Matthew Rueger

St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2016. 178 pages. $14.99.

Reviewed by Rev. Jonathan Lange. Pastor, Our Saviour Lutheran Church and Saint Paul Lutheran Church Evanston and Kemmerer, WY on 02/06/2018

Matthew Rueger has provided the Missouri Synod with a solidly Lutheran resource for the parish. With a doctorate in his subject matter, he is thoroughly conversant with the scholarly literature. He brings to the table the practical knowledge of a quarter-century in the parish and first-hand experience with students at a secular university.

Dr. Rueger uses these gifts to digest for us the historical, exegetical, practical, clinical, and theological contours of contemporary challenges to sexual ethics. His engaging and conversational style makes an incredible amount of information accessible. If a Lutheran pastor were to read only one book on the subject, this ought to be the book.

Chapters on the Roman and Jewish context of the Biblical texts prepare the reader for a thoughtful survey of the relevant passages determinative for Christian sexual ethics. All this leads up to a sensitive yet faithful approach toward those who struggle against sexual sins. This pivotal chapter is worth the price of the book. It reveals how the minds of same-sex attracted people are often quite different from the activists that dominate the spotlight, and it helps those who love them to better care for them with Christ’s word.

Concluding chapters survey the clinical research and natural law arguments for marriage. Finally, Rueger brings us back to the gospel to remind seelsorgers that this is what every sinner is ultimately crying to hear.

Rueger understands and lives in the dynamics of law and gospel. This, together with his thorough understanding of the subject matter, his Lutheran training, and his pastoral perspective make Sexual Morality in a Christless World an outstanding resource. It is the kind of resource that pastors can comfortably pass along to parishioners in full confidence that they will encounter neither legalism nor liberalism, but solid scholarship presented from a pastoral heart.