Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Book Review: The Five Senses of Romantic Love - God’s Plan for Exciting Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Sam Laing

The Song of Solomon, also referred to as the Song of Songs, has been a mystery to me in my walk with Christ as a new believer. What exactly was this book of the Bible talking about? My gut instinct told me to take it literally, hearing preachers refer to it as descriptive of Christ’s love for believers. Parts of it are certainly suggestive, and indeed, graphic – I have a difficult time thinking of Jesus in those situations and terms. For me it would take some fancy talking around the scriptures for this approach to make sense to me.

Enter Sam Laing and his book, The Five Senses of Romantic Love - God’s Plan for Exciting Sexual Intimacy in Marriage. Laing takes a literal approach to the Song of Solomon, examining it as an encouraging text written from God to married couples as a model for the joys of marital intimacy. Laing has authored his book for married couples only, so if you are single you should wait to read it, and this review as well unless you have an impending marriage in your future. Indeed, Laing opens his book with this caveat, which I greatly appreciated. He appears to be a Christian man of integrity and would not see single believers stumble or be led into temptation by contemplating the marital act of intimacy that they cannot rightfully enjoy.

The topic of sex within the confines of marriage (where it rightfully belongs) is often neglected in conversations and preaching concerning the Christian life. Thankfully, there have been several books authored in recent years that seek to equip Christian couples with a view of sexual relations from a biblical perspective. For a new believer such as myself, I have wondered what God finds pleasing in this area, what His take on marital intimacy is. The Five Senses of Romantic Love is a highly practical guide for those seeking an answer to similar questions.

Laing writes enthusiastically on the subject, expounding upon God’s design for love within marriage; the joy and pleasure He intends for our spouses and us. Using the Song of Solomon he provides practical ways to enhance our love life through engaging each of our five senses. The book is divided into 8 chapters. The first addresses God’s general intent for delight in the sexual union of man and wife. The following five each address one of the five senses: sound, sight, fragrance, taste and touch. The last two offer advice specifically to women and men based upon the two main characters of the Song, a wife and her husband.

While he uses the Song as his basic text for his work (NIV scripture mainly), this title does not provide a comprehensive overview or analysis of the Song (though he does include further resources for an in-depth study). His concern is rather to aid married couples through practical, openhearted suggestions to add to, and increase the delights of marriage. His words are friendly and kind, never pushy or insistent, and he is fairly discreet in his use of language throughout the book – nothing explicitly graphic or crude here.

His advice is very personal, and at times he shares general principles that have been enjoyed within the context of his own successful marriage. Along with this personal perspective, we at times find Laing using very short, or somewhat vague passages in the Song to launch into a discussion of his own personal feelings on a topic. Often there is not much information given in the scripture, nor is it as detailed as the author’s recommendations – some examples of this include his conclusions on cosmetics, jewelry, and clothing. Many of these recommendations seem to be based largely on his own preferences, as not much is said on these topics within the scripture itself. I didn’t find this objectionable however, as this book seeks to provide practical advice and insight from the author rather than serve as an authoritative commentary. Laing also makes disclaimers throughout the work that couples should use what works for them, and not feel bound to any suggestions that are made.

As a woman, I enjoyed reading his frank and open perspective as a man, both on the Song, and on what men appreciate and long for within a marriage. His insights based upon the characters revealed to us in the Song, their actions and attributes form the basis of the last two chapters; the first specifically addressed to women, the second to men. These chapters summarize personal characteristics and traits based on the word of God that we should seek to cultivate within ourselves in order to enhance our marriages.

The Five Senses of Romantic Love fills an important niche in Christian literature – equipping married believers for love. I particularly recommend this work for Christians who may mistakenly believe that sex within marriage is an unpleasant duty that is even somehow displeasing to God. Readers interested in a literal, joyous, and practical approach to applying God’s wisdom from the Song of Solomon to their marriage will find this offering a unique treasure. Excellent devotional reading for bedtime, couples will benefit from reading this book together.



Jennifer Bogart blogs about christian parenting, family living, homeschooling and more! She loves writing Christian book reviews.

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