Tender Fires

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Tender Fires

The Spiritual Promise of Sexuality

If there is one thing needed in the Christian world today, it’s a positive view of sex and relationships. With uncanny warmth, deep compassion and non-judgmental wisdom, Fran Ferder and John Heagle have set the course for a quiet revolution in our hearts and in our churches.

Sexuality is a tricky topic, always has been, but not only for publishers. Traditional religious bookstores used to hide books on sex in the lower shelves behind the counter while official church documents sat up front idealizing the white-veiled marriage. But for a long time now, people have had to find their own way of relating and loving in a changed society. Or, worse, they felt hurt and excluded by their churches' judgmental approach to sexuality -- the core energy of relationship. One area, where this split of consciousness has imploded is referred to as the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. But just as scandalous is the less visible fact that issues of sexuality, divorce, birth-control, etc. have alienated uncountable people from their faith.

Fran Ferder and John Heagle, both experts in the area of human sexuality make abundantly clear: Sexuality matters! The decisions we make about sex and relationships determine our finding ecstasy and joy in the spiritual life as well. But religious dualism has made the search for sexual identity a major stumbling block for people seeking to share their lives within their church communities.

Tender Fires invites the reader to a profoundly prophetic and liberating journey; the authors affirm the basic goodness of the modern human experience and offer new perspectives based on the most up-to-date understandings of science, psychology and theology.  But more than that Tender Fires is a book like a good companion: understanding, truthful, generous and warm.

Reviews and endorsements

Fran Ferder and John Heagle have written a book that accurately diagnoses a spiritual illness within the church, one that is eating away at it’s pastoral and doctrinal strengths.
Tom Fox, publisher of the National Catholic Reporter


Ferder and Heagle, therapists and co-directors of TARA Therapy and Renewal Associates, a Catholic psychotherapy center near Seattle, have created a fascinating and rare thing: a work that deals unashamedly with sexuality, engages spirituality, and yet is sufficiently discreet so as not to give offense to impressionable young persons. To their credit, they view both sexuality and spirituality in complex and nuanced ways and by no means view the questions that arise as simple.
From Library Journal

Here is a book as generous in its wisdom as it is exact in its observation of the human struggle to make the many voices of sexuality sing in harmony.
Eugene Kennedy, author of The Unhealed Wound


Fire and Tenderness is both passionate and compassionate about sexuality in all its diversity and complexity. It is clearly and elegantly written, full of theological wisdom, inclusive, and fearless about taking on hard questions.
Herbert Anderson, Ph.D., Lutheran Pastor and Director of Pastoral Care and Congregational Life at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle.


This biblically shaped, pastorally sensitive, scientifically informed approach will richly serve Protestants as well as Roman Catholics.
James B. Nelson, Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities


This is a valuable and accessible resource from two gifted spiritual guides
James and Evelyn Whitehead, Authors of Wisdom of the Body

Paperback / 268 pages
Dimensions: 5 1/8 x 7 1/2