one girl's struggle to embrace God's design for relationships,
one woman's journey into wholeness in marital intimacy.

Review by Margaret Chegwin
The Pipestone Flyer

LOCAL AUTHOR, UNIVERSAL MESSAGE

In some areas of life, experience begets problems. This is especially true in the area of sexuality. Nancy Fowler Christenson discovered that for a number of years her sexual freedom within her marriage was hampered by the lingering effects of her pre-Christian and pre-marriage experiences. With great courage and insight, she went back to her journals to create a book that tells her story with emotional honesty and the fresh immediacy of a diary. Carefully placed within the narrative are the principles involved, the lessons learned. Also interspersed are the songs she wrote on a number of the occasions recalled. All is told with gentle humour and the clear desire to help the reader to understand how to live this area of life in a way that is honouring to God.

Made in Heaven; Fleshed Out on Earth is divided into three major sections. The first, “Chasing Mr. Wrong,” deals with her struggle as a single woman to change the way she related to men from the hedonistic sexual freedom of secular culture to find and practice the purity that she knew God desired for her. The change was gradual and involved various missteps, humorous incidents and several versions of Mr. Wrong. I am sure that every woman reading this part will recognize and identify with the kind of incidents described, and the uncertainties involved in trying to find (but maybe modify) God’s way through the sexual jungle of the last half century. What is rarely recognized during those young, searching years is the truth of her statement, “Of course, none of us really ‘gets away’ with anything. All of our experiences, all our choices, stay with us for a lifetime. Even though sexual exploits happen in secret, in the dark, and usually no one knows beyond the people involved, those events are written in a person’s history, indelibly. They never go away—it’s all there, piling up in our hearts.” She came to recognize that in this area of life, as in every other, God wants His children to obey Him because that leads to the best quality of life.

The second section, “Finding Mr. Right,” takes the reader through the long distance courtship, including many of their letters and the few times that they were able to be together. The emphasis is on their determination to get to know each other while behaving in ways honouring God and living in purity until the wedding. Also in this section, Christenson states a spiritual truth that would have prevented huge amounts of pain if I and many others had known it 35 years ago. She writes, “The prophet should never presume to direct the course of another person’s life.... The prophetic word should never be considered the primary leading.”

The final section, “Ever After,” actually has a triple focus. It tells of the years of marriage when the residue from her past, to their surprise, prevented her from knowing the full joy of married intimacy for a number of years. It tells of the healing and counselling that freed her to experience the full joy and unity of married love, which is also a God-given picture of the unity He wants with us. It shows the necessity for open and honest communication about sex throughout the childhood of our children according to their age and the events, such as instruction from other children.

The emphasis of the whole book is on living out our human sexuality in the ways that God intended when He gave us the wonderful gift of sex. She uses the experiences of her life to illustrate both disobedience and obedience, and the natural consequences of each. The use of her journal material gives it the interest and easy reading of a diary. Appropriately interspersed are nuggets of wisdom that help one find the best quality of life in this area, which is what God desires for us. Every woman, young or old, Christian or not, will find many places where the inner response will be, “Right on. She tells it just the way it is.” Hopefully, many young women will be drawn to it to learn how to live God’s way and prevent the confusion that she knew. Hopefully, more mature women will find in it the keys to finding healing for their own hang-ups and pain. Hopefully, mothers will find in it examples and help in talking wisely and honestly with their children about sex. The central message is one of universal truth showing how consequences follow actions whether or not we are Christians, and without regard to what variety of Christian we may be. This book can help women (and men, too) choose the actions and attitudes that are an essential part of the preparation for the kind of joy in the relationship of marriage that everyone dreams about.