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Book Review – Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God

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I felt a deep sense of deja vu as I read Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God. It took me only a few pages to realize that this book, in a condensed form, forms the basis for a chapter in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ (edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor). I had enjoyed that particular chapter of Sex and the Supremacy of Christ and felt certain I would likewise enjoy this lengthened version.

Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God is based loosely on the Song of Solomon. C.J. Mahaney shares my understanding of this book of the Bible stating simply, “It’s about sex” (page 9). While many have attempted to allegorize Solomon’s song, few have succeeded with any degree of credibility. “That’s right gentlemen.” says Mahaney, “Solomon’s Song of Songs is an entire book of the Bible devoted to the promotion of sexual intimacy within the covenant of marriage. It’s an eight-chapter feast of unbridled, uninhibited, joyous immersion in verbal and physical expressions of passion between a man and a woman” (page 10). Amen. So as the reader prepares to read this book, he must prepare to celebrate God’s gift of sex. The author says, “The purpose of the book you hold in your hands is to lead us back into God’s ideal of joyful, unashamed, indulgent, loving sexuality in the context of marriage” (pages 14-15). This book is directed primarily to men, largely because it is the husband’s role (not an author’s) to lead his wife into a fuller understanding of what Scripture teaches about sexuality. Mahaney will provide the foundation men can build upon to discover with his wife how sex and romance can be done to the glory of God.

Following an introductory chapter Mahaney uncovers the divine purpose for marriage. This, he teaches, is to reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church. He goes on in the next chapter to provide a piece of wisdom he considers the most important in the entire book: “In order for romance to deepen, you must touch the heart and mind of your wife before you touch her body” (page 28).

Several chapters follow in which Mahaney offers specific ways of touching a wife’s heart and mind in order to build the type of relationship God desires for a marriage. Turning to the actual act of consumation, he follows Solomon’s lead, providing little in the way of specific details that might read like a to-do list. Instead he invites us to study and understand the Song of Solomon to understand what Solomon meant when he wrote, “Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits” (4:16).

The book concludes with a chapter written by Carolyn Mahaney (C.J.’s wife) addressed to women. It is the fifth chapter (“The Pleasure of Purity”) of her book Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother.

With lots of humor (much of it self-deprecating), but also compassion and sensitivity, Mahaney sets forth some principles that will bear much fruit in many marriages. He is honest about his book. “Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that simply by reading this book you are being changed. I wish it were that easy. But change does not take place until we apply what we are learning in very specific ways, at very specific times, and always in dependence on God’s grace to make our efforst effective” (page 35). This book is just the beginning. Far from a “10 Surefire Ways to Make Your Woman Melt” kind of book, Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God will lead the husband to see his wife as a remarkable God-given treasure. It will help the husband learn to see his wife in color while everyone else appears in mere black and white.

While it may seem strange, this book refreshed my joy in being a Christian. I was amazed at the wisdom of God who saw fit to give us an entire book of the Bible dedicated to teaching us how to love our spouses in a way that honors Him. Truly His Word is sufficient! Truly it is relevant! I was thankful that He has provided teachers to explain the Word to us. And I was renewed in my gratefulness towards Him for providing me the priceless treasure that is my wife.

So men, buy this book. I cannot imagine a husband who would gain nothing from it. Women, buy a copy and slip it into your husband’s hand with a suggestive wink. He’ll get the idea. Read it, enjoy it, and most of all, put it into practice. Learn how sex and romance can bring glory to the One who created them for our enjoyment.

Very strong and biblical throughout.
Easy to read and with a few good laughs.
There are many books to encourage husbands, but few better or more biblical.
A great tool to shape, renew or even save marriages.
Probably my favorite of all Mahaney’s books. I unreservedly recommend it.
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