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Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,608 ratings  ·  206 reviews
Sex Splashed across magazine covers, billboards, and computer screens-sex is casual, aggressive, and absolutely everywhere. And everybody's doing it, right? In Real Sex, heralded young author Lauren F. Winner speaks candidly to Christians about the difficulty—and the importance—of sexual chastity. With honesty and wit, she talks about her struggle to live a celibate life. ...more
Paperback, 183 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Brazos Press (first published April 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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May 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jean. Just's already on her list.
Perhaps the most embarassing book I've ever pulled out on the subway or in an audition line...the cover not only has a large white flower but the blaring "real sex" title with only the tiny subtitle that makes it all okay. That being said, it's a great read and one I would recommend for anyone in the church. I had the delight of meeting Lauren Winner and attending a women's retreat where she spoke on this topic among others. She is a smart, smart woman and I especially love reading her books now ...more
Sep 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Lauren Winner started writing this book before she was engaged but by the time she finished it, she was married. She also confesses that she did have premarital sex with several boyfriends. Her background (and an adult conversion to Christianity from Judaism) lends itself tremendously to keeping this book from being just another preachy text on sex aimed at single people. I particularly enjoyed the author's treatment of the subject: she doesn't take the hard core black & white, right & wrong sta ...more
Tristan Marks
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
In Lauren Winner’s book Real Sex, she claims that chastity is a discipline. The problem?


This idea is self-evidently wrong, as are many of the other things she writes about Christianity, the Bible and sex. While the language she uses to talk about sex is very academic, what she writes is just not logically or textually supported.

At the outset the author seems set to challenge the American evangelical church’s entire “True Love Waits” approach to single sexuality. She
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theology
I appreciate the Hauerwasian influence that frames sex as an semi-public act done in community, but Hauerwas has a winsome personality and can sell that vision as exciting. Winner, on the other hand, is lecturing me about dressing up for church ("It's God.. that the people are coming for, and helping them dress appropriately may be part of preparing them to meet Him") and claiming that frat houses have swapped porn for the Victoria's Secret catalog ("a rag that actually leaves quite little a sec ...more
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Christian teens going off to college
Recommended to Victoria by: Brooke Mackey
Shelves: christianity
I've wanted to write a review of this book for a while, but I've struggled with what to say about it. Before I read it, I had heard this book strongly criticized by several youth ministers in my family and acquaintance. Their criticisms are valid. This book does not present a hardline position on anything other than the fact that sex is acceptable only within the confines of marriage. It takes a much less hardline stance on topics such as masturbation, or the use of birth control inside or outsi ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author shares that her first physical encounter was at the age of...fifteen! She eventually self-identifies as a Christian and aspires to figure out the definition of the word 'fornication' despite being a college student. Whatever your location on hour journey you will be educated, entertained, and encouraged as she shares experiences, Bible verses, and data. Insightful.
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
I hadn’t even finished the preface to Real Sex before I breathed a sigh of relief and thanksgiving that someone had finally written this book. Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity is a book that has been needed for quite some time, and Lauren Winner was up to the task. I read and thoroughly enjoyed her first two books (Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath) and am glad that she used her gifts at bringing the theological, historical, sociological and personal together in a compelling way on the ...more
Kelly Hager
Mar 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to love this book, because I adored Girl Meets God and liked Mudhouse Sabbath a great deal. Instead, I was really disappointed.

1) I felt like Girl Meets God was a conversation and it felt like an afternoon with a friend. This was a lecture.

2) I have had sex. I don't feel like this makes me a bad person, a bad woman or a bad Christian. I'm not even allowed to GET married, so any sex I have will be "premarital." I can honestly say I was in love with every woman I've had sex with
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautiful in every sense of the word. This book is honest, insightful and sprinkled with humor! Even as a married man, I found this book deep and impacting. The reason I found it so profound is that Winner did not approach sexuality as a postmodern "anything goes" writer or as a gnostic anti-body Christian. I found that she took a careful middle ground that was loyal to morality and also affirmed our bodies. I found it especially insightful that Winner made the connection about chas ...more
Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: high school kids in mainstream Church youth groups and their pastors
An interesting book on chastity and why it's important in a Christian context. She makes some excellent points about community and the fallacy that we are as autonomous as we think we are. However, she fails to critique marriage as an institution at all (and I am positive her academic background would have allowed her to do so). Because her stance is so firmly "wait until marriage" this also excludes any discussion of on-heterosexual relationships. She never explicitly states that this is her ha ...more
Jun 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you're curious about what an articulate student of religious history who entered the Christian church as an adult has to say about Christian sexuality, this is a great place to start.

One of the most candid, clear and fun books on Christian sexuality that I have read. While Winner has clearly done her theological homework, her writing is full of illustrative anecdotes and personal confession, rather than being heavy on quotation. Where she does reference a theologian (Chrysostom and Augustine
Lindsay Allen
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Winner does a fantastic job of talking very honestly about hard issues and speaks with loving parity about the holiness of both singleness and marriage. A much needed read!
Feb 10, 2012 rated it liked it
I'd actually give this book 2.5 stars if I could. I normally enjoy Winner's writing, but this book felt like it began wandering early on and never found its rhythm or a final resting place. The tone also seemed a little forced, like several ideas were mashed rather than woven together.

In particular, there seemed to be a fair amount of dissonance between the deeper paradigms dealing with the spirituality of chastity in a holistic, communal way and the seemingly arbitrary assertions about sexuali
Debbie Blane
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book tonight. I had previously read Lauren Winner's Girl Meets God and found that book a tremendous read so I wanted to read some of her others.

Real Sex is well written and solidly based in Biblical principles and good theology while dealing with the very real issues that people in modern America face every day. What I take from this book is that chastity is a way of being as a Christian and that married or not we practice the disciplines of being in community while being first
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
I am so surprised at my response to this book thus far! I have only read a couple chapters, and I think the 2nd half will be much better (which is the practical stuff on practicing chastity). But thus far I am absolutely not compelled by her theological arguments. She's coming from a very "radical orthodoxy" perspective, which I generally find distasteful. She's arguing that Christians shouldn't have sex outside of marriage simply b/c that's the way the Bible says it should be, way back in Genes ...more
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantistic book on chastity ... the least liked/understood of them all. Winner's greatest argument in this whole book is that all Christians are a part of the Body of Christ. We live in community there for chastity is a communal ideal. Therefore, the Church needs to reevaluate how it understands 1) the Christian Life, 2) the acquiring of virtues and 3) how we live as one body.

The argument for sex not being a private but a communal act is important to understand. In the same way, no sinf
Kyle Potter
Jun 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Lauren Winner's book on the Christian understanding of chastity is radical and different because it explores and expounds Christian sexual ethics on the basis of the Christian gospel and casts it as a practice to be lived out in the life of the Church.

Sex is a community concern because sex is an integral part of an individuals formation both as a person and a community member. Winner shuns a shallow ethos of "saving oneself" to make sex "more special" but rather understands it as a way of being
Dave McNeely
Whereas so much of Christian sexuality has fallen into two camps - the via negativa of "Don't do this! Avoid that!" and the cartoonish "Christian married sex is the heavenly!" - Winner charts a positive sexual ethic of chastity (which, she persuasively argues, is NOT to be confused with virginity). In doing so, she restores an understanding of sexuality that is for ALL Christians at ALL times and thoroughly faithful, practical, and hopeful. I used much of the content of her book as a basis for o ...more
Mar 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites
absolutely the most hope-giving and liberating treatment of sexandchastity and everything that gets tied in to how we think about sexandchastity (identity, idolatry, value, beauty, community, and on and on). please, please, everyone read this one for all of our sakes.

edit: also, winner affirms singlehood and argues for the single person's place in the Church body as a single person (as opposed to a not-yet-married person), two areas in which we as the Church can do better.
Alissa Wilkinson
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Different than any book you've read on the subject - insightful and challenging, but smart.
Andy Stager
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to imagine a better exploration of chastity in the contemporary context. Superb.
Rachel B
2.5 stars

Winner seemed a little confused about her end goal. On the one hand, she spends a lot of time talking about the spirituality of sex (intuitive, abstract concepts) and on the other hand, she tries to address some very practical, lines-in-the-sand guidelines for sexual purity; she winds up failing on both accounts, as she often is contradictory.

My major concern is that her arguments are often not rooted in Biblical text, but rather on her or another person's opinion and reasoning. For in
Having been unimpressed by Girl Meets God, I had low expectations for this book. They were, I suppose, met.

While I haven't entirely sussed out my own personal sexual ethics, I'm inclined to believe that a Christian sexual ethics should lean heavily on integrity and commitment and suchlike, so I was sympathetic to those portions of her arguments, though I reacted against her ideas and arguments a number of times as well. I found myself strongly wanting to be a better person, whereas Girl Meets Go
Amy Norton
May 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book expecting to be preached to. Instead I was preached at. It was as if Winner was flinging anecdotes and maxims and quotes from religious scholars in my direction. Reading this book reminded me of the time I was discussing a serious relationship problem with a married friend and she said, "Amy, once you get married, you'll realize that things like this don't really matter." I came into it expecting to be challenged as a liberal 20-something 2019 Christian. But it wasn't chall ...more
Joshua Moran
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have always loved Winner’s way with words. She is a great wordsmith and brings familiar things to brand new lights because of it. She does a great job talking about purity and chastity as someone who came to Christ later in life and tried understand her sexuality in light of Christ. Found this very helpful in preparation for discussing sexuality with college students!
Read the chapter "lies the church tells about sex" the night I bought the book. I was quite interested; I identified with/recognized most of these "lies."

Starting at the beginning, however, I found less engaging, which is surprising considering this is a book on the topic of SEX. The only classes I didn't sleep through in freshman Biology were the ones covering the menstrual cycle! Of course, Winner is focused on moral and social concerns rather than biological ones, but her approach does seem
Kayla Roth
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
(3.5 stars)
I've wanted to read another book by Lauren Winner after Wearing God (2015) made it into my favorite books on spirituality stack. The expectation that this book on chastity written 10 years prior would be just as good was probably too high. Still worth the read as the topic and subjects she addresses aren't broached often.

The first half talks about the case for sex in marriage, community and lies the church tells us. The second half talks about chastity - formation and chastity as a sp
Barbara Newhall
I can’t say that I go along with the idea that one must be 100 percent sexually chaste before marriage. But I do think that the evangelical Christian culture that holds to this principle has a lot to teach the rest of us.

My Spiritual Writing group at the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe a couple years ago included several evangelical Christians — young ones – for whom, I suspect, chastity before marriage is a hot topic.

A line from a book by our workshop leader, Lauren Winner – "Real Sex: The Naked Trut
Laura Prosapio
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for a Psychology of Sexuality course I'm taking this year; I didn't expect to gather as much insight as I did from these pages--probably because I regarded it as "required reading" that I just needed to get through to check off my syllabus. How mistaken I was!

Winner's words are profound, beautiful, truthful, and insightful. She speaks of sexuality from a Biblical perspective, stating with much Scriptural evidence God's intent for how human sexuality was designed--because of His
Jlnpeacock Peacock
Feb 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books that I have read regarding chastity. I have recommended to all the young people I know. I think that Lauren Winner does an excellent job in showing that it is a myth to think that "it's my life and what I do doesn't hurt anybody but me." She points out that we are in a community with each other and what each of us does has an impact on everyone else. It is not a preachy book either.
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Lauren F. Winner is the author of numerous books, including Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath. Her study A Cheerful & Comfortable Faith: Anglican Religious Practice in the Elite Households of Eighteenth-Century Virginia was published in the fall of 2010 by Yale University Press. She has appeared on PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Washing ...more

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“This is how sin works: it whispers to us about the goodness of something not good. It makes distortions feel good. It tells us we’d be better off with pleasure in hell than sanctification in heaven.” 1 likes
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