For the Body: Recovering a Theology of Gender, Sexuality, and the Human Body

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


For the Body: Recovering a Theology of Gender, Sexuality, and the Human Body


Timothy C. Tennent


Zondervan Reflective

Publication Date:

November 17, 2020




272 pages


While many Christians have discussed how LGBTQ+ discussions challenge a Biblical view of sexuality, Timothy C. Tennent argues the conversation often misses the mark. Specifically, Christians often miss the point by only talking about what should not be done (“don’t have premarital sex,” etc.) but never explain what the Bible says is good about sexuality. Tennent corrects this problem by describing the Bible’s positive view of creation, the human body and how particular relationships (marriage, celibacy, and family) reflect elements of God’s relationship with himself and with humans. From there, he considers what makes American culture’s view of sexuality so unhealthy, and ways to communicate the Bible’s image of the body to Christian communities.

Tennent takes on a problem that a variety of writers have approached from the side in recent years: the Christian view of creation, particularly the human body. Scholars critiquing the premillennial dispensationalist trend in End Times theology have highlighted how it implies the human body is irrelevant, something to escape to reach heaven. Other writers concerned about caring for the planet discuss the need to care for created matter rather than just exploit it. Tennent gets down to the idea that God made creation and saw it as good, even though it’s now tainted, and how this is particularly important to remember when discussing the human body and sexuality. It is not enough to prove something by negation, to simply say “don’t do this or that sexual thing.” Human beings must live for something, not simply against something. Tennent understands this and shows how attending to the beauty of God’s design for humanity and for relationships makes it possible to discuss sexuality and gender in a healthy way.

Tennent also avoids a variety of pitfalls that other writers have easily fallen into. Most notably, he shows how celibacy and marriage are not on different levels of a hierarchy in the Bible. Rather the Bible sees both states as giving a reflection of what human beings will become or how they relate to God. As he puts it, marriage is a beautiful image of how God relates to the church, while celibacy is an image of what all human beings are heading towards in heaven.

In the final chapter, Tennent argues that one reason this discussion matters is because America is now in a post-Christian society. American Christians now live in what he refers to as a “pluralistic public square.” Tennent admits that this is disheartening and will take getting used to, but points out this does not essentially change the church’s work. In fact, pluralistic societies require Christians to do something that “Christendom” or majority Christian societies don’t require: taking faith seriously. Societies with a majority Christian culture tend to produce nominal Christian faith but few people take the plunge to really explore a deep relationship with God; the culture and a series of loosely held moral codes tends to be all that’s required and all the people see as important. So, as Tennent explains it, a pluralistic public square creates a church with less followers but all of them take their faith more seriously, taking the deeper walk. In doing so, Tennent gives a sobering but humble corrective to the paranoia that Christian conservatives all too easily fall into. This brings his discussion of the body full circle, highlighting the need to have good discussions and a proper Biblical vision without giving into easy panic.

An excellent discussion about the body, sexuality, and the church’s place in an increasingly pagan culture.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 out of 5 stars

Suggested Audience

Christians interested in a Biblically-based view of the human body, gender and sexuality.

Christian Impact

Tennent unpacks a Biblical view of sexuality and created matter, capturing the complexity of how the Bible talks about those subjects and the sobering hope that comes from understanding its vision.

For the Body: Recovering a Theology of Gender, Sexuality, and the Human Body

2 Responses to “For the Body: Recovering a Theology of Gender, Sexuality, and the Human Body”

  1. thanks for the insightful review…how does he address/approach the same-sex issue?

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