Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review: Friends and Lovers

Friends and Lovers: Cultivating Companionship and Intimacy in MarriageFriends and Lovers: Cultivating Companionship and Intimacy in Marriage by Joel R. Beeke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I own a wood burning stove. When winter sets her teeth against us we light up our stove and it drives back the cold. I have found that I need three kinds of wood to keep the fire hot. First, you need big logs that will burn long and hot. Second, you need kindling, small twigs, to get the fire going. But third, you need medium size pieces to help the big logs stay lit. If you end up with just a big log it will often go out.

Pastor Beeke’s book is a medium size log. He does not go into deep theological discussions about marriage. He does unpack every possible inference from I Corinthians 7 or Leviticus 18. But this is also not a series of blog posts that function like kindling. The book is only 93 pages long, but it is packed with practical insights into how to make your wife your best friend and how to love her in the bedroom. You will not find all your practical or theological questions answered. But reading and learning from this little book will keep the marriage fires burning.

I appreciated Pastor Beeke’s dignity in discussing matters which are often dealt with in a crass manner. Too often young men, like me, who have been exposed to so much sexual sin, are not sure how to talk about the marriage bed in a dignified way. He made his points without an in depth discussion of every deviant sexual practice.

He did a great job of emphasizing that marriage is for pleasure. Those who are jaded by our over sexed culture often do not want to discuss sex in marriage as a delight. But he looks at Proverbs 5:18-19 to show that God intended for the marriage bed to be a place of feasting and joy.

He was also very pastoral in tone. He navigates some tricky waters when discussing things like birth control and the authority of one’s spouse over their body. I felt he did this with tact.

And he kept coming back to the grace of God to sinners as the key. Almost everyone in our generation has been sinned against sexually and/or has sinned sexually. We have images of real women or on screen women in our minds. Without God’s grace what hope is there for us in the marriage bed? But Pastor Beeke brings us back again and again to the cross as the place to find forgiveness, but also the place where we can start obeying Christ, even in our bedrooms.

For such a short book it is excellent.

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Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8