Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God – C.J. Mahaney

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a friend. He told me that this was a great book for husbands, as we try to be good husbands. The other issue is that in every marriage there is usually some tension surrounding sex. Think of all the jokes you know about sex in marriage. All the jokes about women and their late night headaches, men and them being like animals. These stereotypes are funny but unhealthy and Mahaney has given us a much more balanced and Biblical view of sex within marriage. One warning for men though, of you this book is a book of techniques for making you a better lover or simply getting you more sex, you will be sadly mistaken. That may indeed be the outcome but the approach is much different.

The book begins by saying that every marriage should have a great sex life. Hear what Mahaney has to say, “It is God’s desire that every Christian couple, including you and your wife, regularly enjoy the best, most intimate, most satisfying sexual relations of which humans are capable. We’re talking really, really good sex.” He is pointing to the truth that sex is part of God’s good creation. Sex is not a dirty thing that we must simply do for the purpose of having children. It is also not a thing that we should feel guilty for enjoying. It is a gift from God for the good of every marriage.

Then Mahaney spends some time explaining what marriage is. He points to Ephesians 5 for the Biblical understanding of what marriage is and what’s its purpose is. He says that every marriage is to reflect the amazing truth that every marriage is to reflect the relationship of Christ and the Church. This points to many things but most fundamentally it means that as the Christ-Church relationship exists for the Glory of God so does the marriage relationship.

Mahaney then gives us his bottom floor truth; before we touch our wife’s body we must touch her heart and mind. This is where the second word of the title comes in; he is telling us that we must romance our wives. This is not something that we do to win a wife, but rather to win and then cherish her. We are to pursue her for the entirety of our marriages. Ephesians 5 tells us husbands that we must love our wives as Christ loved the Church. This means sacrificial leadership. Mahaney tells us that this means that we must study our wives to see what surprises and delights her. We MUST touch her heart and mind. This is important because of the difference between men and women. Generally men are more visual and physical, whereas women are more relational and emotional. This applies to the way we experience intimacy. We must love our wives the way they experience intimacy and feel cherished and loved and not expect them to feel and respond the way we as men do.

The practical stuff shows up in the fourth chapter. Here he gives us seven methods of kindling romance. I will simply list them but if purchase the book he explains them well. He says that we need a weekly date night; spontaneous phone calls; notes, cards, and letters; gifts (not only on her birthday); music; getaways; and surprises. This list shows us that we really need to be intentional and to extend some effort. Romance and a wife that feels cherished doesn’t happen by accident. It is work but it is worth it, a marriage full of deep and passionate intimacy is very satisfying and God glorifying.

Mahaney also points to the power of words. He draws this from the words used by the lovers in the Song of Solomon. For example;

Song 1:15-16
Behold, you are beautiful, my love;
behold, you are beautiful;
your eyes are doves.
Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful.
Our couch is green;

Song 4:1-7
Behold, you are beautiful, my love,
behold, you are beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
[2] Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them has lost its young.
[3] Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
[4] Your neck is like the tower of David,
built in rows of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
[5] Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that graze among the lilies.
[6] Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
I will go away to the mountain of myrrh
and the hill of frankincense.
[7] You are altogether beautiful, my love;
there is no flaw in you.

He says that we must use carefully composed words to bless our wives, and to romance them.

I am going to draw the review to a close now. I hope that this brief review has whetted your appetite. Buying and reading this book does not guarantee anything, but it has power to help you be a better husband and may help you and your wife to have a more satisfying sex life. I recommend this book very highly and I am certain that it would be helpful for every Christian husband.

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