Sex, Tech, and Faith: Ethics for a Digital Age with foreword by Mihee Kim-Kort
A values-based, shame-free, pleasure-positive discussion of Christian ethics in response to a range of pressing issues in the digital age—including online pornography, dating apps, sexting, virtual-reality hookups, and sex robots.
Digital innovation has rapidly changed the landscape of sexual experience in the twenty-first century. Rules-based sexual ethics, subscribed to by many Christians, are unable to keep up with new developments and, more often than not, seem effective at little other than generating shame.
Progressive ethicist Kate Ott steps into this void with an expansive yet nuanced approach that prioritizes honesty and discernment over fear and judgment. Rather than producing a list of don’ts, Ott considers the possibilities alongside the potential harm in everything from the use of internet porn to the practice of online dating to human-robot intimacy. With the aid of thought-provoking anecdotes and illuminating research, Ott invites readers to wrestle with the question of how to practice a just and flourishing sexuality in the digital age—and does so by drawing on core values of the Christian tradition.
A rich resource for both individuals and groups, Sex, Tech, and Faith includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter for those considering these issues in community, as well as extensive youth study guides for parents, pastors, and teachers in need of age-appropriate means of beginning these difficult conversations with teens. Readers of all backgrounds and identities will be challenged to consider how their choices and habits in the digital world can lead to sexual health, wholeness, dignity, and fulfillment—for themselves and those in relationship with them.
Christian Century by Virginia White, “Ott’s, then, is an invitation to put values into practice, even and especially in arenas that have largely been excluded from previous theological consideration. Her resistance to clear-cut answers, which easily stifle discussion and further reflection, creates space for real moral formation, hearty enough to bear complicated questions and maneuver through nuanced situations. In theological language, Ott issues a call to embodied discipleship. Unlike those who are quick to dismiss these technologies out of hand, she asks us to pause and consider how we would practice loving self, God, and neighbor while using online dating apps, sexting, or playing sex-focused games online. Sometimes simply asking the question is a radical act.”
Reading Religion Review by Rick Pidcock, “Sex, Tech & Faith is a bold and beautiful book that required a lot of courage, curiosity, and creativity to write. It probably will not be well received by Christians of a more traditional mindset. But for Christians who are looking for a faith-informed, technologically aware, shame-free, values-driven exploration of holistic sexuality, it is a book that will open the heart, mind, and body to a sexual ethic equipped for the digital age.” Listen to Rick’s short video reflection on the book and current Christian conversations on sexuality.
Publisher’s Weekly features Sex, Tech & Faith among “New Faith-Based Books Seek a Moral Force: New titles urge believers to engage with a range of social issues.”
“What has your local church done lately to go deeper into the rapidly changing world of relationships and digital dating? Try reading this book together. We’re way past the point of inviting God into the bedroom. Where is God in your avatar, your dating profile, your sexual self, and your loving heart?”
— Lillian Daniel
author of Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To
“This is a courageous book. A necessary book. An eye-opening book. A beautiful book. With characteristic unflinching willingness to speak and teach directly about what so few of us will, Kate Ott has provided a map for Christian faith communities to navigate the complex terrain of bodies interacting with technology interacting with bodies.”
— Jennifer Harvey
author of Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America
“At last, a critical Christian ethic applied to the complex topic of sexual technology. Kate Ott delivers a nuanced ethical framework at just the right time. Her supple and careful introduction will serve the theological community well for the road ahead.”
— Joshua K. Smith
author of Robot Theology: Old Questions through New Media
“This text provides an integrative, (very!) specific, and accessible approach to Christian digital sexual ethics. It expands our Christian moral imaginations, equipping us for the current digital age and what it means ‘to recognize Christ in the virtual incarnations of others as we make ourselves known.’ Ott also helpfully updates gender violence realities such as digital sexual harassment and intimate violence. If you want to introduce Christian digital ethics with language for body-affirming sexuality and frank and accurate information, teach this book!”
— Traci C. West
author of Solidarity and Defiant Spirituality
“The digital revolution has added another dimension to the already complex area of human sexuality. Kate Ott provides a well-informed survey of the central issues at stake that will immensely improve readers’ digital literacy. Offering a values-based framework, Ott has managed to avoid a laissez faire approach by which anything goes, while at the same time not becoming prescriptive. A first of its kind, Sex, Tech, and Faith is a valuable contribution to discussions on sexuality in the digital age that will assist Christians to navigate this aspect of modern life.”
— Jonas Kurlberg
Centre for Digital Theology, Durham University
“Kate Ott, a leading Christian sexual ethicist and educator of our time, makes sexuality in the digital age—a prevalent hidden curriculum of Christianity—an explicit subject with which contemporary Christians must engage. In this accessible and profound book written for both adults and youth, Ott successfully persuades Christians of the need to be fluent in this critical but often-avoided topic to live an ethical and faithful life with powerful, bold, and realistic stories and challenging questions. Beyond the precious content, the beauty of this book is Ott’s showcasing of embodied learning in her writing style through a multifaceted social-justice lens, a pedagogical principle that she advocates throughout the book. Theological teachers, students, pastors, and lay Christians alike will be equipped with both the what and the how of sex, tech, and Christian values—a rare gift readers will gain from this book that is both academic and practical.”
— Boyung Lee
Iliff School of Theology
“With frankness and nuance, Kate Ott investigates the potentials of digital technologies for exploring and expanding sexual pleasure, identity, and care. Unabashedly sex- and tech-positive, Ott is at the same time highly sensitive to the complicity of the same technologies in racial, ableist, and gender-based injustice and violence. As she invites the reader to ponder novel and often-scandalized phenomena like sex robots, online matchmaking, cyberstalking, and digital pornography, Ott subtly recasts age-old questions about human relationality, vulnerability, curiosity, and embodiment. The double pursuit of digital literacy and a values-based theological sexual ethic nudges readers to cultivate their own erotic attunement through and beyond particular technologies. The shame-free yet deeply reflective tone, the sexual storytelling and cultural illustrations, and the accompanying discussion and reading guides make the book eminently accessible and implementable. The youth study guide in particular will be an invaluable resource for progressive faith communities.”
— Hanna Reichel
Princeton Theological Seminary
“Kate Ott’s Sex, Tech, and Faith: Ethics for a Digital Age offers clear instruction providing readers with the tools they need to cultivate their own thoughtful and faithful approach to sexuality in this digital age. Each chapter presents case studies and discussion questions to ease into sexual topics that are seldom discussed in Christian communities. Her frank delivery, her compassionate concern for bodies, minds, and souls, and her skill with practical advice make this book a must-have for anyone daring to learn about creating healthy sexual relationships.”
— Monique Moultrie
author of Passionate and Pious: Religious Media and Black Women’s Sexuality
“Kate Ott brings forth values-based biblical themes and interpretations for us to consider how digital interactions may help, harm, augment, or erase healthy, consensual relationships. In the process, she has offered a valuable gift to the Christian church—a much-needed conversation around digital sexual ethics!”
— Jonathan L. Walton
author of A Lens of Love: Reading the Bible in Its World for Our World