If you know me, you know I love to read.
I had a particularly consuming “reading fever” when I was in college and right after – I couldn’t get enough of reading books about theology, counseling, self-confrontation and marriage. I still love to read about these topics and recently I finished a book about relationships by Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor at The Village Church in Texas.
I read The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption in two days and couldn’t put it down. I found it to be an encouraging, challenging and refreshing approach to the relationship we observe in the Biblical account of the Song of Solomon. Not only does Chandler take us through a study of this book of the Bible, but he touches on some common and serious misconceptions about relationships – especially in our modern culture.
One of the many reasons that I love reading about marriage (I know, I’m not married) is because it is such a beautiful and complex metaphor that the Lord uses in the Scriptures to help us better understand the nature of the Trinity. In the Bible, we often see the church described as the Bride of Christ. The Scriptures point believers (single and married alike!) to Christ by placing a “human” perspective on the Lord’s love toward us and how our relationship with Him should look – by using relationships that we can relate to and perspectives we can understand.
Specifically God uses the relationship between a husband and a wife to draw a parallel between the sacrificial actions and loving character of Christ toward His bride. Husbands are called to treat their wives as Christ treats his beloved bride, the church. Wives are also called to trust and submit to their husbands as Christians are called to submit to Christ’s gracious, sacrificial and loving leadership (Eph. 5).
I like how Matt explains the importance of a gospel-centered marriage and the safety a couple can experience in the Lord together when he says
“We can come just as we are to Jesus Christ; he does not love some future version of us, but he loves the real us, the wounded us, the messy us, the broken us. And what we learn in the Song of Songs is that a marriage shaped according to this gospel grace, forged over years of hard-earned trust and forgiveness, can be an unsafe place for sin but a very safe place for sinners.”
Side not, this was from the Introduction of the book – good stuff, right?!
The book hits on topics like attraction, dating, courting, engagement, weddings, becoming one, intimacy, pursuing the soul of your spouse and sticking around through even the most difficult of times – emotionally, spiritually and physically. It’s a good read and one I’ll be recommending to friends of all stages in life.
I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes and hope you’re inspired to order a copy and read it for yourself:
In relation to considering the character of someone you’d like to date, Matt says:
“In times of intimacy, in times of stress, in times of struggle, there’s no putting makeup on a terrible personality. There’s no cosmetic surgery for poverty of character.”
“Let reputation be one of the green or red lights that leads you toward or away from a person you are considering dating.”
When talking about courtship and a relationship entering a more serious stage, he says:
“Isn’t it a deeply satisfying and steadying thing when someone gets a glimpse of our ‘crazy’ and basically says, ‘I’m not going anywhere.’?”
When discussing how he conducts wedding ceremonies, Matt said:
“What I’m trying to do at a wedding ceremony is highlight the reality grounding the reality. If we don’t make the spiritual reality the main point, we’re actually going to miss the point.”
“If the gospel of Jesus Christ is not at the center of a wedding ceremony, it is likely not going to be at the center of the marriage. This would be a grave mistake, however, as marriage itself is designed to be a great reflector of that gospel.”
Finally, Matt touches on intimacy, and not just the physical aspect of it, but in light of the gospel:
“It is important to admit, believers in Jesus, that Christians are not more moral than anyone else. The essence of the gospel and what we celebrate is not that ‘we can’ but that Christ did.”
“Sex is good, but it’s not built for eternity. It won’t be around forever. Neither will marriage, for that matter. No, marriage and sex are good, but Jesus is better. He is better than everything in life. He is better than life itself. He is life.”