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Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 01:01 am

Can We Do That? Yes, we can!

Springfield author’s new book opens dialogue on Christian sexuality

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Christians need to talk more about sex.

That’s the idea behind Can We Do That? — a new book written by Dr. Wesley Robinson-McNeese that encourages Christian couples to explore various aspects of human sexuality, such as masturbation, oral sex and sexual intercourse.

McNeese, the pastor of New Mission Church of God in Springfield and the executive assistant to the dean for diversity, multicultural and minority affairs at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, says there is too often a “closed-mindedness” that surrounds human sexuality. He penned his first book, using the Bible as a reference, he says, to address this void in religious education. It delves into sexual thoughts, sexual acts and sexual troubles, with chapters ranging from “Is Spousal Rape Possible?” “Is It Okay to Enjoy Orgasms?” and “Is There Any Exception for Contraception?”

“I believe this is something the Lord put on me,” McNeese says. “It’s not just a book — it’s talking about topics that all Christians should address.”

When McNeese finished his book, he asked his wife, LaVern, to read its first draft. Even though the couple has been married for 32 years and has four daughters, LaVern McNeese admits that she was surprised by her husband’s open discussion of sex.

In the book’s foreword, LaVern McNeese writes: “Discussion of sexual matters was taboo during my adolescent years and even beyond. The adults around me didn’t dare touch on such sensitive, intimate subjects except jokingly or in whispers, as if to do so was sinful and dirty. No parent, teacher or minister I knew ever gave any detail about this special sexual gift given by God.”

LaVern McNeese comments further that it’s “no wonder so many of us Christian women are confused and uptight about our sexual thoughts, actions and especially inactions.”

For these reasons, LaVern McNeese recommends Can We Do That? not just to married couples, but also to teenagers. All four of her daughters, who range in age from 16 to 31, read the book and found it helpful. More young people, she continues, need to get their information about sex from church and community leaders instead of from television, movies and peers.

“We need to openly discuss certain things, especially today in our society, where sex is very much out there, and people are involved sexually outside of marriage,” LaVern McNeese says. “If you’re a Christian, how will you know what to do sexually if it’s not explained to you?”

McNeese, also the president of the Ministerial Alliance of Springfield and Vicinity, gave advance copies of Can We Do That? to fellow alliance members. Nicholas Stojakovich, a minister who attends Hope Evangelical Free Church, says he has never seen a book quite like McNeese’s, calling it “courageous” and a “great discussion-starter.”

“Historically, the church has been misrepresented as the party of ‘no’s,’” Stojakovich says. “What we really need to be saying to folks is that sexuality is a gift from God. Wes tried to provide some basic guidelines on subjects that I think a lot of Christian couples are afraid to talk about openly.”

Stojakovich adds that the book is especially helpful, since McNeese brings both spiritual and medical experience to its chapters.

Virginia Cooper, an attorney with the SIU School of Medicine, also read McNeese’s book and agrees that his diverse background lends him the authority to author a book on sexual thought and behavior.

“If anyone is going to do this, he would be the one,” Cooper says. “It’s a very direct and forthright piece of writing. It’s very good that it’s direct. Otherwise, we find ourselves right back where we were in the past — of not actually putting out accurate information.”

She believes Can We Do That? will be valuable to couples that had questions about sexuality before marriage, but didn’t have resources  available to answer those questions.

McNeese hopes that the book, released nationally on Feb. 2, will be used in pre-marital and marital counseling, as well as in church group discussions. He presented Can We Do That? to several groups in the past month, including students at the University of Illinois-Springfield and a Christian education class in St. Louis.

Contact Amanda Robert at arobert@illinoistimes.com.
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