``This is a bible for, by and about today's couples. A bible
for you,'' says publisher Hodder & Stoughton.
With its forthright discussion of female orgasm (not always
obligatory), male fantasy (fine, within reason) and sex as food
(keep reading), the ``Couples' Devotional Bible'' is smashing
stereotypes of the prim and proper world of organized
Indeed it is non-believers who are shocked -- expecting
lectures on lust and prohibitions on foreplay -- while
Christians keep calm about this bible with a difference.
``That's simply not what the church is about. It's about
people as they really are.''
As is the book, which combines a popular modern translation<
of the sacred text -- the New International Version -- with
daily readings for couples who want to strengthen their
relationship and sex life.
Some of the contributors talk up teamwork, child-rearing and
joint prayer. Others sound like agony aunts as they investigate
the murky corners and cajole couples into talking things
Worried about your fantasies? Concerned about infidelity?
Losing your sex drive?
No topic is out of bounds.
And the contributors, all Americans, don't mince words.
``What does your spouse REALLY think about sex?'' asks one
of the guest columnists, urging couples to complete his
questionnaire and find out.
Top of the quiz, couples are asked to lodge their consensus
or disagreement with the proposal that ``a wife does not always
have to have an orgasm every time she has intercourse.''
They should then discuss their feelings about guilt, being
wanted and the idea of entire evenings devoted to sensuality.
One pastor cited in the book urges couples to recall when
they last made time for a languorous sex session, as opposed to
grabbing a quick orgasm. Sex, he said, is like eating.
``Sometimes you sit down to a gourmet feast with
candlelight, soft music, seven courses. Other times it's a snack
on the run. Neither would be healthy all the time.''
This is clearly no Sunday school lecture, which perhaps
explains why Hodder & Stoughton expects a wide audience
following publication across Europe on Sept. 21.
``Any Christian couple of any age and any length of marriage
would benefit from this book,'' said editorial manager Emma
Sealey. ``I have no fears that it goes too far. This is meant to
be helpful, not a shocking or titillating tool.''
If anything, she said, it is non-believers who are outraged,
not the devout.
After all, Christians are used to seeing sex in the bible --
be it via Adam's and Eve's early couplings, Paul's explicit
rantings in Corinthians or by leafing through Leviticus.
``There is a lot of intimacy in the bible so this book
really isn't as shocking as some people might think. It just
adds extra material to bring it out,'' said Sealey.
Christians, she said, are not ``asexual beings. They are
normal people in sexual relationships. So why the shock?''