Marriage aims at the glory of God through intimate companionship. God meant husband and wife to walk together, talk together, work together, and sleep together. As the Puritans said, God did not make the woman out of man’s head to control him, or out of his feet for him to trample on her, but out of his side to be embraced near to his heart.
Here is a book of practical encouragements for two key aspects of marriage: companionship and sex. Dr. Joel Beeke draws upon the wisdom of the Holy Scriptures and over three decades of pastoral ministry to present a dozen practical principles for fanning into flame the fire of love between husband and wife.
The Bible has a higher aim than a satisfying marriage, namely, glorying in God forever. Marriage will one day be done, made obsolete by the magnificent relationship between Christ and His people. Even now, marriage is neither the chief purpose nor the highest joy of man. But the Scriptures do call wedded people to glorify God here and now through their marriages. Dr. Beeke’s book aims to assist them in this.
In Part I (“Friends”), the book explores the meaning, cultivation, and threats to friendship in marriage. Friendship is that personal bond of shared life that brings people together in delightful harmony. It is rooted God’s created order of making men and women in His image. We broke this harmonious order when our first parents sinned against God, simultaneously turning against each other. But Christ is the great peacemaker and friendship-restorer.
Cultivating friendship with your spouse is hard work, but profoundly rewarding. It revolves around sharing life together. The book gives guidance in how to share yourself with your spouse through the gifts of time, discussing decisions, listening to each other’s feelings, talking about how God is at work in your lives, praying together, building trust, laughing together, giving thanks, pleasing your spouse, and finding shared interests. It also walks the reader through the minefields of giving and receiving correction, honoring in-laws, having balanced friendship with others, and supporting on another in crises. Above all, we must remember that our most important friendship is with our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can walk with us through life, death, and eternity.
In Part II (“Lovers”), Dr. Beeke sets forth several ways in which the gospel energizes married Christians to enjoy sex in holy delight. The words “gospel,” “sex,” and “holy,” may not seem to go together. This book shows that in reality sexual love between husband and wife is both a holy duty pleasing to God and blessed privilege empowered by Christ’s grace. Rather than splitting our lives into different compartments such as sex and religion, God calls us to respond to Christ’s mercies by offering our whole existence to Him as a living sacrifice.
The Bible teaches us doctrines like the image of God in man, the creation mandate God laid upon the human race, the moral law for marriage, forgiveness of sins by faith in Christ, sanctification by divine grace, Christ’s call to take up our cross, adoption by God, and turning from idols to give thanks to God. All these doctrines have massive implications for our sexual relationship with our spouses. However these doctrines must do more than sit in our minds; they must sink into our hearts. In Reformed, experiential fashion, Dr. Beeke leads the reader to know, believe, feel, and act based upon God’s Word applied by God’s Spirit.