February 12, 2009 by Stacy McDonald

Book Recommendation: When Two Become One

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Yesterday, while the children finished their math assignments, I thumbed through a few unread books on my shelf that I thought might help me in some research I was doing. The lovely cover of When Two Become One: Enhancing Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Christopher and Rachel McCluskey caught my eye, so I sat down to scan a few pages. After a brief perusal of some of the chapters I settled into my chair for a longer read.

When I flipped to the Introduction and read that the author was a Christian sex therapist and a former psychotherapist, my skepticism grew; but, I figured I still might be able to glean a few nuggets, so I kept reading.

What I found was a fantastic gem of a resource that I will be highly recommending to married couples from now on. Though the McCluskeys admit that the topic of intimacy is a highly volatile subject, they did an excellent job of speaking plainly, yet respectfully throughout each chapter.

The McCluskey Family
(A Christian homeschooling family!)

After describing the Deceiver’s insatiable desire to steal everything God created for good and make it his, the McCluskeys reveal how Satan, in the twentieth century, has tried to claim sex as his own too.
“Through his “prophets” Margaret Sanger, Alfred Kinsey, Hugh Hefner, Larry Flynt, and others, he has persuaded our culture to worship sex. In “The Pivot of Civilization,” Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood) wrote, Through sex, mankind may attain the great spiritual illumination which will transform the world, which will light up the only path to an earthly paradise.”
He goes on to describe how crucial it is for Christians to have a healthy understanding of and appreciation for the beauty and power of the one-flesh union between a husband and wife.
He passionately begs the church to “take back sex and claim the truth that it belongs to God and it is good – but only when practiced within His guidelines.”
McCluskey claims that when we reflect true oneness in our lovemaking, we communicate something about Christ and His Church with our bodies that words cannot express. He says:
“Intercourse provides us a means of communicating with our bodies what our words cannot. We are one in marriage in the truest sense of that word, and our bodies are able to bear testimony to that oneness.”
“Our union as husband and wife bears testimony in the heavenlies to the promised consummation of Jesus Christ and his bride, the church”
McCluskey beleives a right approach to intimacy is paramount to the health of the church:
“We strongly believe there is a need for visionaries, missionaries, and warriors in this culture who can address sexuality and say, This is our God’s turf! This is NOT the enemy’s turf. We will no longer be silent while the culture seeps into the church. We will no longer watch passively as our couples struggle in ignorance and brokenness. We are reclaiming sex!”
“We as a church must redeem and sanctify our view of sex. If we do, it can be the cornerstone of a new evangelization – the world is crying out for real answers. If we fail, it will likely be our undoing. The homosexual issue alone is already unraveling entire denominations. We simply must do a better job of discerning God’s plan for sex.”
I’d have to give those words a hearty amen! Many of us were so well trained by the ways of the world that we find it difficult to transition our sex life when we become Christians. Often, we either bring a trashy version of sex into the marriage bed (complete with damaging, selfish fantasies or pornography) or we wrongly assume that marital intimacy is somehow dirty – a necessary evil that a wife must endure so that she won’t be considered sinful for “denying her man” (1 Cor. 7:4) This attitude is heartbreaking!
Mr. McCluskey unravels for us the tangled mess we’ve made of sex in our culture and creates a superb picture of the selfless giving and unimaginable joy that can (and should) be ours in marriage – when we truly become one flesh.
He points out how often, while making love, couples will focus so much on their own hangups (body image, past trauma, fantasy, or personal pleasure) that they don’t do what needs to be done to be truly one – which is to fully focus on giving all of oneself to the other. This requires trust, communication, vulnerability, a desire to explore and appreciate one another, and a give-give attitude between the two.

He also describes how importat it is for the couple to become child-like (not childish!) in their approach to intimacy. He describes a trusting child who delights in being playful. He encourages couples to “play” together!

While I admit, there were a few sections that made me blush, Mr. McCluskey was quick to point out that the Song of Solomon is far more graphic! I had to laugh, since James and I used to love to read aloud the SOS to one another before we went to bed! Maybe Valentines Day would be a good time to revive that tradition! ;-)
Several chapters approached delicate topics that too many Christian marriage books either avoid all together or describe in such graphic detail that they come across as crass. Bravo to both Christopher and Rachel for coming together, and jointly using their gifts to give us such a God-glorifying resource. May God richly bless you and your family for generations to come!


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7 Responses to “Book Recommendation: When Two Become One”

  1. Tina says:

    Thank you for the book review and sharing information from it. I was blessed by what you shared. Thank you.

  2. Mrs. U says:

    Excellent EXCELLENT post!! Definitely a message that Christians need to hear and practice today!!!

    I will surely be looking for this book to read and also copies to share with others!

    Thank you!

    His,
    Mrs. U

  3. Deena - says:

    Ok I love your blog and am one for humor in the details so you don’t have to post this, but it was to cute to pass up telling you!! You said at the end “Bravo to these two for coming together…” :-) Just got a kick out of that! I am sure they are happy about it too! :-) I will definitely get the book!

    A happy homemaker!
    Deena Royalty

  4. Civilla says:

    Thank you for the book review.

  5. Crystal says:

    Thank you for posting this, Stacy. I’ll look into the book.

    As one who came from a difficult background, I needed some Christian instruction on the subject. But I couldn’t find any Christians interested in discussing the issue. In my efforts to find some good Christian help, I ran into a few resources I found very helpful.

    One is a website:
    http://www.themarriagebed.com
    They are run by Christians. There are a number of good articles on there discussing very frank issues.

    And then some books:
    “honey, i don’t have a headache tonight” by Sheila Wray Gregoire

    “Intended for Pleasure” by Ed and Gaye Wheat

    “Intimacy Ignited” by Dr. Joseph and Linda Dillow and Dr. Peter and Lorraine Pintus (a review of Song of Soloman)

    “Intimate Issues” by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus (this one was my top pick)

    Hope these books combined with your review may help someone, like it helped me.

    Crystal

  6. greasy joan says:

    Stacy,

    I think many Christian women have body hangups, scars from the past, and other impediments to experiencing the fullness of marriage that God gives to us.

    By posting this, I think you have likely given lots of hope to lots of women. Thank you.

    Anne

  7. Kate says:

    I know this post is over a year old, but I found it while browsing your archives. Based on your recommendation I visiting their website and found the book for sale online. I didn't buy it, though until about a week later when I kept going back to it and felt the leading of the Lord to make the purchase. I did and received the book in the mail today and have already been greatly blessed by it.

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