Good Books on Relationships
We believe all Christians are called to chastity and covenant faithfulness in our relationships, married Christians to fidelity to one’s spouse and unmarried Christians to sexual abstinence and chaste friendship. In that light, here are some good books on the subject of healthy relationships.
Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You
By Dorothy Littell Greco
What makes a marriage beautiful? Honesty? Compatibility? Physical and emotional intimacy? All of these are important, but there’s one component that determines the quality and longevity of a marriage more than anything else: a willingness to grow.
Because a wedding joins together two imperfect people, all couples experience disappointment, conflict, and pain. How husbands and wives respond to these challenges determines the kind of people they will become and the kind of marriage they will have.
Making Marriage Beautiful reveals how the pursuit of Christ results in profound transformation for both the individual and the marriage. Rather than offering clichés and formulas, Greco relies on candor, humor, and real life stories to bring encouragement and wisdom to all couples, regardless of whether they have been married four weeks or forty years.
Why Can't We Be Friends?: Avoidance Is Not Purity
by Aimee Byrd
(recommended by Dorothy Greco and Wendy Alsup)
Society says we are merely sexual beings and should embrace this, and in the church we use this same view as an excuse to distrust and avoid each other! We shy away from healthy friendship, and even our siblingship in Christ, in the name of purity and reputation . . . but is this what we are called to do?
Aimee Byrd reminds us that the way to stand against culture is not by allowing it to drive us apart—it is by seeking the brother-and-sister closeness we are privileged to have as Christians. Here is a plan for true, godly friendship between the sexes that embraces the family we truly are in Christ and serves as the exact witness the watching world needs.
Faithful: A Theology of Sex
by Beth Felker Jones
(recommended by Michelle Van Loon and Dorothy Greco)
Many believers accept traditional Christian sexual morality but have very little idea why it matters for the Christian life. In Faithful, author Beth Felker Jones sketches a theology of sexuality that demonstrates sex is not about legalistic morals with no basis in reality but rather about the God who is faithful to us.
In Hosea 2:19-20 God says to Israel, “I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.” This short book explores the goodness of sexuality as created and redeemed, and it suggests ways to navigate the difficulties of living in a world in which sexuality, like everything else, suffers the effects of the fall.
Sexual Sanity for Women: Healing from Sexual and Relational Brokenness
by Ellen Dykas
(recommended by Bekah Mason and Melanie Cogdill)
Sexual Sanity for Women: Healing from Sexual and Relational Brokenness by Ellen Dykas of Harvest USA guides participants through the process of understanding why they struggle with destructive relational and sexual patterns and how the gospel brings change and a new way of living. Twenty lessons guide participants to understand God's good design for sexuality, the underlying reasons they struggle with sexual brokenness, and how the grace and truth of Jesus Christ can be applied to their struggles. Change begins as deeper heart issues are uncovered, and women learn that they are well-loved daughters of God who will find healing and wholeness as they live out God's Word in their relationships. The Sexual Sanity for Women workbook is ideal for a one-on-one mentoring, college age student groups, and women's small group study. The easy-to-use Sexual Sanity for Women Leader's Guide is available in a handy eBook format, offering leaders notes, answers to questions, and suggestions on how to guide participants in understanding Gods good design for sexuality.
One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church
by Gina Dalfonzo
(recommended by Karen Swallow Prior)
There are now more single adults than married adults in the United States, yet the evangelical church continues to focus primarily on serving couples and families with ministries geared toward their particular needs. This can lead, however unintentionally, to the marginalization of adults who are single by choice, divorce, or death, or who are simply not yet married. Families are a good thing, but so are all of God's people, and singles long to be lovingly integrated into the Body of Christ.
In One by One, Gina Dalfonzo explores common misconceptions and stereotypes about singles, including the idea that they must be single because something is wrong with them, and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways they are devalued, like when sermons focus overmuch on navigating marital relationships or raising children. She shows how the church of Paul, who commended those who remained single, became the church where singles are too often treated like second class Christians. Then she explores what the church is doing right, what unique services singles can offer the church, and, most importantly, what the church can do to love and support the singles in their midst.
Beauty, Order, and Mystery: A Christian Vision of Human Sexuality
(recommended by Dorothy Greco)
Humans are sexual creatures. Our sexuality can be a beautiful and mysterious expression of what it means to be human. But it can also become distorted and sinful. Perhaps no issue is as urgent for the church today, or confronts it with as many questions, as human sexuality: What does it mean to fulfill God's will through our sexuality? To what extent should our sexuality define who we are? How can we navigate cultural trends around sexuality while being faithful to Scripture? This volume brings together the reflections of church leaders and academic theologians who seek to answer the urgent questions concerning human sexuality. (Note: You may not agree with all of the contributors' perspectives but there are many insightful essays included.)
(recommended by Dorothy Greco)
Winner of a Christopher Award for books that inspire and the 2018 Maine Literary Award for memoir, Redeeming Ruth is the inspirational, true story of an abandoned baby, a devastating diagnosis, and the way God loves broken, hurting people through us even though we too may be hurt and broken.
Born Again This Way
As a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction, is it possible to live a life that's faithful and fulfiling? Rachel Gilson wants to show you that it is. Living as a Christian with same-sex attraction is not just a case of limping to the finish line—it's possible to run the race with joy.
In this powerful and personal book, she describes her own unexpected journey of coming out and coming to faith... and what came next. As she does so, she addresses many of the questions that Christians living with same-sex attraction are wrestling with: Am I consigned to a life of loneliness? How do I navigate my friendships? Will my desires ever change? Is there some greater purpose to all this? What comes next, and next, and next?
Drawing on insights from the Bible and the experiences of others, Born Again This Way provides assurance and encouragement for Christians with same-sex attraction, and paints a compelling picture of discipleship for every believer. Whatever your sexuality, this book is an inspiring testimony of how a life submitted to Jesus will be fulfilling and fruitful—but not always in the ways we might expect.
Marriage in the Middle: Embracing Midlife Surprises, Challenges, and Joys
Midlife is a season of challenge and change in every realm of life: professionally, relationally, physically, and spiritually. The demands of midlife invite us to adjust and adapt, providing new opportunities for discovery and growth within our marriages. Marriage in the Middle is a practical, vulnerable, and hopeful exploration for couples between the ages of 40 and 65. It includes profoundly honest interviews with eight diverse couples.
Beyond Awkward Side Hugs: Living as Christian Brothers and Sisters in a Sex-Crazed World
Jesus’ pattern for church living was one of family—of brothers and sisters living in intimate, life-giving community with each other. With story, sensitivity, and hope, Beyond Awkward Side Hugs invites us to leave behind eroticized, fear-based patterns and move toward gendered, generous relationships between men and women of character as we love one another as Jesus did.