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Love, Sexuality, and the Sacrament of Marriage Paperback – 31 Dec 1996

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small and powerful resource book on sex, love and God 14 Nov. 2013
By Dan E. Nicholas - Published on
Format: Paperback
Going for a second read this morning I noted of the 200 books on the mystical connection of love, sex and God in my library, none is marked up with a #2 pencil more than this one. All this means that I must have read this title on the slow when it came to me. And with much contemplation. Good thing, too; as I was looking for a wife at the time and had not a clue what I was doing. I must have paid attention because the plan worked.

I found this little book an amazing read, then and now. The Oxford trained Chryssavgis opens with an excellent and readable summary of how the treatment of sex has gotten a bad rap with Christianity. He leans on the also married and family men mentors Paul Evdokimov and Philip Sherrard who a few decades ago found as laymen and not clergy this topic of human sexuality fascinating. Chryssavgis, a married clergyman and deacon with two children, speaks well and knowledgeably, wrapping up his thoughts by pulling together a fine collection of the sayings of some 22 Sacred Writers of the church through history on this topic of sex and God; and that's how he groups them, as "Sacred Writers". Nice to see them listed in his sex positive treatment of the mystery of physical and sexual human love. Nice that in the 20 books that he has put together through the years, he made time to speak from experience on human love. In an interview a decade back, he said of "desert spirituality": "Those who put themselves on the edge of the conventional church or society in order to see clearly what is happening in our world are contemporary desert fathers and mothers." Speaking up as a sex positive deacon, he bravely puts himself "on the edge of the conventional church". Wish more were this brave.

He opens with a break with Rome on the matter, thanks to Augustine, and moves to a near Tantra level of mysticism on divine human love that avoids the poisonous mind good/body evil dualism of the West, as he explores the necessity and sacramental place for the act of love in the kingdom of God.

Our Bay Area Orthodox Book Club this quarter has taken up Evdokimov and Sherrard on this topic and now must add this title as well I think. All Orthodox who value marriage and sex and children and family should read this little book and give it as a wedding gift. A scandal indeed that it has so few reviews on Amazon and yet it is almost two decades old as a title. Shows how little play this topic gets, even in the Eastern Church.

The 1996 first edition date is pretty much pre Internet and does not unfold the key fact that somewhere in this writing process the good doctor and now Holy Cross professor found a good woman, married and fathered two children. And there's my answer as to why he as a Greek Orthodox Clergyman found this topic of Divine Eros so fascinating back then; why he took the risk to write on this topic.

Indeed this is a subject too often ignored from the Orthodox pulpit and certainly through history didn't always get positive play. No shock most church writers in antiquity on this matter were celibate; so this is a refreshing spin here; not unlike Evdokimov and Sherrard, also married, each twice in fact; both of their first wives having been lost to cancer. These Chryssavgis mentors had to take a second run and love, sex, marriage and family having remarried as widowers. No shock then that they had a street level understanding here on sex and God; which cannot be said of 95% of sacred writers in antiquity who spoke on nuptial love yet as celibate and many no doubt virgins and not dads and husbands is my guess.

For people who care about theology and church history and human love and family I couldn't recommend this book highly enough; especially considering how small and to the point this volume is as a resource. I noticed my son, now 35 and with a two year old daughter, pulled this book from my self last week, forcing me into a 2nd read. This topic of man/woman love is timeless, even and especially for me as an old family man and grandpa. Our children's children are asking us to read this title. Again.

I hope Chryssavgis is not done writing on Christianity and Eros. And yet it appears he's moved on to a new love, namely ecology and all things green. Good for him. But good for us if he does not forget all things red at least once a year on Valentine's Day. Let's trust he remembers two decades back when he was just beginning his family and caught up in the meaning of love, sex and God. These themes never die.
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