Marital Sex: A Book Review
Several months ago, Gary Thomas published a new book called Married sex. At the time of the book’s release, a firestorm erupted from another author. Admittedly, she was upset because Thomas hadn’t asked her to revise the book. She then began posting quotes taken out of context that might make it seem like Thomas is making the pain of abuse victims worse.
Let me start by saying this: I definitely consider myself an abuse survivor. My first marriage was a one-sided relationship. When I got married, I was incredibly naive (many would say I still am). Now that I have a better understanding of violence, I see the impact of porn on all areas of my first marriage, especially in the bedroom. I see where I was nothing more than an object to satisfy someone’s lust rather than a human to be cherished and enjoyed as God intended.
I say this to explain that when I picked up Thomas’s book, I started reading it through the lens of someone who’s been in an abusive relationship. I needed to know if it was as one-sided as a certain author claimed. I needed to know if he was blind to the fate of those of us who have walked this path. I needed to know if this would contribute to the pain of victims of abuse. I needed to know if this other author was giving an honest assessment or if she was just upset at the slight perception.
I will also say that for years I wrote off Thomas and his books. Why? Because his book sacred marriage was used against me for years, used to tell me that I should have stayed in my destructive marriage because marriage was designed to make me holy and not happy. It was only several years ago that Thomas wrote a blog post titled enough is enough that I changed my mind. If you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you to read it now.
Thomas immediately earned my respect.
Here’s the thing: no book is written for every audience. A book on Christian marriage may contain excellent advice, but not for a destructive marriage. No book is inspired by God and therefore not all advice is appropriate for me or for you. But just because we don’t agree with every word doesn’t mean we can’t glean wisdom from the other parties. Our culture has lost the ability to use critical thinking when we read. And we have definitely lost the ability to have a civil discourse with those who have different opinions from us.
It is through this lens that I read Married sex. Can I say that I really enjoyed it?
At the beginning of the book, Thomas states, “Since God is a God of love, we know that any healthy sexual act must be rooted in love, must be governed by love, and must be an expression of love” ( p.3) . This statement is the very foundation of the book. One difference between an abusive marriage and a healthy marriage is this foundation of love. An abusive marriage will never have a love basis; it will have a foundation of lust. It will be about what you can get, not what you can give.
While Thomas (and co-author Debra Fileta) discuss how a woman’s beauty gives her power in the relationship, they also insist that a woman’s power isn’t just in her attractiveness. sexual (p. 13). They use Solomon’s book of Songs to show that it is biblical and pleasing to God for a husband to be captivated by the beauty of his wife – just as a wife should find pleasure in her husband’s body. God created us to find pleasure in each other. They explicitly state that “sexual power, appropriately managed in a healthy marriage, is a force for good” (p. 17).
Should a husband be captivated by his wife’s body? Or is it degrading? Again, taken in the context of a healthy and loving marriage, I hope every husband finds his wife to be the standard by which all others are compared. Can I just tell you that as I get older I find myself more and more insecure about my own physical appearance. A few extra pounds. The wrinkles that appear. Grey hair. I see every change in my physical appearance and sometimes it is hard to come to terms with the aging process. But there is something about my husband seeing me as beautiful, intriguing, knowing that he is captivated by my appearance and that he is not it the aging process as I do gives me great confidence. God created our husbands to find joy in our beauty. This does not mean that we are only physical beings; instead, it means our husband sees beauty even when we don’t.
So what is my assessment of Married sex? If you are in a healthy marriage and want to find a deeper level of physical intimacy, pick up a copy today. Thomas and Fileta have teamed up to present a comprehensive guide to sex for Christian marriage. The questions you’ve always wondered about but were afraid to ask are compiled into one easy-to-read book. It’s filled with tips and advice from both a male and female perspective.
More importantly, the couple repeatedly stresses that sex was created by God to be enjoyed by both The man and the woman. It should never be a one-sided experience. God intended sex to bring pleasure, and too many Christian couples have missed the ecstasy that should accompany marriage. It’s time for us Christians to get a better understanding of God’s purpose for sex.
Good reading! And have fun putting these concepts into practice