Book Review - Enriching Intimacy and Sex in Christian Marriages

Enriching Intimacy & Sex In Christian Marriages. By Rev. Alfred G. Nyirenda. Lusaka: Azukristw Educosult Books. 2009. 279 pp. K80.

There is no denying the reality that marriage is under attack in our day. If one looked at the screaming headlines on divorce from our daily newspapers, you will not struggle to accept that we have a big problem on our hands. Sadly, this is not a problem professed Christians are immune to. People outside the church, particularly the female traditional marriage counsellors known as “Alangizi,” contend that Christian teaching on sex falls short of what is the ideal, and that’s why there are many problems among Christian couples around the issue of sex.

In the midst of the prevailing fragility of the marriage institution, a good book on marriage is welcome. There are many titles on marriage that compete for our attention, and this is admittedly a very crowded field. Honestly, some of these titles are not worth the paper they are printed on. To rise above such a crowded field, a book needs to offer something different, something unique, something that makes it stand out from the pack. Rev. Alfred Nyirenda has joined the fray with his new book, Enriching Intimacy and Sex in Christian Marriages. With many years of pastoral experience, and vast experience in premarital and marriage counselling, he is more than qualified to address this subject. What makes this book unique is that is it written with a very Zambian touch, and therefore deals with, and applies the biblical teaching on the subject of intimacy and sex in a very helpful and practically relevant way to our context.     

I remember serving on the committee that was tasked to prepare for the launch of this book eight years ago. The book launch was held on 12th February, 2010 at Southern Sun Hotel. It was well attended, and the guest of honour was the then Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Mutale Nalumango. 

The book comprises three sections and seventeen chapters which deal with one of the most crucial and delicate subjects in marriage – intimacy and sex. Many marriages have lost their thrill and ecstasy because the initial excitement of the bedroom fellowship has fizzled and grown cold. In the foreword, written by one of the author’s beneficiaries of his marriage counselling, Pastor Conrad Mbewe notes that this book draws our attention to the biblical teaching of marital intimacy. 

In the first five chapters under section one, the author deals with the subject of intimacy -  its aspects, characteristics, how to enrich intimacy and its fruits. In section two, he deals with sex and its enjoyment in marriage, and then points out some of the common enemies of intimacy and sex in marriage and offers solutions to fighting and defeating these enemies. In the last section, he responds to questions on key areas of this subject, first from the husband, followed by the wife, and then the general questions. Some questions answered include those dealing with controversial subjects such as sex toys, oral sex, a woman wearing beads around the waist, etc.

The frank and candid manner with which the author deals with the sensitive and delicate subjects of intimacy and sex, and occasionally spices it up with some humour, makes the book a very helpful read. He is not bashful about calling a spade and spade, and does not recoil from describing the male and female anatomy and erogenous zones in husband and wife. The biblical roots of the book go deeper as the author brings to life the Song of Songs in the marriage context. Who needs the “Alangizi” when the author of marriage, God Himself has given us the blueprint for a satisfying and blissful matrimonial union? Sex is God’s gift to humanity, to be freely and passionately enjoyed in the context of marriage, and the Bible provides us with all the instruction we need for its enjoyment. 

Throughout the book, the author applies the teaching with practical thoughts, reflections and questions for the reader. These are presented in form of rectangular bubbles, with bold and italicised text within each chapter or at the end of the chapter. This makes the book very ideal to read it together as a couple, creating opportunities for communication as each personally responds to these practical questions.    

On the negative side, I wish the author could have been a bit more creative in the titles of the chapters of the book. Chapters Three and Four are entitled “Enriching Intimacy” and “Further Enriching Intimacy,” respectively. And to Chapter Eleven, he gives this title, “Militants against intimacy and sex,” while the next three chapters have the same title, “Militants Continued.” This sounds rather repetitive and unattractive to the reader. He could have also used a simpler, more modern term to describe the enemies of intimacy and sex, than using a term, “militants” from the Puritan era, whose meaning may not be obvious to today’s readers.  

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I recommend this book to couples. It’s a book built on a solid scriptural foundation. Your intimacy and sex life will be enriched as you read it, and you will be amazed at the wisdom of God who created marriage and gave us the gift of sex. You will be grateful to God for providing you with a spouse whom you should treasure for the rest of your life. This book will teach you how sex and romance can bring glory to the One who created them for our enjoyment. This book is also ideal for those involved in marriage counselling. You can use it as a resource to help others struggling in this area.