A Review of Levi Lusko’s “Swipe Right”

Let’s Talk About (Christian) Sex

“Swipe Right” Book Cover

Alright, it’s probably been established by now that I’m a left-leaning Christian who doesn’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus, that the Bible isn’t literal, and that abortion isn’t a sin. What else is new with me? Well, I know that at times that I’m guilty of objectifying the women folk sometimes, so, as I think about getting together with someone of the fairer sex at some point down the road (as opposed to never getting together with someone, which has been my standard operating plan for the past eight or so years), I wanted to read a book about the Christian perspective on sex and romance. This is why I chose Levi Lusko’s Swipe Right (so named after a play on words relating to a command on dating app Tinder) when it became available to me through BookLookBloggers.

I’ll come right out and say that there are aspects of this book that didn’t resonate with me. Thomas Nelson can be a bit of an evangelical publisher, so naturally I have a problem with Lusko when he briefly chastises gay men as committing an act that is sinful. (I really wish Christians of a certain stripe would lay off the homosexual community. If God really does have a problem with gays and lesbians — as an apparently loving and gracious God — then I’ll go right up to the Pearly Gates and tell God off myself. He’s got way bigger fish to fry than caring about what two loving adults do with each other. Maybe, you know, he could get the terrorists to knock it off. A way better use of His time.)

I kind of knew that I wouldn’t always agree with the author’s point of view when I got into the book, but I was hopeful to read something that was, as they say, a bit of a brick on my head when it came to matters of dealing with the opposite sex that is loving and respectful. I guess I got a little bit of that, but it didn’t feel Hellfire and Brimstone enough. You see, Lusko has a very conversational and jokey tone, which feels a little at odds with the subject matter. Sex is serious. I remember reading a quote from porn actor Ron Jeremy in The Onion’s A.V. Club that noted that all joking stops in porn when the sex starts to happen. Laughter ruins sex.

As is the case with this book, to a degree.

I know that Lusko was trying to have a hip, young, cavalier tone with his work. And it’s not that I didn’t like his writing style or tone necessarily. I just felt it didn’t really fit the subject matter well. On the other hand, coming across as someone who is preachy would have turned off all those Generation Y’ers that Lusko probably feels that he’s talking to (being one himself). It’s a fine balancing line to walk, though. I think Lusko maybe crosses it a few too many times. It would have been nice, for one thing, if he was a bit more reverential about the Bible as he comes across as being. Referring to Biblical heroes as your friend from the OT just feels like someone trying to be hip about the Bible. I hate to say it, but the Bible ain’t hip. Not at all.

I didn’t outright dislike this book, and found myself enjoying parts of it and found myself even resonating with the core message and takeaway that no matter what skeletons you have in your closet, relationship-wise or otherwise, you can start turning your life around with God’s help right now. If you strip away the fundamentalist evangelical dogma, there are some good messages at the book’s core. And I don’t think that Lusko is out to hurt anybody. He strikes me, from his writing, to be naive about certain things such as, you know, homosexuality.

However, as good as the book can be at times, it does suffer from some authorial missteps. For instance, Lusko interjects various things happening in his life right as he’s writing his words that don’t seem to have much bearing on the subject at hand. He also starts the book with a memoir-esque story of being badly injured in a snowmobile accident, and somehow tries to draw a parallel between it and leading a Godly relationship life. I didn’t get it. Really, I didn’t get it. What does one have to do with the other? Methinks Lusko’s writing would be better and more focused with a good editor who called him out on some of his prose.

That said, I found the book oddly touching in places, such as whenever Lusko starts talking about his deceased daughter, who died suddenly when she was five years old. In fact, I wanted to know more about this personal part of Lusko’s narrative — without sounding like I want to stick my nose in other people’s business. I mean, really, there’s grist for the mill in talking about how one can bury a child and have a marriage and family life that somehow manages to stay intact after such a claustrophobic event. How does the marriage stay strong after such at thing? Heck, how do you even keep your faith after that? Lots of stuff to talk about. I suppose that’s why the author in his writing feels compelled to have a less serious tone with this book. It skirts some hard questions. I think the book might have been better if it slammed into those questions more head-on.

Similarly, the author admits to having had a pornography addiction. There might be a whole book’s worth of material in how one gets over that. Instead, it comes up now and then like a scab that hasn’t fully healed. I’m sure there are plenty of men who would benefit from more on this subject, and hearing testimony from another. Alas, the book really doesn’t go there.

In all, I found Swipe Right to be rather superficial in spots, and it wasn’t the book I was quite expecting. Maybe my Gen X self is too old to appreciate this kind of thing. I’m sorry for that. I didn’t outright hate this book by any stretch. I did find it funny! I did find the book easy to parse! But I also found that my attention was wandering from time to time, which is not a good sign. I guess writing a book about sex and relationships is harder than it looks, and we should at least commend Lusko for even trying. However, Swipe Right could have been so much more, and the promise of more hangs over every page of it. Too bad. There’s a really good book waiting to be written about Christianity and sexuality, and this book just reaches the bar in meeting that lofty goal.

Levi Lusko’s Swipe Right: The Life-and-Death Power of Sex and Romance was published by Thomas Nelson on February 21, 2017.

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