Dr. Carolyn Weber, Professor of English Studies at Heritage College & Seminary, believes that we all are defined by longing. This universal human condition is something that she has not only experienced personally but is also something that she sees continually in culture as people search for fulfillment all the wrong places – especially when it comes to relationships, intimacy, and sex.
Out of a desire to remind readers that there is another way, Weber was inspired to write her latest memoir, Sex and the City of God: A Memoir of Love and Longing.
Weber explains that her interest in the topic of longing began after her own conversion. as she began to see in retrospect how much of her own aches, desire, or, as C.S. Lewis termed it, “sehnsucht” was pointing her to something bigger. This was God.
This fascination with longing was what led her to focus academically on the Romantic writers of the 18th and 19th century who were defined by this “infinite longing”. However – through her study of authors like Goethe, Wordsworth, Blake, Coleridge, and the Shelleys – she began to see a deeper longing in all people.
“I began to see how this longing very much characterized just about everything we searched for in life: companionship, achievement, belonging, safety, refuge, peace,” says Weber. “Augustine’s famous claim then took on a very personal and relevant meaning for me: ’You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.’”
Looking back on years of conversations with friends, students, participants at women’s events, and her own children, Weber says that she began to see how culture has been looking to everything else but God to meet this sense of longing. When it came to relationships, marriage, and sex, she has become increasingly concerned that people are bombarded with sexual information yet no relational wisdom and no way to think bigger about love and how best to love.
“As my children grew older, I wanted them to see more than the world shows them: I wanted them to understand marriage as a place that is not immune to the fallen world – nowhere on this side of heaven is – but that it can be a safe place to grow, and to forgive and be forgiven, and to taste grace intimately,” says Weber. “And that regardless of our worldly relationship status, we are married first to Christ, and therefore should be thinking of responding to him first, looking to him first.”
Through reflecting on her own life after studying at Oxford University and her personal faith journey, Weber seeks to explore what our lives can look like when we choose to love God first in this new memoir.
Weber states that her hopes for this new work are to see those who are looking at anyone or anything other than God to meet their deepest needs to be lovingly encouraged to revisit the First Commandment and find relief and peace. Rather than fulfilling needs in people or actions at the cost of hurting or exploiting other people, she desires that readers of this book may discover the truth that finding our identity in Christ ultimately means we live in relationship, and so in responsibility, to other people.
“God has to be our First Love, or else the bottom of everything really does fall out; the bucket has an endless hole,” says Weber. “We are our brother’s and sister’s keeper, and a keeper of our hearts as well, and that’s an immense privilege that relationship reminds us of and points us to with our heart’s homecoming in God.”
To learn more about Sex and the City of God, click here.