Review: "Swipe Up" By Jason Roach
We are bombarded by stories, songs and visions of what fulfilling relationships look like on TV, film, Spotify, social media and in books. We absorb the story they tell us about our sexuality and how it is to be enjoyed. That story shapes our hearts. “Swipe Up” invites us to hear God’s better story, how He offers a superior satisfaction and has a justifiably prior claim upon us. Jason honestly, humbly and personally tells that story through his own journey so that we, to use Ed Shaw’s words, “gaze upon God’s reality and His better love stories”.
Jason says, “I want to share the story of how, as a Christian, I came to hear God’s voice and let him direct me through the exhilarating, terrifying waves of intimacy.”
He tells his story through his teenage years - navigating his feelings; to singleness as a young adult - battling loneliness; and then, more recently, into being married with young children - struggling for contentment.
“Swipe Up” aims at a broad embrace - “Whether single, divorced, same-sex attracted and celibate, or those struggling in tough marriages ...” - without belittling or stereotyping. Even though it is not primarily a book focusing on same-sex attraction (SSA), it speaks hope to every Christian with relationship issues, and so is a leveller, and a unifier, for all believers. It is primarily for Christians, but also, in some cases, maybe suitable to give to a sympathetic enquirer.
It is divided into 6 chapters:
1. Something more? As a teenager “intimacy seemed tantalising close but mysteriously out of reach.” As Jason became a Christian, he realised he was not going about relationships in a way that was shaped by Jesus. He charts his course beyond the polarity of “passion-free faith” or “unrestricted sensual fun” to tasting that there is a better love story: God’s.
2. Here for a reason. The Biblical story of God’s faithful and saving love is unveiled in vivid and satisfying colours in the context of the different cultural voices that tug on our hearts. The music of “find your own one true love”, etc. is powerful, but listen to God’s song! God’s love really is better than life.
3. Celebrating our situation. Or, “why singleness is not second best.” While not airbrushing out its challenges, Jason opens up the blessing of an “undivided” life and how celibate singleness celebrates God’s love story in a way that is as valuable to God as the married state. Both situations are hard. Both display Christ. Only Jesus’ love is sufficient in each.
4. Faithful. Or why anniversaries are better than weddings? Jason positions marriage in the service, not of romance or sex, but of God. For procreation - physically, but also spiritually; for evangelism; for putting God’s nature and worship on display; and as a place of welcome. Marriage is intended to showcase the faithfulness of God beyond itself.
5. Friendship. Or why the One is not enough? No one, sinful person can be everything we need. To be a faithful single or a faithful married we need a “network of people”. Jason discusses types of friendship and tips for our friendship treasure hunt. He shows that this journey needs the perfect friend – Jesus. No-one gets closer to us than Him. No friend promises what He can.
6. Speaking to our world. Or why “stop it!” just won’t do? Four ways of engaging with the watching world about God’s better story for loving relationships: Thank you to the world for the wake-up call; Sorry for where the church has been unhelpful; Please let us tell God’s story in our own way; Never give up on the non-negotiables of faithful commitment to Christ in singleness or marriage.
The target audience of the book is incredibly broad and the book is short. Aware of this limitation, the book finishes with pointers for where more specific guidance and empathy can be found, e.g. SSA, teaching God’s relationship story to children. Its appeal is more directly to younger men and this may strain female readers at some points.
Speaking personally and being someone who was bewitched by the siren call of “love” particularly from music and film – and nearly shipwrecked – there were many “Wow, you too” moments. Jason’s account of the redeeming grace that saves us despite wrong decisions and idolatry in relationships drew me to grateful praise of God. “Swipe Up” has been a poignant and joyful discovery for me.
“Swipe up” deserves a large readership and it has great potential especially among, but by no means limited to, a younger audience.
"Swipe Up" by Jason Roach
(The Good Book Company, 2019)
£7.99 paperback, £6.61 Kindle
This book review was originally published in the Spring 2020 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.
Download the Spring 2020 edition of Ascend