Sexual Authenticity
An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism

Melinda Selmys

The Reviews


David Elliot

This is a magnificent book, and deserves a very wide readership. Selmys' prose is a work of art and a model of clarity. The book sweeps you along with novel-like readability and is happily free of technical blather. It's most obvious merit is that it thinks outside the usual box of culture wars rhetoric. The book was clearly written to appeal to both the pro and anti-sides of the gay debate. There's no language loud with fight; the tone is disarmingly pacific. Of the picking out of great passages, and the wearing out of highlighters, there is no end. Perhaps the highest praise you can give a book - that you give up underlining as futile since you're underlining everything - can be given this one. It performs the most interesting blend of genres I've ever seen: an autobiographic narrative that alone would have been worth buying the book for crops up amid compelling commentary on sex, history, psychology, the mainstream media, and Christianity. Almost by way of an afterthought, there drops from Selmys' pen the first really well-written and luminous exposition of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body in the English language, putting us further in her debt. For these, and for the book's lavish aesthetic merits, let it be reckoned unto her as righteousness.

Craig Galer

Melinda Selmys promises us, in the subtitle of this book, 'An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism', and she delivers on that promise most admirably. Like St. Augustine of old, she weaves the experiences of her own life into penetratingly deep insight into human nature and sexuality. I am a bit in awe of the manner in which she lays her soul bare, in order to speak deep truth to her readers.

Taken at face value, this is a book about homosexuality, from a Catholic perspective, and it is certainly that, as Selmys gives us a look at homosexuality 'from the inside', out of her own experience of having been a partnered lesbian for several years, interwoven with the story of her painstaking conversion to Catholicism (which is one of the more brutally intellectually-honest 'conversion stories' I've encountered). But there is so much more here than just that, as her very agile and probing mind wanders over a vast range of what it means to be human, the nature of our relationships with others, sexuality, and on and on.

Because of where she has been in her life, her mind is remarkably (to borrow Dr. Johnson's phrase) 'free of cant'. She readily pierces ideological bubbles on both sides of the 'Cultural Divide'. In the present cultural climate in which 'Gays' and 'Christians' are all-too-eager to demonize each other into non-human abstractions, Selmys calmly points out the fatuities propounded by both sides, and encourages her readers to see things more clearly as they really are, on a human level.

The late pope's Theology of the Body, and the personalist philosophy out of which it grew, are all through this book, even if they are not at the forefront. The manner in which she is able to portray the fundamental 'human-ness' of same-sex-attracted persons, and to place homosexuality in a full context of human fallen-ness (not essentially different from other manifestations of human fallen-ness, including my own), has the clear ring of deep truth.

On top of all this, Melinda Selmys is an exceptionally talented writer, with whom I would love to share a cup of coffee (or several) over some animated philosophical conversation. This is an excellent book, full of deep insight and truth.

Jeremy Frim

Sexual Authenticity by Melinda Selmys is so much more than just another Christian book about homosexuality. Drawing on both her personal experiences and extensive research of homosexuality and Catholicism, the author's comprehensive approach not only reveals an understanding that is much more profound than one often encounters today, but also provides a wealth of information on many related issues such as love, marriage, family, society, temptation, repentance and religious conversion. There is something in this book for everybody, whether gay, straight, atheist, religious, some combination or none of the above.

In this book you will not find any of the stereotypical homophobia or legalism that Christians are often accused of. Sexuality is not boiled down to a set of behaviours dictated by feelings and "Thou shalt..." or "Thou shalt not..." statements. What you will find is a thorough yet concise explanation of sexuality as a gift from God and how it fits into a Christian worldview, told in the context of how one woman discovered it after years of trying to fight against it.

While there are many good resources out there on Christianity and sexuality, Sexual Authenticity combines a deep personal understanding with a rich abundance of information in 235 enjoyable pages. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

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