The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are

Jenell Williams Paris


The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are

The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are

  • Title: The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are
  • Author: Jenell Williams Paris
  • ISBN: 0830838368
  • Page: 301
  • Format: Paperback



Sexual identity has become an idol in both the culture at large and in the Christian subculture And yet concepts like gay or straight are relatively recent developments in human history We let ourselves be defined by socially constructed notions of sexual identity and sexual orientation even though these may not be the only or best ways to think about sexuality AntSexual identity has become an idol in both the culture at large and in the Christian subculture And yet concepts like gay or straight are relatively recent developments in human history We let ourselves be defined by socially constructed notions of sexual identity and sexual orientation even though these may not be the only or best ways to think about sexuality Anthropologist Jenell Williams Paris offers a Christian framework for sexual holiness that accounts for complex postmodern realities She assesses problems with popular cultural and Christian understandings of heterosexuality and homosexuality alike The End of Sexual Identity moves beyond culture war impasses to open up new space for conversations in diverse communities both inside and outside the church.


Recent Comments "The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are"

The issue of homosexuality is possibly the most important cultural issue confronting the Church today. I picked this book up after several recommendtations from trusted friends and mentors. It was fantastic. To cut straight to the core of the book, Paris argues that the Church has used eighteenth century terms and nineteenth century tactics to confront homosexuality in the 21st centure, which is bad. She argues (correctly, in my view) that these tactics have defined the entire conversation, and [...]

Jenell Williams Paris makes some interesting points about sexuality, gender, and identity, by looking at the history of thought around these issues and holding modern American cultural assumptions up to some scrutiny. These are always important activities, particularly for Christians trying to understand how Biblical teaching applies in a contemporary context. Because of these contributions, I think Paris is probably necessary reading for Christians trying to make sense out of Biblical teaching [...]

I love Janell's thoughts and view. I have been challenged by her to reexamine the importance I have place on sexuality a core defining identity. I am at the core of my identity beloved. While I agree and would advocate for an ending of sexual identity I just don't see how that can happen. I would like to hear from her how to practically apply her views to everyday life.

I loved Paris’ text. From my limited search, it is the most authentic and intelligent book on an incredibly divisive subject. She unpacks the heterosexual/homosexual dichotomy well and offers us a new and refreshing approach. Christians, on “both sides” of the issue, should certainly read this teach and hopefully by its conclusion realize that there isn’t really sides to this issue, but a new identity and humanity that Jesus offers all of us.The thesis of the text is simple: sexual desir [...]

I was researching before writing an aritcle and found the book that encompassed my article! In the ongoing, divisive debate on homosexuality, I have been disturbed by the faulty emphasis on "identity" as a reason to make choices and distinctions among us. This book effectively undermines that choice and appropriately substitutes discernment in its place. This book helps to keep a healthy dialogue going instead of unhealthy and unecessary separation. It suggests better approaches, past and future [...]

Highly recommend for anyone in the American church. Paris writes from a steeply cultural perspective, not a theological one, which is part of what makes this so valuable in a conversation that's dominated by the intricacies of doctrine and biblical hermeneutics. I've read a lot on this topic, and this is the first book I recommend to other Christians regarding sexuality and sexual identity.

It's social constructionism for Christians. Don't get me wrong; this is certainly a unique approach, but it's not very thorough, definitely disorganized, and not written at a very high level.

This book functions like so many well-meaning churches that wish to be gay-friendly and LGBTQ welcoming but ignore the power differential of a dominant social group telling a minority group how to think, feel, and act. Among churches that hold the view this book espouses, there are inevitably two classes of people. That's the fruit, the result of this approach. Are there limits and problems holding up identity and desire as foundations of "who we are"? Of course. But the solution the author offe [...]

The End of Sexual Identity is worth reading just for the chapter on celibacy. As a celibate single Christian, I felt like the author spoke to all the elements within the church I personally have felt at odds with, including the idolization of marriage and the lack of adequate support that could make celibacy a viable option.When it comes to sex, there is no privileged, holy “we” and no sinful, troubled “them”; there’s only us, each of whom finds both virtue and vice in sexuality.This q [...]

In a time of confusion and contention, Paris offers a compelling and relieving view of sexuality that is in prophetic contrast to sloppy arguments made both outside and inside the church. The anthropological lens with which she examines the topic is both helpful and challenging. Her thesis – that we should make sexuality a part of but not the sum total of our identities – is one we should all grapple with.

This has been an interesting addition to my stack of books about sexuality. Paris approaches the issue from an anthropological/sociological angle, which was fascinating. She challenged me to put our culture's current madness concerning sexual identity into its historical place.

Jenell Williams Paris' The End of Sexual Identity sets the churches' debates over LGBT inclusion within in the framework of the social construction of sexual identity.For Paris sex is very important, but our sexually-oriented identities are not so much. Some may "Amen" this, mishearing her message as "love the sinner, hate the sin" (LTSHTS). But, while Paris owns up to her conservative background (right there in the Introduction) and admits her continued Side B perspective, she speaks squarely i [...]

FASCINATING. This book takes a look at why it's a bad thing that we (Americans, modern society, Christians) are so consumed with sexual identity rather than as people. If you have any thoughts or opinions on these things, I would highly recommend reading this book. Some quotes:On identity: "A Christian view might make different sense of wanting and of beingxual desire may be simple, complicated, distorted or confused, and when desire is troubled, it is a very serious matter for the person experi [...]

The book contains helpful instruction on how the power dynamics of heterosexual/homosexual lead to inadequate responses to human sexuality. The chapters on the importance/unimportance of sex and celibacy are especially helpful. Still, the book seems lacking at times: perhaps because she does more deconstructing than constructing, perhaps because some of the topics broached don't receive as thorough a treatment as I'd expected, perhaps because her suggestions sometimes come across as facile. It's [...]

I picked this book up on Wednesday night and finished it Thursday night. That alone should have given it a higher rating. This was an "almost four star" book. Dr. Paris takes an interesting perspective on the discussion around sexual identity. She argues that in western society we have made the mistake of equating sexual identity with actual identity. She reminds us that the ideas of hetero/homosexuality were created 100 years (both originally as deviant behavior by doctors). As an anthropologis [...]

Overall, the book succeeds in breaking down a simplified understanding of sexuality, and opening the mind for deep questioning, regardless of your own beliefs about the morality of sexuality or even your own choices regarding sex. While referencing current research she retains a casual tone making the book incredibly accessible readers not well versed in sociological terms. Within the context of this course, the book offers a view that gently challenges Christians to love despite moral confusio [...]

Sometimes it seems as though everyone in the country knows exactly where they stand. They're either the Real True Christians holding the line against secularism out of control and those icky homosexuals, or they're the liberated 21st-century human beings who know how to transcend gender and love each other in the face of prejudice and violence that dates back to the Bronze Age. Or, just maybe, they enjoy relative indifference. The Christians and the pagans can duke it out, they don't have a dog [...]

This book was one of the most thought-provoking books I've read in a long time. It was paradigm-shifting. Paris does an exceptional job demonstrating how it's time we move away from thinking of sexual identity in binary terms. In fact, she convincingly shows how sexual identity labels are very recent constructs that just divide people, rather than uniting them, and how these identities are wrongly based on a single factor: a person's sexual desires and attractions. This, she proposes, is complet [...]

This a heavy but important book. I know it’s not at all a book that people would see and think, “Ooh, I should read that!” But when I was working on my term paper about the church and homosexuality, it was such a helpful, insightful, raw perspective to have. It not only helped me with school, it helped me process my own thoughts. If homosexuality and being better informed about it is something that deeply interests you, I would very much recommend this book. It has information about histor [...]

So it's too short, has a couple of awkward moments where the author seems compelled to state her conservative position where it doesn't necessarily fit the flow of the argument, and has a number of other flaws covered well in Eve Tushnet's review theamericanconservativeThat said, Paris works a pretty helpful core supposition: that sexual identity (be it straight, gay, hetero-, homo-, etc.) is a relatively novel concept with a complex history and hasn't served individuals, culture, ethics, or rea [...]

Short Review: End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex is Too Import To Define Who We Are by Jenell Williams Paris - a look at how our culture shapes sexual identity. Well worth reading if you are tired of the impasse around gay marriage and homosexuality. I think that Paris adequately illustrates that we cannot just place our modern conceptions of sexuality upon the bible and leave it at that. The weakness of the book is that she does a great job at showing alternative ways of looking at sexuality and b [...]

I gave it five stars because this is the first time I've ever encountered the idea that we (erroneously and unhealthily) view our sexuality as the framework for our identity. Before learning about this book, I had never considered that. But Williams Paris goes much deeper than that, analyzing how that unhealthy framework shapes our interactions, how it impacts the Church, and much, much more. Williams Paris does a great job of presenting information and suggesting change without ever sounding pr [...]

The core thesis of this book is provocative and helpful: "sexual identity" is a late modern construct that both sides of Christian debates about same-sex attraction have uncritically accepted. (One could draw a parallel between this and recent arguments about race offered by J. Kameron Carter, Willie Jennings, and Brian Bantum.)If this thesis were going to get any traction in academic discussion, Paris will need to distill this with sufficient scholarly rigor somewhere else (a well-placed articl [...]

Paris makes a fascinating argument for the deconstruction of sexual labels--gay and straight, primarily. She makes her case on anthropology, history, and theology. The strongest argument is that labeling minorities tends to lead to discrimination and prejudice. Rather than further dividing humanity into smaller and smaller categories, Paris points to the Christian belief of the Imago Dei--that we're all made in the image of God. We all make up humanity. Rather than emphasizing our differences, l [...]

The title may keep some people away because it could sound like Paris is going old school and giving a moral behavior lecture. I think her call to care and understand more fully our sexuality (more than attraction, behavior, or relationship status) is helpful. She's an anthropologist so she spells out her biases and views rather than unconsciously allowing them to bleed over the whole thing. Good stuff. I hope the church at large can move away from the binary arguments that are based on judgemen [...]

Had good things to say--I definitely realized that in many ways Christians do exactly what she says throughout the book: we make both too big a deal and not enough of a deal of sexuality. That said, I wish she'd offered more practical applications of her ideas; I sometimes found her reasoning and the logic behind her stories difficult to follow.

Paris argues that sexual identity is a social construct, one which is far too important to use as a final concrete definition of who we are. The notion of heterosexuality, homosexuality, etc. is troublesome and needs a critical examination. It would be better for all if we were to recognize this. Christians especially should recognize how we have made sexual identity and status an idol.

This is a short book, but really helps to start conversations about identity, and how it forms us. If you don't enjoy (or agree) that identities changes, or culture is involved in the process, you may not like this book. The author incorporates her own Christian perspective and calls both the church, and society, to rethink their own viewpoints.

Paris writes about the ways that cultural "constructs" (ideological concepts) have influenced Christian thinking about sexuality. A must read for anyone concerned about sexuality issues from an orthodox or traditional perspective.

Lucid writing with undergrads in mind by their professor. Paris helps us understand how our dialogue about sexuality has been commandeered by a philosophy that does not help it a bit. The question of "identity" is the wrong question -- especially for Christians.


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