In “Sex and Marriage,” Chris Legg and Mark Legg combine Scripture and psychology in order to transform marital intimacy

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In “Sex and Marriage,” Chris Legg and Mark Legg combine Scripture and psychology in order to transform marital intimacy

May 30, 2024 -

Married couple reading bible together at home. By tutye/stock.adobe.com

Married couple reading bible together at home. By tutye/stock.adobe.com

Married couple reading bible together at home. By tutye/stock.adobe.com

In Sex and Marriage: Unlocking and Restoring the Power of Sex through Biblical and Psychological Insight, Chris Legg, LPC, and his son Mark set out to write a book that creates “understanding that leads to freedom” with regard to sex and the role it plays in marriage. And, over the course of their discussion, they accomplish that goal with biblical and practical insights born of years spent diving into God’s word, Chris’s experience as both a pastor and a licensed therapist, and the wealth of research available in this area.

What I appreciated most about the book, though, is that at no point did they lose sight of the fact that they were writing to real people. Most of the literature in this subject either tends to rely so much on research that it becomes of little practical use or so much on anecdotes and proverbial wisdom that it treats its audience as caricatures rather than the complex and unique men and women God created us to be. And while Chris and Mark recognize that generalities are necessary at times, they are also quick to note that they “tried to make generalities based on evidence.”

The end result is a guide that is easy to follow and apply in ways that will help you become a better spouse and a better person for doing so.

With that overview in mind, let’s take a look at two of their main arguments that help to provide the foundation for everything else.

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God’s design

The first argument they make is that God created sex for a reason and, as such, his word is the most reliable source for understanding its purpose and role in our lives.

As Chris notes early on in the book, “I hasten to add that I am not the final arbiter of truth. Jesus is” (emphasis his). He goes on to invite readers to take a critical approach to everything he and Mark wrote, checking it against the truth of Scripture to make sure it lines up.

Basing our understanding of sex and marriage on the biblical teachings is essential because, as he goes on to write, marriage is difficult and there’s no “fake magic bullet” that can make it simple; “hard work is ahead.”

At the same time, properly understood, the pursuit of sexual intimacy and the deeper relationship it can help to develop with your spouse is not meant to feel like a chore or obligation. One of the points that the Leggs come back to repeatedly throughout the book is that intimacy, when properly understood, should be seen as an opportunity to bless your spouse and discover the depth of joy that comes from both knowing them and being known in a way that you can’t find in any other relationship.

So while building and maintaining that kind of connection can be hard, it’s also worth it. And understanding God designed it that way from the start is an invaluable gift to fall back on when the inevitable trials of imperfect people trying to love imperfect people make you question that reality.

The lie of transactional marriage

The second foundational principle upon which their approach to sex and marriage is built is that the relationship will never work properly if it is transactional in nature.

Chris Legg explained this idea in depth on a recent Denison Forum Podcast, but the basic premise of their argument is that both the culture and, far too often, the church have accepted the idea that sex is a commodity that women trade for protection, support, or whatever else they need from men. And even when not put so bluntly, the notion that men view sex as an end unto itself while women should see it as a resource to be peddled rather than an act of mutual intimacy to be embraced continues to be an unbiblical barrier to the kind of marriages God wants us to have.

Replacing that lie—and, as they note, both empirical and exegetical studies are clear that it is a lie—with the truth of what sex can be is essential to helping both husbands and wives understand how to work toward the kind of depth and connection that should define a marriage.

However, the problem is that humans are inherently selfish creatures. As such, our natural proclivity is going to be to view our spouse through the same lens we are tempted to view anyone else in our lives: how can they benefit me?

And marriage—at least when understood as God designed it—doesn’t work like that.

As Chris and Mark describe, “If you’re trying to get your wants and needs met, marriage is terrible for that.” However, “Marriage is a great way to sacrifice your wants and needs for someone else’s” (emphasis theirs).

They go on to conclude that learning to understand and embrace a view of sex and marriage in which your primary concern is how can you take care of your spouse is not only the best way for you to approach it but, when both people see it that way, can lead to the kind of profound connection that God intended when he designed it.

Conclusion

Ultimately, Sex and Marriage is a biblical, insightful, yet practical guide that can help both men and women understand not only how to have better sex but how to draw closer to one another in every other facet of their lives together as well. And while the sooner you can implement the truths Chris and Mark teach across its pages the better, it’s never too late to start working toward a better marriage.

Start today.

Notable quotes

  • On his initial approach to marriage: “I thought my marriage was the establishment of the Chris Legg Fan Club and I was marrying the new president of the CLFC. Of course, I wouldn’t or couldn’t have described that then, but if I’m honest, I didn’t realize that we were creating a new story together, not merely adding my wife to mine.”
  • “I think marriage is God’s most refined and defined version of friendship.”
  • “The natural state of marriage is divorce. If you allow it to go on without intentional efforts, its natural state is overgrown with resentment, regret, disappointment, entitlement, and pent-up hurt feelings.”
  • “Unless you intentionally impose margin, it will not exist.”
  • “The Bible is only anti-sex outside of marriage. It is very pro-sex within marriage.”
  • “I’m not saying you need to lower expectations. I’m saying you need to get rid of them wherever possible. I view them as, at best, a rarely necessary evil.”
  • “Never say anything to your wife that you would want to hurt another man for saying to her.”

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