Other than the Bible, no book is perfect. Other than Jesus, no person or author is flawless. So each of these books has positive and negative qualities. Here is a list of books and chapters that we’ve found helpful and instructive in the area of sex, sexual sin, and marriage. These are just a few books from our shelves on marriage and family that we’ve found interesting and instructive.
“Holy Sex” by Michael Pearl
“Created to Need a Helpmeet: A Marriage Guide for Men” by Michael Pearl
“Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge
“At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry” by Steve Gallagher
“Not Even a Hint” by Joshua Harris
“I Surrender All” by Clay and Renee Crosse
“Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey *Although the opening illustration bothers me, this book is filled with some great practical advice.
“Every Woman’s Desire” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey
“Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together” by Mark and Grace Driscoll
“The 4 Seasons of Marriage: Secrets to a Lasting Marriage” by Gary Chapman
*Jen and I love this book. It was super helpful during a difficult season.
“Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage” by Dr. Kevin Leman
“Created to be His Help Meet” by Debi Pearl
“Vertical Marriage” by Dave and Ann Wilson
“The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman
“From Bondage to Bonding: Escaping Codependency, Embracing Biblical Love” by Nancy Groom
“100 Ways to Love Your Wife” by Matthew L. Jacobson
“100 Ways to Love Your Husband” by Lisa Jacobson
“His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage” by Willard F. Harley Jr.
“Every Heart Restored” by Fred and Brenda Stoeker
“The Healing Choice” by Brenda Stoeker and Susan Allen
Here are 5 simple observations about friendship in Proverbs.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
I remember being a kid hosting a birthday party at my house. I had friends from church, school, my sports teams, and my cousins over. I vividly recall at the end of the party thinking, “Well, that wasn’t very fun.” The reason was that juggling all of those social obligations was too much. It was exhausting. You’ll be lucky in life to have a handful of real friends. Treasure them and limit the names on your dance card. Some people collect “friends” like baseball cards. Actually, nobody really collects baseball cards anymore. Let’s use a more modern illustration. Some people think their “friends” on social media are actual “friends.” In reality, they don’t have any network of support (pun intended).
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
It was said of Churchill that he had countless ideas every day, but only a handful of them were any good. I know the feeling. I have pitched my friends on all kinds of things, only to be kindly laughed at. Actually, sometimes the laughing wasn’t kind, but it kept me sharp. Friends are a sounding board. They ask penetrating questions, debate, and disagree. When I sharpen iron, there are always sparks. That is how Proverbs is visualizing authentic friendship. Friends help us refine an idea or project. They help make us better and we do the same for them.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” (Proverbs 27:9)
Sometimes a friend will have to look at you and tell you that you’re ridiculous, stupid even. Genuine friends don’t just tell us what will make us feel good. If you have a “friend” that won’t address your bad attitude, behavior, or choices then he or she isn’t really your friend. I am thankful to have a couple of friends that’ll punch me in the head when I need it. And trust me, I need it…often.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
With real friends, you are allowed to be yourself. You don’t have to pretend. It’s ok to have a bad day. It’s ok to invite them over when your house isn’t spotless. Friends will endure meals gone wrong. Friends will laugh with you and cry with you. Even as I write this, I can’t help tearing up. I am so thankful for my friends. In the final book of “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy,” Frodo and Sam are nearing Mount Doom. As Frodo crawls forward, Sam sees his friend and weeps. He cries out, “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” True friends see us struggling and help carry the load. This sometimes means just listening. This means sitting together in times of grief and celebration. Friends are in for the fight when everyone else runs away.
“Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.” (Proverbs 19:6)
Everybody wants to be friends when there are parting gifts. It’s like the perpetual birthday party. “Thanks for coming…here’s your party bag to go.” Real friendship isn’t a business deal or “I scratch your back and you scratch mine.” A faithful friend cares about you, your marriage, your kids, and your integrity. There isn’t an ulterior motive. A real friend loves.
In “Pilgrim’s Progress,” Christian is joined on his journey by two friends, Faithful and then later Hopeful. At the end of their journey, Christian and Hopeful are passing through their final difficulty. Christian in despair cries out, “It is you, it is you they wait for; you have been hopeful ever since I knew you.” Faithful responds, “And so have you.” That is real friendship.
The two verses from Proverbs that make me actually laugh are about neighbors.
“Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.” (Proverbs 25:17)
Don’t overstay your welcome. Don’t always let your friends host. Take turns. Even though some people may not admit it, hosting too often becomes exhausting. Jen and I have a family of seven. Occasionally people will invite us over. We do our best to try and direct this to a restaurant. It’s not that we don’t want to spend time in people’s homes, we just realize what seven extra people means. Feeding and entertaining that many more people is hard. By the end of the evening, people may not hate us, but they regret the invitation.
The other practical principle here is to limit your overnight stays with friends and family. Every family has its own rhythm. When you put different rhythm’s together, they clash. For a short time that is tolerable, but eventually the differences will start to drive you and your host crazy. I was told that when my Grandpa and Grandma came to visit us in Texas in the late ‘80s, my Grandpa made a lot of trips to the grocery store. He was used to a quiet home and definite routine and at our house it wasn’t quiet or predictable. It’s like the expression “too many cooks in the kitchen.” When staying with friends or family, set clear expectations and timelines. If you do, the different rhythms of your households can be upended for a short time and then reset when you leave. Wisdom keeps relationships intact.
“Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.” (Proverbs 27:14)
Don’t be too noisy or perky in the morning. My wife and kids tell me I need to abide by the “loud voice” Proverb. When I wake up, I’m ready to go. I don’t drink coffee or caffeine; my brain just turns on and starts running a hundred miles an hour. Being a good neighbor, roommate, husband, or parent means taking it easy in the morning. You may be bubbly in the morning, but others are not. Use some of that energy to understand your excitement in the morning will be heard like a curse to some people. Courtesy and biblical wisdom is being “peaceable and quiet,” especially in the morning.
“Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.” (Proverbs 27:10)
Neighbors can be terrific or terrible. Frankly, I’ve had both. One time our kids found a box of microwave popcorn in the cupboard. We don’t have a microwave, so they walked to our neighbor’s house. She gladly popped the entire box for them. In crisis a neighbor who is nearby is better than the greatest help far away. The point of the Proverb: make friends with your neighbors. Know their names. Drop off Christmas cookies. Shovel their driveway. Invite them to your church. Don’t fight over silly issues. Neighbors can be a great blessing. Are you a good neighbor?
Proverbs 3:28-29; 6:1-5; 16:29; 25:7-10,18