From Josh: Kim blogs at The Upward Call. Her bio includes 25 years of marriage, 22 years as a stay at home mother, a love for writing, and the privilege of teaching the Bible to other women. Kim has a beautiful writing style, and her posts are a great encouragement. Kim can also be found on Twitter.
She is reviewing Friends and Lovers: Cultivating Companionship and Intimacy in Marriage by Joel Beeke. (Keep reading to the bottom, where you can enter to win a free copy.)
Title: Friends and Lovers: Cultivating Companionship and Intimacy in Marriage
Author: Joel Beeke
Publisher: Cruciform Press (2012)
Joel Beeke’s book Friends and Lovers: Cultivating Companionship and Intimacy in Marriage, is only 96 pages long, but it is 96 pages with a great deal of encouragement and instruction. The size of the volume should not dissuade anyone from reading. There is a lot packed into 96 pages.
As the subtitle suggests, Beeke discusses two vital aspects of marriage: friendship and physical intimacy, an intimacy which flows from the friendship built between husband and wife. Beeke points out that in a society where people look at love as something we fall into and out of with ease, the principle of cultivating friendship with our spouse is overlooked. It is this friendship which provides the basis for meaningful physical intimacy with our spouse.
Beeke describes friendship between husband and wife as a shared life of faith. Friendships take time and effort, and the one we have with our spouse ought to be the priority. He says:
Your earthly relationships should be like a set of concentric circles: marriage is on the inside; children next; then your parents, siblings, and close friends, and church family… Make your husband or wife your best friend.
Beeke points out the need to nourish our friendship with our spouse through sharing ourselves, our faith, our trust, and our joy. He aptly points out that friendship cannot be developed in a hurry. It takes time and communication. We need to make the time for each other, and within the best of our abilities, not allow other competing distractions to skew our priorities. Beeke suggests two practical ways for nurturing our friendship with our spouse: time and talk. It may seem unnecessary to suggest those two things, but once a couple begin sharing a home, the busyness of life can interfere with time for each other. When a couple is in the courtship phase, they live in separate dwellings and must make time to be together. In fact, most of us in those days couldn’t wait to have time together with our beloved. Once the couple lives together, and sees each other daily, those special times may not seem as necessary. They are. We need to invest in time with our spouse; it builds emotional intimacy and trust, both of which are necessary for healthy physical intimacy.
The larger portion of the book discusses sexual intimacy, and it is done in a very sensitive and tasteful way. There are books about sexual intimacy which are more candid, and which I would be embarrassed to read, but this isn’t one of them.
Underlying the discussion of sex is the basic foundation of sexual intimacy:
Our gender and sexuality are dimensions of an entire person created in God’s image. So sex is not just about genitals and hormones. Human sexuality is the coming together of two people – male and female – who were made to serve God and love one another. The best sex springs from a relationship in which we honor each other through life.
Beeke’s treatment of sex deals more with attitudes toward it rather than providing material akin to a sex manual. He does recommend other sources for such questions, but his purpose in writing this part of the book is to encourage couples that a healthy sexual relationship depends on a proper foundation. Beeke brings up the reality that negative personal experiences, sin, and past mistakes can all contribute to making sex between couples difficult. This may be something that some couples don’t actually confront until they are married. He has suggestions for couples who struggle with such things, emphasizing that Christ, not sex, is our ultimate sufficiency, and that He can heal, forgive, and restore in any situation.
I am the mother of young adults. It is important to me that there are good resources to promote the biblical view of marriage. I don’t want to hand a book over to my 20 year old son that will cause him to have thoughts that tempt him. There are some marriage books that could cause a young man to think less about the intimate aspect of the discussion and dwell unhealthily on the the sex part. This book isn’t one of them. I would not hesitate to give this book to any of my children to read. I can’t say that about every marriage book that has come out in recent years. All in all, it was an encouraging read, even for someone like me who has been married a while.