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Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart

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We live at a time when relationships are increasingly marked by the awful dictum of meet up, hook up, shack up, and break up. This describes too many relationships, too many hardened hearts and too many ruined lives. But as John Ensor says and as observation bears out, this pattern “bankrupts the rich treasure trove of love itself.” It does not work and it is time for young people to revolt against the times.

The antidote to the times is to rediscover the biblical formula for manhood and womanhood, to turn back to the Creator and to his manual to discover how He desires we live as men and women. In Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart Ensor does just this, sharing what he has learned about biblical manhood and womanhood. The book’s objective is “to provide a winsomely radical alternative to the prevailing ideas, almost absolute doctrines, that guide our current thinking about manhood and womanhood and define our actions and expectations when pursuing matters of the heart.” The book’s purpose (and I’m not sure how a purpose differs from an objective) “is to provide you stone with which you can fashion a strong, enduring, and satisfying plan for doing things right in this most tender and precious matter of the heart.”

In the first part, “Matters of the Heart,” Ensor defines biblical masculinity and femininity as they are presented to us in the Bible. He gets to the heart of manhood and womanhood asking what it means to be a man or a woman and what is distinctive about being one and not the other. He asks how men and women complement each other and fit together. Having answered these questions, he turns to “Doing Things Right,” showing the way the Bible outlines how men are to live as men and women are to live as women. He shows how men and women are to relate to each other and are to interact with each other on the basis of their equality and symmetry but also on the basis of their differences.

The chapter titles tell the story.

  • He Initiaties…She Responds”
  • He Leads…She Guides
  • He Works…She Waits
  • He Protects…She Welcomes Protection
  • He Abstains to Protect…She, to Test
  • His Unmet Desire Drives Him toward Marriage…Hers Is Rewarded with Marriage
  • He Displays Integrity…She, Inner Beauty
  • He Loves by Sacrificing…She, by Submitting
  • He Seeks His Happiness in Hers…She Seeks Hers in His
  • His Is the Primary Provider for the Family…She, the Primary Nurturer

The book is written from a personal perspective and in such a way that he encourages the reader to benefit from his learning curve. While he leans on the Bible as his authority, what he teaches is often punctuated by words like, “What follows is what I honest think is the right thing to do…” and “I take this to mean…” He gives examples from his life, allowing the reader to learn and to laugh with him.

The sum is this: God has given us each gifts but, with our own reasoning and assumptions we’ve wasted them by doing things in the way we thought was best. This book is a call to go back to using those gifts, to go back to the guide that teaches us how to use those gifts, that we might do things right and do them in the way God intends.

In this book (and this quote is the blurb I provided for the book’s cover) “John Ensor provides a radically biblical alternative to the supposed wisdom of our age. Though sometimes raw, frank, and frustrated, Ensor is always sanctified and often poetic. He celebrates differences, bringing into clear focus the oft-disputed fact that God created men and women to be equal and symmetrical but not identical. For all who are weary of our culture’s assault on biblical manhood and womanhood, this book is a refreshing reminder of the Bible’s simple wisdom governing love, relationships, marriage, and matters of the heart.”

This is a good and important little book that serves as a strong introduction for teens and young adults to the Bible’s teaching on manhood and womanhood. What is taught here can largely be found elsewhere but not in so accessible and so practical a form. It has the paternal feel of an older, wiser man writing a concerned letter to those who are younger and in need of counsel. Ensor’s advice is good and those who heed it will be pleased that he wrote this book and that they took the time to read it. I recommend this book to teens, to young adults, to parents and to anyone who is concerned with doing things right in matters of the heart.

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