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Beyond Awkward Side Hugs: Living as Christian Brothers and Sisters in a Sex-Crazed World

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  67 ratings  ·  31 reviews
From popular teacher and writer Bronwyn Lea, a biblical invitation to healthy male-female relationships by creating a vision beyond stilted and unhelpful don't-touch/don't-talk rules.

When it comes to relationships between men and women in the church, we've got more questions than answers. How can men and women be in community when not married? Or if married, with people no
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Thomas Nelson
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Corrie Haffly
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Did I just screenshot a whole chapter from Bronwyn Lea’s Beyond Awkward Side Hugs (with permission) and share it with a friend? Yes, I did. My husband and I have mentored a few engaged couples and our usual go-to recommended reading is Tim Keller’s Meaning of Marriage, but I think chapter 5 of Bronwyn’s book will be added to our must-read list with its deep, thorough, and practical exploration of what the marriage relationship is (with what I’m pretty sure is a first-ever analogy of marriage bei ...more
I am so excited to have had the opportunity to read Bronwyn Lea’s new book Beyond Awkward Side Hugs to ensure that as Christians we should be able to openly and honestly discuss sexuality in any type of relationships whether in a marriage or single. Through looking at relationships as a family of brothers and sisters living in this community and intimately challenging our thought process and how we can make it not awkward and still following Jesus’ teachings and using the Bible as a foundation. ...more
Young-Sam Won
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The question of how to "manage" relationships between men and women within a Christian context is an evergreen topic of interest. There are a variety of views and approaches regarding the proper way for men and women to relate to one another, ranging from keeping separate (for example, the "Billy Graham Rule") to having fairly free interactions as long as there is love and consent.

Bronwyn Lea's latest book delves into this topic and provides a helpful, well-written perspective based on the overa
Dorothy Greco
Author Bronwyn Lea does a masterful job splicing out the sometimes peculiar ways Christians understand and talk about sex and sexuality. Lea clears up confusion about what the bible does and does not say, offers helpful paradigms for how to talk about these issues, and encourages readers to have a more holistic understanding of sex and sexuality. Though male-female relationships are often awkward in church settings, they don't have to be. Thanks to Bronwyn's offering, perhaps we could begin to s ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An entertaining and insightful book that casts a wonderfully wide vision for relationship within the family of God. Witty, accessible, and obviously well-researched, Bronwyn Lea handles a tricky topic with wisdom and nuance. Highly recommend!
Leighellen Landskov
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have always been a tomboy - I love sports and action movies and anything that involves getting dirty. My best friends throughout life have always been guys - Mike Sargent in elementary school. Sean Collins in college. Brett Wise now. Not that I don’t LOVE my women friends (i do have those, too!), but when I want to go to a baseball game or host a poker night, it’s generally my guy friends that show up. I always joke that God knew what he was doing when he gave me 3 sons!

But as a woman in the
Fiction Aficionado
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
If you think this book isn’t for you, think again. Whether you’re married or single, whether you’re just entering those awkward dating years or they’re a distant speck in your rear-view mirror or you’re somewhere in between, I guarantee you’ll be challenged to think about how you relate to your brothers and sisters in Christ, particularly those of the opposite sex. And it all begins by recognising that, in our hypersexualised culture, “our default setting is to hear the language of love, desire, ...more
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I so appreciate this book. In some ways, the author's message mirrors Hannah Anderson's points on discernment in All That's Good. Discernment is not primarily about avoidance but about seeking the good. Instead of reasoning backward from potential worst case scenario, Lea calls us to remember our siblinghood in Christ. The question is not simply how we can avoid sexual sin but how we can live as men and women in relationships as God intended. Recommended.
Jennifer Holman
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You might need to read this book more than you realize!

I have to confess that sexuality and male-female relationships in the Church are not topics I had thought about in great depth up until this point. Sure, I’d read plenty of books on wisely choosing a spouse and building a solid marriage, but I didn’t consider what more I might be missing. Reading Bronwyn Lea’s Beyond Awkward Side Hugs has taken my thinking to a new level. There is so much more we need to learn about faithfully stewarding our
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beyond Awkward Side Hugs was a thought-provoking read. I wasn't sure about the book before I started it (it sounded good, but wasn't sure that it would be what I hoped), but I'm happy to say that it was really good.

The author had some interesting ideas and I found myself thinking about things in different ways - not saying I agree 100% with everything, but it was intriguing.

All in all, Beyond Awkward Side Hugs was worth the read and I'm glad I read it.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I recei
Christian Wingate
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lea skillfully threads the needle of interacting with weighty issues while simultaneously writing a thoroughly enjoyable book. She is witty, clever, and thoughtful, and she tackles one of the most frustrating components of the modern church: how men and women relate to each other. The title gives it all away - isn't there more to being part of the family of God than painfully awkward side hugs with 50% of our family? Can married men and women be friends with one another? How do we date, and what ...more
Vicki Riddiough
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-reads, 2020-reads
* I purchased this book on & unfortunately that platform does not allow for any highlighting or note-taking - which is unfortunate because there were so many thoughts to highlight!

At first glance, I most likely would not have jumped at the chance to read this book simply due to the title. However, I am thoroughly glad I did as it was enlightening, relatable & a very worthy read.

This is a book I wish I could have read in my 20's; I did not marry until age 32, mostly because I really
Dana Ferri
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading an advanced copy, and I honestly couldn’t put it down— it is that good! It’s worthy of your time not only for its relevant message, but also for the wit and wisdom that only Bronwyn can bring.
She weaves solid biblical truth into areas that we need to explore and better understand: family relationships, dating relationships, marriage relationships, work relationships, ministry relationships, friendships— and everything in between. She gives no pat answers. On the contrary
Megan West
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In Beyond Awkward Side Hugs, author Bronwyn Lea not only speaks of ‘family of God’ members with dignity and esteem but invites each of us into a life of great stewardship and discernment. Her wit, compassion, intelligence, and passion for justice is evident in every masterful section spurring us on towards a future hope of relational flourishing.
Anna Chviedaruk
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I highly recommend this book. The main premise is that people in church are first and foremost siblings, brothers and sisters, family, but unfortunately churches right now oversexualise relationships between women and men. The author covers a wide range of topics that deal with sexuality and sibling love. Such conversations rarily happen in churches nowadays. Belarusian modern church almost stopped using "sister" and "brother" referring to one another. A girl cannot be friends with a man because ...more
Tonja Drecker
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While traditional Christians are brought up with the idea that certain activities are only allowed after marriage, the author of this book takes a look beyond that narrow definition of relationships between male and females and recognizes that marriage is not the only, tight box of life. Men and women engage in other ways as well.

She starts by describing the various forms of relationships and love before discussing the various situations in which men and women interact...many of these having not
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beyond Awkward Side Hugs shows us and reminds us that God uses our brothers and sisters in Christ to provide for our needs. Lea addresses sex, but far more than sex. Her focus is on healthy relationships in the church and on how to love each other well and all that that encompasses. It's a thorough book, and the writing is intelligent and insightful. Lea takes questions that have floated around for years and yet have been given pat answers, and digs deeper. Over and over she reminds us that we a ...more
Caroline Craig David
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While I found this book to be all over the place, I love every single bit of it. The reminder of being brothers and sister in Christ and what that actually means was wonderful. Looking at how we worry about men and women alone together when it possible to just see them as friends and where Christians began to believe this was sinful. It was extremely well-written and I loved the anecdotes the author provided.
Amy Jacobsen
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women, gender
This is a book I recommending to others. Love the picture of Biblical community offered where men and women can be intimately connected without the expectation that this be sexual in nature. We would do well to reclaim a more robust theology and practice around men and women in kingdom relationship and partnership. Oh what a testimony it would be! Jesus himself said others would know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another.
Janna Northrup
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
With engaging and thoughtful writing about an important subject, Bronwyn Lea tackles a surprisingly little discussed (still! even in 2020!) phenomenon among many Christian groups and churches and that is non-sexual relationships between believers. She begins her book with the fundamentals of what relationship between the sexes looks like within the church and how the familial bond between believers is a fundamental distinction of what it means to be Christ followers. Historically, we have gotten ...more
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 20-favorites
When I was newly married one of my local churches gave a great series of sermons about marriage. There was helpful advice about mutual service and building lives and support systems together. In retrospect, one piece advice always bothered me, though. It was a variation on The Billy Graham Rule. Billy Graham famously wouldn’t be alone with a woman who wasn’t his wife, in an effort to flee from any hint of sexual immorality, I suppose. (He also made his finances reviewable by others to avoid othe ...more
Hallie Szott

Bronwyn Lea’s Beyond Awkward Side Hugs is a much-needed and supremely helpful exploration of male-female relationships. The overarching idea is that based on the Bible, Christians have reason to approach such relationships not from a fear-based standpoint (thanks to an overly sexualized culture), but a family-based one—and throughout the book, the author supports this idea with solid theological points, in addition to personal stories, insights, and humor.

Beyond Awkward Side Hugs is an easy,
Apr 09, 2020 rated it liked it
In "Beyond Awkward Side Hugs" Bronwyn Lea discusses sexuality within the Christian community and how to set appropriate boundaries. I found her advice to be more moderate than you usually see on this topic, but I felt this book was lacking. I was hoping for more specific guidance on navigating the teen and single years, from the perspective of a parent. That said, I found this to be a quick and enjoyable read.

Thank you NetGAlley for my complimentary copy in return for my honest review.
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great book on an important topic. Everyone who grew up or is growing up in church would benefit from this. I gave 4 stars because it feels like just an introduction. But an introduction to a lot of really important topics that do not get talked about enough, such as singleness, celibacy, myths about marriage that are spread in churches, idolozation of marriage and how men and women in the church can be friends. There is a lot of gold to be mined here!
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a much needed book for Christians, and will be a top resource for many years to come. Lea walks readers through what it looks like to have healthy relationships with the opposite sex both in ministry settings and in everyday life. I learned a lot and appreciated Lea's refreshing tone, scripture references and gentle encouragement to move towards life-giving community with each other.
Kate Motaung
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In this thoughtful, well-presented resource for the Church, Bronwyn Lea lays the foundation for God-honoring relationships between men and women, married and single. She provides a biblical framework for relating to one another, and challenges readers to live out the truth and theology of the Church as the family of God. A very helpful book!
Apr 10, 2020 is currently reading it
Bronwyn Lea lays out a real picture of a grace-filled perspective on human sexuality. I appreciate the approach of how we approach situations socially gendered/sexual and not just genital sexual. An important book to restore sanity and reality and freedom to Christian relationships.
Catherine McNiel
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So grateful for this perspective.
Jennifer Holmes
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A careful, nuanced look at the topic that I really appreciated.
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a GOOD book. Bronwyn addresses a common issue in churches - Male-female relationships. She builds a theological framework for relationships that is compelling and clear. She encourages her reader to relate to others based on our common family bond in Christ and a framework of chastity instead of fear and cultural expectations. This book is practical, theologically rich and a joy to read. I highly recommend it!
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Bronwyn Lea is a writer, bible teacher, lawyer and ice-cream addict with twenty years of pastoral ministry experience. She heads up Propel Sophia, the Christian living wisdom resource for Propel Women, and is on the pastoral staff of her local church. Bronwyn is mom to three school-aged kids, who keep her somewhere between hilarious laughter and desperate prayer on any given day. She and her fello ...more

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