When a friend writes a book, I get a bit nervous, especially when the friend asks me to provide feedback on said book. (Apologies to all my friends who will soon be experiencing this with my book.)
I was a little nervous, therefore, to read my friend Mike Thiessen’s book Pursuing a First-Class Marriage: Finding the One Without Trying Many. I shouldn’t have worried. I’ll be recommending this book regularly to my single friends.
Thiessen wrote this book for young adults who are just beginning to date, or who are getting serious about their relationship. He wants them to understand what it takes to build a solid marriage. It’s born out of his own pastoral experience counseling couples as they prepare for marriage.
I appreciated this book for a couple of reasons.
First, it contradicts many of the lies that our culture tells us about how to build a healthy marriage. The first two chapters, for instance, are called “Truth Exists” and “Trust Christ”. Thiessen understands that a marriage must be built on God’s truth and in line with his revealed Word. He also emphasizes the role of the family and the church in choosing a partner — countercultural, but so wise and needed.
Second, Thiessen does a great job of explaining how men and women are wired different sexually. According to Thiessen, when women experience friendship with a man, they feel significant and secure. This leads to the security that is required for sexual responsiveness. Men, however, desire sexual intimacy with a loyal partner and friend, which leads to his feeling of significance and faithfulness. Men and women experience the desire for sex differently. These insights alone, and what they mean, make this book worth reading.
It’s not an easy time to be single. The lines are being redrawn on issues of dating, sex, and marriage. I see a lot of hurt and confusion as a result. Thiessen does a great job of confronting these issues, and I’m thankful for this book.
Thiessen agreed to answer some of my questions about his book.
Most people emphasize the importance of chemistry when it comes to picking a spouse. Why do you emphasize a different set of priorities?
Chemistry is important, but it is of last importance. This means it is important within the order of things, but it’s last on the list. If a boyfriend of a girl is not demonstrating character and competency, then his lack of maturity will, over time, undermine any current forms of intimacy being enjoyed. If a girlfriend of a boy is hurting the relationship by showing strong signs of childishness, then she will, over time, undermine her current physical attractiveness. Acting on chemistry is the physical way we create intimacy in our relationship, but if someone continually breaks trust with us or proves unable to hold themselves together to act like a mature adult, then the relationship is ultimately doomed if physical intimacy is the only thing holding it together. This is why it should come last.
We don’t usually recognize how much we’ve been influenced by society’s view of marriage and sex. How can pastors help singles adopt a more biblical view?
Wow. There is so much to cover.
First, we need to speak with our young adults at a much deeper level about maleness and femaleness. Young men and women don’t understand their own unique responsibilities and gifts within society because they are being told to think androgynously. This requires fleshing out what we mean when we say we “compliment” each other. This also means navigating very loaded conversations using God’s Word carefully.
Second, then we need to work with parents to help them think and speak about sex and dating in biblical ways. This takes time and vision. We need to give them a big vision of purity and intimacy.
You outline the differences in how men and women approach sex and friendship. What are the consequences if we ignore these differences?
The consequences are confusion and brokenness in many forms. I was listening to Adventures in Odyssey with my kids recently. They illustrated this idea for us using the analogy of a fountain pen (I know you like fountain pens, Darryl). It has a sharp point and a stiff structure, so a young boy, who doesn’t know any better, might use it as a nail to hang up some artwork to show his parents. It kind of worked as a nail, but I was ruined as a pen. Men and women have profoundly unique abilities and needs, if we ignore those abilities and needs, then we destroy our counterpart in the relationship.
What did you hope to accomplish in writing this book?
That young women would see and understand just how different they are from young men in order to give them wisdom and patience concerning their bodies and emotions.
That young men would look to the future and think far beyond sex without feeling like they had to ignore a major motivating fact of their makeup.
Thank you, Mike.