Book Review - Sex and the Supremacy of Christ
It is always big news when a new book is released under John Piper’s name. Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, while listing Piper as a co-editor, contains only a few pages of Piper’s writing, with the rest being written by eleven other authors. The book is divided into five parts and eleven chapters. Allow me to provide a brief overview of each of these.
The first part is entitled “God and Sex.” The first two chapters comprise John Piper’s contribution to the book. Piper asserts two weighty points. First, that sexuality is designed by God as a way to know God in Christ more fully. Second, that knowing God in Christ more fully is designed as a way of guarding and guiding our sexuality. Essentially he wants the reader to believe that sex was given to us so that God could use the language of sex as metaphor so we could know Him more fully. He makes quite a weak attempt at proving this assertion with passages from Ezekiel and Hosea. Unfortunately he is far from convincing and offers no substantial proof. While what he states may be true, and God may have created sexuality as a way to know God in Christ more fully, I do not find that Scripture explicitly tells us so. Thankfully these chapters are short and the book soon picks up steam.
The third chapter, written by Ben Patterson, tells us that sex is good because the God who created sex is good. God is glorified greatly when we receive His gift with thanksgiving and enjoy it the way he meant for it to be enjoyed. We can only glorify God in our sexuality when we use it as He intends for us to use it.
The second section deals with “Sin and Sex.” The highlight of the entire book is David Powlison’s chapter on “Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken.” He provides biblical wisdom and encouragment for people who have abused sex, or who have been sexually abused. His counsel is loving and pastoral and will surely bring a glimpse of light to many for whom sex has become darkness. Many books have a chapter which alone validates the purchase of the book, and I would suggest that for Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, it is definitely this chapter.
Albert Mohler takes over for the fifth chapter and writes about homosexual marriage being a challenge to the church. As always Mohler is well-researched and insightful. He counsels Christians to love homosexuals (and every other person) more than these people love their sin, but still to see homosexual marriage as a frontal assault on the institution of marriage. While homosexuality is a grave sin, we must not regard it as being the worst of all sins (as we are prone to believe). While it is surely an awful sin in God’s eyes, we are all sinners and not one of us is innocent when it comes to sexual sin.
Part three deals with “Men and Sex.” Mark Dever and several co-authors challenge single men to live lives of sexual purity. They encourage men to adopt courtship as a model, for they feel it is more biblical than dating. I am not entirely convinced of this, but when I think of my daughter beginning a relationship some day, I certainly hope she courts instead of casually dates. This chapter is very similar to what one would read in any of Josh Harris’ books.
Chapter seven is written by C.J. Mahaney and is entitled “Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God.” This is the first I have read of Mahaney but very much enjoyed this chapter and hope to read more of his books. He provides wisdom from The Song of Solomon and interprets this book as being about sex and not being primarily an allegory for God’s relationship to His church - an assessment I agree with. He challenges the married man to ensure that he has touched his wife’s heart and mind before he touches her body and provides many practical pointers for doing just that.
Part four, “Women and Sex,” is comprised of two chapters, and as with the men, the first of these deals with single women and the second with those who are married. Caroyln McCulley encourages women to be content with their singleness and helps women see how they can even be a snare to marriages if they are not careful. Carolyn Mahaney writes for married women. The chapter is short and not awfully informative. It includes a fairly typical list of encouragement for wives - be attractive, be available, be anticipatory, be aggressive and be adventuresome.
The final section deals with history and sex. Justin Taylor writes about Martin Luther’s sexual revolution, showing the importance of Luther’s contribution to the Protestant understanding of marriage and sexuality. Mark Dever closes the book with a chapter examining the Puritans and their understanding of sex.
Like most books which are written by several authors, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ seemed a little uneven. The chapters did not always flow naturally from one to the next, and some were far better than others. However, it is safe to say that while there are not many people who would find equal value in each of the chapters, any reader, whether married or single, male or female, will find at least a few of them exceedingly valuable. The collective wisdom of these men and women of God is a valuable contribution to understanding that sex is given by God and is to be used for His glory. I recommend this book.
After the first two chapters it is very solid.
Written to be accessible to nearly anyone.
A unique take on a subject that has been written about many times.
It is critical that we place even our sexuality under the supremacy of our Savior.
I recommend this book to any and all believers.
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