Review: "God, Sex and your Marriage" by Dr. Juli Slattery
This book is an exceptional resource for couples seeking to improve their communication, both in action and speech, and enhance the physical aspect of their marriage. While primarily (in my opinion) suited for those already married, the book also offers valuable insights for individuals approaching marriage within the Christian context, whether both partners identify as heterosexual or whether there is same-sex attraction (SSA). The author does make a fleeting mention of SSA.
The four pillars
The book is structured around four pillars that serve as a foundation for building a meaningful and fulfilling marriage: Faithfulness, Intimate Knowing, Sacrificial Love and Passionate Celebration. Dr Juli Slattery offers practical guidance and profound wisdom within each of these pillars to help couples cultivate a thriving relationship. But before delving into the pillars, the author explores how a couple's individual backstories influence their relationship:
“Backstory is everything. It paints the picture for how we understand and interpret the events that are happening right now…These backstories include what has happened between the two of you and also what you experienced before you ever met.” p18
By understanding and addressing these personal histories, couples can overcome challenges and deepen their connection.
God's story of sex is examined and highlights the importance of pursuing wholeness beyond sexual purity, providing a refreshing and holistic perspective on intimacy within marriage. The author describes the ‘covenant love’ with which God loves His church. She encourages us to model our marriages on this love, for a stronger and fuller experience here on earth. Covenant love flips our culture’s “If you meet my needs, we will be good together” belief on its head.
Each of the eight chapters is thoughtfully crafted, presenting highly supportive and challenging ideas that encourage personal reflection and foster meaningful couple-centred discussions, such as:
“What is one thing God is showing you about what it means to surrender your sexuality to Him?” p171.
The inclusion of scriptural references throughout the book adds depth and allows readers to connect their experiences with timeless biblical truths. Furthermore, the book offers additional resources such as surveys and recommended reading, providing opportunities for further exploration and growth.
Practical ways forward
"God, Sex, and Your Marriage" concludes with a section titled "Take the Next Step," which empowers readers to apply the knowledge gained from the book into practical actions:
“Like hiking a mountain, your journey toward sexual wholeness can feel like a massive undertaking…Throughout this book, you have learned that sexual intimacy in your marriage is an earthly metaphor for God’s covenant love.” p145.
This hands-on approach helps couples actively implement the concepts discussed, leading to transformational change in their relationship; offering tools to navigate through the complexities of communication, intimacy, and love within marriage.
As my spouse and I approach our 30th wedding anniversary, I can't help but reflect on the profound impact that "God, Sex, and Your Marriage" has had on our lives. For nearly 29 years, I held onto the belief that God would miraculously "heal" my SSA, but as time went on, this was not the path God had for me. We each read the book from cover to cover independently, allowing us to process our own thoughts and feelings; we grappled with deep emotions, faced difficult questions and ultimately enlarged our focus from a narrow viewpoint to embracing a new understanding of wholeness. A paradigm shift is being brought to our relationship, as we continue to pray through and reflect on the chapters for a second time. Dr Slattery's compassionate and insightful writing style resonated deeply with us, providing comfort and clarity during this transformative time. While our path may have taken an unexpected turn, "God, Sex, and Your Marriage" is helping us embrace a new sense of purpose, authenticity, and deepening connection in our relationship, with tools to approach our marriage with grace, understanding and a renewed commitment to sacrificial covenant love and support for each other.
In summary, "God, Sex, and Your Marriage" is a must-read for married couples looking to deepen their connection and foster a more fulfilling relationship. I also wholeheartedly recommend the book to anyone who finds themselves living with SSA within a marriage. Its comprehensive approach, supported by thought-provoking discussion questions and scriptural references, provides a solid framework for couples to build a strong and lasting marriage.
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2023 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.
Download the Autumn 2023 edition of Ascend