Editor’s Note: Sex, God and the Single Life was released today (August 5th). You can purchase it here.

When Hafeez Baoku started writing his first book in May 2012, he was nervous about some of the chapters he included and more than a few sentences he chose not to cut. Knowing his mom would read it was the scariest part. But ultimately, he felt that being vulnerable and open was the right choice — after all, that has the power to transform lives.

“I felt as though the more honest I could be in the book, the more honest people could be with themselves,” Hafeez said. “The more I could point to my flaws and point people back to Jesus, the more people would do it themselves.”

About a year and four editions later, Hafeez finished Sex, God, and the Single Life, which is being published by CLC Publications today (August 5).

The book came out of his personal frustration with how the church dealt with the issue of sexuality. “I felt that it was really poorly addressed biblically via the church,” Hafeez said. Coming from a culture so antithetical to the Christian one before his conversion at the age of 19 meant he was dealing with a lot of issues and asking questions — questions that weren’t being answered.

He felt that clarity on the subject matter could help people live joyful, satisfied lives — so he started writing.

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Growing up, Hafeez switched between going to church with his mom a couple of months out of the year and attending the mosque with his dad, which he did more often. Though he went to a Catholic school, he said he doesn’t remember much other than the time his dad drew the line when Hafeez tried to go through the christening process.

“No. You’re going to be a Muslim like your dad,” Hafeez remembers being told.

It wasn’t until his sophomore year of college at Troy University, where he majored in broadcast journalism, that he started to examine his relationship with God. His roommate invited him to a football Bible study, so the two went together. He was hooked from the first meeting. He hadn’t realized that people existed who looked like him, were young, and knew God. But it wasn’t long before he got mad, hearing that only Christians go to heaven — he wasn’t one, nor was his dad, his grandma, or the rest of his dad’s family. But, God’s grace was persistent and after a month of Bible study, he became a believer in February 2010.

At first, he said he was like most Christians — zealous, speaking truth, but not a lot of grace. He and his dad would argue a lot. But now he’s in the business of using his life to soften his dad’s heart. “I’m just trying to be a tool to be used and just really serve my dad and love him to the best of my ability.”

His desires for the book come from a similar place. At 23, he feels he’s still too young to be a pastor, which is where he hopes to end up, and finds himself in a season of life where he’s still growing. But he still has a lot of energy and a lot of ideas, especially pertaining to the struggles that follow becoming a believer a little later in life. Ultimately, this led him to found the Urban Gospel Mission in 2012 — and write Sex, God, and the Single Life.

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BookCoverHafeez read some 50-plus books as part of his research for the book. For the most part, he ignored the advice in the non-Christian books, which tended to focus on sexual pleasure. But in combing through the Christian books on sexuality, most of which were geared toward marrieds, he found that the issues within were ones that stemmed from singles’ issues that had gone unaddressed. The conversations were the same — on self-control, for example — though they hid behind two different masks.

“The book addresses that chasm in a really healthy and honest book about single sexuality and being single and living a fulfilled life and living a satisfied life and living a healthy life,” Hafeez said.

The other thing he noticed? Every book he’d read that was directed toward singles was written by someone who was married.

He uses the analogy of his role as a preschool teacher. “Yes, at one point in my life I was five years old, and I definitely have a lot of wisdom about being five. But there are a lot of things about being five that I just don’t understand because I’m no longer five years old. There are a lot of struggles and issues — that’s why I have to constantly talk to my kids and ask them what’s going on, because there’s a lot that I just don’t understand because I’m so distanced from that.”

The same, he says, is true of the books written to singles by people who’ve been married 30-plus years. While the author might have valuable insight, Hafeez noticed one persistent problem — they had the right answers, but they were to the wrong questions. The writing was irrelevant to the life of a single person in the twenty-first century.

“Me being a single firsthand, it changes it,” he said.

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Hafeez says he wrote the book for people who become Christians later in life. People who grew up in a world where they were exposed to sexual content 24/7, bombarded with certain ideas about sex and relationships and then come to the church and get about one sermon every 10 years on sex.

“When you forget that people get saved later in life, a lot of your preaching assumes that people share the same worldview as you,” Hafeez said. “I love it when Tim Keller said to imagine your neighbor that doesn’t know Jesus is in your congregation and preach to him.”

After all, that’s where Hafeez was. He’s thinking about writing for people who are far from the Lord, addressing them, understanding the issues they’re facing, the hurt they carry.

There are three things that are at the heart of the book’s message — which boil down to being satisfied and living fulfilled lives. First, it’s about finding love from the source of love — God. Second, finding value and love of yourself. And third, having healthy relationships with people.

“I think those three things are at the core of what we all really want,” Hafeez said. “And we engage in actions to satisfy those desires.”

Hafeez says the book isn’t meant to be legalistic (or, from a secular stance, intolerant). It’s not about telling people what to do. Instead it asks: What do you want?

“It’s not rules and regulations. It’s letting people live happy, fully and satisfied lives,” Hafeez said. “The biggest thing that I’ve learned, as Dr. Doug [Rosenau] says, is the more you fall in love with God, his will for your life will no longer be something that you have to do, but it becomes something that you want to do.”

In that vein, his hope for the book is threefold: that it would help people fall in love with God, with themselves and with other people. Combined, that leads to ultimate contentment and satisfaction — single or married.

The book ends with two separate epilogues — one written by a couple, married for more than 30 years, the other by a 55-year-old woman who has never been married. It’s Hafeez’s favorite part of the book, because despite their very different avenues of life, their message is the same — God is best; He is ultimate.

“Most people don’t believe it,” Hafeez said. “They just agree with it because they know they have to. So I just really want to use the book to wrestle with people’s hearts, so they really believe it.”