So my first book has gone to print

Last night my editor from The Good Book Company contacted me to say that the book I have been writing has gone to the printers. Whoop whoop! And it’s ready to pre-order if you want to do that.

The title? Being the Bad Guys: How to Live For Jesus in a World that Says You Shouldn’t. You can pre-order it here for Australia. And here for the USA.

I can’t say I recognised the feeling of relief/euphoria of it going to print because I’ve never written a book before. Blog posts get churned out: Books get wrung out.

I haven’t mentioned the book much on my blog for some reason, though much of the thinking behind it is based in the blog’s material. It has affected my blog simply in that I haven’t given as much time to the blog the last six months or so because of it.

The title’s a bit of a wry take on the shift in which the gospel and its sexual ethic is less seen as part of the solution to the concerns in the public square, and increasingly part of the problem. The title is a reference to a movie, and if you can pick it you are at least my age!

TGBC had gotten in touch with me last year on the basis of my blog writings and asked if I would write something that mapped a way forward for Christians in a rapidly changing culture, especially around what I have called “the sexular culture”.

The focus would be on the competing visions of human flourishing held by the gospel and this new “gospel”, and how that has resulted in a hostility towards the Christian sexual ethic that many did not see coming.

This hostility has led to an uncertainty among many Christians as to how to respond, resulting in some angry knee jerk reactions, and also some unfortunate acquiescence to the cultural zeitgeist either through poor teaching or through fear.

So the book arrows in on the sexuality debate, though not exclusively. Let’s face it, at the moment how you respond to the sexuality issues is the cultural shibboleth. It’s increasingly the dividing line between whether you get a hearing or get short shrift.

Think of it as clearing a pathway in the fog of war.

Being the Bad Guys has three sections:

  1. How Did We Get To Be The Bad Guys? Two chapters overviewing the cultural situation, the gospel of sexuality, the celebration of self-determinism and how it challenges the gospel framework.
  2. What Being The Bad Guy Looks Like Three chapters on the competing narratives around sexual ethics, and where the church needs to sort out its own house on matters of identity and how we may have unwittingly (or otherwise) bought into the self-actualisation narrative.
  3. How to Be the Best Bad Guy You Can Be Three chapters around strategic response. These explore a church response, a work/vocational response and a public square response to the issue, utilising biblical material that gives us a way forward that is hopeful, joy-filled and attractive. And that’s critical. The last thing we need are more angry, surly Christians. “Consider it pure joy when you suffer various trials etc, etc”, springs to mind.

(Trigger warning #1: It won’t be a lament for the good old days, cos the good old days weren’t necessarily all that good)

(Trigger warning #2: It will say that gospel fidelity on sexuality matters will be increasingly challenged in the coming decades)

I gotta say, my editor at TGBC, Katy Morgan, was super. She has an eagle eye, a sharp theological mind, and the ability to send me back a chapter with a bunch of “you need to sort these parts out”, without crushing me. All I can say is that without Katy, the book would have read like one long 36 thousand word blog post. It’s not a hard read, and is written in my blog style (whether that’s a good thing or bad thing!).

It’d be good to sell a few copies. but I’m just as interested in the follow up conversations around it. We are looking at how we can use Zoom meetings and the like to help churches and other groups to engage with the material and its author (me!) to enable and encourage them to be the best bad guys they can be.