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Sex and the Supremacy of Christ [Paperback]

John Piper and Justin Taylor (Gen Eds)
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; Paperback edition (1 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581346972
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581346978
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.8 x 21.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 620,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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There is a connection between the beheadings of Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong and Nick Berg and Paul Johnson and Kenneth Bigley in Iraq, and this book on Sex and the Supremacy of Christ. Read the first page
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biblical and Useful 1 Jun 2005
Format:Paperback
I've been lucky enough to get a preview copy of this book for review, and this is an excellent book. Biblically sound, and practically useful. I'd recommend it to all my friends...
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
78 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Collection of Vast Wisdom 27 Jun 2005
By Tim Challies - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is always big news when a new book is released under John Piper's name. Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, while listing Piper as a co-editor, contains only a few pages of Piper's writing, with the rest being written by eleven other authors. The book is divided into five parts and eleven chapters. Allow me to provide a brief overview of each of these.

The first part is entitled "God and Sex." The first two chapters comprise John Piper's contribution to the book. Piper asserts two weighty points. First, that sexuality is designed by God as a way to know God in Christ more fully. Second, that knowing God in Christ more fully is designed as a way of guarding and guiding our sexuality. Essentially he wants the reader to believe that sex was given to us so that God could use the language of sex as metaphor so we could know Him more fully. He makes quite a weak attempt at proving this assertion with passages from Ezekiel and Hosea. Unfortunately he is far from convincing and offers no substantial proof. While what he states may be true, and God may have created sexuality as a way to know God in Christ more fully, I do not find that Scripture explicitly tells us so. Thankfully these chapters are short and the book soon picks up steam.

The third chapter, written by Ben Patterson, tells us that sex is good because the God who created sex is good. God is glorified greatly when we receive His gift with thanksgiving and enjoy it the way he meant for it to be enjoyed. We can only glorify God in our sexuality when we use it as He intends for us to use it.

The second section deals with "Sin and Sex." The highlight of the entire book is David Powlison's chapter on "Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken." He provides biblical wisdom and encouragment for people who have abused sex, or who have been sexually abused. His counsel is loving and pastoral and will surely bring a glimpse of light to many for whom sex has become darkness. Many books have a chapter which alone validates the purchase of the book, and I would suggest that for Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, it is definitely this chapter.

Albert Mohler takes over for the fifth chapter and writes about homosexual marriage being a challenge to the church. As always Mohler is well-researched and insightful. He counsels Christians to love homosexuals (and every other person) more than these people love their sin, but still to see homosexual marriage as a frontal assault on the institution of marriage. While homosexuality is a grave sin, we must not regard it as being the worst of all sins (as we are prone to believe). While it is surely an awful sin in God's eyes, we are all sinners and not one of us is innocent when it comes to sexual sin.

Part three deals with "Men and Sex." Mark Dever and several co-authors challenge single men to live lives of sexual purity. They encourage men to adopt courtship as a model, for they feel it is more biblical than dating. I am not entirely convinced of this, but when I think of my daughter beginning a relationship some day, I certainly hope she courts instead of casually dates. This chapter is very similar to what one would read in any of Josh Harris' books.

Chapter seven is written by C.J. Mahaney and is entitled "Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God." This is the first I have read of Mahaney but very much enjoyed this chapter and hope to read more of his books. He provides wisdom from The Song of Solomon and interprets this book as being about sex and not being primarily an allegory for God's relationship to His church - an assessment I agree with. He challenges the married man to ensure that he has touched his wife's heart and mind before he touches her body and provides many practical pointers for doing just that.

Part four, "Women and Sex," is comprised of two chapters, and as with the men, the first of these deals with single women and the second with those who are married. Caroyln McCulley encourages women to be content with their singleness and helps women see how they can even be a snare to marriages if they are not careful. Carolyn Mahaney writes for married women. The chapter is short and not awfully informative. It includes a fairly typical list of encouragement for wives - be attractive, be available, be anticipatory, be aggressive and be adventuresome.

The final section deals with history and sex. Justin Taylor writes about Martin Luther's sexual revolution, showing the importance of Luther's contribution to the Protestant understanding of marriage and sexuality. Mark Dever closes the book with a chapter examining the Puritans and their understanding of sex.

Like most books which are written by several authors, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ seemed a little uneven. The chapters did not always flow naturally from one to the next, and some were far better than others. However, it is safe to say that while there are not many people who would find equal value in each of the chapters, any reader, whether married or single, male or female, will find at least a few of them exceedingly valuable. The collective wisdom of these men and women of God is a valuable contribution to understanding that sex is given by God and is to be used for His glory. I recommend this book.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Positive Statement about Sex 26 July 2005
By Rebecca Stark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book grows out of the 2004 Desiring God National Conference with it's theme of "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ". It is a collection of essays by various authors--including John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Dever and Ben Patterson--on subjects relating to the proper Christian view and use of the God-given gift of sex. The essays are grouped into five categories: God and Sex, Sin and Sex, Men and Sex, Women and Sex, History and Sex.

As one might expect with any book that is a collection of essays by different authors, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ is a little uneven because the quality of the essays varies. Unfortunately, the two chapters by John Piper at the beginning of the book--chapters that seemed to be intended to be the backbone of the book as a whole--were the two chapters I found to be the most unconvincing. Piper's first premise is that "sexuality is designed by God as a way to know God in Christ more fully." I suppose this may be true, but I don't think it's something that we're told in scripture, and I find the scripture passages that Piper uses to try to support this statement require quite a bit of stretching to lend any support at all. In my judgment, then, his argument on this point was unpersuasive.

But despite it's "ho-hum" beginning, there are chapters in the book that I found extremely interesting and valuable. Al Mohler's chapter titled "Homosexual Marriage as a Challenge to the Church: Biblical and Cultural Reflections" was very compelling and helpful to me because he approaches the question a bit differently from so much of what I'd read previously on the issue, writing on homosexual marriage--and marriage in general--as a theological matter. I appreciated in particular the points that in order for the church to respond adequately to the challenge that homosexual marriage presents for us, we must have a theology adequate to explain the deceptiveness of sexual sin, and a theology that has an adequate view of the victory over sin that comes through Christ's work.

I suppose it's because I'm a bit of a history buff that my favorite section of the book was the last one: the section on history and sex. I loved the chapter on Martin Luther's teachings on marriage and sex, which examined the way his teachings and life changed the church's view on the institution of marriage. I found the story of his marriage to Katherine von Bora fascinating, and I hadn't realized the influence he had on the Protestant view of sex and marriage as a good gift from God to be enjoyed rather than something given to us simply a means of procreation. There is also an interesting chapter in this section on the Puritans and their view of sex and marriage.

The sections focusing on men and sex and women and sex were quite practical in nature. They would be useful no matter what your marital status, although perhaps what's found in them is not much different than what can be found in many other Christian books on dating, courtship, sexuality, and marriage.

Overall, I'd recommend this book. No matter what your particular circumstances or interests, you will probably find several of the essays that are especially worthwhile to you. I appreciated that the whole of the book is a positive statement about sex and marriage as one of the good things we are given by God to be used as directed by him and as is pleasing to him.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book needed to be written a long time ago! 25 Aug 2005
By Chris Meirose - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Last Spring, Justin Taylor of Between Two Worlds Blog (and Desiring God Ministries) put out a call for bloggers to review a book he had a part in - Sex and the Supremecy of Christ. I was one of the lucky few who got in early enough to be blessed with the opportunity, and below entails my thoughts on the book.

First, I would like to comment on how appropriate the subject for the book is for Christians today. As Christians, we are called to glorify God in all that we do, and within that fall our sexuality. This is often directly opposed by how the world that surrounds us views sex and sexuality. As yet to be perfected Christians we are impacted by the graphicness and pervasiveness of the inappropriate and negative message that society showers us with on a daily basis. This book serves to begin to balance that out by giving us a clear explanation on God's design for sex.

What I liked best in the book:

First, I greatly appreciate the readability of this book. With authors like John Piper and Albert Mohler, there is always the chance that it could quickly become very heady, making it a difficult read for the entry level reader. This is a book that I think most high school students could read, and I would recommend it for that application.

I suspect this book will be challenging to those who have been taught to be ashamed of sex and sexuality. It is a tragedy that some in the body of Christ have perverted one of God's greatest gifts to us in this way. This book takes great steps to undoing some of that harm, and is a great reference for developing a biblically informed view of sexuality. While it is not specifically written as an apologetic against this, it nonetheless would serve ministries well that are helping people overcome those feelings of shame.

The part I enjoyed reading the most was the section on Martin Luther and his wife. It added a needed lightness to what can sometimes be a heavy subject. It also was great to get a window into the life of one of the most influential Christians of all time.

The section I initially felt I would not find very interesting was Dr. Mohler's segment on homosexuality. I was pleasantly surprised by what he had to say. I almost always find Dr. Mohler interesting, but the past two years I have been filled to the top with data, opinions, and stories about homosexuals and Christians. Dr. Mohler made it interesting, and informative, and I suspect I will read the section again. He did not present anything new to me, but he always has a way of saying things that makes me say "I wish I could have said it that way."

I grew up in the church, and I can honestly say I did not hear much regarding any of the topics covered in this book spoken about at church. Sex was something people talked about in private. Sex was something that jokes were made about. Sex was everybody's dirty little secret. I think this book serves to shine a light in an area of much darkness for Christians throughout the world. I highly recommend the book, front to back, without any hesitation. I suspect I will be buying a few copies to share with some important people in my life who might greatly benefit from it.

What I would do different/like to see changed or added:

My criticisms are very limited. I would love to see this offered as a 3 part paperback series, with a Bible study guide to go with it. That way churches could utilize different segments with different groups or at different times. I honestly don't know if something like that is in the works, but I would suggest it if not.

Piggybacking on my previous idea, a section (or perhaps a separate tool) with sermon outlines would another great blessing for the church. Providing a framework for pastors to introduce these subjects to their congregations would be a wonderful gift. While we all know we should be hearing these kinds of things from our pulpits, all too often we are not, and we can see where that has been getting the church. Anything to enable and encourage pastors to utilize this material in their churches would add to it's impact.

I would also like to see an online resource with current info and articles pertaining the subjects discussed. There is a very nice list of references, but they are to print materials. The world is changing, and while I see the humor in asking for electronic info from a paper book, I still think it would be a nice addition for those seeking to grow deeper in these subject areas.

Final Analysis:

I give it 5 of 5 stars, with a hearty reccommendation. I suspect this will be an award winning book, topping many book lists and must read lists in the next few years.

This review was originally posted on my blog at [...]
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What An Eye Opener 20 April 2006
By Joshua Ritchie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In the eleven years I have been married I have read many Christian books on dating, marriage, relationships and sexual intimacy. Several of them have been mixtures of psychology and theology at best. Others were solidly grounded in scripture. Sex and the Supremacy of Christ falls into the latter category. In fact, it is unlike any book that I have ever read on the topic of sex.

If you're single, check it out. If you're engaged, check it out. If you're married, check it out. You'll not be able to count on all your fingers and toes the things that you will learn regarding the theology of sex. The bottom line: everything is for God's glory, including sex. Piper, Dever, Mahaney and the other authors do a superb job at explaining how this all pans out in scripture.

Read the rest of the review <a href="[...]">here</a>.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Christian worldview of sex 29 Dec 2008
By Matthew P. Cochrane - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
On those rare occasions when the church does speak about sex, it is almost invariably a message on the evils and ills associated with it. Premarital sex is bad. Adulterous sex is wrong. Homosexuality is evil. While most Christians might agree with these premises, to stop there is to fall far short of teaching all the Bible has to say on sex. While there have been some note-worthy books published on the Christian perspective of sex in recent years, most seem to have been influenced more by western culture and current trends in relationship counseling than the Bible. This is why Sex and the Supremacy of Christ fills a much needed void in for both the church and our society.

This book features several contributing authors including notables John Piper, Mark Dever, Justin Taylor, C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney, Albert Mohler, and several others. Each contributes a chapter or two on a different aspect of the Biblical worldview of sex.

John Piper authors the first two chapters exploring the two main premises of the book: 1) sexuality is designed by God as a way to know God in Christ more fully; and 2) knowing God in Christ more fully is designed as a way of guarding and guiding our sexuality. Or, when stated negatively, all misuses of our sexuality distort the true knowledge of Christ and all misuses of our sexuality derive from not having the true knowledge of Christ. Drawing from the Old Testament books of Hosea and Ezekiel, Piper shows us beautiful descriptions from Scripture where Israel, or the church, is compared to the bride and Christ to the bridegroom. Piper goes on to illustrate that God "brought us out of death to life and from darkness to light" by choosing to save us, or marry us, when we were desolate, naked, and helpless. He made a covenant with His people that He never broke though we are the picture of an adulterous wife time after time.

Ben Patterson writes the final chapter of the first section on "The Goodness of Sex and the Glory of God." Using ample illustrations from Scripture and by quoting from the likes of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton, Patterson reminds us that God made sex to be both pleasurable and good. He concludes that the Bible is a book about marriage and sex and supports this with five statements: 1) in the beginning of the Bible there is a marriage (Gen. 2:23-25); 2) at the very end of the Bible there is a marriage (Rev. 19:6-7, 9; 21:2); 3) central themes from the Bible are emphasized and reinforced with marriage metaphors (i.e. Hosea's marriage is a picture of God's marriage to Israel, Jesus saying He is the bridegroom to His people, and Paul using marriage as a demonstration of God's marriage to His people); 4) the sexual, in the Bible, is a chief arena of the brokenness of sin - and therefore occupies an important place among the things Christ came to redeem (Gen. 3:16, Rom. 1:21-24); and 5) tucked away in the Bible is the gem of all collections of songs on sex and marriage, the Song of Solomon.

The second section of Sex and the Supremacy of Christ deals with sex and sin. Here David Powlison has written one of the best pieces about dealing with the brokenness of sexual sin that I have ever read. As he writes, his chapter is "about making new, about the long restoring of joys to the broken and dirtied." In the chapter, he deals with several different kinds of sexual sin including pornography, adultery and premarital sex. More importantly, though, he addresses the guilt that often accompanies sexual sin and shows that no matter what sin we might fall into, our relationship with Christ can always be restored.

The other chapter in this section, entitled "Homosexual Marriage as a Challenge to the Church: Biblical and Cultural Reflections" was written by Albert Mohler, the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Understanding the Christian's duty to compassionately tell the truth, Mohler states that Christians cannot begin a conversation about homosexual marriage by talking about homosexual marriage, obviously referring to the deeper problems underlining the fact that homosexual marriage is even being considered by our society.

The next four chapters are written for more specific audiences though I gleaned information and learned from all of them. One chapter each is devoted to single men, married men, single women, and married women.

In "Sex and the Single Man", co-authors Mark Dever, Michael Lawrence, Matt Schmucker, and Scott Croft deal with sensitive topics like masturbation in a straight-forward and Biblical manner. They also probe whether an increasing commitment legitimizes increasing levels of physical intimacy before marriage. They conclude that it does not and then give four reasons why there should not be any physical intimacy between any man and woman who are not married. While I have previously heard arguments calling for abstaining from all levels of physical intimacy before marriage, I always found them lacking in Biblical support and sound theology. Not so here. For the first time I am considering the idea that a Biblical approach to dating and courtship would be to keep from all physical aspects of a relationship until after one is married. The chapter concludes by defining courtship and dating and examining the differences between them.

The next chapter, "Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know" is authored by C.J. Mahaney. Its content is drawn from his book of the same name, Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know. Mahaney begins by glancing at passages from the Song of Solomon and looking at the poetic way in which the couple's relationship is discussed. Here Mahaney makes a few good observations. He notes that the descriptions in Song of Solomon are never crude or clinical, but still manage to discuss the provocative and intimate. He also states that this book in the Bible is "not about the act of sexual intercourse. Rather, it is about the remarkable nature of the couple's overall relationship - in all its romance, yearning, desire, sensuality, passion, and eroticism." After looking at the theological lessons of Song of Solomon, Mahaney then successfully attempts to practically apply its lesson to the modern marriage relationship. He does this by dispensing advice concerning date nights, gift giving, getaways, surprises, phone calls, and emails to one's wife.

Carolyn Mahaney, C.J.'s wife, writes the next chapter for wives, taken from her book, Feminine Appeal. In "Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Wife Needs to Know," Carolyn makes it clear that sex is a gift from God for women too. Like her husband, she turned to the Song of Solomon and found five "be's" from the book that Christian wives should apply to their marital sex lives: 1) be attractive; 2) be available; 3) be anticipatory; 4) be aggressive; and 5) be adventurous. Most of the writers in this book used humor where appropriate, but Carolyn probably best utilized it, as she peppered many of her points with humorous anecdotes.

One such account concerned a young mother who approached Carolyn for advice, saying that she had little time for her husband now that she had kids. The young mother relayed that before her and her husband had children she had plenty of time to keep a clean house, cook gourmet dinners, and make love to her husband but that now there was little time for such activities. The young mother wanted to make her husband a priority, but did not know how to with so much on her plate. Carolyn replied, "Honey, fix your husband a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner and give him great sex after dinner, and he will feel prized by you!"

The next section of the book is actually about history and sex, and includes a chapter by Justin Taylor on "Martin Luther's Reform of Marriage" and Mark Dever's chapter entitled "The Puritans on Sex." Many Christians understand Luther's important contributions to Protestant Christian theology including justification by faith alone and Christian freedom. What we often overlook, myself included, is the significant contribution Luther added to the doctrine of marriage. Taylor does a good job here of describing the times Luther lived in - a time when the Catholic Church emphasized sex for the purpose of procreation only and did not allow its clergy to be married and thus enjoy normal sexual relations. Luther, by contrast, understood God created us as sexual beings and needed the healthy outlet of marriage to exercise these urges and desires. Taylor also gives a brief look at Luther's friendship and eventual marriage to Katherine von Bora, a former nun, as well as an interesting look at their home life after their marriage.

In the last chapter of the book, Mark Dever looks at what the Puritans wrote and said about sex and dispels some of the commonly held assumptions on the prudishness of the Puritans. While quoting from several different Puritan preachers and writers, Dever mostly looks to Richard Baxter and John Flavel for Puritanical opinions on sex. Dever also noted that, while the Roman Catholic Church emphasized sex and marriage for the purpose of procreation, and Luther accentuated marriage for the purpose of not falling into sexual sin, the Puritans highlighted marriage for its companionship.

It is rare to find a Christian book dealing straight-forwardly and honestly with the reality of sex and intimacy in today's world. It is also rare to read a modern Christian book that combines deep, sound theology with good practical applications. To find both in the same book is a marvel. I doubt if there is a more relevant message that the church and, by extension, the world, needs to hear today than a clear and straight-forward presentation of the Biblical view of sex and marriage.
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