Jason Roach is a pastor and former medical doctor from South London, and his new book, Swipe Up: A Better Way to do Love, Sex and Relationships has just released. He kindly took the time to answer some questions about the vision behind the book…
– Jason, in Swipe Up, you describe how in many ways we’re all on a search for the “exhilarating, terrifying waves of intimacy”. Can you give us a snapshot of what led you to write this book?
A couple of years ago now, I picked up a copy of a book called A Better Story: God, Sex and Human Flourishing, written by Professor Glynn Harrison, a Professor of Psychiatry in Bristol. I was blown away by it. It was really honest about how powerful the stories our culture tells about sex are. Rather than merely writing them off, he dug into how they tapped into something God given. I wanted to unpack this in a way that I would have appreciated when I was discovering Christ but also trying to navigate relationships too. So something shorter, that was strong on showing that it understood the kind of emotional rollercoaster the struggle for intimacy can put us on.
– You mentioned how you were inspired by Glynn Harrison’s book, and Glynn has obviously enjoyed reading Swipe Up, writing the foreword. In it he says this is a ‘big book’ because it’s ‘real’. Who is this book aimed at, and what are you hoping for from it?
I really do hope people in all kind of different situations would read it and be refreshed by it. If there was one group I would pray in particular would read it, it would be Christians who want to follow the bible’s teachings about sex but struggle to either understand it or to be excited by it. I hope that this book starts to show that God’s way is actually good news.
– It can be easy for Christians to feel on the back-foot when it comes to explaining what the Bible teaches about relationships. How can we change that?
Three things. First take time to listen. Truth is, if in today’s culture we’re anywhere near someone being willing to engage with us on our views about sex, we are in a privileged place. We should cherish and respect that. I’ve found that taking time to understand where people are coming from dispels a lot of misunderstandings about how they might expect me to react. Secondly, be passionate about God. God is love, He invented sex and He did it to point us to the being in the universe who can give us the most pleasure. This isn’t necessarily where people want to start, but I’d prefer someone left a conversation frustrated that I was so excited about God than frustrated that I didn’t seem to care what they thought! Thirdly, agreeing that we want to be who we are. It’s just that our most basic reality is being made in the image of God, so to reflect what he is like. I go into this more in the book.
– In what ways do you think the church has misrepresented God’s vision for sex and relationships?
One of the big weaknesses has sometimes been a neglect of single people. By neglect I mean that their singleness is not celebrated or supported. Some women came into our church the other day and spontaneously offered to pray for some of us. They quickly started praying for our wives or the wives that God had in store for us! Jesus and Paul were single, and yet the culture of our churches at so many levels often makes it seem like being single is stage to pass through as quickly as possible. We also need to highlight and nurture friendship so that celebrate again the range of relationships God gives us to enjoy as we travel on the journey of life.
– How might the message of Swipe Up help us as we think evangelistically about engaging our neighbours and the culture around us with the gospel?
A few weeks ago I gave the book to someone in the office that I happened to be working in and asked them if they would read it and tell me what they thought. I actually had assumed that they were a practising Christian but after they had read it, they told me they weren’t. But they loved reading the book! So give copies away! I hope that it helps us both have language that makes it easier to explain what we believe about sex but also a way of approaching conversations that is both humble and more focused on the bigger Christian story that makes sex makes sense.
– You’re involved in leading and pastoring a church. How would you recommend churches engage with these issues? Any wisdom for those in pastoral ministry on helping people in this area?
Over the years it’s become increasingly clear to me that to not teach on something is effectively to say “it’s best if my congregation simply agree with what the world says this issue.” Not only do they not hear what the bible says, but get all kinds of distorted views of what Christians think too. When your bread and butter is working through books of the bible in preaching series this takes a lot of intentionality. So teach more on it. I’ve found midweek groups are a great setting because it allows for qualifications and questions that are so important. It’s also a real opportunity to interact with popular culture to show just how common the influences of the sexual revolution are.
If you have parents who read with their children, encourage them to start doing that around these issues sooner than they think. Again, when we don’t do this we are essentially saying “I’ll let the playground and the playstation be their teachers.”
You can pick up a copy of Swipe Up from the publisher here.