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Books: Beowulf on the Beach (Part 2 of 2)

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Last week we did a Q&A with Jack Murnighan, author of Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature’s 50 Greatest Hits, about the sexiest stuff in classic literature. Today we’ve got the “What’s Sexy” section of his chapter on the New Testament, reprinted with his permission of course:

There’s not much that’s technically sexy in the New Testament, but since so many people’s chances for eternal happiness are at stake, I’m going to break down all the most important sex-related stuff:

  • On cheating: “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). In this regard, the New Testament is harsher than the Old. Pity.
  • On homosexuality: “Vile affections … Women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another … to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:26-8). Based on what I’ve seen in the Greyhound men’s room, it’s not that inconvenient.
  • That there’s not much hope: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind” (1Corinthians 6:9).
  • Euphemism of the week: “Let us walk honestly…not in chambering and wantonness” (Romans 1:13). Chambering!
  • Like Chaucer’s Wife of Bath said: “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband” (1Corinthians 7:3).
  • And like she did: “If they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn” (1Corinthians 7:9).
  • For George Costanza: “For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (1Thessalonians 4:3-4).
  • But can I keep the non-superfluous part? “Lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness” (James 1:21).

All in all, more than you’d expect from the Christian rulebook, right?

– From Jack Murnighan’s Beowulf on the Beach


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