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The Mingling of Souls: God's Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption Paperback – January 1, 2015
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About the Author
Jared C. Wilson is an award-winning writer and author of the popular books Your Jesus Is Too Safe, Gospel Wakefulness, Gospel Deeps, and the curriculum Abide. He is pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Vermont and blogs daily at TheGospelCoalition.org.
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Top customer reviews
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: [...]
As one who is currently in the middle of an in-depth study on the Song of Solomon, I must admit I was excited to find someone tackling this often neglected book of Scripture. Now it must be stated the underlying purpose of Chandler’s book is not to provide the reader with a verse by verse commentary on the Song of Solomon. If you are looking for that type of book, this most definitely is not it. If you are looking for a commentary on the Song of Solomon, there are many quality options available. Chandler’s book is focused on helping the reader understand how God desires male/female relationships to operate all the way from that time why a person of the opposite sex “catches your eye”, through that time of getting to know one another, to that point when you realize God has brought you together for something of a more permanent nature, finally reaching that point of covenant marriage.
There was much of this book I thoroughly enjoyed and admittedly a few recurring elements that I had a hard time finding agreement with. Let me start with the overwhelming positives first, specifically the urgency by which Chandler stresses the need for purity throughout the relationship process. If there is one theme that weaves its way throughout the Song of Solomon, it is a yearning to be in the arms of your beloved with the accompanying understanding not to awaken love, in this case the physical pleasures of covenant marriage, before its proper time. That particular phrase is repeated throughout the Song of Solomon and Chandler drives that important point home in his chapters on attraction, dating, and courtship.
An important aspect of maintaining that level of purity is the need for accountability. I appreciated that Chandler noted the necessity of treating members of the opposite sex as brothers and sisters in Christ. His personal example of watching out for his own sister when boys came calling her for a date was poignant and reminded me of my own approach with my sister. His comments on the foolishness of “movie night” and the idea that two people who are attracted to one another and full of that churning within themselves can sit on a couch together alone in a house and keep their hands off one another is of course the height of absurdity. Chandler advises the reader that while the desire for physical intimacy is God given, what is also ordained by God is the need for those desires “to be held in check until marriage.” Thus, when getting together with that one you are madly in love with, do so with the approach of accountability and ensuring the situation does not have room for undue temptations.
I also fully appreciated Chandler’s discussion of how marriage is a covenant and not a contract. He aptly notes “In a covenant, we don’t barter around services. We’re not trying to get under a tax shelter. We’re entering into a relationship in such a way that we give ourselves to one another. Vows aren’t contractual. They’re covenantal.” This is a very important point for those thinking about entering marriage and for that matter even those who have been married for a long period of time to constantly remember. Marriage and relationships are serious business.
The one aspect of this book that I found difficult was Chandler’s interaction in points with the Song of Solomon. At times, his analysis and application were a bit off. An example of this is his comments on Song of Solomon 3:1-4. Chandler suggests the Shulammite woman literally wandered the streets looking for her beloved and kept searching until she physically located him. When she found him, she brought him home to see momma. The point of interacting with this passage was intended to drive home the importance of parental involvement in the dating/courtship process and to that end, I wholeheartedly agree with the need for parents to play a tremendous part. However, the idea that the Shulammite woman was speaking of actually wandering the streets in the middle of the night in search of her man is truly something foreign to the context of the passage and according to a majority of scholars, would simply have not happened in that culture. The good news is such a slight foible does not damage the underlying message he is getting across but it must be pointed out as part of an honest review.
With that said, this is still a book I do highly recommend for both singles and married couples. In a day and age where godly relationships are shunned in favor of sexual promiscuity, Chandler provides a biblically based approach to how God desires male/female interaction to take place. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.