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The Mingling of Souls: God's Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption Kindle Edition
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The scope of this book runs from the beginning to the end of a relationship. Starting with attraction, Chandler works his way through each phase of romantic relationships: attraction, dating, courtship, wedding, sex, fighting, romance, and commitment. It is a holistic look at what a Godly relationship looks like as conveyed through the Song of Solomon. Overall Chandler gives a balanced, Biblical, and practical take on dating, marriage, and beyond.
I think one of the most helpful and needed discussions in the book was on the idea of the "one." In the chapter on marriage ("Wedding Bells") Chandler says this:
"I just see no reason to agree with the worldly romantic notion that every person has just one 'soul mate' out there waiting for him or her. In fact, I find that idea to be anticovenantal, contrary to grace... It turns the search for a godly spouse into an audition to be the one who 'completes' you... No spouse can complete you. Don't look for a spouse to do what only Jesus can." (pg 106-107)
He goes on to say that whomever you marry is the "one" for you. This is such a refreshing take on the popular romantic ideal that is so prevalent in our culture, even Christian culture. Chandler doesn't deny the sovereignty of God working in our lives, but denies the pagan idea that someone "completes us." And he emphases the covenantal relationship of marriage by illustrating that the "one" is the one you chose to marry.
Chandler's distinction between dating and courtship is also extremely helpful. The cynicism in me runs deep when it comes to the idea of courtship because of works like "I Kissed Dating Goodbye." The way Chandler deals with it however is quite refreshing. He spells it out this way: dating is the "get to know you" phase of the relationship, and courtship is the "let's head toward marriage" phase of the relationship. Essentially the difference in dating and courting is the intention behind it, not necessarily certain actions. This is helpful because it removes the pressure from dating and the awkwardness from courtship.
Another strong point of the book is the dealing with marriage being a representation of Christ and the Church. I think this so often gets lost in the "romantic love" part of marriage. Christ's commitment to the Church is the same commitment that spouses are to have to one another. The way Christ gave himself up for the Church is the same way a husband is to give himself for his wife, sacrificially. The love that spouses are to have for one another is the love that Christ has for His Church; committed, delighting, faithful love.
Chandler also does a good job of not leave things in the theoretical sphere, but also offers practical advice throughout the book. The strongest section of practical advice is on conflict, or "Fighting Fair" to use his language. He borrows a good portion of it from other authors but it is very practical and Biblical. Honestly the majority of advice he offers could be used in any relationship, not just marriage.
The one critique that I can offer is on the chapter about sex. As a whole the chapter was very good. He had great things to say about healthy sex within marriage, but if felt somewhat one sided. It's typical in dealing with sex for authors to focus primarily on males and I was hopeful that Chandler would address both genders equally. While he does address women, the main emphases seems to be directed at men. While he did a better job than most, it still felt a little one sided.
As a whole I really enjoyed the book, especially the final chapter, which I found to be the most inspirational. While I am yet to be married, the thought of finishing well in marriage is something that is very appealing. It is something that I know I want to strive to achieve. Chandler gave a great call for all to do so and practical advice for how to do so. I pray that I one day have the opportunity to finish well and am faithful to the end.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Originally posted at: [...]
The scope addressed is marriage from beginning to end. Chandler starts with attraction and takes the reader through friendship, dating, courtship, marriage, and old age.
The source is the Song of Solomon. Chandler avoids being too technical and writing a commentary, while also avoiding the other extreme of over-practicality, turning God's Word into a "how-to" manual for romancers. No, in a very balanced way, Matt takes the truths he discovered in an in-depth study of the Song, and distills them through life experience. The finished product, "Mingling of Souls" then becomes Biblically accurate for your relationship and practical in your relationship.
As an engaged Christian who is seeking honest, Scriptural advice for this new phase of my life, I am grateful to the Lord that I stumbled onto Matt's new book in the Life way magazine last month. Matt's honesty in presenting the things he does, coupled with his accessibility in his presentation, will have a definite, Christ-honoring impact on my married life.
This book is for interested singles, to make you think about the serious nature of the marriage covenant. This book is for engaged couples, who need honest wisdom spoken into their lives about conflict, unrealistic expectations, and the roadblocks ahead. This book is for married people, so they can get their life together back on track God's way. If you fall into any of those categories, purchase "Mingling of Souls."
I've already recommended this book to my other friends!