the fundamentalist church in the 80s. So learning about the "behind the scenes" of his family life was fascinating. I couldn't put this book down. The damage done by fundamentalist, revisionist Christians is far reaching. And, once again, things are never as they appear when it comes to strict ideologies. People will always be human. ...more
Seth Wester
Jun 24, 2022 rated it really liked it
Right book for the right time for 4 stars.

Awkward Christian coming of age, dealing with obviously imperfect “mature” Christian family, owning up or coming to terms to past selves. This has it all.

This book is the unpacking of the uncomfortable relationship between a boy and his bad-fundamentalist mother.
Rachel Flachman
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of Frank Schaeffer's because, wow. It's hard to find words to describe the damage done by Evangelical dogma and yet he does so in ways that are both sobering and side-splitting. This book is needed and I am so thankful he had the guts to write it, knowing full well the vitriol he would attract from evangelicals.

This book is for you if: 1)you were raised Evangelical and want to dig deeper into the psyche of it's darker side, 2)you know an Evangelical and want to understand why they thi
Jun 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Pretty interesting history of fundamentalism and its ties to the far right. Frank Schaeffer kind of has a weird obsession with describing his sexual encounters with young women though - feels a bit weird.
Christa Lee
Apr 24, 2022 rated it liked it
This book was weird, yet still valuable and worth the read. He is an engaging, raw writer and will definitely challenge you and make you say, huh. 🤔 This is a good read for those raised in evangelical purity culture who are interested in dismantling the harmful stuff that comes with that.
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Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books. Frank is a survivor of both polio and an evangelical/fundamentalist childhood, an acclaimed writer who overcame severe dyslexia, a home-schooled and self-taught documentary movie director, a feature film director of four low budget Hollywood features Frank has described as “pretty terrible.” He is also an acclaimed ...more

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