Posted by: Moses | June 20, 2008

Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God

This little book by C.J. Mahaney–like most little books by C.J. Mahaney– is very down to earth and yet profound in its simple application of the gospel to real life.

The book starts with a defense for the pleasure of sex and romance, defending love rather than duty-bound procreation. Sex is a good thing to be enjoyed. God made it that way, and Christians should not be ashamed of it. Many people view sex as somewhat defiled by the fall, but it isn’t. The Song of Solomon provides an excellent example of pure, passionate love. Always the complementarian, C.J. exhorts his readers to lead their wives (or in my case future wife) toward a biblical, God exalting view of sex.

However, sex is not merely to be enjoyed for the glory of God. Marriage becomes a priority of the highest order because it is designed to display the beauty of Christ and His Bride. Marriage goes “beyond personal fulfillment” to display the wonder of Christ’s love for His church.

Having laid a foundation of the goodness of sex and the glory-reflecting purpose for marriage, C.J. dives into some intensely practical advice. Study your wife!

“In order for romance to deepen, you must touch the heart and mind of your wife before you touch her body.”

This little phrase becomes the thesis for the rest of the book. C.J. builds an effective case that a wife should always be a wife first, and any other role (including mother) second. As a man, one of my responsibilities in leading her is to ensure that those roles never reverse: “Motherhood is exceptionally important…But…I think the most effective mothers are wives who are being continually, biblically romanced by their husbands.” A godly marriage, provides a God-designed environment to raise children: “your children should be able to look at your life and know beyond any doubt that they have the great privilege of being the most important people in the world to you…right after their mom.” My first responsibility is to lead my wife; from there we work as a team to raise godly children out of that thriving relationship.

He encourages husbands to pursue their wives by studying them in a variety of different areas: see page 33-34 for two great lists of areas to consider studying your Love. But knowing this information is not enough; we must be transformed by this information to love our wives and serve them in each area that we study. Love must have feet. Love needs date nights, phone calls, notes, cards, letters, gifts, music, getaways, and surprises to name a few. I should make the passionate pursuit of my wife life-long, fresh, and obvious to everyone (in a tasteful sort of way).

Drawing on the Song of Solomon, C.J. encourages husbands to carefully choose their words. The language of Song of Solomon is not “Hey honey, you look nice tonight” but “How beautiful you are, my Darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead!” In typical C.J. fashion he exhorts his readers not to try to imitate the exact metaphors of ancient Hebrew poetry. “Your neck is like an ivory tower of Lebanon,” comes to mind as being probably unsuccessfully romantic. Words are important.

He ends the book with some practical pointers on humble, selfless sex, and a look forward toward the promise of true covenant love. Till death do we part…from our ever intensifying love for one another. In the words of Solomon: “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” Love endures, and grows; it is unstoppable and permanent. We must love our wives like this–covenant enduring love–displaying the beauty of Christ to the world around us through a redeemed marriage!



  1. Excellent book review.

    The MP3 of CJ at the 2004 Desiring God Conference profoundly reshaped my heart toward my wife. I have passed out copies of the MP3s from that conference to more men (and women) than I can count. It is amazing how many questions and problems spiral out of control in marriage (and out) because of a misunderstanding around this topic.

    However, some men do not agree with this teaching. One guy confronted me that studying my wife and listening to her needs was emasculating. He indicated that I was sinning and needed rebuke.

    Have you read CJ’s book titled Humility?

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